— Ali Weber
After getting settled in at Yanda Hotel on Yanshan University’s campus on Saturday evening in Qinhuangdao, we woke up for an exciting Sunday as we had the opportunity to attend a church service for the second time on the trip. We dressed in formal attire for the special occasion, and after breakfast, we hit the road! We took a bus to downtown Qinhuangdao with our Chinese student-guides for two yuan per person, which is around $0.25 in American currency. It took a good chunk of time to reach our destination, around 30-40 minutes, and then we had a short walk to the church from the bus stop. Downtown was neat to walk through; there was a lot of commotion occurring with people everywhere going about their business. Before entering the church, our group spotted a Starbucks that we would be sure to swing by before returning to the university after the service (of course J).
We made our way to the building where the church was located, which was on the top floor of a downtown high-rise; we stepped off the elevators and took our reserved seats in the first few rows, front and center. We immediately joined in the melodies being sung in Chinese, many of which were familiar tunes including “Amazing Grace” and “How Great You Are,” so while they sang in Chinese, we chimed in through English. The pastor’s wife delivered the sermon that day, and she encouraged the congregation from Judges. There were around 30 attendees aside from our group. The service was similar to what we experience in America: praise and worship, prayer, a sermon, intimacy within the body, etc.
The church gave us a very warm welcome. About halfway through the service, they announced a greeting, and the Usreys went on stage on our behalf. Trisa delivered inspiring words explaining how we are all a part of the body of Christ and further added, “We want you to know that your brothers and sisters in America are praying for you.”
We had a special treat in store after the service: the church prepared a marvelous lunch for our group! We munched on salad, sandwiches, dumplings, and watermelon. One of the gentlemen performed a very popular dance in China for us called the Little Apple, which has been a sensational internet hit in the country since 2014.
After lunch, we marched to Starbucks, and then we hopped on the bus to go back to the university. The rest of the day was free time with our Chinese students. Most people walked to the beach to play games in the sand, including badminton and volleyball.
This day turned out to be one of my most meaningful memories of the whole trip; I ventured off with another CCU student and three Chinese students. We explored their large campus where they house 40,000 students. They toured us through buildings that related to individual schools of study, past the library, by a popular lake hangout, into the cantons (cafeterias), through on-campus markets, and the list goes on. We ended up at the students’ dorm room. They had four people living in the room; there were two desks on each side of the room with beds above. The dorms contain individual sinks and bathrooms, but community showers have their own building.
We spent about two hours in their dorm, just hanging out and talking about life. We used a laptop to search pictures of places in America, where we lived, worked, went to school, pictures of favorite foods, restaurants, holidays, etc. They showed us their textbooks, and we chatted about what we were each studying. We created a close connection that night, and it was such a unique cultural experience to spend time with them in their person living area.
Afterwards, we wandered off campus for dinner. The Chinese students wanted us to try some of their favorite foods. First, they treated us to hot and cold milk teas. The tea had beans in the bottom that we sipped through a large straw. Next, we went to a food shop where customers put together their own bowls of noodles, meats, and vegetables. There was an entire wall of ingredients to choose from! There were ten different noodle choices alone, including rice noodles, potato noodles, and corn noodles, all made in different thicknesses like that of angel hair to spaghetti to linguine pastas. We tossed in what looked appetizing, and then the restaurant cooked it together for us, and brought out the sizzling soup bowls.
We walked back to campus together, laughing and taking photos. It was a surreal night. I remember looking up at the stars (a rare sight due to China’s smog), and just thought about how big the world is, and how much bigger God is. That no matter where we are, who we are, or what we’re doing, God’s love never changes; rather, what changes is our ability to receive His love.
I feel forever grateful for experiencing China through CCU’s School of Business and Leadership. Every day is a chance to learn something new, and to delve into fellowship with others. It was an honor to do so with the Chinese.
Days come and go, but memories are forever, and words cannot begin to express how appreciative I am to all who made our trip both a possibility and a special success!