ACTION ITEM: Dew Drops Little Flower Fundraising Matching Campaign September 1 to 3

Xian-Man-Le-e1472533908285While in China this summer, we visited Dew Drops Little Flower several times. We met the founders of Little Flower and a lot of the people involved in its operation.

I experienced first-hand the loving care provided to abandoned children by this amazing organization. And, I got to meet and interact with some of the children and babies who live there.

Dew Drops Little Flower receives abandoned babies and children, most of whom have serious, disfiguring, debilitating, or life-threatening conditions, and provides them with a home, love, food, clothing, medicine and medical care. A lot of the children would die without the care they receive at Little Flower. They work to coordinate medical treatment for these children, and provide the funding for that treatment.

IMG_1862Dew Drops operates on a shoestring budget and relies upon monetary assistance from donors and gifts of things like diapers, medicine, supplies, baby formula and food, clothes, etc. Through generous donations and the prudent use of their resources, they save (and change) lives.

In the weeks leading up to our visit, the “word went out” that we could bring donations with us, and boxes of various things started to arrive at our house. One corner of our dining room was stacked with dozens of boxes up to the day before we left. We took all of those shipments and packed them into one huge suitcase for our flight to Beijing.

Today through September 3 there is a special fundraising campaign that will allow donations to be matched by Tencent Public. You can easily donate through Paypal by clicking here. You can set up a one-time or monthly donation. Please consider helping this worthy organization.

Advertisements

“Son of Quartermaster” Reports on Food in China

FullSizeRenderQuartermaster’s Note: This is a “guest post” by my oldest son, a 13-year-old beginning 8th grade this year, who traveled with me to China this Summer.

In China there were many times when our group would sit down to a meal, and just be blown away, by food that didn’t even cost half the amount of a much lower-standard American Chinese restaurant, but looked and tasted three times as good!! In this way Chinese cuisine in China was on a whole other level.

IMG_2019

A chef at a restaurant in Beijing preparing to serve the famous “Peking Duck”

One of the things noticeably different in the places we ate, yet such an improvement, was the lack of fried flavorless meat with an overwhelmingly sticky sweet sauce (e.g., lemon chicken, General Tso chicken, orange beef, etc.). Instead, meat was carefully cut according to its cooking method, seasoned and flavored with things like cumin, Szechuan peppercorns, all sorts of other interesting spices and ingredients, and without heavy doses of syrup or sugar.

There were lots of interesting proteins to try: in addition to chicken and beef, we enjoyed pork, lamb, mutton, duck, and an array of fresh seafood. One of my favorite dishes was lamb cut into strips and stir-fried in a hot wok with lots of different spicy peppers and cumin. It was brought to the table atop a little portable stove that kept the aromatic meat sizzling through the meal.

With at least one vegetarian in our group at all times, we enjoyed lots of different

FullSizeRender 2

American fast food such as KFC is fairly popular in large Chinese cities, but we were too busy enjoying all the authentic Chinese food to try it

vegetables and tofu. I don’t normally like tofu, in part because it’s rather flavorless, but the preparations of it in China were varied in terms of texture and cooking method — we sampled it in soups, cubed and deep-fried or cut into ribbons and stir-fried. Generally, tofu actually tasted like something edible, and since we always had other dishes with meats at mealtime, the amazingness of the meat balanced out the quantity of tofu, so that the tofu dishes became another fun thing to try.

During my visit to China I learned some things about stereotypes concerning Chinese food. For example, dog as food is not as widely accepted in China as the stereotype suggests. In fact, one of our hosts in Taiyuan shared his experience that animals like dogs and mules are sometimes consumed as food in China, but usually eaten only in certain areas and at specific times, like special festivals. He also told us that he would not eat the meat of an animal that he knew has been mistreated.

Picture2Soy sauce is a universal condiment at the Chinese restaurant in the United States, but not something you find on the table in China; it’s still an ingredient in cooking, but it is far more common to find a condiment such as hot chili oil or malt vinegar (certain provinces, such as Shanxi, are famous for special vinegars). All you salty rice lovers, being your own soy sauce.

The weirdest thing I ate in China was definitely scorpion, which we tried on Wong fu Jing street in Beijing. It was my first fried arachnid, and while crunching into something with tiny little legs and a stinger was a new experience, the taste was similar to crispy fried chicken skin, and hence, not bad. The most upsetting part of the experience with eating scorpion was watching the live ones that had been skewered and anchored in display baskets, waiting for their turn in the fryer, squirming around while remaining fixed in place.

Picture1

YUM!

As a seafood lover who is especially fond of sushi, I enjoyed visiting the local markets in Beijing, which had an absolute top notch selection of not only fresh and live fish, but all sorts of shellfish, shrimp, crab, octopus and squid, oysters, claims and other mollusks. We saw an amazing variety of things from the sea during our visit.

IMG_1918My personal food favorite of the trip definitely goes to the dumplings (“Jiaozi”). Unlike potstickers common in American restaurants, jiaozi are steamed and very tender. The dumplings contain a delicious mix of meat and vegetable, and usually a little “soup” that escapes when you bite into one. They are served with vinegar and chili oil. I enjoyed them so much, and literally ate dozens of them during the trip.

My trip to China this summer was one of the most tantalizingly awesome trips I have ever embarked upon, for me and my palate. I hope to travel there again very soon, and for anyone reading this, I hope that that your experiences involving China are filled not only with God’s love and grace, but also with the amazing Chinese  cuisine that I love so much.

China Pilgrimage Series: Our Lady of Graces in Bansishan

Recently, my oldest son and I returned from a pilgrimage and mission trip to the People’s Republic of China. I hope to share (in a series of posts in the coming weeks) some of what we saw and experienced.

Shanxi Province 

IMG_2067The capital city of Taiyuan is approximately 514 km west of the city of Beijing, with a population of 4 million (source: Wikipedia), and seat to the Archdiocese of Taiyuan and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (source: UCANews).

Relative to other provinces in China, the treatment of the Catholic Church there is somewhat more relaxed. For example, there is very little distinction between that “above-ground” Patriotic Association Church and the otherwise “underground” Catholic Church in full communion with Rome.

One small clue that this is so can be found in the picture below, outside the Cathedral. A great many churches in China are obscured by a wall or have some barrier between them and the facing street. Here, however, the very short fence is used to stand posters about the teachings of Catholicism, and on the public sidewalk there were two tables, with stools and umbrellas, with an array of Catholic tracts for passers-by.

IMG_2069

Bansishan 

One of two official pilgrimage sites in the Archdiocese of Taiyuan is Our Lady of Grace Portiuncula Basilica on Bansishan (a mountain). (Source: UCANews). Approximately 100 km north of Taiyuan and 1760 meters above sea level, pilgrims access the Basilica by ascending a winding narrow dirt road that is punctuated by Stations of the Cross monuments carved in stone. (Source: UCANews).

IMG_2102

According to local tradition, Mary appeared at Bansishan in 1783 and opened the eyes of a blind child. A Franciscan bishop built a church on the site, and another Franciscan bishop later rebuilt it. (Source: UCANews).

IMG_2106While many pilgrims, particularly the local Chinese Catholics, make their 10 km ascent to the Basilica on foot, we made our way aboard a small bus that gasped and choked from overheat when we arrived. I’m glad that I didn’t know that at least once before a coach loaded with pilgrims has overturned on the rugged road, but miraculously, passengers received only minor injuries. (Source: UCANews).

Looking toward the mountain top with the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Looking toward the mountain top with the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Atop the mountain sits the Basilica. Thousands of pilgrims make their way there on August 2 each year to receive the “Portiuncula Indulgence”. This year, for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, the doors of the Basilica have been designated as one of nine holy doors within the Archdiocese. When they were first opened on January 13, “more than 10,000 Catholics, coming on foot or in long lines of vehicles braved the freezing weather of minus 16 degrees Celsius at the pilgrimage site.” (Source: Sunday Examiner).

While the government of the Shanxi Province treats the Church more diffidently than elsewhere in China, it’s not as though Bansishan hasn’t been through its share of upheavals. In 1966, it was demolished by the Red Guards. It was rebuilt beginning in 1988. (Source: sacredarchitecture.org). As recently as 2008, the local government has interfered with pilgrims making their way to the shrine. On May 24 of that year, “thousands of police” blocked the access road to stop the pilgrims from reaching the Basilica, who were forced to return home. “According to eyewitnesses, the police forces greatly outnumbered the pilgrims.” (Source: asianews).

IMG_2120Further up the mountain, which we hiked, is a rosary garden currently under construction, as well as a golden statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the crest. While atop the mountain, at the foot of the Sacred Heart statue, our pilgrimage group prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy before we wended our way back down the mountain for our return to Taiyuan.

IMG_2113

Wealthy Ain’t Automatically Classy (or Smart) and Class Warfare in China

Son of a Chinese real estate tycoon buys two Apple Watches (total value, $26,000) for his dog. The dog is shown in the article wearing a watch on each of his two forelegs. 

Let’s skip the obvious. Bigger issues:

First, it can hardly be said that China is communist. It isn’t. Private ownership is hallmark number one of a non-communist system. China has a single-party controlled government that is totalitarian. It can control who gets what and who does what. But it clearly is tolerating a semi-free market, which demands incentive and reward for investment. 

Second, China is already in the midst of class warfare. Apple products are Chinese-made goods, and while China is most recently a serious consumer of these goods in its own right, there are fewer such consumers than in the U.S., despite China’s vastly larger overall population. So a few can buy everything, some can buy something, but many (most?) can buy nothing. China is in the market because “few” is still a lot of people when total population is one billion.

Third, in addition to Coke products, fast food, designer labels (not the garments themselves though) and Napa wine, we’re also importing an unsavory cultural attitude to the East: avarice.

Pay attention. This clash between Western attitudes about consumerism and the burgeoning groundswell of Christianity is going to be fireworks soon.

China: Breitbart says Christians now Outnumber Communists

Though the Chinese Communist Party is the largest explicitly atheist organization in the world, with 85 million official members, it is now overshadowed by an estimated 100 million Christians in China. It is no wonder Beijing is nervous and authorities are cracking down on Christian groups.

For comparison, 100 million Christians is a full third of the United States population. It’s the entire population of Great Britain and Canada combined.

Our Lady of Sheshan, pray for us!

olchina490784bnm4

Altar Stones Redux: Chinese Edition

From a friend:

2014-09-28 09.19.56-2Reading about altar stones, relics, and patient priests made me think to send you a couple more pictures from China.

I was let into a little locked up room with all sorts of Catholic treasures inculding an old altar stone (relic removed), several old prayer books (from the 1500-1600s!) and crucifixes that were buried (in order to not be destroyed) during the Cultural Revolution.

2014-09-28 09.20.30There was so many little treasures tucked away in this one little hidden away room. It was very cool.

2014-09-28 09.18.58

I like the “Imperial Yellow” fabric!

2014-09-28 09.20.58

And you can be thankful that you don’t have to type using this Chinese typewriter also found in that fantastic little room. The boxes to the right of the typewriter are filled with tiny little characters that one has to dig through to find the correct mirror image of the needed character and then place it in the appropriate slot on the base of the typewriter and then punch away. [Which brings to mind my post today regarding the technological advances of this Information Age!]

2014-09-28 09.15.36

While the West is arguably entering a post-Christian era, the faith is sweeping through China and the rest of Asia, soon to become an unstoppable force that will forever alter the landscape there. (Pun intended). What will China and rest of Asia look like once Christianity is freely permitted, and it flourishes without restraint there? The seeds have been planted (some as early at Seventh Century A.D.!). There are already countless churches, Christian communities, and “boots on the ground” for the New Evangelization. Pray for the Church in China! Our Lady of Sheshan, pray for us!

IMG_0238

A monument detailing some of the history of Nestorian Christianity in China, a branch which (according to the inscription) arrived in China in 635 A.D.

Inside a Chinese Catholic Church; note the large computer screen that partially obscures the crucifix in the sanctuary, and note the interesting various depictions of the overhead

Inside a Chinese Catholic Church; note the large computer screen that partially obscures the crucifix in the sanctuary, and note the interesting various depictions of the overhead

China has only one Time Zone…..

Source: Flickr (under Creative Commons license); Author: David Gordillo

Source: Flickr (under Creative Commons license); Author: David Gordillo

Which means that while it’s Five O’Clock somewhere, it’s only that hour once (er, twice, if you count a.m.) per day in the entire country. Still, it doesn’t stop China from achieving the following notable distinction: Since the year 2000, China has reigned supreme as the world’s leader in beer production! In 2012, China produced nearly 440 million hectoliters of beer, versus the nearly 228 million produced by the United States, in second place.

And China might win some barbecue competitions also, because with nearly a half-billion pigs, it raises more pork than the next 43 pork-producing companies combined, seven times more pork than second-place United States.

think that the United States continues to use the most hops in beer worldwide, because of all of us craft beer hophead snobficianados. I’ll have to see if there are any statistics on that. And I have no idea about barbecue sauce either.

At least one Chinese Taxi Driver cannot fathom the possibility of Same-Sex Marriage

Believe it or not, this is Beijing. Photo courtesy of "Friend in China"

Believe it or not, this is Beijing. Photo courtesy of “Friend in China”

Recently I sent a friend working in China a link to this article that discusses a Virginia lawyer who faces “severe disciplinary measures” at his law firm.

The firm circulated an e-mail announcing that a federal judge in Florida struck down the state’s constitutional marriage protection amendment. In response, this lawyer sent a “reply-all” e-mail so it was received by everyone who got the announcement.

Perhaps that wasn’t so smart. “Reply-all” can be trouble sometimes. But the e-mail he composed was not a tirade; it actually provided some legal analysis supporting his argument. You can read the entire e-mail message in the linked article.

The lawyer was truthful; I would not call it “hate speech.” But the firm “denounced his statement as ‘reprehensible’ and ‘inappropriate,’ saying it ‘would not be tolerated.'”One commenter in blogoville wrote that the e-mail was “stupid, bigoted, dumb—, hate-filled, verbal feces.”

How tolerant. 

Cardinal George (despite undergoing experimental cancer treatment at the University of Chicago) offers some excellent insight into the problem for Catholics in secular society in his most recent column at Catholic New World. He writes:

“Throughout history, when Catholics and other believers in revealed religion have been forced to choose between being taught by God or instructed by politicians, professors, editors of major newspapers and entertainers, many have opted to go along with the powers that be. This reduces a great tension in their lives, although it also brings with it the worship of a false god. It takes no moral courage to conform to government and social pressure…. Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society. It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers. Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics.

When I sent the story about the lawyer in Virginia to my friend in China, she wrote back with an anecdote:

A couple weeks ago I had an interesting conversation with a taxi driver over here. It was a 10 minute ride, so not a very long chat. It started with him asking if men in America were allowed to have multiple wives. He had heard of places where that was allowed and he thought it was not such a bad idea. He was a bit confused when I suggested that perhaps women wouldn’t care much for such an arrangement.

The conversation then turned to gay marriage and he was shocked to hear that was an option in some States. He was totally confounded. “How is that even possible? It totally goes against human nature! It isn’t possible! Why??? How do they have children? Even if they adopt you still have to have a man and a woman make it possible for them to adopt. This goes against human nature. It just isn’t possible.” He went on and on about the violation of human nature.

I was totally fascinated that this taxi driver in Beijing could see so clearly what has become foggy to so many. If we had had another 10 minutes maybe we could have returned to the question of polygamy and cleared up that water as well…

China has experienced more than 60 years of Communist rule. Pray for the Church there. The country is set to become the largest Christian nation in the world. This particular taxi driver certainly doesn’t have everything correct, and yet there remains an awareness of what goes against human nature. Meanwhile, an American attorney who proclaims that homosexuality is condemned in Scripture is subject to being severely disciplined.

American Spectator makes an Amazing Claim regarding Christians in China

olchina490784bnm4To wit, that the number of Christians in China exceeds the number of Chinese Communist Party members. According to the article, a 2011 Pew Research study indicates that there are (were) 67 million Chinese Christians but one observer of the situation in China argues that the number is more like 100 million, yet there are only 85 million party members. And Christians are more “enthusiastic” than those people who join the CCP.

And, also according to the article, more Chinese perform web searches for terms like “Christian” and “Jesus” than “Communist Party” or “Xi Jinping”.

Conclusion: Christianity is already an unstoppable force in China. Watch closely as the transformation unfolds.

Submarine (or Torpedo) from Shanghai to San Francisco in 100 minutes

Technology is so cool; just imagine an underwater voyage across the Pacific in under two hours! Such possibilities. But it reminds me of the Genesis Project from Star Trek II and III (Dr. David Marcus): “We are dealing with something that could be perverted into a dreadful weapon.”