So for the past 3 days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) the Chinese Government declared a 3 day holiday break called Duanwu which literally translates to "Dragon Boat Festival". In some provinces, people race dragon boats! Not Shanghai though :(
Today, although I have loads of papers to write, I was invited to go over to my Chinese friend's house. Her name is Diya and we were paired together at the beginning of the semester by my program. Every week, we help each other in our 2nd languages.
Taking the bus about 40min away, we arrived at her parents apartment complex, right across the street from the only prison in urban Shanghai. The apartment was surprisingly nice and fairly clean. Diya told me it was built 10 years ago. The houses right beside it (smaller older houses which were very run down) used to cover all of Shanghai but within the last 10-15 years, the city government has relocated poorer people who live in such run down houses to build up apartment complexes. Diya said the people actually are waiting in anticipation for the government to move them?!
We sat around and looked at Diya's baby pictures for a bit and waited for her mom and dad to finish cooking. (I also asked my roommate whose family is from Hong Kong what kind of present I should bring her family. So I stopped at the food mart and bought 8 oranges. #8 is China's lucky number and oranges b/c it OF COURSE means Good Luck.)
Finally, the feast was ready and we sat around the table of about 8 dishes and WOW were they all amazing. We had Bamboo shoots, corn/mushroom soup, sticky/sweet rice, Beijing Duck (which is my favorite), steamed edamames, asparagus dish, chinese pickles, fruit/mayo salad and watermelon and cherries. WHOA was I full by the end! I loved the translation of going back and forth between english to chinese as Diya was our interpretation for most of the meal. Her parents were friendly and were noticeably trying to make everything PERFECT. It was cute and very hospitable.
Her mom kept putting more food on my plate and telling me to try it!! Her mom was adorable and seemed to love to make people happy.
It was a wonderful evening learning about the Chinese culture from a local family and exchanging funny differences.
Perfect night. Perfect way to conclude my stay in China.
12days till I return to the states!! Can't believe it...
Also, BIG NEWS. For those of you who haven't heard already, I've decided to get baptized this Sunday (6/20) at the church I go to here in Shanghai called SCF - Shanghai Community Fellowship open to all foreign passport holders. Although I have been waiting for over 10 years to be baptized, I realized God was calling me to do it NOW and stop making excuses. I would love to be in the presence with family and friends but it's not about having the "exact" people in the "exact" place but fulfilling His word.
I really have been blessed with the people I have been surrounded by here. Some of you may have seen Facebook pictures of big groups of people from different ethnicities and that's all because I have found a family away from home. In my cell group (bible study group), there are over 50 people from all over the world. From Singapore, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Australia, South Africa, Grenada, Brazil, France, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Taiwan, and many many more places. Coming together to worship and to fellowship seeking the Lord week after week (in such a spiritually low place) has really challenged a lot of us and how we are to act and live as a believer. I, as well as many others, have started to do QT's every day (Quiet Times) where it's just you reading the Word and spending time trying to understand who God is through parables and teachings. This for almost all of us is quite difficult, especially when we're all very busy. But as my mom and dad always say, "What ever is a priority you will make time for it no matter how many things are going on in your life."
A few months ago, I decided to be a leader (one of 9) for our small group. The leaders and other members in our cell group have really grown together and can't wait to reunite in 2017 where we plan to meet in Israel!! :) Crazy idea. It's exciting to see our group grow and of course, we're faced with the challenge of the vision of our unique set up at our University.
There's a lot more about this part of my Shanghai experience but I'd rather just say that earlier in my Shanghai trip (the first month), I was spiritually, mentally, physically low. CULTURE SHOCKED and just very depressed. God provided in his timing and listened and has now blessed me with so many brothers and sisters in Christ that it will be very hard to say goodbye to them in about a week or so left.I've learned so much from people around the globe and can't wait to see where we will be in the future after this similar Shanghai experience. He is good.