June 14, 1986 – Hong Kong
It was a very pleasant stay in hot steamy Hong Kong, but quite a culture shock after being in China. Hong Kong is fast paced with a British flavor combined with Chinese. The 100 year treaty with Britain will expire in 1997, so many wealthy and professional people are leaving because they don’t want to live under the communist regime. They call it the “brain drain”. We saw bumper to bumper cars, double-decker British style buses, a new subway and transit train, harbor ferries, and skyscrapers everywhere in this compact crowded little country. The tour guide told us they have as many Rolls Royce cars as in London and Hollywood. Real estate is so expensive that they only allow dead people to be buried for 7 years! Then the family has to exhume the body, cremate it, and give the grave to someone else.
We stayed in the luxurious 18-story Golden Mile Holiday Inn. Carla and I decided to go to the tailor our guide recommended and each had a wool dress suit made in 48 hours. It was so much fun to choose the fabric, design the suit, and be measured so it fit perfectly and was long enough. The fittings were hilarious! We laughed so hard until we cried.
I also went to a jewelry factory and designed a small sapphire ring that they made for me in one day. I never expected to buy so many things on this trip, but everything is so inexpensive and beautifully made. I think they export all the junk to the U.S. and keep the finely handcrafted items here. I’ve become quite good at haggling over prices and find it rather fun now! Sign language and handheld calculators overcome all language barriers. We visited a general hospital designed after the British model with ward sisters (nurses). It appeared much more modern than the hospitals in China and brighter with a more cheerful atmosphere. The large men’s ward held 45 iron beds with overhead ceiling fans, and no air conditioning in the 90 degree heat. I would estimate they are about ten years behind the USA in health care.
We enjoyed a sampan boat ride through a fishing village where the people live on their boats year round their entire life.
We also took the Star ferry across the harbor and went to the top of Victoria Peak for the view.
Then on to Repulse Beach, the largest in Hong Kong where we ate lunch at McDonald’s. It seemed extravagant to pay $3.30 for a hamburger, but the exchange rate is 12 Hong Kong dollars to 1 US dollar, so in reality, it was 27 cents US. This was the first American franchise that we saw since leaving the States.
Carla and I ate dinner at a Korean restaurant where we barbecued our own beef and shrimp on a table grill which was fun. We were the only Americans in the restaurant, so all the other customers certainly stared at us! We had a delicious elegant farewell dinner last night at the Peking Garden which was one of the best meals of my life! Our nurse attorney leader teased me about falling asleep during her lectures that she gave to the Chinese hospital nurses! I don’t think I ever did quite get over the jet lag. And now I will go through it all over again when I return home. I am looking forward to getting home and am so thankful I have another week off from work to recover and spend time with my mother who is going through cancer treatment. I am in great need of time alone with the Lord in Bible study and prayer as I feel so drained spiritually.
June 15, 1986, Sunday – New York City, USA
I have a one night layover in New York City before my plane to the Midwest can take me home. I reserved a hotel, but since my tour roommate, Carla, lives in NYC, she invited me to stay with her. In addition to being a psychiatric nurse hospital supervisor, she is a NYC tour guide on her days off! She volunteered to show me around since I have never been to NYC before. This was so gracious of the Lord to work this out as this mid-western country girl is quite fearful of going to NYC compared to China. The only time I read in the newspaper about NYC when another person is murdered. It seems to me that my chances of being murdered in NYC are quite high! Carla laughed when I told her this because she has lived there for decades and absolutely loves it. We finally cleared customs about 6 p.m. New York time – 25 hours after I got out of bed in Hong Kong. Then Carla’s friends picked us up and took us to their lovely home where they served us dinner in their garden. Afterward Carla drove me through downtown Manhattan at night and waited at the curb while I took the elevator to the top of the Empire State building to see the sparkling city lights. It was so amazing that I was in bed this morning in Hong Kong and on top of the Empire State building tonight! It’s a small world.
We went to bed at 10:30 p.m. and both were awake at 5:30 a.m.- still on China time. So we dressed for church and ate breakfast in Little Italy. Afterward, we drove through China town and then parked and took the elevator to the top of the World Trade Center for a few minutes to get a daytime view of the city. Visibility was only 2 miles, but I could make out the Statue of Liberty in the harbor. That Statue means much more to me now after living in a Communist country for 2 weeks with very little freedom.
We also drove down Wall Street, past the federal building where George Washington, our first president, was inaugurated and saw the church where he worshiped. Then we went to a large Baptist Church for morning worship. What a blessing! The pews were packed with 1500 people and the service was so dignified with beautiful traditional hymns led by a 22 member choir and a children’s hand bell choir. The Pastor had a wonderful heart stirring message on the four compromises Pharaoh offered to Moses as recorded in the book of Exodus. After church, I treated Carla to lunch at an elegant Indian restaurant overlooking Central Park. The view was great and the food had such unique spices. Carla then drove me to the airport and we bid each other farewell. I thank God for letting me meet Carla and giving me such a compatible roommate during this fabulous life changing tour.
When I arrived home, my Cocker Spaniel, Sandy, about wagged his tail off and keeps lying on top of my feet when I sit down. I don’t think he wants me to leave again! I have been home a few days now and have had time to think about the tour. I think I can be more effective with the international students here at the university than I could be in China with all the current restrictions on foreigners. But I thank God for giving me a better understanding of their culture and way of thinking. It also gives me a much greater appreciation for the ground breaking work Hudson Taylor and other missionaries in China did for so many years. I wish I could have met some Chinese Christians, but God did not open the door. I also appreciate more the tremendous blessings I have here in America and the freedom to worship in spirit and truth! Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed on Him, If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free….If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:31-32, 36
Over the years since then, God has allowed me to meet and minister to many people from China and have the joy of seeing several of them receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. In 2004, He allowed me to return to assist in the care of some orphans. I was also able to meet quite a few Chinese Christians during that trip, so God fulfilled the desire of my heart 18 years later in His perfect timing! Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Psalm 37:4 About ten years later, I went to the top of the World Trade Center again for another view of NYC. That was my final view from the top. Little did I know that it would be tragically destroyed by the terrorists on September 11, 2001.