Sharing: Where will I study Mandarin?

As I got the assignment to China region, I received several questions e.g.: “Where will you stay in (mainland) China?” “What language will you study? (as I informed that I would go to Hong Kong),” “What will you do?” “When will you go to (mainland) China?” I only can answer one question that I will study Mandarin. I usually inform that our China region is including mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau as for many Indonesians, China means mainland China.
When I was in USA, I saw the only possibility to study mandarin in mainland China is in Nanjing as there is Sr. Marjorie. My hope was getting bigger as one of my sisters submitted the transfer request to China region.
I saw a sign to study at Dr. Sun Yat-sen University Guangzhou when Sr. Maureen gave 2 brochures at first (Chinese University of Hong Kong and Dr. Sun Yat-sen University) instead of 4 brochures (Nanjing University and The Beijing center) as she said previously. I read the 4 brochures.
On my first meeting with our regional coordinators Srs. Maureen and Annie, Sr. Maureen encouraged me to study in mainland China but also informed that Sr. Marjorie will not continue her contract this year. I expressed my preference to study in mainland China as the ambiance and network but I also concern about community.
Several Indonesians learn mandarin in mainland China including my youngest sister and my cousin. In June 2009, my parents asked me to study mandarin in Xiamen (as there are our extended families) instead of to be a sister and I know I will never say yes to them.
I listened to several opinions regarding language study, community and ministry from my sisters and friends. I also pay attention to the readings and events. Several times I was tense if it’s about language study. I know it’s not an easy decision to make.
I saw another sign when my sister expressed her interest to study mandarin in mainland China. Meeting with several Indonesian students from Guangzhou during Easter Sunday was another sign.
There were several quotations from The Diaries of the Maryknoll Sisters in Hong Kong, 1921-1966 by Cindy Yik-Yi Chu which struk me. “Until 1952, when the Maryknoll Sisters left the new China, under Communist control, they still had dreams for missions in the mainland: after all, China was the center of attention of Maryknoll since it was established early in the twentieth century...nevertheless, the need to study the Chinese language and culture before heading to China was so great that a permanent house in Hong Kong, on the doorstep of the interior, was necessary. Besides, the house in Hong Kong would serve as a “procure” for missioners in China.” (p. 196, 203).
I still think that there are at least two sisters in a community of religious sisters. In the early days of Maryknoll Sisters in China, “Instead of living in a mission compound, Maryknoll Sisters were sent into the villages in twos. Their convent was actually a rented part of a peasant home, usually one or two rooms, from which the Sisters would go out to other villages. While one stayed at the “convent” to provide religious instruction for those in the area, the other travelled with a Chinese woman catechist to preach the Good News, walking four, five, sometimes thirty miles a day to meet with Chinese woman in outlying regions. On her return the other Sister went out.” (Hearts on Fire: The Story of the Maryknoll Sisters by Penny Lernoux, p.65). Jesus also appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. (Luc 10: 1). I used to be asked to go by twos for the assignment from the school of evangelization.
And then I found this quotation “While it remains true that we will never know what community is if we never come together in one place, community does not necessarily mean being physically together. We can well live in community while being physically alone...Thus the discipline of community frees us to go wherever the Spirit gives us, even to places we would rather not go.” (The only Necessary Thing: Living a prayerful life by Henri Nouwen p.132). I was starting to reflect on the question: is it including “...even to places we would rather not go alone as a sister?”
I got China tourist visa double entries for HKD 220.00 instead of multiple entries (HKD 400.00) valid for 6 months even though I have Hong Kong ID as I couldn’t show my old passport with the China visa.
Sr. Maureen gave the application form of Dr. Sun Yat-sen University. I filled it with the hope that our Congregational Leadership Team (CLT) would approve the transfer request before I register.
As Sr. Maureen and I will visit Dr. Sun Yat-sen University on Apr 16, I only could pray that our CLT would make a decision about the transfer request on their Tuesdays meeting on Apr 13.
I was moved when I read the email from Sr. Maureen on Apr 15 regarding the approval of the transfer from Sr. Becky. Thanks be to God.
As I asked myself, is it God’s will to study mandarin in mainland China as I may live alone? The reading on Apr 16 struk me: "So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God." (Acts 5: 38-39).
Sr. Maureen and I went to Kowloon Tong MTR station to take the MTR to Lo Wu. I swiped my Hong Kong ID and put my thumb on the machines without showing my passport to exit Hong Kong and then walked to see immigration officer at Shenzhen. We went by train around one hour to Guangzhou East Station and by MTR (three trains for 2-3 stops each train) to Dr. Sun Yat-sen University South Campus. We arrived at 12.30 p.m. and as the office would open on 2.30 p.m. , we had lunch and went around the campus. It’s a very big campus, have two lanes for bus, so many trees and The Xing pavilion which is similar with the place for Our Lady of Maryknoll in Maryknoll Society New York. While walking, there was a Chinese guy asked about direction to in Mandarin and maybe he was confused as I didn’t understand his question even though I have a Chinese looking face and Sr. Maureen answered it in Mandarin even though she has a Western looking face. There are 25 seats in the classroom but all the classes are not full. We submitted the application form for Mandarin Course ( They will send a letter for further details including the paperwork for the student visa. All payment including the registration fee will be done in Sept. We should come to see and book the dormitory in the end of July when the students leave it. A student from Turkey gave information about the schedules and total students per class will be around 20 students and also gave a recommendation for this school.
I should show my Hong Kong ID and passport as I entered Hong Kong. It took around 4 - 4.5 hours from home to school as there were so many passengers along the way.
I am so grateful to my sisters in China region for their effort to open the possibility to learn mandarin in mainland China and their full support in my discernment on the school to learn Mandarin.
Thank you very much for your prayers during my discernment on the language study. Again, God prepares the way so I can learn mandarin in mainland China.
Kowloon Tong-Hong Kong, April 17, 2010
Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible