Nestled in a spring-fed valley in the desert northeast of Los Angeles, St. Andrew’s Abbey is a long way from its roots in Chengdu. The only living link that remains is Brother Peter Zhou Bangjiu, a 91-year-old Sichuan native who rejoined the abbey in 1985 following his release from a Chinese labor camp.
My first visit to Chengdu was in 1985, just before the Spring Festival holiday in late January. Having just completed one semester of teaching in Zhengzhou, Henan Province my teammates and I decided to take a boat ride down the Yangtze River from Chongqing to Wuhan on our way out to Hong Kong for a teaching conference. A dozen or so other teachers working in other parts of the country wanted to make the journey as well, so we decided to meet up in Chengdu.