After spending 15+ hours on a plane I desperately wanted a shower & a good night’s sleep. What day is it anyway? The limo driver that picked us up at the airport had a death wish. No really, I’m certain of it. He was weaving in & out of other cars, accelerating with petal to the metal mentality, slamming on brakes, honking & gesturing…and that was BEFORE we even left the airport parking garage!! I immediately came to the conclusion that barf bags are wasted on airlines; they belong in the back seat of cars here. The drive to our hotel in the Bund held me spellbound, half trying not to throw up, half attempting to take in all the sites. The apartment high rises were skyscrapers & numerous, more than hinting at millions of residents in this city. The pollution was unmistakable…thick, gray sky permeated the entire city.
Ultimately, we survived the ride to the hotel…don’t ask me how; I have never in my life seen cars change lanes in such proximity of one another w/o scraping the paint job. I was almost impressed.
Telling ourselves it was too early for bed, Zech and I took a walk along the riverfront across from Pearl Tower and into the Bund–a magnificent architectural area displaying buildings of Greek revival, art deco, and several other styles unfamiliar to my bloodshot eyes. We were both aghast at the peskiness of the merchants who followed us with no comprehension of the term “personal space”, grabbing at our clothes and shouting at us to come & buy…everything from trinkets to toys to rice jewelry to fried octopus. One very resourceful man who knew English was following Zech shouting “EDDIE, EDDIE come lookie”. Zech figured out that the man was reading the logo on his Eddie Bauer backpack and we had a good laugh. And every other person wanted their photo taken with Zech. It frightened him at first…there’s just something about having people paw at you that sets you on edge. But as Zech began to understand that people were excited to see someone so different looking from themselves, he eventually got comfortable with the attention.
Shanghai has been beautiful. I’m sharing photos of some of the sites we took in at Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai Theatre, Shanghai Museum, People’s Square, & Yu Garden. And the views from our hotel were stunning of the Shanghai skyline and riverfront.
7050 miles/11347 km between Chicago & Shanghai translates into 14 hours, 24 minutes. Our flight took us way north over Canada, Alaska, the North Pole and Russia before descending into China.
Obviously, the Lord cleared the path for our flight to be on its way to Shanghai. Within 8 minutes of our departure from Chicago’s ORD airport, the entire airport was shut down due to treacherous winds. Our flight was one of the last ones out. Here’s the scoop…
Only a few minutes into our flight our 777 Jumbo Jet began to rock back & forth like a feather caught in a ceiling fan. Flight Attendants were promptly ordered to return to their seats as the “Fasten Seatbelts” sign starred at me, mocking my previous comfort level. We were experiencing turbulence like nothing I had ever encountered before. I grasped the armrests and struggled to keep my head upright while dangling earrings repeatedly slapped my face with fervor. I glanced to my right to find a look of sheer terror on Zech’s face. He was pale white and wide-eyed, appearing 2 breaths away from tears. “Breathe,” I told him, “it’s okay, it’s just wind”…just wind, my mind whispers, like the funnel-shaped wind that sucked up our Kansas barn & silo and shredded them into splinters & concrete pebbles… “It’s like riding your bike on a windy day”…except, my thoughts continued, if you fall off your bike you’re not gonna DIE. I mustered a reassuring smile that belied my own terror and repeated “It’s okay,” as I rubbed Zech’s arm. “Have you ever seen turbulence like this before?” Zech asked. “Sure” I sorta fibbed. Well, I had heard about it when I worked for the airline years ago. I relayed the story of a flight where the plane actually did a dead drop 120 feet and then bounced back. A woman not wearing her seat belt came up out of her seat, whacked her head & was rendered unconscious. “Good thing we’re wearing our seat belts, huh?” said Zech. As a reflex I reached for mine to tighten it snuggly. And I began to pray to the One who commanded the winds to be still.
“Jesus got into the boat & his disciples followed. A great storm arose til the waves were breaking right over the boat, but Jesus went on sleeping. So they came & woke him up crying, ‘Save us Lord. We are sinking!’ ‘Why are you such cowards?’ he said, ‘how little faith you have.’ Then he stood up & rebuked the wind & sea and there was a dead calm.” Matthew 8: 23-27
While I willingly confess that I was as much a coward in my thoughts on the airplane as the disciples were in their complaining to Jesus on the boat, I can also testify with absolute assurance that Jesus is unchanging…even in the worst storms of life He still calms the winds.