Friday, January 28, 2011


[xīn nián kuài lè ]


Happy New Year!

This past week has been crazy, to put it lightly, with our semester wrapping up and extra hours at work with an interim winter program.

my level A class

This coming week is Chinese New Year, and the biggest holiday of the year here. Which means... Ben and I both have some much anticipated time off work. In approximately 3.75 hours, we will be boarding a plane for the Philippines...

For those of you who are addicted to our blog, I'm sorry that you may experience some withdrawal. But no worries, we'll be back next week.

Much love,

Ben & Beth

What's in a Name?

Most Taiwanese children have an English name. Obviously, this is the name they use while they are in our classes, but these names are often also put on passports and other legal documents. I've noticed over the past six months that most names fall into one of two categories. The first category is the "Generation Past" category. A few examples of this: Lawrence, Alvin, Stanley, Vera, Gwyneth, Albert, Howard, Wesley, Xavier, Gary, William, Henry...

The second category is the "Shouldn't Be a Name" category. Some examples of that are: Kimi (for a boy), Nini, Beemas, Lulu, Duke (unless it's of Hazard), Viola (maybe if you are on course to be a musician), Apple, Tiger (cute, but do you really want to go by that?), Dora (thinking Explorer), Phoebe, Boss, and Handsome (which has been changed to "Hanson").

Meet Beemas. Whenever I hear his name, I think of the show Beevis and Butthead. His older brother named him. Poor kid.

To any of you who love these names, each his own.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Little Mermaid, Revised Edition.

the little mermaid

Stories have been the trend at school the past few weeks, as I have been teaching the past tense to my level C students.

Some students write slowly and carefully.

Some just struggle a bit with stories in general.

And then some come up with absolute masterpieces.

I've read my fair share of the Three Little Pigs, Snow White, and most recently, the Little Mermaid. And while I'd love to keep these brilliant works all to myself, I just can't help but think you might enjoy a good couple of chuckles too.
(these appear as the students wrote them)

Once upon a time, there was a mermaid. She lived in the ocean. One day, she saw a ship. The prince was on the ship. But there was a storm. The prince fell in the water. The mermaid watched the prince. The mermaid helped the prince to the beach. She went to the sea monster home. The mermaid asked the sea monster, "I want to drink magic medicine." The sea monster gave the mermaid magic medicine. She had two legs! The prince saw the mermaid and said, "Do you want to dance with me?" The mermaid said, "Okay." And the prince asked, "Do you want to marry me?" The mermaid said, "Okay." And they had happy every days!

Once upon a time, there was a big girl. Her name was Mermaid. One day, she saw a big ship. She saw the prince fall into the water. The mermaid took the prince to the beach. The prince woke up. He said, "Wait, don't go." But the mermaid went into the water. One day, a sea monster helped Mermaid to have legs. The sea monster gave Mermaid a magic medicine. Mermaid drank the magic medicine and she had legs, but she couldn't talk. She went back to the beach. She saw prince married another girl. She was sad. The End.

Once upon a time, there was a little Mermaid. She lived in a castle. One day, she saw a ship. She saw a handsome man. It was raining. The handsome man fell in the water. She helped the handsome man swim to the beach. When he got up, she swam to the water. She wanted legs. She asked the sea monster, "Can you help me to have some legs?" The sea monster said, "When you drink this magic medicine, you will have legs." The mermaid drank the magicine. And she had legs. The handsome man saw her. He took her to his castle. They loved and liked each other. And they got married.

The End.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

cooking like the Taiwanese

Over the course of the months we've been here, I've made a few unlikely Taiwanese friends.
Meet Sharon.

my friend, Sharon

She and I met at a fruit stand in our local market in one of my weak moments, while I was struggling to understand, in my floundering Chinese, what the kind lady behind the stand was trying to communicate to me. Sharon stepped forward, and translated, and then proceeded to walk alongside me through the rest of the market, and invite me up to her husband's medical clinic for tea. I consented, and we've been friends ever since.

Recently, Sharon invited me over to teach me the fine art of making jiǎozi 餃子, or the traditional Chinese dumplings. Jiǎozi typically consist of a ground meat and vegetable filling wrapped in a thinly rolled piece of dough. We started with ground pork, chopped lots of cabbage and other greens from the market, added a bit of ginger, and some small shrimps (I cringed a bit, as my stomach has just never made friends with seafood, but being as culturally saavy as I could, I bit my tongue).

Then, Sharon showed me how to fill the dough, add a touch of water, and pinch the dumplings tightly shut.

And a hour later, ta-da! Loads of freshly made jiǎozi ready for the freezer or my frying pan... or, as I did, both.


Are you hungry???

Beitou Hot Springs

A couple weekends ago, we took the time to go to some nearby hot springs with our friend, TJ.

with TJ

Soaking in the hot springs is a common practice here in Taiwan. It seems to be an especially big hit with the older generation. Perhaps because it, supposedly, has some sort of medicinal value. We spent a grand total of $40 NT/each to enter these public hot springs, which comes out to be about $1.30 for about two hours.

Beitou hot springs

There are different pools of varying tempatures. At the bottom of the hill is the you've-got-to-be-a-wussy pool. Next is the you've-almost-earned-your-chest-hair pool. At the top of the hill is the you-better-be-old-and-losing-nerve-endings-or-you-are-going-to-toast-your-bum bum pool (we lasted in that one all of about 5 minutes before our bum bums toasted). Needless to say, that pool was mostly filled with the 50-year veterans. There are also a couple of cold pools. We think the idea is to work your way up the mountain until you get to the hottest pool. When you can't take that go down and hop in the cold pool. A word of warning: don't change from hot to cold too fast or it will leave your head spinning. We were all feeling a bit dizzy at the end.

Longshan Temple

Since we arrived in Taipei, we have been meaning to go to one of the city's most famous temples.

at Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple dates back to 1738, and like many other temples in Taiwan, it is multidenominational. The central deity worshipped is Guanyin (commonly known in English as the goddess of mercy), though the temple enshrines 165 other deities, ranging from the patron of scholarly pursuits, the gods of military and business pursuits, and Matsu, the goddess who is believed to provide safe return of travelers by land or sea.

At the time we visited the temple, there were hoards of people lighting incense and chanting hypnotically. In all honestly, though this experience was intriuging, I was very overwhelmed with an expected sense of heaviness as I observed so many lost souls worshipping anything but our True God.

at Longshan Temple

incense burning

We left feeling overwhelmed by the lostness of these people... and with a renewed burden to continue sharing the good news of Jesus. We ask that you continue to pray with us for this nation and these people.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Funny sentences are essential in my classroom, and so I am always encouraging my students to be creative! See this sweet, innocent student in red?

Well, this is one I received recently from him:

I like dirty movies.

Haha...ha. And this teacher just didn't have the heart to rain on his funny sentence parade and tell him what that really means in English.
Meanwhile, A for creative effort, Ricky.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Seminary Bloopers

Scholastic Comedy
December 16, 2010 by mikewittmer (Taken from Don't Stop Believing).

I’m in the middle of the end of semester grading, and here are some interesting comments I’ve seen so far.

One paper footnoted the term “the.” It was obviously a mistake, as there is not a whole lot more information you can give down below.

Another sentence read “Notice the tow ‘ifs.’” To which I reply, if you want me to notice a specific word, don’t misspell the word right before it, because that’s all I’m going to see.

I’m collecting student bloopers like that one, and I’ve now reached fifty. Some of the ones that came in during the past year or so:

“Mary was conceived through the Holy Spirit, which caused her to be pregnant with Jesus.” (Even Roman Catholics don’t believe that Mary was pregnant before she was born).

“The power of Christ could not be overcome by Satin’s power of death.” (That 800 thread count is a killer)

“The issue of baptism is as old as itself.” (No kidding!).

Martian Luther is the theologian of justification.” (He is out of this world!).

“The decorative cause of evil is not a creation of YHWH, but us.” (So the cause of evil is…Martha Stewart?)

“In Arminius’ view, the correct order of the gospel is that God gave His Sin, to whom we respond by repentance and faith.” (This seems to be a stretch, even for Arminians)

“It seems obvious to Luther that Pope Leo has been told quite negative things about his message and the manor in which that message is delivered.” (Not only does the pope disagree with what you’re saying, he also thinks your house is the ugliest building in Germany).

“For instance, if one becomes hungry, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway seem to be in every medium to large size city in the USA. While on the expressway there are exits where one goes to rest or buy gasoline for continence.” (Doesn’t gas contribute to incontinence?)

Finally, I was reading a college catalogue last week and noticed an intriguing course entitled “The Intercultural Mandate.” This seems to be political correctness run amok. I know about the cultural mandate and the redemptive mandate, but I’ve never heard of this one. Is it God’s command for us to mingle?!

I would like to see evangelical colleges and seminaries return to the old language of “Christian missions.” I understand that it’s more academically respectable to say “Intercultural Studies,” but words do matter. I suspect that, at least in some circles, the redemptive mandate is being replaced by the intercultural mandate, whatever that is.

And for an encore, here are three more jokes that you have probably already heard but were new to me:

1. I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous.
2. There are three kinds of people in the world, those who can count and those who can’t.
3. Grand Rapids was on the verge of getting an NFL team, but the league decided that if we got one then Detroit would want one too.

Just Can't Please

Church Criticism and Consistency

Kevin DeYoung, in Why We Love the Church (pp. 87-88, line breaks mine): (Taken from Between Two Worlds)

But then again, consistency is not a postmodern virtue. And nowhere is this more aptly displayed than in the barrage of criticisms leveled against the church.

The church-is-lame crowd hates Constantine and notions of Christendom, but they want the church to be a patron of the arts, and run after-school programs, and bring the world together in peace and love.

They bemoan the over-programmed church, but then think of a hundred complex, resource-hungry things the church should be doing.

They don’t like the church because it is too hierarchical, but then hate it when it has poor leadership.

They wish the church could be more diverse, but then leave to meet in a coffee shop with other well-educated thirtysomethings who are into film festivals, NPR, and carbon offsets.

They want more of a family spirit, but too much family and they’ll complain that the church is ‘inbred.’

They want the church to know that its reputation with outsiders is terrible, but then are critical when the church is too concerned with appearances.

They chide the church for not doing more to address social problems, but then complain when the church gets too political.

They want church unity and decry all our denominations, but fail to see the irony in the fact that they have left to do their own thing because they can’t find a single church that can satisfy them.

They are critical of the lack of community in the church, but then want services that allow for individualized worship experiences.

They want leaders with vision, but don’t want anyone to tell them what to do or how to think.

They want a church where the people really know each other and care for each other, but then they complain the church today is an isolated country club, only interested in catering to its own members.

They want to be connected to history, but are sick of the same prayers and same style every week.

They call for not judging “the spiritual path of other believers who are dedicated to pleasing God and blessing people,” and then they blast the traditional church in the harshest, most unflattering terms.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Prayer and Praise

1. We are thankful to the Lord for the direction He has given us regarding the future. It is also a praise that we were accepted into a school we are really excited about.
2. We are grateful for the church that we are a part of. It always a blessing to be in a church that preaches truth and is filled with loving people.
3. After all the growing pains we encountered after first arriving (my job and visa), we are extremely thankful that the Lord has gotten us over these obstacles and grown us in the process. And, as if that wasn't enough, we both have jobs that we really enjoy.

1. Please pray as we begin to look toward school next fall. Pray in advance that the Lord would provide the necessary financial provision, direct us to a good church, and help us as we start to make any number of arrangements for this move. This is especially an item of prayer as we will have to make various decisions while we are still here in Taiwan.
2. Continue to pray that the Lord would give us opportunities to share the Gospel with the Taiwanese people who are around us.

Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall in Taipei

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

two worlds

This morning, I spent an hour working on my financial aid application for Trinity.


Once I was finished, I pulled out my Chinese homework to study before my class this afternoon.

writing chinese

In some ways, I feel very much like I live in two separate worlds. As we look ahead to next year, there are many details to take care of, decisions to be made, and plans to secure. All of this is done with great anticipation for us... we are finally on our way to seminary!

At the same time, I walk out the door and find myself completely immersed in an Asian world that knows nothing of Trinity or our plans. I find myself anticipating seeing my students and teaching them this afternoon. I pray for my Taiwanese friend with whom I will have dinner tonight. And I am excited to have my Chinese lesson and learn just a little more about how to communicate with this side of the world. My Chinese teacher asked me last time we met,

"You are leaving in the summer? Why do you still want to study Mandarin?"

And I thought about it for a minute. Really, I want to study Mandarin because it is the language of the country I am living in, and I desire every day to communicate, at least on a very basic level, with the people I meet and know. Will I ever use Chinese again? I have no idea. Is it the best use of our money right now? My sweet husband has only ever been encouraging as I pursue studying, and I am so grateful.

The Lord has taught me much this year about living each day intentionally. My days in Taiwan are numbered, as the to-do list for next year reminds me. I truly want to be all here, while I am still here. And so I continue to cross off task by task on my to-do list... and then I sit down, and I study Chinese.

and the winner IS...

Many of you are aware that it has been our desire to go back to school. In fact, we have been excited about the possibility ever since... well, since we graduated from Moody over two years ago. Researching seminaries has been my hobby over the past couple years. In a weird sort of way, I have really enjoyed comparing all of the various options. It is difficult enough to choose a school when there is only one person making the decision, let alone two. I could write a lot on the process... the seesawing and evaluating involved. BUT I'll keep it short for the sake of ya'll.

Lake Michigan from Lakeshore Drive, Chicago. December 2008, the month we graduated from Moody.
A couple of weeks ago, we found out that we were both accepted to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, located right outside of Chicago. Yes, we'll be heading back to the Windy City. The Lord has confirmed this school to both of us through what has been an amazing process, and we are so excited. We will be enrolling for the fall of 2011 with Beth in the Mental Health Counseling program and myself in the Master of Divinity program. Anyway, that's the big news in our lives lately, and we're excited to share it with you. We continue to be thankful for your encouragement and prayer.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A month or so ago, Ben came home and asked if I would be interested in subbing at his school for a few days. I didn't know much about it, or what I would need to do. But I thought, why not? And so last week, I cancelled my morning tutoring, and went to school with Ben to "teach" these adorable three-year olds.
Let just say... I had a fun week!
"teaching" at Ben's school

making New Year's neckaces




This week is back to normal, and that's probably good for my sanity. It really was a lot of kids all day, every day last week. But I sure enjoyed it!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Years 2011

And as promised... a little more on New Years in Taipei. We are playing with our new video camera, and just happened to get the fireworks. Enjoy!!


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