La Salle Study Centre Changjiao

March 2013 Newsletter






Greetings from LSSC Changjiao.  Peace and Joy is within you.
I want to begin my first report for this Year of the Snake 2013 with words of appreciation and thanks to Brothers, relatives, friends and former students in Malaysia and Singapore for your warm hospitality during my year end holiday 2012 and your support of our Lasallian Brothers’ out-reach mission here at La Salle Study Centre, Changjiao.
I returned to Hongkong from Malaysia on 15th January 2013 three days after attending the Franciscan’s Old Boys Dinner in Melaka on 12th January.  After a few days rest in Hongkong which included a half day walk and dinner on Lamma Island with some teachers of La Salle College , Kowloon , I returned to my post in Changjiao on 21st January.  I was unable to get the usual morning express bus ticket direct from Hongkong to Meixian so I settled for the afternoon bus and thus arrived at 8 p.m.  I was met in Meixian by my nephew, a friend and two of my students.  By the time we arrived back in Changjiao, it was almost 10 p.m.  The parents of Lucy, my teaching assistant kindly prepared a pot of pork porridge for us to eat when we arrived. 
After being away from LSSC Changjiao for exactly 2 months, I was excited to be “home” again.  It was late so no villagers turned up to welcome me.  That was alright.  When I opened the door to my room I found to my dismay that there were “unwelcomed guests” living in my room while I was away.  I was careful to bar the bottom of the wooden door of my room with a metal plate when I left as rats are known to chew their way in.  I must acknowledge that I underestimated the intelligence of the rats.  They made their way into my room through the ventilation duct above my closed window.  I had to spend my first night home in store room as the rats had made a mess of my room.  Silence (no one around) is golden has another meaning as far as rats are concerned!  In future, I will employ “grandma’s remedy” of spiking my room with ground pepper when I away for long duration.
News of my return spread around very fast and as in previous years, there were many visitors to LSSC before we started our Winter Programme on 3rd February.  Then it was time to celebrate the Spring Festival of the Year of the Snake.  The events that followed were very much like in previous years.  On the 27th day of the Lunar month, we had our annual slaughtering of two pigs except that this year, the pigs are from our own pig farm.  I had my regular rounds of lunches and dinners with different families throughout the season.  We had our drumming activities to liven up the evenings.  The old Year of the Dragon passed smoothly into the New Year of the Snake amidst a cacophony of drums, gongs and cymbals, the thunderous blasts of firecrackers and the explosion of fireworks that lit up the sky. 
However all is not well at the Chinese Visa front.  I was told by some in Hongkong that entry visa application has changed and tightened up.  I am also a “victim” as I was granted a Yearly Multiple Entry Visa with a limitation of just 30 days per entry.  I will have to eventually sort this out with the local authorities here in Dabu when things return to some “normality” as there were many changes in the government departments because of the leadership change in China .  Meanwhile, it means that I have to return to Hongkong every 28 days (it is always advisable to have 2 days to spare!)  I returned to Hongkong on 18th February and came back to Changjiao on 21st February.  It was a tiring 4 days trip with 2 days spent traveling 10 hours each way.
On the publicity front, LSSC is again in the news.  We are first placed in the 10 Top News Media Personality of Guangdong 2012 survey beating 19 other nominees hands down.  We were more than 2000 votes ahead of the second placed nominee and garnered almost 40% of all votes cast.  The Guangdong Provincial TV crew was here to interview and film us on 1st and 2nd March.  The Award Ceremony will be held in Guangzhou on Friday 22nd March.  Another feather in our cap!
Thank God, most things are running smoothly.  LSSC as an English language learning centre is getting more and more well known.  The pomelos plantation project to improve the overall standard of living of every family in Baijiang is going well.  Most villagers spend their free time tending to the pomelo plants.  Unfortunately though, we are hitting a snag in our projected plan to cement the 1.2 km of gravel hill road.  Every family whose land is required to build this road had signed agreement to allow the road to be built except one.  Verbally they had agreed and in fact encouraged us to open 30 meters of the road right through the middle of their land. 
I must admit that I was too trusting and didn’t think they will renege on their verbal agreement because I had helped that family many times as they are my close relatives.  I am very disappointed as they are using this to blackmail me.  They want me to finish building one of their houses and build them a pig farm.  They even have the audacity to warn others not to get involved as they say that this matter is “solely between they and I”.  I have, as usual, handed this matter to the village administration to settle.  Meanwhile, I have had discussions with other villagers and we are confident that we can circumvent their land by cutting into hill again.  They are not stupid either, as they make sure that two brothers whom I helped in the past are still in “good terms” with me, one who demanded the house renovation has left town, and they make the youngest and poorest brother as the “sacrificial lamb” to “fight” with me.  Such is village politics.  Please pray that I will not turn vindictive when the dust settles and the problem is solved as their pomelo plots use the watering system that I designed and built and they will have to use the road to bring their produce out in future.
There is a very positive development for our Catholic Diocese of Meizhou.  The government of Meizhou has allocated a choice piece of land 11,591 square meters for the building of a Cathedral Church , a Bishop House, a Convent, a Catholic Hospitality Home and an Education Training Centre.  I am excited about this development because as I strive to make LSSC self sufficient by 2017, I sense I now have sufficient reputation in Meizhou to develop the Education Training Centre as an English learning centre.  The Bishop has already invited me to move down to Meixian to help him.
On another front, our “live-in community” has grown.  The couple from Hunan , Mr and Mrs Su is back.  We have a lady teacher from Shantow who had taken a full semester leave to study English.  Her two primary school daughters are also with us and have registered to study in the nearby village school.  One 4th Year University student from Zhang Jia Jie also joined us to study English instead of looking for a job for his practicum.  Our oldest student is a 58 swimming instructor from Guangzhou .  So, with my teaching assistant Lucy and I, we are a community of 9.  Volunteer English teachers are always welcomed.  Please apply!!!
With this, I end this first quarter report for 2013.  Please keep us in your prayers. 
As always with love in the service of youth and nation through DLS,
4th March 2013

La Salle Study Centre



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