Saturday, May 28, 2011

Maye and Faye’s 2nd Beijing Adventure


Our arrival in Beijing on Monday, May 16th, felt oddly familiar because of our trip less than a year ago.  At the airport the body temperature sensors, the stern look on the faces of the airport security, as well as the curious expressions and then smiles on the faces of strangers when they looked at the two, gray-haired twins made us feel welcomed back.   Since we stayed in the same hotel as before, the room and amenities were a warm relief after the almost 15 hour flight.  We were exhausted and in bed by 8:00pm on our first night in Beijing.  
Our young friend, who had arranged most of our meetings for this trip, asked if we could change our afternoon plans in order to meet a small group at a coffee shop.  We agreed, not knowing this would be another profound God-appointed meeting.  We were taken to a very upscale office park near the Beijing Westin Hotel in the center of downtown.  We were not quite sure what this group would want from us, so we were prepared to answer their questions or give a short devotional—whatever they wanted.  We made our way past the Gucci, Ferragamo, and Stuart Weitzman shops to a coffee shop, much like Starbucks.  Already there were 4-5 women gathered.  We were told that others were coming.  The manager of a department in a major financial company had invited her employees to come to the coffee shop to talk with us.  It wasn’t long before the group began increasing until there were about 19 employees eager to hear what we had come to say.  Quickly we decided to share our personal stories with them.  I began by telling them how I came to know God.  At the end of my talk, I invited anyone who desired, to pray with me, asking God to come into their lives.  Several in the group, including 3 young men, indicated that they had prayed with me, and their supervisor later told me that she would follow up on them.  Next the group wanted Faye to tell them about her career in human resources.  She told them about her successful career and her drive to perform her job in a perfect way.  The nods from those listening to the translator let Faye know that she was on target with the personal career ambitions of those listening.   She went on to tell them about how her marriage failed and how she got her life back on track, giving God the place of priority in her life that He should have had all along.  We offered to answer questions, and the group asked about how to know God is in your life, how to integrate your faith with your career, how to explain Christianity versus evolution, which was asked by the manager who had invited her employees.  This former Buddhist, now Christian, wanted to know how to answer that question when she is asked to proved her faith.   We left after almost three hours with this group.  We had proclaimed Christ in a very public place in the center of a city known to be hostile to Christians, and yet God’s love for the Chinese people cannot be stopped by anyone.  
WOMEN’S WEEKEND RETREAT—Girls getting together!
Our young friend had been planning a weekend retreat for some of the Christian women.  The cost for the retreat was prohibitive for most of them, but generous women in the US had provided money for the retreat.  We took a taxi from our hotel to a large shopping area where about 20 women were waiting for us.   Our group was soon joined by other women, making the total for the retreat about 50 women.  Many of them had brought their children along because they did not have anyone to care for them at home.  A bus arrived, and we all boarded for the retreat site.  It was dark by the time we reached our destination, and since there are no street lights outside the city, we had no idea where we were!  It was clear that we were now at a large conference facility with several connecting, one story buildings.  Each building had a single hallway with rooms on each side.   It would be morning before we would see that there were many, many of these buildings.  I wondered if perhaps this facility might have been built to house some of the Olympians, but no one seemed to know for sure.
By the time we arrived, our young friend only had time to give a short devotional and assign us to our rooms.   The room that Faye and I shared was satisfactory and very roomy compared to the typical Chinese’s bedroom.  We were glad we had brought along extra water.  We only drink bottled water when we are in China, as most of the water is very impure.  Plumbing in our bathroom seemed to drain into pipes underneath the flooring.  All the water is recycled, with its impurities into water for plants and other agricultural products.   When we got into bed, we realized that the nice bedding that we had observed upon entering the room was covering the hardest mattresses in the world!  Sleeping on the floor would not have been anymore uncomfortable.  Faye did not sleep at all, but I was able to sleep on my back except for the headache when I awoke.  Breakfast was in a huge dining room and consisted of some unusual breakfast foods.  I had my bowl of rice and a roll. 

As we went through our presentations on Saturday, we also were getting to know the precious Chinese women who had come on the retreat.  I met Emily, a young woman who has been a Christian for less than a year.  She works as a translator at the Kenyan embassy in Beijing.  She was assigned as my translator, and we found that we had much in common.  Although a young woman, she was recently divorced and was recovering from the battle of depression that came from a failed marriage. 
Faye and I gave the same talks that we had given at the CBC a couple days before.  Many women shared their testimonies of how they had been helped by knowing how God wants to turn our trials into blessings, and how we can learn to dance with God by allowing Him to lead in our lives.  At the end of the retreat, three young girls indicated that they had prayed to receive Christ.  All three were in Faye’s group.  We will be praying for those who will be following up on these new sisters in God’s family. 

Between the presentations, our young leader had offered the opportunity for the women to give testimonies.  For Faye and me, this was one of the highlights of our trip to China.  Although there were tears as each one described her life before becoming a believer in Jesus, each woman ended her personal story with smiles and joy in her voice.  It is clear that these are victorious women who have overcome many obstacles.

There were other opportunities to talk with the women who wanted one-to-one time.  I talked with a young elementary school teacher about her divorce and her misconceptions of how God views divorce.  So many of these young women have been divorced, and I sensed a strong need for divorce recovery training for them.  They need to understand divorce from a Biblical standpoint—that God forgives and has a future for them. 

Most of the women who were attending the retreat were professional women.  A woman in Faye’s group is starting a management consulting business and is currently working on her website.  Another girl was a beautiful singer.   There were school teachers, software designers, bank workers, and engineers, and many other professions.   Drawings were held and the some of the women won the shawls and other knitted items that a Texas group makes to give to the Chinese women.  One of the things we have observed again on this trip is the similarities between the Chinese women and American women.  The problems and issues they deal with are the same.  Women face the same issues of childcare, financial difficulties, balancing work and family, marital problems, etc. whether they live in Beijing, China or any city in the US.
On one of our first days in Beijing, we went to the home of Jufang.  By western standards, the high-rise, apartment where Jufang lives, would be modest, however, by Beijing standards, it would be considered luxurious.   A group of about 13 women, mostly young moms, meet regularly at her apartment to give support to each other.  Lynn, our team member from Oregon, talked about what the Bible has to say about parenting.  Some of the women had questions about how to discipline their children.  It appeared that some of them discipline in a very harsh manner, while others use very little discipline with their children.  Now that most of them are Christians, they want to bring their children up to love God, and they wanted to know how to foster that kind of environment in their homes.  Some confessed that they discipline severely, out of frustration or anger.  Some of them told their own stories of being beaten as children.   The women prepared a delicious lunch for us.  In deference to her western guests, Jufang also had forks on the table! 

When we joined Jim and Judy, our Marriage and Family Life staff members, we had a “crushing” experience with the Beijing subway system.  Getting onto and off the train at rush hour was an exercise in “push, push, push,” because of the crowd of commuters.   The host for our meeting, Sherry and her roommates had invited about 17 of their young college, single friends to their apartment to hear Jim and Judy talk about how important it is to include God in decisions relating to dating and marriage.  There is great pressure from the families of young women in China to be married, and many of the questions had to do with whether or not they should date/marry unbelievers.  With regards to how to find a Christian mate, Jim said, “Run your hardest towards God and see who is running beside you.”  He also added, “Don’t seek to find the right person, but seek to be the right person.”  Jim and Judy delicately, but with strong conviction told them of their own dating life and how they made the choice to remain celibate until after marriage. 
Another meeting was held with a group of about 20 young business college students soon to graduate.  We met them in the large conference room of an office building which serves as a house church on Sunday morning.  One of the outer offices held books for the church library.  This group loved to sing, and they sang several songs before the meeting began.  Max was one of the most enthusiastic Christians we had ever met there.  When a scripture reference was given, Max immediately began reciting the verse from memory.  After the meeting was over, he reminded us that it is estimated that there are 1.7 million Christians in China.  He also told us that many of these dedicated Christians get up at 5:00am every morning to pray for China.

Faye and I were so honored to be asked to have dinner and attend an evening Bible study group held at the home of one of the professional women we had met at the retreat.    The meal was mostly vegetables which they had prepared especially for us since the word has gotten around that we like vegetables more than meat!  Our hostess opens her home to 8-10 young women each week to mentor them and help them learn to study their Bibles.  On the night we were there, they were continuing a study of the fruit of the spirit from Galatians 5.  We learned that the Chinese word for gentle does not translate well.  I was able to share with them the meaning of the Hebrew word which shows a picture of strength under control—as we might put a bit in the mouth of a wild horse to bring the power under control.  These women were very intelligent, some working on graduate degrees or employed by embassies or multi-national companies.  They have a great desire to have deeper Bible study.  Faye is going to stay in contact with some of them because they were particularly interested in her business experience in human resources.
On one of our last nights in Beijing we attended an evening meeting at a house church.  Actually these could more accurately be called “apartment churches,” because they are not in houses at all.  Everyone we have visited in Beijing lives in an apartment.  About 13 young women and men had gathered for Faye and me to speak to them.  After our talks, we gave them the opportunity to ask us questions.  Faye met with a young girl who is concerned about finding a Christian husband—a question that we hear often among the young women.  She is getting pressure from her family to marry, but she wants a Christian marriage.  She also wants a husband with money!  The young pastor of this house church and his wife also talked to Faye about their living conditions.  They want desperately to get into their own apartment since they are going to have a child.  Currently, they live in a household with four sets of parents.

Two men came over to talk to me.  Through the help of a translator, one of them asked me if I would teach him to pray.  My heart melted as I shared with him how prayer was like talking to our Best Friend.  I went on to tell him that he did not have to use big words, and he could talk to God at anytime during the day or night.  The other man asked me if in American we ever laid hands on someone when we prayed.  I told him that sometimes this happens.  Then he asked me if I would put my hand on his head and pray for him.  He knelt on the floor beside me while I put my hand on his head and prayed for him as the translator interpreted my words.  When we were ready to leave, he insisted on paying for our taxi fare back to the hotel.  I don’t think I have ever experienced anything so humbling in my life.
Plans were made for us to drive about an hour north of Beijing to speak at a seminary—The China Bible College.  Our taxi driver asked for directions three times before dropping us off at a door where a man waved for us to come inside.  We were greeted by Peter and Martha (not their real names) husband and wife who are the administrators of the school.  We removed our shoes upon entering the tiny apartment and had tea with our hosts.  The students were waiting for us in the basement of the apartment which houses the school, boys on one side of the room and girls on the other.  On our way through the apartment, we noticed several bookcases full of books.  Peter told us that they hope to convert one room into a library and house all of the books in one place.  Peter also told us of their need for more books.  It was clear that every inch of space in the apartment is put to use.  We were also introduced to the sons of the school administrators, very talented young men working on their Master’s degrees at Peking University.  Both had been chosen to attend on scholarships.  The students we met with were in their 1st or 2nd year of school and averaged about 20 years old.  A few of them commuted to the school, while others actually lived in the apartment with the administrator couple.  We were told that they have another facility called The Farm which is further out in the country and houses their 3rd and 4th year students.  They try to keep both schools small (about 20 students each) so as not to draw attention.  The small staff of teachers travels to other apartments to teach also.  Their curriculum includes music, theology, and core subjects in preparation for becoming pastors of house churches in China.  

The students had practiced several songs and sang them very enthusiastically.  It wasn’t important to them to harmonize perfectly, but most important that they praise God with their voices.  They also love to shout a hearty “Amen!” in agreement.  I was humbled as I talked to these students about how their trials could be blessings, knowing that they knew far more about trials and persecution than I would ever know.  Faye gave her presentation on “Learning to Dance with God,” which the students thoroughly enjoyed.  We were invited to lunch which had been set on a table in one of the bedrooms.  The conversation of the 12 of us sitting around the table was very lively and punctuated with much laughter.   Our host led the group in individually thanking us for coming to speak, telling us what our presentations had meant to them.  Getting this feedback directly let us know that we had helped in a small way and perhaps we had even given some encouragement to our young friends.
In the afternoon when we were preparing to leave, there were hugs and thank-you’s all around.  Our new friends wanted to take pictures of us with each of them.  I left the seminary knowing that this was one of the most important days I had spent in my life.  I will never forget those young Chinese Christians, and I pray for their safety and future training as they seek to serve God.

When it was time to leave, we went out onto the street, but could not get a taxi.  A car pulled up that was being driven by a family who had been at the school we had just left.  They insisted that the daughter drive us back to Beijing while the family waited for her to return to pick them up.  The family members got out of the car, and we got in, leaving them standing on the sidewalk until their daughter would return over an hour later.  We tried to give money to cover the gas for the round trip, but our new friend would not hear of it, only saying that we had come to China to do good things, and she wanted to do something for us.  We left inviting her to be our guest at the women’s retreat.
                                                                         WHERE THE GARBAGE IS HIDDEN

On our way back into Beijing our friend from the seminary drove us along a different road than our taxi driver who had brought us to the school earlier in the day.  He had stayed on main roads, but she knew a short-cut, a dusty, narrow road with broken pavement.  It wasn’t long before we knew we were seeing a totally different Beijing than we had seen while in the city.  The first sign that this would be a different trip was the smell of garbage—human, animal, food—every type of garbage one could imagine.  The stench was sickening.  Dogs, eating from the rotting mounds of refuse, were a common sight.  There were also piles of rubble—broken concrete, debris, and rocks which had come from the demolition in the city out to this area to be dumped.   Faye described the sight as a cross between an earthquake and a garbage dump.  We soon realized that all the beautiful modern buildings in the city which had been erected to replace older buildings, as well as the beautiful plantings in the city, come at the expense of these people who live outside the city near these dumps.  Surrounding the dumps, there were shanty houses and hutongs where Beijing’s poorest citizens live.  It was much easier to understand why the young people try so desperately to get into the city.  The worst high-rise apartments we had ever seen in the city did not compare to these broken neighborhoods.  As we drove along we saw open markets on the streets where people were selling wares or cooking with no thought of sanitation.   Tin walls had been erected to hide some of the trash, but in places where we could see behind the tin walls, there were people, living in the midst of all the filth and rubble.
Our young friend had invited us to attend her church on Sunday morning.  This was a very small, unregistered or house church--only 20 people including us. However, she explained to us that they do not want to grow larger. They see their purpose as evangelism. They meet young people, lead them to Christ, disciple them, and then encourage them to go on to a larger church where they can serve. So you can see that they really do get it!  Church began with singing several songs.  Between each song, the worship leader prayed aloud and all of the others prayed along with him out loud.  The same is true when they read from the Bible—they all read the passage together aloud.  Faye gave her presentation “Learning to Dance with God,” and our young friend translated.  When the presentation was over, they went around the room each one telling what they had gotten out of the talk.  It was so rewarding to hear them say how much Faye’s words had meant to them.  One young man said, “Last year you came to watch people in China dance, and this time you came to teach us to dance with God.”  Another young man who has not been a Christian for very long expressed his questions about sometimes not feeling like a Christian.  It was my joy to tell him that his relationship with God is not based on his feelings—sometimes we feel good, and sometimes we feel bad.  Our relationship with God is based on the truth contained in the Bible.  As with most house churches, as soon as the worship was over, they rolled out a table and we all ate together—delicious food prepared by two of the young men who had been present. All those attending were in their 20's, and we had a great time laughing and talking together. Language was not a barrier because there were several of them who spoke English.  Faye and I had to ride a taxi and the train to get there. They don't trust us by ourselves, so someone was with us all the time.

As with our trip to China in 2010, there was also time for enjoying the magnificent history in the Beijing area.  We spend a day at the picturesque Ba Da Ling section of the Great Wall.  Steep does not begin to describe the climb to the top of the wall.  We spent time shopping at the Silk Market—bargains, bargains, bargains!  At the Silk Market we saw an older woman with gray hair who was picking up aluminum cans.  She saw us and began pointing to her gray hair with a big smile on her face.
On one day, we decided to take a guided tour of several attractions in Beijing.  We were able to go to Olympic Square to see the Bird’s Nest, as well as the Cube used in the 2008 Olympics.  Our tour guide told us that all the profit from the games went exclusively to the government.  Since the games, these amazing facilities just sit unused, empty, and the government sees no value in opening them up for the Chinese people to use.
Some other interesting facts about Beijing that our guide told us:

·         As a result of the Olympic Games, the average salary for a Beijing worker has risen 3 times what it was before.  The average monthly salary now is $1400 a month.   It takes about 20 years to own an apartment, and then the Chinese citizen has a 70 year lease.  Our guide told us that it is very difficult to live in the city.  He lives about 2 hours out of the city and gets up at 4:00am to work his 12 hour per day job.

·         At the age of 55 for women and 60 for men, the people of Beijing are given a card which entitles them to free public transportation and free admission to any park or attraction.

·         Although Beijing has a very modern rail and subway system with four major rail stations serving the four quadrants of the city, you still see workers laboring under the most primitive of methods.  For example, I saw two men using a pole on their shoulders to balance the weight of a large heavy sack.  Workers using stick brooms are a common sight along the clean streets of Beijing.

·         The national flower is the peony, but I’ve never seen a peony in Beijing!  Lots of beautiful roses, however!

Other sights we visited were:  Silk Museum, Panda Zoo, Lama Temple, Porcelain Museum, and a hutong—a primitive, maze-like, walled village, with very narrow streets.  As many as 2,000 people can live in one hutong.  We toured the hutong by rickshaw and had lunch with a local family.  Imagine my surprise to have a 2-liter bottle of Coke put on the table!  We also took in a Chinese Acrobatic Show--how do you make a body do that????

Being at the China Bible College showed me a great need in Beijing.  I would love to return to do more work there.  Peter expressed the need for more teachers who will come and spend time with the students, doing more intensive Bible study, perhaps a study of a book of the Bible.  I know I have never seen more done with such a little amount of money.  I hope I will be able to raise some funds for the CBC before my next trip.  The need is so great, and I can’t think of a better way to support this great movement that is going on among China people.  These young believers are truly the future of China.

The Chinese are incredibly generous people.  Everywhere we go, they want to help us.  The family who gave up their car for their daughter to drive us back into Beijing and her statement about wanting to do something for us, the precious women at the retreat who would not allow us to carry our own bags, as well as their refusal to take any money for dinner, all show their deep humility.  We even had one woman who asked the young friend who made all our arrangements if she could take us to her dentist because she knew that dentist in our country were very expensive!  The Chinese culture values humility and our Chinese friends express their gratitude frequently for our small inconvenience of coming to teach them.
I haven’t traveled the world, but I have been amazed at how easy it is to communicate with the Chinese people.  I only know a very few Chinese words (hello, thank-you, no, thank-you), but I don’t think anyone I have passed on the street hasn’t respond to a smile.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that there are two of us, and the Chinese seem to be fascinated with old lady twins.  There are so many Chinese who know some English, so there is always someone to translate. 

I don’t think it will ever be easy to leave behind these Chinese women whom we have come to love.  They always want to know when we are coming back, and sadly, I do not know the answer except to say, “When God allows.”  Their faces flash across the photo album in my mind.  The young woman at the Silk Market who asked us to give her an English name—we named her “Grace,” and when she asked what it means, I told her, “It means gift because you are a gift from God.”  The bright, smiling faces of the young women who are single but hoping to be married to a Christian man when there are far more Christian women than men in their churches.  The young girl who works at the Silk Market who saw us and said, “I remember you,” as she pointed to the cross she wears around her neck.  The precious family who sat on the side of the road waiting while their daughter drove us the hour back into Beijing.  The hugs and thank-you’s from the seminary students as they said goodbye to us on what we will remember as the best day of our lives.  Sharing God's plan for our lives with young men and women in a coffee shop in the middle of Beijing--God can do anything!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Being Your Mother

Being your mother means that I have had the opportunity to experience loving someone more than I love myself. I have learned what it's like to experience joy and pain through someone else's life.
It has brought me pride and joy; your accomplishments touch me and thrill me like no one else's can. It has brought me a few tears and heartaches at times, but it has taught me hope and patience. It has shown me the depth, strength, and power of love.
Being your mother hasn't always been easy, and I'm sure I've said or done things that have hurt or confused you. But no one has ever made me as satisfied as you do just by being happy.
No one has made me as proud as you do just by living up to your responsibilities.
No one's smile has ever warmed my heart like yours does; no one's laughter fills my heart with delight as quickly as yours can. No one's hugs feel as sweet, and no one's dreams mean as much to me as yours do. No other memories of bad times have miraculously turned into important lessons or humorous stories; the good times have become precious treasures to relive again and again.
You are a part of me, and no matter what happened in the past or what the future holds, you are someone I will always accept, forgive, appreciate, adore, and love unconditionally. Being your mother means that I've been given one of life's greatest gifts--you.

Author Unkown

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Bonnets and Reindeer

It’s time for my most favorite religious holiday—Easter. One of the reasons that it is my favorite is because of all the things that do NOT happen at Easter. I mean we won’t be bombarded by songs on the radio or TV about the Easter Bunny coming to town. There won’t be any cheap decorations strung all over people’s houses and lawns. While the Easter Bunny might make an appearance at your local mall, most parents don’t feel as obligated to him as to that other fellow dressed in the red suit. And while we will be seeing all of the latest spring fashions on display at stores around us, there is no urgent need to run out and buy presents for everyone on our lists.

Maybe the reason I like Easter so much is because it’s not Christmas. I know, I know, Easter is almost the opposite of Christmas in terms of how we celebrate it. Yeah, Easter is certainly not Christmas, and I, for one, like it that way!

One of the reasons I like Easter is because of what does happen, and that has nothing to do with what mankind does. I like the fact that instead of us decorating trees at Easter, God does it. Look at the redbud, the dogwood, and the ornamental pears. We don’t put lights in our yard at Easter, but God puts tulips and daffodils and forsythia!

Perhaps Easter is the greatest reminder that resurrection and renewal is done by God—not by man. We don’t resurrect ourselves from death. God does it for us. Just as He birthed us, He will rebirth us. Easter is not about what we do—what I decorate, what I give. It’s all about what God does.

Yes, there is a whole different spirit that surrounds the days leading up to Easter. It is a spirit that is very different from the other religious holidays that we excitedly celebrate.

The spirit that encircles Easter is about discovery. The early morning arrival at the tomb by the women who loved Jesus is reflected in our day by the early morning awakening of children who look for their Easter baskets. The surprise of the open door and the empty tomb is echoed again in the joyous surprise of children at Easter egg hunts across the land. The coming together of the disciples and the women with the Risen Savior is shown once again as families gather together once again to share a meal and the love of this special holiday.

I particularly enjoy Easter because this holiday is all about a spirit of hope--hope that can conquer the darkness of despair. It is the spirit of love that embraces and welcomes everyone, no matter what your educational or financial background, into God’s realm. Easter represents the spirit of life that has conquered death through the power of our creator God. It also encompasses the spirit of worship—the impulse of our hearts to sing out in gratitude to God. All this is reflected in how we feel and what we do on this wonderful holiday.

But ultimately, the spirit of Easter is about the risen Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came in order to turn life upside down and make it a doorway to eternal life. If Easter isn’t about that, then it is about nothing at all. If Christ is not risen, then in the words of the Apostle Paul, “We are the most to be pitied among people.” Why? Because without Easter, we are left with only good feelings and no substance; we are left with empty hopes and no real promise; we are left to ourselves in the face of death, and that my dear friends, is true loneliness.

During this season of springtime, we will rejoice as we celebrate Easter! We will be thankful for giggling children, the laughter of families and the opportunity to worship our risen Savior. We will celebrate Easter because Jesus Christ is risen and He is alive today! That is what makes Easter different, and frankly, that’s why I like it.

Celebrating the newness of God everyday,


Monday, July 5, 2010

Ten Days in Beijing, China

DAY ONE THURSDAY, June 24, 2010 At the Richmond International Airport
Psalm 34:8 “O, taste and see….that the Lord is good.”
What will I taste—absorb; what will become part of my being, my soul, as I take this trip to China?
What will I see that baffles me; moves me; and stirs all of my senses?
What, O God, do you have in store for me? What lessons are there for me to learn?
What do you want to draw out of me that lies hidden under “busy-ness” and reluctance, and my own selfishness?
I do want to taste—to savor every morsel of China. I do want to see the Chinese women with your eyes.
You have placed this plate of uncertainty before me, and I know it will be good because you, my Father, are always good.

A few years ago I was driving my grandson Reid to the drop-off point where my son would be picking him up. We had enjoyed several days of fun activities without his parents. I had brought along several treats for us to enjoy in the car as we drove the two hour route. We sang songs and told “knock-knock” jokes to pass the time. We were enjoying a package of M & Ms when I asked, “Reid, do you know what the “M” on the M & Ms stands for?’
I waited a few seconds, and then answered my own question. “It stands for “Maye,” my name!”
Reid thought about my explanation for only a moment, and then he replied, “Grandma, did you know that in China the M & Ms have an “R” on them for Reid.”
Well, Reid, I guess I’ll find out!”

Day Two FRIDAY, June 25, 2010
We arrived in Beijing on Friday afternoon. The Beijing airport is a beautiful piece of functional art, very modern and has only been open for a couple of years. As we left the plane and entered the airport, we went through body temperature sensors which are used to detect anyone who has a fever. If that happens, one is immediately put into quarantine. We noticed many uniformed young people, all of them expressionless as they carried out their duties. As we cleared customs, a young girl who was checking visas noticed that Faye and I were twins, and she gave us a smile, but quickly returned to her neutral expression. We were met by Sabrina and Josh. Sabina is on staff with Global Partners in Hope in Beijing. Josh is Sabina’s husband and pastors one of the “house churches” in Beijing.
Because Peggy’s plane was late, another staff person, Shaun Bao and his wife Sarah, drove us to our hotel—the Quality Hotel. Peggy works for Global Partners in Hope from the US and visits Beijing four times a year to coordinate the women’s outreach.
On the ride into the heart of Beijing, we began to see some of the tall apartment and office buildings. Every thing looked very new. The freeway system was excellent. There were no old cars on the freeway. We later learned that the Chinese government does not allow cars that are older than five years. As we got closer into the city, automobiles and bicycles shared the road. It was like synchronized driving. There was some polite horn blowing, but for the most part, everyone seemed to accept merging in all directions.
Our hotel is as modern as any I have ever stayed in. Our room is beautifully decorated, and it looks out on several multi-storied buildings. The room is equipped with a flat-screen TV which gets CNN. We are on the 20th floor.
We had dinner in a restaurant within walking distance of our hotel, and I got my first real experience using chopsticks. Our hosts, Shaun and Sarah Bao and Josh and Sabrina, ordered for all of us. The food was placed on a lazy Susan, and everyone just picked out of the dish and put small bites on their plate. Goose liver pate, lotus, a hot, spicy vegetable, candied walnuts, cucumbers and bamboo were some of the unique dishes. Everyone was also given a bowl of white rice. Yum…something I can count on!
By the time dinner was over, we were exhausted from being up about 30 hours since we left home, but looking forward to tomorrow and our day of training for the Chinese women.

Day Three SATURDAY, June 26, 2020
Looking out our hotel window from 20 stories up, it is easy to see the wide blanket of smog that covers the city. I remember hearing much about the smog problem when the Olympics were held in Beijing in 2008. We met Peggy, Executive Director of Women’s Connections for Global Partners in Hope, for breakfast which is provided by the hotel. There was a very large buffet of breakfast foods, as well as, many other dishes which one might have considered for lunch or dinner. We were able to get fried eggs, bacon, bok choy, several kinds of dried fruits, and wonderful yogurt. I can see that breakfast will be my favorite meal while I’m in Beijing! We even got forks!
After breakfast we walked to a grocery store which is close by. As we walked the aisles, we could see a few items that we recognized such a Jif peanut butter or Maxwell House coffee, but most things were unfamiliar. Everyone greeted us with smiles, and one lady who was a clerk followed us around wanting to help us. When we got ready to check out, she gave us her customer VIP card to get a discount. We purchased bottled water because we have been warned not to drink any of the water, not even for brushing teeth.
We filled 75 treat bags for the participants at the workshop before being picked up for our drive to the workshop location. Driving along we were able to see for the first time many of the beautiful gardens and parks in Beijing. There were flower boxes containing marigolds, petunias and begonias along the guardrails on the freeway. Large cone-shaped structures held flower boxes which created a tree of flowers. Again, most of this landscaping was done for the 2008 Olympics, and for the most part, it has been maintained. The cleanliness of this city of millions of people is really incredible.
The training was held at what seemed to be a very large sports complex, used mainly for tennis. We had one of the conference rooms to use. We were greeted warmly by the women when we arrived. Sabina who works for GPiH and some of her friends from her house church had done all the set-up for the event. There was a steady stream of women coming into the room, so we started a little late, but the enthusiasm of those who came showed us that they were there to learn. All of the women were young; most of them looked to be in their 20-30s. I was surprised at how many spoke English. They were fascinated at seeing Faye and me. Hugs, smiles, and chatter filled the room. Hope is a beautiful, young woman who is also working with Global Partners, and she and Sabina did translation for Peggy, Faye and me. Wendy who did not speak English led the praise music. Even though I did not have a clue what they were singing, it was clear that they loved to praise God through music.
Our presentations, focusing on work life balance and how to give your personal testimony, went well. Many of the women related well to Faye’s story of her career and how her divorce changed her focus. I had been very concerned about how the translation would go, but thanks to many prayers, it went fine. As I watched the facial expressions of the women, I was reminded of the early church in the Bible, and how they were so hungry for instruction, and what a critical time it is for these women in China. It is so important that they receive clear teaching on the spiritual level that they are on. It would be so easy for them to fall victim to false teaching, as most of them are young in their Christianity.
After the sessions were over, we packed up to leave. I needed to use the restroom, and I had my first experience with a “squat toilet.” Yes, it is exactly as the word implies!
Several of the women from the workshop went to dinner with us at a restaurant. As we drove along in the traffic, there were bicycles, motorcycles, cars, and I even saw an old horse pulling a cart—all with the flow of traffic. The bicycles and motorcycles were almost as many as the cars. At the restaurant, again, one of the girls ordered for all of us. Everyone always gets a bowl of white rice. Among our dishes were pumpkin soup with rice, nut soup, a dark-colored spaghetti, celery, and small pork balls in a sauce.
Peggy had brought gifts (prayer shawls) for the women, so those were given and greatly appreciated. Wendy modeled her shawl and said this was the best gift she had ever received.
A long day…
DAY FOUR SUNDAY, June 27, 2010
After breakfast we took a taxi to Josh and Sabina’s church. Their congregation has rented a four room apartment in a high-rise building and this serves as their church. The living area was filled with small (very small) folding chairs, packed in as tightly as they could possibly be. Again, I was struck at the age of the group. Of the 75-100 people in the house church, there were no older people, just young professionals. By the time the service started, the room was completely packed. Those who came in late went into the two bedrooms which served for overflow. The air conditioning was no match for the warm bodies and the hot, humid day. Sweat poured down my face as I sat listening to the group sing, and I don’t think I have ever felt so hot in my entire life. I felt embarrassed that I was so uncomfortable when these Christians seemingly had no concern for comfort. They had come to worship, and it didn’t matter to them if it was hot or cold.
Wendy, who had been at the meeting on Saturday, led the music which was projected onto a screen. I was struck at the total involvement of everyone. No one was looking around, but everyone was completely engaged in worship. Sabina sat with Peggy, Faye and me to translate. One of the bedrooms served as the nursery, so occasionally a child’s cry could be heard. We were asked to come up front to be introduced and to say a few words. Again, the group was fascinated with twins. Laughter communicates when words do not. When I told them where I lived, a girl in the audience said she had lived in VA. She was now going to Harvard and doing study abroad.
We were struck with the dedication these Chinese have for their worship. I will admit to a little uneasiness attending this worship service which is clearly prohibited by the Chinese government. It is the first time I have ever felt that I did not have the “right” to worship. These people worship on a regular basis knowing that at any moment this opportunity could be taken away.
Summer, one of the girls who had attended the workshop yesterday, had been scheduled ahead of time to give her testimony on this Sunday. The joy I felt as she began to tell her faith story using the outline and other information I had given at the workshop yesterday was indescribable. Summer captivated the audience as she told he story, modeling perfectly what she had learned the day before. My heart was so warmed at the thought of a Chinese woman who had taken what she heard, and now would be telling her story over and over in the years to come.
Communion was served, and Josh preached a sermon about lying and dishonesty which we have heard is a big problem in the business world in China. After the sermon, visitors were introduced, and one young girl stood to indicated that she wanted to become a Christian. So right there, as everyone looked on, Josh led her in praying to receive Christ.
When the service was over, the chairs were quickly moved back, a table was brought out, and hot dishes began coming from the kitchen. As the guests, we were given places at the table, and everyone else stood around to eat. A steaming soup of white carrots, seaweed, and a spicy, very salty vegetable dish were some of the dishes served to us. Afterwards, some of the people went into the other rooms for new believers’ class. They take 12 weeks of classes, and after that, they are baptized. Others members cleaned the rooms and kitchen.
We sat around talking to some of those who had stayed after lunch. Because many of them seemed very shy, in most cases, we approached them. Peggy had brought along “fortune cookies” that contained Bible verses. Of course, fortune cookies, or “lucky cookies” as they were called in China, did not originate in China. In fact, Peggy had to show them how to open the cookies to get the verse out. One unsuspecting young lady even ate her Bible verse along with the cookie! Many were fascinated with their verse and expressed that the verse was meant especially for them.
Next there was a baptism where six people were baptized in the apartment bathtub. They got into the tub, fully clothed, and were leaned back to be immersed. Two of them were a young couple who are well known entertainers, Vivienne Lee and her fiancé. About 3:30, the service was over. We had been there since 10:00am.
Next we were off to an “official” church meaning it is registered with the Chinese government and allowed to operate pretty much in the open. This service is held in a beautiful marble conference center building in downtown Beijing. These people have passports. They were born in China but have spent many years away and now have returned to China. We were introduced, among the other guests, and they warmly welcomed us. Peggy was given the opportunity to tell about Global Partners in Hope and the ministry they will be establishing in China. The service seemed very much like one that would be held in the United States except it was in Chinese. Words to the songs were projected onto a screen. There was a quiet reverent worship style.
After the service which lasted 1 ½ hrs, we went with several of the people to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Everyone wanted to sit at our table. This was a completely different experience from the morning group because most of these Chinese spoke English. They were extremely friendly people. Conversation was very easy at dinner. Some of the dishes we were served were: fish soup, long beans, sweet and sour pork, noodles, a hot potato dish, green peas, fried corn, sweet potato fingerlings. We made arrangements to meet the pastor’s wife Eunice and another woman named Ellie later in the week for sightseeing.
This church group was very different from the house church group—very educated and well-traveled. Many contrasts could be seen from the two church experiences, but both groups seemed to be worshipping God with no fear of reprisals. The first group was made up of young, urban professionals, and for the most part, new Christians, while the second group was older and more experienced in their faith. The registered church group is made up of people who have traveled the world. They have known Christ longer and appeared to be somewhat skeptical of this new opportunity that the Chinese government officials have given to Global Partners in Hope. Experience has told them that this door may not be open for very long.
We learned that there is a legacy of suspicion and sometimes hate among the Chinese people for outsiders, especially among the women. They have been betrayed many times over the last century, hoping with every change that they will experience true freedom. However, they have been left with disappointment. That explains their expressionless, almost sad faces. Global Partners in Hope wants to orchestrate religious freedom in China that will give these dear people the true freedom that only God can give.

DAY FIVE MONDAY, June 28, 2010
After breakfast we left for the Silk Market, driving into a different part of Beijing, and seeing more amazingly tall office and apartment buildings. We were met by Phoebe, one of the girls who had attended the workshop on Saturday. Phoebe speaks perfect English, and we really had a great time with her. The Silk Market was as exciting as any shopping I have ever done. The Chinese economy is the fastest growing in the world, and we did our part! Haggling is expected, and we got some great deals. Christmas shopping is well underway! We lunched in a café that had American food. A Coke has never tasted so good! Faye had a small pizza, and I had a BLT with French fries.
All along the way today, Phoebe witnessed to the booth owners. At one point, one of the Chinese women asked her (speaking in Chinese) why the older American women were so happy and smiled so much. Phoebe used the opportunity to tell her that it was because we had Jesus in our lives. At the café, she witnessed to our waitress. The young Chinese girl told Phoebe that she was not ready, so Phoebe gave her card to the girl and told her to call her anytime she needed to talk. This was Gospel shopping at its best!
We saw lots of European and other Americans at the Silk Market. Phoebe told us that most Chinese do not shop at this market. Even though the prices are wonderful by American standards, they are still cost-prohibitive to many Chinese.
It was good to spend the late afternoon at the hotel relaxing and looking at our great purchases.
For dinner we went to a restaurant called, “The Upper Room.” Upon entry into the restaurant, we saw a mosaic of the Christian fish symbol and a communion cup on the floor. There were murals painted on some of the walls with scripture verses. It was a beautifully decorated, very large dining room. We learned that this restaurant is owned by a Christian man who promotes it as a place for Christians to meet socially and for business discussion.
Our dinner guests were Sabina, and Lucien, who is the pastor of both a house church and a 3-S church (3 Self—government sanctioned church). Lucien had brought along his twin daughters and the American fiancé of one of the daughters. Lucien ordered a wonderful meal for us, and we had very insightful conversation about his two churches. He shed further light on how the government looks on house churches. The police and the house church member co-exist, as long as the house church does not get too large and bothersome for the neighbors. The police want to know what is going on the house church, what plans they may be making. They do not want them to venture outside their area. He also reiterated that the house churches are made up of younger people many of whom are professional people who have come to faith in Christ recently. They have much enthusiasm, but have not yet been grounded in Biblical teaching. His 3-Self church is made up of older people, and this service is much more traditional. This sounded much like some of the controversy that American churches have been through in regards to traditional versus contemporary worship styles.
I am glad that this trip is centered on meeting people rather than seeing “things,” which is often the focus of trips we Americans take to foreign countries. I feel as if I have a whole network of Chinese friends in Christ.

DAY SIX Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Breakfast was over, and we headed out to get our taxi to meet Dony whom we had met at the government registered church Sunday afternoon. Dony said that she had been a Christian for twenty years. She works for Lucent Technologies and has traveled the world. She was to be our tour guide for the day. Taxis are very cheap in Beijing and it’s the best mode of transportation for visitors. It is recommended that visitors hand the taxi driver your destination clearly written in Chinese so that you have a better chance of arriving at the right location. We were in good hands since Dony communicated to the drivers in Chinese.
Judy Burrows from Family Life Ministries, which partners with GPiH, also joined us. Judy and her husband, Jim just received their visas to do marriage and family counseling, a great need in China. In most Chinese homes, there is an extended family of grandparents who have responsibility for the children while both parents work. Many problems arise in these situations because the children do not have enough parental involvement in their lives at a young age. Divorce is currently over 50% in China, and the government recognizes this as a major problem and has agreed for us to do marriage and family counseling.
Our meeting place was in Dony’s neighborhood which is close to Confucius’ Temple. It was a beautiful neighborhood with small Chinese homes, long alleyways, and mostly bicycle traffic. We took the subway to Forbidden City, former home of the Emperor. The subway was similar to NYC subways except it was extraordinarily clean and more open.
When we arrived at Forbidden City, we were struck by the beauty of these ancient buildings. The Forbidden City was the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Across from the Forbidden City is Tian’anmen Square. There were several beggars as we entered the gates. Along with hundreds of other Chinese tourists, we spent about 1 ½ hrs touring the buildings. It was a very hot day (how do you say, “sweltering” in Chinese).
Dony took us to another unique Chinese restaurant owned by a famous Chinese actor. Again, we ate some delicious dishes. The authentic Chinese food that we are eating is so different from the western versions of Chinese food. Very small individual plates, a small bowl for soup, and chopsticks complete each place setting. Several dishes are ordered which are placed in the middle of the table and served family style. There is always rice, as well as, soup of some kind. There is not nearly the seasoning in the dishes that we have in American Chinese food. Most times there is no drink, or if there is a drink, it is water or hot tea. Desserts are not even a consideration. No matter where we have eaten, this seems to be the pattern. Our host always openly asks God’s blessing on the food.
We headed back to the hotel for a short rest before going to Josh and Sabina’s house church for Bible study. The Bible study was held at the apartment where we went to Sunday services. There were about 25 people present, again all in their 20s-30s. The time began with music worship, and then Josh introduced Peggy’s presentation on Bible study. After Peggy finished up her talk, Josh opened up a time of questions/answers. Most of the questions had to do with knowing whether or not you are called to be a leader. Other questions had to do with whether a new Christian is qualified to lead a study. They seemed to be asking: What does it take to lead a Bible study, and how can I be equipped to lead? It was good to see several of the same people we had met on Saturday and Sunday. The study lasted a little over 2 hrs.

DAY SIX WEDNESDAY, June 30, 2010
After breakfast we were joined by Eunice, wife of the pastor of the BICF (Beijing International Christian Fellowship), one of the registered churches, and Dony for a trip to the Great Wall. Our drive took us out of Beijing into the countryside. We drove along a modern freeway for about an hour, and then took a two lane road to the Great Wall. Along the way, we drove through a large agricultural area. The small towns had only a few people out on the streets, perhaps due to the heat. We saw many older buildings that seemed to have been deserted. I was later told that these vacant building had been bought by the government because they are old and in need of repair. They will be bulldozed to make room for newer buildings. There were vegetable stands all along the roadside. We passed streams where people were fishing from the banks.
We were dropped off at the entrance to the Great Wall where we purchased tickets. There were people hawking their souvenirs at the entrance. We rode lift chairs similar to a ski lift to the top of the Wall. After getting off, we began our walk along the Wall. The Wall extends 5,000 kilometers from east to west. We entered the Wall at the Mutianyu section which was built in 1569. Outside the wall the mountains are steep, while within the Wall (the Beijing side) the land is gentle. Vegetation was luxurious, and over 90 percent of the land was covered by grass, forests and fruit trees. Chestnuts trees were everywhere.
At one point we saw a family approaching us, and I noticed that the child was wearing a Virginia Tech t-shirt. I commented on the shirt and told them that I lived in Richmond, VA. They said they were from Richmond also. I asked what part of Richmond, and they said Short Pump. It turned out that they live in Church Run, just a couple of miles from us. How incredible to meet someone from my neighborhood in such a far away place!
The trip down from the Wall was interesting. We rode on a toboggan slide! It was really fun. Dony who acted as our translator told us that when we were about to get on the individual toboggans, the operators questioned her about the “two old ladies.” A sign at the entry point said that this ride down was not for the “old and weak”. Dony assured them that the two old ladies were in perfect health and could handle very well the ride down the mountain!
In the evening, we were picked up for dinner by Shaun and Sarah Bao. They took us to a very western-style restaurant in an upscale section of Beijing called Soho. There were several young professionals in the group, and we were the three Americans. A man who is a friend of Shaun’s showed 3-D slides of his trip to the Holy Land and talked about a Biblical theme park that he is planning for northeastern China.

This was our only truly cloudy day in Beijing although you would not have known this because of the smog which makes most days seem cloudy.
We were joined at breakfast by a young woman named Catherine who had requested some time with us to discuss some personal issues. Catherine has worked towards her doctorate. She is a writer for a magazine and does translating. She is a single mother in the process of getting a divorce from her Danish husband. Her question had to do with how to handle her finances in a Godly manner and also how to seek help for the legal aspects of child custody. I was struck by her sincerity in desiring to handle her life in a way that brought honor to God and to raise her daughter in a Christian home.
We got a taxi to the Silk Market where we were met by Dony. After a couple hours of shopping, we returned to the hotel to meet Josh and Sabina for a trip to a local orphanage. The orphanage is in a part of Beijing that is being revitalized, and the orphanage will soon be torn down to make room for more apartments. The area where the orphanage was located was behind the new apartments in a very rundown area. The children were excited to see us, and they loved the blow bubbles I brought to them. Many of them had obvious birth defects, and several of them appeared to have mental disabilities. They laughed and blew the bubbles. Most of them were between 4-10 years old. Only a couple of them spoke English, but their hugs and giggles showed us that they knew we cared about them.
After leaving the orphanage, we drove with Hope, Sabina and Josh to meet Jennifer, a young Chinese business woman, at a Taiwanese restaurant. Jennifer is a 4th generation Christian. She and her husband are very active in their church. As we entered the restaurant, we immediately heard Christian music playing in the background. We were told that the owners of the restaurant were Christians. Jennifer had called ahead and selected the food we would eat. She had brought gifts for Peggy, Faye, and me. We had a wonderful time of laughing, just like girlfriends would do anywhere.
After dinner, on our walk to the taxi, we passed by people outside at tables socializing and even passed a park where older Chinese men and women were dancing to recorded music. We waved to them from the sidewalk and they waved back. When they asked why what had brought us to Beijing, we told them, we came to see them! They welcomed us and continued their dancing.

DAY NINE Friday, July 2, 2010
What a beautiful morning! Unlike all of the other days in Beijing, we awoke to beautiful blue sky! The rain clouds from yesterday had cleared out all the smog. Looking out our hotel window, we could see much further than before and many more buildings. With the sunshine came the heat, and we had, what was probably the hottest day of our trip so far.
After breakfast, Shaun and Sarah Bao met Peggy and me. Shaun had stated that he would like to do some visioning. Shaun shared his involvement with Global Partners in Hope and his own personal vision for “influencing the influencers” in Chinese society. It was clear to me that this is his passion, and God has truly burdened his heart for creating paths to those in power in China. We all agreed that a strategic planning session is a good next step for Global Partners. Peggy has been effective in her three trips to China in making contacts and identifying needs, and we all felt that the time has come to get specific in defining programs that will go under the different prongs of the ministry.
Hope, a beautiful young woman who had translated for me on Saturday, met us around lunch time to take us to a beautiful restaurant that had authentic Beijing food. We were delighted with the delicious assortment of dishes. Unlike the other dishes we have tasted while on this trip, this food was more seasoned. After one of our favorite Beijing meals, we were off to the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven was built in 1420 and was where the emperors worshipped heaven and prayed to their many gods for good harvests.
One last trip to the Silk Market to pick up some last minute items was next on our agenda with Hope. Sabina and Josh met us at a coffee house for some discussion about the workshop that Peggy will be doing tomorrow. There is some reason to exercise caution with regards to the workshop because it has become larger than had been expected. Large gatherings draw attention, so Peggy and the other presenters will chose their words carefully while talking about leadership. Saying goodbye to Hope, Josh and Sabina was difficult. We have come to love these dear Christian friends, and leaving them was like leaving family.
For dinner we were invited to dine with Iwona and Ramsey Fahel at their lovely, upscale apartment overlooking the largest greenway park in China. The views were spectacular. Ramsey is an executive with an oil company, and the contrast in status was extraordinary. The Fahel’s and their two young daughters were delightful. Iwona had also invited Val, a friend of hers who is interested in family counseling. This evening was a very special time of creating interest and expanding the development for GPiH.
Back in our hotel room, it was time to jam everything we had bought into our suitcases! Thank goodness the hotel had bathroom scales in the room for weighing our bags before we get to the airport.

DAY TEN Saturday, July 3, 2010
After breakfast we said “Goodbye” to Beijing. Peggy will staying for a few days longer, doing another workshop today, as well as meeting with other Chinese who are interested in the work of Global Partners in Hope. For Faye and me, it will be a very long day of flying back to the United States.
In reflecting on Beijing, some of my thoughts are:
What an incredible opportunity Global Partners in Hope has been given by the Chinese government to be part of a small crack in the armor that has kept Christian workers out of China. I was struck time and time again by the openness with which the Chinese Christians proclaim their faith, boldly, publically, and seemingly without fear. I was also struck by their caution and healthy skepticism since they have been disappointed many times; however, they are not afraid to share their faith with anyone they meet. They are hungry for Bible study, for many of them, in its most elementary forms.
This city of 20 million, roughly the geographic size of the country of Belgium, is certainly a city of contrasts. I was told that a nice apartment would rent for about $6,000 per month, yet most of these would be occupied by foreigners holding passports. Beautiful parks, efficient freeway systems, and yet men sweeping the streets with brooms made of sticks tied together.
Starbucks, Pizza Hut, KFC, McDonalds abound, and are frequented mainly by foreigners. Authentic Chinese food takes many forms and is not like Chinese food in America! The Chinese women that we were with do very little cooking at home. They eat out because food in restaurants is so inexpensive.
Technology abounds, yet most of it is out of reach for most Chinese; however, everyone has a cell phone.
Chopsticks work quite well, and because you eat slower, you eat less. Perhaps this explains the fact that most of the Chinese people we saw looked very fit.
The Chinese like twins with silver hair! While stopped at a traffic light, the people on a bus beside our taxi were looking out their windows pointing at the Americans with white hair. We got that same reaction everywhere!
The generosity and hospitality of our Chinese friends was touching beyond anything I had imagined. We were hugged and thanked more times than I could ever count. We were given gifts to show appreciation. We were blessed to be in the company of women who showed Christ-likeness in their warmth and dedication.
God is alive in China. God has always been alive in China! It is believed that there are over 100 million Christians in China. Helping these Christians to grow in their faith with practical Biblical application is part of the challenge Global Partners in Hope is facing with our opportunity to work above ground.
Many of the problems that the Chinese women face are the same as what American women and women all over the world face: balancing home and work responsibilities, parenting issues, choosing the educational opportunities for their children, relationships with in-laws, etc. These problems are intensified because of the huge population, but the basic issues are the same. They want the grounding of God’s word to be their guide in making decisions.
There is a boldness among Chinese Christians that is not seen in American Christians. Chinese Christians believe they will be the ones to reach the Muslim world because they understand the persecution that Muslims have faced over the centuries. Already Chinese Christians are leading the evangelical world in missionaries sent out to the unreached peoples of the world.
I would jump at the opportunity to spend another ten days in China!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Very Special Christmas Present...

It was the day after Christmas at a church in San Francisco. The pastor of the church was looking over the cradle when he noticed that the baby Jesus was missing from among the figures.

Immediately he turned and went outside and saw a little boy with a red wagon, and in the wagon was the figure of the little infant, Jesus.

So he walked up to the boy and said, "Well, where did you get Him, my fine friend?"

The little boy replied, "I got him from the church."

"And why did you take him?"

The boy said, "Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to the little Lord Jesus and I told him if he would bring me a red wagon for Christmas I would give him a ride around the block in it."

Mother's Day 2010

Being Your Mother
Author unknown
Being your mother means that I have had the opportunity to experience loving someone more than I love myself. I have learned what it's like to experience joy and pain through someone else's life.
It has brought me pride and joy; your accomplishments touch me and thrill me like no one else's can. It has brought me a few tears and heartaches at times, but it has taught me hope and patience. It has shown me the depth, strength, and power of love.
Being your mother hasn't always been easy, and I'm sure I've said or done things that have hurt or confused you. But no one has ever made me as satisfied as you do just by being happy.
No one has made me as proud as you do just by living up to your responsibilities.
No one's smile has ever warmed my heart like yours does; no one's laughter fills my heart with delight as quickly as yours can. No one's hugs feel as sweet, and no one's dreams mean as much to me as yours do. No other memories of bad times have miraculously turned into important lessons or humorous stories; the good times have become precious treasures to relive again and again.
You are a part of me, and no matter what happened in the past or what the future holds, you are someone I will always accept, forgive, appreciate, adore, and love unconditionally. Being your mother means that I've been given one of life's greatest gifts--you.

I learned to love tulips!

Welcome To Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

* * *
©1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.