I have been on many missions trips. I have always returned home and been thankful for living in America. This trip has taken me beyond any other visit to another country. China is so different. I always wondered why people would want to go to Montana and why they would talk about it being so "great". I have never been there - but always thought these people crazy for calling the middle of nowhere - "great". Now I understand. After being in cities with 16 million and 10 million people for 3 weeks...just seeing land and green grass is beautiful. People are wonderful - but when there are SO MANY...it is nice to feel space again. China inhabits 1/6 of the world's entire population (out of 6 billion people on the planet - 1 billion live in China). It is hard to even try to communicate the massive amount of people. I was overwhelmed by how many people there were. How could you ever know very many?
In America we have the freedom to live anywhere we want. We don't have to get permission or a license to live in a certain city. In China there are so many people - you have to "apply" to move to the city. Many times you are denied b/c the cities are so overcrowded. In China you can not own land. The government owns the land - but you can own a building or house on top of the land.
Our 2 acres of rocks, dirt, weeds, half burned brush pile, huge trees with wonderful green leaves, and our home has NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD! When our family went for a walk down the driveway in our pajamas the other day - no one could see us....it was wonderful! The wind was blowing through the leaves in the trees...the sky was beautiful and blue....and even though our yard is still a wreck and needs lots of work finished on it - IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL to me. I told Brad this and figured he would say I was crazy - but I think he was contemplating agreeing with me (even though the unfinished yard is about to give him a nervous breakdown!)
In the entire time we were in China...I NEVER recall seeing blue sky. The cities are so smoggy. Even the drive into the country to the orphanage was hazy. Maybe in west China near the mountains they have blue sky??? I don't know - but I missed our blue sky and cool breezes and fresh Arkansas air! All we could do was breathe deeply when we got off the plane in Fayetteville! Ahhhhh!
And FREEDOM. I don't think I have ever fully appreciated this. We look a lot at America's downfalls - and yes our culture is deteriorating...but it is still a WONDERFUL country to live in. I thank God in a new way now that I am an American. It really is a wonderful thing.
A couple of things I did observe was that I saw more "cheap" looking/scantily clad women at our 5 hours at the Denver Airport than I did during the entire trip in China with millions of people.
Also - there was an "emptiness" about the people in China that you just couldn't put your finger on. I know we give America a hard time about our disintegrating culture - but there is still a strong Christian presence here. That is what made America so strong and successful to begin with. There were several people I spoke with at the Denver airport that just had something "different" about them. A joy. A peace. Sometimes you can just sense that some people are Christians by coming into contact with them. I did not encounter this at all the entire time we were in China, even though I know there is a strong growing Christian community there.
Maggie and Rosa had made the comment that it would be nice if there is a God - but when you have been taught otherwise... your entire life like they are in China - it is hard to believe in religion. I think that when you have a real encounter with God and experience a RELATIONSHIP with God, (not just churchy religion) YOU WILL KNOW that religion is not the answer, but that God is. And that He is REAL. I know I have NEVER been the same since I embraced these truths...since I asked Jesus to come into my life. And I have studied out the facts - because I don't want to just be RELIGIOUS. I want authentic faith. I want the genuine stuff. What is real? What can I count on? I can count on the Bible - many atheists have set out to disprove it - and changed their minds about it as they researched and found that it is accurate. I am so thankful that I have the peace....REAL peace that comes from KNOWING God. Not religion. I am sick of religion. But God has been AWESOME in my life. I am soooo different now than before I gave my life to Him.
Anyway....I get passionate when I talk about the miracle of my life... :)
I am so thankful to be an American. I am so thankful to know God in a real way. I am so thankful for my family, my church full of amazing friends that are as close as family, and BLUE sky! And the fact that it was 60 degrees when we landed in Fayetteville...and that we have run our air conditioner whenever we wanted since being home....wooooo hooo!