It is 6:44am and I am sitting in an internet bar on a dark walking street here in WH. It is a large room filled with hundreds of computers and probably 50 Chinese people. Since it is so early, most of them have been here for most of the night. Most of them are smoking and playing internet games or watching movies. TIC (This is China) baby!
I have been awake since about 2:00am. I have tried to do everything right to counter jet lag but it seems to have caught up with me. I have not napped at all and have gone to bed after 10 each night. The first two nights I slept well, but it must have been the sleeping pills that helped and not my strategies for fighting jet lag. I will try to stay awake all day today so hopefully I can sleep well tonight.
Today is Christmas day here. We have a somewhat low key day including time at home, an early dinner with Sam and Joan's (S&J) team, and a Christmas party at the coffee shop where S&J work. If you have a minute, I would like to tell you about yesterday.
What we did Yesterday
I started the day off early with Laurel on a hunt for dumplings (Jiao Zi). Dumplings are my favorite Chinese food and I woke up at 3:00am with a hankering for some dumplings for breakfast. We went to the same street where I found the steamed buns the first morning and we hit the jackpot. We found a crowded, dirty, smokey restaurant that served just what we were looking for, steamed pork dumplings.
After breakfast we went walking down this very "Chinese" street and enjoyed seeing all kinds of strange foods and mingling with common people. Again, I have been blessed with more of a desire to pray for this city and the people here so walking and praying is something I have been doing quite a bit of. It is especially wonderful to have Laurel here with me. This is the first time we have been back to the land we love as a married couple. It is such a blessing to experience the sights, sounds, and people of this place with my best friend and partner in ministry.
After breakfast and our walk, we went with S&J to visit their tutor. This was an amazing experience that reminded me of everything I love about China. Their tutor is an old man in his 70's that has been teaching foreigners for many years. He seems to be an expert in Chinese culture and we quickly found out that he is a master storyteller. We spoke to him for about 45 minutes in Chinese and listened as he told us about the history of WH's most famous landmarks. We sat in his freezing apartment and were humbled by the kindness and patience of this wonderful man. Please pray for his salvation. His name is teacher Zhou.
After visiting with the tutor, we went to a restaurant frequented by S&J for a lunch with several of their American friends and their team. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, and other great foods. It was fun meeting everyone they work with. Moreover, the food was great.
After lunch, we went back to S&J's apartment for a Christmas party with the team. They lead 4 college graduates who are here for a year or 2. They all teach English and live on campuses. We had a good time together.
After the party, we went back to the coffee shop for a big Christmas party/program. It was awesome being around 100 or so Chinese students who are studying English and want to practice with native speakers. During the party, we talked about several Christmas traditions, had some games, sang some songs, and read the Christmas story. There is another similar party tonight so we are excited to go back.
I must confess that so far being here has been a blessing. There are several things that the Lord seems to be doing in my life.
- I have been praying more than I have in a long time. I am not sure why, but I have had more of a desire to pray and intercede for many things. When I couldn't sleep last night, instead of getting up to watch TV like I would normally do when I have trouble sleeping, I prayed. I prayed for whatever came to mind. It was great just to speak to the Lord about whatever was on my heart. If you are reading this and are a member of 3ABC, please know that you and our church were especially prayed for. I miss all of you and hope you have a merry Christmas.
- For some reason, I have been uniquely sensitive to sin in my life. I am not talking about a few of the big sins I struggle with, but just the sinfulness of my whole heart. Much of the praying I have been doing is confessing and asking forgiveness for sin in my life. I am not sure why the Lord is making me aware of this now, and in this place, but I am humbled by my sin, and in the awesome grace of our Father.
- I have a strong desire to share the good news with people I meet. Last night I was very burdened for the good news and I spent a lot of time asking for boldness and opportunities to share. I prayed for my wife as well, that the Father would put someone in her path to share the Truth with. If you would join us in asking for these things, I would appreciate it.
Well, I guess that is about all for today. I am sorry I couldn't write last night. I hope that all of you have a great Christmas. Please remember to pray for East Asia today. There will be thousands of evangelistic Christmas parties all over the country today. Please pray that the Father would lead many people to Himself. I will write again as soon as I get a chance.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to hit the streets again in search of some dumplings to eat, and some people to share the true meaning of Christmas with. Sheng Dan Kuai Le!