Saturday, May 28, 2011

Our Experience Part I

Wrapping up our time in Taiwan (only 6 weeks left!)  is causing us to reflect on our experience living here. We thought it would be enjoyable (for us to write and you to read) to share our experiences categorically. To better do this, we are employing a star system:

***** We're buyin' a home and settin' down roots.
**** Rock on!
*** We don't love it, we don't hate it!
** Not our favorite but tolerable.
* Stinky cheese!

Weather
Ben * What can I say, the weather just isn't really to my liking. The summer consists of 4-5 months of 3-showers-a-day type weather, unless you enjoy that crusted sweat feel...Taiwan isn't for you. The winter is rainy and frigid; you seemingly can't get away from the chill. On top of that, you are sick for weeks at a time.

Beth ** My husband is clearly from Arkansas as he thinks that "frigid" is an appropriate word to describe Taiwan. My beef is with the heat and humidity... I have actually found the winter to be a relief, temperature-wise. But really, I miss the lovely four seasons of the Midwest. My two stars are slightly generous, but the Philippines taught me that it could be worse.

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Teaching
Ben **** After my initial molehills (more like mountains), I have enjoyed my time teaching, especially, to my surprise, kingergarten kids. The Lord was gracious in giving me a good job (most of the time) and that makes all the difference in one's evaluation. I'm not ready to sell the farm and make English education my career, but it has been a fun chapter in our lives.

Beth ***** I've loved teaching so much that it's caused me to reconsider my course of study for next year. I credit this love to an amazing school run by amazing people and classes filled with, mostly, amazing kids. If I could stay in this exact situation and didn't have other life dreams, I might consider selling the farm.

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Food
Ben ** Before coming to Taiwan, I thought I would really enjoy the food here. My thought was, "General Tsao's Chicken" every day. In the States, I really like Chinese food (well...Chineseish). Needless to say, I have yet to find my General Tsao's. I have found some things that I really enjoy but, on the whole, Taiwanese food has not been my favorite.

Beth *** While I've found that much of Taiwan's oily or fried food hasn't awakened a plethora of fireworks for me, I do love my local market where I find everything from produce to meat, from grains to eggs. We've also been able to cook many of our favorite dishes here, which has given our palate a good variety.

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Church
Ben **** Our church experience here has been a two part book. The first couple of months were spent in a congregation that we found was not for us, for a variety of reasons. However, the church where we have ended up settling in has been great! We are actually a bit sad to leave, as we have felt we are just now beginning to feel like it is family.

Beth **** We love love love our New Hope congregation here, and have just been blessed by it so much. Our congregation is a mix of foreigners and Taiwanese people, and it's been amazing to see a variety of worship in Chinese and English.

more to come...
(if there are any areas you are curious about...let us know)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On one recent rainy weekend, we decided to forgo our coastal hike for a drier activity:


a trip to the National Palace Museum. Located in the outskirting mountains around Taipei, this museum is the national museum of the Republic of China, and was originally established in Beijing. In an effort of protection, half of the museum was moved to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War. It is now home to over 600,000 Chinese artifacts and artwork, encompassing over 8,000 years of Chinese history.

the steps up to the National Palace Museum

At any rate, it was the perfect day to explore this beautiful, enormous museum. So... we did. Though we couldn't take any photos inside, we were able to walk around the parks outside and snap some shots (a shout-out to Ben for his life-saving umbrella holding).

and... more bamboo





feeing the [massive] fish


Ben loved feeding these huge fish.





orange is such a happy color

living on a tropical island...



the National Palace Museum


And from everything we hear, we're not the only ones with an overwhelming number of rainy days...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Taiwan in a Nutshell Vol. II

I wrote a brief post on Taiwan when we first arrived with the intention of writing more about the people, culture, and country (you can find it here). I thought it high time to write another. Hopefully, it will help to give you a better picture of what it is like for us living here.

No matter where you travel, one of the most practical things that affects your day to day life is the food. So...what is the food in Taiwan like? Well, if you are thinking "rice," you would be thinking correctly. Rice is a part of pretty much every meal. Unless, of course, you are eating noodles. These are the two food staples of Taiwan. I'm not sure a meal goes by without the inclusion of one, or both, of these necessities. It's common for Taiwanese to feel as though they haven't had a real meal until they've eaten rice. Being the tropical island that it is, there are also any number of readily available fruits (granted we've found little stickers on the apples saying "Grown in California," but that is an exception). We have grown accustomed to eating fresh mangos and pineapples, among many other tropical fruits.

the lion's head
a traditional noodle soup called "the Lion's Head"
Another interesting aspect of Taiwan is transportation. Unlike the States, it is abnormal to own a car (even though gas is unbelievably cheap) in Taipei. Scooters, however, are another matter. It's abnormal not to own a scooter. Being in Taiwan has made us imagine how much we would save back home if we owned a scooter rather than a car. Scooters are even suitable for families. We often see a man driving with his wife sitting behind and child standing in front. It might not meet western safety standards, but seems to work well here. Safety standards are another matter. While they aren't on par with back home, they don't need to be. Drivers here are exceptionally alert. Driving is crazy! But they pay attention and therefore, avoid all kinds of accidents. Honestly, with the buses here you have to learn to be on guard. You can't be talking on the phone, eating a doughnut, and reading the morning paper while you are driving to work. Lastly, the public transportation is amazing. There are a number of different subway lines and buses galore. Beth has also gotten accustomed to bicycling, and loves exploring the city this way. With all of those options, it is easy to get around.

scooters everywhere

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Very Funnies

-One of my elementary kids comes over to me during break and begins to stroke my arm. "Annieca, what are you doing?" "I'm feeling your fur," she replies.


-We had a show the other day for Mother's Day. I was in the room with my little boys as they were putting their costumes on. On of my little boys was hesitant to change with all the other kids in there. Finally, with some encouragement, he went to it but only after he made it clear, "Underwear is not funny."


-The same little boy was telling me the other day about his video game system. Being the nice boy that he is, "Teacher Ben, you can come over to my house and play. Ask your mommy." Well...how about it, mommy? Can I go over to Flynn's house?


-In class we are talking about different jobs. When asked what jobs they wanted to do, I was informed by a couple of little girls that their dream jobs were at 7-11 and McDonalds.


-The other day, my little kids and I were in writing class. I noticed Vera holding her pencil super tight. "Vera, don't hold your pencil so tightly. You're going to get tired." She goes on to inform me that she needs to hold her pencil tightly. It helps her to be a monkey and do the monkey bars.


-Word of the day: niggling. On a test, rather than writing "nibbling," a student came up with "niggling."


-Lawrence was writing about me the other day and in his composition he described me as having "only a little hair."


-Duke was expounding the benefits of bread the other day and stated that, "Bread will help you be high." Who knew? I guess bread is the new coke.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bubble Tea

One of our favorite things about Taiwan is bubble tea. Now, I'm sure you are asking,

"What in the world is bubble tea?"

Well, I'm glad you asked because I was going to tell you anyway. First, it must be stated that there are any number of flavors of bubble tea, but the one thing they all have in common is that they all have bubbles. By bubbles, I mean small circles of tapioca that is put into the tea.

bubble tea...

Our favorite bubble tea is a Passion Fruit tea, which contains these bubbles along with small chunks of coconut and the seeds of the passion fruit. It's amazing, never had anything like it.

 Nothing like eating your drink.

...is our favorite.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Prayer and Praise

Praise
1. We praise the Lord for the time He has given us here in Taiwan. It has been a time of learning and of spiritual growth. He specifically has taught us a lot about trusting Him with things we have no control over.
2. Beth finished her statistics class, which was a prerequisite for her program at TEDS. We're thankful she was able to take care of it this year.
3. We continue to be thankful for our church here; it's been wonderful to be a part of a good body of believers. They feel like family to us.



Prayer
1. We continue to look for housing for this upcoming year. We will begin classes in late August and it would be great to have something lined up in the next couple of months. We have had a few really great leads, but nothing worked out as of yet.
2. Pray for us as we begin, in the next month or so, to wrap up our time here. Pray that we would be intentional with our time.
3. Ask the Lord to continue to give us opportunities to share of Him with unbelieving friends and coworkers.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Some time ago, while sick and lacking energy, I felt pretty down and out, drowning my sorrows and sore throat over books in my bed when I noticed the late afternoon sun streaming through our frosted windows. It was beckoning me to come. I pulled myself out of bed, my hair in a ponytail, something decent on, and walked outside with only my camera.

out our window


Walking through the familiar streets, I felt as though I had new eyes to see, a new sense of exploration and appreciation, a new fascination for this unique place in the world. The sunlight streamed through the alleys, and I followed it like a child chasing her shadow.

two men sit here every morning with their radio blaring...just thought you should know.


[our little alley]

Lane 89, Jinshan S. Rd., Taipei



It took me to familiar places, and yet I felt as though I'd never before discovered them.


sunlight

Beauty is everywhere.


dusk.

Life is everywhere.


bubbles

I walked home, refreshed by all the life around me, strengthened by the beauty and grace of God, and thankful for where He has put us today.


Praying that you are encouraged by His beauty and grace today as well.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I came home tonight to the news of Bin Laden's death in the form of an email from the missionaries I stayed with in Pakistan in the summer of 2008. At first, I didn't understand. Then I jetted over to some news sites to read the full story. My heart initially broke at this news, for many reasons, but especially in light of the burden and concern I have for this country.


Abbottabad is the town I lived outside of and traveled to each day during my time in Pakistan. The friends I have in Pakistan all live in this area, and I ask for your prayers for them during this time. They generally work either at a Christian girls' school that I taught at, or a hospital, which serves to meet the needs of the entire Abbottabad community and surrounding areas. Neither of these establishments have saught to hide their Christian affiliations, but rather remain a light to their community. This is an excerpt from the email of the missionaries I stayed with:

"...we ask you to pray for this country and for safety for the work here. There will no doubt be reactions, both locally and country wide—stirred up by opposition parties and certain religious elements. Please pray for peace for this troubled country and the people whose lives are so often disrupted by the violence of this place. The vast majority of the people we serve are not party to the violence, but victims. These are very difficult times for them.

Thank you for your concern and prayer for us. We are certain we are where God wants us to be and have peace in our hearts. We want to be able to offer the gift of the Prince of Peace in these tumultuous times."



Thank you for praying with us.

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