Church in China

posted Aug 22, 2010, 10:44 PM by Charles Boling

Sunday 2010-08-22

Another interesting day! Jonathan let us sleep in until 7:00 this morning. Then we lazily got up, got dressed had breakfast and got ready for church. We had a taxi waiting for us just outside the hotel. It was a 6 mile drive that took 20 minutes and cost us about $4.50 US dollars. Our driver was going for speed (taking the freeway) instead of the shortest distance (city streets). He dropped us off a couple of blocks away from where we wanted, but because of directions the branch president gave us and Charles' GPS, we were able to figure out where we wanted to be. The church building is in an upper scale area, on the 7th floor of an apartment building.

The chapel is one apartment and includes a couple of class rooms and a bathroom. The apartment next to it is the primary and nursery rooms, plus a couple of classrooms. Our speakers today were the temple president and his wife (Hong Kong temple). There were probably between 50 and 70 people there. It's an international branch with people from all over the world -- except China. The church respects the government's wishes to not have any proselyting, so they try hard to avoid even the "appearance of evil".  The branch president told us that they occasionally have Chinese nationals come to meetings, wanting to worship with us, and as much as it hurts, he thanks them for coming but asks them to leave.  There are native members of the church in Guangzhou who have joined the church elsewhere (Hong Kong, for example), but we are not allowed contact with those groups; apparently the government does not prohibit them from meeting together privately, but neither does it want outside encouragement.

Jonathan actually did fairly well in his first Sacrament Meeting. Michele didn't end up having to take him out at all (which she was really hoping not to have to do, because the hallways weren't air-conditioned like the apartments were).

The meeting block was only 2 hours because during the summer months the branch is so small that there aren't enough people to staff everything. This was the first “big” week back and probably the last abbreviated meeting schedule. In nursery Jonathan was one of four little ones and he played really well with the other kids. We were quite pleased. He also LOVED coloring (something he hasn't done with us yet).

Michele struck up a conversation with the nursery leader while she was in there with Jonathan. Her family is from Utah and they have two kids, ages 4 and 6. She said that they had lived there a year and just loved it. She said they might not go back to the states. She and her husband both teach at an international school (he teaches English and she teaches Kindergarten). She said their quality of life is much higher here than in Utah. The school pays their board, their children's school tuition, a $4000 a year bonus (to use for flying back to the states if they wish), and a 5 day-a-week maid (who cleans and cooks). She said they lived in a really nice gated community that had everything, including skyscrapers, grocery stores, pools and parks. She never left it except to go to church. She said she really liked not having to cook, clean or do laundry– it gave her much more free time for her kids and for socializing. Michele really pondered that, because something didn't settle right with her as she was listening to her. She came to realize that what she didn't like about it was the lack of work – both for for the mom and for the kids. Charles said it reminiscent of the old plantation owners and the slaves. Why go back to Utah where you have to work more? Why not have it as easy as you can? Because we aren't put on this Earth to have it easy. We are here to learn and to grow and to teach our children to do the same. Work is a good thing. It builds your mind, body and spirit. Of course leisure time is important, for everyone, but avoiding work doesn't improve you or anyone around you. Guess that's why we have eight kids :-)....

The taxi ride after church (yes, we actually know how to hail a taxi here now :-) - you put out your hand about waist height when you see one coming, spread your fingers out, and wave it at your wrist) was a more direct route. It only cost us $3.50. Unfortunately, the timing was such that Jonathan fell asleep about 10 minutes before we got home. By the time Michele got him upstairs, shoes off and diaper changed he was quite awake again. We tried lying him down and lying down ourselves to encourage him, but he wasn't interested in sleeping any more. Charles on the other hand, feel asleep quickly. So Michele eventually got Jonathan up and they went exploring the building. They found a “kids play area” that the hotel had on the third floor. It was a motel room-sized room with lots of toys and decorations (all purchased at IKEA). Jonathan played there for more than an hour.

After Jonathan and Michele got back, Charles was up and slowly we got ready for our next “keep Jonathan busy” activity. We decided to take a walk outside (not the huge walks like yesterday, but just a casual stroll since it was Sunday). We got out about a block and a half when a Chinese lady called to us from across the street. We've gotten used to this. We tend to attract a lot of attention. This lady started talking to us in fairly good English. She was young – in her 20's and owned a shop across the street. She encouraged us to come in and look around. It was a “souvenir” shop. We ended up staying and talking to her for about 3 hours. Wow! There is a whole story behind that, that Michele will type up and send via email to a few people.

During our time in there we had a HUGE thunderstorm hit (part of the reason we stayed so long). By the time we left it wasn't raining at all. We walked another block to an American restaurant called “Lucy's” . It was a little spendy compared to other places around, but we both liked the food. We hadn't wanted to buy dinner on Sunday, but we had looked around for 4 hours yesterday for a grocery store and couldn't find anything. We had leftover 7-11 fare for the other two meals and decided we really wanted something different.

We got back to the hotel around 9:15 and had Jonathan in bed by 9:45. But it took another half an hour of Michele rubbing his back and just having her arm for him to snuggle before he went to sleep.