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Christmas 2006 (1/07)

Basketballs bounce in Xi'an

Zhangye, a deeper look (7/06)

China comes to Virginia (7/06)

Winter Conference 

Happy Birthday, Amity, 
Part 1

Part 2 (11/05)

Bringing Sunshine,
Part 1

Part 2 (10/05)

Summer 2005: (7/05)

Needed: China volunteers

Bluefield College in China

Lantern Festival (2/05)

Village of God (2/05)

Summer 2004:

FBC Richmond (5/20)

Opposites attract (5/26)

Mission Impossible (5/24)

Rules for a new mother (10/24)

Brocade Museum (10/24)

Barbara Diggs at NIM (4/4)

Fujian Earthen Houses (2/14)

Zhangzhou Puppets (2/14)

Merry Christmas

JIE's 50th Anniversary

Oral English Competition

Sam's Page

Virginia Baptists arrive for 2002 SEP, Shanghai - Nanjing

Part 2: in Jining, the program begins

Inner Mongolia's grasslands

Baotou and Wudang Temple

Abby and Sarah in Xi'an

Discovering the Nestorian Pagoda

Eating Zongzi June, 2002

Mary Washington comes to China, Part 1
Part 2 May/June 2002

Xi'an May 2002
Terracotta soldiers
   The Nestorian tablet





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 divisions. 

Kate and sticks.jpg (691848 bytes)      Trio.jpg (688204 bytes)

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 skilled.

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.

New village.JPG (369811 bytes)       Making friends.JPG (366307 bytes)

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.

Village doctor.JPG (424118 bytes)       Little papoose.jpg (563312 bytes)

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.

 ZhongShan Church.JPG (380679 bytes)      Sunday morning worship.JPG (447192 bytes)