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Bullet (so nicknamed as a child because he was famous for his 100 meter dash times and soccer skills) has worked with my father for many years.  He has quite a remarkable life story but it’s not my story to share. Suffices to say that through updates relayed through my dad I have alternately mourned and rejoiced in my heart for Bullet multiple times over the years. Given the pattern of my life in the last ten years it is probably safe to say he has done the same for me.

Feeling (and I’m sure looking!) bedraggled, jetlagged, and still slightly queasy from the boat ride from Hong Kong, I was the first of our group to emerge through customs in China. I’m quite certain I looked as dazed as I felt but heard a voice say “Are you from the Orange Lutheran group?” I turned to see who was speaking and as my eyes slowly focused they soon grew wide with recognition. I’d seen this man in pictures many times before.

“Bullet!?” I asked and exclaimed at the same time. I don’t know why I was so surprised to see him. I knew he would be joining us once we reached China. Meeting him in person was one of the things I was most excited about for this trip. I think in my jet-lagged stupor I had neglected to realize this would be our meeting point.

Recognition came over his face as he registered who I was. “Are you Sarah?” he asked.

“Yes!”

I don’t know what the protocol is for meeting someone for the first time that you’ve “known” for 12 years or more, but it seems to me that handshaking is for strangers. I instinctively threw my arms around a mildly surprised Bullet in a hug that was 12 years in coming.

“It’s so wonderful to finally meet you in person! I feel like you are family already!” I told him.

He looked at me and responded, “Well, we are actually family. We are family in Christ.” 

A smile spread across my face as I nodded my head. “Yes we are.”

Then our attention was turned to the students who had begun to pour out of customs looking every bit as tired and road-weary as I had moments before.

“You are our honored guest here in China,” he told me later. “If there is anything you need, you let Bullet know.” Throughout the trip I was certainly looked after as though I had both my dad and my big brother to take care of me. I even have a treasured souvenir that will always make me think of Bullet.

As we ate our decadent Peking Duck dinner on our last night in Beijing we were looking at the bamboo steamers the restaurant used to steam their pancakes. I mentioned I had one at home that I loved and used all the time, however I had recently dropped it and it cracked. Someone offered a suggestion of where I could find a replacement in the states.  Bullet looked at me “Would you like one from the restaurant?” he asked.

I laughed “They’re not going to just give us their bamboo steamers!” I replied. I’ll admit I was amused at the thought.

But it was Bullet that now had the amused look on his face. He placed his hand on my arm and gave me a knowing look “You trust in Bullet” he said with a nod and a half smile.

After dinner Bullet and my dad were the last to exit the restaurant. Bullet carried a take out bag, and inside of it? Two bamboo steamer baskets.

I’m torn as to whether I should actually use them or keep them on display in our home. Maybe both. 🙂

And that is the story of how I met my “da ge” (big brother) for the first time, and how I came to be in possession of Bamboo steamer baskets from one of Beijing’s oldest and most famous restaurants. Thank you for a most amazing trip Bullet!

In Tiananmen Square:The Jump Shot: In front of The Temple of Heaven

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