It seems like it's been a week since I have been at a computer. One must be very careful in Mainland about what is posted so to prevent any of my collegues from having to worry about anything, I didn't use their computers. I can't adequately describe what this past weekend was like. The city I visited is 5 million people, and I believe they were concentrated in about a 12 city block square. Not really, but it was very very crowded. During rush hour on Michigan Ave in Chicago is nothing like this city. The English Center and Church are on a "downtown" street where there are tons of shops. The merchants hire teenagers to stand on short stools in the doorways of the shops and clap and yell "Come in, come in and buy". Of course it is in Chinese and they use a special sort of squawky voice and yell this over very loud music. All of the shops have their own, so it is a cacophony of noise. In the side street are street vendors selling clothing, and randomly scattered are vendors of raisins, nuts, currents, etc. whose goods are in a wooden crate attached to a bicycle. It is all very different from anything I have ever experienced. When you go down a different street, you find the vendors of fresh goods, called the wet market. There you find rabbits and side pieces of pork, fresh vegetables and fruits, medicines, tea, and almost anything else you can mention. There are people selling live chickens from a crate on the front of a bicycle. On another street there are vendors selling candy, paper products, ice cream or whatever. The scooters and motorcycles were much bigger and faster than Macau, and there were so many. In Macau there are very definate cross walks. But here there were none, and one just took a chance to cross the street.
The English Center and the church were wonderful. So many students hungry for the word and for English. The church service on Sunday was about 2 hours, all in Chinese. There were about 350 in Church. There are almost no Westerners there. I can't say the city name because of the restrictions on the people there, and I don't want to jeporadize their visas. I am not exagerating about that. The young people on the street say "Hello, welcome to China", and will come up and ask if you will speak English with them. The older people stare. One student who is a reporter for the newspaper was so excited about our election. He came to class with an English newspaper all about Obama, with 3 US flags, and wanted to talk about the election. After the Bible class we had "free talk" time for about 1/2 hour or 45 minutes, and students could ask about anything or talk about anything. Some stayed, most left after the lesson, and those who stayed asked spiritual questions, and it was an amazing experience. One student wanted to know how I can tell when something is God's will. There's a loaded question. I answered the best I could and I think he was satisfied with my answer.
On Saturday, 6 of the English Center staff and I went for a massage together. It was an hour long, and we had our shoulders and neck, feet and legs massaged. It was really amazing as well. I had gotten a very stiff neck from the bed on Friday night. The matteresses there are as hard as a board, and that is not an exageration at all. All of the toilets in China are called "Squatty Potties" and are exactly as you would envision. We found the same thing in Russia. I asked why and the reason was obvious....they take much less material to build and have fewer parts to be repaired. And if that is waht you grow up using, you are perfectly comfortable with them. In Macau my bed is more comfortable, and we have Western toilets. However, even with the more open society and freedom of religion in Macau, there is not the same sort of enthusiasm for the church as I experienced this weekend. I used my flip video to record some of the singing (thank you again John Deere staff) and I want to share it with you. Even though you can't understand the words, you will understnad the feeling. When the congregation sang "What a Friend we Have in Jesus", I had tears in my eyes.
This morning I came back to Macau. And you will not believe it but I got my hair cut. I think Steven Andrews came back to life and moved to Macau, because I asked the stylist to cut about 4 inches and it is about to my ears. Steven always cut twice as much as I asked, too. But here you also get a 30 minute head and neck massage with a shampoo. A shampoo is about 4 US dollars, haircut and shampoo: 8 US dollars. It feels great, and it will grow back.
Today it is finally not so hot. It has been in the upper 80's lower 90's since I got here. The rest of the week will go fast. I have some projects to finish up this week and on Friday I head to Hong Kong where I will stay in one of the churches' guest house (I think Baptist) and on Saturday I will take a tour called "The Land Between". Sunday the 16th I come home. I am ready to come home, but I know I have more work to do here first.
It is great to hear from you in your comments.