Today, Tuesday, was a very long day for me, especially as I felt a cold coming on. But it was also a very rewarding day.
Peggy, Liz and I travelled to the outskirts of the city to a Christian kindergarten school called "100 Fold," a name based on Matthew 19:29. "Kindergarten" ranges in age from 2 to 6 years, basically preschool. The principal, Ann, is a lovely young woman who volunteers her time to run the school because they don't have enough money to pay her.
During the morning session, Liz taught a group of moms whose children attended the school. She talked about God as Father who delights in His children and considers them His own. She also shared about the importance of community. They loved her stories.
Afterwards she opened it up to questions and they asked about parenting. The topic is hot in China!
After a wonderful healthy lunch of rice, seaweed and vegetables, I had the afternoon session with a dozen of their very young teachers. Based on my church's recent series on vocation, I presented a "theology of work" with a focus on their roles as teachers. I told lots of stories from my experiences as a homeschooler as well as Jon's as a high school teacher.
Later, Ann came up to me nearly in tears with a long hug. Before the session,
a teacher had asked her what the topic was but Ann did not know. Apparently Mawei who also volunteers at the school had picked my topic off the list I offered. Ann then told me that it was the perfect topic for what she was facing
in the school. Many of the teaches were discouraged and one had just quit. Feeling discouraged herself, my words brought her hope. I was deeply humbled by her response because this topic was my least favorite to prepare. But God used it despite my own feelings!
A woman came to the kindergarten sessions though she had no children there. Judy is a close friend of Mawei's. Later as she and her private driver gave us a lift back to the hotel we found out she was a business woman in
real estate. With her slim jeans and tennis shoes, we had no idea of her affluence. Judy and I talked quite a bit as I heard her story and her desire to be a great mom to her son.
Before we got out of her car, Judy arranged a day to take us out to a very nice Chinese restaurant. She was delighted to discover that the dinner would fall on a special day - Woman's Day. Wow! They have a day in China in which they celebrate the women with festivities and perhaps a part of the day off of work! We need a day like that in the U.S.!
By the time I got to my room my body started to really ache all over and my throat was feeling sore. I tried to take a nap but couldn't. At 6:45 pm Fangfang, my translator, picked me up and on the way to the Bible study we prayed for God's strength because she was also feeling exhausted. Even before we arrived, my aches disappeared as well as Fangfang's exhaustion.
The Bible study group was part of a very large church that splits into smaller communities throughout the week. When I arrived, there were 30 or more men and women. After 30 minutes of singing (they were learning new hymns), I proceeded through the "story of the Bible" in the next 90 minutes!
I presented six major themes of the Bible and told them I had two basic goals: First, that they would appreciate and value the Old Testament as being very important to their New Testament faith and understanding, and second, that they would see their own stories as being part of the larger Gospel story which was a romantic love story of God's pursuit of humankind.
I couldn't tell what was going on in their brains but they seemed to be following me. Afterwards, I ended up being surrounded by a half dozen men wanting to ask questions. One wanted me to come back next time I came to Beijing. Whew! I thought I had blown it and lost them. Fangfang later assured me that I was very clear in my teaching. She had no problems translating the journey through the whole Bible! It was a fun evening.
We finally left after 10 pm and I crashed when I got back to the hotel.