The holidays have come and gone, book marking the end of yet another year. 2015 is officially upon us.
I’m keeping my New Year’s Resolutions simple this year, since I want to actually accomplish them: learn how to drive a stick and donate my hair to Locks of Love. It’s going to happen – and will happen in America! Stay tuned for details about my next visit home THIS SUMMER! (You can read more of my thoughts on 2014 in my blog post “2014 in 365 words.”)
Meanwhile, here’s a verbal and illustrated update about recent happenings these past several weeks. It’s been simultaneously both tumultuous and rewarding.
super short chapter one: unconventional housewarming methods
I thoroughly warmed my house during the holidays. Due to the size of my new place, I decided against a house warming bash and hosted smaller group events instead.
SMALLER GROUP EVENT #1: The final small group meeting of the church semester was a Christmas scavenger hunt through Ximen that ended at my house with hot tea and Christmas pancakes!
Then, in the spirit of the season, I hosted a festive “book club” gathering; a group of us had read the book Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, so I killed two birds with one stone by making our discussion a holiday-themed gathering. (Can you tell it was an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party?) This was SMALLER GROUP EVENT #2.
SMALLER GROUP EVENT #3 happened on Christmas morning. I invited all my former roommates who happened to be in Taiwan (no joke, lol) over for breakfast. I woke up at 6am and started preparing our feast. It was a wonderful and fantastic reunion as we “pretended” to be living together again.
Those were the holidays gatherings at my house! It’s been officially warmed.
super short chapter two: a christmas education and other christmas festivities
Since I didn’t go home for the holidays this year, I was actually around to teach my little kindergarteners a Christmas song & dance for the Christmas show! I did the song “Here Comes Santa” with my T2 class. They ROCKED it.
My friend Eli also invited me to the ORTV Christmas Show. (ORTV is the biggest Christian broadcasting company here in Taiwan. They do radio, TV, magazines, and a plethora of other activities and events that have literally been teaching the people of Taiwan English and spreading the Gospel in this country since 1960.) It was quite the production, this being my first time to see their Christmas show (I actually have a quite a few friends who work for ORTV, which stands for Overseas Radio & Television). I was impressed how Santa Claus and his Reindeer were not mentioned even ONCE and how directly they tied in the Gospel to every part of the performance. This is significant because of how unchurched Taiwan is; nobody walked away from that show without the impression that Jesus is a part of the meaning of Christmas.
Me & Eli. Eli got us the tickets for the show!
And of course we did our Aroma Christmas Service at church. I designed the fliers for them, and took care of some other details like a Christmas video and special Christmas contact cards.
It was a beautiful gathering with quite a few other people who are part of the Aroma community but don’t normally attend church on Sunday. The children even did a story-telling and prayed a Christmas blessing for everyone. They were adorable. The service ended with the traditional candle-lit singing of “Holy Night.”
super short chapter three: ushering in 2015
I had to work on Christmas Day for the first time ever in my English-teaching career here in Taiwan. (The school I previously worked at gave teachers Christmas day off.) I completely compensated for this fact by
- baking Christmas cookies and feeding them to my students and co-teachers,
- bringing in Christmas coloring sheets,
- dancing and singing all the Christmas music that was the school’s Christmas CD,
- telling my students the Christmas story through an advent calendar.
And there were some surprises for me as well. A student’s mom grows her own ginger and brought in a HUGE bag of it for the teachers. I came away with quite the supply of fresh ginger! Another student’s mom bought Japanese-style cheesecakes for all the teachers. Wow! Thank YOU! It was a Merry Christmas at school!
I had the day after christmas off. So, feeling inspired by various events and recent happenings during the Holiday season, I wrote this: “Twas the Day After Christmas.” Ironically, due to Taiwan’s Special Work Days, I had to go into work the next day, a Saturday.
All of Taiwan got a 4 day weekend for New Year’s since New Year’s Day fell on a Thursday. That’s why I went in to work on Saturday: to pay for my Friday off. I celebrated New Year’s with a small group of friends for a change; the 6 of us had dinner and drinks and watched the Taipei 101 fireworks from a field near their house.
And then, on the first day of 2015, I went hiking with a big group of people.
On the second of 2015 (the day off I had paid for by working on the previous Saturday), I soaked in the hot springs and swam in the river of Wulai, one of my favorite places here in Taiwan and enjoyed the scenery with my friend Lauren, my Hump Day (Wednesdays) lunch date.
Me and Lauren
The public hot springs.
The Wulai Public Hot Springs are right next to the river, an intense contrast in the winter!
The clear and beautiful waters of Wulai.
On the 3rd day of 2015, I went on another hike.
The next day was Sunday, which for me is church day, not a play day. But that was fine; I had just played for 3 straight days to celebrate the opening of 2015! It was a fantastic start.
super short chapter four: the current situation
In between all of this playing, which is really fun to share with all of you, there have been other developments as well. I will briefly summarize them below in 3 bullet points.
- The Mission. (1) A new semester of small groups of started at the Aroma, and I am no longer a leader! This is exciting because I have felt for a very long time that it was time for me to step down and watch Taiwanese people become drivers of the spiritual growth of the community. I still attend the Wednesday night small group and help translate. (2) The Children’s Church Ministry is officially using Teach Us the Bible curriculum, and it’s very exciting for both students and teachers! (3) The Junior High Program has only one class left this month, and then won’t start up again until March. After a meeting with my pastor and our supporting local teachers, the class we do is going to undergo some exciting changes that will continue to advance the Kingdom in this public junior high school!
- The Community. At the very beginning of my time here, it was the natural thing to do to make friends with all the Taiwanese people I met; we had no choice but to reach out since our community was still in the growing stages. Over time, it’s been easier to not reach out and make friends, especially when the community feels like it keeps growing on its own more and more everyday. Recently, however, I’ve been blessed with new friends and a reunion with one I have known for 5 years: my very first language exchange partner Dulcie. I spent an afternoon with her and Jessica catching up and sharing new experiences.
- The Person. I have officially made some new goals for myself that will take me the next few years to accomplish. I feel called to continue doing ministry here for the time being, but I know longer feel called to a life of work and ministry, but to a life of school and ministry. This means that as I am serving at the Aroma, I will be pursuing serious study in Chinese and then my Master’s degree here in Taiwan. BIG CHANGE! I know! This is why I am moving into a more support-sustained lifestyle. I trust God will provide all I need! If you are interested in supporting, below is all the information you need to know how. Also, feel free to contact me directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
THANK YOU FOR READING THIS UPDATE! 🙂