Another success this morning! I’m trying to plan a big celebration for the Fourth of July on Sunday, hopefully involving a boat and obscene amounts of food. Last semester, Jimmy arranged all such excursions, but this time it’s all me.
I set out this morning to the general ferry area, knowing how much we paid last time and basically nothing else. But you know what? It was enough. I found the right place rather easily, as it was – conveniently for those of us who read Chinese – marked “place to rent boats”. There were three shirtless men inside, so for once I was almost as aware that I was a woman as I was that I was a foreigner. But I told them that we wanted a boat, when, where, and how much we wanted to pay, and they said okay. So we have us a boat!
It took way less time than I expected. This is probably because, when scheduling things in China, I start with the amount of time a given task should take to complete, multiply it by 5, and add on two hours just in case. I remember at TU scheduling meetings back to back with dinners, dinners back to back with events, and running errands in between everything else. Not so in China. The most I will plan for any given day here is three things – morning, afternoon, and evening – plus meals. Run to the post office to mail a letter? That’s going to take all morning. Mass? Just block out all of Saturday evening. Grabbing a few groceries? An entire afternoon, gone – and if you go too late, evening as well.
Class today was good. I found the perfect balance of participating in discussion and playing Mahjong on my cell phone so as to optimize learning and minimize boredom. Chinese has been easy lately. I think I’m just coasting.
Today was a big day for goodbyes. Deni, Benjamin, Lester, and Vikki all left, but luckily I ran into three of them as they were literally on their way out! I also went through my cell phone and deleted some numbers so I don’t keep trying to invite Kristina to stuff. It was pretty sad.
This evening, I took Shawn to Mass with me. It was his first time going to Catholic church, although I think he’d been to one of the international Christian fellowships (the kind that don’t talk about God, though). It was interesting, helping this Chinese guy follow along with the Mass – in Chinese. I really wonder, because Christianity is not a part of their culture as it is in the US, how much of it he understood? All references to today’s saints, Peter and Paul, certainly went over his head, and there must be more things like that. Even beyond the concepts, does he even have the vocabulary? If I say 主教 (bishop) or 告解 (confession), does he have any concept of what those mean?
But I guess my Catholic Chinese vocabulary isn’t all that great either. I don’t know what to call the hosts, other than “Jesus’ body”, and we kind of had an argument over whether or not it was bread. I guess I don’t really know exactly what 面包 means, but I don’t know what else to call it!
I will also say, this year has given me a great appreciation for missionaries to foreign lands. It’s hard explaining what we believe in another language! My familiarity with the Mass has helped, of course, but I’m still mostly grasping at straws. Shawn was really curious about the Trinity, so I tried to explain it . . . I know the names of the Three Persons thanks to the Sign of the Cross; Trinity Sunday was a few weeks ago so I know “three persons in one God” is 三位一体; and the Mystery of Faith is 信德的奥迹. I just kind of put those pieces together and prayed.
I talked to Bishop Cai after Mass – we’re getting a new deacon! Looks like there is one more opportunity for me to participate in a special event with my parish here before going home. The ordination is on the 17th of July, and I plan to be flying out on the 20th. For the record, three weeks from right now I will be sitting in the Hong Kong airport – adventuring towards home.