May 2016 China Trip Update No 7: by Tricia Johnston
It’s now Monday 30th May. I arrived in Nanjing on Saturday evening. The flight from Shenyang took 1hr 55 mins, the journey in from the Airport took over 2 hrs! The traffic in the city centre was gridlocked, attributed to the number of wedding parties taking place that evening. Sat 28th May is considered a lucky day so many weddings are held that day – there were 3 in my hotel.
On Sunday morning I, and a Chinese friend, attended the English Language Service in St Paul’s Church. The Church has a membership of 5,000 with around 3,500 attending Sunday Services. When we arrived the 2nd Chinese Service was still going on and we waited outside. It was very touching to see an elderly gentleman standing on the pathway, hymnbook open, singing along with the closing hymn and then bowing his head in prayer for the Benediction.
St Paul’s has a very good, gowned choir. Before the English language Service started two choristers led us in a practice of the hymns – “This is my Father’s world’ and ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus.’ The Scripture readings were Philippians 4:4-8; 11-12, 1 Kings 8:22-23; 41-43 and Luke 7:1-10. The title of the sermon was ‘Rejoice in the Lord’. Not sure how many people were in attendance, probably about 150-175. Following the Service there were refreshments and then the clergy ‘host’ a discussion group on questions arising from the morning’s Sermon – hope no one ever suggests I answer questions on my sermons!!!!
The early part of the afternoon was spent watching two hotel staff trying to get my computer online! It was really funny. The first IT person arrived and obviously thought tis was a case of the stupid female foreigner who hadn’t followed the instructions so when he saw that I had and actually it was showing that I was connected he took his place in front of the computer and for the next 10 mins it was lots of key tapping followed by lots of ‘aye-yo’ when I still wasn’t getting online; he then called for back-up and so I had another 10 mins of two of them tapping keys and then ‘aye-yo-ing’ when still nothing happened. Not sure what finally did the trick but there was a cry of elation and a quick exit by the two staff.
My Chinese friend, her daughter and I then went out for the best guotie in Nanjing. Guotie are fried dumplings and these particular ones are to die for! Not sure the little restaurant would pass any health and safety inspections but I don’t care the guotie is fabulous. My friend was telling me that both McDonald’s and KFC are losing money in China as people are turning away from the very fatty Western foods. We then saw a poster which showed a very slim, athletic young Chinese woman kicking a cheeseburger into touch!!!
In Shenyang the meals that are put on for guests are very lavish; once in Nanjing and hosted by Amity that all changes. For many years now Amity has had a ‘no banquet’ policy as they didn’t feel that was a good use of resources. Instead of the 10-12 dishes of a Shenyang meal with Amity it is usually 4-5 very simple dishes, for example today I had lunch with the General Secretary and Associate General Secretary of Amity and we had a beef and pepper dish, two green vegetable dishes, soup and boiled rice – very nice!
The morning was spent in a very useful meeting with Wang Wanxin, Director of the Amity Home of Blessings and the Amity Children’s Development Centre, and the afternoon in visits to both sites. Both are doing very good wok but are struggling to get any real official backing for their work.
Supper was shared with Wang Wanxin and her family. Her son is 6 and starts school in the autumn. As we were leaving the restaurant she said that all they wanted for their son was that he was healthy and happy but the happy days would stop in September when he started school – such is the pressure of the Chinese education system!
Best wishes, Tricia