Today I went for my first solo bike ride. I chose to go along the coast, to the West. I hit the Olympic sailing center, May Four Square, beaches, and scenic parks and sights all along the way. Honestly I could write an insanely long entry about all that I saw on the bike ride... but I will do you all a favor and post a link to pictures instead! You can see the whole bike ride here:http://chinaphotojournal.shutterfly.com/
As I was on an inward excursion I stopped my bike and checked the map—not because I was lost, but because I just wanted to check the intersection I was at against the map to see how far I had gone. As I was looking at the huge outstretched map, a kind stranger asked if I needed help. I waved him off, since he didn't initially understand I didn't need help when I said “I'm good”, but the act just struck me. How often would that happen in the U.S. ? Especially in a big city? How often would a stranger see an obvious foreigner, wonder if they needed help, and then offer that help in the foreigner's language? Not very often. How often would Christians offer to help? Do we have that kind of hospitality?
I think during this ride is when I have been the most aware of my foreign-ness. For someone who makes it his habit to be rather invisible, I can't help but notice the way that so many eyes rake across me and check me out. I stick out like a sore thumb, and thats all there is to it. It is an incredible burden. I am an ambassador here. An ambassador for America, but more importantly an ambassador for Christ. They assume I am Christian, and so my every move can impact their perception of Christ for good or ill. All the more reason for me to learn the culture better, so that I might represent him well in a land not my own.