Being a European in China can make you feel like an alien, especially if you go to the rural areas where foreigners are rarely seen, and try to live with the local people. There are three options for an “alien” like you: show your difference, try to hide it, or accept it with naturalness. I chose the third and I saw that we actually had more things in common than I had previously thought.
Yes, it´s true that the Spanish people think from the particular to the general and the Chinese from the general to the particular. For example, a Spaniard writes his home address starting with the street and finishing with the country while a Chinese does the opposite. When a Spaniard does something he thinks in terms of the result, but a Chinese thinks of the process. I discovered this when the Chinese students laughed at me when I tried to copy a Chinese character.
But all of us have the same dreams, hopes and feelings, and there is a language stronger than all the other languages, a language beyond words or borders. This language is born in the heart of people and is spoken with the eyes, the body… with one’s life.
The month I lived in China participating in two summer camps with Sid, Josua, Joseph and Stephen helped me discover this truth and taught me to distinguish what is essential from what is relative, which often blinds us from seeing in the other an equal.
China is a great country with a great history but its greater wealth is its people. Zhaoxian, Yulin and our missionary fellowship showed this to me, but it was the family who hosted me in Beijing that impressed this in my heart.
From China, our itinerant community went to Kupang, Indonesia, where we participated in another English Camp for Claretian aspirants and postulants there. Thomas and Ben joined our team. There I discovered a young country full of hope and joy, that joy that Europe has forgotten and that hope we so sorely need.
I may be a missionary, but it was China and Indonesia that have evangelized me.
Carlos P. G. cmf