Mark 16:17-18 “ And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (NIV)
After a 3.5-hour cruise the Li River, we visited one of the smaller Meio villages. In the village, our guide explained that 20 km away from the village, twenty percent of the villagers are over 100 years old! They take a shower three times in their life: birth, marriage, and death. The home we visited was very large by Chinese standards and thirteen generations had lived there.
The villagers capture poisonous snakes and scorpions and place them in large glass jars with rice wine. They drink a bit of the special wine everyday and it keeps their body temperature warm and their “humidity” low. I am not sure what the translation was supposed to be. We saw two large glass jars with snakes wrapped inside, one new light colored and one fermented to amber. They had Mao posters and an abacus, chickens in the back yard, and the son was making tofu on a stone wheel.
The 80-year-old matriarch was washing cilantro in an outdoor pump when we arrived. She was squatted down on her hips like a 20 year old. She was proud to show us her coffin, which resides in her kitchen. After the age of 60, the family buys coffins for their elders so they can know they will not be buried in the ground. Her husband had died two years ago, so they stacked the two coffins until one was needed.
What do you do when you see a snake? How would you react to a coffin in your kitchen? What is awaiting you after death?