Sunday, July 8, 2007

Last Days in Lanzhou

My, the title sounds dramatic, doesn't it? I am rather far behind in the blog but I will try to cover the time from returning from Dave's village to leaving Lanzhou.

Ruth became ill the evening after we returned from the village. It appeared to be a 24 hour stomach flu. Ruth was never sure whether it was from eating something she shouldn't have or if it was some kind of bug.

Sunday morning Ruth was not up to going to church. She called one of her students, who is Christian and attends the same church to escort me. Derek took a bus from campus to Ruth's apt. and picked me up. We took another bus and arrived at the Protestant Church in time for the second service. In Lanzhou, a city of 3 million, there is one large Protestant church, several smaller ones, and a number of home churches. We were at the large church which seats about 3000 people. The church was full. Derek helped me follow the service by showing me some of the hymns in a bilingual hymnbook and the Bible readings in a bilingual Bible. It is quite a moving experience to be singing Amazing Grace in English along with almost 3000 people singing it in Chinese. The sermon was about 45 minutes but now and then Derek would whisper some of the main points to me. The previous week there had been a Baptism of over 400 people. This was a communion Sunday so I got to participate in that as well.

After church I had Daniel choose which restaurant he would like and I would treat him. He chose KFC. He said he had eaten at KFC once before and that he loved western food. So I got to see what this American restaurant is like in China. My chicken sandwich was not really like KFC but was a deep-fried batter coated chicken patty on a bun. The Pepsi was very familiar. Derek had fries for his side which were just like American fries. My side was a salad of chopped celery, corn, and cucumber in a sauce. There was a birthday party going on near us. The favor that each child received was a plastic coat hanger.

After lunch we returned to the church for an English language Bible Study which Ruth and another Amity teacher lead. The group has been studying Matthew and I had been asked to speak on one of the parables. I chose the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the yeast. I spoke for about 30 minutes, incuding telling some about myself and my family. I showed mustard seeds and yeast, both of which were unfamiliar to the people. One of the members would translate what I said into Chinese periodically. Ruth arrived to help lead the discussion along with David, the other teacher. They have two discussion groups of about 15 members so I just participated in the group discussion. There was a wide range of English abilities in the group as well as people ranging from committed Christian to some who are just curious about Christianity. Everyone was very nice and there was a lot of visiting afterwards. This was Ruth's last time so she got many thanks, a gift, and warm farewells.

After we returned from church on Sunday until we left on Wednesday afternoon the focus was on getting all of Ruth's final school reports done and getting her apt. packed up. Ruth was still recovering completely and I didn't feel too well on Monday and Tuesday, though I was never as sick as Ruth. Many people stopped by to help and say good-bye which often took longer but was such a kind gesture. Ruth did not get much sleep the night before we left but we made it. There was a nice send-off at the bus station.

In my next entry I will describe the visit to Barry's home village.

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