"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."
That verse DOES NOT mean 'beauty' literally, as we've been experiencing the dust and dirt of Taiyuan this past week! Lots of walking! Even going barefoot in our apartment isn't clean as the coal dust makes our feet black. We've quickly learned to always wear shoes or flip flops...and had some good laughs when *someone* left the apartment in their bright pink house slippers... and was locked out of the room for more than thirty minutes. (I'll give you three guesses as to whom that *someone* was!)
We have found the people here to be very kind and friendly. While the language barrier has made communication rather difficult, it's great to know that smiles are a universal language! This sweet girl happily skipped over to our table to say "hello" and her mother quickly followed, taking the opportunity for a photo shoot.
Westerners are a very rare sight in this city, making us celebrities of sort. People stop what they are doing to watch us walk down the street, often calling out a cheery 'hello' -- only to turn to their friends and chatter away in Chinese when we reply! We have become accustomed to the curious stares as everyone turns to watch the "foreigners".
In fact, after only a week we found ourselves in their shoes -- turning to stare as we sighted a couple Australians crossing a street corner!
Our most unique experience this week came in the form of a trip to the 'market'. With refrigerators a rarity here, most people buy their produce fresh daily, so fresh produce is a fairly common sight. Our good friend, Darrell, took us to a large marketplace to purchase some needed items on Monday afternoon. As you can see, fruits and veggies of every kind were piled high, creating a very festive and colorful scene.
We greatly appreciate the flexibility this gives us -- as well as the practical blessing of allowing more space for our morning devotions and prayer times together. The Lord has given us an incredible blend of personalities, strengths, and camaraderie on our team. We are so grateful for each other! We are currently working to memorize 1 Peter 1 together and have had many simulating conversations -- stirring one another on to love and good works!
Hearing from home is a major highlight of our days, and we are grateful for the fairly open access to the internet here! With 13 hours difference in the time zones, our best opportunity to webcam is in the early mornings -- if we don't have classes.
And a happy July 4th to ya'll! Celebrating in a different country was quite a bit different this year, but we made our own festivities by listening to patriotic music, waving our little flag, and praying for our country. We were also thrilled by the fact that our jetlag has finally worn off and we are officially sleeping through the night again! What a way to celebrate! [smile]
Classes have been going well. We are learning more than the students, I'm sure. We've had several children's classes, as well as university age and above. At first we were taken back by the difficulties of communicating and teaching in a different culture. It continues to be a growing process as we prepare, pray, and learn! We'd appreciate your prayers!
The smog lifted a couple days ago -- and we discovered that Taiyuan is surrounded by mountain ranges! What a beautiful view!