It is something here in the US that people avoid being emotional. Every time when someone in our circle of friends weeps, they say they are embarrassed. Maybe it’s considered weakness, or maybe they don’t want to disturb others and make them feel awkward, I’m not sure.
I come from a culture infused with Italian blood. Italians are emotional. So are we, Romanians.
When we pray, we weep.
We also weep during life events.
Saying goodbye to our new friends in that little church stirred my heart. It was like meeting your family you were searching after for a lifetime. When you finally hold them for the first time, you have to let them go, knowing that you will never see them again on this earth. The separation from my new family at that church was so hard I needed quite a time to pull myself together. I could still feel their calloused hands caressing my cheeks and hear their words of love pouring over me in a language I didn’t know.
We stopped to get lunch and then were back in the van for a long ride. I saw the two agents eating in their car from a bag.
In spite of all the heat, the crops and trees by the road looked fresh and green. The driver turned on a radio station and we listened to Chinese country music. The road was full of holes and we had to slalom from one side to the other to avoid them. The bikers kept their way on the dirt-path by the pavement, dangerously holding their loads in balance. After a while, the traffic became heavy, sign that we were close to a city. That was our destination.
We didn’t have an exact idea about where we were. All the signs and words were in Chinese, but on one of our future outings we were by the Yellow Sea, and watching the shore of North Korea.
The wind picked up, twirling the dust. At that hour, people were coming from work, everyone carrying a bag with some food. Tired crowds were waiting in the bus stations. The old vehicles were riding with their doors open, with people dangling on the steps like bunches of grapes. That was the same when my parents went to work and had me with them, since my daycare served their shoe factory. For more than one time, the tram caught on fire and my dad had to jump out with me in his arms.
Watching the same helpless scenario after many years, was breaking my heart.
After strolling numerous streets, our van stopped in front of a big building, freshly painted. A few women in blue skirts and white blouses were waiting for us on the wide stairs to the church gate. The two government agents, who got there ahead of us, were talking to a man in a suit. If that was the pastor, I was sure he was given the last instructions about how to relate to us, Westerners. Everybody there was smiling, but we could easily discern that was a facade for timidity or even fear.
The man in a suit came forward to welcome us. We shook hands and were invited to get in the building and then up on a narrow staircase to his office. He was the pastor.
Treys of fruit were displayed on his desk, and we sat there for about twenty minutes eating and smiling. We asked a few general questions about the church, and the man didn’t forget to praise the system that gave them the liberty to gather in such a nice building. “The government built it for us,” he finished his dissertation, and then wiped his face with a large handkerchief. He had to tell us that information. The Church in China was free, but we all knew there was much more to that. He had to do what he had to do to have his church function in some kind of liberty. It wasn’t the best situation, but maybe something he could manage in those circumstances. He was serving God and His people, under a communist government. His submissive attitude reminded me of one of my former pastors during the communism. His sermons had to be pre-approved by the communist agent who was supervising our church. I remembered I started to write a 3-5 minute screenplay for every Sunday to encourage our congregation’s faith. I liked to choose simple, common topics from real life. My pastor had to read it first and make any changes in my terminology, in order to keep the communists happy.
It was sad.
-to be continued-
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