The Silk Market. Wow! Earlier this week Peggy had taken me to this shopping mecca to introduce me to its craziness and to scope out gift ideas. One hour just about did me in. On this day, we endured four hours of persistent sales people (and that's putting it mildly) and an occasional grab of the arm. I didn't intend to do Christmas shopping but I couldn't resist the great deals. I think there were at least 5 floors and I read there are over 1500 stalls. For a person who hates shopping, this definitely stretched my limits. Peggy was helpful in helping me barter. It was weird - I tried to be polite and kind and rude at the same time. Don't make eye contact. Ignore their sales pitch. Smile. And say, "Not today. So sorry. Not interested." BTW, it's required that they understand English.
Of course, if I can't get all these gift into my bags, the extra baggage fees may not be worth the hard work of bartering and running through the gauntlet. Peggy assures me we will get it home somehow without the fees.
I really wanted a Chinese t-shirt - most everyone dresses quite casual here. I finally found one I liked and got the price down to a reasonable one. Then it was a matter of trying to find the right size. This is where it got depressing. The Chinese are so thin and petite that the size I ended up with was an XXXL! And even this size was tighter than what I like around my midsection. I am definitely less inclined to buy clothes in China.
Getting to the Market and getting back proved to be a challenge. The traffic was horrible! It took us twice as long to get there. I had to close my eyes as vehicles came within an inch or two of the taxi. I'm not exaggerating! The driver made the ride to the Market a little more enjoyable however. He really wanted us to understand his attempts to communicate. He was so dramatic. ^_^ He kept looking back at us though after Peggy explained in broken Chinese that we were from America. He kept pointing to what I thought was his ear. Then it dawned on us what he was trying to say. He had been pointing to his hair. He was perplexed that I had hair like the Chinese but could not speak Chinese while Peggy, obviously a foreigner, was doing a fair job communicating in the language. I get looks like this all the time. Peggy thinks I may have less trouble attending a house church on Sunday than she because of my Asian look (we had been asked to avoid them on Sunday morning because of recent incidences).
The attempt to find a taxi to get us to our evening meeting also proved to be difficult. As a result we were over a half hour late. But the group of young people were so patient and grateful that we had come. The church is called FaithHopeLove. It is a church plant from another that was started by Hope, an employee and translator for Global Partners. She and her roommates had just moved to a new apartment two weeks earlier and were still in the process of moving their new church there. The location was in the outskirts of Beijing and it took a while to even find the apartment complex located within a gated community.
Tomorrow (Saturday) will be a long day. Peggy and Jon (yes, her husband's name is Jon too and he likes to wear a fanny pack just like my Jon!) will be speaking on marriage for the whole morning. Then I have all afternoon to cover the book of Habakkuk, the theme being Hab. 2:4 - "The righteous will live by faith." Again, we appreciate your prayers! If you haven't figured it out by now, China is 15 hours ahead of Portland. So I'll be starting my session about 10:30 pm Friday night, PST.
BTW, I finally see blue sky in Beijing today! It's typically hazy because of pollution (though it's not too bad) and yesterday it actually sprinkled and cooled down from the 80's into the 70's. The rain cleared the air for us today.
Blessings to you all and thank you for your prayers!