Mafan at the Ba Ba Binguan

Women qu Beijing le!!! (Translation: We went to Beijing!!!)
1 twenty-four hour train ride (literally 24 hrs), 1 fifteen minute ticket line, 1 four and a half hour taxi ride, and 7 hotels later we got settled in Beijing at the 8.8 Hotel (translation: ba ba binguan).
Interesting story?  I think yes.  So let’s back track a little. At 11 hundred hours Friday July 1st Kate, Alex, and I board a train to Beijing.  Mind you that between the 3 of us we have 2 backpacks, 3 purses, and 5 suitcases. Getting on the train was interesting enough because we had to take 2 taxis due to the amount of luggage.  Once we were at the train station the Lord provided a sweet, hardworking lady to help us with our luggage.  One of our suitcases I carry on my back, which left all 4 of us pulling one… the Chinese were definitely gawking at the foreigners with an obscene amount of luggage because they travel with a single plastic bag (no joke).  oh and two more plastic bags for food (how are they so skinny? idk tell me when you figure it out).
Before I move on, left me explain what a sleeper train looks like.  In the hard sleeper cabin there is a walk way with little fold down seats by the windows on one side, and on the other there are portioned bunk areas that have 3 beds on each side (6 per little alcove).  We were fortunate enough to have two bottom bunks and one middle bunk.  This meant we had a little table for all our snackage and coffee (the sweet, nectar of life).   So with all our baggage we overtook this small area and moved in. 
There was a family in the same area as us… they were adorable.  The boy, Tian Tian, was awesome.  He had this toy that he was beyond talented with, and he would randomly speak English. 
You should know that we were the loudest people on the train… but hey we are crazy foreigners.   The train may have been a full 24 hours ride, but it offered plenty to entertain: people eating chicken feet and other unidentifiable foods, smokers that made you nauseous, squatty potties that go straight to the outside, a 5 car walk (that made me dizzy) to the food car, a western toilet that we found, and AWESOME CHINGLISH SIGNS that include but are not limited to:
-caution, scald burns
-do not dump waste in pond (aka the sink)
At night we took some magical little, blue pills which put us right to sleep.  That was a lovely night’s sleep.  In the morning when we woke up is when the train ride went from good to Fanfreakingtastic!!! There was a new man in our temporary home (remember, we moved in). He saw that Kate was reading and asked if it was a Bible.  Come to find out this man was a believer.  We had a Chinese Bible with us so we were able to swap favorite verses with him.  He told us where there is a church at in the morning, and chit chatted with us for a little while.
BUT the story doesn’t end there. 
Remember the adorable family?  Well they were showing some interest in our conversation.  So our new homie begins to take the Bible and explain to them about the one true God.  This is literally how we spent the last hour and a half of our train ride… watching him evangelize and explain scripture and praying under our breath.  We were the last people off the train because we gave the boy and his mother our Chinese Bible and contact information.  Then we prayed in English and our believer friend prayed in Chinese.  

After he helped us get all our luggage off the train and out of the station we parted ways… hopefully we will see him in the morning at church.  But keep him and that mother and son in your prayers.  Pray for discipleship and for those seeds to grow. 

Pause:  this brother was amazing.  His face shone.  His eyes were full of joy, and his demeanor was gentle.  He was ready to share, and made the most of more than one opportunity while we were with him. He was sharing the Gospel and there were so many people around who could hear and understand him… praise God for his boldness and willingness.  That man was a great encouragement and example.  It was such a blessing to see the Word being shared; we do not have the ability to do so but we have the ability to pray.  But it doesn’t have to be us.  I really think that the Lord put that man in our path to encourage us to keep pursuing Him first and then He will take care of spreading His kingdom.
Now for the frustrating part…. Tai mafan (translation: very troublesome, problematic, complicated)
We got to where the taxis were and there was a man offering us a ride instead of waiting in the impeccably long line… so we bargained with him and he said he would take us to the airport, well a hotel by the airport.  this hotel ended up being way more expensive than we wanted.  So greedy taxi man, after getting massively frustrated with us takes us back into the city (for more money….).  At this point we have spent about an hour with this man.  He was seriously about to bust a vein on his forehead with us at times.  BUT the Lord gave us grace to handle the situation without too much frustration on our part, and favor because we have a nice inexpensive hotel.  But poor, poor Mr. Taxi man had to put up with us for 3 and a half more hours.  See the hotels here are tai gui le (translation: too expensive), and we are cheap university students.  Our driver learned this so he only took us to cheap hotels where he would proceed to complain to them about how cheap we were LOL.
Long story short, I now have a new appreciation for Mary and Joseph having been told that there was no room at many an inn…. but multiple hotels later, getting ripped off by a frustrated and hilarious taxi driver, venting about the mafan, learning the phrase “oh my grrrr” from the taxi man, and lots and lots of prayer later we are comfortably situated at the Ba Ba Binguan.
And yes our first stop (after the bank and some delicious Chinese dinner) was Xing Ba Ke (translation: STARBUCKS!!!!).  I told you coffee was the nectar of life.
We have had a great day of driving around though.  I saw Tiananmen Square, and let me tell you this city is gorgeous at night!!! During the day though we only had about a half a mile visibility… 
My workout epidemic has spread to Kate and Alex as we had an awesome workout party tonight.  After what I am sure will be a good night’s sleep (and very cozy because we are sharing one bed) we are going to get up, go to church, meet one of their friends, and shop till we drop!!!
This weekend is already proving to be one of growth.  Seeing how much we are growing in prayer and living a life of worship, working on our Chinese, and listening as Kate and Alex debrief.  The fact that I can hop in a taxi, drive by Tiananmen Square, and it not seem out of the ordinary is crazy.  I really do love it here, and feel at home here.  When I look at these people I think “if only you see what I see when I look at your country… if only you saw the glory of God’s creation and His love for you.”  Join me in praying that they do.  

More too come from Beijing…. thanks for sticking out this uber long story.  

Devra
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