May 31, 1986 – Midwest, USA to Shanghai, China
After arising at 4:30 a.m. in the Midwest, I caught a 7 a.m. flight to LaGuardia Airport in New York City. I waited two hours for the free bus to take me to JFK, but it never came. Finally, I split a cab with a man in the same dilemma. I would have missed my flight to China except that they delayed it for two hours. The tour director was frantic with worry about what had happened to me.
We left JFK at 1 p.m. New York time and arrived in Shanghai at 10 p.m. Saturday, China time after a three-hour layover in Tokyo, Japan. China is 12 hours ahead of New York time. It’s now past midnight and I have been awake 35 hours because I couldn’t sleep on the plane. Besides my swollen feet, I’m fine. We are staying at the beautiful Cypress Hotel on the outskirts of the city. Pure adrenaline and excitement carried me here. I can hardly believe I’m actually in China after beginning to plan the trip nine months ago.
My roommate, Carla, is a delightful psychiatric nurse who lives in New York City and is also single. We each have a twin bed and share a private bathroom. We like the thermos of hot tea with china cups. We both put our head at the foot of our bed so we could prop our heels on the wall above to drain our legs. We jokingly named this “the China position.”
I read Psalm 63:1-2 tonight, “O God, thou art my God, early will I seek Thee; my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh longs for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, to see Thy power and Thy glory, as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary.” May God help me give the water of life to thirsty souls.
June 1, Sunday, Shanghai, China – Children’s Day
Today was the Lord’s day, but I couldn’t go to church as I had hoped, because they wouldn’t allow me to leave the tour group. We have been in constant motion since our American style breakfast of two fried eggs and toast at 7 a.m. I stared at the mobs of bicycles and huge buses that bend in the middle when they go around a corner. The crowded buses mobbed with people look overwhelming. Only 600 cars exist among the 7 million people living in Shanghai, mostly owned by Communist party leaders. I am glad for the safe cocoon of our own little air-conditioned tour bus with our city guide and country guide, Mr. Li. He is a Communist assigned to accompany us the entire two weeks to make sure we don’t talk with the people too much while watching our every move.
We went to the Bund this morning, the former Wall Street of China, the location of the bank buildings before the Communist takeover in 1949. Parents mobbed the pretty park along the River and proudly displayed their one child. The government only permits each married couple to have one child because of the huge population. Interestingly, they do not celebrate Mother’s Day or Father’s Day like we do in the USA.
About two dozen people came up to me and started practicing speaking English with me all at once. My height and white skin make me stand out in the crowd. With the recent entrance of foreigners, most have never seen a tall American woman before. I gave one man a Chinese-English gospel tract, and they all swarmed around us. This frightened me, so I walked away. I didn’t want to start a riot on my first day in China.
Next, we saw the Jade Buddha. The temple with its false worship saddened me. At lunch, the waiter taught me how to use chopsticks. We all laughed when he popped the food in my mouth during his demonstration. The next stop at the arts and crafts center amazed me with the beautiful quality of the items and the inexpensive prices. I bought a gorgeous embroidered silk blouse for $10.
During dinner at the Park Hotel, they seated us at circular tables of eight with a large lazy Susan in the middle. We each refilled our small plates from the tantalizing dishes of food twirling around on the lazy Susan. They never served fruit, dairy, nor dessert, and the soup concluded each meal.
Then on to the fun acrobatics and the circus show. The cute giant panda amazed us as he rode a bicycle around the ring. The flexible acrobats did stunts I have never witnessed. I appreciated their modest long pants and high collars, almost from another era.
I thank the Lord for the opportunity to give two Chinese gospels of John to the hotel attendants tonight. I’m so weary from the twelve-hour time difference. I hope I can grab more time alone with the Lord in prayer and Bible study tomorrow to refresh my heart.
Even though my busy two weeks in China gave me no time to rest, I enjoyed all the new sights, sounds, and smells which inundated all my senses. The population density with noisy crowds of people everywhere shocked me. It was such a contrast to the quiet farms in the Midwest where I grew up. I thanked God for opening the door for me to go despite my eye situation and my mother’s cancer. (See the previous post.) Next post I will tell you about our visit to a Shanghai hospital, Suzhou – the city of silk, and a Nanjing hospital.