Plans have changed and changed again. Lin took me to look around the “Qilou” (骑楼 ?) – an old part of the city – where we had lunch. We didn’t remember each other from Guildford (2002), but he remembers going to Steve Atkins’ house for a holiday.
After lunch we went to a modern shopping centre. I was still feeling down that I’d probably made a mistake coming here, even though the hotel and city are so amazing, but it was here that I began to feel the Lord say that it’s okay and that He was with me, despite my failures. I spotted a shop with an interesting name:
It seems that it is a Christian owned/run café. Although the staff are not all Christians, they all wear T-Shirts with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a in English (NIV) on the back:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
A translation is:
爱是恒久忍耐，又有恩慈。爱是不嫉妒，不自夸，不张狂； 不作失礼的事，不求自己的益处，不轻易动怒，不计较人的过犯； 不喜欢不义，只喜欢真理。 爱是凡事包容，凡事相信，凡事盼望，凡事忍耐。爱是永存不息的。
Lin and I stayed here for a while and chatted. Then we went into the shopping centre to find steak for dinner.
First we found a Scalextric place, and we sat and played that for a while!
As we resumed our search for steak, I happened to notice someone holding a leaflet for a restaurant around the corner, so we popped in there. We chose a table hidden behind a wall because it had only two chairs, but the manager came over and moved us to a better table.
There was a speaker above the table and I stopped a bit surprised, listening carefully, and then I just pointed at it. It seemed to be Christian worship music. The manager smiled rather excitedly and said “Are you a Christian? So am I!”
Cindy lived for ten years in Switzerland and spoke French very well, so I was able to chat with her – though it was still surprisingly difficult as my brain seems to have got all muddled, trying to think of French words and finding Chinese ones there instead. But I was able to order “steak-frites” and say that’s all I wanted on my plate. She insisted on giving us a pizza as well, but Lin didn’t eat much, so I was well and truly full by the end of the meal.
The steak and chips was wonderful, and Cindy was such an encouragement. I returned to the hotel praising the Lord. “I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart; I will enter His courts with praise. I will say this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice for He has made me glad.” (paraphrase from Psalms 100 and 118 maybe).
Today Proverbs 16:9 really rang true:
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.