Letter: Lunar New Year 2014



Dear brothers and sisters,
                        First of all, I want to wish you:

Happy Lunar New Year
Selamat Hari Raya Imlek
新年快乐,马年大吉!



How is your Lunar New Year celebration? 
I was in Yuci-Shanxi from January 26 till Feb 1 then stayed in Shenzhen till Feb 5.
Four sisters of the Missionary Sisters of Blessed Mary Assunta in Yuci are preparing for the final vows so they asked me to share my experiences in religious life. I met Sr. Maria Shen, one of the four sisters who will profess the final vows, when she studied in USA sponsored by Maryknoll Society and then we reconnected during her trip to Hong Kong.  She has an impression (有感觉)about Maryknoll Sisters as all of the women participants would stay in Maryknoll Sisters Center New York during school break. 
Getting the bus or train ticket to mainland before and after Lunar New Year is quite a challenge.  One of the parishioners in Shenzhen, my former teacher in Guangzhou, and Sr. Maria Shen tried to get the high-speed train ticket on the first two days of booking by internet with no success.  The trip crossed the border was more or less the same as regular days because there are special lanes for foreigners.
My flight from Baoan International Airport Shenzhen to Taiyuan is at 8.00 a.m. The weather was 7 degree Celcius when we transit at Nanchang International Airport for around 30 minutes.  Both sectors were full seated, with total journey around 4 hours.  It’s minus 2 degree Celcius when we landed at Taiyuan International Airport.  Sr. Maria Shen, Sr. Ren, Fr. Wang picked me up at the airport and then went to Jinzhong convent -Yuci around for 30 minutes by car. 
I started our first session on Jan 27 by showing the documentary film about Maryknoll Sisters “Trailblazers in Habits” (http://trailblazersinhabits.com/) followed by sharing and comments about the movie and then I shared my vocation story, here is the link http://anastasialindawatimm.blogspot.hk/2014/02/sharing.html.


We had four sessions on spirituality of Mother Mary Joseph including on the Lunar New Year day afternoon.  Sr. Claudette LaVerdiere led a retreat last 2012 for Maryknoll Sisters China region based on her book “On the Threshold of the Future: The Life and Spirituality of Mother Mary Joseph Rogers-Founder of the Maryknoll Sisters” and I marked several of MMJ’s quotations during the retreat.  I translated several of the quotations, which I think not only applicable for us Maryknoll Sisters but also for others, into Chinese using google translate on the day before I left.  While appreciating individuality, our foundress also stressing on common good, for example, “With people placed over you at work.  They want it done one way. You want to do it another way.  Do it their way!  Give in graciously and do not keep insisting that your way is equally as good or better.  Make it a rule, that in all things not of vital importance, you yield.  It takes strength to yield. “ And about obedience, she said, “Each person is called to live in conformity with God’s will, that is, with God’s help, choosing to do the most loving thing in any given instance. “ because “We do things because we thing they are right and not because anybody says we must do them.  They're practical but not easy to be done.

Sr. Maria Shen would try to explain it in Putonghua, because the google translation is not always correct, and then we would share our comments or experiences.  I was also available for private counseling and praying together.  For sure, I was still need to check my e-dictionary in my cellphone.          
Sr. Maria Shen, Sr. Agnes and Fr. Yue accompanied me to have pilgrimage to the former convent of Blessed Mary Assunta (http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/blessed-mary-assunta-pallotta.html) and Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows (http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/resources/shrines/China/China-OL-Sorrows.html) in Taiyuan, around one hour by car from Jinzhong convent, on Jan 29.  While climbed the mountain, they sang the station of the cross in Mandarin.  Fr. Yue led the short prayer inside the Church and gave the blessing.  We arrived at the convent just in time for the hotpot lunch.  In the late afternoon Sr. Maria Shen and Sr. Song accompanied me to see around the old city of Yuci.  Fr. Niu invited me and five sisters for dinner as he wanted to introduce me to the couple who will attend the workshop in HongKong.  I was surprised to see Fr. Niu before the mass on the previous day.  I met him at Maryknoll House Hong Kong last year. Small world!  Then, the sisters, Fr. Niu and I saw the lanterns festival organized by one of the real estate company.
 The sisters taught me to wrap the Shanxi “饺子“(=dumplings, the specialty of northern part of China) but I couldn’t do it so I wrapped it like an Indonesian snack pastel”, one of the sisters said it looks like Hebei dumplings. Afterwards, two sisters and I went to the rectory to help to wrap the dumplings together with several parishioners and priests.  After dinner at the convent, the sisters and I watched the live TV show of Lunar New Year (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISbVdStuFwg), while they played Chinese cards in pairs, later on a seminarian and a priest joined them to play till after midnight.  There were 3.00 p.m. Mass for New Year Eve and New Year Day at the Cathedral besides the morning Masses.  I went to see around after both Masses, they gave away snacks after New Year Day Mass, no special celebration.  The sisters and I attended the Masses in the convent in the mornings. 
  We attended Mass at Bishop’s Chapel on Feb 1 morning.  Fr. Niu dropped me at Taiyuan International Airport on Feb 1 on his way to say Mass somewhere.  The sisters is grateful for my willingness to help them and wish I will attend their final vows ceremony in April.
  I arrived at Holy Family Church Shenzhen just in time for our anticipated Sunday Mass.  Several parishioners asked whether I went to Indonesia as I wasn’t at Church for two weeks.  I was at Maryknoll House Hong Kong for a week before left for Yuci.  I continued the celebration of the Lunar New Year with the parishioners and our pastor including Mass followed by house blessing, outing to the beach and birthday celebration.
   As I was looking to the beach, I was grateful with this ten days experiences especially the opportunity to share about Maryknoll Sisters and my experiences even though I am not finally professed, besides limitation on Putonghua.  Even though the weather up and down during the day, I was warm enough with my winter jacket as I stayed in the convent most of the time.  There is methane gas heater and solar panel hot water inside the convent.  As our foundress said, “There is nothing more astonishing than life, just as it is, nothing more miraculous than growth and change, just as revealed to us.  And as happens so often when we stop to regard God’s work, there is nothing to do but wonder and thank God.”
                                                                         
Hong Kong, February 6, 2014
With love and prayer,

         

Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible