... while traveling across the ocean to China.
1 | Privacy is a luxury. We know, practically, that in many places in the world people live in much smaller spaces with much larger families, generally (minus the "much larger families" in China). But this time, I actually learned something from this. I like to be alone, and I like to be alone in spaces with quiet and air conditioning and a flickering candle to remind me that the Holy Spirit is indeed present in this space. But all those things cannot become my necessity - Christ is my necessity.
When you sit next to a pastor in a restaurant who's been in prison for 3 years - you come away changed. In that cell, there was likely no candle to remind him... there was just the very Truth that the Spirit was abiding there with him there.
2 | Choosing to follow Jesus is an "all in". I'm reminded of the parables Jesus told that go something like this: Who constructs a building without first laying the foundation, counting the cost? Who goes to battle without knowing how many soldier he has and what he's up against? Will we really follow? To my brothers and sisters in China, it was an "all in". Not that they claim to have arrived or to have attained perfection... yet they are all in.
3 | Traffic in the US is not chaotic. I'm not sure I'll ever complain again, not after having my arm grabbed by my Chinese brother exclaiming, "Wait!" - only to rescue me from a speeding cab driver.
4 | In my experience, the Chinese people are very gracious. In almost every setting, our Chinese hosts - from hotel clerks, to fellow believers, to servers in restaurants - were gracious and patient with our total lack of language skills. In fact, they often disappeared to find someone who could speak English to us. What a contrast from the US! Imagine our disappointment when our return flight, with US-based attendants, was filled with rude interactions between our Chinese passengers (some with limited English) and the impatient and ungracious attendants. Very sad.
5 | Jesus is real. I could add many, many words, but most simply, I can tell you is that my faith was propped up in ways I couldn't have imagined during my time in China. Jesus is real!