Subscribe to our Blog
- Bad Authentication data.
It’s hard to believe that Guilin, China could ever feel so much like home. Our plane landed in Shanghai less than a week ago and I am already in love with this place. We have some favorite restaurants, a good handful of friends that we see everyday, and a hotel room that is beginning to feel like our apartment. Joe and I have explored a few of the beautiful parks here in the city, but we hope to see many more before we leave. Tomorrow, we’re finally off to our ultimate destination, Yangshuo. It has been raining on and off here the last week, but the forecast looks much better for next week, so we’re hoping to get some climbing in.
When I traveled to Nicaragua in high school, I remember feeling like it was so different from America – very poor, scorching hot, remote, etc. It took me quite a while to get acclimated to my surroundings, but I loved every minute of my time there. I was expecting China to feel very similar, but it’s been quite easy to get used to being here, at least compared to Nicaragua. China is like a mix between a third world country and a first world country. There are some sections that are extremely poor, dirty, and littered with trash. The houses in these areas are made of pieces of plywood and old scrap, the water is brown but the people are lively. Just a few miles away, however, there are 5 star hotels, McDonalds, and designer clothing stores. Traffic laws are even the same way, like a mix between chaos and control. There is a great road system, complete with stop lights and crosswalks, but the roads are swarmed with mopeds and pedestrians. People walk in and out of traffic all the time and no one wears a seatbelt. You’d get a ticket in America for much of what is normal and commonplace here in China.
My favorite aspect of China is, quite naturally, the people. The Chinese are very friendly and open and don’t need a whole lot of privacy, at least from what I’ve seen. They are very proud of their heritage and culture, but are anxious to learn of and experience other cultures and ways of life. Those who can speak English love to practice, so Joe and I haven’t learned as much Chinese as we’d like, but we do know how to say hello, goodbye, thank you, you’re welcome, where is the bathroom…all the necessary words a foreigner needs to get around on their own 🙂
Our friends, Jack, Stephanie, Richard, and Ami (their American names, of course) are very interested in our lifestyle. Because China is politically communist but economically socialist, they marvel at the idea of owning your own business and being able to work from anywhere in the world that has a connection to the internet. They love to ask us questions about how we do what we do. Stephanie was telling me the other day that all Chinese people want safety and security. They work hard when they are young to save up money to live on when they get older. We told her that most Americans have this same mindset of wanting minimal risk and optimal security. Joe and I don’t really fit the norm, so I think it’s even harder for her to grasp that we are American but don’t quite fit the typical “American Dream.”
What is amazing to me is that the average person in America has twenty times as much as the average person in China, and yet Americans still pursue safety just as much as Stephanie does. I am beginning to realize that Joe and I are incredibly rich. We are not rich in the sense that we have a huge house and expensive cars, nor in the sense that we have huge piles of money and don’t ever need to work again, but we are rich because we have stopped idolizing security. When we come to a crossroads we don’t make our decision based on which direction is most comfortable, or most stable, or most financially prudent. We don’t need to walk in fear; the Maker of everything is looking down on us and what we want most is that He would be pleased with our work. Jesus tells us in Matthew that we cannot add a single hour to our lives by worrying. He promises us that just like he clothes the lilies of the field, so too will he take care of us in everything. I’m realizing that people don’t worry because they are poor. And people don not worry because they are rich, either. People worry when they are not in touch with the Creator. Joe and I worry every time we forget that God is in control.
Tonight Joe and I will be speaking on economics at a local university. Stephanie told us that there will be about 100-200 students that will attend. Please pray for us as we speak to these young students. May we be true examples of Christ.
Thanks for following us!