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Young adults and those who enjoy reading light novels should enjoy this. A little bit of mystery, romance, and inspiring characters.
Towards the beginning of summer was when Tim's life started turning around. He had been in Qingdao two months when he discovered a big Chinese church just around the corner from where he was working. It belonged to the Three Self Movement meaning that it was monitored by the local government. While riding by on his bicycle one night the strangest urge to enter came into his mind. It was the music that attracted him. The song was vaguely familiar but it was all in Mandarin Chinese so he didn't know if he knew the song or not.
After locking up his bicycle he quietly stepped into the church so as not to disturb the evening service. The music was so beautiful and he had never heard anything like it. A Chinese man approached him and introduced himself as David (Chinese name Da Wei). “Ni hao. Wo jiao Tim” responded Tim in introduction. “Oh, you speak Chinese very well” Da Wei said in amazement. “Why thank you, or should I say xie xie” answered Tim. “This song is so beautiful. What is the name of it? I feel like I should know it but somehow don't.” “Amazing Grace.” “Oh that's right. It was my grandmother's favorite song and the last time I heard it was at her funeral service.”
Over the next few months Tim kept returning to the church and eventually met some other foreign Christians who started witnessing to him. He became a regular at the Sunday morning services which were translated from Mandarin to English. He learned the lyrics to Amazing Grace and when the church sang the song he joined in English with all his heart. It was magnificent to hear the two languages at once blending in such a way that it seemed the song was always meant to be that way. He decided early on that it was a little taste of the heaven he was learning so much about and was finding himself being drawn to. The first Sunday in August he was baptized along with three of his new Chinese Christian brothers.
Along with his new life he noticed that his old desires were slowly fading away one by one. He no longer wanted to pursue riches and fame but wanted to live a simple life and to find a good wife who loved him for himself. It was important that they share the same values and that she did not care about his riches (or lack of them). His intentions of hurting those who were to inherit his grandmother's fortune also disappeared as he continued to associate with those of the same faith. He still didn't know how to make contact with his uncle but he now lifted it up in his prayer life.
The school year ended in early July with once again busy weeks of exams and about a week of grading for the four foreign English teachers. Once finished they were all looking forward to a time of relaxing and getting to know the country they had chosen to live in for at least two years. Paul and Cindy planned a four week tour of all the major cities of China just hoping that their private Mandarin lessons with a student would be enough to carry them through. They had been preparing for months with Max. He had approached them to help with their luggage on the first day they arrived, eagerly befriending them hoping to improve his English. Since he was not in any of their classes nor would he ever be in the future (he was in his final year) they agreed to be language partners dedicating equal time to both languages. Tom left the day of turning in his final grades and returned to the US intending to spend only the final two weeks in China.
Melody was to host her college roommate from the States for two weeks and then head to Beijing by train where her friend would fly back to the US. They planned four days in Beijing together to see the sights, staying at a local hostel. She had heard from more than one student that you are not a true man (or woman) unless you have been to the Great Wall so that was a definite stop. She was looking forward to her best friend experiencing China at its best for the first time and Melody for the second. But first she excitedly awaited her friend to show her around Qingdao and the Chinese city she had come to love with its unique characteristics.
The day after she finished grading Melody ran into some students who were working during the holiday. These students were staying in Qingdao for their summer vacation on a campus that was almost completely deserted. The school paid students to work in security so some students took advantage of those opportunities to make a little extra money. There were four of them that Melody talked with that day. Jack and Rose were dating and called themselves those English names because their favorite American movie was Titanic. They thought it was romantic to choose those names. John and Mike were the other two who hadn't gone home. Since Melody didn't have any other plans she agreed to join them for dinner that night.
The five of them really enjoyed their time together and the students relished the time spent with Melody outside of the classroom. They were all in a program that was not to have foreign teachers teaching English because the school could not afford them for everyone. So, this was their one opportunity to chat with Melody and enjoy a dinner with her. It was Jack's birthday and so they had cake for dessert.
During the dinner Rose asked Melody if they could hang out more while Melody was in Qingdao and Melody agreed. “What shall we call you then?” Rose asked her bright eyes observing Melody, a slight smile on her face. Melody's mind went blank for a moment as she tried to come up with a suitable answer. “My students all called me Miss Melody but that seems a little too formal for you. I don't know what else is appropriate.” Mike then asked if “Mei Jie” was suitable but what Melody heard was “May J”. “How do you spell that?” Melody responded. “You mean in Pinyin?” “Right. I guess so.” “M-E-I J-I-E” Mike replied. “Does it have a special meaning?” was Melody's next question. John was the one to answer. “Mei means either beautiful or one of the characters for the USA and Jie means older sister so it could be interpreted as either beautiful sister or American sister.” “That's it! That's what you all will call me from now on! Thank you Jack for the beautiful nickname and the wonderful dinner!”
After dinner Melody happened to glimpse Rose with one of the tiny forks in her hand full of frosting. She was holding it in such a way that it seemed to Melody that she was teasing her and would flick that frosting towards Melody's shirt any second. Melody responded to the “test” by pretending to flick frosting back at her. From that moment on Melody regretted her action because the five of them ended up in a full-fledged frosting fight. Frosting was everywhere from the table, to the walls, to the chairs and on their clothes and faces. What a mess! The cake was ruined. It took them a full ten minutes in the bathroom to get the frosting off of just Melody's face. She couldn't recall an evening filled with more merriment and laughter than this one. A fitting evening for having just finished final exams.
The next day a very bored Melody went looking for her new friends. Tiffany was not due to arrive for three days and she was all ready for her but had nothing to do for the day. Her friends were all gone and she had finished all her work. She found Jack and they decided to play badminton in the courtyard. It was fun while it lasted but the wind hampered any progress they were making in their skills. Melody's athleticism was not doing them any favors either.
They then decided that since it was nice day and May 4th Square was within walking distance from the campus they should definitely visit the unique red sculpture. They found two others hard at work and convinced them to head to the local square after they finished their duties. The wind was too much for badminton but it was perfect for flying a kite! When they arrived they saw several others flying kites so Melody bought a kite from a kite vendor and when Mike and John joined them they flew it! Unfortunately Rose was not able to join in the fun that day.
Soon they were attracting attention from everyone around as most of the tourists had never seen a foreign woman having fun at the square with Chinese students. One person watching with interest was a photographer from the city newspaper. After watching them for about a half hour he finally approached Jack and asked them if he could photograph them and use their story in the local paper. He was to title it “Mei Jie takes her younger brothers to fly a kite”. They all agreed and tried to focus on their kite flying to make it look natural even though they were all nervous about the story. When he was done they told the photographer their story and how they were students and she was a teacher at their school. Now the title of “Mei Jie” was to be in print and they would all have their picture in tomorrow's paper!
The next day they all walked around the city together buying as many copies as they could find to give to family and friends. John was the one that saw it first pinned up on a bulletin board at a bus stop. It seemed like everyone in Qingdao stopped to look at the picture of the blonde woman flying a kite at May 4th Square. What an exciting start to their summer holiday!
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