I miss winter with you fickle feline.
As far as cities go, it was really nothing special. I planned to go there for work and leave, unscathed. Missing cold weather and the cat is just one thing. I seem to have a bit of a trail of people and places I miss, bits of my heart scattered, from all the moving.
Much of what I’m writing now would have been written already if not for all that’s been happening in my family since I got back.
The five housemates and a house cat. Everyone (except the cat) was Christian, or Catholic, and of the same ethnicity. The odd one out was the Jordanian housemate in the room adjacent to mine. Surprisingly I shared a deeper friendship with this devout Muslim than any of the others.
There was the nearby church, where I ended up staying with the Mandarin congregation, rather than the English-speaking one (I can’t read the characters well, and never planned to attend Bible study in Chinese). Language and cultural differences aside, I found so much more friendship and fellowship there than in some of the churches I’ve been attending for years. There was even a friend there who had the same name as me. We shared lots of stories together too.
I miss them all. But I’m not good at keeping in touch and everyone there feels further and further away.
My last week there. It was Christmas Eve; a very quiet night indeed. Several of us wandered around the city after dinner but realised that nothing was happening, nothing was open, since everyone was celebrating at home with their families. In boredom we decided to find the stairs up to the harbour bridge (difficult in the dark). We took the long walk across – lovely views. On the other side there was a lovely ice cream shop, and better still, a quaint little church on the same street. Their late night Christmas Eve service was just about to start. We walked in. What a peaceful way to complete our evening of spontaneous adventures.
New Years with a few others, waiting for fireworks to start on TV. I didn’t expect to share an unplanned and genuine time of prayer with this bunch, though they were all from church. One or two used WeChat all the time – during service, during Bible study, and even as they read the sheet music and sang during worship practice. Another few slept in more often than they rocked up on Sundays. A good reminder that we are to scatter seeds generously, on all types of soil. And not be discouraged because even people who seem half-hearted can grow in their faith.