Mission little diaries V

201609121620547537 April 2017. I was back in Shenyang after a four-hour travel from Beijing. The train stopped only in Tianjin after half an hour, and then, the next and final stop was at Shenyang Bei. Unlike Biancun which was rainy and cold, and Beijing which was warm, Shenyang was still cold. I was back to my work, teaching 8 seminarians and 8 sisters. Since they have different levels, needs and reasons for learning English, I give an hour of tutorial session to a group of 2 to 3 students instead of having a class for all the students. The sessions range from really basic English teaching the students to say and read simple English words to teaching other students to read and understand readings in philosophy and theology to using English for recreation in playing card games, like UNO, Love Letter or Coup, or for praying the midafternoon or night prayer and lectio divina. So I have 10 hours of tutorials every week besides the night prayer and sharing with some seminarians every evening at 7:30.

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Mision little diaries IV

7a21ff59a6 5 April 2017. From Biancun, I went to Beijing by bus; Benedict went with me. I would have wanted to take the high speed train from Shijiazhuang to be in Beijing within 90 minutes. But Victor suggested that we take the 5-hour bus ride to Beijing. I had been wondering how Benedict and I would communicate with each other. He had studied English in college, but had not had any chance to use English as a language. As it turned out, that 5-hour trip became five hours of English lesson on the bus: he learned and memorized the Our Father in English. If only the other passengers knew that we were actually praying throughout that trip!

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Mission Little Diaries - III

3903403030 9face8bbc8 zThe diocese has had a youth formation program called "100 Days Training" for young people aged 18 to 25 years old. It’s a residential program where the young people stay at the center and attend classes. The director of the center pointed out the four components of the program on personality, Christian faith, Bible, and training to be young missionaries when they return to their respective parishes. The program has been going on for more than 10 years now, and many of the present lay leaders in the different parishes have come from the 100 Days. So he hopes that these young people will take an active role in the life of the Church after they have completed the 100 days.

They have two groups every year: one for boys in the first half of the year, and the other for girls. Every group will have about 40 to 50 participants, with only a few dropping out of the program. The director wants us to help in the program by sharing about our Claretian vocation and charism, in view that some of the boys and girls may be called to become Claretian Missionaries. He also asks about the possibility of having Benedict, one of his lay volunteers, assigned to Biancun to continue helping in youth formation when he becomes a Claretian.

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Mission Little Diaries - II

Biancun Old CathedralI was last in Biancun in 2014 when Victor brought Paco and me to meet with the administrator, and a lot has changed since then. There is now a new 5-story diocesan center, the bishop’s house, though the diocese has not a bishop yet. The diocesan offices are on the ground floor, and the other floors are rooms for the more than 100 priests of the diocese when they come for their regular retreats or meetings. Clerics who reside in the center and who work in the different diocesan offices have an anteroom next to their bedroom. The two rooms combined are actually bigger than Paco’s previous apartment in Xinjiekou! Besides this year-old building, they are also building a new cathedral with space for parking on the ground floor. The old 1990 cathedral will soon be demolished once the new church is completed.

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Mission Little Diaries - I

CHSR3 April 2017. It was a six-hour trip for a distance of more than 900 kilometers from Shenyang to Shijiazhuang on the high speed G-train, a trip punctuated by periods of 350-km-per-hour speed in some segments of the trip. That trip brought me back to 1988 when I first went to Beijing from Guangzhou, a journey of 1,890 kilometers which took me 36 hours. How I wish I had taken photos of that time!

China had indeed changed a lot these past 30 years. I used to bring my own toilet paper when I traveled on the train for use in the squat toilet which was a hole that opens directly to flush down all unwanted materials down to the railway track. Now, passengers have a choice between a squat toilet and a “throne,” with water flush for both, but you don’t get to see the track anymore. And the best part of it is the soft two-ply toilet paper to be had in abundance!

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