I have said for many years that God’s design for worship makes it possible in the most simple or complex circumstances….and it is special no matter how many are in attendance. We have enjoyed ‘record crowds’ these past two weeks since we have hosted family and friends from other areas of China as they enjoy our city while on the extended winter break from teaching. Others who live here are also traveling, so February will be a little lonely….but give us a chance to “catch our breath” from the move.
Whether we like it or not, we will have a honeymoon period for a couple of weeks, as the whole nation celebrates their Spring Festival (how can February be called spring?) with travel to their hometowns to be with family. The whole country seems to close down in many ways.
When Eric and family were making plans to return to Shiyan, they were encouraged to “get home before the first week of February” or the trains and buses would all be full and you will be stranded…it sounded pretty good to us to have them with us for 2-3 more weeks but what could we do?. 🙂
We said it often on a three-day trip to Hong Kong to change our visa status so we could stay in China: “we’re not in Kansas any more.” As modern and large as our new home city is, it is nothing compared to what we saw to our Southeast.
Besides a modern train shuttle system (north-to-south), we found jewelry on every block and literally a multitude of polite men trying to sell us “copy Rolex watches and copy handbags,” (their exact words). And there were also plenty who offered 24-hour service on tailoring of all items of silk clothing. It does not make sense that the many authentic Rolex stores do not send someone out each day to arrest the racketeers…
The streets are mostly two lanes and the side walks very wide….saw many double-decker buses, and everyone drives very fast on the left side of the road.
One very appreciated part of the trip? An Outback restaurant meal that was perfect and also lunch at TGIF’s (why are our best times often fixed around eating American-style food? Do we miss it that-t-t much?)
Because we have some ‘import’ foods here that are not in other cities, those who have visited thus far are taking several of the items back with them.
I have begun adding some pdf lesson and sermon files to our website, under the ‘contact us’ icon on the front page, so go online and use whatever you can where you are. The site has many limitations, but slowly I am able to improve it with more information to enable the work.
We will entertain another family of five in early February, and we just learned of a group from Washington that might be with us for a few days in June…we have provided travel relief/fellowship all our life and glad to have this opportunity!
We heard from our students that we will like Beijing, but ‘it is a dry city.” What does that mean? Cold weather dries out the skin, we learned living twice in Ohio. They do not get an abundance of rain, it seems, and the reason is that the area was originally a desert. Development hides that fact, but summer sand storms are frequent and the fact there are no natural water sources requires its delivery from such places of Shiyan, where Eric lives over 1,400 miles away.
We have come to really appreciate the Beijing subway system, and we have a stop about 200 yards from our apartment…cost two Yuan for any trip one makes….that connects us to the city in a hurry.
We were greeted with a medium dusting of snow on our fourth Sunday morning.
Put retired ACU professor Ken Retzer in your prayers, as he is still recovering from back surgery and traveling the next few weeks to see family and his doctors in Texas (he has lived in China for many years and has been a good friend already).
Another brother, Rey, is also traveling the next five weeks back to the Philippines. He wants to train to become a minister, and has been denied twice for Visa admission to America to study at one of the preacher schools. Ken and I are going to consider how we can begin working with him more specifically to advance his knowledge and skills.
We made headway today toward getting a one-year student Visa. We need to get the Chinese embassy in America to stamp/verify that we are married (sending marriage certificate to those who can help) and TJ also has gone to a distant hospital for a physical…when we pay the tuition fees, she will study 9-Noon Monday-thru-Friday…but still be allowed to return to Florida for birth of 4th grandson. She will enroll in spring and fall classes each year. We are very excited; she wants to learn the language and it allows us to stay without so much ‘fuss’ over this Visa issue…Lord willing!
We met a couple with a small child while getting the physical from Chattanooga (my home town) who are from Tennessee Temple College. The wife/mother teaches four year olds and the father is a stay-at-home dad (her words). We invited them to our Sunday morning worship…they are here doing similar things as us. It is a small world! We saw some new territory and met a nice guard who was directing many people into a business park…kind and helpful to us in getting a taxi that knew where the hospital was located.
Several Let’s Start Talking (LST) teams are in-and-out of this city annually, and often there is a need for follow-up with students who are available when they leave. We have begun weekly sessions with two of them…Terry has a young lady who has already worked through Luke and I have an older man still working through that book. We have enjoyed the time spent with them thus far.
We are often called upon to help with supplies for China Agape homes. We had such an experience this week, forwarding gifts to children delivered by American Airlines pilot Sam McLean (see photo page two). It is the first of several in coming weeks, to include medical equipment for a new site to open this year, Lord willing. (Go to our website to get information on the good work being done here).
Greetings from Terry: It has been so long since I have communicated with you. Things are going very well here in Beijing.
It has been very busy with moving, getting organized and having family and friends here to visit. But now we have about two weeks till the next family comes. We have found a little vegetable market at our back gate which is very convenient. The two grocery/department stores are not too far away and are well stocked. When we arrived our apartment only had furniture so we made many trips by taxi to purchase household goods. Buying only as much as we could each carry at a time and what would fit into a taxi. We felt like little ants. We have found a good barber, also close to our back gate. One of our visiting friends helped translate for us on our first visit so we could get the cut we wanted. He did very well and we are pleased and thankful.
A sister told us told us of the language school she attends that takes students no matter what their age is and will give me a student visa and Gary a spousal visa. We are now in the process of trying to get all the documents and papers in order before the Chinese New Year which begins February 9. All of the government offices close for three weeks and nothing will be processed during that time.
If this school takes me and we get our visas then I will have my job description all figured out: to study hard to earn our visas (Mon – Fri. 9-12 am), keep the “Davenport Hotel” up and running so as to encourage and refresh the Saints as they come to and fro in our area, and help with the discussions and studies.
I am sure you have heard about the bad air quality we have had. It is very common to wear a dust mask out and about here. During the night a hard wind blew and cleared out the sky. The next morning we could see two small mountain ranges in the distance. It is very pretty when it is clear. We are told in other times of the year the wind will bring sand storms from the near dessert. Oh goodie, new experiences. Actually, I have already experienced sand storms in Arizona and Texas, thank you very much. (smile)
We have some new opportunities coming in the next few weeks. Thank you for remembering us in your requests. It really helps. This area spins dust bunnies faster than a State Fair spins cotton candy, probably because it is so dry. It is shocking how much static there is. (Pun intended).
The other day we were out running errands. I had my ear muffs, scarf, gloves and blue dust mask on. My ear muffs were shuffling off my ears, my gloves made it hard to find things in my purse and my dust mask was fogging up my glasses. I finally just removed my glasses and stayed very close to Gary. It was funny and frustrating at the same time. Such are the frustrations of winter. I can wait to see what the summer brings. — Love, Terry
China News: The Beijing Subway line 1 broke ground on July 1st 1965 and started formally operation on October 1st 1969. By the end of 2010, Beijing subway network has 14 lines, 198 stations and 336 kilometers of tracks in operation. By paying the ticket fare of Renminbi 2 Yuan, passengers can transfer among almost all subway lines except for the airport express line. Ticket fare for airport express line is RMB 25 Yuan.