Mom and my sister came to visit me during the Chinese Spring Festival. I wanted to take them to see the Great Wall, terracotta warriors and other sights of interest while they were in China, so one of my students from Xian, offered to help make arrangements for us to visit his home town. He wanted us to sleep at his home so I left the responsibility of getting local officials’ permission up to him. As with most Chinese students, he thought his family could have foreign guests, but I cautioned him to protect himself by getting documents signed by the proper authorities.
When we arrived in Xian he took us to his home to meet his family but we were not permitted to eat with them nor sleep at their home overnight. Instead we were put in a car and driven more than one hour out into the plains to an isolated factory. The strange men showed me that the factory furnace had been heated warmer than usual for their workers and lead us to a room in a small isolated guesthouse. The beds had been made with clean sheets and blankets and there was hot water. The men showed me where the toilet was and then said they would return the next morning to take us back to town.
My sister was terrified and thought we were being imprisoned. I didn’t understand what the men had in mind and knew it was strange but I didn’t want to add to her fear, so I made little of our strange accommodations. The worst of it was the bitter cold and the lack of adequate water to drink. We slept in all our clothes under the heavy cotton batting quilts and woke up early because we couldn’t sleep for the cold. Finally we had to get out of bed to be ready for the men’s arrival. They came as they said they would and I asked them to take us to a Chinese hotel which they did.
Bill offered no explanation about the odd “hospitality” but we hadn’t brought enough money to stay at a decent hotel – “decent” being 5-star in my sister’s mind. I can remember that it was warmer than the factory on the desolate plain, but still very filthy with spittle on the floors and unwashed tea cups for patrons to drink their hot water from. The drapes were filmy Dacron, stained from many rains and scanty covering for the windows, the Chinese not wasting unnecessary fabric in window or bed coverings.
This incident solidly confirmed my sister’s fear that she might never get safely back to America. As soon as we returned to Beijing she asked one of my friends with connections in the airline ticket booking office to get her a flight back to the States as soon as possible. So the day after we got to Beijing my sis left Mom behind and fled back to America!
Thankfully, Mom stayed with me for the second week of ”touristing”. She said I had been in China almost ten years and if I said it was safe, then it must be safe. I was so happy she stayed and without my sibling to always be complaining about something, Mom and I had a wonderful time.
It was months later that Bill told me the officials wanted to turn the three of us over to the police as being spies since our passports were counterfeit. I brought out my passport and we studied it carefully. The Chinese characters were plain and easily read, so we concluded that the officials must have been semiliterate, not being able to read their own language. Of course, I never told Mom or my sis how close we actually came to being turned over to the Xian police for having counterfeit documents.
I had been to Xian twice before and both times had difficulty getting back to my Chinese university because of corrupt officials in transportation and hospitality. A crime syndicate controlled hotels, train and plane tickets in and out of the city. Pay up or you don’t go. With tourism being a multimillion Yuan business, local crooks cooperated with each other for their mutual benefit. The mafia finally got too big for their britches and Beijing took notice of the embarrassment they brought to China through stranded and very angry tourists.
Mom was eager to join me in intercession and deliverance of the foreign students’ building at the university where I was teaching at the time. A German student studying Mandarin told me there were often footsteps heard in their halls and sometimes knocks at their doors. When they went to answer the door no one was there but they could hear someone running away. I did some research and discovered that the foreign students’ building was located over an ancient graveyard.
With such a long history, modern buildings are frequently erected over old cemetery ruins. Mom and I prepared ourselves by searching our hearts and confessing any sins brought to our minds then each of us took oil to the now empty dormitory to walk through the halls and stairwells, anointing doors, windows, and other openings, commanding entities to leave. When my friend and her fellow-students returned there were no more knocks on their doors or footsteps heard in the hallways.
I took Mom to a qi gong exhibition in a large park so she could see and experience the supernatural strength of practitioners of qi gong. One man held a very tall ladder on his shoulders and another man climbed it. Along with qi gong there is often a foul stench. Both men had trouble with their balance and stability and at last failed. Mom admitted that she was binding the empowering spirits as was I.
Mom’s visit is among my favorite memories in China.