One o’clock rolls around, and what had previously filled the table – a feast of chicken, beef, sweet rice, special bread, and stir-fried vegetables – now fills our bellies. As I begin standing up from the table, my Chinese grandmother, a sweet Hui lady in her late 70’s, tells me, “Don’t you run away now; we still have to wrap the dumplings. You are staying to wrap the dumplings, aren’t you?” Her question leaves room only for a Yes.
I met my Hui Chinese friend through a mutual friend, and it didn’t take long at all for me to discover she lives in the same building I do and also owns a nearby restaurant that I visit pretty often. Our friendship started out with me asking her if she’d like to come over to have tea (because why else would one invite a stranger over?), and from there we progressed into a sort of “language exchange.”
She was adamant about there being a difference between us; whatever I said or showed her to read that had to do with Jesus, she responded with something like the above.
We had other conversation, some of which was about what she does during the day. After thinking and then listing off some things, she said, “Maybe I am not a good Muslim.”
I had never seen Friday prayers at a mosque before. On our way back from a trip to another city, we decided to stop and watch as the men assembled for worship.
It was a cold, cloudy afternoon, eerily quiet, the square almost void of people. A few minutes passed as I wandered around in front of the intricately decorated mosque, looking at the buildings and attempting but not succeeding to read the characters written on the walls.
Buddhist jewelry, short-shorts and neighborhood bars. These are typically not the first things that pop into one’s mind when thinking of Muslims. I live in a city with mostly Han people and roughly thirty percent Hui people. Despite the people group categorization, at first glance it can be difficult to differentiate the Hui from their Han neighbors. Traditionally, the Hui people have a distinct culture that can be characterized from the outside by their clothing and lifestyle choices. However, cultural lines between the Han and the Hui are becoming more and more blurred.
Storytelling has been around for generations uncountable. It spans countries, cultures, and people groups. It’s a major component in the lives of people from oral cultures, and it sneaks its way into the everyday lives of people from written cultures as well.