Thursday, January 24, 2013

After shocks from Blue Monday, Terra Cotta Warriors and More!!!

"This subterranean life-size army of thousands has silently stood guard over the soul of China's first unifier for over two millennia." -- Lonely Planet: China 11th ed. May 2009, p. 423

That's an interesting theological statement, don't you think? The Lonely Planet author continues:

Panoramic view of the warriors from above. Thousands and thousands of them,
each face is unique.
"Either Qin Shi Huang was terrified of the vanquished spirits awaiting him in the afterlife, or, as most archaeologists believe, he expected his rule to continue in death as it had in life..."

Big Goose Pagoda in Xian, China January 2013
I find myself in a January slump [aftershocks from Blue Monday the most depressing day of the year?] Here's what's on my mind:

-- I'm having more trouble with the Hong Kong Immigration authorities as I try and get renewed visas for our current wonderful, dedicated Mekong area theology students, who sacrifice so much to be here.
-- I'm very unclear where all the scholarships are going to come from for the next batch of Mekong and other international students.
-- I'm not sure the material, academic, financial, and spiritual commitment to LTS Hong Kong is as strong as it needs to be if this seminary is going to build and expand upon its current unique strengths to serve the inter-cultural mission of Lutheran and evangelical churches around the world.
-- Some of my other work responsibilities seem  unfocused and diffuse as I do things like spend hours updating international mailing lists. Is this worthwhile in the interests of networking, or is this time misspent?  Hard telling.
-- I miss my family back in the USA!

Our first time in winter weather in 4 years.... on top of the
Xian city wall
So, let me attack the January blues by sharing amazing photos with you from our recent trip to Xian (huge thanks to youngest son Eric Z. Nieminen, official event photographer, who was our only kid able to visit us at Christmas this year)

Side view of the same wall... we rented bikes and rode around
the top of the whole 14 kilometers of the wall.

Did I mention it was cold??!
Also, 14 km of bumpy bricks does
a number to one's hinie.

Tomb of Emperor Jingdi

Jenny, one of our LTS alumni, accompanied us through
the tomb --- it was definitely low tourist season in China! We
practically had this amazing world-class  museum to ourselves.

Jing Di's tomb features terra cotta women and eunuchs along
with the male figures, this is one of the female cavalry.
Before we went to see the Terra Cotta Warriars, we went to a lesser known Tomb of Emperor Jingdi where fifty thousand small terracotta figures were buried, including sheep, dogs, pigs, and people. The figures had originally been clothed in real silk clothing, but the years have rotted away the coverings, exposing them as females, males, and eunuchs.

And then we went to see the actual, utterly astounding Terra Cotta Warriors, which has made Xian a destination for travelers from all over the world.
Yes these are the fake terra cotta warriors, in a little side room to the
real warriors - photographs could be taken for a small fee,
which we were happy
to pay :)
Real terra cotta warriors... over 2,000 years old.
The real ones are all tagged... and not touchable!

Xian street scene 1

Xian street scene 2

Xian street scene 3
our back up photographer (Wayne)
trying to get the perfect shot of the
Goose Pagoda
And then a true highlight of the trip, a delicious Chinese dinner with
Jenny, in her home.
The chance to spend time with Jenny, one of Wayne's students from Mainland China, was amazing. She actually waited two hours to pick us up from the airport bus at our arrival, accompanied us on several of our excursions, and topped off our Xian visit with a home cooked meal.

Seeing students/ alumni and hearing about their good memories and appreciation of their studies at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hong Kong helps make us feel it is all worth it, our work in Hong Kong. Living, breathing, loving, relationships, bonded in Christ... something that will last (we believe) much longer than even those amazing terra cotta figures.

A thousand years in your sight
    are like a day that has just gone by...

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
    establish the work of our hands for us—
    yes, establish the work of our hands.  --Psalm 90