"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

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.

This week...

So a lot has gone on this week that I would like to update and share.

Writing Center: The W.C. is really starting to get going. I had at least twenty students come this week so far to get help on various homework assignments from writing to pronunciation in English. I really enjoy working with students one-on-one. A few students have weekly appointments so we are working on developing their English skills and I can already see an improvement. Since they have to speak English to me it forces them to practice.

English Dorm: May, Grace, Lori, and I (the leaders of the English dorm) have started a Monday Night devotion night for the Enlgish dorm. The English dorm is compromised of 42 girls who live on the same hall and strive to speak English (in reality it is harder than on paper). We had our first activity this Wed. and only three people showed up so we are going back to the drawing board. Please pray for the girls, for us leaders, and for ideas on how we can unify the group and get them involved and excited about being a part of the English Dorm.

Discipleship Class: This week I had the opportunity to lead the Discipleship Class in a worship song - Be To Our God. It was the first time in almost a year that I have played the guitar and led music. I truly enjoyed it and plan to play more. Also, with the D-class I lead a small group of 5 girls on Monday nights and we talk about the concepts taught in the class. I struggle sometimes in leading this group b/c they do not talk much and I have to speak in simple words and sometimes that is difficult. However, I believe the pressure is on the Lord to take my willingness and efforts and cultivate the seeds He plants into the hearts of Erika, Ivy, Cynthia, Mei-Ying, and Tina.
Some fun things I did this week:

I led my first evening devotion for room 808. I talked about the amazing and intimate love of God and what that means for us. I shared a part of my testimony in college when I couldn't play soccer b/c I was hurt for most of the four years. Looking back I realize God wasn't punishing me He was loving me b/c He was helping me realize that I had been putting my worth and value in soccer - something that is not dependable instead of resting in the life I have through Jesus. We had a fun time. I hope the girls understood. One of the girls spoke very good English and interpreted some of the words. Pray that the Lord will bring these students to know Him and to more closer communion and growth in Him.

Picture of night devotions:
On Monday Night we had a team dinner at our team leader's house. It was great. I enjoyed not cooking! One of the team members, Jim Gray, is a great chef and he made salmon with vegetables in a butter sauce. I enjoyed the fellowship.


I wanted to list some funny things that I have experienced in Taiwan and that sound silly having grown up in America:

"I spent 100 dollars on dinner, that was cheap." - I still have to think about this for a minute, the exchange rate is 30 to 1 so 30 NT dollars is one US dollar so 100 NT dollars is 3 bucks. I spent 30NT on a meal once which is basically a dollar US - and it was good. I will miss that when I get back.

Having no garbage disposal, so having to collect my food trash in a plastic bag that I keep in the refrigerator until it is full and then treking across campus and dumping it in a large container.

The elevator/classical music that almost every grocery store plays. I feel like I am at a concert hall or a funeral sometimes.

All of the motor scooters that are everywhere - and seeing how many people can fit on one - I have seen four people on one little scooter.

The haircut styles are sooooooo funny. It is hard not to laugh out loud while talking to some of the students with "expressive" hairstyles.

The types of food here never gets dull. I am always discovering a different and unique food. I did not know that their were so many ways of preparing squid for instance.
There is never a dull moment here. Lots of laughter and learning.
Until next time...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A true Cultural Experience

Last week Lori and I ventured off to have lunch by ourselves with no one to help us order. I had to call one of the students to order me something that did not have wheat in it. Lori just pointed to one of the pictures that looked good. To our surprise when the food came! Let's just say it was a bit different than the picture. There were two medium-sized squid on the platter. That truly looked as if just moments before they had been swimming in the ocean. Most people in Taiwan really like them - I can't get over the "how they look" factor. So we placed them on a plate and took lots of pictures of them to show everyone!!! How polite we are. Just to say everytime we go out is an experience.

Pictures of the lovely squid:




Thursday, October 11, 2007

Prayer Requests and Challenges

I would like to describe some of the prayer requests that I have as I am working and doing ministry in Taiwan at Christ's College.
1. The school is in a transition year. The Ministry of Education of Taiwan is evaluating the school and in order for the college to get its approval many things have to happen. This approval is important for accredidation and getting new students to come to the college. However, the fear among a lot of the staff and faculty is that being under the MOE will put pressure on the school for having a faith-based curriculum and for having things like chapel, devotions, and other required spiritual elements. Wisdom and trusting in God's hand in this situation are needed.
2. The president of the school is retiring so a search committee is being formed to select another president. This is a crucial decision. The school is in a crucial time and needs good leadership and with a strong vision of Christ's College.
3. Lori and I have encountered some hard situations as we are trying to get to know the students. There are some rules being broken and we have to report the students when we see them breaking the few major rules. I have had to confront a few students and I fear that this will compromise our friendships that are just starting. This is a shame based culture so I feel I need to be very careful about how I handle these situations. Telling the truth in love is really hard. Lori and I are in an awkward situation because we are not teachers and we want to be the students friends however, we are also on staff. We walk a fine line which is hard to stay on. Please pray for patience and wisdom and God's hand in this situation.
4. Language barrier: I have set-up some times with national Taiwanese for some Chinese lessons. I really want to be able to at least converse in basic Chinese with people. I know that when I show an effort in speaking Chinese it really breaks down a wall between me and the other person. I can't really explain it.
5. The Writing Center: Some days there are so many students that I am overwhelmed and some days no one comes. This is a hard problem.
6. Opportunities to teach: I may have the opportunity to teach next semester and I am torn about this. Part of me is excited and wants to do it and part of me is scared to death because I have no experience and have taken no "how to teach" classes.

These describe some of the challenges as well as prayer concerns that I am experiencing right now.

Thanks to everyone who is praying and for all the support.

Until next time...

The Night Market

Yesterday was Taiwan's national day. On 10/10 the country celebrates its independence from... who, I am not sure, since China is still officially over Taiwan. But anyway, it's an excuse to have a day off from work and have some fun. Some students took us to the Shilin night market. We tried all sorts of different foods like, Japanese rice balls, pai deng soup (it is a Chinese medicinal soup that is supposed to make you stronger) basically, it is a bunch of little pork chops in a broth that tastes like cinammon (not bad). I also tried stinky tofu. I had made up my mind that I was not going to try it but peer pressure got the best of me and I tasted it. I should have stuck with my first instinct. To be polite to most of the Tiawanese people who like the stuff it just was not for me. It smelled horrific and tasted like it smelled.

Here are some pictures of are trip. The students I went with were great. All in all it was a blast.


I had a great time. Taiwan is so different - the smells, the food, the people, almost everything is a new experience. I am excited that the students are gaining courage and inviting us to do things with them. I am enjoying getting to know them. I hope some opportunities to share the Gospel will blossom out of spending time with them and helping them with their studies.

Until next time...

Surviving a typhoon...

Last weekend a massive category 5 typhoon swept through Taiwan. A typhoon is just another name for a hurricane. The winds picked up to about 160 mph and it rained for literally 48 hours straight. There was some flooding in my apartment and the wind sounded really fierce but the buildings here are made of pure concrete to endure typhoons. This being an island people can't just flee the storm like many do in the US when a hurricane hits. So there was not too much damage just a lot of leaves and branches strewn everywhere.

Well, I was a bit concerned seeing that this was my first typhoon experience but some of the students came over and we had a movie and sushi making party. So while the storm raged outside we were having fun in my little apartment. It was a great time of fellowship and getting to know some of the girls. We watched the movie Dreamer - about a girl and her horse and they all really liked it. Then they taught me and Lori how to make sushi. Here is a video of the storm and some pictures of our little party.

video

The video does not do justice to the storm but it might give you an idea.
Some pictures of our sushi party.


The girls gave me a lesson on how to make sushi. I think I did pretty good. No one died or got sick!

Here a picture of the aftermath of the lovely typhoon.


All in all it was an adventure and an experience I will never forget. However, one typhoon is enough for me.

Until next time...

Friday, October 5, 2007

Opportunities

This week has been full of opportunities to meet with students. On Tuesday night the discipleship small group that I am leading met for the first time. I began the time by sharing some photos of myself, my family, and the US. They really liked that and I think it broke the ice a little. Then we dove head first into the material. The time went better than I expected, the girls spoke a good bit and answered questions. Sometimes I had to coach them along but they were not as shy as I thought they would be. Many of the girls are new in the faith or not Christians at all. There was an opportunity to share the meaning of Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension and I gave a simple example. At the college I have to keep my food garbage in a container until I am ready to dump it. It gets smelly and gross. Sin is like this garbage - it is gross and smelly rebellion toward God. But I can come to God in faith He takes my sin (garbage) and in return I get the pure sweet smelling righteousness of Jesus. I think they understood. Throughout the entire time I was praying that God would fill in the blanks due to the language barrier. I am encouraged about this group.

Yesterday, I went with Kiddy and Mei-Ying to lunch across the street from the college. It was a lot of fun to get off campus and spend some time getting to know these two students. Kiddy is an energetic junior whose family lives in China. She is one of the few that stays on campus during the weekend so I hope to spend some time hanging out with her during the semester. Her English is very good and unlike many of the students she is not afraid to try and speak English. Mei-Ying is an older part-time student who was a math teacher and is taking time off to learn English. She is a sweet girl who has a great smile. I feel like the Lord is burdening my heart toward particular students and she is one of them. She is very interested about why I am here and in learning more about God. The meal was a great fellowship time.

Well, the Writing Center has not had many students. I have only helped a few students and faculty this week. Please pray that God would give me and the Head of the English Dept (Scott) wisdom on when to open the center and how to get students to come. Please also pray that the Lord would give me patience, inspiration, and new ideas to help students. I don't want to be overbearing but I know I can't just wait for students to come to me either - this is a hard balance to figure out.

This weekend I hope to romp about Taipei a bit and get more acquainted with this huge city.

Until next time...

Monday, October 1, 2007

Taipei 101

On Saturday Lori, Judy, and I went to the world's tallest functioning building. Very soon a building in Dubai will beat the tower in Taipei but not yet. The building looks like Chinese take out boxes stacked on top of each other. Here is a picture of the outside of the building.

We went up to the top and the building has the world's fastest elevator - 37 seconds to get to the 87ish floor. It was such a cross-cultural experience because in the elevator going up there were people excitedly speaking English, Chinese, Taiwanese, French, Dutch (or German I couldn't quite figure it out), and maybe one more language. It was really funny. The elevator ride was so smooth.

These are some pictures I took from the top of the tower. We got there in time to see the sunset and to see the city at night. It was a fun experience.






Today... I had the chance to ride on a motorcycle for the first time. It was an experience I have to say. A lot of people drive motorcycles (equivalent to mopeheads in the states) here. I held on tight.

Right now as I discover more about this land and its incredible people I am holding onto the truth and promise that "I am the Lord's." I do not need to fear for God is with me (Isaiah 43). Tomorrow is the first time that the small group that I am leading meets. I am a bit nervous about this but the pressure is on the Lord. He can do all His Holy will.

Until next time...