Sharing: First Christmas in Guangzhou

As my Christmas letter, our class sang “Silent Night” in English, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Chinese for New Year Celebration at school. The Vietnamese learned to sing it in Indonesian so quickly as we decided to add more voices. There are only three Indonesians and I am not good in singing. At first we wanted to sing Dui Mian de Nv Hai Kan Guo Lai but we found out during rehearsal time that another class would sing the same song so we decided to change it.
I was in tears when I read the reading of morning prayer on Dec 23 from the People’s Companion to the Breviary: “The presentiment that God is not only the Most High, but also the Omnipresent…” God presents so real for me amidst the voices “I don’t believe in God/anything.” Listening to Silent Night in Vietnamese in the next morning made me in tears again.
Soon after my afternoon class on Dec 24, I went to Cathedral by bus. I arrived around 7.10 p.m. and there were a lot of people in queue in the sidewalk in front of the stores with several security guards in blue and green uniform. Later on, the security guards put fence at the right side between the road and us and also between the people in front of and behind us. They also announced “man man zou” (=please walk slowly). When I turned around, I saw mostly young people. Finally, I could enter the parish hall around 8.15 p.m. and the Mass started at 8.00 p.m.! I could see several people were standing in the back of Cathedral as I walked to parish hall. The capacity of Cathedral is 1,200 persons. Later on, my friend said that she was not allowed to enter Cathedral for 9.30 p.m. Mass as it’s already full. There was a big screen at parish hall. As people left during the Mass (I assumed they are non Catholics), I moved 6 times and finally get the seat in front of the screen. At Communion time, lay ministers (and sometimes the priest) asked each person if we are Catholics. After Communion, many people (I assumed they are non Catholics) in queue to ask a blessing from the priest. The Mass finished around 9.30 p.m. and I went home by bus because the last bus was 10.20 p.m. without having supper except half piece of bread while in queue.
I attended Indonesian Mass on Christmas Day. There were around 70 Indonesians mostly students. Several of them were asking why I didn’t come on Christmas eve Mass. There were games for six groups during the gathering: human knot, throw away your sins, walking with Christ, Community Life and Spread the Gospel. I couldn’t attend the preparation meeting as there was rehearsal for New Year Celebration at school so I got the easiest part: being a jury to count the score of the groups. There were also exchanging gifts and first birthday of the charismatic prayer group celebration. I am so grateful for their dedication amidst their school responsibility.
Three students and I visited and prayed together with a patient and her husband in hospital before the Indonesian Mass on Holy Family Sunday. I translated Morning Prayer of the Holy Family Sunday from People’s Companion to the Breviary except for the intercessions in pink papers. At first, I was thinking to attend the English Mass of Holy Family Sunday at Cathedral to make my Christmas season trilingual: Chinese, Indonesian and English and then visited the patient at hospital. God prepared something else. After Mass, I recognized one of my junior in college after having several Q&A as we tried to figure out who we are after 16 years. One of the students brought his homemade Indonesian yellow rice-fried chicken-yellow egg-cucumber pickled for all of us. Later on, I had two hours counseling and prayer session.

Guangzhou, Dec 29, 2010

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