"" Writer's Wanderings: November 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Amazing Grace

Three days of our overland trip in China were spent cruising on the Yangtze River between Chongqing and Yichang through the Three Gorges area. Before going to China, I had prayed for God to show me moments that would reveal his presence. I knew we would traveling in countries steeped in Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, and Communism. I longed for His assurance that He was still at work there as well.

The Three Gorges area was beautiful even though we saw most of it through a misty and, at times, rainy fog. At the place where the Daning River empties into the Yangtze, we left our riverboat to board a smaller catamaran for an excursion up the Daning through the Lesser Gorges. Along the way we saw dramatic cliffs rising from the river, lush vegetation, terraced farmlands that reached to the mountaintops, and an occasional pack of monkeys scurrying through the bush or along the shore where they were feeding on corn dumped most likely by the tourist boats.

Because of the dam project near Yichang, the Gorges area is being flooded gradually. The final flood stage will be reached in 2009. Already many towns have disappeared beneath the 150 meters of water that has filled the Yangtze and its tributaries. The population is being relocated to new apartment buildings along the hilltops near the river. The younger generation is happy to have the new lodging. The older generation is very sad to leave their generational farms and homes. It is all for the need of a fresh water source for China as well as hydroelectric power for a county whose industrial progress and modernization is moving too fast for the old systems to keep up.

This was all explained quite well by the local guide on our excursion up the Daning. On our return trip, she told of some of the customs and traditions of the area and sang a folk song in her language. Then she asked the 100 English-speaking guests to sing to her a song she had heard in English, Amazing Grace. A hundred voices rang out in the middle of one of the most beautiful places in China. It was the biggest "God moment" of my trip.

His grace is truly amazing.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

In My Lifetime--Viet Nam Perspective

It's been a month since I've posted--a very busy month. We were traveling in Asia. A land tour as well as a cruise that took us through China and on to Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, and VietNam. Surprisingly, our favorite two stops were in Viet Nam.

Perhaps our interest was peaked most in Nam since we lived through the Viet Nam war era. I remember holding our breath through the draft lottery that would determine our future. Bob's number was high enough to make it possible to ensure he would finish school and we could continue with our plans for the future.

I recall the nightly reports that more than any other war brought home the sacrifices we were making. Then there were the protests, the draft card burnings on campus, and the young men who fled to Canada to avoid the draft. Viet Nam was certainly devisive in those years.

Our two stops in Viet Nam were quite different. The trip to Ho Chi Minh city gave us a glimpse of history--remembering the pullout of Saigon, the mass evacuation by helicopter, the war headquarters. Our other excursioin took us into the countryside where we met more closely the people of Viet Nam. Our hearts were touched by their lives as they shared customs, lifestyle, and traditions with us.

But what will stay with me are the words spoken so profoundly by one of our guides. "When people say Viet Nam they mean a war but Viet Nam is a country." Yes, a beautiful country with some very beautiful people.
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