"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

Saturday, September 29, 2007

School days...

Well the first week of school is finished. The students are all back on campus and activities are beginning to start. This semester I will be in charge of starting a writing center which will be in existence to help students with their writing, English speaking, research, or any homework help that they need with their English classes. For the past few days I have cleaned and rearranged furniture to get the room ready for next week's official opening. I am concerned that students will not come but that pressure is on the Lord. I just have to be willing to serve Him and He will give me the wisdom of how to run His center. Pray that I will be able to be patient with the students that know little English and some that have learning disabilities. I truly want to love and encourage these students. Many of them have grown up in families and in schools where they received little encouragement and love. First and foremost I want to somehow communicate that God loves them and they are precious in His sight. There are ways to do this even without words and that is what I want to do.

This week has been full of ups and downs. Trying to think of ways to meet students who are extremely shy and afraid to make mistakes with their limited English. Lori (another intern) and I are brainstorming ideas for activities. Lori lives in the girls dorm and has already had visitors to her room and she is making friends. I am having a little more difficulty because I do not live in the dorm and the students will probably see me more as a teacher than as a friend. I really don't want this but I will see how it goes.

Last night the student council had some activities for the freshman. They did skits and introduced all of the different clubs. There was dancing and lots of loud American music. The funniest skit was when two senior guys dressed up in girl's cheerleading uniforms and did a full out routine dance. It was really well done and hilarious. These students love to have fun and be silly. This morning the freshmen are playing games and getting to know each other better. Tomorrow they are going to the beach for a picnic and some fun.

Next week I will start working during the official hours of the writing center and begin to try and start relationships with some girls. I also am leading a discipleship group on Tuesday nights and that begins this coming week. This is also a prayer request. I will write more about this later on.

Until next time...

Rainbow Sightings...

Last weekend we went hiking around campus and saw two different rainbows. The geography here is incredible. There are mountains on one side then the city sits in the valley and the Danshui river borders the other side. Rainbows are frequent sights.

I have been living in Taipei for almost two and a half weeks now and there are some things that are extremely different. Living here is helping me realize that I take for granted simple things like...
1) A garbage disposal - I have to keep all the food scraps in a bag and then dump them in a designated area on campus (yuk is right). I also have to sort my other garbage for recycling. Trying to figure out what goes where is a bit tricky.

2) The ability to read, write, and communicate. I feel like a toddler when I go anywhere or try to talk to the students. It's funny because a lot of them just start spatting off in Chinese and I just say I don't speak Chinese and I need to figure out how to say this in Chinese not just in English! And trying to live here is even harder than in other places like Europe or Africa where although I would not know the language I could at least try and read the alphabet because they use romanized letters. In Taiwan there are the lovely Chinese characters which I have no idea how to decipher.

Those are just two of many things that I realize that I have been taking for granted. Living here as helped me to see that I need to thank the Lord for the simple things.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


These are some funny signs that I found as we were walking through Taipei on Saturday.

I don't know if you can read this one but it says "changs for a better day" instead of changes. There are a lot of signs and sayings on notebooks and buildings that translated into English do not make a whole lot of sense or are just plain funny like the one below.

Yikes! Glad I don't drive here!

Culturally exhausted...

We returned on Wed. night from Malaysia and Friday was the first day of classes. Chapel convocation was also on Friday and the teachers (including me) were introduced to the student body. We had to sit on the stage in front of all of the students. During the service I kept looking at the students thinking I was where they were only a few years ago. Being at Covenant I went to many convocations at the beginning of the new year and watched all of the teachers on stage and now I am the on sitting on stage. It felt a bit weird.

Later on in the day I helped two sections of a beginning level English class. The students did not know much English and I am there to help them practice pronouncing English sounds and words. The sounds in English are much different than the sounds and tones in Chinese. For example, the o and r sounds in the word Lord are extremely hard to pronounce for a Chinese student. I hope that these times helping students with their English and writing will blossom into friendships and opportunities to disciple and encourage them.

As the heading of this entry says I am exhausted from being bombarded with so many new and different things in the culture. I feel like a little child because I am unable to communicate, I don't know my way around the area very well, and the simplest things are difficult like taking the garbage out (I have to separate my garbage out into three or four different piles and then take it to different bins around campus.) Being in culture shock helps me see my need for Jesus and His righteousness now not just in the future. Many times during each day I must utterly depend on God because things are truly out of my control. So this time is good and faith building but tiring. As one friend told me just recently "Amanda treat yourself gently." Many of you that know me well know that I can be extremely demanding and hard on myself and others. I ask that you would pray that I may be gentle in spirit on myself and others as I learn to live in Taipei and at Christ's College.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Week in Malaysia

Last night we returned from our conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia also known as just KL. The retreat was great on many levels and also challenging in many ways. There is so much to write about and I just don't know where to start. So I here I go...

Well, the hotel was located next to the largest mosque in Malaysia and I think it might be the largest mosque in Southeast Asia anyway it is big. It is called the blue mosque. I had mixed feelings when some friends and I walked around it. The building is incredible in an architectural way - the dome is huge and has beautiful caligraphy on it. However, my heart wept and I felt angry because of what the mosque represents. I have come to learn in my few years on earth that the enemy uses things that are beautiful and pleasing to the eye and seem that they will do no harm to attack us. This is true in my own life. Most of the time, idols and things that turn into addictions and sins do not appear dangerous or harmful. Anyway, it was an eye opening experience to visit a country where Islam is the official religion. In Malaysia other religions are allowed and celebrated but Islam is the official religion. For some reason that I can not explain my heart felt compassion for the Malay people. The Lord is doing great things through our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in KL and other parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. Here is a picture of the mosque and the gate surrounding the mosque. We were able to go in the grounds but not in the buildings main area. There are many rules that a person has to follow in order to enter the mosque.

The conference itself was encouraging. I met many MTW missionaries that I did not know and learned about church plants and projects that are going on in many parts of the Asia and Pacific Area. I was also able to see some old friends - some from college and some from trainings that I have gone to over the past few years. The fellowship was encouraging. Here are some pictures of friends and the fellowship times.

These are some Taiwan team members: Becky, Judy, and Brenda.

Hanging out with some old friends: Dana and Melanie of the Thailand team.

These are a few things that I took away from the conference: I am weak and not able to do ministry on my own and I need God who is strong. I am a lousy Christian, a lousy sister, a lousy daughter, and a lousy friend BUT God loves me, God loves me, God loves me, God loves me and this is most demonstrated in Jesus Christ. I may rest NOW and in the future in His love. Those who are with us (Christians) are greater than those who are with them - meaning if God is for me then who can be against me and win, even Satan is under God's dominion - this is encouraging when I feel battered by fear, worry, and the past. The last truth that really hit home for me this week was God loves me because He loves me not because of what I do or what I look like or even how filthy my heart is. He chose me and loves me because He is God - Wow, and you also can rest in this truth.

One day we had as a time to explore the area and a group of us went to a forest in KL to explore the natural settings of Malaysia. The hike was long and it took about five hours to hike up and down the entire thing and get lost a few times! We also found this amazing tea house as we finished our hike. It had just opened a few weeks before and it was a good place to have refreshment. I really enjoyed this time.

This is bamboo and it was so thick in diameter. Really neat stuff.

Yes that is us in a giant tree root and we are being swallowed by it!

My birthday was on Sunday during the conference and I am not sure who told my friends that it was my birthday but they found out and had a little surprise party for me. I felt loved and it was fun. There was a Starbucks near our hotel that had free internet access and good coffee (as many of you know!) and they surprised me there. It was fun.

From right to left: Dana, me, Melanie, Bonnie, Matt, and Mary Bell in front.

All in all it was fun but now I have spent 7 days in Taiwan and 7 days in Malaysia so I feel a bit exhausted from all the travel and cultural transition. I find myself trying to remember everything I learned from the first week about living in Taiwan. School starts tomorrow with convocation and I will be introduced with all of the teachers so that the students will know who I am. I have been helping in the dorm this morning and all the students seem excited about seeing their friends (honestly most of them were speaking Chinese so it seemed like they were excited!) I on the other hand am nervous and it seems like everything that I heard last week at the conference just escaped my mind this morning as I began to think of starting the school year and the work that God has planned for me this year. My faith is being challenged. I am trying to take each hour, each moment as it comes because there are so many new things to learn and new people to meet. Please pray that I will be bold and interact in the culture and with the students even though it might mean making cultural mistakes. My tendency is to hold back in fear of embarassment. I am trying to cling to many of the "fear not" statements in the Bible right now.

Well, until next time...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Exploring Taipei City...

The last few days have been a whirlwind. I have seen, tasted, smelled, and experienced many new things. Thursday night some of the team took me to the night market in Jinjuan and we had bing. Bing is a dessert that is a mix between ice cream and shaved ice. Ann Lyle (one of the MTW missionaries) and I split a mango bing which had fresh mango on it. It was really good. Here is a picture of Ann and I at the bing shop.

The night market was crowded with people and vendors. But I was told that it is 100 times more crowded on the weekends - that is hard to believe. The vendors were selling all sorts of foods like stinky tofu which smells like fermented wet socks and no I don't plan to try it. I am willing to try almost anything but I draw the line with tofu that is black, wreaks and has furry hair. I hope to go to the night markets again and explore more as I live in Taipei.
Today I went with Mable (a graduate from Christ's College) to Danshui (a suburb of Taipei city and close to Christ's College) and we walked along the streets. There were lots and lots of people and stores and vendors. I saw octopus on a stick and lots of different colored egges. One of the delicacies on these streets are fish balls - fish wrapped in pastry and then boiled in water. I just took in all the smells today but I do plan on trying some of the food once my body has time to transition. Here are some pictures I took during our little trip.

So far I am enjoying my time here. The MTW team has been welcoming and encouraging. Tonight we had a meal with many of the team members. Mable cooked us some sweet potato leaves, rice and meat. It was very good. All of the American professors live on campus and close to one another so I don't think I will have a problem with loneliness because there will be at least one person to hang out with.

Well, as I get ready to go to bed most of you are just waking up and getting ready for your day. I hope that it is a great one.

Until next time...

Thursday, September 6, 2007


I arrived in Taipei at 6pmish on Tuesday night. It was so weird because of a few things. One, the flight from San Francisco to Taipei was 12 hours and during the entire flight there was daylight. Two, I really did "lose" an entire day of life because I left at 1:45pm on Monday and arrived at 6pm on Tuesday - that was mind boggling. I sat next to a Tiawenese guy who is studying for his PhD in Maryland for electrical engineering and was returning home for a few weeks to see his family. We talked about culture and he was very friendly. I did not sleep at all on the plane (I usually don't) and so I am still trying to recover from jetlag.

As of right now I have been here for 2 full days and I am already discovering some unique things about Taiwan. For example where else in the world do they sell green asparagus juice. See picture below.
Also, the way the trash is picked up is interesting. The garbage truck drives around playing music similar to the icecream truck in the US and people wait on the side of the street for it to come by and then they toss their trash into the back of the truck. It is quite a site! There are lots and lots of motor scooters and many people go to work on them. So women are wearing helmets and driving scooters wearing really nice work clothes and high heels - I find it a bit humorous.

I sent an email out asking for prayer about getting my Resident permit. Good news. The process was simple and I even received my passport back! God is good. Another prayer request is that the school is going through an accredidation process with the Taiwan government and it is a difficult and strenuous process on the faculty and staff. Also the staff is concerned that this will affect the way the school teaches and proclaims the Gospel in the future. Please pray that the process will go smoothly and that the school will be able to uphold its faith-based teachings.

I have had a busy few days here. I have been out to eat twice and am learning how to use chopsticks. My hand hurts! The food is quite good. Lots of rice and different meats. Tofu, chicken and cury, sweet and sour chicken and fish. Very good and I can eat a good bit of it. I am helping the English staff prepare for the upcoming semester. So I have been cleaning and organizing. The writing center is going to be setup in the English department and I am starting to get that room ready for students.

Right now I feel overwhelmed but in a good way. The culture is very different and there are so many new things to take in. So many new people to meet and things to do. Tonight I am going to the night market for the first time in Taipei city. I hope to take some pictures and will post them soon.

Until next time...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Last Night in the US

Well, today was a big day. I said goodbye to my car and my family dogs and cats. My parents and I have decided to sell my car and save the money to purchase another car when I get back. My Saturn station wagon - "wags" was my first car and the only car I have driven long term. Reality hit that I am really leaving for a long time when I cleaned out the glove compartment and all the crevices in the car. Then I said goodbye to our dogs - Piper, Toby, and Sprinkles. I cried. Our dogs are like a part of the family. The dogs have been my pals this year. I hope they remember me when I come back.
My parents and I drove to Atlanta and met my two sisters. We ate at the Cheese Cake Factory and had a fun time - my family is loud and funny. So we did have a good time. Now we are at a hotel close to the airport. My flight leaves at 7:45am tomorrow - bright and early.
Please pray that my flights and travel go smoothly and well.
Thanks all,

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Final Weekend...

I am coming up on my final weekend in the states. Mom and I are going to the lake tomorrow to swim and cook and enjoy one more summer day before I leave. I am tired. I have run so many errands and I surely hope that I have not forgotten anything important. I will let you know about that!!! I figured out that my flight time in the air to Taipei will be in total 24 hours. Yikes! I bought a book from Barnes today called the "Kite Runner" and if it is good I might just finish it on the plane. A shout out to my friend Maggie Rountree for suggesting the book.

Well, my flight takes off at 7:30am in Atlanta so mom and dad and I are going to the great ATL on Sunday afternoon. My sisters are meeting us and we are going to have a last family meal before I leave. Then after hopefully a good night's rest I will board the plane for San Fran. In San Fran I hope to see my college friend Buzzy and then board a plane for Taipei.
I have a funny and love/hate relationship with airplanes and flying. I like airports and I like driving people to the airport (I know strange) but I do not like flying. The concept of a huge piece of flying metal in the air that could fall any moment just doesn't appeal to me. I don't freak out but flying isn't my favorite mode of transportation.

Well, I am off to bed gotta say a few more goodbyes tomorrow and run some more beloved errands.