from day 2

We spent today exploring Beijing. I'm not sure how to describe the constant, massive motion of this city. There are more people than I could have ever imagined. It's sort of like watching a disturbed ant hill or beehive, only it spreads for miles and miles. There is a tremendous sense of humanity corporate, functioning as one.

I've never seen anything that even remotely compares to how large Beijing is. None of the large cities I have seen in the US are comparable. There isn't just one main section of town with skyscrapers, blending into smaller office buildings then suburbs. The skyscrapers here go on for miles and miles.

The gentleness and respect people show one another in public transit is astounding. You are literally packed so close you are touching strangers are all sides. The tunnel is hot, and when the doors open, it is like a dam has burst. But it's not the same feeling as an American sporting event. It's obvious that these folks have learned to maneuver without harm or offense. Somehow they weave through the flood with quiet grace.

Of course, many people stared at us, and a few laughed at our oddities.I was actually refreshed to see a little sarcasm and humor here and there. But most were simply interested, because we were different. And many kind souls went out of their way to assist and help us on our journey.

Some of the Eastern cultural values I've heard about make more sense to me in light of what I have seen here. Emotional restraint would be a necessity, just to keep this sort of human density working. And complaints Westerners have heard about the value of individual human life take on a different texture when millions of people are swarming everywhere.

Yet, there is more individualism than I was expecting, also. I'm seeing funky, dyed hair and artistic nails. I'm seeing teenagers with a bit of an attitude. I'm seeing people who give off the air of being an artist or musician. It actually feels creative in places here, which was the very last thing I was expecting.

Another surprise? I haven't seen a single piece of trash anywhere. I haven't seen a single person chewing gum. People here keep their bodies neat, clean, and free from odor. Everywhere I look, there are city workers cleaning, mopping, sweeping. I have seen no graffiti. The sense of feeling "dirty," so far, is not from the people moving about. The air feels dirty, and there is a distinct industrial smell that seems to seep into your pores. But the city (topically) seems to be very clean, especially in light of how many people are being managed.

We visited the silk market briefly. The sales people are very aggressive, trying to lure you into a purchase. Floor after floor of clothing is for sale, and a lot of it is beautiful. But it is packed so densely into these small booths, it is almost nauseating. I found myself wanting to look at a few things, but walking away because I didn't want to be pressured by, "Lady, I give you special price, just for you."

Last night, we had dinner with some friends who care for orphans in Beijing. (These people were not associated with Moses' facility.) It was amazing to meet two of the girls we have prayed for so long, Corrie and Faith. I sat by Corrie in the back of Bill's car, and she placed my hand on her head and begged for me to stroke her hair. It was so sweet. And Faith is a sweet, vibrant little doll.

Jet lag hit full force in the middle of our meal, and both of our kids fell asleep (literally) at the dinner table. It was crazy trying to get them home in that state of exhaustion. Bobby felt a cab would be safer than the subway with their fatigue level. About five minutes into that drive, I realized how strongly I disagreed.

Our first cab ride was at 1:00 AM, so I didn't know how traffic could be here. How can I even begin to describe it? Driving seems to be the one place in Chinese culture where emotion rules completely. The lines on the Beijing streets mean nothing. Every inch of the road (and some of the sidewalks) are fair game. If a driver doesn't get what he wants immediately, he tries to push and honk his way through the flood of moving cars. I have no idea why they even waste money painting lines on the road. From now on, I'm taking the subway if it's at all possible.

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Update. I grew too tired to finish that entry last night, so it's morning now. We are supposed to visit Tien'Amnen and The Forbidden City today. The hotel breakfast is incredible, and I am looking forward to it. They had traditional American breakfast fare, but the Chinese food was my favorite. I ate steamed bok choy, steamed spinach, fried rice, baked yams, and noodles for breakfast yesterday. Hot, dense black tea was served as well. I'll try to take some photos today so you can see what it's like.

Thanks for praying. Two more nights in Beijing, then we fly to Zhengzhou to pick up Moses. I'm so glad we have had time to adjust a little before receiving him. As impatient as I have been to pick him up, this time has been crucial for jet lag recovery. Also, I have needed to know some things about my son's country that these days have provided. Please pray for continued safety, for our patience with one another and the diversity surrounding us, and for strength. This may sound strange, but seemingly simple things like a constant grey sky and strong smells can be overwhelming for someone who isn't used to it.
I'm craving a Wendell Berry book like a woman craves chocolate, and wish I had thought to upload one before leaving. Still, we are learning so much, trying to soak in the uniqueness of every moment! There are so many things to love about China, and we are incredibly grateful and humbled to be here!

karen  – (July 17, 2010 at 3:40 PM)  

It is so neat to read glad you are posting. Can't wait to hear more! (((hugs))).

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About This Blog

Welcome to our family’s adoption journey. As you read, you will see us stumble and take wrong paths. You will see our hopes surge and fall. You will see the gaps in our humanity, and how our God realigns us to His purposes over and again. We think the messiness of this process is important. Sometimes walking with God isn’t a neat, linear package that can be summarized in bullet points. More often, life ebbs and flows around our plans, while God works His sovereign wonders from it all. We are learning so much through this journey. And we are super excited about our new son. If you’d like to join us, we’d love to have you along for the ride.

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