Saturday, May 24, 2008

On a Bench in China

Steam filled my nostrils as I leaned over my bowl of snake and turtle soup. I wasn't thinking about the slightly fishy taste of the dark turtle meat. My eyes were focused ahead on the small television set, as a news reporter gave an update of the clean-up process in Sichuan. A large earthquake had hit. I knew the location. Six months before, I had spent time hiking and playing basketball with the locals of that same town. The children I had seen then were crowding the sidelines and cheering for the "American team." The atmosphere was much different now.

Nobody expected the Sichuan earthquake. Life has tragedies, inconveniences, and detours. Although often hard to bear, that's part of what makes life interesting. We grieve, we cope, and we grow. I guess we shouldn't expect our expectations to always hold true. I realized that as I sat in the passenger seat of an 18-wheeler carrying hundreds of pounds of frozen TV dinners to Victorville, California. I should've been on a much anticipated flight to Hong Kong. My road took an unexpected detour, and I found myself on one of life's "scenic routes." I just enjoyed the ride and knew I'd eventually get to my destination--China.

I'm sitting on a bench in downtown Dongguan, China, as I write this. For some reason, a white guy sitting on a bench with a pad of paper and a pen is about the most interesting thing in the world. I don't think I'd get more stares if I was casually sitting here in the nude...well, maybe. But all in all, I'm loving it here. I came alone, neither knowing the way nor anyone along the way. What I did know was my destination and my capabilities (oh, and enough Chinese). In the little over two weeks that I've been here I've become part of a family, made many friends, helped collect donations for a volunteer organization, joined a basketball team, worsipped with local Christians, traveled to several other cities, and improved my Chinese, or so they tell me.

Tomorrow, I leave for four days to an island called Hainan. It's farther south in latitude than Hanoi, Vietnam, and is considered the Hawaii of China. The island is huge, about the size of Taiwan, and it attracts tourists from all over the world. I have no idea what lies ahead of me, but I'll be sure to keep a pad of paper and a pen close by in case I stop to take a break on a bench by the beach.

9 comments:

mama K said...

Oh my gosh! You're writing on your blog!! Jeff, I LOVE the way you write and express yourself and express the feelings of life! Son, You HAVE to become a writer. Nicholas Sparks, my favorite author other than you, wrote a book called "3 weeks with my brother" where they traveled around the world! You have got to write a book about your adventures in China! I demand it! You have a natural talent, a fabulous way of expressing what everyone thinks and feels and you have got to reach your great potential! Keep that notebook going and I'm staying tuned to your blog!!

Allison said...

LOVE IT! So what happened to the other posts mom put on here of your e-mails?? Sounds like quite the adventure. The one thing I am confused about is...when did you actually become Chinese?? Judging from the caption under the pic., the guy in the middle without a hat on is a Chinese person. Just thought I would point that out to you.
P.S. I agree with mom

da Bergs said...

I too agree with the above, you HAVE GOT TO write, you would difinitely be on the BEST SELLERS LIST!!! I hope you are taking pics too!!! Be safe, have fun and we love you!

The Bergquists said...

Jeff you should be a writter!! Looks like fun, and devin wanted you to know... the word you were thinking of was Cardiff

Jeff said...

I took the other posts off, Alli. They were kind of cluttering, and I didn't really want all my emails on my blog. No, the Chinese guy in the photo without the hat is not me, despite possible rumors of a racial transformation. I can't seem to get the picture posting down. It seems like my blog is harder to deal with in China. I'll try to keep posting though.

Allison said...

LOL...so funny...keep us all informed...so fun to read!!

Lindsay & Brady said...

Jeff... I just wanted to know why your baby sis wasn't one of your friends??

The Bergquists said...

Um Jeff... Its about time for a new post! Dev and I need to hear about your adventure in China!

Lindsay & Brady said...

once i become one of your friends, maybe i'll keep you posted on where I'm living.. yes, we are moving to cali for the rest of the summer.. they're transfering our whole office there (about 30 min away from riverside (rancho)). anyways- brady loves the pics of your reptiles and such and wants to someday overcome his fear of them.. perhaps you can help with that. keep us posted!