But in China, there is no “there”.
Finding English speakers is tough in Kunming. And quite honestly, the only relationship I’m really interested right now is with me. But my ears do miss English, gosh, they crave English: I’d lick spare words that fell on Chinese sidewalk if I could.
I do mingle with several groups just to indulge in conversation.
First, is my international church, meaning, if you have a Chinese passport, you are bounced out. The congregation is from around the world, so America’s blue eyed blonde haired Jesus isn’t the picture that would be on His passport. Teaching is interesting as every culture has insights that challenge “your way of believing”.
That’s where I met Tiwa, the guy with a smile as bright as his garb. Every week, he comes dressed up in his Sunday best, reminding me of a lot of the colorful folks in Uptown, while I show up in my raggedy jeans, AKA, the homeless look, also reminding me of Uptown.
Tiwa and his friends are in Kunming doing botanical research, as Yunnan is trying to position the city as a hot spot for science. Hot as in the surface of the sun, hot. These guys are serious brainiacs: one is doing something with wasp venom, another is detangling the cell structure of a plant, a third, examining how a virus mutates.
And all I do is help Chinese kids conjugate verbs.
I am humbled by their knowledge, their command of three languages (Mandarin, English, and their native tongue) while I grapple to ask the waitress if the meat is donkey or cow. As we passed dishes, I had a gazillion questions to ask, like how being a scientist has impacted their faith. Are their two passions like oil and water–or chopsticks and mashed potatoes–things that don’t pair well together? Henri, from Ghana answered with wide eyes, “God reveals himself in the petri dish.”
God doesn’t reveal Himself in past perfect participles.
Another place I go to meet people is the Kunming Club. These guys usually sleep in on Sunday mornings, with tastes in books and and pasts worthy to be written about. Last night, we threw back a cold one while discussing the BLITZ, a book about methamphetamine usage during WWII. Next week, we’ll talk Haruki Murakami’s book, “What I Talk about when I Talk about Running.”
But Haruki isn’t not talking about running. He’s writing…
Yes, there are interesting westerners “here” in China.