Tent Making. Like Paul’s stay in Corinth, the Adventures of Yazoo and Huckleberry are funded by our day jobs and skills. Today was going to be partly tent making, fellowship and strategic planning.
We were headed out to start our week at an international agriculture expo. It’s amazing because when we planned our trip, we had no idea that expo would be happening in that city at that time. Yet, the timing was perfect.
Scooter snuggies are a big deal here. Yes, scooter snuggies. It was cool as we headed out into the city and there are scooters everywhere. On the cool mornings, some people have this snuggie looking thing that they wear while riding the scooter. The city has a huge lane just for scooters. Almost all of them are electric scooters. The city I was in was not smoggy at all which was a wonderful surprise. I noticed that many of the lights were LED or CFL and very nice bike paths lined the roads as well.
As we were riding out toward the expo center, I was amazed at the sheer number of people. I’d never been in such a big city. In the United States, the biggest city in terms of population I’ve ever been in is probably Houston. As I was able to start seeing around some of the buildings I noticed a huge mountain range in the distance. That’s when I looked up the elevation of the city and noticed that it was higher in elevation than Denver. I was getting excited about going up into the villages later in the week.
The expo center is on the edge of the city and out near a huge lake. The architecture was amazing and iconic. After going through security and a full car inspection, Fulmer parked underground in a multilevel parking garage and we piled out to experience the event. Luckily we were all wearing those matching polo shirts with the company logo on it.
I was able to experience so many different new vegetables, fruits, meats, flowers, eggs, nuts, and see the tools of the trade used on the farms. I enjoyed it greatly. We were also able to watch a group of ethnic minority singers perform wearing their traditional clothing. I wish I could share the pictures with you.
It may seem odd for a guy who has made his career in IT to be on a trip in a far east foreign land wearing a polo shirt with the logo of an agriculture company with three other American guys, walking around an international agriculture expo and making deals for the acquisition of pecan samples.
I’m here to tell you it’s not strange in the slightest.
Yazoo and others have started an agriculture business in this country, and they are starting out with planting pecan trees in villages. This business will hopefully one day fund itself and help pay the salaries of a few company employees who can visit the villages and make friends with peaceful residents. Friendships lead to opportunities for productive conversations.
Fulmer and Kevin had been talking to a business owner who had a pecan farm a few hours southwest of the city. All of his pecans are hand shelled and the farm is subsidized by the government to help get the pecan industry going. We were visiting the booth of this pecan farmer. I smiled and nodded while a young man talked about his product. I pointed and offered money for the shelled pecans I wanted and paid for probably a one pound bag of hand shelled pecans. It was a good price. Then the owner of the company who had been talking to Yazoo and Fulmer grabbed my money back from the young man and gave it back to me. We are building relationships for the agriculture company.
Now at the time I was buying those pecans for me to eat during the week. Because I love pecans. But, God had other plans for those pecans. After the expo, Fulmer asked to take the bag home that night and use his vacuum sealer to create smaller sample size bags to hand out to people as we told them about our company. That idea would prove to be a very useful tool over the next few days. Pecans are not a well known product in the villages of this country, because they are not a native crop. But they are a hot commodity in the bigger cities.
There’s something you should know about four guys who barely know each other driving up to a huge international expo in a far east foreign country in a city of nearly seven million people. None of them will take note of where they parked.
When we left the expo we walked backed to the parking garage and luckily we collectively remember which direction we walked from. But once we go to the garage, we couldn’t find the car for nearly an hour. And we were supposed to meet Kevin and the cousins for lunch. Kevin is our partner from this country and the business manager.
We tried using our Google location history, but that didn’t work well because we were under ground. We split up and took different rows in areas we thought looked familiar. That didn’t work. I had prayed while I was walking for God to help us find the car, but we did not find it.
“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Matthew 18:19-20 NASB
After an hour Fulmer pulled us together and we all took about thirty seconds and prayed together to find the car. We then split up and not more than five minutes later, we found the car. God is good. We just had to pull together and agree in prayer.
I already knew that God had His hand on this trip and this experience was just another confirmation of that.
Now to lunch.
It would be my first time meeting Kevin. And he would be bringing a few friends with him. Yazoo and I found out, after we reached the restaurant, that they are all part of an underground club. Kevin is employed by the company, but he is young and is excited to meet the big boss, Yazoo.
I was so excited to meet Kevin as it would be my first time meeting a club member from this country and I had heard stories about how he was risking his safety for the cause. I had prayed for him for months without ever having met him. We were especially praying for his family to hear the Word and join the club.
And one of the reasons I had for going on this trip was to teach Kevin everything I knew about building relationships and making good first impressions when going to business meetings. Tent making like Paul. I was going to use my talent to build the club.
When we arrived at the restaurant there were several unique things I learned about local culture and how food service is done in this region.
First, there is a service that picks up all the plates, glasses, chop sticks, cups and bowls during the day. The company washes it all, and returns it to the restaurant in heat sealed wrapping. I saw this in several restaurants and they must all use the same service because all the place setting looked the same including the chop sticks.
Secondly, there aren’t really serving spoons or forks most of the time. Everyone just uses their own chop sticks and grabs what they want out of the family style serving bowl.
We let Kevin order for us and everything was interesting. I recognized most of the foods but not necessarily from it sitting on a table at my house. I had all my shots and immunizations, so I dug in. And I really enjoyed it. But, I did not eat the chicken’s head. I gladly allowed the other honored guests to have that.
You’ll notice that I have a cup of tea. No, it’s not sweet. But it is good. I tried several fresh local teas while I was there. And I brought some home to use in my daughter’s tea pot.
The big plate with the steamed hand (buns?) wrapped around a bowl full of pork belly was very good. Not healthy, but very good. And we had rice at almost every meal.