A man in my Bible study group is a full time volunteer teaching English classes at a community center/Chinese church in Queens, and has people from our group rotate through as guest speakers in the English classes he teaches there. I was ‘on’ for Saturday, so made my way to Grand Central station to meet up with him and head to Queens. There was one student that came that remembered me from the last time I was there, in May. She studied English in college in China, and is a relatively good speaker, so she was my dubbed ‘translator’, if needed, for the day. The topic of conversation was, again, Africa.
I told them a bit of my story, that I was born in Connecticut (which most of them don’t know exists), a bit about the lions of Tsavo killing 135 people and preventing the completion of the railroad in 1898, crippling Kenya, and the differences between tigers (which the chinese are more familiar with) and lions. We talked about various animals, about how elephants can be more dangerous than lions, about the great migrations, and about feeding a giraffe by mouth (true story!). We talked about my dad being a pilot of small airplanes, landing on dirt strips where there are no roads… We talked about missionaries and about the growth of Christianity in Kenya since the first missionaries arrived in the early 1900’s…. and I took questions from people.
The question that stands out: a middle-aged Chinese woman said to me, “I heard that the missionaries go to Africa, and there they kill the Africans and eat them. Is that true?” Unsure if something was (clearly) being lost in translation, I asked her again, and when she genuinely thought it was true, I emphatically assured her that NO, that isn’t the case, and my parents didn’t eat Africans. LOL. Maybe that’s what she was told about missionaries who come to China…. who knows. Maybe I should have asked where she’d heard it….
Also, there were two men that were 85 years old; Chai was a Tai-Chi instructor for 45 years and his friend Solomon spoke English fairly well and had a huge grin on his face most of the time, making his eyes squeeze in a joyful disposition for most of the class. In our game of charades with English words, Chai won the prize for enacting a duck, with all the sound effects to boot. I laughed out loud. Two old kickers that made the class a hoot.
At the end of the class, Solomon came up to me and asked me if they have nursing homes in Kenya, and I explained that they do not, and that people rely on their children to care for them as they age. And he said “well, I live in a nursing home in Flushing. And I am a CHRISTIAN!”
Thanks, Solomon. 🙂 A memorable day in China! oops… I mean Queens.