Monday, January 09, 2006

Breakfast with the Fangs-Part II

Downing the first melon was no problem. We had worked up an appetite, having hiked about 4 miles so far. As soon as our spoons scraped the rinds, our little hostess dashed back to the chopping block and cut another melon in half. She put a half in front of each of us and urged us with her eyes to continue eating.

"If she insists..." we thought, knowing that lack of both time and stomach capacity would hinder us from having anymore. We plunged our broad soup-spoons into the second melon.

I took a break and invited the little boy, up to this point watching us curiously from the safety of his grandmother's arms, to watch me dispose of my first melon. I reared my arm back and hurled what was left of it into the fish pond. A sheepish smile told me that the boy was pleased with the distance of my toss.

I wondered if he had ever seen the white skin of foreingers before. If not, he was a pretty brave kid to be sitting right next to me without showing any signs of fear. Growing up in America, we take diversity for granted. Many people, specifically those involved with universities, complain that we don't have enough of it. When you come to a place like this, where the people in villages are basically monolithic, you learn to appreciate the broad spectrum of ethnicities represented in the U.S.

For the most part we sat in silence, we foreigners enjoying the peculiar tranquility of the moment, the Fangs watching our every move with keen interest. They paid particular attention when we spoke to each other in English. I guess they were worried that we were saying something negative about their little plot of land. To allay such anxiety, we were careful to smile and nod a lot as if to include them in the conversation.

We said nothing but good things about their hospitality and how they welcomed us so easily. How many Americans would be eager to open up their homes and pantries to some non-English-speaking Chinese people who showed up on their doorstep? Not many.

It's funny how many allegories there between this trip and Jesus' sending out the 72 disciples in Luke 10. He tells them to find hospitable people to stay with and to eat what is put in front of them. If their hosts treat them well, he tells them to "let their peace remain on that house." Conversely, if their hosts do not bless them, he says they'll be punished worse than Sodom and Gomorrah. The Fangs definitely got this one right, and I hoped God would bless them for it.

Before the girl could chop another melon, Steve and I got up and prepared to leave. We took pictures, one of each of us with the entire family. Then we rejoined the curvy trail that led us back past the well toward the run-down temple. As we walked by the well, we used it to shield us from the Fangs' curious eyes, eyes which had been glued on us ever since we started back up the trail. Effectively hidden, I dropped a VCD at the mouth of the well, hoping that someone would find living water.

We emerged from behind the well for one last glance at the family. They were still staring as if they thought we were spirits which had magically vanished into thin air. We waved at them, noting that they represented three generations of people who our efforts would hopefully expose to the gospel.

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