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From 21 millions to 3 millions to 47 thousands

March 9, 2013

Beijing, bye-bye for now. I had such a memorable time there, it was truly hard to say goodbye. I planned to leave after 3 months, then 5, at last after 7 months. I met a few close friends, who are also brothers and sisters in Christ, who worked alongside me, taught, helped, and challenged me. I can tell I was at the right place with the right people.

One of the best things was living with a couple, who are now good friends of mine. They showed me it is possible to live simple and humbly, with serving God as their first priority in life. They have full-time jobs to make a living, but they worry not about age, children, money, nor the busyness of the world around them. Hearing the story of how they met each other, I was clear of God’s beautiful arrangement. I had wanted to apply to the Prison Fellowship International for a portion of my leave of work. Instead, God put one of the past counselors to be my housemate. I heard the stories, thoughts, and God’s power in renewing one’s life from the very person who used to meet and disciple the prisoners. Throughout the time, I learned more about this couple that make me feel so privileged to be living together and sharing with them. As a bonus, they often cook and spare me food for dinner, as I often go home late from work.

A man works outside in winterStrolling down most streets in Beijing, I saw people working hard to earn a living. This man’s work station was on a spot I passed by every week. Even during the cold winter days, he worked. Sometimes, he was inside the car, which didn’t work as a car anymore and used plastic bags as the windows. He mended clothes, bags, and more, for just a few yuans each.

While volunteering in Beijing, I also had the privilege to meet two of God’s disciples from Jackie Pullinger‘s ministry in Hong Kong. They are living miracles of the power of Jesus’ name and the Holy Spirit, and their example is not unique to them. To hear the story, struggle, and salvation in Jesus was humbling. It’s hard not to believe.

勿忘我

勿忘我

My friends are very special to me. Each one of their stories is unique and so are the individuals. I have seen God renewed their sense of hope and future, and guided them. Not every situation is good and happy and fulfilling of course. Following God does not mean easy and happy all the time, and His work is not forced nor necessarily immediate, but is surely meaningful and everlasting. In Beijing, I am known as Elian, Alien, 惠红, and 爱连. The last came naturally from a friend who simply translated my name to Chinese, and that’s what she picked. Lovely.

Some of my friends told me to come back [to China] again. A few said “Don’t forget me.” I will surely not forget them, but when I can return, this I don’t know. Thank you, thank you, my friends, for loving me with your very best.

ps: Due to sensitivity of our work and to protect the women, I cannot post pictures of our time together. Don’t be disappointed about this 🙂

~ ~ ~

I made a quick visit to Surabaya, with a population of 3 million people as of 2010. Now I am in Mae Sot, Thailand. The plane I was in, had 11 rows with 3 seats in each, totaling 33 passengers. Ack, it’s too small, but I did arrive safely. Two things are sure: I become more illiterate and God is with me. I could speak some Chinese to live in China, now I can’t even speak or read. Lord, if it’s not Your call, I wouldn’t be here. Actually I still wonder how I got here.. What was I thinking? Help me to follow Your leading, Lord, and meanwhile, please take care of my parents.

In front of the house I stay at in Mae Sot

In front of the house I stay at in Mae Sot

To my slight surprise, I love it here. I indeed wanted to experience living in a small town. I did not know though, that God answers me this soon. This town is probably not very small, but the population and buildings are sparse. The land is very natural and beautiful. There are many farms. Outside the house, there are many open fields, and a number of wild dogs. People walk, bike, or ride motorcycles, and there are very few people (not that I hate people..). There are many birds chirping. At night, there are geckos shouting. Haha, too funny their voices. I can hear the sounds of crickets and other bugs from inside the house, as the rooms have air-thru windows and fans, not closed rooms with AC. It’s like my old house in Surabaya. The air is fresh and clean, but the water is not. Got to drink bottled water. There is a patio in front of the house, with raised benches where I can sit, breathe, and enjoy the view. So beautiful. But hey, this is no vacation. Working and learning new things are coming up. I will do the best I can for God.

On my second day, I learned riding a motorbike. It’s so fun to go around the town riding it and finding new places!

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