(This was written on the plane while traveling home from China/Korea on April 21, 2008)
What a long and interesting jaunt through Asia! Experiencing other peoples and cultures is always an incredible experience and I am thankful to have enjoyed the opportunities that have come my way. Though this trip was particularly rigorous, it was a mind-broadening experience for which I am very thankful.
Over a period of 12 protracted days (4/9-4/20), I have completed five uncomfortable international flights, two domestic Chinese flights, multiple mind-blowing bus rides and one four hour bullet train trip. I have “slept” in five attention-grabbing hotels in five gigantic cities in two astonishing countries. I’ve met countless anxious parents hoping for a fresh opportunity for their children, realized I was the only Caucasian in a sea of hundreds of Asians , and eaten multiple, needlessly prolonged “business” lunches and dinners. I’ve been stared at, jostled, pushed, prodded and squished on crowded Asian streets and disgorged from packed subways along with many hundreds of Koreans. Would I do it again? Indubitably!
I would do it all over again because interspersed between all the work and travel, I have been privileged to climb the uneven, stone steps of the Great Wall. I have strolled though the history-filled palaces of Beijing’s Forbidden City. I’ve circumnavigated on bicycle the tomb of the second Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. I’ve haltingly visited under a willow tree with a lovely elderly Chinese woman whose face has seen history I cannot comprehend. I’ve wiggled my fingers in the South China Sea, slurped plum-sauce covered Peking Duck, chewed and swallowed curried octopus tentacles, and experienced a master-planned city of nine million people that has only been in existence for thirty years.
I struggled with little sleep in a humid room, while angry Chinese mosquitoes feasted on my fresh American blood. I got up too early, boarded packed planes, flew from Northern to Southern China, got off packed planes and went straight into the day’s work.
I enjoyed a too-short sixty minutes with my Korean son on the crowded, bustling streets of his home country and witnessed the continuing fruit of God’s work in his life. I’ve considered a flock of geese flying from South Korea to North Korea, across the no-man’s-land of the DMZ, and realized that the freedom they experience is unavailable to millions of hungry people who are just across the fence from me.
I watched a Chinese man’s eyes light up the very first moment he recognized that there may be a God beyond the veil that has been so cleverly placed over his eyes. I explained to a fourteen year-old girl from northern China that the warm feeling she experiences when she thinks about God is actually the drawing of the Holy Spirit that the God of Heaven sent to teach and comfort her.
Would I do it again? Without question. Am I dead-tired? No need to ask. Do I miss my family? Of course. Were my incredible Junior High teachers required to shoulder extra responsibility during the time I was working in Asia? No doubt. Was this trip convenient or easy? No.
I enjoyed the adventure; but, more importantly, because of this inconvenient trip, students from a Communist country who have been taught to not believe will attend an excellent Christian school, live with caring host families who will model the character of Jesus Christ, and develop relationships with teachers who will educate with compassion and genuinely care for them. The blinded eyes of these dear students will gently be opened to eternal Truth.
At least they will have the opportunity to choose. Because of that, it was all worth it.