Sorry for the delay. I am finding it difficult to find the time and/or the energy to write. Everything is so overwhelming and I want to share it all!
First of all, everyone's health is great although many comments on hips, knees, dry skin ect. Beth fell on ice in December at her workplace and broke her leg and yet she is with us!
We all enjoy being together and in the morning there is much laughter and joking. As the day goes on there becomes less and less as we are lost in our thoughts of what we have seen...there is a physical tiredness too because sleeping conditions are not the best with very hard, boardlike beds and the jet lag.
Going to the Bird's Nest was much more interesting than I thought! Kind of neat to be there. The field was filled with snow and they had a massive mchine pushing it around. It cost about $7 but there was no guided tour of any sort. One just walked around and did their own thing. Very cold except in the gift shop and bathrooms~
My friend, Lina met us. We had hired a driver for the day. We called him Rocky and were fortunate that he spoke good English. We met him the day before as we were leaving the Silk Market. He drives a van that seats seven squashed.....He is what they call a black market driver. Has no meter and you negoiate your price ahead of time. He made the day pleasant. He picked us up at the hotel, took us to a bank to exchange money, to the Bird's Nest where Lina joined us, a market and to Lina's home. For this we paid him $50 in American money. He was very happy and it was so worth it to us. We had a meal at a Pizza Hut which was not like our Pizza Huts. This was a lovely restaurant on the second floor...pretty marble stairway and nice bathrooms. A large menu with many dishes besides pizza. Everyone ordered something different from noodle dishes to pizza to mashed potatoes. All of it was good. It was more like a fine dining place with such pretty music to boot~
It was good to see Lina, such a pretty young woman. She had on the cutest robin's egg blue fitted coat...so much detailing...Lina is from Inner Mongolia...her aunt is an important tailor there and makes Lina's clothing.
She was so proud to have us visit her home. Said we were the first international guests in her home. A very modest apartment on the 8th floor of a 23 story building. She fed us bakery items from her hometown, sunflower seeds in the shell that had some sort of a seasoning, peanuts, a fruit and pepsi. It was nice and served with so much charm~ We got to meet her daughter...8 year old "Wensie", a sweet, shy child. We will see Lina again before we leave.
That evening, Larry & Jean from Vancouver, BC arrived. They are the directors of Will Go, the organization that we work under. Everyone told me how nice they were and it is true. They were farmers from Iowa and felt the call to do this work when their children graduated and left home. They left everything and lived in China for 8 years. They have since worked in Albania, Africa and more.
Yesterday we visited two nursing homes, a community center where women make beautiful items and sell them, greenhouses which are built partly underground,.. we did our skits, sang, gave health care kits, explained about hand washing.
The one nursing home was very depressing.....You have to wonder why/how people need to end their years in such sad conditions...our van was very quiet when we left.
The other nursing home deserves a page of it's own with the story of the wonderful director..Dr Ma....a wonderful woman .. her life should be made into a movie!
I am doing very well with the food. Everyone is quite impressed! Yesterday, at our lunch I think I ate more chinese food that all of last year....mainly vegetables!
I have been up since 4:30 am and now will get ready for the day. We are going to an underground church service in Ethan & Heidi's home, an art studio, market and back here to pack up our rooms for our long trip tomorrow.
We will each pack a small carry on to last us until Friday am when we come back to Beijing...our other luggage will go to Heidi's.
We are leaving early in the morning for the village (one million people) of Dong Hi, south of Shanghi. Those people see very few westerners so we attract much attention...More tonight!