Photo: Back row, David, Gabie, Laurence, front row: Tao Lee, Alice, Louisa, Nelson Beijing – we arrived at 6 a.m., 4 of us and 7 bulky bags. A taxi driver suggested a ride for $70. Learn this Chinese phrase – Tie Gwee La. It means too expensive. After some negotiation we found a ride for $5.50.
Nelson suggested the International Hotel breakfast buffet for 330 Yuan each. I paid for David’s and the 2 of us was more than my Christmas Eve dinner for 15! But I saw my first bacon in 8 months and felt totally justified. Then Laurence and I located the Foreign Language Bookstore to buy some sample American English textbooks, a graded series I might like to use and a “silk” shop that was clearly acetate ladies wear.
The Beijing International is drab and overly gold. There is no place to sit down in the lobby and the ceilings were low, so we elected to go to lunch at TGI Friday’s. Two Chinese men looked suspiciously at quesadillas and iced tea.
In the afternoon the airline snafu was a horror, thanks entirely to the Shenzhen Travel Agency which had assured us the Chinese Nationals could leave the country. But no – they would need to stay overnight, adding sizably to our expenses. I was privately glad to see them both victimized by their government while families from all over the world left China without incident – your Communist bureaucracy at work.
And the Beijing airport was another problem. David was on crutches and no where were there shuttles for the tired, or wheelchairs. Everything is user-unfriendly, not even enough directional signs in Chinese! I wonder how the Olympic crowd is going to like this! David bravely said “no problem” every time I asked him how he was doing – until the last day when he nearly passed out!
The problem with these visas had taken valuable time so Nelson and I rushed to our plane. 12 days now I’ve had bronchitis which does not let up – only the 2nd day had I any relief when the Denton, Texas prayer group was warring. They had confiscated my cough medicine and I spent an hour hacking and worrying other passengers.
After dinner Nelson and I went to the roof of the Peninsula Hotel for a stellar view of the city and the habour, especially grand from the ladies very unusual bathroom. This hotel is $1,000 a night. Tie Gwee La!
On Thursday we bought groceries – butter, cheese, coffee, saltines. The climate is a dramatic change – from cold, dry weather to hot and humid and rain. The air conditioning hit us like a blast but how nice to see potable water on the dinner table, cloth napkins, Coke products, and western foods, like grapefruit juice. They had real shower stalls with a door, and fluffy giant towels. My Salisbury Street YMCA room was a dorm for 4 women at under $35.00 a night – a low price hard to believe for a hotel on the water in Hong Kong.
Then we worked for several hours setting up our evening program. My computer was blocked from the internet but the staff worked for an hour to get me online. 14 Hong Kong mission-minded people arrived. I showed a power point of our activities in Daban and Chifeng with pictures and data. Finally Laurence and David dragged in, looking spiffy in white shirts and a tie. I know Laurence has never worn such a thing in his whole life. They both gave a solid presentation of their activities. We all wear so many hats. The group listened attentively and I thought it wildly patient for 3 hours – more than an American crowd.
Our purpose for the trip was to ask for help – especially some personnel to help us. We agreed to meet with them more over the weekend. We had no dinner later that night because we were so pumped up so we took the guys back to the 28th floor for the rooftop view.
The following day I rose early to locate the North Face outlet which my grandchildren had insisted was the only place to shop. After 45 minutes I was able to get something for everyone at good prices too.
We also found some Christian books. We are using the book, The Discovery of Genesis, as a text for older students. David had Ancient Chinese in college and he was impressed with the etymology of the Chinese characters that reflect Biblical truths, even the sacrifice of Jesus and yet these characters predate the crucifixion by 2,000 years! It is rare to get a book in English that both Americans and Chinese can endorse from a Christian standpoint. It would make a great study book for an American Sunday school.
That afternoon I visited the huge Hong Kong Museum of Art which is across the street from the hotel. The museum had special showings of Chinese art and a picture collection of the history of HK. Especially interesting was what happened to many art treasures during the Japanese occupation in WW2 and how individuals had worked so hard to keep them safe. Still, most of the ceramics were lost.
In was only 20 HK$ to enter but crossing the street meant going down a subway and walking up the long steps. Clearly this is not a town for someone on crutches. Taxis are expensive and because all the streets are one way they take a long time to go a short distance.
Nelson meanwhile wanted to show the guys the city and we headed off for a trolley ride all over Hong Kong Island. In between we had several meetings with missionary groups in HK. We also went to the top of Victoria’s Peak on a tram ride
At this point we had to make a decision – would we stay an additional 2 days? We had an invitation to join some missionary friends for lunch at the Jade Garden, a dim sum place, (Chinese for snacks) but elegant ones that all together constitute a meal. We got 9 dishes for 6 people. Quite a feast. The best dish was a plate of chopped fruit, topped with shrimp halves covered with a mild horseradish sauce. Laurence had congee, a fish soup, with a number of steamed breads, a green gelatin flavored with sesame (yum yum) and pickled green beans with little fish balls. We are so far from the sea in Inner Mongolia we do not see much fish, and certainly not fresh fish.
We decided to stay, not the least reason being that neither David nor Laurence had ever been in a “real” church service. We only have Bible studies where we live and very little singing or worship.
Our decision, in spite of the extra expense for 4 people for 2 days, was an unusually good service. Three men gave testimonies of how their mothers had shaped their lives. A young boy told how his mother had stood by him through a painful disease, another fellow cried and apologized to his mother for disappointing her, and living in sin so many years, and finally a man from India told how he had plotted to kill his wicked stepfather but the Lord intervened and reunited him and his mother. She was recently saved and must now return to India to face persecution. Through tears he asked us to pray for her strength and safety. There was not a dry eye in the house!
Inner Mongolians might well believe that Christianity is a bunch of white people a long way away. But here in this downtown church were blacks, Chinese, Americans, Brits, Brazilians, Singaporeans, and Thai, Korean and others, all on Mother’s Day. They gave me a tiny pot of silk flowers as a memento.
At night we took the ferry across the harbor to Hong Kong Island where most of the residential sections are filled with people of many nations and races in apartments carved out of the cliffs.
Of course I treated myself to a real steak -perfectly cooked, baked potato with butter and sour cream, while our Chinese coworkers got tired if all that and craved tofu and noodles – fine with us! I hadn’t had real food for 8 months. But the Western prices were a shock after China.
I took many pictures and some movies as well, but most failed through windows, glass, rain and on the rocking ferry. Fog settles in easily in a harbor but the brilliant and varied nights on Hong Kong Island are always worth a view even in rain. Only Nelson’s American phone worked, leaving us partly stranded from the office. My laptop couldn’t get a signal either so we had to use the hotel internet café which fortunately was efficient.
Finally the Hong Kong people asked -what do you want? I said, I want someone to pack their bags and get on a plane to return with us to Inner Mongolia when we leave.
I think it shocked everyone but we are serious. Our work has slowed a great deal because of the lack of personnel. I go home in 60 days myself leaving a big hole. The work in Tongliao is only just starting, but they promised to visit us for a week to see our various schools, house churches, and teachers so the group can assess our needs first hand, to help the seminary students in Hong Kong decide on how they might be able to assist, and to plan for additional people to keep things going here.
I enclose a picture of Louisa. She is a student of Doris Ekblad-Olsen, a woman who grew up in a yurt many years ago. She always remembered her Inner Mongolian days even though the death of her mother forced her and a sibling to return to the USA. Doris later became a missionary herself. Now at the end of her life she is seeing the gospel and the Mongolian Bibles going into that area of 10 million unreached people.