Friday July 22, 2005

We’re in Fuxin, and I am so glad. We arrived yesterday by train, and it has truly been a welcomed change. We live on the college campus, on of China’s top 100 school, and even though it only has 20,000 students, it feels smaller than SMU. Granted, it helps when 7-8 live in a room together, but they all have to go to class. It really is a beautiful campus, too. Trees arch over the streets and the buildings seem well kept. It seems like this place is the heart and soul of China, where Shenyang was the exterior and the middle. On the outside of Shenyang it was very impressive and screamed of progress and modernization, but on the inside of the city everything was poorly built, run down, and essentially hollow. Just a big front. But here in Fuxin is the third layer of China, the true heart of the people. Just in the first 24 hours I have a job over to work in Dalian as an English teacher, met a student from Ligong Daxue, and played basketball with the same 16 year old twice. Not to mention I saw the guy who gave me the offer twice and met again one of the girls Daryl introduced us to randomly. It’s a big city with a small town feel. The people here are wonderfully kind, not that they weren’t in Shenyang, but somehow it’s different. Maybe these layers aren’t a product of location but time – whether in Shenyang or Fuxin these people are wonderful.

Either way, you can’t beat the cost of living in Fuxin. It’s a great thing to think that a 25 cent milk tea is expensive. Our hotel costs is 22.5 kwai or less than $3/day. I don’t know what makes a city feel like a home or a place for that matter. Still, it is quite lovely to be in a place you can really call home. College Station and Dallas are both that way but are completely different.

Random note: This school does not own the student dorms either. The school makes it mandatory for the students to live in overpriced dorms. The corruption is bad in all of China.

The day before we left Shenyang, we went to eat with Chong and Zhong and our Chinese family. It was amazingly good food. After dinner we did some more kariokie, and I was absolutely uninterested. Why can’t the KTVs have more classic rock. If I have to hear another Celine Dion hit again, I think I’m going to hurt myself. Not the point of the story. What is the point is that during “My heart will go on forever”, Zhong accepted Christ. It was a truly wonderful and joyous to see it all take place. I don’t even know how many people have trusted Christ since we’ve been in China, but the number is certainly greater than 6. What’s most exciting is that they are all the same age (except Zhong and Jay). It’s been quite fruitful and words are hard to find.

I’ve spent a good bit of time with Jimmy, which as been good. I really wanted to hurt him when we played basketball this morning. I don’t know where this rage comes from or where the envy lies… well, Jimmy is good at everything – nearly perfect – and it irritates me. My flesh boiled, sizzled, at times on the court. Oh, that God would teach me to love my enemies or really to love my brothers as Jesus did. What compassion, what tenderness, what forgiveness. Such a great lesson, seeking and extending forgiveness. Tom Nelson preached on this, and I listened to it on the train. His text was Luke 17. He made a very interesting point that is quite wise and cuts right to the bone, as truth will do. He said the men o f the Old Testament did not have extraordinary faith, but were obedient with what they had been given. And what beauty there is in that. Being simply obedient no matter the size of your lot, not matter what you feel, or how the circumstances/justifications give you a way out. Forgiveness is such a part in that too. How else can we be tender and merciful if we don’t forgive. What a battle it is and struggle to see and live in. Oh, may hte Holy Spirit quicken the progress. Please, oh, please! May He grant me mercy and compassion to the tough-to-love, the down-and-out, may there be perseverance in my service for His sake, for His sake.