Sr. Mary Paul traveled with a mission group from Franciscan University of Steubenville to China very recently. Here are some of her thoughts:
Peace be with you all!
Day II - Orientation and pilgrimage to Our Lady of Sheshan. At the end of that day, we met with a group of young Chinese Catholics at a church in downtown Shanghai. We simply had a time of worship together, which led into a question-answer time, and then we ended with prayer. I have to admit I was suffering about that time from massive jet lag, and so I didn't have the energy I would have like to have had. . .but you know what? The Holy Spirit showed up anyway, in spite of our lagging spirits. It was a beautiful time of prayer, and I believed that we were all blessed.
Day III - We visited the river front which goes through downtown Shanghai. Downtown Shanghai is massive - makes New York City look like a village. The buildings are so modern - in fact, we saw what is supposedly the tallest building in the world. We were only able to spend about 45 minutes at this place, because we were then on our way to Wenzhoe (pronounced Win-Joe). So, back on the bus for another 7 ´hour bus trip. The bus trip was beautiful. We got into a more mountainous area, and crossed the longest suspension bridge in the world. It was just completed a couple of months ago, and it really quite impressive. It was really neat to watch the Chinese who were with us on the bus. Most of them had never been outside of Beijing, and so they were seeing these wonderful things for the first time as well. They were so proud and excited about the bridge. I guess the most memorable part of this journey was stopping at a rest stop to pick up some snacks. The place where we were to eat lunch was not opened, and so we just picked up some snacks. It was hilarious watching our group, because noone really new exactly what we were buying. I would say in the end that we came out pretty well. I myself was pleased with "Chinese poptarts" that I discovered. They were slightly sweet crackers with raisins backed into them. Sort of tasted like Pop-tarts, and so they were forever dubbed.
Day IV - This day was spectacular. We drove for 2 1-2 hours to a beach that was south of Wenzhoe. We drove along the coast and there had brilliant scenery. I think between all of us we took about 500 pictures. It was amazing to see the way that the people lived, especially those who lived along the sea, and to see the mountain tombs that could be seen all along. I felt like I was in a National Geographic magazine. It was so beautiful. Of course, along the way, we were praying with one another and simply getting to know each other better. Some weren't feeling to good as a result of the sharp winding roads and our vicious but excellent bus driver. So, we got to the beach in time for lunch and then began our beach ministry. We met about 200 Chinese youth who would be with us the rest of the day.. We spent our time on the because just hanging out and playing games together. We had volleyball, soccar, and frisbee tournaments. I was in charge of the volleyball tournaments, and a Chinese man came to help me with translations.. I later discovered that he was a spy. I didn't know that. I just ordered him around - "Tell them I said this!" "Tell them I said that!" OK - so I was a bit worried after realizing that he was a spy sent to check on our group. We had a great time on the beach, and I can say that I have been in the water on that beach. It was really dirty.
At the end of that day we went to a beautiful church in Wenzhoe where we shared an evening meal with our new Chinese friends, and then we had a program very much like the one we had in Shanghai. It was really a great experience. We sang and prayed together, and at the end of the evening, I ended up praying with a group of Sisters. That was a great experience.
Day V - This was one of the most exciting days. . .but you will have to wait til later to hear about it!
Sr. Mary Paul