The next day Queenie and I headed to Detroit to catch up with some friends before going to see Bobbie in Kentucky. It had been nearly a year since I left Detroit, and it felt strangely familiar driving down I-94 again.
First we had lunch with my aunt and uncle. It was nice to see them and their kids again. Another kid was on the way very soon. I was afraid they might have to rush to the hospital while we were there, but baby Joshua wasn’t ready to come out just yet. We had a good talk with them about dealing with cross-cultural issues and working through them together.
Later we looked at their garden out back. They had some massive zucchini. Uncle Duffee and I played soccer with Isaiah and Kaleha while Aunt Susanne and Queenie talked together. Kaleha frequently got distracted, which put my uncle at a disadvantage, but we still had fun.
Soon enough, it was time to leave. I still remember my brief stint living in their basement last year. And now another child was on the way. So much can change in a year. At least their kids remembered me.
Later I met with my friend Joon to talk about an upcoming trip before heading to Sam and Sheona’s house. Sam and I had been best friends in college, but after I left for China, it was harder to stay in touch. So it was nice to reconnect again.
Their little girl Fiona was growing up fast. She was a feisty, energetic girl who would fix you with a curious, unwavering stare. We decided to visit Detroit that night and walked along the Riverwalk, which was a pedestrian-friendly walkway along the river bordering Detroit on one side and Windsor, Canada on the other . It was a pleasant night, and there were plenty of locals walking along the river and enjoying the view.
When the sun set, we went to Denny’s for a late-night dinner. I thought Queenie should get a taste of real American food, and Denny’s seemed appropriate.
The next day we walked to Resurrection Church, a church plant started by Dave Doran Jr. It was encouraging to see how God had already blessed them with a new building and new converts. Sheona said drug addicts and alcoholics would occasionally come to church, and one woman liked to dance to the music. I believe churches should be a microcosm of their community, and it looked like Resurrection Church was a composite of Lincoln Park. I hoped they continued to flourish in the coming years.
For lunch we went to a Mexican-Italian restaurant and then headed back to Sam and Sheona’s house to relax. Sadly, we had to drive to Kentucky soon, and so we had to say goodbye. It had been a short visit but a good one. If only China were not so far away.
Five hours on the road and 2 hotdogs later, we arrived at the Longs’ house in Florence, Kentucky. Its rolling hills reminded me of Pennsylvania, and I heard they swear by their bourbon in these parts. A few minutes later, Bobbie arrived, and Queenie was delighted to see her again. They had been roommates together in Guangzhou for several years, and after Bobbie left, she started an online tutoring center and offered Queenie a job in it. But I don’t think they were going to catch up on work that night. It was time to catch up on life.
The next day we visited the Creation Museum, a center started by Ken Ham, which is largely a Christian apologetic focusing on creationism. We walked around a flower garden with a river running through it and saw some kangaroos, llamas, and camels at the petting zoo (I refrained from petting the camel).
The museum focused on Creation, but also shared the Bible story from Creation to Consummation, when Jesus returns to reign on earth. We also saw a video show of the universe that shows you how small we really are in comparison to the multitudes of galaxies that exist.
Later that night we went to Newport on the Levee, a small town on the border of Kentucky and Ohio. Cincinnati was literally a stone’s throw away. Apart from the rain, it was a pleasant evening to walk around.That night I started to get chills throughout my body. Looks like one of those summer colds had found me. I only slept a few hours.
The next day we went to the Ark, a life-size replica of the boat Noah and his family made to survive a worldwide, catastrophic flood. It was immense. Nearly two football fields long and about 7 stories high. Well, they did have to bring a pair of every known animal onto it so I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised.
I was secretly hoping they might have live animals inside, but the upkeep would be demanding. And there aren’t too many dinosaurs hiding out in Kentucky these days. I found it interesting to think about how Noah and his family fed, watered, and cleaned all the animals while they were inside. That certainly would have been a full-time job. It was an impressive replica, and the builders had done well. I doubt they had too many commissions to build giant, wooden boats.
The next day we went to the Cincinnati Zoo. Today tickets were 1$ each. I hadn’t been to a zoo since my childhood, but it was always fun to see exotic animals you’d never see ever again, unless you went on a wildlife safari. There were also several musical performances such as Chinese traditional dancing and samba with a fairly skimpily dressed woman. She could gyrate quite effectively.
I was here to see the animals, but the gorillas and tigers were resting inside. It was too hot. Oddly, I did see a pack of flamingos walking along the path as if it were a daily ritual. I found the insect house quite fascinating. I’m generally not much of an insect lover, especially for ones that like to bite, pierce, and sting humans. But the sheer variety was stunning. One interesting display had leaf cutter ants crawling through a series of plastic tubes from one display to another and carrying leaves along the way.
That night we had dinner with the Longs, and then Queenie shared her story with them, mainly about out past year together. I wished I had made better choices when I was with her family, but there is time to change and learn from past mistakes. Ken talked about the importance of having godly sorrow, not just worldly sorrow, and when you need to ask forgiveness, to be specific about how you wronged someone.
You can have plenty of biblical knowledge, but if it’s not practiced in life, it’s fairly useless. I still had much to learn, and often it seemed like I made more mistakes than right choices. But I am glad for a forgiving, faithful God who convicts me of sin, picks me up when I fall, and helps me to be the spiritual leader I ought to be.
Thursday was our last full day before Bobbie and Queenie drove down to Texas. We ate lunch with Bobbie’s Chinese friend who married a Japanese husband and had two kids. We had a tasty mix of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food. It was Asian home cooking at its best.
That afternoon we went to the community pool with the kids. While Queenie practiced her strokes, I practiced spraying the kids with my water gun. Soon enough it was all the kids against me, and of course the little cheaters would run around the outside of the pool if they felt endangered. Finally we agreed on a truce, and there was peace in the pool once again.
We had dinner that night with Bobbie and her African roommate. Then we went back to the Longs’ house where we said our goodbyes. Bobbie and Queenie would leave for Texas at 6:30 in the morning, and I would meet my Korean friend. My cold had turned my voice into a raspy, throaty garble. But I did my best to say goodbye and told Queenie I expected her to be a cowgirl when she returned.
I was glad I had finally met Bobbie. She was a caring, visionary woman who used her many gifts to serve God. And she clearly loved the Chinese people and wanted to return to China in the future. Perhaps we would meet again. But if not, I’m sure she would be a blessing wherever she was.