Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beijing, part 1

My arrival in Beijing had one parallel to every arrival and departure thus far—I made it, but was late getting in after a long flight delay getting in.  Leaving Mianyang (where we traveled to see CAVA’s work in nearby Feilong), we found our flight delayed 2 hours.  When we boarded, they announced another delay due to “bad weather” in Beijing (later, when we got here, no one seemed to know about bad weather).  We knew it would be interesting when they served the meal on the ground before we left!  Finally in the air, we got to Beijing Capital Airport a bit after 1 am, and in a small providential grace, my suitcase was already on the carousel by the time we got there.  We met our driver and headed to Myron’s apartment, arriving at 2 am, collapsing at approximately 2:05 am into bed.

Our first day in Beijing started with a visit with Diane Lichtensteiger, director of CU’s ERAP program that provides English teachers to a number of schools in Beijing.  Her long term leadership has meant great stability for the program, and her long time connection with GBC has meant that we have been closely connected with the ERAP program from its inception (Myron was its first director).  I had a great opportunity to hear from Diane about the year being completed, and the special challenges and opportunities that the ERAP program faces.  Since the meeting took place at People’s University, it was a stroll down “Memory Lane” for Myron, as Diane actually lives in one of his old apartments from his days teaching there.  We did get to eat at one of the university’s newer cafeteria/restaurants for lunch.

A scheduled afternoon meeting was delayed, so we headed to the hotel/apartment where the Blumenstock family would be staying, to make arrangements there and drop of some supplies.  We headed to the airport to greet them upon their arrival, and after going back to their hotel, we walked to dinner at “The Great Wall Restaurant.”  Their hotel is just down the road from Myron’s apartment, and the restaurant was in walking distance to both. 

Jim and Karen are here (along with their daughter, Ella) for a month to begin work on a research and teaching project with Asia Biblical Theological Seminary (ABTS).  This project received one of the three grants that GBC is facilitating.  The research is meant to measure opportunities for theological training in China, and the instruction is focused on doctrinal instruction and discernment.  Jim is one of three full time faculty members at ABTS and is its interim dean, and Jim and Karen grew up at GBC and have been sent out by us, so my day was spent with special members of my GBC family!  Jim (as interim dean of ABTS) will be working alongside a local pastor and church to establish the framework for the teaching, and possibly to begin instruction.  Other faculty from ABTS will rotate into Beijing in coming months.  This has the possibility of greatly expanding ABTS’s reach and influence, and filling a great need among China’s believers as well.  It is an exciting opportunity for us to help along.

My new “cultural experience” took place this evening—a traditional Chinese foot massage.  If you are thinking comfort, think again!  Traditional Chinese medicine believes that pressure points in the foot are connected by “meridians” to the various organs of the body.  Pressure and manipulation of these points should affect the corresponding body part.  I don’t know if it works, but it turned out to be an occasionally painful, generally relaxing, sometimes startling, and immensely enjoyable experience!  I don’t fit the standard issue pajamas that they give you to wear, though.  I would have to lose a LOT more weight to get close, and probably a few inches in height, too.