We're now in Tanggu, an industrial town about 2 hours drive from Beijing. It seems small compared to Shanghai, but I was told at dinner last night that the population is around 1 million. (not exactly Katy, Texas). Speaking of dinner, we were once again treated to a feast! The different groups that Sam has been meeting with have all been very gracious in sharing their delicious local cuisines...nothing like any "Chinese" food I've enjoyed before, but delicious none the less.
After having breakfast with the MI-SWACO group, checking my email, and surfing for Skype partners, I planned my outings for the day. Since there are no tourist destinations in Tanggu, shopping for a tea set was on my list of things to do. When Sam visited this city last year, he went to a tea shop and has been talking about the tea sets ever since. I had no problem finding my way to the shop and actually, even though language was a barrier to discussing my purchase with the salesperson, it was a pleasant transaction because there was no bargaining involved. Fortunately, the prices in the stores here are set, unlike the bazaars of Shanghai.
Today, in addition to sharing our China travel log, I also want to write a bit about what I've been pondering lately. My thoughts have been about how travelling has made me so much more aware of, and thankful for, how unique America is as a "melting pot" of cultures. Being physically different...red, yellow, black or white... is the norm in America. None of Sam's co-workers from Thailand, Malaysia, or China would stand out at all if they were to travel around the United States. The same is not true here. As I walked down the street today, I felt as though I were a 6 ft. Las Vegas style neon sign flashing the warning-"Foreigner". The response I received as I walked along was certainly not rude, but rather cautiously curious. I'm sure many of the people I passed were just wondering why someone so obviously foreign was strolling along their neighborhood streets.
On a spiritual level, I'm mindful of the fact that as a Christian, no matter where in the world I travel, I'm a foreigner because this world with all its worldliness will never be my home. My prayer then is that God would empower me to choose to live my life each day, wherever I am, in such way that it attracts the same curious attention I created as I walked down the streets of Tanggu so that I might have opportunities to share the hope I have in Christ. I'm so thankful America is truly a melting pot for physical and cultural differences, yet at the same time, I hope and pray that it never becomes one spiritually... I pray that it will always be...One nation under God... The same God who loved the whole world so much ... that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him, would not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16