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Christmas 2006 (1/07)

Basketballs bounce in Xi'an

Zhangye, a deeper look (7/06)

China comes to Virginia (7/06)

Winter Conference 

Happy Birthday, Amity, 
Part 1

Part 2 (11/05)

Bringing Sunshine,
Part 1

Part 2 (10/05)

Summer 2005: (7/05)

Needed: China volunteers

Bluefield College in China

Lantern Festival (2/05)

Village of God (2/05)

Summer 2004:

FBC Richmond (5/20)

Opposites attract (5/26)

Mission Impossible (5/24)

Rules for a new mother (10/24)

Brocade Museum (10/24)

Barbara Diggs at NIM (4/4)

Fujian Earthen Houses (2/14)

Zhangzhou Puppets (2/14)

Merry Christmas

JIE's 50th Anniversary

Oral English Competition

Sam's Page

Virginia Baptists arrive for 2002 SEP, Shanghai - Nanjing

Part 2: in Jining, the program begins

Inner Mongolia's grasslands

Baotou and Wudang Temple

Abby and Sarah in Xi'an

Discovering the Nestorian Pagoda

Eating Zongzi June, 2002

Mary Washington comes to China, Part 1
Part 2 May/June 2002

Xi'an May 2002
Terracotta soldiers
   The Nestorian tablet






Zhangye was my favorite stop. It seemed more cozy and inviting than the two other places, which were interesting only for the specific historic sites located there. Zhangye was interesting as a town to be in today as well as for their historical relics. We actually spent more time visiting the local places of interest than in either of these other two locations, and spent all of the second morning at an impressive area of grottos away from town.

When we got near the city, we turned off to look for a temple that we thought was down that road. It turned out we couldn’t get there from that road, but we were glad to be off the highway and wanted to keep going to enjoy the scenery. It looked a lot like some parts of central and eastern New Mexico . There was a river bed running along one side of the road, with shallow water meandering through a wider channel, as if it were full only after a heavy rain or snow runoff. On the other side were crops being grown, mostly corn. The homes were made of mud bricks. There were tall trees, reminiscent of the cottonwoods that grow up along western U.S. rivers.

We stopped once to walk down a dirt lane. By the time we got to the end, there was a young boy watching us. His family joined him and we visited with them for a while. They invited us in, of course, and we sat on chairs and the bed and drank tea. Like most Chinese farm homes, it was a small compound with an outer wall, a gate, and several rooms around a courtyard. One room belonged to the son and his new bride. The boy was the son of a daughter, and was eight years old. They were very friendly and we enjoyed taking pictures of each other. It seems there are about 700 people in that village and it’s clear that they are poor, at least in terms of cash. When we left, Rosie gave the boy some colorful ballpoint pens and a package of cookies. He was grinning from ear to ear as we left.

Zhangye as a city was organized around a bell tower in the center of the city, with major roads going off in each of the points of the compass.

During one afternoon, we visited representative units of four of the five religions recognized by the government: Daoism, Buddhism, Catholicism, and Protestantism. A few days earlier, in Xi'an, we had toured the Grand Mosque, representing the fifth religion, Islam.

We visited a Daoist monastery, which is indistinguishable from a Buddhist temple, so far as I can ever see. There were a couple of old monks in distinguishing dress. We looked around and took some photos. The place was old and rather run down. Our next stop was a large Buddhist complex that included a building which housed China ’s largest reclining Buddha. This was one of my favorite places, for some reason. I just liked the simple wooden structure which was hundreds of years old, like maybe 900 years old. The Buddha was made of wood and was infested with rats, which could be heard and seen, at least according to Eric; I might not have noticed, and I didn’t see any. The reclining figure is about 40 feet long.

Daoist monastary.JPG (366248 bytes) Daoist monastary2.JPG (390139 bytes)
Daoist monastary, above

Reclining Buddha housing, above, head of Buddha figure, below left; wooden pagoda, below right

Reclining Buddha.JPG (405445 bytes) Wooden pagoda.JPG (300971 bytes)

From the wooden pagoda we saw the top of a red cupola roof with a cross on it, so we walked toward it until we found it. It turned out to be a Catholic church under construction, but to get there, we crossed in front of a Protestant church in a nondescript building, which was across the street from the Catholic church. First, we went into the Protestant church and tried to find out about it. We learned there would be a worship service that evening, so Rosie and I determined we would come back for that. We walked across the street to see the Catholic church and to talk to the priest and others whom we found at the back where a portion of the building was usable, though none of it was finished. It will be very impressive when it is finished. Rosie and I did go back to the Protestant church after supper. The place was comfortably filled, though later we learned that the Sunday services are packed out, with people sitting in every available space. It seems there are about 2000 Protestant believers in Zhangye environs. We liked the front wall behind the choir; it was painted with bright red and yellow designs and Chinese characters, declaring, “Jesus is risen,” and “Hallelujah.” Two women were in charge of the service; they reported that the church has no ordained ministers or elders at this time. This is a problem in many small places in China. These trained laywomen were serving God faithfully.

Cupola.JPG (337776 bytes)  Plain exterior.JPG (338269 bytes)

The next morning, we went south of town to the temple we had looked for the previous day. We had no idea that it was a major tourist site and was far more than “a” temple. It was located about 40 miles from town and consisted of a huge area of valley and mountains. In fact, it was not unlike a “mini grotto area,” like Dunhuang, but not as extensive or as well preserved, but still accessible. We became interested in the loess mountains that ran along one side of the valley. It was pocked with caves and wooden temple fronts, all of which were very old. Eric likes to climb, and Rosie and I followed him. We were almost alone in our climbing along footpaths and dirt steps. We reached all of the places we could find. When we came back down, we went to a second, more developed, area of caves that were better tended and still held statues. Again, we climbed the side of the mountain to the various cave openings.

Small cave Buddha.JPG (469194 bytes)              High up.JPG (461007 bytes)

Mountain grottos.JPG (340208 bytes)Small grotto.JPG (390516 bytes)

On the way to Lanzhou from having toured the Mati Temple area, we made one more stop: at a section of the ancient Great Wall which crossed the road (well, there was a break in the wall for the highway; whether the highway was routed through a break or the break was made for the highway, I don’t know.) A web page I had brought along had said this would occur near a city called Wuwei, and sure enough, we saw the wall at a distance on the right side of the road, but as we went on, the road curved and intersected the wall. We asked the driver to stop and we were able to get a good look at the wall, climb onto one of the old watch towers, and to go through a small museum in which there was a very knowledgeable man in charge, who gave us a thorough introduction to the wall and its history.

Across the road.JPG (356541 bytes)              Old watch tower.JPG (375644 bytes)