April 16th is the day the government turns off the heat in all the buildings. So by lunch I was cold and decided to go home where the southern sun warms the apartment more than enough. On the way I wanted to buy some stools for our movies on Sunday afternoons. They’re not that comfortable but chairs are much more expensive.
Things always happen when I go shopping. I wander through sidewalks where merchants have placed metal bins of feed, tubs of grain for people, and burlap bags of tobacco, some in the leaf. You need to walk in the street to avoid stepping on someone or something. Vendors have some new plants for sale, but the soil is so impacted around the roots I don’t know how they survive, no mulch, no nothing. It is not necessary to go into anyone’s store, and no permission is needed to park on the public streets no matter what you sell. This week they had several dozen piglets in tiny cages waiting for a home. (I wish someone would teach these people how to cure bacon!)
Anyway, at this shop an older woman was speaking Mongolian so I offered her the Bible I had with me. And here is where I learned how valuable it is not to speak the languages you are hearing – you can look at the body language and facial expressions and learn perhaps more.
She became animated – keep in mind I have no clue what she is talking about – and started singing, and dancing, bowing and waving her arms, which I construed to be gospel songs. They were all upbeat in major keys. This went on for about 10 minutes as they prepared my purchase.
Then she draped a yellow scarf with great fanfare around my neck and insisted on finding me a taxi home. The taxi driver also was Mongolian and so he helped out too. In this little tableau I saw that the Chinese hold the Mongolians as inferior, something to be endured. (Now why they should think this when they are the interlopers on their land one can only guess.) The Mongolian woman was very outgoing and pleasant but the Chinese man disassociated himself from her with an amused smile. She paid him absolutely no mind – as though he was not there at all.
This confirmed what I had suspected both from my experience and from my reading that the Mongolians ignore the Chinese, and the Chinese are mildly amused, perhaps even contemptuous of the Mongolians. If the man even knew any Mongolian he did not indicate this. She spoke both languages and as so often is the case between these two groups, she was unaffected in her public dealings, and he stiffened up as though he would lose face or credibility if he had anything to do with her.
I gave her a flyer for the school, hoping that she would come around for more books. If she knows a Mongolian dance she probably also knows where the church is hiding out and meeting in this town which will open doors for us since I am convinced that the Mongolians are much more easily reached than the Chinese. Mongolia has a long history of egalitarian public behavior, shared power among leaders, and the equality of women, which has not been true in China.
This is how the gospel goes out – one person at a time. I’ve met almost enough for a house church.
I asked one Mongolian why they are so much happier than the Chinese and she said with a smile, “We know this is our land.”