Sharing: The Second Month of Mandarin Study

After two months of reading and writing classes, we learned 33 lessons. There are around 10 new words in “Pinyin” and “Hanzi” for each lesson. We also learned the stroke orders and grammar. There are 6 basic strokes e.g. vertical and horizontal and also 16 compound strokes e.g. horizontal-hook, right-slash-hook and horizontal-vertical-hook. I usually write the new words down 20 times in an exercise book, memorize it by writing it in the magnetic board in the same day of the class and the next day before the class. I usually thought that I knew all the new words before the dictation. Then, during the dictations, I was not sure how to write the strokes or forgot all the strokes even though I wrote it down a few minutes before the dictation. When the teacher returned the dictation, I found out that I added a stroke, wrote it too small or short e.g. the seventh stroke of 起 should be until under 己. The dictation helped me to find out the correct way to write. We had a midterm exam on Nov 16 and my mark was 94.
In conversation classes, we learned 60 sentences related to greetings: how do you do, how is your health, and are you busy with your work; make acquaintances: may I know your name, let me introduce…, and when is your birthday; and make inquiries: how many people are there in your family, what time is it? where do you live? where is the post office? We had a midterm exam on Nov 16 but the teacher didn’t give the result except for the best two students. After the midterm exam, she said I have good number of new words but I should practice to pronounce j,q,x, 3rd tone and 4th tone.
In listening classes, we learned 11 lessons including listening dialogues and answering the questions relate to the dialogue. We had midterm exam on Nov 19 and my mark was 94.
In “Hanzi” class, we learned to write around 130 words. Several words weren’t new words as I learned it in reading and writing class.
The optional classes in Chinese dishes on Tuesdays and Chinese tourism places on Fridays are for the intermediate students, I came only once. I attended Chinese Corner about Traditional Chinese Wedding, Chinese Games, and Ghost.
I attend optional class in pronounciation on Thursdays 12.55 p.m. – 2.15 p.m. The teacher recorded our pronounciation on our first day and gave written review on it: should learn more in pronouncing sh, ch, zh, s, c, z, 3rd tone and 4th tone. I usually should repeat several times in pronouncing the 4th tone. She gave a voice and written copy of the words so I use my pink Ipod to listen it. One of my classmates suggests me to learn to be angry to pronounce the 4th tone correctly.
During our regional meeting in Hong Kong on Oct 17, I shared about my first month in Guangzhou including a short conversation in Mandarin.
My class had an outing to play bowling on Oct 19. I tried to throw the ball several times without changing my shoes as I didn’t intend to play. I got the prize as the funniest player several years ago because I always threw the ball outside the lane.
Li Fei, Kala and I visited 5 goats statue in Yue Xiu Park on Oct 23. We met several students of South Normal China University so we tried to speak in Chinese and they tried to speak in English including offering to be guide to several places in Guangzhou. It’s a very big park and we couldn’t find the Ming Dinasty wall even though we asked several persons.
There is an Indonesian mass and confession. I was moved to see the students stood by along the way from subway station to the chapel to give direction. We had a prayer group together for three universities followed by touring around “Daxuecheng” (universities compound).
There was “tian ji” ( competition in our school on Oct 30. Our class was representated by Vietnamese students and we were the third winner. As we got prize RMB 100.00, we had a party in the class.
We didn’t have classes on Nov 12 due to the opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games. Unfortunately, I got cold upon arriving from Hong Kong on Nov 11. I had bed rest whole day and watched the opening ceremony through TV for a while. Our north gate campus was one of the opening ceremony venues as it is in front of the Pearl River. I could see the fireworks from my balcony. One of the Indonesians offered to watch synchronized swimming as she got free tickets on Nov 20. We arrived lately at Foshan Aquatics Centre as it took 2.5 hours trip instead of one hour. There is a booth in cathedral during the Asian Games to help visitors. Catholicism was introduced to Guangzhou during the late of Ming Dynasty. The foundation of the cathedral was laid on June 18, 1863, the day of the Feast of the Sacred Heart. It is aso called “Shishi” (Stone House) Cathedral. The cathedral was finished in 1888. It covers an area of 2,754 m2, 35 meters wide, 78.69 meters long, 58.50 meters high (towers). The capable of eating is 1,800 visitors. The Guangzhou Municipal People’s Government allocated a special fund (more than 19 million RMB) and the Church raised 3 million RMB for the restoration.
I was moved during my first weekday Mass as I realized how God prepares it. Later on, I hear an Mass on Wednesdays.
One day before my listening midterm exam, I heard that an Indonesian patient was brought to ICU as she was in comma. I planned to visit her on previous Friday with the Indonesian students but I got cold. The translator said that she couldn’t be visited but I decided to visit after the class to accompany the family. The nurse allowed me to go inside ICU by wearing mask and slipper. She is sleeping and her condition wasn’t stabil yet. Her husband and I prayed together. I was laying my hand upon her forehead. She woke up and asked to sit for a moment in the middle of our prayer. After praying, one of the translators said the doctor asked not pray too long as her leukocyte was low. Later on, I was alone outside the ICU for a while and saw she was talking to her husband so I asked her condition to the nurse who brought in the medicine. She said that she didn’t know as she wasn’t the nurse at ICU. Then she placed her both hands in front of her chest, bowed her head, said “Jesu” (=Jesus) and “Qilai” (=wake up). I was not sure what she wanted to say, “you prayed to Jesus to make her wake up” or “you prayed to Jesus and she is waking up” so I said “Tian Zhu” (=God) and made a sign of a cross. I didn’t know whether she was in ICU while we were praying or she heard that we were praying over her.

If you are living in communion with God, if you know you are the loved, and if you make yourself available for service, you cannot do other than minister. Ministry is the overflow of your love for God and others. Ministry is when two people toast their glasses of wine and something splashes over. Ministry is extra. (Henry Nouwen)

Guangzhou, Nov 24, 2010

Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible
P.S. The patient moved out from ICU ten days later with higher leucocyte.

Sharing: My personal call on a vital issue

One of the prophetic words spoken at the Life in the Spirit Retreat asked for repentence for two mothers who aborted their unborn babies. Later on, one of my roommates, a mother, shared that she sobbed when the Sister spoke about repentance for abortion. She aborted her unborn baby. Her youngest son became naughty recently and it might be happened because her unborn baby wanted attention from the family through her youngest son.
After that, I heard several stories related to post-abortion experiences. I know abortion implies an automatic excommunication from the Catholic Church. As I live in the United States, I started to think that, even though abortion is legalized, a mother will not abort her unborn baby if she has the conviction that it kills a human life. A woman has a right to decide whether she wants to carry her unborn baby or not.
During our silent retreat with the St. Joseph Sisters in La Grange Park, IL, last year, I wished to listen to the Holy Spirit, and I planned to write a reflection about the second week of Advent for the Indonesian Catholic community in Chicago. I also wanted to continue reading Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Merton.

After our opening prayer of the retreat, I saw a book, Ending Abortion by Fr. Frank Pavone. The book was in a closed position. I decided to read it on the second and third days, so I didn’t finish the reflection. I believe that reading the Pavone book was the inspiration from the Holy Spirit. I checked several materials on the Internet, including a video of “Silent Scream” on youtube.
I started to read several pro-life materials from the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops for Respect for Life Sunday in 2008. I also decided to be a helpline volunteer at Aid for Women, a pregnancy resource center in Chicago.
I observed for one month, attended a one-day training, and had several video trainings. The center provides free pregnancy tests and information on pregnancy and alternatives to abortion, including adoption. The helpline also gives information on sexually transmitted diseases, RU486 (the morning-after pill), and assistance in obtaining pre-natal care, natural family planning, layettes, diapers and infant clothing, and more.
Later on, I read more pro-life material, including Why Pro-Life? by Randy Alcorn. I also asked for a booklet called, “Sharing the Pro-Life Message,” from the Pro-Life Action League, and I have been sharing about this free booklet with my friends.
So what is the pro-life message? At its most basic level, the pro-life message is: “an unborn child is a human person whose life has value and deserves to be protected by our society” (Sharing the Pro-Life Message, p 2). They also want to share “how abortion harms women–and men” (Sharing the Pro-Life Message, p 2).
According to Bishop Terry Steib, SVD, “if we say that we believe in life, then we must be opposed to abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, economic injustice, racism, euthanasia and unjust wars; and we must embrace the universe in which we live and which is the source of life to so much of what is important to us.”
According to the Guttmacher Institute, there were 1.21 million abortions performed in the United States in 2005, which means 3,315 abortions per day (Sharing the Pro-Life Message, p 18). As I shared my transformation with an Indonesian friend, I just realized that I am called to be a pro-lifer without any affiliation with a political party. I just do it as my personal call.
I thank President Barack Obama as his view on abortion brings light to my own value about abortion. When I pray the rosary, I pray one decade for the ending of abortion and the death penalty. I don’t know when it will happen.
I also join the Mother of Light Intercessory Prayer at Holy Rosary Church in Hawthorne, NY, as part of my commitment to be a pro-lifer.

– Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.

Re-posting from Maryknoll Sisters Formation House Blog:

Sharing: A Conviction

I met Chandra on the first day I arrived in Chicago. She helped to bring my luggage in. She used to come to ask for money and still does. One night, almost midnight, she came to look for one of my sisters and I said that she was not at home through the door and let her go away. I never talked with her personally.
One day she came to look for one of my sisters while we were having a party. I did not know what should I do, let her in or let her stand outside. I did not want to be looked as a cruel person by leaving her outside. Finally, I let her stand outside while waiting.
As Chandra wished to work, I tried to look for job possibilities from the social worker at University of Chicago Hospital but they only dealt with health. McDonald’s had various positions through online application but I did not know whether she can use a computer or not. I asked God to give me the ability to help the one who encounters me.
Chandra came on Oct 14 to look for one of my sisters to ask to clean the leaves. She needed bus fare for her doctor appointment in the afternoon, she had missed her morning appointment already. I said the sisters were away and would be back on Sunday. She walked away from our door, then I asked her “How are you?” so she walked back and she started to share her story by the stairs in front of the kitchen while showing her appointment letters. She has cervical cancer and bipolar disorder, has 8th grade education, has five children: the eldest died, three children live with her father but she does not know where they are, and the youngest 19 months usually stays with her neighbor who has a grandson. I asked her “do you smoke/use drugs/sell yourself?” and she said she smokes sometimes, doesn’t use drugs even if she would like to do it, doesn’t sell herself/prostitute. She should have another health appointment on Oct 16 at Michigan Ave for SSI. I read the letter but I couldn’t remember who the sender was. There were three envelopes with the same logo. She will have radiation because the medicine for the cancer is not effective anymore. She was raped in Sep. She already tried to get money – for around four hours that morning but nobody wanted to give her a job and she did not know where to go to get money. She was desperate but she answered all my questions and sometimes explained something e.g. bipolar clearly. She was fired from McDonald’s. She tried to apply for jobs (including McDonald, restaurants, etc) but they did not want to accept her because her teeth are not in good condition, she showed me her teeth too. I offered to pray for her and she said she got all the prayer that she might need. I said that I was sorry that I could not help her even though I was tempted to have her rake the leaves but I could only give her a transit card $ 6.00. I asked her not to sell herself or do anything criminal. She said “thank you sister” and then left. She was in tears when she said she was desperate and raped.
Two days later, she came and informed that she re-scheduled her appointment to Oct 17 because she could not make it on Oct 16. I read the two appointment letters with the psychiatrist and the internist on Oct 16 and 18. She also needed a stamp and an envelope to return the transport reimbursement form concerning her health appointment. For this, she should meet the psychiatrist and internist. We talked in front of the kitchen. I was shaking because it was so cold. I picked up an envelope, USD. 0.42 stamp and transit card around USD. 4.00 from my community.
She came again several days before Halloween with trick or treat box for Unicef when my sister and I had our supper. She asked to come in because it was so cold and also asked for food. I gave the pennies we had and she opened the box to put the money. She kissed my cheek before left. She said she would send the letter for transport reimbursement the next day.
She came with her son on Oct 30 to ask for money to buy McDonald’s food (nugget and apple pie) and pampers for her son. I held her son for a while but he started to cry so I gave him back to her. She said she sent the letter for transport reimbursement and still waits the result. Since she really needed the money so I gave USD. 20.00 from my community as downpayment for cleaning the leaves and would pay the balance USD. 5.00 later. She gave the money to her son and then her son gave it back to me so she took the money back from me quickly. She would take care of her son so she would do it around 7 p.m. I asked her to come the next morning so she could clean it well. She agreed to do it the next day but she did not come yet. I left a message at her cellphone to keep her promise.
According to Mr. Leonard, he knew Chandra around 20 years ago as a street girl and helps her including giving her jobs, she is smart, catholic, read the Bible, has to take a lot of medication, can drive, can do simple paperwork but has to be supervised. He gave the phone to Chandra so I asked her to keep her promise. She came to get the balance payment and did not clean yet because it was raining.
At first, I did not pay attention to Chandra personally even though I know her presents. Gradually, I reach out to her by trying not to judge her attitude, looking for job possibilities, and talking personally. She is somebody who needs help even though I do not know exactly what I should do to help her. She reached out to me by sharing her life story, explaining her answers and kissing my cheek.
There are suggestions not to give food to somebody else to avoid any problem in the future and not to give money to beggars to prevent them from buying drugs/alcohol. I do not know where my stand is. It is not easy to decide to give or not to give money, to let her in or let her stand outside, to call or not to call her to keep her promise. I prefer to give a job so she has a little income from her own work, I let her in only when she asked, and I decided to call her because I wanted her to keep her promise. It is a transformative moment for me as I started to act out as my own conviction.

Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.

Re-posting from Maryknoll Sisters Formation House Blog:

Sharing: When there is a will...

While in Chicago, I discussed with our ministry of care coordinator the possibility of accompanying a Eucharistic minister in prayer on patient visits at the University of Chicago Hospital (UoCH). They didn’t have this ministry, so she agreed to try it. As her suggestion, I attended the Ministry of Care training, including a presentation about “Sacramental Theology and the Expanding Role of the Laity.”
I also attended an orientation and medical check-up at the hospital as advised. I was also asked to have a tuberculin skin test and a urine drug screen after the orientation. My tuberculin skin test came up positive, but my chest x-ray showed no evidence of active disease. I received clearance on the medical issue.
Unfortunately, I was told that I couldn’t accompany the Eucharistic minister during patient visits. My eyes were in tears when I left the hospital. I only could say “God, I don’t understand, God, I don’t understand.”
After that, I felt relief, and I did not want to cry again. Even though I still did not understand the meaning of my TB skin test, which was not necessary but brought me to a recommendation to have nine months of Isoniazid (INH) treatment, I understood that God is with me.
I asked the parish ministry coordinator if I could visit homebound patients. That didn’t quite work out either, as there’s no schedule for such visits. That’s when I started my weekly ministry at Bonaventure House, a transitional living recovery home for adult men and women with HIV/AIDS who are homeless or at risk for homelessness. We help them to rebuild and reclaim their lives.
Since I still had a valid UoCH ID, I checked the hospital’s website for the possibility of being a patient volunteer. Fortunately, I could serve through the hospital’s Office of Community Affairs/Volunteer Services. I wanted to visit patients and ask whether they needed some help. I started this ministry while I continued my service at Bonaventure House.
I usually brought magazines in a cart and offered it from room to room on the fifth floor. Some patients would take the magazines, while others asked the price. Some patients didn’t want to read, but it helped me to start a conversation and then to have longer conversations with the patients, including asking how long was their hospital stay, their particular illness, and how they were feeling at the time.
Sometimes, patients needed help in getting water for a drink or a bath. I also offered to pray by laying my hand on them. Some patients were thankful for the prayers, and some patients didn’t want it. I started to pray whenever and wherever somebody asked for it. I even prayed on the street, in the train, and in front of Church.
My passion for healing prayer encouraged the members of the St. Thomas of the Apostle Charismatic Prayer Group to ask me to organize our Healing Prayer Study Group. We listened to the CDs from the school weekly.
I talked with Harriet, who is a Eucharistic minister, about visiting our friends who were sick in the hospital. We went by ourselves to share. The daughter of our friend needed a prayer, and we decided to visit them. I didn’t think that Harriet would bring Holy Communion, even though I knew that she was a Eucharistic ministers.
We talked again about the possibility of visiting patients at UoCH together, as Harriet usually brings Holy Communion weekly. Finally, we decided to do it before the University of Chicago Hospital’s 69th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet. The hospital asked us not to visit the patients due to Swine Flu. And we never did again before I left Chicago.
I never thought that I would start a prayer team with Harriet in the last month of my orientation training in Chicago, which was my wish for my first ministry in the fall of 2007. I had waited almost two years just to become part of a prayer team with a Eucharistic minister.
I learned to be patient and not to be discouraged when I had a failure or faced an objection. There is meaning in every moment of my life. As St. Paul said, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8: 28).”

— Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.

Re-posting from Maryknoll Sisters Formation House Blog

Sharing: In Memory of Sr. Joan Ling, MM

Sr. Maureen sent an email on Oct 29 that Sr. Joan Ling was hospitalized since Oct 26 due to renal failure. The next morning around 9.00 a.m., Sr. Joseph Lourdes called and asked to pray as Sr. Joan Ling got a stroke on Oct 29 night. I prayed for her to ask the grace to let go and let God to control her life before going to watch our “ti jian” competition on the courtyard near our dormitory. After watching the competition, around 11.30 a.m., I wanted to pray for her over the phone but Sr. Joan Ling’s cellphone was not active and the telephone of Boundary was busy. Finally, I called Sr. Maureen’s cellphone and received the news that Sr. Joan Ling passed away on 9.32 a.m.
I met Sr. Joan Ling first time at Maryknoll Sisters Center last summer 2009. Sr. Betty Ann and she gave a very good presentation about China region as part of our discernment process. Later on, I had lunch with her and she gave a pink bracelet, which I still wear now, for my birthday.
Living around four months with her in Boundary was a short time but it gave me an impression of her quietness as I read the emails from our sisters. I was in tears when I read email from Sr. Ann Hayden about her.
I had a long conversation with her about Church in China including her experience in going back for the first time after the opening of China. I think she did quietly what she thought it should be done including cutting the watermelon on weekend or planning to cook a vegetable dish for my father’s memorial mass. Once, she consoled me by suggesting not to be worry for somebody else attitude. She also said that I will be fine with the Mandarin.
I was moved when we walked quietly on our way to visit her friend in a nursing home at Yau Ma Tei. We planned to take pictures of her ministry as the request of Sr. Dolores Geier.
We planned to see the dragon boat race but she should go to mainland China so she asked Sharon to accompany me to see it.
When I asked what she wanted for her feastday last May, she said she wanted nothing. Finally, I decided to cook fried noodle as noodle is a Chinese birthday tradition. It’s a simple quiet celebration.
May you rest in peace, Sr. Joan Ling. It’s a blessing to live with you even in a short time and in your quietness.

Guangzhou, Nov 7, 2010

Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible

P.S. The Obituary of Sr. Joan Ling, MM can be read at