Trip to Bei Chuan

Made at the One-Year Anniversary of the Si-Chuan Earthquake


Thanks to the trip to the area affected by the Si-Chuan Earthquake organized by the Caritas Taiwan, Ms. Yuan Li and I together with some parishioners of Cheng-Du Church had the opportunity to step in the Bei-Chuan area in the hope of bringing warmth and love to the people in this area. This was my first time to visit this area affected by the strong earthquake occurring in May 2008. The hardship involved was totally beyond my imagination. Nonetheless, this trip turns out to be a very important page of my life.


On May 12, 2009, the first anniversary of Si-Chuan Earthquake, Ms. Yuan Li and others went to Du Jiang Dam, whereas I attended a Taize Prayer organized by Cheng-Du Church for the lives lost and the suffering during the earthquake. I believe it was a way to prepare myself before embarking on the trip to Bei-Chuan. After the Prayer, many non-Christians spontaneously lit candles in the Holy Mother・s Square outside the church symbolizing their fervent prayer: May those who died in the earthquake enjoy eternal peace in Heaven!


On May 13, 2009, we set out on the journey to Bei-Chuan. On the train, the parishioners were merrily singing church songs and hymns; the Christians・ compassion and high spirit were transmitted to the people in the same carriage. I noticed how young at heart my companions were! Mr. Bao, one of the parishioners suffering from heart disease, insisted on boarding the train despite his discomfort when departing his house. It・s a pity that, despite our several hours・ waiting for him in Mian-Yang, Mr. Bao had to return to Cheng-Du due to his old age and physical condition. However, he has set a good example of Christian spirit by demonstrating unselfishness and devotion to good causes. We heartily pray for his well-being!


After two hours, we arrived at Mian-Yang. We waited there for the cars to pick us up for going to Bei-Chuan. Upon arriving at Mian-Yang, the weather took a big change. It began to rain and the temperature lowered considerably. I had no other clothes than a short-sleeved T-shirt on me. Ms. Yuan Li handed me her water-proof jacket. Although smaller, it was sufficient to keep me warm.  I began to understand that the center of Christians and :A Big Family; (referring to the church) was LOVE. Around noon, all cars were assembled at Mian-Yang and we started to head for the destination. As the road from Mian-Yang to Yu-Li Township of Bei -Chuan had been destroyed during the earthquake, there was no other way except for a very winding and rugged mountain road that was opened by soldiers after the earthquake. I think we owe them a lot of thanks. This mountain road is very difficult to ride on; only the cross-country cars can manage it. It・s muddy and slippery; even the big trucks had to put on anti-skid chains. I saw a bulldozer operating to help a big truck out of the mud. All drivers were helping one another throughout this journey. I perceived that catastrophes could indeed melt people・s cold hearts and unite them for the same cause. I am proud to be a Si-Chuanese, or a Chinese with an unselfish love. These drivers・ efforts and smiles greatly inspired me. It took us about eight or nine hours to reach the destination because of the traffic jam in this first anniversary of the earthquake. A little while after nine o・clock at night, we arrived at the destination, Yu-Li Township. Upon arrival, Qiang National Minority Autonomy Junior High School of Bei-Chuan, the only junior high school around the neighborhood, hosted a very good dinner at a local restaurant. We not only experienced the good life the local people were leading after the earthquake but also sensed their confidence, optimism and hospitality. After dinner, Brother Yi and the students of Cheng-Du Technical Film and Television Broadcast Institute began to go over the schedules of the performance scheduled for next day, and we made the corresponding adjustments accordingly.


The next morning, we got up very early to help prepare the performance. Due to certain reasons, it had to be delayed until 12:30 in the afternoon. This gave us a chance to tour around this small town.


According to the locals, this town was reconstructed after the earthquake. As a consequence of the earthquake, a landslide dam was formed; the whole town was submerged under the water because of flood. One year had passed, and we could not trace a bit of the pitiful conditions of the catastrophe; on the contrary, we noticed that the people here were confident and happy, leading a comfortable life. The tents used to temporarily accommodate the refugees after the earthquake have been replaced by stores and shops. The reconstruction work of many houses has already been completed; the school made of planks has been rebuilt and we could hear the students・ rhythmic voices of reciting. All efforts have generated good results. The sights of old streets prompted us to think it would be a good idea to develop this town into an old town attracting tourists. Ms. Yuan Li said they had planned to do so; it would be realized sooner or later. During our stroll, we accidentally ran into a lovely bookstore. It was a bookstore run by four persons belonging to a construction assistance group from San-Dong. They came from Bin-Zhou, San-Dong, and had been staying here for one year. We really appreciated their hard work.


Around 12:30 p.m., we rushed to the junior high school where the performance was taking place and got down with the preparation. Besides some behind-the-scene jobs, Ms. Yuan Li and I wished to transmit the love and care from the :Big Family; (referring to the church) to the people who suffered from the earthquake. Due to certain reasons, we could not clearly specify the name of the :Big Family;. However, our goal was attained as long as the love reached the people. We put our token of love in a paper box. On the outside of the paper box, we wrote :a Big United Family;. We hoped the concept of :Unity; could take root on the people・s hearts. Our ceremony was placed at the end; it was sort of a highlight of the performance. We distributed 75 red envelops altogether. They were given by the local government officials, Brother Yi and the principal to the students who either came from poor family or suffered most from the earthquake. We hoped they would study hard; the future of this town and even the whole nation lies in their hands.


When the performance was over, a bunch of innocent youngsters came forward to ask for our autographs. We left our contact information so that the communication as well as love and care could continue. I had never been asked for autograph before. I wrote down ;May people be united as one!; as said by Jesus and emphasized by Madame Chiara Lubich. Although they might not understand the meaning of this sentence at the moment, I believe the sentence itself was engraved in their hearts.


The time has come for us to bid them farewell and to head back for Cheng-Du. Yes, this single rendezvous has come to an end, however a bridge between us has been connected. Our love and concern for them shall continue through this bridge.


I would like to share with you some lovely persons I met and who deeply impressed me.


The first ones are the car drivers. Most of them are refugees; they live by driving automobiles. Their job is nothing extraordinary, however very exhausting. It・s their personality and the dedication for an unselfish cause that deeply moved us. One of them waited for us for a full day sacrificing a day・s income in order to drive us back.


During the trip to Yu-Li Township, I was placed in a car with some young performers of street dance. They as well as the car driver didn・t have breakfast nor lunch for some reasons. Around 3 or 4 p.m., the car driver managed to get some cakes. Despite his hunger, he just had one and gave the rest to these youngsters.


The second person is Mr. Liu from the Caritas Taiwan. Being over sixty years old, Mr. Liu energetically made endeavors to ensure that everything was in good order. As far as I know, this was not his first time to be in Yu-Li Township. He walked on a mountain road for fourteen hours during his first trip. While we had dinner at a restaurant in An Township, he took the initiative to arrange food and other trivia. When we finished eating and chatted with others outside the restaurant, I glanced at his profile eating alone.


We were not able to reach Cheng-Du that night and therefore had to stay overnight in Mian-Yang Church. For me, this church is the one I visited most frequently besides Cheng-Du Church. The moment we arrived there, Ms. Wu couldn・t help but cry out: :We are home!; It・s almost midnight; we were greeted by Sister Zhang. Yes, indeed, her enthusiasm made us feel at home.


After we attended the Mass the next morning, a parishioner of Mian-Yang Church said to us, :Please have breakfast in the church instead of eating outside.; We didn・t utter a word, but we were greatly moved. Only family folks could say such words. When the breakfast was being prepared, we were interacting with the sisters and the parishioners for a while. Father Zhong left earlier for a meeting. He wished that we could stay there after attending the Sunday Mass. When we entered the dining room and saw the helpers busy in preparing breakfast with smiles on their faces, I once again was touched.


When I stepped on the train to Cheng-Du, a lot of touching scenes and good memories regarding Northern Si-Chuan and Mian-Yang Church were lingering on my mind.





This was written by a local young Christian student who experienced the love of Christ!!!