I know it may seem like we're on some permanent vacation, getting lots of opportunities to travel to interesting places. And it is true that we have lots of interesting opportunities. But it sure doesn't feel like a vacation. Going to Wenzhou had more to do with our friend then it did with the sites, though those were an added bonus, as it was an interesting and beautiful part of China.
That's us with our friend Ricky up above. We've known him for about two years, and he's very dear to us. There's a lot I'd like to share about him and his life, but I'm not sure the blog is the most appropriate place. Suffice to say, he's facing lots and lots of hurdles and challenges, and he needs lots of prayer. He knows about the Father, but he doesn't know the Father, and we are praying that he will experience the peace that surpasses understanding and the love that never ends. We had lots of opportunities to share with him and listen to him and even pray with him, but we wish we could do even more. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers, as he's really struggling with some things right now.
Since I can't go into lots of details about the real reason for our trip (i.e. Ricky), I'll share a few interesting things we learned and experienced....
- We visited mountains, a major city (Wenzhou), and a small island. In each place, they had a different local language. While most everyone spoke Mandarin, their "everyday life" is conducted in totally different languages. Ricky couldn't understand any of the languages other than the one from his hometown -- and these places are within an hour or two of one another and in the same country. We're not talking about different accents or pronunciations... it's like a totally different language.
- They were harvesting rice. We got to see our first terraced fields, something I've wanted to see for a long time. Simply beautiful.
- We're reminded yet again of how incredibly hard these people work. Their labor is intense and long and exhausting, and they reap very few rewards. I have nothing but respect for them, but I can't help but wonder why poverty must persist in our world today -- especially when people work so hard.
- Jacob got to go swimming in a cold, clear, mountain stream. It was picture-perfect.
- We ate a lot of local specialties. Though some things were excellent, most were "interesting." Suffice to say, I was quite excited to get back to Beijing-style Chinese food. I'm just not a huge seafood fan, and we ate lots of seafood... much of which were things we wouldn't necessarily consider eating in the west. Things like salamanders and sea anemones.
- We saw an amazing fishing village where the boats haven't changed in probably 1,000 years. They're still building them in the exact same fashion. I guess if it isn't broke, don't fix it.
- We stayed in a 400-year old village accessible only by pedestrian bridge, tucked into a mountain hillside with terraced farms above and a river below. It was breathtaking, and one of my favorite experiences ever.
Ok - there's more I can share, and I will over the next few days... including some more pictures to give you a glimpse into this corner of China. But, I'm ready to go to bed, so g'night!