Final China Update
It’s the day before the day that the China family flies home. It’s a 9:00-5:00 extravaganza of free time and the one day of the trip that they get to shop (till they drop), explore, and generally just have fun!
A lot has happened since my last update (don’t worry, none of it is bad). We were still in Fuzhou, planning to leave the next day and wondering if the typhoon was going to affect our travel.
Well, the typhoon did hit that night. As I touched upon in the update, we had an amazing time of worship and prayer on the 18th-floor rooftop of an apartment overlooking the river. What I failed to mention is that it almost didn’t happen. The sky was looking pretty nasty, with dark, ominous clouds and short periods of heavy rain. As a leadership team we talked about moving it to our meeting room (not the coziest space but definitely drier), but ultimately decided to take a chance. We said a quick word to the Father asking if He would hold off the moisture and went for it. And He did! Just as I was saying a finishing prayer, it started to rain which necessitated a hasty retreat from the roof. It stopped for the walk back to the dorms and started again before I had reached the 7th floor when it just ripped down. I had visions of our team learning how to build an ark…fast (is there a how-to video on YouTube?). The wind howled and the rain lashed down all night, which threw a lot of debris around but didn’t damage much. Some trains were delayed but ours left on time. Thankfully it stopped in time for us to pack up the bus.
The train journey was really nice. It was good to see the family relaxed and chill, hanging around on the hallway seats or jamming into the bunk areas (six bunks to a compartment) after ten days of ministry. They also used the time to work on their group reports (which I will speak about below). Everyone was lying down to sleep by 10:00 p.m. We arrived in Beijing just after 1:00 pm on Monday, and were settled in the rooms at the Kings Joy Hotel by 2:30.
We are now four days into our five-day debriefing process. Debriefing is a mixture of relaxing and seeing the sites (it’s fun to feel like a tourist), group meetings and personal studies. Tuesday morning the team explored the Forbidden City and yesterday morning we all climbed (walked really) the Great Wall. The afternoon and evenings have been the times we utilize for meetings and study.
There are three “re-entry” sessions that we teach from the front that help them anticipate and prepare for their transition home. It can often be hard because outside of their family (and maybe just mom and dad) few people will really care about the work they did here in China. Debriefing is designed to help them deal with situations like that and enable them to develop a strategy to make a healthy, appropriate transition back to the real world, without becoming critical of people at home or discouraged.
In regard to studies, we assigned a long one on the topic of fear. Some of the questions were “what are you afraid of going home?”, and “what is causing you stress?” The answers varied, but we heard “not keeping up the devotional time/discipline we have here”, “falling back into poor behaviors”, “not having the friendship and support I have here”. Wednesday’s study was on the topic of choices. After assigning a lot of Scripture, I had them answer the questions of, “What are some good first choices you need to make when you go home that will help you transition well”, “What hard choices will you be confronted with?”, and “Are you fully aware of the significance of the choices you make in forming the trajectory of your life?” I didn’t ask many to share on this topic, as it is very personal, and each individual has their own private struggles in making healthy choices. But I wanted to challenge them on the topic and get them to really think because the enemy is waiting to trip them up when they get home. Tonight’s study will be on the topic of trust (as in the importance of really trusting the Lord).
In addition to the studies, we had them prepare a group report (they got to choose which group to participate in) on the topic of spiritual growth, missions/evangelism, culture, and group dynamics (the team). The report was to reflect what we as a China family experienced in those areas. You can ask for a copy if you want, and I’ll email it to you. Each staff and student also prepared a personal report on how they were impacted and/or saw the Father work in their lives in those same areas. The group reports were read to the whole group, and each group selected someone from their d-group to read theirs. Last night we heard Maddy and Destiny give theirs. The girls’ reports were amazing…authentic, vulnerable, positive, and giving honor the Father.
As you can see, debriefing is a busy and full time. Hence, today’s “free” day is really needed and appreciated!
What’s next? Tomorrow is our last day in China. We will stay close to the hotel and spend one last session in the morning reflecting on what they have seen the Father do this summer – looking at how they’ve grown, and goal setting. It will be an important time for a final closure. After that, it is time to get packed! I know that it will come as a surprise when I say that some individuals on our team suffer in the organization department, i.e. their clothes are everywhere but in the pack where they belong! Some may need more time to pack than others…
Tomorrow night will be our last meeting; we will spend time in worship and share communion together. Then it’s off to bed. Wake up will be at 2:45 am. I plan for us to be off to the airport by 3:30 am.
In summary, the China family did a great job. In Wuxi, they worked hard and pressed through frustration, extreme tiredness, and feeling a bit overwhelmed when they were asked to pour their lives into Chinese kids (the Chinese girls are gems, the boys are out of control) for 6 1/2 hours each day. For nine days.
Going to Fuzhou they transitioned well into a program with fewer hours, yet a far more hectic pace. But they jumped right into the work and embraced the experience that was both fruitful and exhausting. The team worked ten consecutive days, and in temperatures that reached between 98-102 degrees each day. And not only did they do a lot of walking, much of the program was held outside. Sweaty back syndrome was simply a fact of life.
And in the end, both of our hosts were well pleased and have already invited us to return next year.
I want to finish by saying thank you to all the moms and dads reading this update. I and the rest of the leadership team appreciate the trust you placed in us in allowing us to bring your sons and daughters to China. They are quality young women and men.
And thank you for the privilege you gave me to be their team leader.
For The China Family,
Here are some pictures and a video!
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Oh, by the way. I followed up on what happened to the captured cockroach I told you about. I will spare you the graphic details but suffice it to say that he didn’t survive the experience.
By the numbers:
115 – best estimate of the number on non-believing Chinese in the program
14 – the number of Chinese we know became believers (that’s over 12%)
30 – number of verses memorized of the Word
40 – number of hours spent in personal Bible study/devotions
29 – estimated hours in buses (training camp and China)
27.5 – hours in trains in China
27.5 million – grains of rice consumed by the team while eating out.