7 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.
In a way, praying with them gives me a sense of community and not feel alone, far from my Claretian community. They have not signified anything about wanting to join the congregation, but we talk about what happened throughout the day and share insights that we might have gained. And with their limited knowledge of English words, I have heard some powerful sharing as when one said that before entering the seminary, God had always spoken to him, but now that he is now in the seminary, God has become very silent.
Being an only child, he wants to hear from God his assurance on what he wants him to do. Another one also shared his realization that we actually were not required to do anything to go to heaven because heaven is God’s mercy and gift to us, and he added, but there are things that we do that make us unable to go to heaven.
I do miss our Claretian fraternity. At times, I get to talk with KC and Peter James in Colmenar Viejo and with Ian in Quezon City. It’s good that we have our EAD group in WhatsApp, which helps me keep in touch with our wider CMF community.