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bounce in Xi'an
a deeper look (7/06)
comes to Virginia (7/06)
Part 1 (11/05)
Part 1 (10/05)
College in China
of God (2/05)
for a new mother (10/24)
Diggs at NIM (4/4)
Earthen Houses (2/14)
Baptists arrive for 2002 SEP, Shanghai - Nanjing
2: in Jining, the program begins
and Wudang Temple
and Sarah in Xi'an
the Nestorian Pagoda
Washington comes to China, Part
Winter Conference Highlights
The Amity winter conference
was held in Nanning, capital city of Guangxi Province, technically the
Zhuang Minority Autonomous Region. The Zhuang are the largest of 55 ethnic
groups in China, other than the Han, which make up 95% of the population.
I had been to Nanning a couple of times ten or eleven years ago; the city
has certainly developed incredibly since that time, as have most large
cities in China. Highlights of the conference include the music and dance
performance on opening night, the visit to churches, and a three-day field
trip to see Amity projects of the rural development and medical and health
At the opening session of the
conference, we were treated to a performance of young people who were
attending a school for training in minority folk singing and dancing. A
part of the activities included leading some Amity teachers to participate
in a dance among bamboo sticks that open and close on rhythm. The idea is
for your foot to come down between the sticks when they are open, not when
they are closed. Kate looks as if she is succeeding; not all of us were so
One evening, we visited this
downtown church; they were having a regular midweek meeting, but the
program was designed to share with us the musical and dramatic talents of
their members. We had a wonderful time and were moved by the dedication
and skill of the performers. The next morning, we visited the home for the
aged that occupied the top three floors of the building. This lady was one
of the few who were ambulatory. They have a capacity for 60 residents. The
place was clean and the doctors and nurses were compassionate and caring.
It is not unusual for Chinese churches to operate such homes.
We set out on our three-day
field trip to visit Amity projects. The first few days we had been in
Nanning, the temperatures were warm, and many of us, myself included,
underestimated the rapidity with which the temperatures could change, and
that it would be colder outside the city. By the third day, I was wearing
my flannel pajamas under my jeans and sweatshirt to stay warm.
Our first stop was in Yizhou,
a medium-sized town, to visit a special education school. The school had
been founded by a young man from the area who had graduated with a degree
in special education. The eight teachers appeared to be very qualified and
dedicated to helping the children, who had various kinds and levels of
difficulty, including those who were mentally challenged to deaf or blind.
Most of the children lived at the school because their homes were too far
away for commuting. Part of Amity's contribution had been a special
machine to help deaf children hear certain frequencies.
We visited a village that had
been flooded and the dirt walls of their homes had disintegrated, leaving
them homeless. The government was helping them rebuild on higher ground in
more permanent housing. Amity had made a contribution to the portion that
was provided to the villagers, who had to pay for 95% of the construction.
Most of them were living in the unfinished structures during construction.
We enjoyed visiting with the people and the children certainly enjoyed the
entertainment of all these foreigners in their midst.
Probably the highlight of the
field trip was this visit to a Zhuang village several miles off the main
road. When we arrived, we were warmly, and loudly!, greeted by a
celebratory dance similar to that of the traditional Chinese lion dance,
but this figure was not like any I had ever seen; maybe it was special to
that culture, or maybe this was handmade and was supposed to be a Chinese
lion. In any case, the thundering of the firecrackers and the liveliness
of the dance was very entertaining. We had gone to the village in order to
meet a woman who had been trained as a village doctor through an Amity
project, which has trained thousands of such villagers. The greatest
result of having these trained health workers in a village is a greatly
lowered mortality rate for both mothers and babies in childbirth. Amity
had also built the clinic in the village.
We returned to Nanning and
completed the conference. On Sunday morning, another Amity teacher and I
went to church at the other church in town, named for the street it was
on, Zhong Shan Church. There, I met with a young man whose wife is the
senior pastor of the church, though she was preaching in a rural church
that morning. This young man was the preacher of the day. He works with
the Nanning Christian Council and is the older brother of a young man in
my CCC class in Shanghai. That afternoon, I flew back to Shanghai and the
next day, to the U.S.