Sunday; a Day to meet old friends and new family:
I love Sunday’s in China. It gives me a chance to meet with my family from another part of the world. I particularly like it when one of my Chinese students wants to attend with me. Crescent wanted to meet with me this day and join me in my weekly family time. Crescent knew that I took time to meet every week like this and he wanted to be a part of this. He had never been to a meeting such as this, not even in Searcy, even though he had a class every semester to study the Good Book.
Crescent met me at my hotel and off we went across town together. Even though Crescent didn’t know where were going, and I didn’t know how to get there, I did know where we needed to end up. Between us, Crescent and I were able to navigate our way across Guangzhou. On our last subway stop we emerged to the street and I was surprised that it was very near where I had dinner with Kitty and Berry just the night before. But, we still had a few more blocks to walk to get to our destination. Even more surprisingly we crossed paths with Javan who was navigating by foot from his hotel to the common meeting place we were both trying to find. I thought, WOW, twenty-million people in Guangzhou and I run into Javan on the city streets on a Sunday morning!
We made our way to what we would call an “underground church.” It was in a rented room on the third floor of an old building that had multiple uses, from a restaurant on the second and third floors to office space for anybody that could rent a room. The room we used was one room, no plumbing and only a room air conditioner for the more in climate days. Soon the family started showing up a few people and families at a time. There were only about 20 people, many of them I recognized from previous years. Many of them asked me about a family member back in the States who was responsible for them becoming family members through various English language classes from their time at different universities. The church shared a common meal, and sang familiar songs, at least the tunes and the melodies were familiar, even if the words were in Chinese. They asked me to close the meeting by speaking to the father on everybody’s behalf. I hesitated because of my Chinese but they said, that talking to the father is the same in all languages, so I proceeded in English with full passion. They all said “Amen” at the end!
As per usual for me, I worked the room, meeting as many of my old friends and family, plus all the new friends that I could. I always love seeing the young families brought together for this occasion. I especially like to get down eye-to-eye with the children. This time, as I spoke a few greetings in Chinese, I even introduced them to Flat Stanley! Of course they were confused, so I told their parents of the travel adventures of Flat Stanley and how that this is an educational experience for many school children in America. Everybody got into the spirit of Gavyn’s gift and wanted their picture made with Flat!
Also, as per usual, we went to lunch as a church in a nearby restaurant after we were all done visiting. Many of the group went home because of other commitments but many of us went downstairs, (in the same building where we were meeting and found a large table or two that could accommodate all of us. It wasn’t a church potluck, but it really felt like family. I felt so blessed to have experienced this time together.
Crescent escorted me back to my hotel which was a short walk back to his house and said he would come get me in about 90 minutes after Flat Stanley and I both had a chance to rest. I love Chinese NAPS!
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.