"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."
~ Isaiah 40: 11

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

Hope everyone had a great Christmas. I can say that this Christmas was very different and memorable than most holidays. Christmas is not celebrated in Taiwan so it was like any other day. I went to church with the Lyle's and Lori up to Yanmingshan to a small stone chapel. It was a beautiful service and then we mingled with the Taiwan International Church members and ate good food. I actually tried eating a kiwi with its skin on for the first time (I know this sounds gross but it was quite tasty!)

Even though I celebreated Christmas thousands of miles away from home it did not affect the meaning of Christmas. Preparing devotions every week about Christmas and talking with students about Jesus has actually helped prepare my heart for worshipping and thanking Jesus for what He did that lowly night. I was reminded in the homily on Christmas eve that when Jesus came to earth God was on earth in flesh. As John 1:14 says "No one has ever seen God but God the one and only who was at the Father's side has made Him known." That verse is one of my favorites because it sums up the Gospel and the incredible mystery and awe of our faith. Thinking about Christ's birth and the way it happened and who He was sends my mind and soul up to the "clouds of mystery" so fast I just have to rest in the faith that the Holy Spirit provides. This love that God has for us is overpowering and incredible. Right now during this holiday season I just want to rest and relax in these truths - I am loved no matter how much I fail. I am valued, sung over, and a part of the kingdom of God. Wow!

I got to see my entire family on the webcam and we opened presents. I miss them so much but it was good to see their faces and hear their voices. I got so many great gifts and cards from so many people this year. Thank you all for your love and support. The students also got into making cards and giving gifts. I received a cake, many cards, and pictures from students expressing their love and thanks. I am really beginning to become attached to some of these students. God is answering my prayer which is that I would begin to love them as He loves them.

Here are some pictures of Christmas dinner at the Lyle's (MTW missionaries) the church, and the fellowship afterwards.

Well, right now I am at Taroko Gorge spending some time enjoying Taiwan's incredible mountains and gorges. The Gorge is on the North Eastern part of Taiwan so we took a four hour train ride and a one hour bus ride to get to the gorge. We saw the Pacific ocean on our way and then incredible mountain ranges. Taiwan's landscape is so diverse. We arrived yesterday and are staying until Friday. Lori and I went on a walk through the gorge today. It is soooo beautiful and the pictures do not capture the magnitude of the landscape. Here are a few pictures.

So right now I am listening to the water fall outside my window in a very nice hotel in the middle of nature. This has been a good time of refreshment after a very busy few weeks. I hope everyone has a relaxing New Years and until next time...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Goings

Well, the last few weeks have been busy but fun. There have been a lot of Christmas activities going on at the school. Even though Taiwan does not officially celebrate Christmas the festivities are in the air. Since Christ's College is a Christian school Christmas is celebrated. We did many things for the students. Also I experienced a very unique type of Christmas caroling here: Many of the guys (students) sang carols outside of the teacher's apartment building (where I live on the 5th floor) and the teachers threw candy and other things at them. They had umbrellas turned upside down to catch the candy! Only in Taiwan!

For the month of December during Monday Devotions for the English Dorm we have been introducing the meaning of advent and the advent wreath. This past Monday I introduced the Christ candle and gave an invitation to become a Christian. I tried to simply and biblically share the Gospel story and then I invited any of the girls that wanted to, to pray silently after me to accept Jesus. I also prayed for us who are Christians for stronger faith and dependence on Him. Please pray that if any of the girls did become Christians that they would talk to a mature Christian about their decision and I ask you all to pray that God would plant seeds in the hearts of the these girls and soften their hearts in order to see their need for a relationship with Him.

Here are some pictures of the students Christmas Caroling, the English Dorm Christmas Party, Christmas Chapel, and other pictures of Christmas.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!
Until Next Time...

It's a small world...

I have had two experiences recently that truly make this world feel small. One day I was shopping for clothes at a import/export store and found a jacket made by "Augusta Sportswear." I did a double take. It couldn't be, how did a jacket from the small clothing manufactuar in Augusta, GA (where my dad used to work many years ago) end up on an island literally across the world! And out of all the clothes in the store I saw it (and the store was huge!) Pretty cool experience.

Then just a couple of days ago a student named Veronica, Lori, and I were on the metro and we were talking. A guy came up to me - and I immediately knew he was an American - and asked where I got my Geogia Southern sweatshirt from. I told him that one of my sisters was an alum and another still there studying. He had grown up in Statesboro and was an alum and his father teaches physics at the university. If anyone knows anything about Statesboro it's a fairly small town and Southern isn't a huge school compared to other state schools. We were both pretty blown away by the situation. I was so surprised and couldn't wait to tell my sisters.

Although, I do feel far away from home I experience situations like these that remind me that we do live in a small world and who knows who or what I will encounter here! For example, I have met at least two Taiwanese that have visited and spent time in Aiken, South Carolina and in Augusta, Georgia (where and close to where I grew up). Pretty neat considered Taiwan's population is 23 million people.

Well, until next time...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas is Coming... Even in Taiwan!

Even though it is a mild 70 degrees here and no chance of snow the Christmas season is in the air. This week I invited some girls to help decorate my apartment. It turned into a Christmas song singing, laughing, and fun time. I taught them how to cut pieces of red and green paper and staple them together in rings and then we put them all over the walls. We also put up lights and a small Christmas tree. Which now thanks to my great parents has a few wrapped presents under it.
I had a lot of fun just sitting back and watching the girls soak themselves up into the activities. They loved it. Of course when I turned off the lights and turned on the Christmas lights everyone oooed and awed. I told them that this is how we get ready for celebrating the coming of Jesus. He is that important to us. I have been thinking about the meaning of Christmas a lot this week. And I think that I am realizing that one of the reasons to celebrate Christmas is to remember and look forward to God's promise that Jesus will return again in his full glory.

Here are some funny pictures of our little "decorating Amanda's apartment party"

I hope all of you have a Blessed Advent Season as we all prepare to celebrate Christmas.

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Excursion to Lai Sai

This past Saturday I got up at the crack of dawn and headed down to the middle of Taiwan to a rural town called Lai Sai. Lai Sai was one of the town's that was hit very hard by an intense earthquake a few years ago. The rebuilding is still going on. The needs are great in this town and the group that I went with goes quarterly to visit, pray, and love the people and children of the town.

Since I cannot speak Taiwanese I helped with the children's program. We taught them the Christmas story in English. We helped them with crafts and games and just played with them. I made some great little friends. My favorite part was watching and helping them with the craft. Each child got a picture of a manger scene and as the story was told they put stickers of the characters on the picture. Almost all of the kids (even the boys) were so focused on putting each sticker in the perfect place. The were really enamoured with the project. I got a kick out of seeing their delight in such a simple thing.

Here are some pictures of the trip.

I enjoyed playing with the children and seeing a different side of Taiwan. The area of Lai Sai is rural and a much poorer area than Taipei.

Until next time...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving - Taiwanese style

So this was my first Thanksgiving away from family. I definitely got a bit more homesick during the holiday. The staff and faculty of the school celebrated the holiday with a big meal together. We had American dishes and Chinese dishes. There was turkey, stuffing, vegetables and then we also had tofu, noodles and Chinese food. We didn't have mashed potatoes or green beans so that was a bit disappointing but the food was good and different. This will be a Thanksgiving I truly will not forget. We had great fellowship and sung songs and worshipped on the third floor of the cafeteria. The view was incredible. I wanted to take this time and jot down a few things that I am thankful for:

1) God's love for me - to the point of sending Jesus for us, He is so faithful and I am not
2) His Word
3) My family - who I miss soooo much right now
4) The chance to come to Taipei and work at Christ's College
5) The ability to read, write, and think
6) Friends - Lori, the MTW Taipei team, and the many people I have met in Taipei
7) The apartment that I am living in
8) The people supporting me by prayers and financial support
9) English and the ability to read and write (which I have taken forgranted until the past three years)

There are so many more...

Here are some pictures from the Thanksgiving meal.

All in all it was a lot of fun. I had a great time and ate a lot.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving too.

Until next time...

Busy, Busy, Busy

There has been so much going on lately. So many activities and experiences. I had an unexpected adventure to Hong Kong last week. Lori's visa expired and she was unable to get it renewed. She had to leave the country for a few days in order to get her visa renewed. Since it was midterms I was the only person who had time to go with her. So I reluctantly (yeah right) agreed to go with Lori to Hong Kong for a few days. We had a blast. It was so much fun. I did not think that I would be able to visit Hong Kong. We spent two days and two nights. We went to the peak and saw the city from an amazing view. We also took the ferry and sailed across the harbor to Hong Kong City from Kowloon (where we stayed). Hong Kong is a lot different than Taipei - it is more international, a lot more people speak English and there are many more different ethnicities represented. I did not feel like a minority. The buildings are extremely tall and huge. The architecture is really incredible. The adventure was fun - we just roamed throughout the city for an entire day and I got to know Lori better. Here are some pictures of the trip.

We went to a lot of places and discovered some fun places in Hong Kong.

We returned safely and Lori got her visa renewed without any problems. So the trip was a successful one - we had fun and got the visa renewed.

Until next time...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lost in Translation

There is a movie called Lost in Translation and I have never seen it but I can definitely relate to the literal meaning of being "Lost in Translation." Most of the students and faculty cannot speak very good English and I speak the equivalent to a toddler's level of Chinese. So sometimes when I really want to tell someone something I try to find a person that knows both languages to be our translator. This can be quite comical sometimes and I have one story to share of how sounds and words have totally different meanings in different languages.

In the English Department there is a lady who cleans the offices and the room that I work in. She is always cheerful when I see her and works really hard. One day I really wanted to tell her that I appreciated her hard work and help. I figured that she didn't get much encouragement. However, I knew if I was to communicate this affectively I would need a translator because she speaks no English. (Although, when she sees me she usually starts speaking Chinese so fast that I sometimes doubt if she realy knows that I know no Chinese. I mean I don't look Chinese and everytime she waits for me to answer her I say "I don't speak Chinese" in English and make the shrug gesture! Somehow I don't think it is registering.) So I found one of the English professors that speaks great English and is a national Chinese. Her name is Sherry. So I told Sherry, "Can you tell Grace that I truly appreciate her hard work and the way she helps us so much." Grace (the "cleaning lady") said something to Sherry which made Sherry burst out laughing. As they were chattering and laughing in Chinese I felt a bit embarrassed. Had I offended Grace? Had I said something culturally inapproprate (which is always a fear of mine.) So I jumped in and said, "Sherry what is going on, what is so funny?" Well, apparently the word "appreciate" in English sounds like the Mandarin Chinese word for "leather shoes". When Grace heard me say appreciate she thought that I was going to give her leather shoes. (Just thinking about this makes me laugh). I started laughing and said "I don't even own leather shoes." I did offer her my Nikes but she declined! It was really funny. After we stopped laughing Sherry did finally translate my statement about thanking Grace for her attitude and services.

Sometimes being illiterate and having the speaking and understanding ability of a toddler gets wearying. However, I feel like I can either laugh or cry in situations where the language barrier becomes frustrating and tiring.

Until the next funny story (which I am sure will not be long)....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Getting lost...

Funny story...
So Lori and I went to the grocery store today with the Lyle's (A missionary couple). We have been to this store probably five or six times. We even went once for ourselves. I must pause for a moment and tell you that the store is three stories tall and the escalator ramp thingies are hard to figure out as we discovered today. So the Lyle's finished shopping before we did and then they went to eat at the McDonald's on the third floor while we finished. We checked out and then tried to remember where the McD's was. Well, I thought it was down on the first floor but turns out that was wrong and we realized it was on the third floor. Problem was there was no way to get back up to the third floor since our cart was full of paid groceries and the escalator ramp thingies did not go up to the other floors from the first floor (whoever's bright idea was that did not get enough sleep the night before). So we decided the only way to get back up was to make the scary step of trying to talk to someone. We proceeded to go back into the store and the little lady at the door stopped us b/c of our cart full of paid items. Finally after some sign language and perplexed looks she realized that we needed some help and got us a worker to literally escort us to the top floor through the entire store. It was pretty funny and slightly embarrassing (I think more the for the guy than us). Well there you go, how many times will I experience getting lost and confused in a three story grocery store that I have shopped at for two months!! ONLY IN TAIWAN!

- Amanda

Monday, November 5, 2007

San Yi

Last weekend I joined a group of MTW missionaries on a trip to a town named San Yi to visit a fellow MTW missionary, Brenda. We traveled for two hours by train to the town. The train ride was fun. We went through towns and country sides. Then Brenda took us around San Yi. We had a great Hakka meal. The Hakka people are a regional people of China that live in San Yi. The food is different than the food in Taipei. I had thick rice noodles and they were great. Then we walked around the town and there were lots of interesting things to see like....
1) a little pig with toenails painted pink
2) lots of colorful pinwheels

3) An abandoned train station turned into a museum
4) A bridge broken up twice by two different major earthquakes in the span of 3 decades - it is thus called the Broken Broken Bridge
5) Tea fields on the mountains that look over the little town - we there as the sunset it was cool.
6) Lots and lots of wooden things - idols, carvings, just about anything you can think of I saw it carved out of wood trying to be sold.
7) I also had the priviledge of trying a molasses lolly pop with a dried, sour prune inside. It was really sour and mentioning sour you haven't experienced a truly sour taste until you try some of the sour dried fruit here - whew it makes your entire mouth twist and shout.
On Sunday we went to church at the church that Brenda helped plant and that she ministers in. She is an evangelist. The church service was great even though the entire service was in Chinese. Brenda helped translate the sermon enough that we could understand. The speaker talked about forgiveness and how it is not a feeling but a decision. I must say in my mind, "that person who hurt me does not owe me." This whole topic of forgiveness keeps coming up and I think God is trying to remind me of something incredibly important. If I don't forgive others then I am breaking the bridge that connects me to Him because He forgave me exponentially greater than the sins committed against me by other people.
All in all it was a great trip.
Here are some pictures - including the pig with the pink toe nails (I couldn't help myself - I don't see this kind of pig everyday!)

The family that makes and sells beautiful wood carvings. The woman's name is Lotus - she is a friend of Brenda's. We had tea with them and met all of their pets - their two dogs and their pet bird named dou dou who ate out of my fingers.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


These past few weeks have been busy and full of opportunities to meet and get to know students. I will highlight a few that stick in my mind.
One of the students named Boris, who travels about an hour each way to get to school, is incredibly eager to improve his English. When he sees me he usually comes to me with a question like "Amanda, when do I use the word that in a sentence?" All to say that I am having to quickly improve my knowledge at English grammar. Evenmore, Boris comes once a week to get one-on-one tudoring and extra help with his school work. This past week we got into a deep discussion about his faith. He shared some things he was wrestling with about his faith and how the Lord's love is so mysterious. I just listened as this guy expressed his longing to know our God more and more. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to walk along students such as Boris as God molds them into more like Jesus.
Another cool experience is that I had the chance to teach two weeks ago. My first time teaching! I was a bit nervous but I have to say that it was really fun. I am growing attached to the students in these classes. I am helping with the English Pronunciation Classes which consists of the students who have a lot of trouble learning English. I love it. I am getting to know some of the students and they are really a delight like Esther, who every time she sees me has a great big smile on her face and makes sure to get my attention. Or Ray, who seems like a "tough" guy that would not want anything to do with learning pronunciation but is really coming out of his shell and is trying more and more.
So this month has been a time of cultivating and developing relationships with the students and making more friends.

Until next time...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday Jaunt

Last Saturday Lori and I ventured out on our own to explore the city. We went to the Chiang-Kia Chek Memorial Hall, the National Theatre, and the National Concert Hall which were all in one big square and there was also a small park. We had a blast. There were lots of students practicing cheers/dances in the square and tents with people selling things. The students were excited to see us English speakers and we took some fun pictures with them. Here are a few pictures of our outing.

One of the best aspects of this little trip was that Lori and I found the place on our own and didn't get lost (okay we did have a bit of trouble finding the tram to get home but I don't count that as getting lost). It was fun exploring the city and learning a bit about the people, the history, and the culture. We went to a handi-craft market and saw all sorts of Chinese crafts. We visited the Chang Kia-Shek Museum which is pretty much all of Kai-Shek's stuff on display. I kept thinking "man this guy was so powerful and had so much but now what does it matter he is gone and all that is left is a musuem housing all of his stuff." I kept thinking of the verse "Where your treasure is there will your heart be also."
It was a fun time. I really enjoyed having Lori around to share it with.
Also, this past week we learned a new silly song that I have to share (from another missionary I have to add). I couldn't stop laughing - partly because I was so tired (you know how you can get when something is even more funny than it really is when you are tired).
A different version of Mary had a Little Lamb:
Mary had a little Lamb
Her Father shot it dead
Mary took the lamb to school
Between two pieces of bread
This song is crazy, oh so crazy
I am going crazy just singing this song
Well I have many more posts to add to catch up on all of my experiences.
I will write more soon.
Until then...

The Haircut

I was in dire need of a haircut - only one problem: I have only gotten my hair cut by two people in my entire life and they both spoke good Southern English! Well, I had a faith experience a few weeks ago. I went with another missionary to the hairstylist that she uses. It was an experience - and to my delight a good one. First, the "hair guy" shampooed and massaged my head for like thirty minutes or more (not exaggerating). Then he washed my hair and gave me some kind of eye wash treatment that felt good and weird at the same time. Then came the moment of truth: the actual haircut. The girl was really good and the other missionary (Becky) told her in good Chinese how I wanted my cut. I was relieved. All this to say that I realized through this somewhat silly experience that God does care about the small things in life. I really was nervous about this and it was a huge comfort zone breaking experience for me.

About everything I do here is a culturally different experience for me. I am constantly having to try and do new things and to trust in God. My value and my worth comes from Him alone in His love through Jesus Christ not through how well I know Chinese or how well I am adjusting to this unique culture or how many or few cultural mistakes I make.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hanging out in Zhue-wei (pronounced ju-way)

Friday Lori and I had lunch "down the mountain" in Zhue-wei which is the town that Christ's College is in. We had fun. We ate at Mos Burger - I had a rice burger with rice as the buns and the filling was filled with vegetables and chicken.

Here are a bunch of pictures:

I having a blast exploring this unique culture. I had a great weekend and will post a blog about my adventure to the Chiang-Kie Chek Memorial Hall soon.

Until next time...

A Tribute to Mom

So this week I have been experiencing a minimal amount of homesickness. When I was shopping at a store one day I came upon this sign that reminds me that my mom is the bomb diggity!!! The store is the Betty Store and sells all sorts of things. Here is a picture of the store sign and Mom, I love you lots and it is great to have something to remind me of you here in Taipei.