Maria Holland


In Uncategorized on September 21, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Class was pretty hard to get through this morning, but I managed to stay mostly awake until that most beloved of all Chinese customs, the noon nap. In the afternoon, I set out with a small list of things to get done on campus, but now that I think about it, not one of them was 做完了 (done successfully). I went to the office in the Tall Building were supposedly all my problems would be solved, but – shockingly – I was told that they would all be done in the indefinite future. I’ve been here almost a month and still don’t have my student e-card . . .

The good news is that I ran into a Korean friend in the office and we went to Coffee Lake afterwards to get something to drink. I hadn’t seen her in a while and it was good to have an actually interesting conversation with someone in Chinese, our common language. The only negative part of it all was our drink choice – we both got "mint smoothies", which was most certainly a bad idea in hindsight. It basically tasted like drinking the water someone else had just gargled with. Okay, maybe not that bad, but it wasn’t pleasant.

Leinira and I met for dinner in Furong CanTing again, and I happened to run into an American friend there. It was her first time so we showed her around the wonders of the 3rd floor of Furong and then ate together. She was really impressed with my roommate and probably a little bit jealous, and I was reminded again (not that I’ve forgotten) how lucky I am and always have been with roommates.

I had fried ?子(dumplings) on a fried egg which, as a combination of my two favorite foods (egg and jiaozi), is now my new favorite food. 6 yuan – I highly recommend it.

It was just nice to run into friends on campus, because it’s such a rare occurrence here. I have fewer friends to start with and in a larger student body and on a larger campus, the proportion gets even smaller. Today was a good day, though.

All day, I was looking forward to tonight, which was my first meeting with Deacon Joseph (or, in Chinese, 赵执事). I met him in the downstairs of the Xiamen church, which is kind of a parish hall. We talked for a few minutes and then started going over the Order of the Mass in Chinese. We went word-by-word and character-by-character so I could understand the translation. After making it through two pages (through the Gloria), I asked him what he wanted my help with. I think he’s going to bring some of his writing for me to read and correct, and we’re going to read the Gospel together and discuss it. This is all exactly what I was hoping for, so I’m really happy! The only unfortunate thing is that he’s going somewhere next week and then it’s the darn October break, so we won’t be meeting again for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, I have a lot to work on . . . the Sign of the Cross (which is the title of this post), "And also with you", the Confiteor, etc.

On the way home, I listened to a podcast that was talking about the Church in China. I can’t say that I really have a lot to say on the issue yet, surprisingly. I feel like a little kid here in China – not only because of the way I speak, but because of all the subtleties that are constantly eluding me. I just googled "Xiamen Catholic", showed up to Mass, and went from there, but I don’t really know anything beyond the schedule of services and the canon law regarding the validity of their sacraments. I saw a sign for an international Christian fellowship on the stairs the other day and, in addition to prohibiting Chinese nationals from attending, it says that "according to government regulation, newcomers must bring their passports and register". I haven’t done that at my church, though, and no one has told me to, so . . . I don’t know. I did notice a PSB (Public Security Bureau) truck parked outside the church on Saturday, but there was no imposing presence.

Anyway, I’m hoping to learn more about the Church here through my studies with Deacon Joseph and increased language skills, so stay tuned for updates.

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