Our visit this morning was the Shanghai Stock Exchange located across the Huangpu River in the city’s ultra-modern financial sector. We were met by our host for the visit, Mr. Jackie Liu, Senior Manager, Global Business Development, who informed us that China had two stock markets–this one in Shanghai and a second in Shenzhen outside of Hong Kong. Mr. Liu noted that today a remarkable 75% of Shanghai residents own stock.
Interestingly, the multi-story modern office block that houses the Exchange was constructed with a large rectangular hole through the entire building from perhaps the 9th through the 15th floor, done at the suggestion of the feng shui ("wind", “water") masters who reviewed building designs and considered this air passage the most favorable for financial success of the institution! We were surprised at the continued importance of feng shui in the location and design of Shanghai’s modern buildings!
When we are not working in the fields, helping Neal with his research or weeding, our time at the mission is relatively free. Over the past week I have found joy in this down time.
After a hot morning of work, a few of us walked down to the river that runs by the mission. The water is fairly shallow, but it moves quickly and is crystal clear. We explored up stream a ways and found a deeper spot that was shaded by a beautiful willow tree. We lounged there in the water for a long time, talking and cooling off. Some of us even washed our hair in the clear water and did some laundry. It was a very refreshing afternoon.
Later in the evening, we sat outside watching the sunset, the clouds and sky transition in a gorgeous aray of colors. And as soon as the sun set, stars began to appear. There was no moon and no light pollution in the valley so the night was pitch black and the stars were bright as ever. I have never seen so many stars in my life! I was completely mesmerized by the night sky and spent a long time watching the stars move across the sky before going to bed.
Here in Lesotho, I feel much more connected with my environment. Everything we do here relates to the land: We work in the fields, we eat the tomatoes and apples from the mission gardens, even our recreation is centered around the landscape. And when so much of one’s life is focused on the surrounding land, one feels a much deeper sense of gratitude to the earth and to the Creator. This is something I feel very strongly here in Lesotho.
Our business visit this morning took us eastward across the Huangpu River on a 45-minute drive to Pudong’s business district. Of Shanghai’s 23 million residents, about 13 mn live west of the river (Puxi) and 10 mn on the eastern side (Pudong). Travel across the river is now facilitated by 7 tunnels and 6 bridges! Enroute, our local guide Jack noted that 25 years ago Pudong was largely vegetable gardens and pig farms. Today this highly-developed area challenges Hong Kong as the financial center of East Asia.
Our destination, International Exhibition and Trading Center of Wine and Beverages, is where we met Wanny Zhang, who was to describe in general terms the work of this state-owned business. In the most general terms, the objective of the center, established in 2008 and now comprising some 80 members worldwide, is to help foreign distilleries and breweries access the Chinese market—a market that has grown in the last few years by a remarkable 50% annually.
On Thursday January 12, Neal, Bill, 5 other students and I traveled up the valley to set up research plots on some fields there. We drove in as far as we could and then hiked in 4.5 miles to a village where several famers live. It is located where the two mountain ranges in our area meet. The amazing view made the long hike worth it.
We split up into two groups and set up plots on different fields. When we returned to the village some of the women had prepared hot tea and steamed bread for us. It provided us with much needed energy to finish our work.
We were very hot and tired on the hike back, but it started raining for a while which was very refreshing. After the rain, we saw a huge full double rainbow. It was so beautiful with the mountains in the background. Bill enjoyed a horseback ride the whole way back.
When we returned to Maphutseng, the rest of the group had prepared a celebration for Bill’s birthday which was that day. We had cookies and sang Happy Birthday. It was a great day!
In Maphutseng, we have been staying at the Growing Nations Training Center. While here, we have spent most of our mornings out in the fields. We like working from 6am to 1pm best because then we get our afternoons and evenings off. The work that the majority of us have done consists of working with tomato, carrot, and beet root plants.
The first couple of days we worked on the tomatoes, planting poles, wiring, weeding, and mulching. After finishing those, we moved on to the carrots and beets. We hand weeded and hoed this section. A lot of the work we did was simple and the same each day. It was just hard because we have traveled from Kansas weather to Lesotho weather (85 degrees), and we work in the sun constantly. However, this work did allow for us to have conversations with those around us, getting to know each other better, and it even allowed time for self reflection.
At the beginning of our time here, the fields we worked on seemed daunting. But by working together everyday, we were able to finally finish this task.
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