A huge coal mining industry.
350 miles from Beijing.
A whole different culture.
And that was just about all I knew.
now when I think of Taiyuan, China, literally hundreds of pictures come to mind.
Like the fortune teller that sat on the sidewalk everyday. Multiple times a day I walked past him on my way to and from teaching English. Every day he was in the same place with his paper and cards, waiting. Watching the world go by. Often we'd exchange greetings of "Ni Hoa" and smile and wave at each other. Once he motioned for Rachel to sit beside him as he wanted to learn a few English words, starting with our names!
What is life like for him? Does he still sit there on the street everyday?
Like the man who had a corner store beside our apartment building. A tiny, dingy little place; his bed was in the corner of the room. He had a small fridge and sold the cheapest cold water (a real treat!) Almost every day on my way to teach I'd stop by to get a cool drink. How excited he was to practice his English "hello" on me. One day his smile was extra big as he handed me the water bottle and tried another new word: "Good bye!"
Hearing music at the park -- and finding anywhere from 5-9 men playing an unusual assortment of instruments.
The eager faces of my students wanting so much to learn English and how to do things the "American way."
Or listening to the garbage trucks and street sweepers drive up and down the streets -- playing Christmas tunes.
Sitting in a restaurant enjoying my meal when a waiter walked by with a net in his hand -- with a fish laying inside flapping for all it was worth! Someone must have ordered fresh fish for lunch!
Shopping at the market -- bargaining for lower prices.
Making new friends.
Running to catch the right bus.
Being introduced to 'bubble tea.'
People on the other side of the street shouting "Hello" (and then laughing and grinning when I replied "Ni Hao!")
The smiles of the children.
Praying that God would somehow use me for His kingdom's sake, despite the things against me: the language barrier and limited time.
Eating with chopsticks.
Seeing everything from a goat to a computer being carried across town on a bike.
Posing for a picture -- and seeing everyone else whip out their phones to get a picture of us "Americans".
Seeing expectant mothers and realizing it would be a one time experience for them.
Watching people exercising at the park by walking backwards. (It is good for ones kidneys.)
The open friendliness.
And the list could go on and on...
Taiyuan is no longer just a city in China. It is where I spent seven wonderful weeks, made lots of new friends, experienced a different culture, had time to fellowship with the family of God, and gained a much bigger picture of my God and how He is working in our world.
"...The Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations."