Thursday, November 18, 2010

我们从中国回来 (We are back from China)

Long time no post! We are home from busy, wonderful China! It was hard to leave actually but very nice to get home to our apartment and routine. So far China and Hong Kong are definitely sitting near the top of our list of favorite places we've traveled so far.

The last half of the trip was the best part (after the conference in the city). If you ever need to escape the real world for a few days go to the place we went: Yangshuo Mountain Retreat in Guilin, China ( I don't know how to adequately describe it other than: breath-taking, authentic, refreshing and serene. That little flip video did a great job capturing our hilarious bamboo rafting adventure and the scenery was just indescribable! We spent our days hiking through the karst mountains (those are the huge rocky formations covered in trees you can barely see through the mist), biking over 20 miles into a little village for market day and spending time outside soaking up fresh air.

We learned a few thing in China:

1) You can definitely make it through a country knowing just a few words of the native language as long as you get creative in expressing what you want and being very very polite and helpless looking. Example: On occasion Ryan could be found theatrically pointing towards his groin and making a squatting position when telling someone he needed a bathroom. Hilarious!

2) We learned what it meant to be hospitable and an excellent host to guests. Our friend Li Jien from China was with us for some of our stay and was the ultimate tour guide. He is the epitome of generosity. He bought us dinner, paid for our bus tickets much to our protest, treated me to a Starbucks and graciously translated all our needs into Chinese. We want to host people in our country like he did for us in his. Li Jien taught us how to graciously serve with love and kindness backed with the desire to build stronger community.

3) Culture shock is very real. A little story for you: We decide to spend the afternoon in a bustling, very authentic Chinese market where no one speaks English. As we are walking through the aisles crammed with sweets, produce and other various goods we spot what looks like a whole roasted pig. Despite immediate suspicion based on its appearance, we tried to convince ourselves for awhile that it was in fact a pig. Um, no it was a dog. A DOG! We knew this given the long straight tail and very obvious dog-feet. (insert cringe). No wait it gets worse. Later down another aisle Ryan announces loudly, "Yes, it was a dog!" I timidly peek around the corner to see a black lab very dead on the floor with his pink tongue rolled out of his mouth. I went into a bit of shock and stumbled away dizzy, promptly bursting into tears in front of many confused Chinese people. From this we learned that culture shock is REAL and that our culture is not the only way of doing things. I have no judgement for the Chinese diet, but I was more shocked that not everyone sees dogs as inedible. The bigger problem here is that I have a more narrow view than I thought of specific issues foreign to me and I need to learn how to accept cultures different from my own. This I struggle with.

4) Finally we learned that we will serve the Lord anywhere, especially China! We love the people and we both connect well with friends from China. The cities provide endless adventures but best of all there are mountains and beauty here (unlike a place we currently live). Psalm 148 is all about praising the Lord for His creation and that was our "China Psalm" and worship for this trip.

So there are a few things what we learned and continue to learn as we process this trip. More pictures to come in the next few days and can't wait to share more of this privilege and blessing of a trip with you!

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