My First Day in China

My time in China was great. I truly loved being there and I truly love the people. The thousands of students I met. The millions of chinese who stared at me. The hundreds that I became friends with. This a story of where it all began.

When we landed in Wuhan on that beautiful fall day, I was amazed at how far out in the middle of nowhere the airport was. Having flown all over the world, this was by far the most distant airport from its stated city of landing. Once we arrived at our apartments on campus, I started unpacking and getting ready for our meeting with the school officials the next day. Not knowing what to expect, I was going over my contract on what I might be asked to teach, how many hours, what my schedule would look like, etc. I have to say I was a bit worried because I’d heard that sometimes they like to push the foreign teachers when it comes to hours. But alas, my thoughts were interrupted by a knock on my door.

There she was. She stood there with her head bowed down a bit. She had her hands pushed forward holding a piece of paper in my direction. This tiny, little Chinese student stood in my doorway.

I was a bit taken back because, well, I didn’t know anybody in the whole entire country! I knew the other foreign teachers but I didn’t know anyone else! Why in the world was she standing at my door? I don’t speak Chinese. I don’t even know where to begin.

She again pushed the note in my direction. I reached out and took the note from her. I looked down and read the note. Chinese characters. How in the world am I supposed to read this?!

I motioned to her that I couldn’t understand or read it. She smiled shyly and motioned for me to turn the note over. Ah, she had it translated! WOOHOO!

Then I read the translation and my heart sank.

“What IS God?”

I was astounded. It didn’t say, “Which God is right?” or  “Which religion is best?” or “Which denomination is better?”

“What IS God?”

I read it again and again. I suddenly was very thankful for the fact that I didn’t speak Chinese! I didn’t even know where to begin with such a question. The idea that one would grow up in a culture where the very concept of “God” is not even known absolutely blew my mind. I looked at her, wrote down the next day’s date on the note, and told her to come back the next day. She smiled, thanked me, and walked away with a glow about her.

I sat that night in my apartment not worrying anymore about my classes, how many hours I would teach, or whether they would overwork me. I sat there and remembered the question.

“What IS God?”

I worried about what to say, whether I could get into trouble (I later found out I couldn’t because she approached me), how to explain, and so much more. I stressed, prayed, read, searched. But then something happened. A thought went through my mind that suddenly allowed me to fall into a deep sleep like never before. What was that thought?

She asked the right question.

Her very question was filled with hope, awe, a seeking spirit, a want, a desire, a longing.

She asked the right question and left with a smile.

She left my door with hope.

She asked the right question.

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