Open Doors for 2012

Thanks to those of you who prayed for the short term team and all the work they helped us do during the Christmas season.  The Pearl Family Garden team was given a huge boost by these seven folk and we saw some doors open as a result of their time with us.  So we’re praying, praying as we follow up… will you join us in prayer?

They were so good to us… even gave an appreciation dinner for as many of our teammates as were able to attend, and we had a little time to walk around with them before their last ministry event.  First photo below is Margret, our area supervisor (she’s taken good care of me!) at the dinner.  The bottom photo is SinEe and one of the gals from the team walking near Taiwan Normal University.

On to Bethlehem

Yesterday was the first day of Advent.  My friends put up the tree, with Silas doing the honors for its crowning glory.

Home Assignment

I’m writing from the US, at the tail end of my first Home Assignment.  It started with two intense months of driving and speaking engagements. Before heading back to Taiwan, I get to slow down and catch up with dear friends… like my buddy here.

He came to my ordination two years ago.  It was his first time out in the world after being born.


Hello to the Year of the Rabbit

My first Chinese New Year in Taipei!  It has been six months since I finished language school and moved here.  I’m in the Wanhua area, which is an especially happening place at this time of year.  Here are some of the sights from my new neighborhood from the past week.

Longshan Temple is crammed with worshipers seeking the favor of the gods there, who have a reputation for being especially powerful.

The local gamblers and Chinese chess players turn up in greater number.

Lucky dog (literally).

Dancing on the park square.

Snapping to the beat of old school Taiwanese songs being sung by street musicians.

吃甜甜!  (“Eat sweets!” – a traditional New Year’s motto in Taiwanese.)

Selling high mountain oolong tea.

Sausages are a traditional Chinese New Year snack.

Thousand year old eggs.

It’s a busy time for the working class… and their kids.

And then a few photos from other places in Taipei…

The cherry trees are starting to bloom.  (This is our team leader, Tera.)

And this is Sin Ee, my roommate and co-worker… with a friend.

Welcome to the year of the rabbit!

Chinese & English… eh, same difference!

Full-time language study… I’ve been at it now for about 10 months.  Taiwanese is lots of fun.  It has eight tones (five more than Mandarin), which makes it fertile ground for enough puns and language bloopers to unintentionally entertain our teachers for hours.

Lest I have too much fun to be a proper missionary, I’m about to switch to studying Mandarin.  Ever eager to encourage me, one of my teachers showed me this article called “Chinese and English are Sorta the Same.” It’s about the clever strategies that older immigrants to America use in the process of learning English.  Like the Chinese gramma that managed to remember the English names of her American relatives because she figured each of their names sounded like a Chinese veggie.

Chinese-speaking readers, enjoy the article below!


中文英 文差不多


許多留學生的父母都是五六十歲才移民來美國,很晚才開始學英文,磕磕碰碰用著自己的一套學習方式,用注音輔助,用台語標 示,中學西用,西學中用,學了放棄,放棄再學,再學再放棄,錯中學,玩中學,學到最後還真的能通,最後還很有感悟的說:「其實中文英文差不多。」

老太太自創英語學法說的是;「美國人也說七十、八十,九十,但他們的七十是放在漢堡上軟軟臭臭的東西,八十是公共汽車,九 十是果汁,阿婆九十是蘋果汁,三塊肉餵你馬吃是非常謝謝Thank you very much的意思。」她的註解裡有「死篇」:Yes 是爺死,Nice是奶死,Mouth是媽死,Was是我死。

一位姓蔡的老人家記不住兒子媳婦孫子的英文名字,聰明的她說用中文就可以了,媳婦Sue Tsai變成蔬菜,兒子Paul Tsai她記成菠菜,孫子Jay Tsai不就是芥菜,Joe Tsai是韭菜,孫女Megan Tsai音同梅干菜,就此搞定。況且現在中文外來語不少,咖啡就是Coffee、巧克力叫Chocolate、檸檬是Lemon、颱風美國人也說 Typhoon、吉他不就是Guitar、模特兒叫 Model。

孫子說話聽不太懂時,只要點頭稱酷(Cool)就好。到麥當勞叫薯條,說成「番薯塊」,服務生也聽得懂是French Fries。

但老太太也有困惑的時候,牛肉為什麼說成「壁虎」(Beef),梨子說成「配偶」(Pear),高速公路何以是「婦女 會」(Freeway)?不謝的英文為什麼不能說成No Q?

到超級市場問說豆腐在哪兒,為什麼會被帶到放狗食(Dog Food)的架子旁?她也不了解為什麼兒子教她在人多的地方,要借過時得禮貌的說Excuse me,她照說了,為什麼大家哈哈大笑,硬說她說的是Kiss me,一路求吻。她替孫子綁鞋帶時,對孫子說:「你真好命,還有阿嬤替你繫鞋帶。」孫子竟然哭起來說阿嬤說他好Mean,有不好的意思。

她也曾經不明白,洛杉磯高速公路旁墨西哥人擺攤賣花生橘子,一包包裝好,天天喊著「完蛋了」,今天完蛋,明天還完蛋,是什 麼意思?原來……一塊錢One Dollar和完蛋的音這麼像!

Precious in God’s sight

I keep getting really affected by God’s love among my OMF teammates.  We continue to remember the life of Ian Ullstrom, the 17-year-old son of Ruth and David Ullstrom.   Ian was their second adopted son.  The family already had three biological children before they adopted their son, John.  Before the adoption, the family had a meeting to discuss the possibility of having a new sibling.  One of the kids cried at the meeting.  At first, the family thought he was crying because he would have to share his parents’ love with another.  But he told the family he felt that if another kid would be loved as much as he had been loved by his mom and dad, that it would be so awesome and amazing!  And so John became an Ullstrom.

Ian came along a few years later.  He was part-aborignal and had been living in an orphanage.  Aboriginals are looked down upon by the Han majority in Taiwan, so it is more difficult to place these kids in homes.  The director’s memories of him were of a kid picking through a garbage dump to find scraps to eat.  But you would never guess it from the fun-loving person that Ian was, who was not one to feel sorry for himself, even when the cancer diagnosis came.

The folks that know the Ullstroms know there’s a realness behind it all when they say in the midst of all this, “To God be the glory.”  You can check out an article written by one of the parents at Ian’s school that tells more of the story – it starts on page 12.

Yesterday, I stayed overnight at the Newquist’s, teammates who have been like a second family to me.  They are affectionately called Mama and Papa Liu by the many young people that have been touched by their ministry over the last 30+ years.

One of my favorite things about hanging out with them is to hear the stories they have.  Like the day that a young woman in Mama Liu’s church came over with her baby girl, beside herself with distress because her mother-in-law had demanded that she must give the baby up for adoption.  They had just discovered that the baby had severe mental disabilities, which is very shameful to the family in Taiwanese culture.  Liu Mama encouraged her to follow her heart and that of her husband to keep the child.

That was over twenty years ago.  They never imagined that day that God would use this young couple to make a huge impact on the treatment of special-needs children in Taiwan.  Their love for their daughter, vision for her development, and conviction that these children are precious in God’s eyes eventually inspired parents, schools and churches to seek their help.  It used to be that special-needs classes were just about babysitting kids that were seen as good for nothing else.  The teachers would come out of their seminars amazed – they had never seen the value of the children before.  And Mama Liu remembers a father saying after a session, “Now I see that my child is God’s gift to us.”

As for the baby girl, she is now a joyful young woman with a gift for singing.  And though she can’t sing like others who have had the same amount of training, people cry when they hear her sing “Amazing Grace” because they see God’s love and grace in her life.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins… We love because He first loved us.”
– 1 John 4:10, 19

Last two months

Here’s a quick timeline of significant events over the last two months.

Feb 27. Memorial service in Kaohsiung for Ian Ullstrom. His was a remarkable story. Highlights include the eulogy by his parents towards the beginning of the service, and a powerful translated sermon at about 52:00 (you can watch it by clicking this link).

Mar 2. My roommate moved to Chiayi, where she is continuing her two-year internship.

Mar 6-8. Went to Taipei to bid farewell to my mom before her return to the United States, bringing closure to the formal mourning period for my grandma, who passed away on Dec 31.

Mar 8-13. My home became a clinic and guesthouse!  OMF’s Field Medical Advisor stayed with me and saw patients here. It was a special treat to chat with her and hear her stories, as she and her husband have been in Taiwan for about 30 years (I forget exactly how long) and have worn many hats in that time, including being the Field Directors and New Worker Supervisors .

Mar 18 and following. We welcomed new teammates that week.  The Jansens are family of four from Germany/United States. And Nancy Elumba arrived later that week from the Philippines.

Mar 27-April 5. Went to Taipei to visit OMF’s ministries in Wanhua, where I will move when I finish language school in August.