Upon arriving at the Guangzhou South train station I made my way to the Subway station and carefully studied the map to see where I was and where I needed to be. A young man, probably a university age student, thought I needed his help, (which I certainly did), and he asked me in broken English if he could help?
Between my poor Chinese and his poor English, he helped me acquire the token I needed, gave me some directions on what train to take, what transfers to make, and after about an hour of subway travel, I walked out of the Subway station and looked up at my hotel! Javan was already checked in and came down to the lobby to meet me after I called to check on him. I had reserved the room with my credit card, but he had to use his to acquire the room upon checking in. He used his Debit card, so I just handed him the cash that I would have paid for the room for the night. The next day we were to change hotels to the location that GUFS had pre-arranged and paid for as part of my compensation for speaking on Monday. But, for now I was in Guangzhou, checked into my room, and had plenty of cash to continue on with my plans. I got a bite to eat and went to bed early that night. I was exhausted. But the lingering thoughts about what had happened that day had kept me awake longer than I wanted it to. I was fine. God had cared for me, kept me safe and sent an Angel named Joy to help me. But what an ordeal... and Flat Stanley was somewhere in China without me... How was I ever going to tell Gavyn? I didn’t cry myself to sleep over losing Flat Stanley, but almost, I was distraught over losing Flat more than any of my other losses.
The next thing I knew the morning light was peeking through my curtains. It was a new day. It was the Lord’s day and I felt so much better. I got up to take my morning walk and concocted a story about what was going on with Flat Stanley. I was going to insert into this story that Flat had been kidnapped and was being held for ransom... or something like that. The story was fun to think about and it gave me a creative outlet to weave around my misfortune of losing Flat.
Javan and I had church plans this day! We were going to meet Jeff Zhang and his wife Dan Ho Li this morning and attend the small Guangzho gathering of Christians that this newly married, Chinese, Harding graduated, couple met with. Both Jeff and Dani graduated from Harding. They were both baptized and became Christians while attending Harding before they ever met each other. Dani had been one of my students in my Principles of Communication class a few years previous. She went on to get her degree in nursing. Jeff had been one of my classmates in an MBA class. Sounds like Ren and Betty doesn’t it?
This day was going to be exciting for me because Dani and Jeff had agreed to travel with me after worship to Foshan, a nearby city where we were going to meet up with one of my other former Harding students, Ivy, and her brother. It was Ivy’s brother last year, when I went to visit Ivy, that asked me if I could tell him all about Jesus and the Bible. I was so startled about that and the fact that we just couldn’t communicate very well that I asked him if I could get back to him with some help on that matter? He said, yes, and we stayed in touch with each other throughout the next year. I had told Jeff and Dani about him and they quickly said they would help out so that they could study with him. I wanted to make the short trip to Foshan to meet them again and this time take Jeff and Dani with me.
Soon Jeff arrived at the hotel and met us in the lobby. He explained that Dani would meet us at church. The meeting location was almost across the street. We walked just a few blocks into the back streets of a neighborhood, found the building and went up the elevator to the room which was the meeting place was for this sweet, sweet little group of Christians. I had met with this same group the year before and many of the 12-15 people remembered me. One family had become Christians about 15-20 years ago while attending university when he met up with some China Now workers. But Javan and I were their guests, so they tried as much as they could to conduct the service in English just for us! We sang a lot of familiar songs albeit in Chinese.
They preached in Chinese but prayed and had communion in English. Afterwards we visited with each other and had a lot of photos taken together. One man, Daniel, Zhang Dan and his wife, Sara, Liu Tian and their little daughter, Kate, Zhang Jingshu all spoke pretty good English. He asked me what our afternoon plans were? I told them that Jeff and Dani were taking me to Foshan, when he interrupted me to ask Jeff how we were getting there because there is no train all the way there? Jeff said he didn’t know yet, and that’s when God’s plan started unfolding. This young man and his little family said they were traveling beyond Foshan and would happily drive us there, especially after he heard why we were making that trip. Praise God! We all loaded into his car and off we went!
Steve Shaner, also known as Xie Yeye, is a professional story teller that delights in traveling to meet new and old friends. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.