James told me today that Master Miao Xiang had called him last night to see if I had watched the DVD that one of the monks presented to me during our visit last week. He was wondering if the English was well translated and what I had thought of the production.

So I sat and watched it this evening and it was pretty well done. It tells the story of how the monks live their daily lives and how the monastery had been purged by the Master years ago. The local farmers attempted to take it back by beating up the monks and driving truckloads of banned statues back into the temple. But the good side prevailed and now we are back at a period of peace.

The most interesting part was the section on their annual pilgrimage which takes place around a lunar event each August 15th. The go off and wander the region talking to villagers and begging for food. The latter part was interesting to watch, for the number of people in what appear to be prosperous homes telling the monks to get off their property.

James suggested that perhaps I would consider doing an English narration for one of their DVDs, something that I will certainly ponder.

The last couple of days have been pretty plain, lots of early and late meetings, a couple of good Chinese lessons with Xie Li (whose western name is….guess what…..Shelly) including an entire chapter that I was able to run right over the top of. She gave me two workbooks to practice my characters in, one for raw work and one to be used for perfection only. I have to say I am enjoying drawing them. Being forced to do the strokes in the proper direction and order imparts a real sense of disciplined peace – it’s an odd sensation.

So far I have mastered 一二三四五六七八九十我他你肉入口出山门人上下点鸡鸭牛 not bad I suppose for just a bit of time and patience. And, there are snippets here and there that I know recognize but am not yet able to write. Xie Li’s assignment for me these next few weeks – practice, practice, practice.

Tomorrow I return home for the holidays and an opportunity to burn up the vacation I never had time to use this year. It looks like I am booked in business unlike the trip over. I hate to get my hopes up though. You start thinking about those tableclothes and it’s a big let down when they don’t appear. Ialways look forward to heading back after business trips, but this time, it’s doubly special.