The parishes in mainland usually organize summer school for the children. It’s also the time for First Communion’s preparation. There were more than 60 children age 7 – 16 at Holy Family Church Luo Hu-Shenzhen attended the summer school on August 1-14, 2013 except on Sundays. The Church was converted to classroom by pulling the curtain in front of the altar. The classes begin at 9.30 am (the students should arrive at 9.20 am for presentation) and end at 4.30 pm with lunch break at 12.00-1.30 pm and short break after each class. Besides Fr. Lu, there were two sisters from Handan diocese, several parishioners as teachers and volunteers and myself helping the summer school. The children ate lunch box in front of the Church and back room, then slept at the Church or watch movie at the back room or learn Chinese martial art at the learning center next door.
The children were divided into two classes: junior class for 1st and 2nd grade (around 15 students) and senior class for 3rd grade above (around 50 students). They learned about catechism, the stories in the Bible, singing, dancing, etc. I taught “oral English” for the junior students for 4 sessions @30 minutes and “Prayer” for senior students for 5 sessions @45 minutes. I taught basic introduction for both classes e.g. My name is Joseph/Mary/Peter/Paul, I am a Catholic, I want to be a priest/sister/teacher/doctor, This is Holy Family Church, Thanks be to God, Let us pray, Praise the Lord-Alleluya, The Lord be with you-And also with your spirit, The Sign of the Cross (several children learned it from the Sunday school), Glory to the Father and for the senior students, I also taught Our Father besides watching short movie about a blind boy who felt on the ground and asked help from her mother but she didn’t help in order to let the boy to get up by himself and experiences more things as a way to show them that sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayer because He wants to give better things and a demonstration on putting sand and several candles in a box as a way to show the important of put first things (e.g. prayer, studying) first. I am sure not all the children like to learn English, but several children from both classes after 3-4 sessions were asking when will be the next session. I am sure they are the one who like to learn English. They learn English in the school but they don’t have big opportunity to practice. One the last session of both classes, I asked several of them to say either the sign of the cross, Glory to the Father or Our Father, either alone or followed me. I gave several holy stickers as a reward so they wanted more chances, unfortunately the session should be ended. One of the parishioners helped me with the translation, repeated it in Mandarin or kept the children quiet. Saying “Praise the Lord” and waiting their “Alleluya” response usually helped to make them quiet for a while.
It’s not easy to keep all the children to be quiet and neat. Several children were asked to stand in front if they kept noisy. Several children cried for several reasons. The Church and back room should be cleaned up every day after the classes.
There were an oral exam and sacrament of reconciliation for the children who would receive the First Communion. The written exam for both classes was held on August 14 a.m. Several students got full mark on my exam. The children mass was held on August 14, 2013 3.00 pm which also opened for all parishioners and especially for the families. Srs. Guo, Zhang and I distributed all the certificates (the best students who got mark 90 above, the students with fastest improvement, the student with good manners, etc) and toys to all the children.
The Church (including the stair to fourth floor and back room) was full for Mass on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. Around 30 children who would receive First Communion sat in front row, followed by the rest of the students. I sat with the junior students to keep them quiet. Before the blessing, several junior students performed an action song “天主是爱(=God is Love, http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/8Shx3AZg-5k/)” and several senior students performed an action song “主恩典(God’s grace, http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMjc3MTgxODA4.html)”. After lunch with several parishioners, Fr. Lu, Srs. Guo, Zhang and I went around Donghu Garden nearby. There was an evening Mass at 8.00 pm.
In the evening, I usually visited the parishioners either alone or with two sisters and Fr. Lu including staying overnight with the two sisters at one of the parishioners’ home without any preparation. Several parishioners are generously offering to stay in their home since my first week end in Shenzhen. As one of my relatives from Fujian was visiting her brothers in Shenzhen, I stayed overnight with them too. I also had chances to pray with the parishioners whenever needed and share my vocation journey with one of the teachers.
One of the movies was “The Prince of Egypt” and I was moved during the song “(There can be miracle) When we believe” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gur8ccqrQ9c). It’s a miracle too that I could help the summer school especially as we, the three sisters, usually would be called together. I also was moved each time I saw the senior children’s performance as I do experience how big God’s grace in my life.
One of the volunteers prepared a very nice thank you folder for every sister, here is the link of the pictures: https://www.facebook.com/anastasia.lindawati/media_set?set=a.10151550802706556.1073741829.658706555&type=1. I am also very grateful for this opportunity to help wherever needed including cleaning up and serving the meal, especially to Fr. Lu who wants the English class so I should be in front of the class. For sure, my English is not good enough to be an English teacher and being a teacher is not my preference, but I just tried to do what I believe God asks me to do amidst my limitation both in English and Mandarin.
With love and prayer,
Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible