We experienced so much that was strange and exotic and marvelous. We saw sights that were amazing. Spent time with people who were just wonderful. Saw old friends. Made new ones.
There are so many things I have not mentioned. How Chinese the world looked...sure many stores might look like ours on the street, but others looked nothing like ours. There were far less brand name stores and many more individual places...the way New York looked in my youth...but not the way it looks now. And in addition to the unfamilar signs, you could not go very far before you came upon a set of stone lions or a formal Oriental gate rising up and swooshing to the sides at the top or other touches that one would only see in Chinatown in America.
The food was so different and so interesting. What they sold and how they sold it was so different. That last day, when I thought we would not get lunch, friends arrived with fried rice, steamed veggies in a bag and a plastic platter of...roast duck. Not something one would get so easily at home!
And, boy, was the food good!
I already miss it.
Usually, I am anxious when I travel. On the way over, it came to me quite clearly that everything would be taken care of...as if this whole trip was a gift from God already encircled in his grace. As if the prayers of those praying for us had been heard and answered. So, whenever fears rose, I gently pushed them aside and remembered God's promise. And, sure enough, it all went perfectly!
We gained so much....experiences, ideas, images...much of which may make it into a book some day--either directly or as the inspiration for some other thing. I will never forget what I gained here. It will live in my mind as one of the high points of my entire life.
All that is left now is that, in years to come, I can tell the story to those who did not read this at the time--about the one magical year I celebrated Chinese New Year in China...with my daughter.