It was the beginning of July when we embarked on that plane in LAX. The first stop was Guangzhou, China – a city with more than 13 millions of people, two thirds of the population of my birth country. The 12 of us were spread in the economy class, I sitting in the back of the plane next to a sweet minion Chinese lady. From the place where I was I could see Sandy next to one of our friends by the window.
It was a long flight for about 12 hours. I stood up and walked the aisle up and down to stretch my legs now and then. People were sleeping in their seats or watching a show. Not many were strolling the plane, but I had learned my lesson the hard way.
When I was on the plane from Romania to the US for the first time, I didn’t move much. My seat was in the middle and I didn’t want to disturb the people next to me. After sitting for 9 hours, my legs and feet were swollen and looked like tree trunks. The accumulation of the blood in the veins put pressure on them. If the pressure persists, it may be a concern for blood clots. I learned that walking during a long flight was mandatory.
An hour or so before our arrival I saw that Sandy wasn’t sleeping and I went and talked to her. She looked pretty tired, like all of us. She told me she couldn’t wait to get off the plane.
“Did you stretch your legs during the flight?” I asked.
“No. I preferred to sit,” she replied.
After landing in Guangzhou, we took our first group picture on the Chinese land. I was so excited, and marveled in my heart at how God opened that trip for me.
A few hours later we arrived in the city where we planned to stay for the first few days. The hotel was magnificent. A creek was flowing from the entrance by the walls inside the building and surrounding the first floor. I’ve never seen something like that. My roommate and I left our bags in our room and went back to the lobby to meet with the others for lunch. We stepped outside in the heart of a busy city, with busses, cars and bicycles on top of each other, a swarming of people crossing the streets between vehicles and getting safe on the other side.
The humble restaurant we went to eat was a few minute walk from the hotel. We took up on a narrow staircase and got to the top floor, a few connected rooms filled with small tables. That was where Sandy introduced me to fried rice. We got different kinds in order to share half of it with each other.
Our leader shared with us specific details concerning the next couple of days. The plans included many stops for prayer for favor with the local Chinese head-persons. Weird as it may sound, we knew we were going to buy the Bibles from the Chinese government.
We went back to the hotel to get some rest. Even though I wanted to see all the amenities in that building that reminded me of a mall, I crushed on my bed and woke up a few minutes before dinner. We met our interpreters in the lodge and were taken to a glamorous restaurant. I was astonished to see the moving serving table in the middle filled with strange dishes of vegetables, meat and sauces. As I was looking around the huge table at my teammates, I felt such a love for each of them. Everyone was beautiful inside out. Sandy was sitting across from me and was smiling the entire night. The youngest among us was a student who ordered eels. Everybody was smirking.
“What’s that?” I asked.
Nobody answered, but kept smiling at me.
“Would you like to try?” our student challenged me.
Minutes later we were served two bowls of earthworm-like creatures swimming in a brown sauce. I looked at my friend stuffing his mouth with those things and I followed his example. The eyes of the whole group were on us. I wished I ordered something else, but I couldn’t start our mission like someone who didn’t go through. So, I kept silence and ate. I didn’t bite into the slimy meat, but gulped them down on my throat until I finished. My stomach kept them down and that was a great accomplishment.
We had a night full of laughter and great hopes for the days to come. When I walked to the car side by side with Sandy, i didn’t know that our joy was changing into deep sorrow in a few hours.
-to be continued-
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