I finally got a chance to sleep in this morning! I spent the morning packing in between chatting on QQ. Recently a bunch of people have been adding me on QQ to talk about Jesus, which is pretty interesting. I’m not sure if they know I’m Christian (and how they would know this) but at any rate, there is a veritable horde of these online evangelizers. Here’s a typical conversation:
Him: Are you Christian?
Me: I’m Catholic.
Him: Why don’t you believe in Jesus? Why do you want to believe in Mary? Jesus was God’s son, Mary was just a person.
Me: You don’t know what Catholics believe, do you? You really don’t. We also believe in Jesus.
Him: I don’t know, I just know that Jesus is the Messiah.
Me: We also believe that.
Him: So what’s up with the Lord of Heaven?
Me: The Lord of Heaven is the Emperor on High, they’re the same person.
See, in Chinese, Catholics and non-Catholic Christians have different names for God. Catholics say 天主, or Lord of Heaven, while non-Catholic Christians call Him 上帝, or Emperor on High. There is so little actual knowledge and so much misinformation that sometimes the Chinese don’t realize they refer to the same person. It’s not that unusual to have theological disagreements with other Christians in the US, and sometimes they even refuse to admit that Catholics are also Christians, but usually you have to get into more specific doctrines like the Immaculate Conception or the Communion of Saints before having problems . . . not just the belief of the Trinity.
Jelle called me up in the afternoon wanting to play a final game of Catan. I ended up boxed in between him and YongZhi, and lost with 9 points. It’s probably better this way, as Jelle is super competitive and kind of a sore loser; I guess I can handle him winning once, even if it was my last game in China :)
I had a little time before dinner, so I walked around West Gate. As I was perusing the street goods, one of the sellers ran after me to get my attention. She started talking about how good it was to see me, how long it had been, and things like that, but despite my head racing I could not figure out where I knew her from. I let her talk, and after a while she mentioned something about Coco. That was it – I could picture her perfectly in an orange polo and khaki baseball cap! She used to work at Coco and was familiar because I went there almost every day. She got fired for a bad attitude, I think (which is kind of funny because the surliest Coco employee is friendlier than the friendliest waitress in any restaurant), so it had been several months since we had seen each other. We exchanged phone numbers, finally learned each others’ names, and I guess we’re friends now!
I had dinner plans with Mr. Hou, one of the men from the dancing group. I hadn’t seen him since he played ping-pong with my dad during their visit, but he happened to walk by during Diederik’s goodbye dinner and I said hi to him. This meal was definitely the most we’d ever talked; I knew he was professor of biochemical engineering, but I learned tonight that he likes to memorize speeches in English. He did the beginning of Bush’s inaugural address, starting with “Chief Justice Rehnquist, President Clinton, Vice President Gore, distinguished guests” and on from there. He also knew more of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech than I did! Surprisingly, he didn’t know the Gettysburg Address so I recited what I knew (which was, thankfully, the entire opening paragraph). Thank you, 5th grade!
After dinner I had dessert plans with BinBin, the youth group leader at church. He had a friend who was heading to America to do a PhD in mechanical engineering, so we met up to talk over shaved ice. He’s going to North Carolina State, which I told them is in the American equivalent of Shanghai, when my university is in Kunming. BinBin followed that up by asking how long it would take to get there by bus, and I had to break the news to him that you can’t take buses like that in America. I had this funny mental image of him loaded up with luggage, wandering Chapel Hill looking for the bus station to catch the sleeper to Tulsa. Hahahaha.
This friend and his girlfriend were also Catholic, but part of the underground church. They were the first underground Catholics I met, and I was happy to tell him a little bit about the Church in the rest of the world where there won’t be this division. (Incidentally, BinBin told me that if I were around for another month, I would be able to witness the beginning of the reconciliation between Xiamen’s patriotic and underground church! Oh, for another year here . . . ) I felt like I was telling him the streets were paved with gold in America when I told him that there would most likely be a Catholic church and student organization on his actual campus!
My new friends joined me afterwards for karaoke. It was Carlos, me, and a bunch of my Chinese friends – but because they were from different groups, I had to introduce them to each other! There were my dancing friends, friends from church, a friend I stole from Carlos, one of Carlos’ coworkers, and my two new friends.
We sang all the songs I learned after our last karaoke party, plus I sang a few from their English selection.
Carlos and I did a killer rendition of Circle of Life.
I did Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You as a sort of goodbye, Anson sang a Chinese song for me called “If There Comes A Day”, and we ended the night with the cheesily perfect Chinese song “Friends”.
Through the years by myself, the wind has blown and the rain has fallen.
There have been tears and mistakes, but I’ve persevered.
There is hurt, there is pain, we have to keep going, but you still have me
The room was paid for until daylight, but we didn’t stay that long.
There were lots of goodbyes once the singing ended; while it still didn’t seem real to me yet, one friend obviously clearly remembered Lester’s recent farewell and started crying at the thought of his other foreign friend leaving.
I didn’t want to sleep. I was leaving 后天 (the day after tomorrow), but as soon as I went to sleep it would become 明天 (tomorrow). So Carlos, XuLei, and I postponed sleep by eating barbecue at West Gate and walking back to the dorms at a leisurely pace. It wasn’t enough; eventually I had to go to bed.