Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Jason and I took the subway downtown to meet the pastors from the other international churches. We had some time to look around so we walked the length of Nanjing Road, one of the tourist attractions of the city. Many fancy places to shop, mostly designed to separate foreigners from much of their money! Jason and I ended up in a little shop in the People’s Square, eating a little egg custard pie from a vendor and talking about ministry.
Someone suggested the La Meridian hotel, which is supposedly the #1 hotel in Shanhai. As soon as we walked into the building, I knew this was a different level of place. We sat down in the lobby and soon Nate, one of the pastors and Suzanne and Jeff, two of the associates, greeted us. We went up to the eighth floor to the “inexpensive” Chinese restaurant. Jeff order excellent food for us and we were soon deep into wide ranging discussion. We ended up with Bibles open working through the definition of the church from Acts 2. It felt little like a seminary class! When we were finishing they commented how much they appreciated the stimulation. They don’t get a lot of that in full time ministry.
Jason and I went to the urban planning museum to see the plans for the Shanghai Expo 2010 and the soon to be world’s tallest building that is being built along side the current world’s tallest building and former world’s tallest building and a world’s tallest structure (Pearl TV tower) . All this in areas that were mostly farms twenty years ago.
Krista fixed a Korean supper for us at their apartment building. Jason says she can only eat out about so much before she has to cook. Sherry and I enjoyed the new foods a lot. Paul and Andrea joined us. On one side, Paul was telling Jason and me of his conversion to Christ, asking a lot of questions about his experience. On the other, Andrea was telling Sherry and Krista of her experience as an international model and her conversion to Christ. I split my head trying to hear her story while interacting intensely with Paul/
Andrea came to our apartment with Angelia soon joining us. We talked in depth of her conversion, how the LORD had used a demon possessed friend of hers to bring her to realization of her need for a true regenerating experience with Jesus. Jesus met her, deeply transforming her. Our interactions were intense and went late. That meant a short night because of our early departure for our trip to Wuxi.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Getting to the Shanghai train station is a bit a challenge since it’s way on the other side of town. Subway would mean transferring lines down town. A long walk pulling our suitcase with many chances to get lost wasn’t good. It wouldn’t be good for Sherry’s knees either. Taxi is good, but how do you explain where we need to go with no Chinese? There were possibilities, but the problem was solved with Angelia calling her taxi driver friend. She was there to pick us up at our door at 7 am and drove us through Shanghai traffic expertly.
As we came out of the underground parking, we saw a huge reader board on the front of the building. After a moment our train was displayed. After a long walk, we found waiting room 7, 8. But which room should we go to? I went to the information kiosk, showed my ticket to the fellow. He said several sentences of Chinese and pointed to the right. As we waited, Sherry took out her cross stitch. I was surprised how many people came to look at us and what she was doing.
The call for the train came in Chinese and English and we joined the crowd going up and down the stairs to the platform to board the train. Stairs are Sherry’s nemesis especially when she’s rushed, so the journey wasn’t a happy one. I didn’t know where car seven was and didn’t want to explore any more than necessary. So I showed my ticket to a fellow behind me. He pointed the opposite way than we were headed. Glad I’m not one of the “I never ask for directions” guys.
First class cars on a fast train meant really nice. Lots more room than an airplane. Foot rests, slide out tables, a bottle of water, a movie on the display panel. A lady came through selling “Caffe” but I couldn’t get my wits around me quickly enough to figure out how to communicate with her, so I missed it. We relaxed, watching the scenery whiz by. The display gave the train speed, going up to 209 kilometers per hour which is cooking right along!
Another long walk with many stairs to get into the station in Wuxi. As we got to the entrance gate, Julia, Rick’s teaching assistant, was holding her our greeting sign high and smiling big. She surprised me by greeting us with a hug. Not normal for Chinese folk no matter how well they know you. She was buoyant and fun as she took us to a taxi and on to International School of Wuxi. As we pulled up in front of the surprisingly large building, Rick was there greeting us.