Margerete Ward
about Gong Hee Fot Choy

How I met my Chinese teacher Lee Ming.




Gong Hee Fot Choy

He greeted me by bowing and clasping his hands together, and so did his beautiful, cultured wife (for the Chinese do not shake hands). They think our custom of shaking hands is an awkward and uncouth way of greeting a friend. I do, too, since living in China. A gracious bow is so much better, cleaner and nicer. After this call, his whole family looked upon me as a friend. I spent many happy days in this home, and there learned much about the Chinese way of living. Their innermost thoughts were passed on to me as if I were one of the family. One of the events that happened while I was there was the engagement of Mr. Ching's eldest son. In China, when an engagement is announced, it is customary for the engaged couple to exchange presents, so I went with the Ching family to Soo Chow, China, where this was to be done.

As the Chinese really know the art of living they make qui tea celebration when one of their children is going to be married. The engagement party lasted ten days. All of us were put up in the best hotel in Soo Chow and the friends of Mr. Ching's family lavished big, luxurious dinners upon us in their honor, also sightseeing trips and all sorts of shows and entertainments.

Mr. Ching's six wives and I would go over to a big temple in Soo Chow every morning, to Chin Chin Joss, as they called it. This was a paying of their respects to their choice saint and God. As I knew these ladies quite well by now I could ask them anything I liked without embarrassment to either them or myself.

The first morning I went with them I was amazed to see the large Chinese figures in the temple. Mrs. Ching, who spoke English, told me all about each statue as we lighted punk sticks to ask the spirits' blessing. She told me that these statues were not idols as so many foreigners think; that each one of these statues represented the spirit of a saint that once lived in China and was sent by God to help the Chinese people and that they did not worship them as idols. She said these statues were here so we would never forget them and so that when we were in trouble or in need we could come here and ask their help. She said the Catholic Church has its statues and pictures of its saints and they are used for the same purpose - to help them concentrate in prayer. She told me that some of the statues were 5000 years old, and led me down long rows of bronze figures, telling me the history of each saint as we passed along and placing incense sticks before them. She would tell me stories about a few every day.

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