Monday, August 17, 2009

Pingyao day 2, china day 6

I think what I love most about traveling with Emma and Lee is that I got to experience two cultures at once. I learned a lot about england and china :). This was the fourth full day we had spend with Emma and lee and it was fun because I felt like we got to be good friends with them by the end of our time together.

We woke up, got breakfast and bought tickets to go on a tour of the historic places in the city. Some of the little street vendors would be playing american music and one store had Michael jackson playing. It was so out of place in this little town but it was amazing because lee, in his hilarious/amazing BRIGHT yellow shorts that made me so happy would dance when no one was watching. It was fabulous :).

we went to this one area and it was amazing. The citys jails were there and it also had amazing court yards. It also had a few rooms where they had ancient torture devices and they showed what device they would use for what purpose depending on the crime, or for making someone talk. It was very sobering and they had real pictures of these things happening. One of the torture devices looked like a cross on a truck and Im not sure what they did with it. I dont think it was used to crucify people though. It was hard to look at and made me so sad that people could have it in them to torture another person like that. It made me cry as I thought about Christ dying on a cross for me and the torture he went through. I felt a mixture of emotions. Thankfulness for what Christ had done and just pain over the brokenness of the the world we live in. I thought about when Christians were persecuted for their faith in China and how they had to endure things like that. I thought about if I could if I was faced with that. Im not sure how I could go through that kind of pain...especially knowing you could stop it by renouncing your faith. The torture methods seemed to be perfected to bring as much pain to a human as possible. But honestly, I dont know how I couldnt. Where else would I go for salvation? I feel like God has to be merciful and give someone the grace they need to walk through something like that and remain faithful. It made me realize how faithful martyrs are. It may be the hardest thing in the world to go through... but at the same time it would be impossible to choose to not go through it. Its like there just isnt another way. It just broke my heart. It took me a little to recover. Going to the temples next was not that helpful.

The people in the city still worshiped at the temples so they were bowing and burning incense to their Gods while we walked around and took pictures. So many of their Gods are so angry and are depicted squashing people or they look like the incredible hulk holding chains. Someone said its to scare off evil spirits? They have a combination of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism in China. Reaching Nirvana may be the most depressing thing I have ever heard of. They believe that there are 3 or 4 different kinds of suffering or pain in life and you need to meditate until you reach nirvana and then instead of reincarnating and having to suffer in life again, you just disappear and cease to exist. Its basically a religion based on running from pain. How opposite from Christianity! It was amazing to me to reflect on the ways that Christ calls us to not run from pain but to enter it and that in it we find life. We can love sacrificially and lay down our lives for others and find true meaning and life in that. Its so backwards and upside down but its real and vibrant and maybe the most authentic thing I have ever known. We dont run from brokenness and try and escape it. We have a God who came down into it and was himself broken to overcome it. our pain is not ever wasted now but its redeemed. Everything will one day be restored and redeemed. There is no fear anymore and all brokenness has an answer for it. It made me wish they knew. There is so much they dont know and they live in such fear because of it!

The terracotta warriors are thousands of warriors that an emperor had made around his tomb. they believe that whats on your tomb goes with you to your afterlife and the after life has good and bad spirits in it. This emperor wanted an army with him in heaven. He did not want other emperors to know about this and destroy it after his death so he hired thousands of men to build these warriors and then killed every man that ever worked on it so his secret would never get out. And it was kept well. Farmers digging for a well found them about 20 years ago.

How sad. How selfish. Thousands of lives taken because of one mans fear of death and what is to come. They bow to idols that can not hear them, that will not act on their behalf. They live lives in fear running from pain and trying to reach perfection to make the "torture that is this life" stop. How do you see hope in that? how do you see beauty in today? there is no power to live life to the fullest today and no anchor to face whatever storms come tomorrow. I have never been so thankful for my God who loved me, rescued me, called me his own, bestowed on me a crown of beauty instead of ashes, redeems my life, sets me free from fear and death, will never be silent until my righteousness shines like the dawn and gives me a million other promises in scripture as well. I was just thankful.

Anyway... later that night we got dinner, paid a few yuan to dress up in these "authentic chineese costumes" and took some funny pictures with some old buildings. Tons of chineese people would stop and take pictures or ask to take pictures with us which was hilarious. (they are ALWAYS taking pictures of foreigners). Then that night we went to a dumpling party at our hostel. They taught us how to make dumplings and then we got to eat them. we met some fun people. My favorite was Clara who was an agriculturist from spain and spoke little english. She was thankful for someone who spoke spanish and I was thankful to have an opportunity to practice.

That night I still was feeling a little heavy from the day so I said goodnight to everyone early and went and sat out in the court yard alone and prayed for a while. I wished I could always go there to spend time with God. It was so beautiful and quiet. Amazingly peaceful. I felt so still and it was so refreshing.

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