Maria Holland

Posts Tagged ‘Catholicism’

“Rights”

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Recently, living in America has reminded me uncomfortably of living in China.

First there was the proposal of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the resulting uproar against it.  There was that one day where you couldn’t access Wikipedia the normal way, and instead had to use various roundabouts to get the information you wanted.  A lot of blogs were inaccessible, too.  It was crazy!  Oh wait, I did that for a year, paying $5 a month to have access to facebook, Wikipedia, CNN, and (for most of the year) blogs.  The reasoning behind SOPA and the Great Firewall is different – I understand that.  But freedom of speech once curtailed for one reason is easily enough thwarted for another. 

Followed shortly by that issue was the announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services that religious institutions will be forced to supply health insurance plans that offer free contraceptives and other “family planning” services to their employees.  This issue blew up so quickly that it seemed we bypassed some fundamental issues (birth control, really – out of all the drugs to make free?  Have we really decided that pregnancy is the most threatening disease?) and have moved right on to a debate over religious freedom. 

Today, across the country, people are gathering to “Rally for Religious Freedom”.  Someone derisively asked, "Is someone keeping you from going to church?”.  The answer, obviously (thankfully!) is no.  But the rest of the answer is that the practicing of one’s religion is – and should be! – more than just going to church. 

I confess that I thought the US Council of Catholic Bishops was being a little bit overdramatic when it warned about possible issues of conscience when the new health care reform was being debated.  I don’t believe that Obama has anything particularly against Catholics or Christians or believers of any religion, and I believed that the freedom of religion guaranteed in the constitution was pretty secure.  The death panels, forced sterilizations – I thought it was all hyperbole. 

And now I’m scared.  Because I see this mandate as a first step along the path that leads us to a place where the reproductive “rights” are valued higher than the right to religious freedom.  And I think that China is somewhere along that path, further ahead than us.  Remember,

Freedom of religion in the People’s Republic of China is provided for by the country’s constitution, with an important caveat. Namely, the government protects what it calls "normal religious activity," defined in practice as activities that take place within government-sanctioned religious organizations and registered places of worship.  [From Wikipedia]

But China has clearly decided that its interest in curtailing the growth of its population is greater than its interest in protecting the practice of “normal religious activity”, which for some religions that I’m aware of prohibits abortion, sterilization, and contraception. 

So yeah, I’m a little bit worried.  Not sure what other rights will fall before this “right”.  Not sure which Catholic institutions – or what still-practicing Catholic institutions – will be around when in 10 years.  Not sure what US policy will next mimic China. 

 

* Note: I think both articles I linked to make very good points, but I do take issue with the name calling they employ. 

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Cantonese Mass

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2011 at 10:54 pm

On the first Sunday of Advent this year (the end of November), American Catholics started using a new translation of the Mass.  The changes are relatively small, but when they’re changes to something you know as well as the Mass, they throw people off.

So here I am, two years after mastering the Mass in Chinese, and I found myself again clinging to a sheet of paper, reading along with responses that need to be memorized, silently chastising myself when I respond the old way and rejoicing when I nail the new translation.

Brings back some strong memories.  I remember how, with each passing week, I knew more and more of the words.  At first I had the pronunciation written in, then just the characters, then I stopped needing a booklet at all.  And I remember how proud I was when I first successfully said the “望上主从你的手中…” part by myself.

Although I’m pretty good now, the first few weeks were harder (just like in China).  I think part of me wondered if the Chinese Mass would be easier for me to participate in than the new English translation . . . and I had heard of a Chinese church in the city (San Francisco) so I decided to check it out.

In a situation a little bit too reminiscent of my Chinese [mis]adventures for my comfort, the Mass ended up to be in Cantonese instead of Mandarin.  That’s kind of a big deal, as one is a dialect I speak and the other is not.  It ended up being more like my very first weeks in Xiamen, when all I understood was the homonyms for Jesus, Mary, Amen, and alleluia.

On the plus side, I’ve now been to Mass in 10 languages (English, Spanish, Latin, Italian, Polish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Min, Korean, and Khmer)?

Adventuring Towards Church

In Uncategorized on January 2, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Yesterday, I had inquired at the front desk about a nearby Catholic Church.  After switching to Chinese to make sure my question was understood, a woman told me that there was a church nearby and that someone from the hotel would be going, so we could go with her.  A few more questions, however, revealed that it was the Church of New Life – so, not Catholic.  I did some Googling, pulled up the address of a Catholic church, and asked her to help us get there in the morning.  We set the departure time at 7:30, giving us enough time to get there before Mass at 8.

This morning, we were woken up at 6:45 by a phone call, telling us we were leaving at 7 instead.  We were rushed out the door into a waiting tuk tuk, and then we were joined by the tuk tuk driver’s wife.  These were all warning signs that something was wrong . . .

But I didn’t notice anything until we pulled up at New Life Church.  We were then faced with the awkward situation of explaining to our driver, his wife, and their son that we were at the wrong church.  Luckily, I had the address of the Catholic church written down, and we still had time to get there.

This was perhaps the strangest Catholic church I’ve ever been in.  There were no pews, just mats on the ground.  Following the people in front of us, we took off our shoes before taking a seat. 

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There was a lot distinctly Catholic in the church – the Stations of the Cross, the crucifix, the tabernacle, the altar.  But the tabernacle was distinctly stupa-like, Jesus was Asian, and there were chairs behind the altar. 

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Mass was in Khmer but we followed along generally.  We sat throughout the entire Mass, and the priest sat during the consecration!  That part felt really strange.  Also the part where the opening hymn was to the tune of Jingle Bells . . .

The priest was French, by the way.  He’d been in Cambodia for 17 years, and as far as I could tell spoke awesome Khmer.  It was our first time hearing a foreigner speak Khmer!

After Mass, we did a little bit more shopping then went back to the hotel to meet up with our group for lunch.  We lounged forever over our meal, then retired to the hotel café for disappointing drinks and more conversation.  We had a late dinner around 8 at a restaurant we found nearby.  We ordered a few dishes that we knew we would like, then ordered one of the “mystery” items that wasn’t translated on the menu. 

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It turned out to be a traditional Cambodian dish – pig intestines and peppercorns. 

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Yum . . .

Ten Steps Forward, One Giant Leap Back

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I’ve been following the news out of China about the Catholic Church, and most of it this past year has been encouraging.  Recently, the 10th bishop was ordained with papal and government approval.  After years of no ordinations, this seemed like a really positive step in church-government relations

Then I suppose that the most recent ordination can’t be viewed as anything but a giant leap backwards. 

Last weekend, Father Guo JinCai was ordained as the bishop of Chengde, Hebei – illicitly, without papal approval.  This was the first illicit ordination in four years, and the first since Pope Benedict’s letter to Chinese Catholics in 2007. 

So much about this news disturbs me.  From the sound of it, it bears no resemblance to any church service I’ve ever attended, in China or elsewhere.  The ceremony was reportedly attended by “more than 100 faithful” – and, because this warrants mention, “about 100 uniformed and plainclothes police”. Security seemed to be an issue, as “cameras were banned in the church and mobile phone signals blocked in the area.”

Most disturbing was the pressure applied to legitimate bishops to participate in the ordination.  The ordination was performed by eight open bishops, who were coerced through house arrest and even taken away by government officials. 

 

Cardinal Zen, advocate of religious freedom in China, wrote on that topic after the news of the ordination. 

I think it is my duty, given this special opportunity to inform my eminent brothers, that there is still no religious freedom in China. There is too much optimism around something that does not correspond to reality. Some have no way of knowing the reality, others close their eyes to reality, others still see religious freedom in a very simplistic way.

If you were to visit China (which I do not recommend, because your visits will be manipulated and exploited for propaganda purposes), you would see beautiful churches full of people who pray and sing, as in any other city in the Christian world. But religious freedom cannot just be reduced to freedom of worship. It is much more.

An anonymous priest from a diocese of one of the coerced bishops also wrote on “What It Means To Force A Bishop’s Hand”:

Police sealed off the cathedral of Cangzhou (Xianxian) diocese to prevent priests going to save their bishop, who has been taken away to attend the Chengde illicit ordination.  Bishops of Cangzhou (Xianxian), Hengshui (Jingxian) and Baoding have been put under house arrest and pressured to attend Father Joseph Guo Jincai’s ordination since Nov. 11. 

Ucanews.com broke the news on Nov. 17 and since then, almost all media outside mainland China have fixed their focus on the bishops being forced to attend the illicit ordination.

Undeniably they were. But what is implied by the phrase “being forced?”

First, the expression shows sympathy towards the bishops. Second, it suggests they were innocent.

. . . During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), was there anyone who gave up his or her religious belief not because of being forced? How many people were persecuted, with some even sacrificing their precious lives, because they opposed the establishment of an independent Church? The “self-election and self-ordination” of bishops is a principle of the independent Church.

And now it seems that there is no responsibility when one is “being forced.”  . . . If the bishops can do that, then the laypeople can also easily give up their faith when being forced.

After all, we should reflect on which direction the faithful would be guided when media reports emphasize only the pressure brought to bear on them.

Slattery Bishop

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Bishop Cai and I were, as far as bishops and parishioners go, pretty tight.  He bought me a Christmas present and threw a farewell luncheon for me; I texted him while I was in China and have emailed him since I left. 

So why was I so nervous to meet with my American bishop today?  I don’t know, but I was.

I’ve been working on a letter to Bishop Cai for over a month now, and got the idea that it would be cool to include a picture of me with my bishop here.  So on a whim, I emailed the Diocese of Tulsa Chancery explaining my story in brief and asking if I could meet with Bishop Slattery.

And we made an appointment for this morning at 10.

I didn’t really know what to expect.  As most of my experience with bishops had been in Chinese (and in China), I wasn’t 100% sure how to address a bishop or how to greet him.  Turns out, a simple handshake will suffice, and he didn’t seem offended that I didn’t address him as Your Excellency.

I was actually greeted first by a reporter and photographer, who sat in on my chat with the bishop.  Look for me in the Jan/Feb issue of Eastern Oklahoma Catholic!  I didn’t know they were going to be there, but it did mean that I got a nice picture of me and Bishop Slattery:

China Student 1

We chatted for about a half hour, talking about my experiences in China and his (he had been to Hong Kong and possibly Shenzhen 30 years ago), and discussing the state of the Church over there.  It was definitely nothing to worry about; hindsight usually reveals that, doesn’t it?

Just before I left, I gave him the watch that Bishop Cai had given me on my last day.  It’s a huge, beautiful, self-winding example of engineering at its finest, engraved with 厦门教区 蔡炳瑞晋牧纪念 2010.05.08 (Xiamen Diocese, Ordination of Cai BingRui, May 8, 2010) on the back. 

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It was intended as a present for my father but he doesn’t wear watches.  I wanted to give it to someone who would appreciate it but couldn’t think of anyone until the obvious answer leapt out at me a few days ago. 

Bishop Slattery seemed very pleased at the gift.  In return, he gave me a handwritten letter for Bishop Cai.  I am going to translate it as best I can and then send off a small package to Xiamen in the next few days!

What Was On My Mind (III)

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2010 at 5:00 pm

The end of the year, captured in facebook statuses:

 

Maria Holland heard someone say “Not gonna lie” today and, not gonna lie, it made me realize how long I’ve been away from America.
May 12 at 11:35pm

Maria Holland is still delighted every time I realized I can speak and read Chinese. Does it ever get old?
May 15 at 12:36am

Maria Holland It would have been nice to know we were climbing a mountain after Mass today, because the clothes I usually wear to Mass are generally not the best for mountain climbing. But, I’ve now climbed a mountain in peep-toed sandals and a skirt and feel more Chinese for the experience.
May 16 at 10:00pm

Maria Holland is spending the night at the church on Gulangyu. I’m planning a peaceful and quiet night, praying for Uncle Daniel and Robert, Nick, & Lonnie on the anniversary of their deaths. Glad we got to know you, Daniel.
May 18 at 5:12pm

Maria Holland had a beautiful night on Gulangyu. I took in a violin concert, savored the silence of the island broken only by piano music, slept three doors away from the choir loft of a century-old Catholic church, went to morning Mass, and had porridge with the bishop.
May 19 at 9:46am

Maria Holland got a SEVEN on the HSK!!!!!! I could theoretically go to college in China . . . but I think I’ll head back to TU and finish up there.
May 19 at 11:55am

Maria Holland it is May 2010 and, just like May 2007 and May 2008, I am making my way to the northeast of China. It’s almost like going home . . .
Meat sticks, I’m coming for you. Get ready!
May 20 at 2:54pm

Maria Holland is in Hunchun, the (0,0,0,0) coordinate of my life in China! I’ve been living with Xiao Zhang and Xiao Li, visited Mob Boss and MacGyver, eaten at DongFang and am currently preparing for an epic Shell birthday dinner complete with my cake and homemade dairy products like you wouldn’t believe.
Be jealous.
May 23 at 4:43pm

Maria Holland is in Hunchun at the farm today, for the third anniversary of my first day in China, and the third International Day of Prayer for the Church in China. Please join me, il Papa, and Christians around the world in praying for love, mutual understanding, and unity (both spiritual and political) between all 基督徒 in China.
May 24 at 8:34am

Maria Holland met up with Zaibin, my very first Chinese friend, today and we went to see Goose Lady!
May 25 at 8:52pm

Maria Holland has spent nine months in China!
May 26 at 10:31pm

Maria Holland is going to Xiao Zhang’s to learn how to make jiaozi and sugared potatoes! This means no internet ’til Sunday night though . . .
May 27 at 3:21pm

Maria Holland it is 10 a.m. in China and I’ve already stolen someone’s identity and broken the law. I’m currently sitting in what seems to be a love motel that I have rented by the hour. This has been a great trip . . .
May 30 at 10:39am

Maria Holland is back in Xiamen, happy to be out of Jilin but already missing Hunchun.
Also, how is it almost June??
May 31 at 10:52am

Maria Holland I live on a tropical island. Today is the 2nd of June. I wore my winter coat to go to dinner. One of these things is not like the others . . .
June 2 at 9:42pm

Maria Holland taking advantage of the rain to have the laziest day ever. Entire day spent in pajamas – check. Lunch delivered – check. Dinner delivered – check. Four seasons of Psych on DVD – check.
June 3 at 8:38pm

Maria Holland found out that Chinese people think mixed-blood babies are exceptionally beautiful and smart. Whatever. It’s when it turns into a matchmaking service designed to match me with a Chinese husband that I start to mind. Also, does EVERYONE have to participate? Random old man on the street last night, I’m talking about you . . .
June 5 at 2:56pm

Maria Holland watched Iron Man 2 (钢铁侠2) in theaters today and then bought both 1 & 2 on DVD immediately afterwards, for less than the cost of a movie in America. Sweet!
June 6 at 8:49pm

Maria Holland enjoyed an hour-long massage for $5 this morning. Yeah, I’m doin’ alright.
June 8 at 11:09pm

Maria Holland has still not bought return tickets. Maybe I’m not quite ready for that step . . .
June 10 at 12:52am

Maria Holland has pancake mix, dried pasta, marshmallows, chocolate, nutella, condensed milk, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and most of a bottle of gin . . . . and I am determined to use all of it before I leave this country, despite lacking an oven or any discernible kitchen.
June 10 at 5:41pm

Maria Holland had a great time watching the opening game of the World Cup. It’s a weird feeling, though, probably like what Harry Potter felt upon discovering this whole other world that only cares about one sport, a sport that you’ve never heard of.
June 12 at 1:01am

Maria Holland US vs. England in our first World Cup appearance – at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday/school night? Why certainly!
June 12 at 11:12pm

Maria Holland needs more soccer-related vocabulary if I’m going to continue watching the World Cup in China. Tonight’s 生词: “draw” = 平. 我为美国加油! (I’m cheering for America!)
June 13 at 5:01am

Maria Holland Tomorrow would be the perfect day to leave Xiamen, because I just had the perfect Last Night in Country: singing French drinking songs on a bus that we flagged down at 2 a.m. and convinced to take us to a bar.
June 18 at 3:39am

Maria Holland is gearing up for a showdown between America and Slovenia – basically, me vs. Kristina. 美国 para ganar!
June 18 at 8:41pm

Maria Holland is really getting this football thing. Not getting the whole sleep thing, though. The two may or may not be related.
June 19 at 3:19am

Maria Holland is ready to go home, I guess. Everything is moldy and I’m tired of it. 30 days seems just about right!
June 21 at 11:06pm

Maria Holland has the Stomach Clench of Death. Come on yogurt, work your magic . . .
June 22 at 2:23pm

Maria Holland and this is why I’m loving the World Cup: sitting in a coffehouse, watching the England-Slovenia game and reading updates on the US-Algeria game, with friends from 3 of the 4 countries next to me. The US goal in the final minutes to win the group didn’t hurt either, of course!
June 24 at 12:38am

Maria Holland This may be the best line of its kind since “save a horse, ride a cowboy: “Although I’m a cowboy, I only drink milk in bars. Why don’t I drink beer? Because it’s bad for your health.” Courtesy of a Chinese cowboy song, “Cowboys Are Very Busy”
June 25 at 2:52am

Maria Holland taking a nap in my U.S.A jersey before the game. Sorry, Africa, but I hope Ghana’s out after this . . .
June 27 at 1:08am

Maria Holland Xiamen has a way of making up for Bad China Days. I had a very successful trip shopping for gifts this morning, spent a beautiful afternoon on the beach, and am headed out for dinner and the game. NEDERLANDS!!!
June 28 at 6:59pm

Maria Holland plans to enjoy each of my remaining days in China as much as I did today. Lunch with friends, afternoon on the beach, winning two games of 6-player Catan tonight. Spain and Holland play this weekend and we’re celebrating the Fourth on a boat, then I go to Hangzhou to see Matt Thomas! 挺好的 :)
July 1 at 1:38am

Maria Holland has a plane ticket! On July 20th at 8 p.m. (Beijing time), I will begin my adventure towards home. Expect me around 9 a.m. Central on Wednesday, July 21st at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport – allowing, of course, for 48 hours of possible “adventure-related delays”.
July 1 at 12:20pm

Maria Holland is feeling far from home right now. Didn’t realize how important the internet is to keeping me connected, until they shut off our electricity today and I missed the news of my aunt’s heart attack. Please pray for my Aunt Cathy!
July 3 at 9:34pm

Maria Holland This was the best Fourth of July ever . . . if I do say so myself. Wait for pictures if you don’t believe me!
July 4 at 8:34pm

Maria Holland is not quite caught up from an amazing Fourth of July weekend but, ready or not, I’m off to Suzhou and Hangzhou tomorrow afternoon!
July 6 at 12:07am

Maria Holland Spain vs. the Netherlands in the World Cup final: two countries with the best-looking football, the best-looking footballers, and some of my best friends. I cannot lose!
July 8 at 4:29am

Maria Holland had Papa John’s delivered and ate it with an old friend from elementary, middle, and high school. BTW, I’m still in China. That’s crazy, right?
July 8 at 9:20pm

Maria Holland returned to Xiamen for the last time. The next time I return somewhere, I will be returning to the United States. 11 days . . .
July 9 at 8:55pm

Maria Holland will miss many things when I leave here – but not The Key anymore, and never the giant kamikaze bugs.
July 11 at 2:00am

Maria Holland is getting ready for three finals: the World Cup at 2:30 a.m., Listening at 9:00 a.m., and Grammar at 10 a.m. I predict domination in all three!
July 11 at 9:31pm

Maria Holland AAAH. This morning was amazing, between the game, the glorious sunrise, and the celebratory s’mores that we ate (possibly for breakfast). No longer tired. Two finals in three hours.
July 12 at 6:06am

Maria Holland is so tired. My sleep schedule has been messed up by constant goodbye parties and the month-long World Cup, but if I can keep it up for 8 more days maybe I won’t have jet lag when I get back home?
July 13 at 1:58am

What Was On My Mind (II)

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2010 at 4:56 pm

The middle of the year, captured in facebook statuses:

 

Maria Holland My parents are in route to China RIGHT NOW. Are they ready for China, and is China ready for them??
January 12 at 10:45pm

Maria Holland Parents, meet China. China, parents. (I hope they get along!!!) Yes, this means my parents have arrived in Xiamen safely!
January 13 at 11:12pm

Maria Holland had an amazing few days in Xiamen with my parents. It was almost too perfect, and now I’m hoping that the rest of China can live up to it! Next stop is Guangzhou, then we’re riding the world’s fastest train to Wuhan.
January 17 at 9:46pm

Maria Holland had the best day since leaving Xiamen today – looking at pandas all morning, and finding an amazing donut shop after lunch!
January 23 at 3:19pm

Maria Holland has mixed feelings about the first two days in Beijing. Peking roast duck, Forbidden City, Mass, and sanlunche ride home were amazing; the lack of readable maps, decent hotels, and Matteo Ricci’s tomb is really frustrating me. Oh, and I finally found a Chinese breviary, as well as a Chinese-English Catholic Encyclopedia!!!!!!
January 31 at 6:00pm

Maria Holland climbed the Great Wall today – and then slid down on my butt. Pretty much the best way to experience ChangCheng (and probably the fastest). Also, I think approximately 1/4 of all Chinese people have a picture of me now.
February 1 at 9:05pm

Maria Holland Um . . . . well, the good news is that I have a train ticket home from Beijing to Xiamen. The bad news is that they were out of sleepers so I have a seat. Oh, and it turns out it’s a 31 HOUR TRIP
February 2 at 8:35pm

Maria Holland got in a fight with China today and lost. We’re currently not speaking, at least not if I can help it. I plan to drug myself heavily before my 31-hour train trip tomorrow. I can’t wait to get back to Xiamen with it’s 70+ degree weather and beaches and Coco milk tea!
February 4 at 9:03pm

Maria Holland has had the 3 worst days in China. Hopefully today will be better – a working toilet, a massage, and my first real meal in 2 days would go a long way in this direction.
February 7 at 8:34am

Maria Holland got my toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world and a good book in my hand. It’s 75 and sunny in Xiamen, and I happen to live 3 minutes from a beach. Score!
February 10 at 11:12am

Maria Holland still hasn’t figured out how to say Lent in Chinese . . . but I know how to say Easter!
February 17 at 9:33pm

Maria Holland seriously, Chinese Mulan – no happy ending? I put up with the random foreigner, the sandstorm that came out of nowhere, the lack of memorable songs, and your insistence on speaking Chinese the whole time . . . but how can you end it with the lovers parting ways? This is crap. Good thing the fruit here is good, or I would leave this country.
February 20 at 10:53pm

Maria Holland just figured out that the 天上母后 can be sung to the same tune as the Regina Caeli with only slight squishing of syllables. Is it Easter yet???
February 26 at 12:48am

Maria Holland spent the night in a Chinese hospital . . . don’t worry about me, I was just keeping Lester company, but the poor guy has pancreatitis so please pray for him!
February 28 at 9:58am

Maria Holland 刚刚开学 . . . Classes started today, which means vacation is over. I try not to let school interfere with my education, though, so I’m still really looking forward to the semester!
March 1 at 1:58pm

Maria Holland FOUND CATAN 中文版 (CHINESE EDITION) IN XIAMEN FOR THIRTEEN DOLLARS. Life = complete.
March 4 at 7:06pm

Maria Holland might miss books more than bread, guacamole, ice cream, and tortillas combined. Why do Chinese libraries hate me?
March 10 at 11:50pm

Maria Holland is wondering if you know how to say ‘doorknob’ in another language – without looking it up! Please respond, I’m doing a small survey.
March 12 at 11:58pm

Maria Holland is translating the legend of Paul Bunyan into Chinese. Thus far, I have learned: giant (巨人), lumberjack (伐木人), Grand Canyon (大峡谷), axe (斧), buttons (纽扣), and footprints (足迹). Good thing I already knew how to say Mississippi River!
March 17 at 4:39pm

Maria Holland won’t be takin’ no calls cuz I’ll be dancin’
March 19 at 10:58am

Maria Holland in previewing tomorrow’s Chinese lesson, I came across this sentence: 美国人是非常小气的 (Americans are extremely stingy). Awesome . . .
March 21 at 11:43pm

Maria Holland was really amused to read this comment from an overseas Chinese on an article about the ongoing Google-China battle: "All Chinese, I urge you to boycott Google, and join my facebook "Chinese boycott Google" group." Um . . . great idea, except your government blocked facebook a few years ago for also refusing to self-censor. Irony FAIL.
March 23 at 11:42pm

Maria Holland is pretty sure she has the best parents ever. The package from home included Girl Scout cookies, jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, Cadbury eggs, Hershey’s kisses, lemonade powder, Jello mix, and another bag of marshmallows!!!! Dear Easter: I am eagerly awaiting your arrival :)
March 25 at 1:45pm

Maria Holland baked 7 cakes and a batch of cookies today. Isn’t a full kitchen a wonderful thing? Now if only it were mine . . .
March 26 at 8:51pm

Maria Holland will be celebrating my birthday for a total of 42 hours, from birthday vigil on Chinese time to the end of the day in the Central US. It’s going great so far!
March 28 at 3:18am

Maria Holland My birthday presents included flowers, Belgian chocolate, Kazah and Swedish money, a book titled "Anonymous Rex/Casual Rex", a Slovenian PowerPoint presentation prominently featuring 茄子 (eggplant), a bunch of Dutch music including Bisje Komt Zo (which is apparently about drugs, not buses), and a traditional Chinese bra. Best birthday ever? Possibly.
March 29 at 9:46pm

Maria Holland Ate too many jelly beans and am on a crazy sugar high . . . considering playing the Regina Caeli on loop and singing at the top of my voice while eating chocolate bunnies. That should do the trick . . .
April 4 at 12:13am

Maria Holland Are you wearing pants? Correct answer is No! Are you saying Alleluia? Correct answer is Yes!
April 4 at 11:43pm

Maria Holland had the best Monday today – at least since coming to China, but possibly ever. Tomorrow I leave for an impromptu trip to Guangzhou and a weekend in Hong Kong! Going to class is for squares . . .
April 5 at 10:12pm

Maria Holland is in Guangzhou with friends from OKLAHOMA and their new Chinese son. My hotel room has a shower door and a bed with non-negligible padding – basically the lap of luxury. AND it’s still Easter! Basically, life is good.
April 6 at 11:10pm

Maria Holland must have gotten on the wrong train and ended up in Mumbai, as I’m staying the night in an Indian-run slum. But it’s okay: there’s free internet in Hong Kong (I’m on facebook without a proxy!), there’s a TGIF Friday’s around the corner, and it JUST HAPPENS to be Friday.
April 9 at 5:30pm

Maria Holland had a perfect day in Hong Kong today. I see a TU friend tomorrow (!) and then it’s back home to Xiamen :)
April 10 at 11:52pm

Maria Holland is anyone interested in going to see Mika in concert in Hong Kong on June 16th??
April 13 at 10:29pm

Maria Holland may have figured out how to say "soup Nazi" (and any other words with structure "XX Nazi") in Chinese. So yes, in answer to your question, studying for the HSK is going swimmingly.
April 16 at 1:29am

Maria Holland has a ticket to Changchun, Jilin for May 20th!! Can’t wait to return to the land of my "Chinese childhood"!
April 16 at 3:25pm

Maria Holland is 考试-ing her 汉语水平. It’s HSK time!
April 17 at 11:28pm

Maria Holland countdown in China is at 3 months !?!
April 19 at 11:56pm

Maria Holland F.M.L. Another weekend in China, another adventure – but adventures involving hospitals are significantly less fun than adventures that don’t.
April 22 at 10:21pm

Maria Holland is going to be singing the Misa de Angelis at the installation of the new bishop of the Diocese of Xiamen in two weeks! I guess this kind of makes up for the gynecologist appointment yesterday . . . I forgive you, China.
April 24 at 8:20pm

Maria Holland has been in China for 8 months now. Depending on your age, this may or may not seem like an incredibly long period of time to you. I’m 22, and it’s pretty much ginormous.
April 26 at 11:06pm

Maria Holland is in love with Sheldon Cooper. Also, mangos.
April 30 at 10:37pm

Maria Holland thinks that Chinese national holidays are about as much fun as bamboo shoots shoved into various body parts. Nevertheless, I had a really good day. I even managed to be part of a winning team based on the other side of the world!
May 1 at 11:02pm

Maria Holland had an amazing three day weekend but is infinitely more tired than when classes ended on Friday.
May 4 at 1:01am

Maria Holland is in the EXACT SAME COUNTRY as The Dear Leader RIGHT NOW. How could I be so lucky!?!
May 4 at 9:15pm

Maria Holland A year ago, I knew less than 100 Chinese characters. Tonight, I have the Chinese version of "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace" stuck in my head.
May 7 at 1:34am

Maria Holland The school year at TU is now over and I am officially . . . still a senior. It’s what I do best.
May 7 at 9:57pm

Maria Holland can’t even say how overjoyed I was to have the opportunity to sing in the choir at the installation of Xiamen’s very first local bishop, Cai Binrui (and how pleased I was to hear that he has a papal mandate as well!)
May 8 at 2:52pm

Maria Holland is fabulous. Tomorrow, please be 跟 today 一样 wonderful, 谢谢. I’m singing at Bishop Cai’s first Mass in the morning, but then how to follow that up??
May 9 at 1:27am

What Was On My Mind (I)

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2010 at 4:54 pm

The first part of the year, captured in facebook statuses:

 

Maria Holland is off to China!
August 24, 2009 at 6:17pm

Maria Holland made it to Hong Kong! Not really sure what happened to Tuesday though . . .
August 26, 2009 at 7:46am

Maria Holland is in Xiamen! Despite the best efforts of the Chinese to thwart me, I have a place a to sleep, cell phone, bank account, and have registered for classes. Take that!
August 28, 2009 at 1:43pm

Maria Holland is enjoying a BEAUTIFUL day in Xiamen (as in, my glasses did not fog up when I walked out of my air-conditioned room)!
August 29, 2009 at 12:04pm

Maria Holland had a great day yesterday – got vindicated on the issue of registration, got my money back from the university, rode the bus successfully, found my church, went to Mass in Chinese, and went DANCING!!!
August 30, 2009 at 2:34pm

Maria Holland couldn’t have just walked out of a dance at her university in China and bought a chocolate crunch Magnum bar for about 70 cents. It’s just not possible . . . yet it most certainly happened. My life is awesome!
September 2, 2009 at 10:42pm

Maria Holland realized I haven’t seen, much less used, a fork and knife in 10 days. Weird . . . but at the same time, not.
September 5, 2009 at 12:05am

Maria Holland found French bread at the local bakery!!!!! I think I’m going to make it here . . .
September 10, 2009 at 12:22pm

Maria Holland saw a commercial for a board game store on a bus today. Unfortunately, it was in Chinese, but I WILL FIND IT. So help me, Klaus Teuber.
September 12, 2009 at 5:45pm

Maria Holland broke a mercury thermometer in my room this morning. The guard’s response? "没关系!" (no worries!)
September 17, 2009 at 12:51pm

Maria Holland met a guy from Oklahoma – OU, to be specific – last night at a beach party in Xiamen, China. Incidentally, we met at the exact time that they were beating us in football, apparently.
September 20, 2009 at 1:34pm

Maria Holland learned the Sign of the Cross in Chinese today! 因父,及子,及圣神之名,阿门.
September 21, 2009 at 10:37pm

Maria Holland has Chinese study buddies for both Catholic and Engineering vocabulary. This is basically everything I was hoping for.
September 23, 2009 at 12:50am

Maria Holland is hesitant to declare victory over China, as this has often led to smiting.
September 25, 2009 at 9:53pm

Maria Holland is in Taiwan. At least the typhoon that’s heading our way won’t catch me with my pants down . . . BECAUSE I’M NOT WEARING PANTS!!!
September 30, 2009 at 11:18pm

Maria Holland has eaten Dunkin’ Donuts, a BLT, Coldstone, and fajitas in Taiwan. BUT I also climbed an entire mountain, bathed nude in hot springs, and am eating snake tonight. 
October 2, 2009 at 6:46pm

Maria Holland experienced her first earthquake last night, and is still trying to make plans for southern taiwan around the typhoon(s). Thanks, Taiwan :)
October 4, 2009 at 9:52pm

Maria Holland is leaving Taibei. Destination: rain. Pretty much . . .
October 5, 2009 at 8:25am

Maria Holland has checked most everything off the list of natural disasters here in Taiwan: Typhoon, check. Earthquake, check. Rockslides, check. Still looking for a flood before I leave tomorrow . . .
October 9, 2009 at 11:46pm

Maria Holland had a wonderful time in Taiwan and is now back home in Xiamen. Yes, I said home. Isn’t that weird?
October 14, 2009 at 1:39pm

Maria Holland watched a beautiful sunset in Xiamen this afternoon, is going to a 350.org event on Sunday, and has 3 dancing events coming up in as many days. 祝你周末快乐! (Happy Weekend!)
October 23, 2009 at 9:46pm

Maria Holland participated in 350.org’s International Climate Day of Action in China! Also, I’m on track to go dancing every night this weekend. Seriously, my life is wonderful.
October 25, 2009 at 2:35am

Maria Holland has been in China for two months today, which means it has been two months since I last saw anyone I knew two months ago . . . The weather is beautiful, wish you were here (hint hint)
October 27, 2009 at 12:10am

Maria Holland found out that my XiaDa student ID gets me 1 kuai off at Coco, my favorite milk tea place. It does NOT, however, allow me to check out books from the school library, and that is just not okay.
October 27, 2009 at 11:15pm

Maria Holland is studying dance in China. I’m learning a little bit of Chinese, too, but that’s just coincidental.
October 28, 2009 at 11:40pm

Maria Holland it just figures. The one time you go out in your pajamas to buy a bottle of gin, you see everyone you know.
October 31, 2009 at 5:16pm

Maria Holland is sick – after the most expensive dinner yet in China (67 yuan!) at a famous vegetarian restaurant. Seriously??!?
November 1, 2009 at 7:18am

Maria Holland 拉肚子. There is no such thing as TMI in China, so I don’t care if you all know how my digestive system is doing: not well.
November 3, 2009 at 6:41pm

Maria Holland realizes that there are too many things I haven’t done yet, and too many sunsets I haven’t seen. I can’t waste the day wishing it would slow down; I’ve been given this one world and I won’t worry it away. Every now and then, I lose sight of the good life . . . but then love comes in ♥
November 5, 2009 at 9:13pm

Maria Holland is taking "adventuring towards" to a whole new level. Tomorrow morning we are *probably* going to be adventuring towards Ningde, which is *either* 4 or 12 hours away. Tell you all about it on Sunday evening!
November 6, 2009 at 10:35pm

Maria Holland I think Fujian is the biggest province in the world. You can ride buses for hours and hours and hours and travel only tiny parts of it. In fact, that’s exactly what I did this weekend.
November 9, 2009 at 12:31am

Maria Holland finally remembers what butter tastes like, but adjectives are failing me.
November 10, 2009 at 1:10pm

Maria Holland had one of those moments where I realized, "Holy crap, I live in China!" – and then smiled. It’s a good day here in Xiamen.
November 19, 2009 at 1:57pm

Maria Holland played Catan tonight!!!! Learned a lot of Chinese words in the process (wheat, chance, robber, trade) and even laughed ’til I cried.
November 20, 2009 at 9:59pm

Maria Holland spent $10 tonight and enjoyed dinner (all-you-can-eat) and a movie (2012), with a lesson in reading Chinese subtitles at no extra charge.
November 23, 2009 at 12:47am

Maria Holland celebrating my second Thanksgiving in China. Last year left quite a precedent to live up to, but I’m doing my best!
November 25, 2009 at 11:25pm

Maria Holland got up really early the day after Thanksgiving . . . to run. Sometimes China is not so fun. Tomorrow is the sack-hop race, which is sure to be even more intense. Remember, Maria, you’re doing it for the t-shirt!
November 27, 2009 at 4:44pm

Maria Holland is slightly bummed that I have 6 weeks of class left instead of one like everyone at TU, but on the other hand, I’m a lot more free to skip class. Thus, I’m leave for 5 days in Shanghai on Thursday, and the following week will be spent traveling through Fujian and Jiangxi.
November 30, 2009 at 9:38pm

Maria Holland is headed to Shanghai tomorrow for my deacon’s ordination! Please pray for him and all clergy throughout the world!
December 2, 2009 at 2:41pm

Maria Holland found out today that one of my priests may or may not be set to be ordained a BISHOP early next year!
December 8, 2009 at 10:10pm

Maria Holland is taking the midnight train going aaaaanyyywhere! . . . I mean, we’re hoping to end up at Wuyishan but this is China, so who really knows?
December 15, 2009 at 2:51pm

Maria Holland had a really wonderful trip to Wuyishan. Highlight was probably the singing of national anthems by citizens of four nations on the bus ride. Now I’m back home in Xiamen for the holidays – but really, is 15 C the best I can get around here? Tropical island fail.
December 19, 2009 at 11:23am

Maria Holland is BAKING! Half of the ingredients are Chinese and my oven has a capacity of approximately 4 cookies, but . . . still, I’m BAKING! This is a big deal.
December 21, 2009 at 10:57pm

Maria Holland is on one of those emotional highs – dancing, Christmas movies, baking and sharing cookies, having friends, and finding an oven in China!
December 23, 2009 at 9:51pm

Maria Holland had the strangest Christmas Eve EVER – namely because of baking 100+ cookies 4 at a time, visiting McDonald’s, and eating barbecue on the side of the street at 2 a.m. But I really do believe that if each holiday in China isn’t the strangest you’ve had, you’re doing something wrong. Therefore, I must be doing something VERY right.
December 25, 2009 at 2:25am

Maria Holland is so Two-Thousand-and-Ten, you’re so Two-Thousand-and- . . . then? Happy New Year, everyone – it’s a great one so far!!
January 1 at 12:41am

On Four Chinese Bishops

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I still think of Xiamen as my diocese and Fr. Cai as my bishop.  They’re on my mind when I pray and every time I go to Mass.  My mind flashes to them every time we pray “for the Church around the world”.  I wonder how they’re doing, even more so when I hear news from China.

Last weekend, I heard that the bishop of Fuzhou died.  Fuzhou is the capital of Fujian (my province) and the seat of one of the province’s five dioceses.  I only ever passed through Fuzhou and never went to church there, so I’m not at all familiar with the situation in that area.  But this is what I learned from the article:

Bishop Yang was 91 when he died.  He was the archbishop of Fuzhou (since 1995) but lacked government approval so he was exclusively a part of the underground church.  He’d been a priest for 63 years but spent most of his life in prison – from 1955 to 1981, plus two more terms of 5 and 3 years. 

His story reminds me of Fr. Jiang, the Xiamen priest who took a break of over a decade during his seminary studies to work in a labor camp. 

It also reminds me that the size of China and the irregularity of rules means that Catholicism in China is not one thing in all times and all places.  My experience with the Church in Xiamen was a great blessing, I never explicitly observed government interference in Church affairs, and I heard encouraging things about efforts towards reconciliation with the underground church, but things are not so good in all parts of China.  There are weekly articles on priests and bishops being arrested. 

Sometimes it seems like there’s more bad news than good, but at least there is good.  I still can’t believe how lucky I was to witness the ordination of a bishop with papal approval, and I get excited all over again when new bishops join him, as the bishops of Taizhou and Yan’an did recently. 

Bishop Xu, new bishop of Taizhou, is filling a seat that has been vacant for 48 years.  He spent 25 years in prison and forced labor after his time at seminary.  Bishop Yang, the new bishop of Yan’an, is young (46), closer to my bishop’s age – and like my bishop, he avoided the time of imprisonment and forced labor that so many Chinese priests went through.  He was the first Chinese priest ordained after the seminaries re-opened in the 1980’s to earn a doctorate degree.  His degree is in theology, and he earned it at the Pontifical University in Rome. 

This is the truest quote I’ve heard concerning the Church in China:

It is not an exaggeration to say that everything you hear about the church in China is true at some time and at some place; and not true at another time and in another place.

Home Life

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2010 at 9:00 am

My mom made pancakes for brunch my first morning home.  After eating, I wandered the house taking everything in.  It was pretty anticlimactic, as everything is exactly as I remembered it.  Granted, the living room was redone and there are new faucets in the kitchen and bathroom, but those things come and go with houses.  The microwave, the one constant of my 22 years of life, is still in its position over the oven, and that’s what really matters. 

I had to drive all the way around the Riverdale shopping area to find Panera, and I still don’t park well.  Like I said, everything is exactly as I remembered it. 

There were two loving dogs waiting to welcome me home, but they weren’t quite as cute as I had pictured them during my time away.  Itty, my brother’s dog, had surgery and currently looks like she tried to walk through a lampshade.  Bud, my parents’ dog, had an unfortunate experience with my dad experimenting as a groomer, and looks like a mangy stray. 

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My closet is full of clothes, mainly more skirts than I think I have ever seen in one place.  How do I have so many clothes, and how was I able to part with them for an entire year?  It’s a good thing that I had a full wardrobe at home, though, because my clothes suitcase was the one that got lost.  It didn’t arrive until nearly a full day after I had.  When I opened the door to accept the delivery, I had to keep myself from bursting into laughter.  “If I sign, it just means that I received the suitcase, right?  Not that it’s okay, right?” I asked.  “Because . . . it’s NOT.” 

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I really have no idea how they knew this suitcase was mine; I had described it as green and rectangular, but its current shape was anything but.  If I had to guess as to what had held it up these past few hours, I would say that it got into a fight with a bear and was then run over by at least one jet plane.  That’s the only way to explain the frame bent beyond recognition and the ominous scrapes and tears along all surfaces. 

I also have a collection of half-used lotions that could moisturize the skin of an entire sorority for a year, and a whole glorious bookshelf filled with all my favorite books.  I felt happy just looking at it until I realized that my dad had done some rearranging and my library was no longer impeccably sorted.  Oh, the horror!  I added my new books (making the language shelf a little more crowded) and now my world is again as it should be.

 

I think I’m going to be at home for the perfect amount of time.  For two weeks, my parents are just really happy to have me home and are about the most wonderful parents anyone could imagine.  Mom cooks all my favorite foods, and Dad’s okay with paying if we want to go out to eat. 

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They brought me a sandwich to eat in the car that first night, took me to dinner at Texas Roadhouse (my traditional coming-home-from-China dinner venue), and Mom prepared an amazing dinner of pork roast, green beans, Mom’s legendary mashed potatoes, and a cake for my dad’s birthday (and, if I may flatter myself, for my return).  I made myself a quesadilla for lunch one day, relishing the tortillas and sour cream even as I realized that canned salsa almost isn’t even worth eating. 

 

For my first two days back home, I was completely unconnected.  My laptop was half dead and I didn’t have a US cell phone, so I was reduced to using a land line (I know, right?!) for all communication.  But on Friday night we went to Best Buy as a family and got smart phones – smarter-than-us-phones, to be specific.  Before I went to China I had never really texted, but I did find it pretty useful in China (if only because texts in Chinese were slightly less terrifying at the beginning than phone calls in Chinese) and I guess it will be good to have now in the States.  I also have facebook on my phone, which is so ridiculous.  A few days ago, I had to be in my room, plugged into a LAN, and signed into a proxy to access facebook; now I can access it anytime, anywhere from the phone in my pocket.  Insane! 

Our trip to Best Buy seemed so typically American.  First of all, I ran into a friend from high school and got to catch up with him.  The fact that he was dating a friend of one of my college friends made it feel even more small-town.  But even more so, everyone was so incredibly nice.  We were greeted with a smile (not just an emotionless 欢迎光临) when we entered, and were approached immediately by employees offering to help.  The woman who ended up helping us was warm and personable throughout the whole process, so much so that we didn’t even realize until we left that we kept her there 15 minutes after closing!  This kind of courtesy is totally unheard of in China, where workers usually treat you like scum even when you’re there during normal business hours.

And it’s not just the employees.  People hold doors open for each other here – and accompany that action with a “hello!” or a “have a nice day!” or other such pleasantry.  After a trip to a store I feel overwhelmed with warm fuzzy feelings, like I just went through an affirmation process or a group hug.  Some of the papers that I was given by the TU Center for Global Education to prepare me for reentry talked about how many students struggle with the rudeness of Americans.  I’m not sure where those students are coming home from, but compared to China it’s like every single American is my best friend or something. 

That evening at Best Buy we became even more connected than we’d ever been (and this from a family with a 2:1 ratio of computers to people), but we took a step back and went analog that night.  My dad, recently retired, has been indulging even more in his passion of organizing and editing old negatives and slides, and he treated us to a slideshow of old family photos.  We saw pictures from my babyhood in Ohio and childhood in Oklahoma, the days when I was an insanely cute little girl.  Okay, 95% of my cuteness came from the fact that I was an really chubby little girl, but still – I was adorable.  I had cankles, my brother was knock-kneed, my mom had huge glasses and too much hair, and my dad used to have hair (as opposed to now . . . ).  Basically, we were one good-looking family!

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So now I can contact people any one of five ways from my phone, and we hooked my laptop up to another monitor so I can use it.  I got on QQ for the first time since I got home, and had a new crop of Christians who wanted to talk to me about Jesus.  There was also a message from LiuQin, the maddening woman from church: “Maria, I heard the bishop say you were going home and now you’re gone.  You never said goodbye; you really aren’t a very good friend.  I don’t even know if you foreigner understand me!  When war breaks out between China and America, I won’t wake care of you.”  She really is crazy, I think. 

 

I went to Mass on Saturday morning, only my second [intelligible] English Mass this year.  The similarities between English and Chinese Mass are far greater than the differences, but the little differences have a large impact.  Shaking hands during the Sign of Peace instead of bowing, receiving wine during communion – it felt good to be back.  I did find myself mouthing the Chinese along sometimes, though, and my Xiamen diocese friends were never far from my mind.  We sang “Sing of Mary Pure and Lowly” and I teared up at the last line:

And the Church her strain reechoes
Unto Earth’s remotest ends

because I think, in geopolitical terms, southeast Asia is about as remote as it gets for Catholicism. 

 

Saturday afternoon, my mom and I set out on a mini-road trip down to southern Minnesota.  We stopped first in Eden Prairie to see a college friend of mine; she had been the last college friend I saw before leaving for China last year and now became the first one I saw upon my return.  A year a six days had passed, which means I will go at least a year between seeing any of my other college friends.

From there we continued down to Winona, where one of my oldest friends was getting married.  I’ve known Rachel since 2nd grade, and we’ve been friends almost as long.  (Only “almost” because I very plainly told her when we moved to Minnesota that we were only going to be there for a few years and I didn’t want to make new friends.  I was a very practical 2nd grader.)  I had saved this date well before I left for China, and while it took me 10 months to buy my return ticket I always knew that it would be for some day safely before July 24th.  I wouldn’t miss her wedding for anything (not even, thankfully, the incompetence of Cathay Pacific). 

I think Minnesota is a beautiful state, green and blue everywhere you look, but the Mississippi River is certainly the jewel of our state.  The drive down to Winona is gorgeous, with trees and wheat to either side and bald eagles soaring through blue skies overhead.  This is what it would be like to drive through Catan, I imagine.  Makes me wish I had a wood port . . .

Winona is a nice city, too.  The river is lined with majestic bluffs and the streets are lined with quaint old buildings.  My friend’s wedding took place in a park outside, and they were blessed with a beautiful Minnesota summer evening.  They had the most perfect setting to say their vows!

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There was a reception afterwards in a local hotel – hors d’oeurves, speeches, and dancing.  I was excited to hit the dance floor with some of my old friends, but wasn’t sure about the music situation.  See, I really only dance when I can sing along, and a lot of music had come out since I was last in the States.  But my nights at The Key and 10 gigabytes of downloads from Google Music apparently served me well, because I knew almost all the songs that were played.  One friend even remarked at how much of the lyrics I knew, but the facade came tumbling down when a song I didn’t know came on.  Everyone else shrieked and sang along while dancing, while I just stood there and felt awkward.  “I just got back from a year in China,” I remarked to the groomsman standing next to me.  “Oh, you’re the China girl, aren’t you?”, he responded. 

Yup, that would be me.  The China girl.