Monday, June 27, 2011


Yesterday, we awoke early, still not getting our time zones regulated. With only 6 hours of sleep, we ended the day nearly exhausted. However, we did walk a lot. Ron had a few places he wanted to go so rather than sit in a motel room all day, I went along.

We took the shuttle bus back to the airport and then took a bus to somewhere in the city. This may sound strange to most people but in a city as large as Shanghai, but I have no idea how far we went. The population of Shanghai is 23,019,148 so the city goes on and on. There are huge high-rise apartment buildings after apartment buildings. I was thinking as I looked from the bus, how would you ever find your apartment again? Maybe in one whole section, all of the buildings look the same. Then where you do see houses, the rooftops look like they are touching each other. This picture was taken from the bus, but you can see the houses in the foreground and the high-rise apartment buildings in the distance.

Beijing by comparison is 19,600,000 people. I thought it was the largest city but Shanghai has more people. In either city, you can travel for many hours and not be across the city. (The entire population of the U.S. is 307,006,000 and China is 1,331,460,000.)

We found the place we were going after taking a taxi after we got off the bus. Then we had to walk a while in the hot sun (about 90 degrees). We got directions to the subway system and were told it would take us all the way back to the Pudong Airport, which is near our hotel. We found fewer people who could speak English in Shanghai. We would have thought it would be the other way around. Shanghai is a business center for world corporations and many U.S. businessmen are on every flight to Shanghai.

It was a much more confusing subway system than in Beijing. English names are written very small. When they announce the stop over the loud speaker, they also say it in English, but there’s so much noise that you can hardly understand what they are saying. To ride the subway, you have to watch the map display and pay attention to the stops. There are many more lines than in Beijing. They intersect going in every direction. It’s not easy to trace where you are and what lines you have to change to before you can reach your destination. When we finally got on Line 2, the line to the airport, we still had to change twice more (still Line 2). It literally stopped about halfway and everyone got off and started waiting for the next one. We got on the next one and traveled for a while and then almost everyone got off again. Since a few people stayed on, we asked someone about the airport and they said we had to go across and get on it going the other direction. We were skeptical since the way we were heading had an arrow pointing to the airport. However, we thought the boy spoke with authority and people who can speak English and understand have always been helpful. We watched the next stop and we were heading the right way after all. It was a very confusing line. We never had that happen in Beijing. No one over the age of 40 rides the subways. I know why. There are many steps and long distances between lines. I guess we must have walked at least 5 miles yesterday.

When we arrived at the Pudong Airport, we looked at the airline arrival schedule and realized that Lily, our translator, would be coming in soon. We found a restaurant and had dinner while we waited. We had skipped lunch entirely with our wanderings around. I ordered shrimp fried rice, green vegetables and hot green tea. Ron had a fresh fruit bowl and Japanese Tofu. He helped me with the greens. It was very delicious.

Becky and Lily at Breakfast
When we finished dinner we saw that Lily’s plane had been delayed and it would be another hour before she arrived. We decided we were too tired to wait and with no seats in that area, we decided to return to the hotel. Lily arrived safely and came to room about two hours later. Lily said she would go back to the airport at 9:45 to meet Becky arriving from Narita, Japan. Becky’s flight the night before was cancelled for some reason. Nowadays, if the airline doesn’t practically fill up a flight (even if it’s the only one out that day), they cancel the flight. The plane might have had mechanical problems. We will find out the reason today when we see Becky. Since airlines don’t put people up in hotels anymore, they really don’t care how inconvenient it is for passengers. Some people are scheduled to make connecting flights elsewhere but just have to deal with the delays the best way they can. Flying is more difficult these days for many reasons.

Today, we will check out at noon and take the subway to the other airport. We fly out late today for Nanning. The airports are about an hours’ drive apart. Like all cities, the traffic at the end of the day can make a one hour drive turn into two hours so we really have to plan ahead and sometimes get to the airport much too early to be sure we make it.


We left the RV Wednesday morning at 3:30 a.m. to drive to the Sheridan Hotel to park our car in long-term parking and take a shuttle to the airport. We cleared security in plenty of time and waited to see if we could get on the 5:40 a.m. flight to Detroit. We fly on “buddy passes” given to us by Delta employees so we are on standby until the plane has boarded and then we get what seats are left. On this flight, it was oversold so we had little hope of getting on but we actually were called and got the last two seats on the flight.

We didn’t sit together. A couple on my left started asking what I was making. I crochet baby blankets to pass the time on planes and trains. One question led to another and finally I explained that we work in China. They wanted to know what we do and after a few minutes they asked what church sponsored us. When I said we were members of the Lewisville C of C, big smiles came to their faces. They go to Cedar Hill, a suburb of Dallas. We have not yet been to their congregation. We exchanged information and talked about various people we both knew. They know Colt McCoy who played with the Dallas Cowboys and is a member of the church. In fact, his Mom (Deborah Woodruff) and our daughter, Leigh Ann, were friends in high school. We were also very close to the rest of the Woodruff family as we attended the same congregation when our children were small.

The man to my right told me he lived in China for two years. I can’t begin to spell the name of the city where he lived. He builds Black Hawk helicopters so he’s been all over the world (India, Turkey and served in Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia). He married a Chinese girl and put her through university until she got her master’s degree. Then she took up with his best friend. He presently has a Chinese girlfriend in the U.S. who is divorced and has three girls in U.S. universities, all going free on scholarships because of their excellent grades. He is a Tea Party advocate and was quite vocal about the way our country is heading. He is angry toward our politicians and the political system we have at the present time. He didn’t care who heard what he had to say. The couple on my left joined in and agreed with him on most everything. I told him I agree too but I didn’t voice my opinion on things, because he was doing enough of that for both of us.

Speaking of interesting people, I met a lady in the laundry mat in Lewisville when I was catching up on my laundry before we left Texas. She started the conversation saying she had just returned from a trip to Israel. She began talking about the Jewish history, the Law of Moses and a bunch of stuff I knew nothing about. She said she left Christianity after 40 active years, but she’s a believer in some group that feels God never changes and the Old Testament law was not “done away with.” She believes we must keep all of the Jewish holidays (I asked her about sacrifices and got a mixed answer that was totally foreign garbage, so I don’t know how she gets around slaughtering a lamb for Passover). She said the New Testament in English is totally mistranslated and there’s no hope for anyone following it unless they study the Hebrew and the Torah and follow all of the laws of God. She asked me if I believed I would go to heaven. I told her “certainly.” Her comment in an exaggerated and rather unpleasant voice was, “Good Luck!”

She believes in the 1000 year reign of Christ on the earth and she thinks she knows when the end of the world will be. (I didn’t ask her if she was part of the crazy group that just predicted it and missed it, now postponing it until October). She picks what she wants from the New Testament and Old Testament but what she doesn’t want, she quickly says the translations are incorrect and preachers have misquoted and mislead all Christian believers. She is quite an authority on everything.

She was so totally off the wall with her beliefs so there is no common ground without her accepting the authority of the New Testament. I told her my husband was a minister and I have known many people who studied and knew the Hebrew and Greek languages and I have to put my trust somewhat in them knowing the background since I can’t personally learn all of this myself. In her opinion, all religions are wrong and everyone is lost besides her small group of believers. It was an unpleasant conversation for me. I think she thoroughly enjoyed showing off her knowledge and superior beliefs of what is true and acceptable by God. She acted as if she is infallible.

It’s just my luck to run into someone like her that wants to discuss religion (most don’t) and then is the type of person you cannot teach. When she heard that my husband is a minister, her eyes lit up and she said, “Oh, I would absolutely love to go head to head with him.” She thinks she could whip him down in a few minutes’ time. I told her he would not be interested. She wanted to know why. I told her it would be a total waste of time to discuss it further with her because she had her strong opinions and no one can change it. She said no one was trying to change anyone but why discuss it with someone like this. It’s like trying to study with Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses. I refused to let her think she had gotten to me and shattered my faith in any way but it did upset me somewhat to hear things like this, especially with this woman’s attitude.

Back to our trip. We arrived in Detroit on Wednesday morning and had lunch at Chili’s (no breakfast that morning). We had the rest of the day to walk and rest in the airport until the flight to Shanghai at 4:30 p.m. We had no problem getting on that flight and were seated in first class. The flight was fine and I actually slept 6 hours (restless sleep but nevertheless better than none). The two previous nights in Lewisville, we had storms that kept us awake most of the night.

Monday night’s storm awoke us about 1:30 p.m. and at 2:30 hail about the size of golf balls fell for more than five minutes. You should be in an RV and hear this sound. Lightning flashed across the sky continuously for more than an hour. It was not just the normal electrical patterns in the sky. It was huge flashes of light which looked like it would come from a camera flash. We had some gusts of wind that rocked the RV and then heavy rain following the hail for another hour. The second night we had a repeat storm about 10 p.m. but it did not have hail.

Our car is totally dented and there’s some damage to the RV. Geico Insurance told Ron to just go ahead and get the car repaired without having an adjuster come out. We will do that when we get back to Texas. Although the damage to the RV is not extensive, it still may cost a lot of money to make the repairs. It is mostly damage to awnings, the back-up camera, etc. They are sending an adjuster to look at it.

The Taylors (where we parked the RV) had windshields broken in their vehicles as well as dents on the body of every car and truck. The skylights in their house were broken by the hail and water and hail poured inside their house. They had a parked a fifth-wheeler camper next to our RV and it was heavily damaged. Power was out until noon the next day. The storm knocked out power across Lewisville and Denton with a lot of wind damage.

I’ve heard from Texans that everything is bigger in Texas. I know for certain that storms and wildfires are! I was a little upset with the forecasters not warning us about the storm Monday night. I watched the weather channel before going to bed and it all appeared to be in the northern counties and not expected in our area. On Tuesday night, they predicted storms to remain south of I-120 which would have kept us out of harms’ way also. A huge cell came right across Dallas and covered all of Lewisville for the second night in a row. Of course, by the time the storm gets close to us everyone is being warned but I like to know a few hours beforehand if it’s even a possibility.

Due to the lack of sleep two nights and only six hours of restless sleep on the plane, we slept about six hours last night. We had breakfast at the hotel’s buffet and I enjoyed everything on my plate. I skipped a lot of things but what I chose was very good. We even have coffee at this restaurant but it’s made strong.

I had a plateful of the following: a boiled egg, three kinds of steamed bread (one stuffed) and one more of a glutinous rice type. I had a piece of lean ham, steamed cabbage, bamboo shoots, steamed zucchini with small shrimp, cooked greens, two sweet treats (a light cake and rice with dried fruit) and watermelon. I could have eaten a second plateful of the same things but I try not to be a glutton. People ask what we eat in China and I tell everyone there are things I don’t eat (unknown meats or bacon practically raw) but the vegetables are really delicious. Not many Americans would like vegetables for breakfast but they are not half-bad! It’s all in the mind as to what is acceptable breakfast food. They had another table of cold salads and cold vegetable dishes but I never eat those. I don’t care for cold vegetables and I don’t eat anything raw. Even if vegetables have been washed in bad water, they are safe to eat after they are cooked properly. I don’t drink milk (unpasteurized) or cold drinks (which could be made from impure water). I’ve never been sick on the food. I hope I’ll make it this trip and still be able to say that again.

We have a day of rest. Becky Donovan, a girl from Louisiana, flew out of Houston and was supposed to meet up with us in Shanghai. Her flight took her through Narita, Japan. Ron and I went back to the airport at 9:30 p.m. last night to meet her and found that her flight to Shanghai had been cancelled. We have not yet gotten an email from her. We assume she stayed in the airport hotel in Narita and will take the one flight they have today to Shanghai. Lily, our translator and worker who makes our reservations, will arrive here this afternoon. Tomorrow, we all have flights to Nanning. We will spend one night in a hotel in Nanning and travel on to Tiendeng (home of John Connor Brown Christian Care Center) Sunday morning. They will delay the family meeting until the afternoon when we arrive. I will post more as I have news about the rest of our trip.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Count it all Joy

The wisdom of James 1:2-4 was studied in our class at Lewisville last Sunday morning and was very timely for me. 

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

Most of us do not think of trials as "works of joy."  We want smooth sailing every day.  We don't look forward to trials and testing periods of our faith.  Yet, in order to turn trials to triumph, we must let patience do its work ...through prayers in faith. 

Often trials and disappointments knock us backwards for a while but if we trust in God, He will help us get through the rough times and set us on a course that is good, sometimes even better than before.

It was very hard, for me especially, to pack up our house in Sharpsburg and drive away, knowing Ron never intended to go back there to live.   Leaving a home seems to be much more emotional to women than it is for men.  It shut another door of my life and I was sad.  We don't know how long it will take to sell or rent the house but it's not useful to us in this phase of our lives.  Leaving our daughter in Georgia and our son in China, puts us a long distance from family.   I was already struggling with the decision to travel full-time and live in an RV, which is not one of my favorite things.  I still felt my roots were with the friends at Peachtree City and I would be back someday to live in an apartment or condo there.  We actually talked about going ahead and buying a condo in Peachtree City as we packed up the house.   The suddeness of the decision of the Peachtree City Church of Christ elders to discontinue their oversight of our work was very upsetting and disappointing when I was already struggling with having to move out of the house.  We learned the news on our last night there (after class was over) so we had no chance to talk to our dear Christian friends before we left.  We thought we would be back in a few months so we left with only casual goodbyes. 

We have known for some time that the Peachtree City elders were concerned about handling the work should something happen to Ron where he could not carry on the oversight of the work.   We understand that our mission is not just a simple work of a missionary teaching in a foreign land.  The lives of nearly 700 little children are involved and the continuance of the work is important to us and to the people of China.   Ron and I are still in good health and we strive to keep it that way, but none of ever know when it's time for us to leave this earth, no matter what our age.  However, it was only after we decided we would have to live in Texas for some time that the elders decided to give up the oversight.  No hint of  the elders discontinuing their oversight had leaked to us prior to this.   Ron intended to keep the elders well-informed and make visits back as often as possible just as a missionary would in a foreign field.  But, it was the decision of  the elders, saying they felt it would be more practical for us to get a church in TX to oversee the work. 

Considering all the possibilities, we chose Lewisville Church of Christ in Lewisville, TX as our new church home.  They began supporting our work this year and we have had contact with them for some time.  Knowing the reputation of this fine congregation, we decided we wanted to be a part of the work here as much as is possible with our travels.  We decided that this can be the center of our work and from here we can go out to the various parts of Texas to visit churches.  Lewisville is just north of Dallas.  It's a beautiful area with lakes and lovely countryside.  If you can stay out of the Dallas traffic, it's terrific!   We have been here for more than a month to get established with this congregation and prepare for our upcoming trip to China.  Ron had a few appointments already scheduled in this area, so things worked out very well.

We have been warmly accepted at the Lewisville congregation and have begun to make some wonderful friends.  We regret we will be away much of the time, but it will be a joy each time we can return.  We have asked them to oversee our work, but do not yet have a firm answer.  We are supplying them with all the information about the work in China so they can make a wise decision. 

We had some news from China two weeks ago that brought us great joy.  Ronald, our son, has become engaged to Gigi, who lives and teaches school in the Philippines.  She is an English and Math teacher of 15 years with many degrees and certificates so she will be a great asset to our work as she works with the children in the orphanages.  Neither have been married before so they feel that they are very fortunate and blessed to find each other.  We hope and pray it will be a long and happy marriage.  We are looking forward to meeting Gigi.  We already know of her many good qualities and already love her.
We will leave one week from tomorrow (June 22nd) for China.  We are looking forward to seeing Ronald and the children at the orphanages.  Becky, a lady from Louisiana is going with us.  She will teach some classes at the care centers as we visit each one.  We will travel from Shanghai to Tiendeng to the John Connor Brown Christian Care Center.  From there, we will visit Wesley's House in Pingguo and Neil Taylor Christian Care Center in Rongshui.  I think Ron also has an appointment with someone in Wuhan.  We will, lastly, visit North Canton Christian Care Center in Longhui.  From there, we will return to Shanghai and our return trip to the States.  Our traveling will be extensive and we will be exhausted by the time we arrive home only to deal with jetlag for about a week.

Then, once rested, we will begin our travels again.  Ron already has appointments set from July to October in OK, AR, TN, KY and GA. 

I hope to have news to post from China.  We ask you to remember us in your prayers.  We hope this will be a safe and productive trip.