Date: June 7, 2015
Author: Jared Cummings
Into the Underground Church
For 20 straight days we have been on the go from 8am to 9pm, averaging about 8miles a day walking. So it was a huge blessing to be able to sleep in this morning—albeit till 8:30am. Around 9am we gathered in the Yanda Hotel lobby with our student guides and headed downtown via bus to see an “underground” church. Similar to the “underground railroad” in US history which was actually above ground, this Church was on the 23rd floor of a local skyscraper. Needless to say, you were not going to “stumble upon” this Church.
Upon arrival we sat up front worshipped as best we could with our Chinese brothers and sisters. The songs were in Chinese along with there sermon so we didn’t always know what was being said or going on, but the worship had a similar tune since most of the songs had been translated from American worship songs like “Amazing Grace.” The service was joyful and peaceful, yet one could tell the spiritual atmosphere was “young.” Most of the attendees were either brand new or recent believers.
We ate “traditional Chinese food” for lunch which consisted of steamed buns, a spicy salad, porridge, and sticky rice with sugar for desert. We all spent some time interacting with our student guides, asking questions about their personal beliefs in light of the fact that for many this was their very first Church service ever! Some of students were very receptive, others weren’t sure what they thought, and some even broke down in tears during the service.
After Church the praise continued as we all lined up to get a much needed Starbucks! At this point of the trip our bodies are absolutely exhausted, and around ⅓ of the delegation is sick with a cold. After coffee we went back to the hotel, changed out of business formal attire into casual, and then went down to the beach. While it was nice to say we have been to the opposite side of the Pacific Ocean, no-one aside from Joseph Maroney had the courage to jump in. The water was brown and murky, there was trash and styrofoam bits everywhere being brought in by the waves. Easily, the dirtiest beach front and ocean water many of us have ever seen.
Weird Fact of the day — most Chinese don’t know how to swim! We asked our student guides if they knew how to swim and they all said that they only knew of one person out of all their China friends who could swim.
In the late afternoon, most headed back to the a quick rest. Ben and David Horner went and played tennis and a few others explored the local markets. Around 6:30pm we walked to the University Cafeteria—easily three times the size of the CCU Cafeteria—and had a delicious dinner of fried rice, chicken, bacon, noodles, and more. All for the meager cost of 8yuan (equivalent of $1.20).
After dinner the group split up with most going back to the hotel to sleep, and a few heading to the “recreational center” to play volleyball, badminton, and ping pong! Luke, Nick, Ellen, Molly, Kate, Joe and I played a few games of volleyball rotating in and out with those on the badminton court. Afterwards, Ben squared off against the best Chinese ping pong players any of us have seen. They literally play with the paddle upside down and are wicked good! Ben was lucky to get a few points of the ping pong master with 40+ years of experience.
Tonight was one of the most fun evenings we have had all trip. It was a blast playing Badminton and Ping Pong (two sports that aren’t so common in the US) and the physical activity and competition fostered a whole new level of relationship with our student guides. Overall a great day!