"There is nothing wrong with that. It is just how they do things in China. Not wrong, just different." I have been saying that to Mateo a lot since we arrived. Driving is different. Food is different. Eating is different. The water is different. The bathrooms are different. People are different. Life is different. Not wrong, just different.
Mateo has been taking it all in - as much as a six year old can. It has been fun watching him on this trip. Today, though, was different for him ...Our tour stopped at a famous buddhist temple. When we entered the compound, Mateo was very concerned that there were false gods there. He watched as people lit incense and bowed before all the different buddhas. He kept asking why we weren't smashing the idols (like God told the Israelites to do). He asked why the people didn't know the true God. Definitely not just different. Then Mateo saw this ...
His face changed. I wish I had a picture. It was his 'I am so concerned that I am about to cry' face. He had tears starting in his eyes, and he yanked me down to his level. "Why don't they know about the true God? I don't like that they are worshiping idols! Why are they worshiping false gods? I don't like that they don't know the True God?" How do you explain to a six year old that this is not just different? I put my arm around him and explained that the people have been lied to, that satan has lied to them and tricked them into thinking that the statues are gods, that they don't know the truth and someone needs to tell them the truth. He has read about people worshiping idols, and we have talked about it. This was his first experience seeing real people worshiping a false god. I half expected him to go up to some people and talk to them about the Truth.
While I was explaining this to Mateo, Ershu was outside asking Maria and our guide, "Why pray to buddha?" While in Chengdu, she learned about praying, and that our family prays. She caught on quickly, and even motions to pray before we eat. Our guide didn't say much. How would you explain praying - especially if you don't pray or believe in it? Maria was on top of it, and she did a great job. Through our guide she
told Ershu about Jesus and that we pray to Jesus, not an idol, not
I am so happy that Mateo knows some things are wrong, not just different. I am looking forward to helping Hannah Ershu see the difference, too.
I couldn't help but notice that our guide was quite cynical when explaining the lifestyle of buddhist monks. "They live a simple life. No marriage. Vegetarian diet. No passion. No desire. But really, it is like a job. After an 8-hour day at the temple, it is 'see you at McDonald's or Starbucks.' So they really are not practicing what they believe." I wonder what he thought about Hannah Ershu's question and Maria's response. I wonder if he sees a difference.