Sharing: The First Two Months of the Third Semester

I went back to Guangzhou on Sept 4 from Macau as the registration for the new semester was begun on Sep 5.
During English Mass on Sep 11, I sat beside a Chinese student who spent her Mid Autumn Festival Vacation in Guangzhou. She is not a Catholics but spending the day to attend service at Church of Shamian and Cathedral. I invited her to attend Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration with Guangzhou Chinese students in Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel Shamian. She decided to stay with them as I should leave for a birthday dinner. The next day, she visited my dorm and we walked around the campus while sharing our life stories.
Our classes began on Sep 16. I was in intermediate class level 1 with five subjects intensive reading, extensive reading, writing, listening and speaking. I went to Hong Kong on the week end for our regional meeting.
On Sep 22, I was thinking to move to beginner class level 4 as I felt that there are so many new words in intermediate class level 1 and it’s too fast. I asked my tutor and former class teacher about it and both of them asked to try it first. I also asked my community and they supported whatever my decision as I am the one who knows my level. Starting Sep 26, I moved to beginner class level 4. I believe it's a holy coincidence that morning I heard a quotation from Mother Teresa: “If we were humble, nothing would change us-neither praise nor discouragement. If someone were to criticize us, we would not feel discourage. If someone would praise us, we also would not feel proud.” and in the evening, our prayer cell also talk about humility as we reflect on the reading of the twenty sixth Sunday. I felt I was called to be humble in acknowledge my weakness especially in memorizing. It’s much better especially after three months summer break without classes. I also have tutorial using conversation book intermediate level 1. For the optional class I am attending the tourism cities in China and HSK class (=Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi=Chinese Proficiency Test).
I spent the Independence Day holiday in Hong Kong. As there were several Chinese sisters and a Chinese priest from mainland China visiting our community so I had a chance to practice my Mandarin. It’s also time to reconnect with Sr. Alice Wengrzynek, MM and Sr. Cathy Rowe, MM. I attended the Indonesian Catholic Community barbeque at Chung Hom Kok Beach and then met Fr. Brian, Br. Edward, Fr. Bob and Br. Sebastian at Marykoll Stanley House.
Attending the baptism of Celine was my next agenda upon back to Guangzhou. Her father asked me to become her Godmother but it’s not a common practice here for a priest or a sister to become a Godmother and I think it’s a better idea.
Our school arranged a trip to China Cultural Folk Village in Shenzhen on Oct 8. There were around 200 foreign students in 5 buses. It’s my first time to see the cultures of the minorities in China.
Several sisters and I attended the golden jubilee celebration of Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital which was founded by the Maryknoll Sisters in 1961 I was moved when listening to the last part of Sr. Janice McLaughlin, MM speech over the projector. It’s also a time to reconnect with Sr. MaryLou Radjl, MM, Sr. Gloria Ruiz, MM and Sr. Bernie Higa, MM.
I am still attending the Indonesian prayer group in Consulate General and St. Therese’s prayer cell twice a month each including meeting Team Thomas (Richard Widjaja, Fr. Soebroto Widjojo, SJ, etc) who came to gave reflection and Gratia Community (Joppy Taroreh, Yvonne Taroreh and Haryanto Onggodiputro) who came to lead a retreat for the Indonesian Catholics community.
Last semester, I was sat beside a Chinese woman in a canteen near our dorm so I asked several questions and she gave her business card with an invitation to visit her garment office. She sent me a text message while I was in Indonesia, unfortunately I couldn’t reply it. Upon arriving Guangzhou, we are in contact again. One evening, she said that she was around our campus so she would pick me up to go to her office. We went to one of the wholesale stores nearby to pick up her order. It’s my first time to see how crowded the area with car, motorbike and bike. She invited to eat Guangdong meal in Dongpu and decided to order quite a lot of dishes even though I told her that I couldn’t eat a lot. Later on, one of her subcontractors came. Both of them are married and younger than me but they thought I am younger than them. They spoke Mandarin slowly so I could understand. I was moved by their generosity to a foreigner. We went to her office to chat, drink tea and listen to Chinese songs.
I visited Martyr’s Park and Guangzhou Tower besides visiting Ma Han and her auntie. I also had lunch with the Chinese Sisters of the Immaculate Conception after bringing second hand clothes for people with Hansen’s disease. Several sisters and I had an intercultural lunch and I cooked “pecel” (=Indonesian salad with peanut butter). I enjoyed the visit of my uncle, Sr. Sue and Sr. Annie in three different times.
Our classmates decided to have Thai food last Nov 1 and the Indonesian food after our midterm exam. There were 18 students from Korea, Japan, Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, Rusia and Indonesia enjoyed the Indonesian food “rendang, gado-gado, sate ayam, ikan goreng, soto ayam, tahu telur, sayur asem, tahu tempe penyet, lemper, sum-sum and es dawet.”
My first article about the retreat for the Indonesian was published in the Indonesian Catholic Weekly HIDUP. It was my first article after 17 years of absent. I met one of their journalists in Malang-Indonesia last July and he asked me to be their correspondence. It’s a holy coincidence to meet him as we never had a contact for many years. Later on, I found draft of my application to be their correspondence but I forgot whether I sent it or not. God finds the way to lead me to be a correspondence as my wish.
I decided to attend the Mandarin CCD class to help me to learn Church vocabulary. My first class was taught by the Archbishop Gan about the Characteristic of Catholic Church. He prepared a power point presentation with the picture of Pope Benedict XVI in several sheets so it helped to see the Chinese characters. Later on, I looked for Sr. Angela to introduce myself as I got the info from her sisters. She said that one night before, one of the catechumen told her that he wants to help foreigner to learn Mandarin. We called him and I had my first class on Nov 1. He usually has business trips so he will teach irregularly. Another holy coincidence.
The Indonesian Catholics Community usually visits the patients at Fuda Hospital on Fridays since last semester. I was thinking to go to another hospital to accommodate the students who have classes on Fridays. It never happened. I continue to join the group to visit patients in Fuda hospital early of this semester. I couldn’t visit the patients on Oct 29 so I decided to join an Indonesian Eucharistic Minister to go to Modern Hospital the next day. We sat down in the lobby for a while as he wanted to send text message to Fr. Peter about returning the Body of Christ and then I saw a familiar face in an open doctor room. She was the doctor I met in their representative office in Surabaya last January 2010. She knew my state of life as she asked me why I didn’t marry yet. I waited for a while as she still met a patient. She still recognized me as the elder sister of the translator in their Surabaya office. She asked me why I didn’t look for her as I said that I was in Guangzhou since last year. I told her that my friend and I just prayed with the Indonesian patients. She said that I also can pray with the Philippines patients. I said I will do it next time. Later on the evening, Koh Chai introduced me to his new friend, Allison, who works as an English translator in Modern Hospital. The next day, an Indonesians, who got my number from Yvonne Taroreh, sent me a text message that her friend will accompany her son to have cancer treatment in Guangzhou. I only could wonder how God lead me to this new place of ministry when I knew that they will stay at Modern Hospital! And a German student, who attend St. Therese’s prayer cell since this semester, is interesting to visit patients so I think that visiting the Philippines patients will be better for him. Finally after changing the time for visiting several time to accommodate his time, the time of the new patient from Indonesia and the time of the Philippines patients, finally both of us visited one Indonesian patient and prayed with one Philippines patient on Nov 6 evening. The next Sunday, Allison, who is learning Catholics’ prayers, introduced me to the Philippines patients and accompanied me to pray with them. Later on, Fr. Heribertus, SJ and I prayed together with the rest of the Philippines patients and one Indonesian patient. After visiting Allison’s apartment, Koh Cai invited me to have dinner with his family and Allison.
There were many students and teachers with Xavier School jacket attending Sunday Mass at Cathedral. I asked one of them who they are. They are coming from Philippines to learn Putonghua and other subjects for 42 days at South China Normal University. There are around 130 students and they are staying in the university's dormitory.
The classes are in the eight weeks so it’s time for the midterm exam. My reading-writing grade is 86, listening is 86, and conversation is 94. It’s the first time that my conversation grade is higher than my reading-writing and listening grades.

Guangzhou, November 24, 2011
Happy Thanksgiving Day!

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