Because it is true that no person gets a second chance to make a first impression, I have to share my first impressions of Beijing in the winter…of course assuming that what is true of a person is also true of a city. (My good friend Gary Nix says the first reports in a new place are usually the best for this reason).
We arrived on a cold but sunny day, to airport terminal 3 that is only four years old, being built for the 2008 Olympics. Massive, clean, not that busy, and well organized was certainly the ‘theme’ for the day. Everyone was helpful when called upon, beginning, of course with Brother Ming and Barry, a local anesthesiologist who studied at Duke for two years and then went back recently for six months.
Five days before our arrival by airplane (with 10 overweight large bags and trunks), we learned the apartment where we were to live for the next few years had been sold, and had to be cleared out by the end of December. Two days before moving we learned the other apartment we would now lease for a year was not going to be available until four days after our arrival, necessitating a four day stay in a Super 8 Hotel, another Olympic import.
After a good night’s rest, we made our first 10-minute walk to the Lin Da building, where we meet for morning Bible class and worship each Sunday. Weather was around 8 degrees F, with a steady wind, so it was pretty cold. (Have I mentioned that since we have arrived in Beijing our toes have not felt frozen one time? It is amazing what indoor heat accomplishes!)
I sent out an email note later in the day to others who have gathered in the past and expressed hope for steady progress in this area, but thoroughly enjoyed putting God in His rightful highest place and singing many English songs that we have not sung in China, though we missed our Jingzhou group and singing in both English and Chinese.
We did some rearranging of the room to make better use of our small space, using the stacked trunks as ‘table tops’ and opening the windows to use the cold outdoors as a refrigerator. Will enjoy a respite due to our living conditions, and receive the ‘hand off’ of the work here and the move into the apartment.
We found our first ‘country cooking’ restaurant next to the motel, which will be close enough to our apartment to come back, with food that met our taste in both quality and quantity…and the price was OK, though slightly higher than in Jingzhou. An indoor market is close by, so we will definitely be in this area on a weekly basis to get a good meal, some fruits and vegetables, and I also found a raisin muffin that was ‘quite tasty without being real sweet,’ which is the China way. We received several texts from Jingzhou friends, wanting to make sure we were OK and adjusting to our new place.
This is the first short news sent to immediately family after our first day: “Hello family: we have completed our first 24 hours as inhabitants in Beijing, China. It has gone well, but we are not in our apartment as yet…rather will be in a Super 8 Motel for 2-4 days while our 2-bedroom apartment on the 24th floor will be vacated.
We had our first ‘electronic’ worship with five this morning at our rented meeting room in a nice hotel…three in person and two by Skype audio, which worked great this week. (The second week we had three in person and four on Skype as two teachers from Jingzhou joined the study session).
We found a nice grocery store three miles from our hotel (and 4 miles from our new apartment) that had good fruits, breads, etc., like others in Jingzhou…and full supply of breakfast cereals, Borden’s cheddar cheese and Hormel ham and other meats (not found in Jingzhou)….so we will be able to eat here without having to order internet foreign food so often. It is still more expensive but no shipping costs.
“I told Terry just a few minutes ago that “I can think of nothing better right now…we are together (she turned and began smiling) and the internet is working (she kinda just looked at me for a fraction, it seemed, but it may have been me).” Do any of you guys get that, or is it JUST me? Terry said “a guy thing’ or “a Gary thing.” Her vote: a guy thing.”
I just saw the final NFL scores of the regular season; Dallas should have tried to get Sean Payton as coach…their ‘same ole finishes’ will only continue for another year, in my opinion. I also won the pick ‘em contest for the regular season, to go along with the victory in the college contest. By the way, I won the regular season NFL pick ‘em contest.
We find the weather is ‘doable,’ as TJ puts it. With a reasonable amount of covering, we can manage being outside, and it IS warm inside everywhere. In fact, I have not had cold feet since coming north, which could not be said in Jingzhou, even inside after a morning of classes. Temps are in the 2-28 degree range now, with strong 10-14 mph winds.
We have a good view from each of our three rooms…skies have been bright blue and beautiful with the strong winter winds. We have government-provided heat in the apartment, which means it is radiator heat in all rooms (including the bathroom) and has been in the 67-71 degree range thus far, with outside temps 2-27. At some point in the spring, the government will decide we no longer need heat and the whole city will lose heat….w are hoping their opinion about when it is needed, etc., is at least close. We have air conditioning units similar to what we had in Jingzhou in all main rooms, and we pay the electricity, so we get to decide when/how/what regarding the AC.
We have made arrangements to get with two of our Yangtze University graduate students who now live in this area…we are all excited to renew our ’in person friendship’ and begin again some Bible discussions. We have spent many weeks with them in the past. We have also offered skype studies with some in the area who cannot join us in person. Our plan is to find 2-3 groups during the week for important study, in addition to events already scheduled for Sunday morning.
Just received one of the most encouraging emails of the year, from a good friend, Chris, from Sacramento: “We don’t write much but have always been in your camp. We read your mission reports and view the mission photos like little kids reading about mysterious adventurers living out fascinating adventures in a strange, unknown part of the world. And so you are…”
We took a taxi to do our first department store shopping, since we have to purchase all bedding and kitchen items. We brought some bowls, plates, glasses, spoons, forks, etc., but needed most other things since we want to entertain guests and began with nothing (it reminded us of our first apartment after we had graduated from MTSU and were setting up house).
We were a ‘comedy act’ trying to carry all of it out of the store and getting in/out of a taxi, the bedding and pillow especially difficult since we also had six plastic bags of food. (The exciting part? We will do it again at least three times since we have family and other guests coming in January and we’ll need bedding items for our second room which will become a bedroom when a futon we bought is delivered).
We have received a small surprise each of the first days in our new apartment. We actually have both hot and cold water connected to the clothes washer, which removes carrying hot water from the other room. We have hot water in the bathroom and kitchen, in plenteous supply. We carried a rolled up padded single mat from Jingzhou to have for a place for guests to sleep, and remember getting it to the front door of our hotel and into one of the taxis that moved our things up the street for us. Sad, sad, sad to realize the loss…but Barry has purchased two replacements off the internet for us.
I have enjoyed about two hours of Skype talk with Ken, discussing ‘meaty topics’ and laughing over two with a good sense of humor. We will lay some foundation through both class and assembly time for 3-4 weeks and begin a textual study of Ephesians in worship. It follows well the recent study of 1 Corinthians the church studies the past several weeks. It is renewing me to discuss these topics and make plans to share ideas and note to all who will participate, so there can be energetic exchange of questions and answers where appropriate.
The air pollution has set all-time highs here this weekend. We can hardly see other buildings out of our 24th floor apartment.
We will have Eric and his family here for eight days, then another couple for five days and then Deryk and his family for 4-5 days….glad to be a respite for those in the area.
China News: Lining up for a lifetime of love — Romantic date sees couples across the country flock to tie the knot Let Jan 4 go down in history as the sweetest day of all.
In Chinese, the date 2013-1-4 has a similar pronunciation to “love you for a lifetime”, making it one of the most auspicious and romantic days to tie the knot. The day saw more than 12,000 weddings in Beijing, 7,300 in Shanghai, 3,000 marriage reservations in Chongqing, and Wuhan in Hubei province had 3,500 couples booking slots to get married, an all-time high in the city of 10 million residents.
Auspicious dates are almost always popular with Chinese, who prefer days with special meanings or that sound similar to “perfect happiness” and “everlasting love”, according to Lin Kewu, a spokesman for the marriage registration office under Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.
On Sept 9, 2009, more than 15,000 couples got married in Beijing. The triple 12 date, Dec 12, 2012, also saw a surge in marriage registration in Beijing and Shanghai. Determined to be one of the lucky ones, Beijing-based video maker Zhang Ying had applied to marry on the day weeks ago and stood in line on the eve of Jan 4 to guarantee his entry. Before the midnight clock chimed, there were more than 600 standing in line at Beijing’s Haidian Marriage Registration Office, all in cold-defying outfits.
The couple was able to marry at 5:30 in the morning. “To see the stamp on the date, all the efforts to come out in this freezing weather were worthwhile!” Zhang said. Hao Shide, a staff member with the Haidian District Marriage Registration Office in Beijing, made more than 200 stamps and said more than 200 “Congratulations to you two!” on Jan 4. He began his shift at 5 am with 14 colleagues, four hours before the usual office time, and skipped all breaks. On an average day, the whole office would manage 200 registrations.
Hao’s hard work was rewarded by a crate of wedding candies by his desk, sweet gifts from the happy couples who just tied the knot. Pan Juanjuan, 28, and Chen Wei, 29, who have been together for five years, said they specially chose the date and waited months for it. “It’s our solemn commitment. It’s a matter of a lifetime.” In Shanghai, many young couples waited in front of the marriage registration offices from as early as 2 am on one of the coldest days in the city this winter. Some couples hugged to keep warm, and joked that “cold and slow” sounded the same as “romantic” in Shanghai dialect.
At the marriage registration office of Changning district, quite a few parents were found standing in line for their children who failed to make online reservations ahead of time, as the quota was quickly filled. “I’m lining up for my daughter,” an elderly man with a nose made red from the cold told Xinmin Evening News. “I rise early for exercise anyway. We are growing old, and ready to do whatever possible for the happiness of our children,” he said. Tian’ai Road in Hongkou district of Shanghai attracted many lovers on this special day too, as the street name literally means “sweet love”. Many waited in front of the post office there for postcards marked with “20131400”.
On such special days, roses are more expensive, lovebirds are photogenic, sugar is scattered everywhere. But the first message between lovebirds after they officially tie the knots is the always romantic words “I love you”.
China sees coldest weather in 28 years—
BEIJING – Temperatures recorded since the end of November 2012 have marked the lowest temps to hit China in 28 years, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said Saturday.
Temps have averaged minus 3.8 degrees Celsius since the last 10 days of November, about 1.3 degrees lower than the previous recorded average. Temperatures in northeast China hit a 43-year low and stood at minus 15.3 degrees Celsius, about 3.7 degrees below the previous recorded average.
North China experienced its coldest winter in 42 years, with temperatures hitting minus 7.4 degrees Celsius, 2.4 degrees lower than the average level in previous years. Temperatures in north China are expected to pick up next week, although much of south China will continue to experience cloudy skies, rain and snow, the CMA’s National Meteorological Center said.