They say it’s a small world – it certainly is. A few weeks after leaving home I found out that a friend of my sister, had a sister living out here in China. So this is how I found myself celebrating Christmas with a lovely Christian, English speaking family. Not only was it great to be with a family and enjoy bacon butties and turkey on Christmas Day, Paul was able to show me around. We wandered around the area, experiencing the wonderful market charm, the hustle and bustle, the witch doctors lining the street and I couldn’t believe there were free outdoor gyms – even one that massaged your back.
I also had my first experience of UFC international fighting.
Paul told me more of the torch festival they have here. Fire is a big part of their culture and in the museum men were licking red hot metal, putting it on their feet and eating sticks on fire.
Maybe the influence of a family gathering or the fact that I would be not recognisable by my passport photo prompted me to ask Paul for help finding a barber. He did me proud by providing me with a head massage, shave and hair cut for free; trouble is now Paul has to repay the favour.
Not sure whether it was the haircut but on the way home on the bus I got given a girl’s phone number!!!
Once again I was able to experience real-life and not just the touristy pitfalls. It was great to be able to meet Morgan, their daughter, out of school; where I learned that the children’s exit at the end of the day is staggered to avoid chaos at the school gates.
I had been dreading Christmas away from family but it turned out to be really enjoyable due to Paul, Sarah and Morgan’s generosity and hospitality. We celebrated by singing carols, enjoyed an American buffet with a great group of people, watched the children tell the Christmas story, opened presents, played games and watched TV including the Queen’s speech. I was also introduced to a highly recommended film called ‘The Last Prince’ which is a must watch!
During our time together Paul shared his amazing testimony of coming to Christ and his and Sarah’s calling to China as missionaries. They have worked with people who knew the world renowned Jackie Pullinger. Jackie’s book ‘Chasing the Dragon’ is an amazing and inspirational read that I enjoyed a few years ago.
I had wondered about Christianity in China and got to attend church on Sunday. It was all in Chinese which thankfully Paul translated; he was able to explain that the church was government run with strict rules, such as no more than 15 people can meet outside the church. Christmas and Easter are the only times that they can preach what they believe and altar calls can only be made at these services so the congregation were very keen to make the most of this opportunity.
Despite this I have seen a report by Andrew Brown, in ‘The Guardian’ entitled ‘China doesn’t want to suppress Christianity – just control it.’ It says “China is on course over the next 15 years, to become the world’s most populous Christian nation.