Today it’s the third day of the Lunar New Year and I just came back from celebrating Lunar New Year with my family in Quanzhou-Fujian Province. When I left the Tianhe Coach bus terminal Guangzhou on Jan 19 evening, it’s was packed with passengers who could enter the waiting area around one hour before their departure. The passengers in front of the ticket counter not as much as the previous ten days when I bought my ticket. I went to Xiamen by sleeping bus and arrived the next morning to visit my mother’s cousin. In the evening, I went to Nan’an by bus for two hours. No traffic jam during the trip Guangzhou-Xiamen-Nan’an. Ming bought the Xiamen-Nan’an ticket through his cellphone and when I was in Xiamen, I entered the booking number in a ticket machine to get the ticket. Ming’s family has a shop which is selling the lunar new year decoration so it’s a busy time. The next day, I stayed in another family in Da Xia Mei after having supper with the other family. The son or grandson of the family will paste the 对联 (dui lian = pair of lines of verse written in red paper vertically down the sides of a doorway) several days before 除夕(chu xi=the lunar new year eve). I helped to wrap a local food made of flour with fish inside. I attended the Mandarin Lunar New Year eve Mass in Quanzhou, there would be Mandarin New Year Mass too. After mass, there was a memorial prayer for a man who died a year ago. I had Lunar New Year dinner with Ming’s family and then watched the live show on CCTV (China Central Television). It’s a common practice to prepare an offering altar at home with the head, tail and or foot of a pig (represent the wish to have good health, well-being and joy to everyone), a whole chicken and or duck, a whole fish. The fish is represent the wish to have balance at the end of the year: 年年有余(nian nian you yu because the word for fish is 鱼yu which have the same pronounciation with 余)。There were fireworks before midnight and firecrackers even two days before as people went to the temple. After praying at home right after midnight, people usually go to the temple. The common practice is visiting the parents and siblings of the husband on the first day of lunar new year and visiting the parents and siblings of the wife on the second day of lunar new year. Usually people will go to the ancestor hall (and not go to the grave) and spend the rest of the two days at home. Many (or maybe all) stores are closed and there is no bus from Nan’an to Quanzhou on the first the of lunar new year. In the evening, I went to Da Xia Mei again till Jan 24 evening as I leave for Shenzhen-HongKong by a sleeping bus with cctv (closed circuit television) camera. For this five days trip, I stayed overnight in three houses, visiting 13 houses, and had meals in six houses; learned a little bit about Chinese New Year and Wedding customs and also heard about the people who have much better (economic) life after the opening of China. It’s a new year’s customs to give red envelopes to the children, wear new clothes, have new hairdo (the hairdo fee usually goes up before new year), use new dishes even though it’s not as special as before as people have better (economic) life now so many things are common daily expenses instead of special for the new year. I arrived in Shenzhen bus station the next morning 4.00 am and wait in a hotel lobby as the Lowu immigration open at 6.30 a.m. There were long queue before 6.30 a.m. That’s about this Lunar New Year celebration, which is the year of dragon. The pictures during my visit are available at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.497658716555.267289.658706555&type=3#!/media/set/?set=a.10150509111291556.360432.658706555&type=1.
Our optional tourism class had an outing to Foshan, around one hour from Guangzhou to visit a big statue of the God of Mercy (观音Guan Yin), Xiqiao Mountain, and Huang Fei Hung’s place including watching the lion dances http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/guangdong/foshan/.
The final exam was on Jan 4-6 and the graduation ceremony was on Jan 13. My grade in reading-writing is 89, listening is 91, conversation is 96.1. My article for the writing competition was published in the school magazine. Several of our classmates visited my room after the graduation ceremony to have Indonesian instant noodle.
After buying the bus ticket for going to Xiamen on Jan 7, I visited two Filipino patients in Modern Hospital and heard that one of the patients whom I visited several weeks ago passed away in the Philippines. As we finished praying together, the wife of one of the patients told me that she saw light when we prayed so she took a picture but I couldn’t see the light in the picture at her cellphone. I believe God can show up in so many ways and it’s a personal experience so I only can give thanks to God for her experience.
I attended the Thanksgiving Mass of silver jubilee of Filipino Diocesan Pastoral Center for Filipino (and other Asian Migrants and Ethnic Minorities) at St. Paul Convent’s School Chapel on Jan 8. There were performances from the Philipinos and Indonesians after the Mass. For more about it can be read in http://anastasialindawatimm.blogspot.com/2012/01/liputan-hidup-menggereja-buruh-migran.html.
I visited four mandarin speaking women in Lo Wu Correctional Institution on Jan 9. Most of the times, I asked questions and listened to their sad stories and if I don’t understand what they said, we change the topics. All of them are from mainland China. I couldn’t hold my tears as I listened to one of their stories.
The school arranged an outing to Nanxiong city to see the ancient passage of Meiguan pass and Zhuji Lane http://legacy1.net/nanxiong-county/, and then go to Shaoguan city the next day to see Danxia Mountain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Danxia and Shaoguan University. On the way to Guangzhou, we stopped at a farm to pick Shatang orange up from the tree.
As we are still celebrating lunar new year so I want to wish you:
Happy Lunar New Year! Wish you all the best in the year of Dragon.
Xin nian kuai le! Gong xi fa cai, shen ti jian kang, wan shi ru yi.
Hong Kong, January 25, 2012
Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible