This is the text of a talk given by Zengyi at a church service in 2018.
My family and Christ Church of Presbyterian-Why we want to pledge
We have been in CCP for over 28 years. We would like to share some stories about CCP and us.
In China we were not raised in any religion faith. We went through tough times in China. For example, the cultural revolution in China lasted for 10 years and we were deprived of schooling. We were separated from our family and were sent to the countryside to do manual labor. We experienced the Tiananmen Square crackdown by the military in June, 1989.
I got a job offer from UVM Medical School in Feb. 1990. Before I arrived here my brother was helping me to rent a room in Burlington. He saw an ad at the Given Building, and he called. Nancy Williams answered phone. My brother said: “My name is Steven,…” Nancy recognized his oriental accent, and read a Xmas card from Tom Regal who had taught me in his English class in Beijing, China: Do you know Zenglo Chen? My brother said: That’s me.” Then he went to Nancy’s house where he rented a room for me.
I moved into Nancy’s house the day I arrived in Burlington. Very soon she brought me to CCP. I had came to the US alone, leaving my husband Zhong, and my son Dan, in China. There was no email at that time, and we wrote letters once in a while. The long-distance phone call was $4 per minute, and every time there were additional 7-10 minute charges to go through extension lines before I was able to talk to them. Nancy helped me to find jobs from Church friends to make extra money to pay my expensive phone bills.
Meanwhile I was trying to get Zhong and Dan to come to join me as soon as they could. But five months passed and they were still not able to apply for Chinese passports because of strict rules in China. Nancy told me to ask prayers in church. After a month with no phone calls, I called Zhong to ask about the passport issue. The big surprise was: both of them had received their passports, and US visa, and flight tickets. It was then, and still is, very hard to receive US visa. In the early morning Zhong and Dan arrived at the US Embassy in Beijing after two hour bus ride. They had to stand at the end of a line of over 200 people. They thought no hope to get visa today. But a lady who was 2nd in the line came to talk to Zhong: she had been standing there since midnight and was worried about failing to get her visa and wanted to give her spot to Zhong and Dan. Then they obtained the visas after being interviewed by the Embassy officer.
China had a one child per couple policy starting in 1979 and ending in 2017. Dan was born in 1979. We were so lucky to be able to have our daughter, Dana, born in1991 after we came to Burlington in the United States. Nancy and CCP helped us to prepare Dana’s birth. Janet Patterson came with me to meet my boss to learn about UVM benefits. Twelve days before my due date, Barbara Dunington brought a crib to us. Dana couldn’t wait and was born the next day. Nancy held a baby shower when Dana and I were still in the hospital and brought us so many needed baby’s things from CCP. Zhong only took one day off after Dana’s birth. Church friends delivered meals to us for two weeks. Rose (sorry about I forgot her last name)came to our home to collect diapers and washed them in her house for one month…..
The procedure of applying for green cards to become US permanent residents is supposed to be a very long waiting period. But on July 1st 1993, was Dana’s second birthday, Zhong, Dan and I got green cards. Five years later we three became US citizens.
It’s hard to believe so many of our dreams became true. We felt we got closer to GOD through CCP. We were baptized in CCP when Dana was 7 months old.
There are so many memories about our life and CCP. Charlie Gear drove his truck to help us moving on April 1991, Dan had been go to CCP to practice piano for a while until John Steele loaned us his mother’s piano,, and many people came to help move the piano to our 2nd floor apartment on Green St. Burlington. Jean Wolvington taught me how to make beautiful skating dresses for Dana.
We have had a hard time understanding sermons because the language problem. But most important for us, to keep coming, was and is for 28 years, the circle time-share Joys and concerns. We always received support from CCP whenever we needed help. Whenever I feel down or worried, I would ask the prayers from CCP. We would feel God’s existence and be reassured that everything is under God’s control.
CCP moved to the new place, Deadra became our pastor. We are glad that our understanding of sermons seems much better than three years ago. You offered help and support to us with compassion, kindness and empathy by your prompting, conversation and phone calls.
Two years ago Dana was very depressed during her internship at ICU in UVMMC. I didn’t know how to help her. She called Deadra, Marybeth and Grayce- her skating coach. All the conversations helped her to make the right decision and be able to overcome that difficult time.
Deadra, Thank you for your spiritual leadership to CCP. Wishing you good future! GOD bless you! God be with you!