I am still really tired but this isn't the most tired I've been. In the summer of 2008, I went on two out of the US mission trips in a month with only four days in between. The first was to Honduras and then to China. This is from August 4, 2008.
After spending twenty-seven of the last thirty-one days on mission trips, I have returned to Houston with the prospect tomorrow of both teacher in-service and Hurricane Edouard. Of the forty or so on our team, I was the last of our group to make it home. In the fifty hours since we left our hotel in Shenyang to go to the airport, I would guess I have slept four or five hours, tops. Yesterday, I stayed at a hotel in San Francisco and ended up watching television and playing with the Internet in the lobby for most of the night. I don't think I have jet lag but I did experience Sunday twice as we flew east, a first for me. In the coming days, I want to share some experiences and pictures that opened my eyes to life in China. Let me begin today with a few completely random observations.
I thought traffic and driving habits were bad in Haiti and Honduras. They can't hold a headlight to China. One of our drivers who is with the local aid agency we worked with grew up driving in Minneapolis, no small city. Mark told me that it took him a year to get his license in China because the drivers made him so nervous. He also said two hundred additional cars are on the streets of Shenyang EVERY DAY and I would guess many of them might be first time drivers as the masses in China now have the purchasing power to buy their own cars. Honking is as natural as breathing in Shenyang. It would get you into violent confrontations in Houston.
I have a new favorite way to travel- Korean Airlines! For twenty-three hours on the two trips across the Pacific, we were treated to the best service I have ever seen. The Korean Airline flight attendants all look like sisters, dress and walk elegantly, wear their hair and makeup identically. Think of the backup singers in Robert Palmer's Addicted To Love except these young ladies dress in pale blue and are incredibly pleasant and attentive to the passengers!
It seems like every other person I saw in China was smoking. I have become accustomed to smoke-free environments in the US and it was a shock to the system to see people lighting up in every building we entered.
A Post Script to the driving observation: I was more afraid of the bicycles on the sidewalk than any car on the street. I learned to walk in straight lines. Any deviation might throw you into the path of a two-wheeler closing in from the rear.
I became passable with chopsticks, even to the point of being competent with rice. Chad Hedgepath told me he lost ten pounds on this trip five years ago but I at least held steady. The Chinese food was terrific! The only entree' I passed on was frog legs but I've passed on them in the States as well. The number 0ne fast food franchise in China? KFC! The Colonel would be proud. One day I was drinking a cup of coffee at one of the numerous STARBUCKS we saw and I was the only one not on a cell phone; just like Houston!
Whew- glad I'm home! I will miss the terrific folks I worked with and the tremendous Christians I met, both American and Chinese. My life has taken a turn- I won't be the same. Thanks for your prayers and I hope you like the stories that will emanate from this website in the coming days!
Applicable quote of the day:
"In China, we don't consider someone truly beautiful until we have known them for a long time, and we know what's underneath the skin."
Steve (One of our translators was in the middle of giving me a Chinese name when she was interrupted so Steve will have to suffice for the time being.)
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: Thanks to Cindy Herring, Joe Widick, and my brother, Dave, for filling in for me the past eighteen days!