Shanghai & Nanjing, China – 1986
June 3 – Shanghai
I was too tired to write last night and am weary again tonight, so this will probably be a short journal. Yesterday we went to our first hospital tour in Shanghai. We met in a large boardroom where the nurse managers told us about the hospital and served us loose-leaf fragrant Jasmine tea in china mugs with a lid to keep it hot. We learned to sip it through our teeth so we didn’t swallow the tea leaves.
Then we toured the pediatric ward. They have a few pieces of new equipment, but most appear to be from the 1950 era.
I was excited to talk with Dr. X, a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, and gave him a gospel of John tucked inside my hospital’s magazine. I pray he would read the gospel of John and receive Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. He will go to Canada next month to study for a year.
Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26 NKJV)
We then ate an elegant lunch at the Seaman’s Club overlooking the harbor with the unique experience of eating “1000-year-old eggs”. After removing the shell from hard-boiled eggs, they bury them in mud until they turn black. One earthy tasting egg was plenty for me. Then on to the pretty Yu Garden with the zig-zag bridge but absent of flowers. I later learned the Communists think flowers are capitalistic. We strolled through the fascinating old city before boarding our first-class train car to Suzhou, the city of silk.
The train had two seats facing each other with a small lace-covered table between us topped off with a potted plant. The carpeted floor and overhead ceiling fans made for a comfortable journey. We again enjoyed tea served by the stewardess.
Today in Suzhou we saw the silk spinning factory, embroidery factory, and another garden. At the factory, they put the silk cocoons in hot water for the women to unwind and connect one thread from each to a large spool. I pitied them working 12-hour shifts in the brutal 95 F. degree heat.
In the next factory, we watched teen girls do detailed silk embroidery, copied from oil paintings. They showed us eye exercises they did. No older women worked there because of the eye strain.
Our day concluded with a four-hour train ride to Nanjing. We twenty nurses enjoyed getting to know each other better. Four of them were accompanied by their brave husbands.
A Chinese band played traditional instruments while we ate a delicious dinner at our hotel. In honor of us Americans, they played Jingle Bells, Oh Susanna, and Elvis’ Love Me Tender. This was my first time to hear Jingle Bells in June. Time for bed- my eyes are drooping.
Nanjing, June 4
I slept well which gave me more energy on this sunny 80-degree day. We started out by climbing up 392 steps to Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s tomb. Whew! I made it without too much trouble. I later found out that Dr. Sun Yat Sen was a professing Christian who was the first president of China after deposing the last emperor in 1911. He is considered the “George Washington” of China. The view of the rolling green hills was so beautiful.
I met a friendly 87-year-old lady on the way down who held my hand as we had our photo taken together. Amazingly, she had just climbed all those steps.
After visiting Ming tombs and drinking plum juice at the former summer home of Madame Chiang Kai-shek, we had lunch at the hotel and then toured a second pediatric hospital. It was much like the one in Shanghai except our nurse guides asked us more questions. Their nursing research department impressed us.
We stopped for a few minutes at a tall drum tower where a class of 5-year-old children also toured. The cute kids walked quietly hand in hand.
Then we ate dinner and went to a variety show. We had lots of fun listening to a string quartet, a hilarious bird imitator, singers, and watching a kungfu demonstration. My eyes are closing fast. My body still hasn’t adjusted to the 12 hour time difference.
I still receive Christmas cards from one of the couples on the tour and from the Nanjing nurse guide who later moved to the USA. I visited her twice in North Carolina and was thrilled to hear how she went back to college to receive her BSN and is working at a major university hospital. Her daughter adjusted well to American schools and also graduated from college. Two of the nurses on the tour married the following year, and I was invited to both their weddings. This tour group bonded in our two short weeks together like no other I have experienced.