Leaning Back - Day 2 in China Trip #14
Over the past 4 out of 7 years, after growing up and out of a reliance on a welcoming party in China and into my own independence, I have never had an easy time during the first 36 hours of entry into this country. Whether it has been impolite or grumbling cab drivers rushing me to my nearby hotel so they can pick up another higher paying airport customer, getting dropped off at the wrong hotel and getting locked out of my Airbnb all in the same night, having my phone not work during the most crucial time of needing to verify information, being 5 minutes too late for the recently-implemented rigid time schedule kept by the Chinese airline authorities to make my plane transfer, or simply having my flight canceled, as it was this morning, there has always been an issue.
At least I am getting better at minimizing the hardship. This time I didn’t venture out from the Shanghai airport but stayed right there in the airport hotel. That way I wouldn't have to deal with grumpy cab drivers, or be under pressure to get my phone connected with my banking and communication apps in order to make my next connection. When I woke up at 4am, well rested after a very good 4 hours of sleep, I decided to take a leisurely walk around the airport, stopping at the kiosk to get my phone working since it was already a year since I had been here, finding to my dismay that during that time my long-time phone number that was connected to all of my accounts was deactivated. Having remedied the problem, I then saw the news on the tv monitor that my 7am flight was canceled, I instinctively pushed myself into the small mob of people at the nearby counter and fought to get my place in something that vaguely resembled a line, when I realized I could solve this online. I pulled out my phone and booked a new flight that would leave a few hours later, walked calmly out of the mob, got a buffet breakfast at the hotel, and went back to sleep.
Arriving in Yangshuo within the first 36 hours would not be as difficult and long of a first leg as I have sometimes had, but there had been flooding the day before my arrival, making the situation uncertain. In addition John’s car had been hit the day before that, and it was needed to get the orphans to our camp. He had to spend all day fixing it instead of meeting me and helping me to get settled. Thankfully we still have another day to prepare for Davee, Rachel, Susan and Hannah all get to town to hold our second orphan camp.
Just a few days before, with my long list of involved tasks I needed to finish before leaving, I caught myself in a rush to an appointment with the DMV. Then, as I drove past Monrovia, instead of pushing forward toward being on time, I suddenly realized and acknowledged that He was my front and rear guard and that I would not go in haste (Isa52), a lesson as I learned on an assignment in Hangzhou a few years ago. I fell back into his pace, drove right into a full parking lot as a car pulled out of a space very close to the door. I slid in, walked past the long line of people who didn’t have appointments, and right there in the line with my fellow driver’s test takers, basked in his presence and experienced beauty of the people around me. Being a few minutes late turned into a very enjoyable, otherwise perfect experience. I was reminded of the ways his thoughts are above our thoughts (Isa55), like my friend Lori spoke of at Ascent’s commissioning service, thrown for me years ago. Now on my bus ride into the heart of Yangshuo, as the Chinese tourists around me gawked and took photos of the uniquely shared mountains of this region, I fell back into my seat, and listened again to those words that she and other dear friends spoke over me that day.
A few years ago, on another occasion when I was driving through, He had impressed on me that “I was not done in Monrovia.” I assumed it was a word for another group of people but I realized now, that maybe that word was for me. I pressed in to looking for a place to live within the city of Monrovia, and on the day before I left, found someplace that was exactly perfect for what I was looking for. I put in a deposit and first months rent, and agreed to move in on June 1st or before then, whenever I wanted, after coming back from my trip. Having been in a few recent situations where landlords were rushing me to move in, in order to start paying the rent, I appreciated this gesture.
FOR YOU SHALL NOT GO IN HASTE
On my journey from Shanghai to Yangshuo, I leaned back into Him again, and began to receive clarity on this trip. I would have liked to have had clarity earlier, to know how to answer people who asked where specifically I was going or what word I was bringing, but simply did not have it. On the plane, the specific word around the camp topic of "making mistakes" became a very clear message. I started to contemplate on going to another place I had previously considered visiting but had considered it a little hard to get to, especially if I was not clear on the purpose, when it bubbled back up into my vision. My nature is to want to move quickly on revelation, but understanding this as my weakness, I am holding myself accountable to Davee’s ARR model, which demands that I wait even further than this before grabbing and implementing it quickly.
Please help us lift up the automobile situation for John as we rely on his car to deliver food and clothing to the poor. It is having more problems, and he will have to consider getting another one in the near future. Davee and I will also be working with a number of groups of people who are we are walking more closely with, and as a product of our model, we are not pre-planning a whole lot, a process that adds to both the tension and the excitement.
Who wants to run with Carolyn at 6am tomorrow?” Susan asked. Eight out of the nine children’s hands shot up into the air. Very surprised, I happily came over the next morning to pick them up. The 13-year old girl Cherish beat me on a 1K sprint back home. Her 7-year old youngest brother always wanted to race with me on his bicycle. “Do you think you can beat me?” he asked. “Of course I’ll beat you,” I said, “your bicycle is so small.”
Eleven-year old Zefu who is always with his friends on romping around in the village streets when I visit him from time to time, very athletic and a quick study, now out to challenge all of the rules at this camp, always seemed to settle down when we sang praises together. He and some of the middle school girls had their eyes glued to the video drama of J’s life and death as one of our Chinese counselors translated and explained to them what happened.
“Who wants to go rock climbing?” The same 8 children’s hands shot up. From ages 6 to 18, all were eager to experience the fullness of life and activity.
Is This a Legend?
Who heard of J before, I asked? The 4 kids who were there last year raised their hands. The 5 new ones said they had not heard. Who heard of the Boss before? To my shock, the 5 kept their hands raised. Susan and Hannah our Chinese leaders summarized and added their own stories and experiences.
Leading up to this time Davee and I agreed at this retreat we would focus on providing a platform the adults to thrive. As a result they all expressed fulfillment at the end, instead of a programatic exhaustion The youngest ones received his stories openly and without doubt. The older ones had doubts and questions: “Why did he have to die?” “What is the X?” “Is this for real or a legend?"
Susan, who just 3 years ago was asking the same questions spoke confidently to them about the matter: “It’s true!” She went on to share her experience of coming to him. It took a lot of people and a long process, but today she stands firm, speaking out of conviction.
For me it was a fulfillment of 4 years of sowing into some of these kids, visiting them with John and Susan each time I am here, seeing their needy and tragic situations. Some have witnessed their parents’ early death. Some have been declared unwanted and abandoned. Some acted out with restless, self-attention getting behaviors, but all were pure hearted.
I wanted to see the new house we helped the Mo grandma to raise the kids in. I didn't realize it was new, because it had the same old brick walls and cold cement floor, but at least there was a solid roof over their heads instead of a leaky one. Grandma shared about her [deformed] foot condition and we lifted her up. Five-year-old Mo Hui Quan "Paul" shared his new kindergarten book with me. He can already read, and is quite smart and able to dialogue with me and other adults. He thanked all of us for sending him to school last year after not having the means. (click on picture above to see more videos)
Paul's oldest half sister, “Wen Qing” was abandoned by her mother and left by their mutual father when he got in an accident and died 5 years ago.
When I shared the concept that there was a father who loved all of us, Wen Qing came up to me in all integrity and said it was too much of a foreign concept that she could not accept, however she promised to think deeply about it.
I continued to relate with her after the retreat. A few days later when we met she brought me a Chinese fan as a gift. Not thinking much of it, I stuffed in my bag and gave her a ride to her school and entered in as a parent dropping off her kid. She asked me if I could take out the fan because she wanted to explain. She had bought it earlier and wrote on it in beautiful characters: “J loves me, I love J…He gives me strength…Thank you Carolyn. Your friend, Wen Qing” I beamed. “this is so meaningful, thank you!” Just then two of her friends called across the school yard to her jokingly. I called to them in Chinese: 来吧，咱们练习英语好不好？“lai, ba, zanmen lianxi yingyu!” coaxing them to come and join our English practice session. “Giggling, and very shy, they came up to me. 请坐一下 “qing zuo!” (please, have a seat!). We proceeded to struggle through some English phrases. I later asked them how I could ATL for them. One friend immediately got teary-eyed and said her parents are both in another city making money and leave her at home by herself. The other friend also started tearing up, 我差不多吧 “wo chabuduo ba” (practically same for me). I shared his love and they both immediately accepted and rejoiced, exchanging contact info and allowing me to introduce them to other local friends.
Today we are trying to find a way to get me on campus or to get them off campus to meet again. On the weekends they are invited to Melissa's to share meals together.
Davee found his assignment when a local leader called him to meet for training. Davee asked me to help him discern this meeting and during the time I discerned that this was his the opportunity hs had been preparing for to release the things long on his heart. He shared for two days with four others from the local under-gr establishment. They seemed completely enraptured in the time, welcoming us back to continue to share with them.
May 18, 2019
“Teacher where are you? We are waiting at the school gate.” I got a text message on my last day in China. I had already left Yangshuo 5 days ago but the students had it in their mind that I would come back every Friday to meet with them, and had arranged their weekend rides home accordingly. “So sorry, I didn’t explain more clearly,” I texted back anxiously, “I don’t live in Yangshuo, but Teacher Smile will meet with you!” I had recently made friends with Wen Qing from our orphan retreat and and her high school friends, and despite unsuccessful attempts to convince their teacher it was ok to cut class or their guardians it was ok to come back early to meet with me, they were still trying hard. Fortunately there are a few locals, including Smile, Susan and Hannah who will follow up with them.
Because of the 5 men who came last Fall, many avenues were opened up for us to step in. During my last few days I met with local leaders to work through inner healing issues, seemingly new to them, which they reported using to help others after I left. This led me to an expedition to Beijing and the northern part of China where more were hungry for healing and teaching.
Another relationship that pulled me northward, instead of the westward city of Chengdu that was initially on my heart, was the father of Yue and Wendy who I have been walking with over the past few years. “Jeremy” and his wife Ling drove 3 hours to pick my new friend Smile and me up from the airport, and another 3 to bring us back to their home. The next day they made the same repeat trip back to Beijing. Jeremy had come into the body last year while in the US but has not yet found a local family in his own city of Cangzhou. I hoped to connect them with others in their area, and simply interview this fascinating couple. I wanted to see and meet the parents who had managed to raise 2 outstanding successful English-speaking daughters (Yue and Wendy) in their little community in China by pulling them out of the notoriously competitive and demanding educational system where school-administered national tests play a central part of a student’s future life and success, and teaching them how to love self-study. Both parents had been in high school when the Cultural Revolution started, and were forced to quit school and get “re-educated” on the countryside farms. Mother Ling said they met in the new city after that period, fell in love without a match-maker, and started life, having little clue on child-rearing philosophies. Fortunately, they were a great match, and after working in the same company together for some years, Jeremy quit his job in order to take the older disabled daughter Wendy around for her high school education. Yue and Wendy’s parents were extremely hospitable and welcoming
People who work white collar jobs in Shanghai, in contrast to the extremely poor villages I visit in Yangshuo, have a lot of money. My government worker-turned lawyer friend, whose name is now “Peter” has had so much favor in his new line of work that he has been adopted as a “Party Secretary” a high position in the one-party. Because he is gracious and humble, as well as big in stature and spirit, he continues to move up the ladder quickly. Since my Chinese and his English has progressively gotten better, we were finally able to exchange ideas on a deeper level, talking openly about politics and laws. Since he has always given me much honor and since our communication skills have only allowed for simple conversations, it has been easy to operate in mutual respect. This time I asked him what he thought of the current laws discouraging faith, and not favoring foreign help or ideas. Even though all of my other contacts throughout China see the dangers, Peter didn’t seem to think there was any conflict between faith and work as long as people are cooperative, though as we entered cautiously into more complex and dangerous topics, it became apparent he was believing a different gospel. Because he has until now treated me as a spiritual authority, I risked exposure and shared freely, as I have always done with him, that I am here for that very purpose of "sharing His love."
As I stopped to reflect on my trip, I received the embrace from Father that I always get when I complete an assignment. I have come to know it as a "thank you." Even though by now I think I shouldn't need it, and really would continue doing everything just the same if I didn't get the hug, I still always feel an undeniable shudder, as if the HS is saying "thank you," which is a kind of grace, not because of what I did but because of who He is.
This time I was on my way to meet with Rebecca, hoping one day soon she will turn her heart to the father. She hit what I thought was the bottom 2 years ago but circumstances continue to get worse, and it seems to push her farther away from Father, which seems in turn to take more of a toll on her well being. I said, “would you be willing to just pretend He exists for a week?” She agreed that there would be no harm in pretending. Really hoping this will create a crack in her impenetrable wall, that there would be some miracle for her to experience when she turns her thoughts toward him.