We started out from our hotel to head out to a huge apartment complex that has a number of foreigners as residents. It is nicely laid out with buildings probably 30 floors high built around common spaces with playgrounds and picnic areas. We found our way to the basement of one of these high rises where the rooms had been nicely arranged and decorated for group meetings. It was own by a local Christian Chinese man. The meeting was hosted by Jufang who led a worship time as well as greeted guests when they arrived. Eventually 25 women crowded into our room, another unique experience for two reasons: the age range was the widest yet, from the 20's into the 70's and the group was for married women only. Several of the women were seekers invited by Jufang. She is quite the evangelist. When the shawls and hats were given away by drawing, it turned out that the seekers were the winners. This has happened so many times these last two weeks that we aren’t surprised, and it is fun to let them know that a group of women are praying for the winners stateside.
|Jufang and Peggy|
I spoke on idols we worship while Peggy followed up with being beautiful to God. Peggy then wrapped our session with the “dissolving” paper activity asking them to write down their idols and any physical features they didn’t like about themselves. A bowl of water was placed in the center of the floor. After praying, everyone placed the papers in the water, not knowing what was going to happen. As the papers dissolved in the water, they gasped. It was a great object lesson.
Afterwards, we went to the common area and enjoyed a potluck lunch. Before we departed, the wonderful women sang us a farewell song “We love you. Jesus loves you.” Peggy and I were amazed at the freedom they had to sing this Christian song loud and clear in this public area.
During the afternoon, Hope took me to see the Temple of Heaven, an ancient site where the emperor sacrificed to a supreme God. We walked around like all the other tourists, but I ended up using the time to get to know Hope, quite a phenomenal young woman. We talked and walked and walked and talked. We laughed at how similar we were. I connected easily with her and I know we’ll continue our new friendship long distance.
In the evening, Peggy, Jon, Hope, Fangfang and I made our way to another part of Beijing to meet with an artists’ group of 14 young people that gathers for Bible study and encouragement. In an attempt to connect with them, I shared how music is a huge thing in Jon’s family and how art is a part of my life and our church’s life. I talked on idols again while Peggy spoke about worries. We did the dissolving paper activity which the young men and women really liked as usual.
We were able to leave the location at a decent hour, but we ended up waiting and waiting for an empty taxi. It became obvious we needed a plan B. So plan B became the public bus system, and we caught a very nice articulated bus just like the ones we have in Portland. The cost was ridiculously inexpensive – 1.5 yuan or about 23 cents. The subway system is fairly good too and only costs 30 cents. Taxis are more expensive but still not too bad. Most of our trips were fairly close to the hotel and cost anywhere from $3 to $6. Considering the driving in Beijing, the taxis have been well worth it.
I was exhausted when I got to the hotel and thankful that I had packed most of my suitcase a few days earlier so that I could go to bed. It felt a little strange that tomorrow would be the end of my adventure with God in China and the beginning of my trip back to the U.S. Maybe this will be the beginning of a new adventure yet to unfold!