"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12



“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats





Friday, June 15, 2007

Truly a miracle!


It is now 11:20 a.m. here. I finally fell asleep at 1:30 and was wide awake by 6 a.m. We went down to a delicious breakfast and met with our guide, Tony and the amazing Mr. Jia, in the lobby at 8 a.m. to head to some countryside villages.

When we were told that we were going to visit the outskirts of YiWu, I envisioned a very poor part of the province of Zhejiang. I pictured farm workers out in the fields (which we did see) and poor children walking the unpaved roads in their bare feet.

So, we all hopped in the van for the journey. As we were driving, I ask our guide if he knew of a local Catholic or Christian church we could attend tomorrow before departing from YiWu. He said, "Church? Oh...no church here. Only Buddhist temple." So, I was a bit bummed because I can't even remember the last time I didn't go to church on a Sunday. I think it was last year when we were leaving Beijing to head to Kai's province, actually. Anyways, that sort of bothered me, but I let it go and figured God would understand.

We begin the drive and slowly the big office buildings and commerical hustle and bustle starts disappearing. We start being surrounded by the most beautiful, green, mountaineous landscapes. But, instead of seeing the small shacks that my mind's eye had pictured, we are seeing townhouses and beautiful apartment buildings. I'm speaking apartment buildings like you would find on the ocean in Florida. I was a bit surprised, to say the least. The guide explained the Zhejiang province is a very rich city. That yes, there are poor people as in all places, but that even the farm workers make a lot of money. They purchase these beautiful homes as a family (several generations together) and they live there while the grandparents care for the children and the sons go to work in the factories.

Then as we move further into these villages (we are now about 45 minutes from downtown YiWu) we start noticing Mothers with their small children. Yes, I said...children, not child. It blew me away and truly made my heart dance with joy to see families with 2, 3, and even 4 small children running and playing.

Finally, we stop in the vicinity of some small shops. My Mom gets out first and immediately we begin to draw a crowd. The first lady that came up to us was holding a beautiful little boy, maybe a year old. Then I look down by her side and standing next to her are two more little ones. These little guys were possibly 5 and 3 years old. I asked if they were her children. Our guide interpreted and I knew by the proud motherly smile on her face that they were! We chit-chatted a little bit and we started to move on. I figured that we would head to the shops, but our guide went in the other direction, moving towards these beautiful two and three story townhomes. I ask him if these are owned by the government. He said no. They were privately owned by families. Each townhouse belong to 1 family. We were pretty flabbergasted because they were stunningly beautiful, with rose gardens out front and wide marble steps that led to huge doorways surrounded by large columns and marble beams. It was almost hard to believe that this was the countryside.

So, now we start walking up and down the streets. Mr. Jia is pushing Kai on the stroller. My Mom and I each armed with a video camera in the front and we are following by our guide and Scott who was taking pictures. I comment something about not having seen one dog in YiWu, and everyone sort of laughed and we moved on. We turn the corner and my Mom said, "Hey look! A dog! No...2 dogs!" You'd think we'd have found Bengal tigers. We were so excited to see these two dogs behind these beautiful irons gates that led to a courtyard surrounded by red roses. The fragrant smell of the roses were in the air. The weather here could not have been planned better. It is in the low 70's, sunny and absolutely beautiful. All of a sudden, a man walks out of the house where we are standing in front of the gates. He notices us with cameras and says something in Chinese. I sort of move away from the gate figuring he is telling us to move on and stop video taping his house. Then our guide walks up from behind and starts speaking to him. Tony, the guide, turns to us and says, "I told them that your son is from YiWu. He welcomes you to his country and his home. He would be honored if you would come inside and maybe have some tea." We all just stood there pretty much dazed.

The next part of the story is for my dear friend Peg. Peg, you told me several times before coming that you felt God had a miracle in store for us when we arrived in China. YOU WERE RIGHT!!! The next occurence could be nothing more than a miracle.

After Scott, my Mom, and I looked at each other, we all agreed that we would take him up on his hospitality. He opens the huge 10 foot black, iron gates and we all walk through. Up the marble steps that led to the beautiful rich mahogany doors embedded with etched glass. As we enter his home, we notice the marble steps that led to the dining area. Above us hung a spectacular chandelier. We stand and I move forward and thank him for his kindness in inviting us into his home. He says something, and the guide points to a wall and says something about "Buddhist". I didn't understand exactly what he was saying, but I let it go. The homeowner then leads us to the living room off to the right, where we are seated on theses magnficent wood benches, which had a luster that was almost like a mirror.

He is very excited to see us. Sitting on one of the benches, is a beautiful little girl. He introduces her as his niece. Then he goes to the table on the other side of the room and brings my Mom a small black book. She looks at it not too sure of what it was. The guide said, "I believe it is a Buddhist bible". Hmmm...I didn't think Buddhists had bibles, but then again what do I know. I want to add here though, that our guide is a very young man, 21 years old, and the little bit we spoke of religion he did not seem to understand, hence not knowing about Christian churches in the area.

I then glance over to the other side of the huge room and there is a framed picture of the crucified Christ. I was then totally confused. I stood up and went over the the homeowner and asked our guide to interpret. I said, "I'm a bit confused. You are a Buddhist, but you have pictures of Jesus?" He stopped and laughed. Then he said, "No...no. I am not Buddhist. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior." Then, in English he said in a loud tone that reberverated through the large room, "Hallelujah! AMEN!!" Scott, my Mom and I had to pick up our jaws. He then asked Tony to translate. He continued by saying that we are all God's children and that we, and he and his people and family, are one body in Christ. Then he turned to me and said, "You are my sister because we were both adopted by the same Heavenly Father." It took about everything I had in my power not to start crying. The presence of the Holy Spirit was so very alive in this man. I hugged him and agreed. I again thanked him and said that there was a reason why out of the million people in YiWu, we travel to the outskirts of the city and happen to walk by the one house where we see the only dogs we've seen since we've been here. Again, there are no coincidences.

I then ask him where he goes to church. He said, "We gather here in my home. God is where your heart is when you can't go to listen to his word elsewhere." AMEN TO THAT!!! I had been feeling so blue because I could not go to church, and instead here was a man, of a different culture and country, being used by our Lord to affirm to me, that I didn't have to be in a church for him to know that I worshipped Him. What an affirmation!

We all sit again and he steps out of the room. Comes back with about 6 cream popsicles for everyone. He insisted that we all eat ice cream. His kindness and generosity was blowing our minds. We told him that we were back visiting YiWu, but that our true reason for being in China was because we were there to bring home our daughter now. He said..."Wait!" Then he stood up and went to a drawer where he pulled out a DVD. It was in Chinese, but had English subtitles. I thought, "Yikes. We have to watch a movie now." But of all a sudden, this familiar tune starts to play. The lyrics were in Chinese, but I knew exactly what it was. The video was playing the song How Great Thou Art while it told the story of a young girl who had, of all things, extremity deformities (like our Anna Grace, but much worse) and how she has crusaded the world bringing God's word to those that did not know him. At that point, I just couldn't hold back and the tears streamed. We all sat there watching the video and singing in both Chinese and English the hymn, How Great Thou Art. Now if that isn't a miracle....I just don't know what it is. Again, another affirmation from God that us adopting another special needs child is His doing and our blessing.

In the midst of the tears and the singing, his wife had come out. He explained to her that we were from Florida and about Kai and Anna Grace. She said she was so happy for all of us. Then she left the room, only to come back with a huge bowl of watermelon for everyone! The funny thing is that watermelon happens to be my very favorite fruit. I didn't eat it in China last time because I was told by the health department when I went for my shots that I shouldn't eat it. They said that the watermelon here is purchased by weight and that many times it is injected with regular fawcett water in order to make it heavier. So, on our last trip, and thus far on this one, I pass by the table filled with bowls of watermelon every morning at breakfast and never eat it.

I digress. I immediately thought "Oh my gosh, watermelon. What do I do?" But, there was no doubt in my mind that the Lord had brought us to this house, to this family, he would protect us from getting ill. I then look at Scott and he says to me, "Honey, eat it. We are breaking bread." So, we all ate watermelon to our hearts content. Shortly afterwards, she walked back in with a huge bowl of the largest raspberries I have ever seen. At that point, between breakfast, the ice ceam and the watermelon, I just had to pass.

We had been there about an hour, and if we got to see nothing else, that truly made our trip today. We all get up and start saying our goodbyes. I ask them if it would be ok to a take a picture with them. They happily agree. Then we ask if he has a computer, considering the house he is in, but he says no because it corrupts the children. :) But, he said, can I please give you my address and phone number. If you ever come to China again, you must stay with us. He then scurried over to a desk where he wrote down his name, phone and address. We agreed to send him copies of the pictures. I also gave him our address and phone number and email address. He told me he has two grown sons who live there, but are away with his brother.

Just as we are leaving, I am led to ask him if he would join hands with us and lead us in a prayer. You could tell his heart was honored to do so. We all join hands, Tony and Mr. Jia, included and he leads us in one of the most powerful prayers I have ever heard, and I don't know a word he said. I thought I was the only one that was one huge goosebump, but afterwards Scott and my Mom told me that they felt as if Jesus was standing in our midst. I know He was. What an amazing morning. We are in the room for a nap now and later this afternoon we will meet at 2 pm in the lobby to go visit some farmlands, I believe.

Heavenly Father,

We thank you so very much and give you all of the glory, honor and praise for allowing us to see your face in those whom are total strangers to us. Those who do not speak in our tongues, who do not share in our world, yet they, as we were reminded so clearly today, are our brothers and sisters adopted by your loving son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We thank you for giving us the experience of coming to this beautiful country to do your work and be so blessed by it. We thank you for your love and for the warmth and hospitality that we have felt from every soul we have met here. We ask you to pour your blessings upon the family that we met today. You have taught us through your word that the lest we do for our brothers and sisters, we do for you. We take these humble teachings that you showed us today and will incorporate them into our daily lives, especially when we arrive back home.

Thank you Lord for being in our lives.

In your name we pray, and in the words of our new friends, "Hallelujah, Amen!"

A very proud Mama of three!

The 3 story townhouses on the outskirts of YiWu City

Kai's new little friend, Mei Lon

Our brothers and sisters in Christ

A farmer working the rice fields

9 comments :

Ruth said...

Awesome story, Ohilda! Your steps are truly being ordered by the Lord!!

Ruth

Leigh Ann said...

Ohilda! That is so awesome - God is good.

I am so enjoying your blogging on Yiwu.

God be with you.

Mom of 5 said...

What a beautiful story. Brings tears to my eyes. What a day !

waiting4Isabella said...

OMG Munny - I am so proud of you. You have been so obedient to the Lord that the Lord has seen that and he is continuing to annoint and bless all of you. What I got from your blog is that, although you wanted to find a traditional church of some sort and could not - you and your new friends had church in his home. Jesus brought church to you, it brings tears to my eyes to see that he is that close to our hearts, he hears it, feels it and answers to it.

Praise be to God - This has to be one of the best blogs ever. I love you guys so much. Have fun !!!

p/s: AJ is doing great - haven't had to give him tylenol yet this morning. Appetite is good Oh did I mention AJ's appetite is Good !!!

Peace.

Jodi A. said...

Oh, Ohilda!!! That WAS church! What an awesome experience. I had tears in my eyes as I read your story. May God continue to bless you on this journey.
Blessings,
Jodi A.
mom to: David, Michael, Alanna & Leah

Tammy said...

WOW Ohilda,
Tears streaming down from your post. Truly a miracle!


((HUGS))
Tammy

stirra said...

Hi Ohilda,

There is a very large Christian church in Yiwu, probably what your guide thought was a Buddhist temple :-). We had a wonderful visit to their English service last year. The English service is at 10:30AM on Sunday. The church is located at the southeast corner of the city, at the south end of Zongze Road, just a couple of blocks beyond the stadium.
I hope you can make it there! If you do, and meet a couple of young college students by the names of Joey and Bill, please give them our greetings.

-- Ralph, Franice & Thacia

stirra said...

Ohilda,

The Yiwu church has a website (all
in Chinese), but which may be
helpful for your guide to find
directions if mine aren't clear enough.

http://www.ywchurch.com

The church is plainly marked on the
Yiwu tourist map as "Sixiacun Church".
In Chinese, the address is:
义乌市宗泽东路237号
and the phone numbers are:
0086-579-5381661 5381699 5381677 5381678 5381679 5385127

God bless!
-- Ralph

Richard and Starla said...

Ohilda,

What a great confirmation of God's blessing on your travels there! May HE continue to guide your steps to your daughter. Can't wait to read more.

Starla

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