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Newsletter September 2011

Group in Lijiang  

Now we can talk about it.
Marda went on a trip

Marda's trip to China was funded by a sponsor; an anonymous gift from a couple in Northern Ireland, celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary.  How gracious and generous is that? 

Since we were visiting people who work in China and who don’t want to be of the ilk that the Chinese government doesn’t want, we were careful not to talk about C or M, pr*y, or G*d. 

I try to be a spiritual person who doesn’t use religious jargon but it did my head in to be sensitive and yet desiring discussion of the deep things.  The main group we visited is an NGO run by people who are Christian but providing desired professional services.  They provide Chinese and English teaching, tour services, social services, and forays into small business.  The purpose of our trip was to see what is happening in China and to explore our role in it.

We went with a group of six special people (I’m special too by association).  First is Ethel who some of you have met, and who I’ve talked about before.  She is a person who welcomes and gathers friends easily and she had welcomed us into a group of fascinating friends.  She has been to China many times since 2000 and recently focused on Yunnan province since she is an agronomist specializing in potatoes and Yunnan grows potatoes — more potatoes than anywhere else in the world!  There is Puran, who we have known through Ethel.  He is a Nepalese Indian man living in Northern Ireland for 30 years and recently retired from teaching finance and management. He is working on another PhD on the subject of Nietzsche and how the west embraced him beyond his value because they were looking for a reason to discard God.  Roy is a retired Baptist minister instrumental in forming the Chinese Church in Belfast. Kate is a retired librarian/library educator who volunteered in China but didn’t get to travel, and Ken is a marketing consultant from England exploring being used in kingdom work.

We went to Beijing for two days, Yunnan province for a week and Hong Kong for two days.  Marda loves big cities but how wonderful to traipse around the Chinese countryside and to stay in old town Lijiang, a UNESCO world heritage site.  We visited with two CTEN associates in Beijing and loved that too.  We learned about the International church (for expats), the registered church, and the unregistered church, and met people from each.  We attended a Thursday evening praise service at a registered church.  The Spirit of joy and love really moved us amongst the 300 people attending.  The opportunity for cultural exchange, learning, and influence is amazing in China.  Marda is closer to a commitment to learn Mandarin Chinese, a task totally daunting in years past, to communicate with an influential fifth of the world. 

Ward was well taken care of at home.  He managed a few visits and no falls and completed his Call to Worship duties.  He and Bill rehearsed a poetry program they presented in a cafe, and received an invitation to a writers’ group meeting.  The Friday night of wine and readings had Ward reading last and receiving high praise.  The follow-up will be another reading with a potential video shoot and perhaps a group book.  How great is that!

We are preparing for four sets of visitors over the next month and planning an open house at the Loom for our own 40th wedding anniversary.  L’Arche Belfast will celebrate its 10 years on 1 October.  Maria has moved her office into the second floor of The Loom.

Our minister Jack may be closing in on the health problem he has had off and on for a year and a half.  The consultants now believe it may be a virus/bacteria he contracted while in Sierra Leone to visit Mark in March 2010!  That’s wild too.  Being the only one to get dysentery in China I am very conscious of the fragile state of health. Guard your health and may God grant you wellness in His grace.

Email: wardstothers@cten.org
Phone: (028) 90 291986  From U.S. 01144.2890.291986

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