On our first weekend in Qufu, we went to the local registered church for Sunday service. We arrived a little late to the 8:00 service and found places on pews in the back. They've maximized the space in the church by packing the pews very close -- pewback-to-kneecap close.
There was some singing, during which a helpful churchgoer loaned Chip and Mallary a hymnal (which they couldn't read a word in). Later were a long message and a time of prayer. The service closed with everyone praying the Our Father together (I think).
We had spotted two girls who looked like students and introduced ourselves after service. Sure enough, they were students at the other branch of our university, and we chatted a few minutes. Suddenly, half a dozen middle-aged women swooped in and invited us all to lunch. They marched us out to the road and put us in a car, where we sat laughing and wondering what was going on. I think they realized one of them needed to accompany us, so an older lady squished in the back with us three girls and we drove a little way to her home.
We were ushered into the living room, which was decorated with a child's wall doodles, a picture of Jesus, and a picture of a European cathedral. At first, only the older lady, another woman, and the woman's girl were in the house. We sat sipping our hot water. Other women from the church arrived slowly. Then came the funniest part of the day.
Someone had gone to buy fruit -- enough fruit to feed at least 30 people. But we were only four people. Soon, peeled bananas were being thrust into our hands, only to be replaced by another peeled banana as soon as we had nibbled our way to the end. Plates of juicy watermelon slices sat on each of our laps. Apples were being offered from all directions. Mallary made the mistake of pausing for a second, so a lady walked over, took her hands, helped her pick up a slice of watermelon, and lifted it up to her mouth.
During this time, we were trying to get to know our hosts. They had snagged the two students we were talking to, so the students helped translate a little. Tarah found herself talking to a woman who was apparently giving her testimony, but all in very fast Chinese, so who knows? The women were so friendly and fun. We sang them a few songs, and they sang us a few songs.
The meal followed about an hour later -- several wonderful, homestyle vegetable and meat dishes. When it was time to leave, we were full to the brim of food and fellowship. The ladies prayed with us before we left and then gave us some oranges for the road.
Wonderful, exhausting visit. Enjoy the pictures.