Sharing: The Second Birthday in Guangzhou

         I had several activities during my birthday so I included all of these activities as part of my birthday celebration. I started my birthday celebration by attending the Mass for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with intention to give thanks for all the blessings and grace.  After breakfast with two friends, I had the final exam in writing and then follow up a fund raising requests for Nias and Malang, Indonesia.  Thanks be to God as He provided several generous friends to help. 
        As a friend from Spain will leave Guangzhou, I spent the afternoon with her and several friends in her apartment and enjoyed the rural area of Guangzhou. 
        Three friends from Latin America wanted to celebrate my birthday so we planned to have Indonesian meal.  It’s their customs to have open invitation as everybody share the bill except the birthday girl so I also ask several friends and teachers whether they are interested to have Indonesian meal without informing it’s my birthday.  One of our teachers came on time and I arrived 30 minutes later.  While waiting, I saw my last semester Japanese friend, who said that he was invited by Haidie to attend my birthday celebration.  I didn’t know he came back to Guangzhou since last April and started to have contact with Haidie last week.  Then Mariella from Equador, Laura, Hendra and Melysa from Indonesia, Haidie and Liz from Mexico came to join the meal.  Two Chinese friends couldn’t find the place so they decided to go home.    We had “rendang, tahu tempe penyet”, stir and fry kangkoong, seafood fried noodle and fried fish and then enjoyed the birthday cake from Haidie and Liz after singing happy birthday in English, Mandarin, Spanish and Indonesia and also Japanese greetings.  It’s a multicultural birthday celebration!
        The next day morning, I joined the group organized by RCIA team of Cathedral to have pilgrimage to Shangchuan Island, Jiangmen and Zhongshan. Last Sunday after attending the English Mass, a friend informed me about the trip to Shangchuan Island so I re-check with the organizer whether it’s the place where St. Francis Xavier died since as I know St. Francis Xavier died in Sancian island, they didn’t know his English name and I also didn’t know his Chinese name so I asked Sr. Gan about it.  She said yes, it’s the place where he died and the group will visit the beautiful convent of Jiangmen sister.  There are 64 participants, baptized and not yet baptized, including Fr. Joseph, Fr. Li and Sr. Liu in a bus and a van.  We went to the pier around 2.5 hours drive from Guangzhou and then went by boat for around 30 minutes and by small car climbed the hill to the Francis Xavier’s Tomb Monument.  Fr. Joseph gave brief information about pilgrimage and the life of St. Francis Xavier including his mission in Indonesia.  Upon arriving Monument, we prayed Station of the Cross which is ended at the statue of Francis Xavier facing mainland China.   After praying and singing, I was moved when Sr. Liu said there are many people in mainland who didn’t know Jesus yet so she invited all of us to face mainland China and sung Hail Mary in Mandarin so that more people will know Him.  Whenever I attended Mass in Cathedral, there will be usually non Catholics beside or in front of me.  St. Francis Xavier hoped to enter (mainland) China but while waiting in Shangchuan island, he was ill and died in 1552,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Xavier.     After that we went to the beach and threw the small bottle of our wish to the sea and then stayed in a hotel in Jiangmen.
        We went to Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_Diocese_of_Jiangmen to attend a bilingual Cantonese and Mandarin Sunday Mass with main celebrant Bishop Liang Jian-sen http://stanleymaryknoll.typepad.com/chinahands/2011/03/a-friend-of-maryknoll-ordained-as-bishop-of-jiangmen.html accompanied by Fr. Joseph, Fr. Li and Deacon Huang.  After Mass, Bishop Liang introduced the history of the Cathedral which was built by Maryknoll in 1923.  Then, we visited the Sacred Heart of Mary Convent to enjoy the fruits provided by the sisters.  Sr. Bao Lu got the most attention from all of us as she just turned 100 years old.  She was the oldest in their community and one of the first five sisters trained by Maryknoll Sisters in 1934.  The Mother Superior Sr. Maria Li, gave introduction about their congregation: there are 20 young sisters and 5 older sisters which served in 36 Churches in the Jiangmen Diocese.  I didn’t know that the beautiful Cathedral built by Maryknoll is in the same compound with the convent so it’s a holy coincidence that I could see both of them in the same time especially as the pilgrimage to Cathedral wasn’t the original plan of the RCIA team.
        After staying a while at the Immaculate Conception Church in Zhongshan, including listening to Fr. Li’s explanation about what’s in the Church, we had sharing session about the pilgrimage.   We continued the sharing in the bus as we should leave for Guangzhou at 4.00 p.m.  During the trip including on the boat, we sang and played games.  I also had time to ask to several participants, how did they come to Catholic Church and I only can wonder on how God leads them the way, which was including through the website of Guangzhou Diocese!  The pictures for this pilgrimage can be seen at   http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0EbuWrFm4ZM2FK.
      As Srs. Annie and Sue came for graduation ceremony, they treated me for a birthday and graduation lunch.          
        The next day, Joanna treated me for an Indonesian lunch for my graduation and her new apartment.  She ordered turmeric rice, which is a thanksgiving meal in Indonesia, as she said that turmeric has possible benefit for Alzheimer’s disease.  After that, I visited her new apartment and helped to translate her conversation with her Chinese neighbour.   
        I attended the last biweekly Indonesian prayer meeting for this semester at Shamian Church the next day.  There was birthday celebration for Steaven and myself. 
        Thank you very much for your birthday greetings, wishes, gifts and especially your prayers.  May God continue to bless your missionary journey.         
         
                             
Hong Kong, June 24, 2012


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