Sharing: The First Week End in Shenzhen

              As Fr. Lu of Holy Family Chapel Luo Hu-Shenzhen accompanied me to go to bus stop after our first meeting last August 30, he said “Start here”, and then pointed out a sign on the wall.  I thought it’s one of the signs from God about my outreach in mainland.  I never heard about Holy Family Chapel till my visit to Jiangmen and how God prepared the ways to start from here.             
            Following all of the signs and with the support of my sisters during our last Sep 2 meeting, I went to Holy Family Chapel on Sep 8.  Shenzhen is a special economic zone and also a special zone in church territory as it’s not belongs to any diocese in mainland.  There are two churches and several chapels in Shenzhen managed by ten priests from different places e.g. Beijing, Shandong, and Handan.
            Fr. Lu, from Handan Diocese, and several children welcome me in the chapel and then accompanied me to check in at the inn next door.  Then Fr. Lu teaches the children to sing for the Sunday morning Mass.  Twelve children learned to sing  ()(shuāng)()(kàn)(jiàn)(de)(shǒu)(=Invisible Hands) from the video of a children choir, who lost their parents during the flood in 1998 in Taiwan, while Fr. Lu played the guitar.    They also practiced to sing (tiān)()(de)(huā)(yuán)(Father’s Flower Garden and then introduced themselves in English as requested by Fr. Lu.  He also asked me to give a comment about them.  I said in Mandarin that I am happy to know and to be with them, who like to sing and they are cute.
            A parishioner, Fr. Lu and I then had supper before having Mandarin anticipated Sunday Mass at 8.00 pm.  Mass was celebrated by Fr. Lu and Fr. Zhang, who initiated this chapel when he was assigned at St. Anthony Church-Shenzhen and moved back to Beijing several months ago. 
            The Mandarin Sunday morning Mass is at 9.00 am and celebrated by Fr. Lu and a priest from Gansu.  The children brought the offertory: candles, two floral bouquets, bread and wine and then sang 那双不看见的手after Communion.  Before the Mass, one of the readers will read part of catechism.  It’s full packed with several additional chairs outside the chapel. After Mass, I had a talk with a young woman and then had lunch with two parishioners, the priest and deacon from Gansu, and Fr. Lu.  I had a chance to go around the area in the afternoon and then attended Mandarin Sunday evening Mass at 8.00 pm.  It was celebrated by Fr. Zhang, Fr. Lu and the priest from Gansu.  After Mass, I had a talk with another woman including sharing my vocation story and then prayed together with her and another three women one by one.  I informed them that I would make sign a cross, silent for a while, praying in English, inviting them to say a prayer, then, I will continue to pray in English, and then say Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be in Mandarin.  I couldn’t pray Hail Mary and Glory Be in Mandarin as fast as they are so I just listened to their prayer.  We finished almost 11.00 pm.             
            The Sunday Masses, at least 1.30 hour including several prayers before and after the Mass in Chaozhou dialect, are well prepared by several groups e.g. Reader, Altar Server, Choir, Power Point, and Usher.  The women readers wear green blouse and black skirt while the men readers are in black with green tie because it’s Ordinary Time.  Several parishioners, adult and kids, help in 2-3 Masses e.g. a young guy is in choir for Saturday and Sunday evening Mass and lector for Sunday morning Mass.  There is the order of the Mass in a simplified Chinese characters power point. A lay woman takes care of the children.
            The daily Mandarin Masses are at 7.45 am with prayer before and after the Mass in Chaozhou dialect and several songs well prepared in power point including the order of the Mass in traditional Chinese characters.  After Mass, Fr. Lu and I had breakfast with two parishioners and then went back to chapel.   I checked out from the inn before leaving with Fr. Lu and a parishioner to do a home visit.  We had a homemade lunch together with another three parishioners.      
            I went back to Hong Kong around 3.30 pm with promise to go back the next Saturday.  I am so grateful for the warm welcome and hospitality of Fr. Lu and the parishioners.  As one of the parishioners said (xiū)()(gǎn)(xiè)(tiān)(zhǔ)()(néng)(lái)(zhè)()(Sister, Thanks be to God that you can come here), I also want to say “Thanks be to God that I can start my outreach to mainland from Holy Family Chapel“ which is Mandarin speaking community and close to my Hong Kong community.

Hong Kong September 14, 2012

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

Sharing: Jiangmen

        Sr. Maureen and I left for Jiangmen by bus on Aug 20.  We stopped at Huanggang border and then continued the journey to Jiangmen for total around 4.5 hour trip.  I stayed with Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters at the Cathedral compound for ten days  The compound consists of two floors ex seminary, three floors Bishop’s house, four floors convent, one floor Cathedral, and one floor guard room.
            The sisters prays Cantonese Divine Office besides Cantonese Rosary and Divine Mercy, so I joined them for afternoon and evening prayers, and prayed English morning and night prayers privately.  Cantonese daily Masses and Cantonese–Mandarin Sunday Mass were celebrated by Bishop Liang.  He and six other priests manage 36 churches in the diocese.  There are 25 sisters including three elderly sisters and three sisters on further study, mostly work as pastoral sisters by two.  Several churches only have four Sunday Masses during the year (Christmas, Easter, Pentacost and Assumption) and one priest responsible for 6-7 churches including Bishop Liang.
            Mother Superior Sr. Li, Deacon Huang and I visited two elderly in a nursing home nearby and attended a funeral service led by Fr. Yang in a funeral parlor.  All of us wore a white cloth in our arm as sign of grieving and then the family invited for supper together besides giving red envelope, peanut and candy.  Sr. Li and I also visited another elderly woman in her house.
            Sr. Ke accompanied me to stay overnight in Heshan, around 2 hours by bus.  Sr. Qi was alone during our visit as another sister went to another Church; they responsible for three Churches.  The Rosary Church is located in a village, all of the residents are Catholics.  In 1966, around 100 parishioners moved from another Catholic village, and now there are around 200 parishioners.  We visited several parishioner, most of them are elderly so they only speak either Cantonese or Hakka.  There is Cantonese-Hakka prayer of St. Bridget that night.  After our Mandarin Divine Office, several elderly attended Cantonese morning prayers including Rosary.  An elderly woman invited us for her birthday celebration so Sr. Qi led a Cantonese prayer in her house before going to the restaurant nearby by a motorcycle with six seats in the back.  One of her daughter recognized me as she lives in Macau, finally she remembered after knowing that I am an Indonesian as she knows an Indonesian seminarian Toto, SVD who was in Macau. Small world!  Fr. Yang invited Sr. Ke and me for supper as we visited St. Joseph Church in Jiangmen downtown.  He told me that Fr. Paul is an Indonesian born Chinese priest of Jiangmen who passed away in 1996.
            Bishop Liang, Sr. Li, Deacon Huang and I visited leprocy center in Cangshan, around 3 hours by bus.   Bishop Liang celebrated the Cantonese anticipated Sunday Mass.  Around 60 out of 80 residents are Catholics.  After lunch with the volunteers, we went back to Jiangmen.
           After Sunday Mass, Bishop Liang, Sr. Ke, three parishioners and I went to Shunde, around one hour by car.  We dropped Bishop Liang at Sacred Heart Church and then visited Holy Family Church in Foshan.  A couple invited us for lunch, he said  that they are so grateful to God as his wife is healthy even though she only has one kidney since six years ago.  I was moved to hear his Cantonese sharing which was translated by Sr. Ke.  After lunch, we visited Sacred Heart Church and then joined Bishop Liang and one parishioner visited Rosary Church in Shunde, which was built in 1929 and couldn’t use anymore due to safety reason.  After supper at Foshan, Bishop Liang celebrated Cantonese Sunday Mass at Holy Family Church, which was arranged that afternoon as Sunday Mass usually on third Sundays.  The parishioners sang several prayers around 45 minutes while waiting the confession and the Mass was one hour late.    
          I attended Mandarin Memorial Mass for one of the elderly celebrated by Bishop Liang and then joined the sisters cleaned, mostly from dried leaves and branches, the former Maryknoll Sisters convent.  It’s the number five building in a big school compound next door, our sisters left it as they were expelled from the country during revolution and never came back.  The big compound were belongs to Maryknoll, and then the government only gave back the convent to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters, but they never occupied the convent, and then it was rented out to the school.  The story of our sisters in South China during Revolution in China can be read at:
            I got lower back pain after sneezing so Sr. Chen did a reflexiology massage for two days.  Thanks God it works!
            Sr. Li, two sisters from Shanghai and I had a dim sum lunch in a park on our way to visit St. Matthew Church in Xin Hui around one and a half hour by bus.  Sr. Huang and one of the sisters also work for another three Churches. 
            Usually parishioners call the sisters with “(ā)()” from “()(niang)” (for single woman) to show closer relationship.
            I left Jiangmen for Luo Hu on Aug 30 with gratitude for the warm welcome and hospitality of Bishop Liang, Deacon Huang, all the sisters and people whom I met.  Even though I couldn’t speak Cantonese/Hakka, I learned a lot from this trip including their faithfulness to keep their faith amidst the limitation of the priests and sisters aviability.  The pictures of the visit can be seen at:
            I visited Holy Family Chapel in Luo Hu to meet Fr. Lu regarding the possibility to help.  The Chapel was opened last year.  All Masses are celebrated in Mandarin as Fr. Lu is from Handan Diocese-Hebei. 

Hong Kong 31 Aug, 2012

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