I am in love. I am in love with the fact that I’m home. It feels different from Beijing, but somehow it’s soothing to the soul. It feels like home. Despite being a bit jittery over the fact that Beijing is much rowdier and Xiamen is more quiet, part of me loves being back.
Because all our things to do (TTD) were finished, dad let me spend the day doing what I wanted. My aunts and uncles came over to the hotel suite to talk to my dad, and gush over the fact that I’m so much bigger (they don’t mean fat) as compared to the last time they saw me either in Beijing, or from 2004. One of my aunts offered to take me shopping in 中山路(ZhongShanLu), this place near the ferry area where they sell lots of street food and also have a lot of small shops and malls. It reminded me somewhat of 前门(QianMen) back in Beijing, except with a lot more people, smaller streets, and less expensive shops. My aunt took me to one of the malls where my other aunt works, but it was more or less empty as it was still a new mall and it didn’t have a lot of open shops. Now that I think about it, those malls didn’t have a lot of people, but the streets more or less did. The smaller streets reminded me of 南锣鼓巷(NanLuGuXiang) which had a lot of small shops selling various knick-knacks from cutesy items for girls to clothes to shoes and whatnot.
After our shopping trip, me and my aunt headed back to the hotel and I got ready to head to anticipated mass with my dad. Apparently, there are 2 Catholic churches in Xiamen. The one I’m familiar with is the one on 鼓浪屿(Gulangyv) Island which I visited back in 2004, which has masses only on Sunday mornings. This one dad took me to is on the Xiamen island and is said entirely in Chinese. The church itself isn’t large or grand, nor is it something that you can see from the main streets. It’s hidden among some old buildings, and what surrounds it are old buildings from a time when foreigners probably lived in the area as the structures aren’t very Chinese-ish.
Above is a picture of the Church. It isn’t your average looking church but a building transformed into one. The first floor seems to be a sort of reception area, while the second floor is the main church grounds itself. The third floor I noticed has a small office, and part of the third floor also has pews for attendees. Dad told me that the name of the church was influenced by the church back in my dad’s hometown, which was called Mary Immaculate. The sign on the top reads 天主堂(TianZhuTang) or God’s hall..basically Church.
My Mandarin was really put to the test as I was attending mass because the entire thing was in Mandarin. I understood parts of the Homily, but the rest was just a blur. All those Chinese translations for those religious people and places, even the songs, I was listening but not really listening. My brain felt like it was dying from all the Chinese it couldn’t comprehend and couldn’t escape from. The woman I was seated beside kept looking at me the entire time, mostly because I was so quiet and wasn’t even responding to the songs and readings. Otherwise, the mass was pretty interesting and gave me a chance to realize that my Mandarin has such a long way to go. Oh mass in Chinese…was it worth not waiting in line at the ferry and crowding into the small church in Gulangyv?