Wow. That's all I can say. First off, we are NOT in Kansas anymore...
After a very American breakfast in the hotel around 7:45, we briefly (and finally) met several of the families in our tour group and jumped on a bus at 8:30 for our whirlwind tour of Beijing. We got to ride in rickshaws, tour the "old city", see how silk clothing and bedding is made, eat the first of many authentic Chinese meals, walk around in Tian Anmen Square and the Forbidden City, but there was one stop from today that really stuck with me...
So, I don't know if my body's clock is just so messed up that I'm sort of like in this half awake state all day and am just trying extra hard to make sure I don't miss a single moment because of that or what, but regardless, SOMETHING cool happened. Then again, I did have many glasses of Chinese beer at lunch (you were SO right about that, Jimmy), so I got that goin for me, which is good (Caddyshack was on the plane and I can't get it out of my brain no matter how hard I try...) Sorry - that was about three tangents. OK... FOCUS...
Our first stop was the Hutong area (the "old city" I mentioned above), where the sweetest lady, Mrs. Wu, was kind enough to invite us into her home of 53 years to have some tea and tell us about her family and experiences. She is a retired nurse and mother of three, grandmother of four, and was quick to tell us how WONDERFUL her life is.
Y'all - her home literally consisted of ONE room, MAYBE 400-500 square feet, with various curtains hung to serve as dividers for the bedroom, bathroom (which I never really saw, likely because it typically consists of nothing more than a hole in the ground), kitchen (a table), and living space. She went on and on about how special it was to live in the old city because her children and grandchildren had "room" to play and enjoy life (as compared to what the younger generations would tell you is more desirable: to live in the high-rise apartments, where apparently living quarters are even tighter - REALLY???)
Guys, I gotta tell you - even the poorest of Americans ain't got nothin' on these folks. The whole time I was sitting there listening to Mrs. Wu (who is Christian by the way, as is the rest of her family), I just kept thinking that, not only do I have absolutely NOTHING to complain about, but here I am halfway around the world from all that I know to be true and normal, and I don't know ANYTHING. This lady, who doesn't know me, doesn't know Michaela (or the other 15 people sitting in her house), doesn't even have a kitchen sink and she knows more about what it means to further the Kingdom than I ever will. I mean, come on, when's the last time one of us even spoke to a perfect stranger as we passed them by, much less invited one into our home and FIXED SOME FREAKIN TEA FOR HIM??? Does this make me the tax collector or the prostitute? I can't even muster up a conversation on an elevator! I just stand there, looking up at the numbers changing or down at my shoes, thinking how funny it would be if someone tooted... I know we all hear and many are fortunate enough to have experienced these types of stories, yet all she wanted was for us to come in and just sit and talk for a little bit and she is as happy and content as a human being could ever be. That's it. That's why we're here. Thank you, Mrs. Wu.
I could leave China right now and have been completely and utterly fulfilled.
Wait - need to get a kid first...
Good grief. I hereby vow to get adeqaute rest tonight.
Rickshaw Row. Granted they aren't the ones we've all seen in the movies where the guys pick 'em up and run with 'em, but come on - pedaling 300 pounds of U.S. Redneck (that's mostly my new camera, baby - not you) ain't exactly light duty.
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