the "M" word
Please be aware that, due to government censorship, certain words cannot be used in emails to or from him, thus all the hyphenated words, as well as words like “think” which actually means “pray”, “book” which actually means “Bible”, and “M” which actually stands for “missionary”. He also always uses the word "Father" in place of God, "son" in place of Jesus, and "sprt" in place of Holy Spirit. Should you decide to write him, just be very aware not to use any words that could be associated with Christianity. Thanks.
“So yesterday was Saturday, which means that Sara and I do no work whatsoever.
Since its beginning to be springtime and since the weather sometimes is beginning to be warm, I decided to climb a nearby mountain that I’ve been to a couple of times before. Its about a 3 hour round trip hike. ANYWAY when I was approaching the mountain, but before I could see the path I hear this yelling sound - which is not uncommon as many Chinese like to yell on hilltops as a part of their Tai Chi relaxation. But as I get closer I can clearly hear in English
"I love you and I will help you up the mountain!!"
This is odd for obvious reasons... not many people in china speak English, and especially not the type that you might find on a mountain side.
So I see this man who is doing the yelling and in a couple of minutes he sees me (because I think he's weird and I'm staring at him) and He looks at me and says
"There you are!"
and there I was....
After I approached I found out that this man and his wife had been waiting for me - but we had never met. The man introduced himself before his name as "I am a chri\ tian... Are you?"
A bit on guard I answered that I was and this man was so happy to find out he was kinda jumping around. He explained to me that He and his wife had been pr/ying to God so that they could meet another chri/tian brother... and they felt the Father told them to say "I love you and I will help you up the mountain"--- in English
That's not all
as our conversation continued, I found out that this woman's whole family had been believers for years, and that they now attended a government approved church in town. He then asked me if I were familiar with the "salivation of may" His English was plentiful, but very hard to understand, so I assume ed he was trying to say -celebration of may - because there is a big national holiday here in may. However, then he started to tell me about how much preaching and teaching had gone on in the world because of the salivation of may. And in fact, his wife's grandfather had been a colonel in the salivation of may... then it hit me - The Sa/vation Army - now extinct in china, but 60 years ago it was going strong.
I groaned, laughed, chuckled, and then marveled at how God had brought my path to cross with this particular couple, who wanted to meet a new chris/ian brother (english speaking), and had then gone on further to connect us again through the sa/vation army. This weird and cool organization that ran my wife and my lives for a couple of years in Pittsburgh..... amazing.
The purpose of my walk was originally to find confirmation from the Father about our recent decision to stay in china. He didn't even let me get to the mountain top before sending me an answer. I didn't even get to ask Him yet.. he already knew my intention, and blessed me with a crazy answer in a way only he could do. Leaving no doubt to my heart and no doubt to our decision.
Although Sara and I are still struggling daily with the idea of staying here for the next two years, our God has been good enough to be righteously cool with his communication to us. The chances of an English speaking Chinese dude whose wife was a colonel in the sa/vation army who just wanted to climb a mountain to pray on a Saturday... running into a white guy from the sa/vation army teaching bib/e in Qingdao trying to find a mountain to be alone with the Father...... accident? I would like to see the odds on that one.
So there ya have it... we're staying. And as cool as it is it hurts us.. because we miss you all in every way.
I think we should be able to meet everyone who gets this email this summer... and I'm totally looking forward to it. It will be a tour de America!
Think for our school. We got nailed by the PSB over Christmas time for typing out our program (which happened to include steps to peace with our father) in local language- soooo we've been audited a few times since Christmas.. which could be a big deal.. they are just trying to find a reason to throw a fit or fine us or something - nothing serious has come from it just yet.
Keep thinking of us... many days are tough, sometimes because of stress, sometimes because of grief, sometimes because of being so far from you all, and sometimes because of an ongoing search for purpose. We have good people out here, and I know that we're our Father wants us to be for the moment, we just need to get our hearts on board with what we know.
Don't get me wrong... I love china - and I would make a permanent residence here without blinking, but I have to wade though my desires to make sure that they do not belong solely to myself. The anonymity and the security of M work could be selfishly motivated if one were not careful.
Thanks for reading these things.. I know they are always so long - but I love to share my thoughts with my closest friends and family.
See you soon.
oh yes... in case you want to see pictures, or read past emails or other messages, I've started a xanga blog - one of the few places yet uncensored by the govt here. Its only a matter of time I'm sure.. but no time is wasted. Here's the address:”