Twenty Years of Cultivation: Hard Times, Happy Times (Part 3 of 4)
(Minghui.org) Continued from Part 2
As Dafa practitioners, we are truly lucky to have signed an agreement with Master. In it we promised to come down to this world, and assist Master during the Fa-rectification, awaken the conscience of sentient beings, and fulfill our vows. Such precious opportunity to cultivate in Dafa, a righteous way, only comes once in the history of the universe.
Autumn 2001 to Autumn 2004: Family-based Materials Production Site
Buying a Copy Machine
Master arranged for me to set up a Falun Dafa truth-clarification material production site in the fall of 2001, and it’s been running for the past 18 years. This project has provided me with cultivation opportunities.
The coordinator said we needed a new copier. We chipped in to come up with enough money, and a few of us went to town to shop for the machine.
The three of us must have looked funny and out of place at the electronics stores—three farmers trying to sound like businessmen from the city. We kept the money in a woven fertilizer bag I carried under my armpit. None of us had done this before, but we pretended we knew what we were doing and tried not to attract suspicion.
We didn’t know anything about copy machines and had no clue which brand to buy at first, but we learned a little bit in each store we went into. It’s said, “Compare the same product from three different stores before buying. When you have no more questions, you’ve become an expert.” At last, we decided to buy from a store with excellent customer service. The salesperson showed us how to operate the machine and listed all the things we needed to pay attention to. The delivery guy gave two of us a lift back to my village.
To be safe, we had the driver stop more than a mile away from my village and unloaded the huge package. I suggested to the other practitioner, “It’s only 5 p.m. and still light out. I think we should move it after dark.” But he insisted that we move it right then, and I had to go along with it.
We used his three-wheeled delivery bicycle to take the package to my village. While he waited at the entrance, I walked to my house to get our flat-bed wheelbarrow to transport the machine to my home. There was hardly anyone around when the wheelbarrow was empty, but after we loaded the huge package, there were many people.
It was too late to turn around. I resented the other practitioner for insisting that we move the machine during the day and was upset for not standing my ground.
My house is in the center of the village, and there was no way we could avoid running into people. I quickly thought of what to say if anyone asked about the big cardboard box. Sure enough, a curious neighbor stopped us: “What do you have there?” I smiled and said as nonchalantly as I possibly could, “Oh, it’s a television set.” “How much was it?” he inquired. As I pushed the wheelbarrow past him, I said, “I haven’t paid yet.” He followed us for quite a distance but didn’t invite himself in to see the “new television.”
Operating a Noodle Shop to Justify Electricity Usage
Next, I needed to figure out a way to mask the inevitable increase in our electricity bill. In those days, people in the countryside didn’t own many things that used electricity. Each household typically had only one 14-inch black and white television, which made the village electrician’s job very simple—he would know each family’s electricity usage like the back of his hand.
I didn’t know how much electricity was required to run the copy machine but knew I needed to come up with a cover so that the electrician would not get suspicious if our electricity bill went up.
After talking with my wife, we decided to buy a commercial-grade pasta and noodle maker and sell fresh noodles as a side business. The amount of electricity used by the noodle maker fluctuated from day to day, depending on how many customers we had, so it was a great idea. Once the noodle machine was set up and running, the copy machine also started production.
The Perfect Hiding Place for the Copy Machine
The last issue was to find a hiding place for the copy machine. It was huge. The local police could show up at my house anytime and barge in like bandits. Where should I hide the beast? Master guided me and gave me wisdom.
In the countryside, people store their grain in heavy concrete boxes that aren’t easily moved. The bigger ones can store up to 1,300 lbs of grain. This gave me an idea, which kept my dad from finding out about the printer. I had worked with concrete before so I didn’t need anyone’s held and was able to keep it a secret.
I started to build a concrete box when my dad was out or late at night after everybody had gone to sleep.
The box was about 4 feet tall, 4.5 feet long, and 2.5 feet deep. We put a bag of rice on top to cover the copy machine and one bag at the bottom, just inside a small opening. When the flap to the opening was lifted, rice poured out and gave the impression that the entire box was filled with rice.
The box looked massive and heavy, but because each wall had plywood in the center instead of solid concrete, it was lighter than it seemed. We took the box off to use the copy machine and put it back on when we were done. The copy machine was on a dolly so it could be moved around easily.
I put six pieces of metal on the floor as tracks when I took out the printer, so it didn’t leave marks on the floor. After I finished using the printer, I rolled it back in place and put the cement box back over it. Other than the copy machine, the cement box was big enough to store extra paper and other tools. I was thankful to Master for such a perfect arrangement.
The local police came to my house one morning before April 25, 2002. On April 25 just three years prior, tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners had shown up at the Zhongnanhai compound to petition for the arrested Tianjin practitioners’ release, which made this a “sensitive date” in the Communist Party’s book.
My older daughter looked for me at the factory. She ran the entire way, paused to catch her breath, and told me the police were looking for something. I told her it would be fine and hurried home. I was worried about the printer and hoped that they would stop searching when I get there.
By the time I got home, they had turned the place upside down. They didn’t find what they were looking for, but I was arrested anyway. My daughter didn’t cry. Instead, she mustered up her courage and asked the police when I’d return home. One officer promised, “Your dad will be home this afternoon.”
I found out later that my daughter stood by the east entrance of the village all afternoon. My wife found her after dark and dragged her home. Crying her heart out, my innocent child told her mother, “They lied to me.”
When Dafa practitioners are persecuted, their families also suffer a great deal. We have to cherish every step we’ve taken on our cultivation paths and cherish the great sacrifices made by sentient beings around us.
The police told me frankly at the police station, “Someone reported to us that you have a printer at home.” I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Didn’t you search my home? Was there one?” I was detained, although they had no evidence against me, partially, I think, because they didn’t want me to go to Beijing for the April 25th anniversary.
It has been so long that I don’t remember a lot of details of this arrest, but I know I was detained for a total of six months. The police also harassed my family and me countless times.
A Large-scale Arrest
There was a large-scale arrest of more than 60 practitioners in our region toward the end of summer that year. Some were from the city and others were from the surrounding counties.
The local coordinator notified me the day before about an experience sharing conference, but for some reason I didn’t feel like going. I had a dream that night in which the sky was falling and the earth was sinking. It was horrifying.
When I woke up in the morning, I got a phone call from a practitioner who asked me to meet him at his home. As soon as I got there, he said, “Something happened. They’ve all been arrested.” I felt lightheaded and slumped into a chair. It took me a while to be able to think straight again.
“What to do? What should I do?” I murmured. Master didn’t let me go to the conference for a reason. I had a purpose, and I couldn’t let the news affect me. I soon got in contact with another local practitioner. Then we contacted those who didn’t get arrested.
That experience made me realize that Master had specific arrangements for different practitioners to play different roles at different times of the Fa-rectification. It all seemed random that we remembered this practitioner and got in contact with that practitioner at the time, but it was all part of Master’s plan.
A local coordinator was among the arrested and was persecuted to death, while many others were sentenced to prison or forced labor. It was a major blow to our one-body. Many local practitioners stopped cultivating and clarifying the truth.
However, Master also arranged for new practitioners to join us. Three new practitioners with college degrees had a lot to offer and took on many tasks. They were great additions to our truth-clarification effort. These technology-savvy young practitioners downloaded the most updated truth-clarification materials, made layouts for printing, and even took care of printer maintenance.
Dafa has given each of us different skill sets to contribute to Fa-rectification. Two female practitioners were great with networking and coordination. I still did the printing and helped with whatever else I could.
In order to have a relatively safe place to meet and share experiences with fellow practitioners, I decided to buy a van after much consideration. It was a good plan, but money was a problem. I couldn’t afford a van. What to do? I told another practitioner my idea, and he lent me 2,000 yuan.
I bought a used minivan. It was old and the interior was in pretty bad shape, but it was like owning a Mercedes-Benz. Each night, I picked up each practitioner at a designated location, parked the car under a street lamp, and we shared cultivation experiences and talked about truth-clarification projects. This minivan also came in handy when we moved the material site and transported truth-clarification materials.
(To be continued)