Today was not nearly as full of different activities as the other days, and yet I am more exhausted than any other day so far.
When we awoke this morning, the weather was too foul to go out, so we hung out at the hotel and journaled for half an hour. Then we headed out to meet a few of our friends. We had invited 3 or 4 people to go with us to Bi Jia Shan, The Natural Land Bridge. Itâ€™s a beautiful place on the coast (JZ is a coastal city) where you can walk to this mountain/island when the tide goes out. You have about 2 hours to get there or youâ€™ll need to rent a boat to get back.
Surprise #1: The size of the group. When we got to the bus station to meet our group, the 3 or 4 had turned into 7, making 11 of us in total. When we got to Bi Jia Shan, and saw that it was 40 RMB ($6.50) per person to get in. Then itâ€™s another 10 RMB ($1.60) per person to get a boat and another 10 RMB ($1.60) per person to climb the mountain. When itâ€™s all said and done, to take this large group to the mountain would have cost $150! So, we decided to go exploring instead. We hiked through someoneâ€™s yard and actually made it down to the beach for some breath-taking scenery and fun pictures. As we hiked, we actually made it into the park, but were told by some attendants that we would need to go back out and buy tickets! We opted to head home instead and share a meal.
Surprise #2: The Conversations. During our exploring and our lunch, we had the opportunity to share much with all of the students that came with us. One thing we taught them is how to add â€œYour Momâ€ to the end of anything anyone says and make it into a joke! That was a hit! We also got to share things of lasting importance with them. Some of them are people who have already become family to us. Some are considering it. Two of them were friends who became family to us on our last trip here, but had not yet gone swimming in our familyâ€™s tradition. We are encouraging them to do that, as well. It seems like times like this always wind down with no one wanting to actually leave. We all just sit, knowing itâ€™s time to go and no one actually leaving. As we left the restaurant we told our friends we would see them again before we leave.
Surprise #3: The Change In Topic. Now, on a trip like this, it feels like we eat, eat, and eat some more. We left lunch to go back to our rooms and get cleaned up so we could meet some other friends for dinner! We ate light and then headed to the home of some friends where we were going to talk about marriage and dating relationships with a group of young adults.. It was supposed to be an hour long meeting, but it went 4 hours! By the time it was done (which was when I began this update) I was exhausted. Instead of talking about relationships, it became a detailed conversation about how to become family and why everyone needs Dad. The topics ranged from the here-after to present help in trouble to how could Dad love everyone and have plans for all of us. It was GREAT conversation. But it took a LOT of active listening. When the evening came to a close, our friends were teetering on the verge of becoming family, making it a very productive night. It would be great if you would spend some time talking to Dad on behalf of these new friends.
Surprise #4: We Are Almost Done. As for us, we are exhausted, but elated. I think our bodyâ€™s clocks are finally on local time. We hit a groove with what to order at local restaurants, and we have an idea of what we are working towards with our friends. The next part of the trip is the â€œsweet spot,â€ so to speak. Unfortunately, tomorrow is our last full day! It seems like it always happens that way. We will make the most of it, though. We have a lot to do in the next 48 â€“ 60 hours! yarP for us!