Sunday morning I woke up to discover that our access to Blogger and Facebook and other sites had all been blocked and I couldn’t get around it like I had the day before. So…I am hoping that I can at least email a post and a picture or two home and have Scott put it up on the blog. (Editor's note - this is indeed the method in use, so forgive the lack of blogging savvy by the man-cretary)
That morning we went into the city and attended a church service that is only open to foreigners. You have to show your passport to be allowed in. It was a nice service and we met some interesting people but it certainly left me with a deep sense of sadness for how things are.
After that we went to lunch at what can only be described as a literal "hole in the wall" in the middle of town. You know it’s going to be good when you find out they don’t have any forks for you to use. And it was good. Really good. I’m not at all adept with chopsticks but I learned how to manage in order to not miss out on that lunch.
Then it was off to the Great Wall. It was about an hour’s drive from where we had lunch and as we got closer we could see that they still had snow on the ground. Once we made our way up to the Wall itself, we took a chair lift up to one of the upper towers. I do not like heights…at all. And so as we rode up I tried not to think of all those 20/20 episodes where they exposed faulty amusement park equipment and instead just tried to enjoy the view. It really was breathtaking.
After getting off the chair lift we were left to climb, and climb, and climb. Michael’s mantra was “just one more tower” and after several steep, snow-covered inclines I pretty much determined that if the Wall was built to defend against 42 year old out of shape women, then it was a complete success. Once after making it up a particularly tricky set of stairs I looked over to see a lady who had climbed all that way in a pair of suede boots with 2 inch heels. I was totally impressed.
Once we had explored a while, it was time to head down. And we did. By getting on sleds and riding a chute all the way back to where we had started. Not to take away from the beauty or the history of all we had just seen, but that ride was the best part of the trip. It was the ultimate Chutes and Ladders experience. Who knew?
Afterwards, we made the two hour drive back to the guest house but being too tired to deal with dinner, we all went back to the room and just crashed. The heat had been turned off and it took a good 2 hours to feel like we were thawed out. That coupled with not being able to access the outside world left me feeling a bit isolated and discouraged again.
But oddly enough, even though I couldn’t get to some sites, I could access an online Bible page. And the verse of the day from that page?
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Just what I needed, exactly when I needed it.
It’s early Monday morning now. And in a few hours, we will meet for prayer, have a small orientation, and then hopefully do what we’ve been wanting to do the whole time.
The only reason we’re really here…to love on some of those precious little ones.
And we simply can’t wait.