Tuesday, December 2

Earthquake and Education

Well this morning Nic and I experienced our first earthquake - and hopefully our last! It wasn't a bad one at all - we could feel that we were moving though and nothing fell or moved in our apartment, would could see our fan swaying back and forth. It was an eerie feeling! We looked at each other and said - Is this an earthquake? It was definitely an experience.

In other great news, I received news this morning that I was accepted into the Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Literacy program, through the University of Missouri. I will be working on this Masters Degree online but it should be great for me in helping me to progress in my career, to help increase earning potential in the future, and to keep me updated on the world of Education as I am taking a brief hiatus. I also believe that as an educator I should always be seeking to further develop myself and to learn more. I am very excited about this opportunity at this time in life. God is good and He has opened this door. Now I need to figure out how many classes my schedule will allow me to take at a time - I'm hoping to be finished the program in a year and a half. Classes will start on January 20th officially so I should be enrolling in the courses shortly!

The temperature has warmed up bit, which has been a nice change for us, especially as it can be cold on the scooter, particularly at night.

That's the update from Taiwan for now. Ooh - and we decorated our apartment for Christmas! It was great - I made cookies, we drank hot chocolate, decorated and listened to Christmas music. :) Check out the photos on Facebook.

Ok - that's it. For now. :)

Monday, November 17

Cultural differences - sights, sounds and smells...

The past few days I have been meaning to post about something that is a noticeable difference between our western cultures and the culture of Taiwan.

In Taiwan, it is completely culturally appropriate to pick one's nose, and flatulence and burping in public are not considered taboo. It is one thing I have yet to adjust to. It's bizarre to see old people just really into picking their nose as they walk down the street, or to have a student "pass gas" loudly in class and no one turns their head or laughs.

Oh Taiwan.. the sights, smells and sounds. ;0)

Tuesday, November 4

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Banana Bread

Sometimes it makes me smile to see how God can bless us in the little things.

Nic and I had heard that we could bake anything in a toaster oven that you can bake in an oven. We decided that we wanted to get a toaster oven. For a few weeks we put it off, thinking about what kind to get and decided where to get it. Well, on the day that Nic was leaving his job to go get our toaster oven, (helmet in hand) his co-workers asked him where he was going. He proceeded to tell them about our desire for a toaster oven. One of his co-workers told him that the ones were were looking at were made cheaply in China and that we should look for a better quality one. It just so happens that his father owns an electronic shop. He called his father who said that they were out of stock on the toaster ovens but that they owned one that was 6 months old and had only been used a few times. He would be willing to sell it to us at half the cost of a new one.

All that to say, God blessed us with a toaster oven the size of a microwave for half of the cost of a smaller one.

So for Nic's birthday I was able to make chocolate chip cookies in our new toaster oven!

The cooked in exactly the right amount of time - the toaster oven is perfect!

Here are the cookies!

I was also able to find Banana Bread that tastes just like home made banana bread at the grocery store.
Heated in the toaster oven with some tea, this treat has been such a fun blessing to us! :)

Monday, October 27

Discipline and Budgeting...

Today begins week three of my journey to being a runner. This morning at 8:30 I began and was able to successfully run 5 minutes, walk 1, run 5, ... for thirty minutes... which means I ran 25 minutes and walked 5 total. That's something eh? December 6th I will reach my goal of running for 30 minutes straight. I'm pretty excited about this and can already feel the benefits... although I was also feeling side stiches and some shin pain this morning too! Going to the park earlier also meant that I was able to see more people exercising - there was a huge group of women (maybe 30) doing aerobic dance in the park and then another large group of women doing what seemed to be ballroom dance practice. It was so funny, especially when they pulled out their Chinese umbrellas. I really need to take the video camera into the park. I also watched a few people doing Tai Chi. I have always been told that exercising gives you energy. I don't know why then that from 1-3pm I always feel super sleepy - especially on days that I exercise. Hmmm?

Mondays are busy for me. I run, come back, eat breakfast, shower, review my meal plan, go to the grocery and then bring back all of the goods on the scooter. It's quite the adventure. Then I have some down time before making dinner, then cleaning up..a bit more down time and then.... it's off to work. Today we had French Bread and home made Broccoli Cheddar Soup. It's note quite Panera, and it probably didn't help that I used skim milk.... :) But it was good all the same. http://www.lynnskitchenadventures.com/search/label/Soups (scroll down for the recipe... I also want to try her Chicken Taco Soup).

Since I am hoping to hear back soon from the University of Missouri about whether or not I am accepted into their Masters of Education program, Nic and I are trying our best to save as much money as we can so that we can pay off my Master's degree without any debt. We have made a budget that we are working hard to stick to, and are using the "Envelope System" to help us stick to it. (You can read a little about the envelope system here: http://www.daveramsey.com/etc/cms/index.cfm?intContentID=3461 and http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/09/AR2007060900050.html) It's basic but keeps us from being tempted to dip into our savings. In a world where the economy is unpredictable and many newly weds start out trying to imitate the lifestyles that their parents have achieved after 20 years of hard work... Nic and I are doing our best to be smart, work hard, live simply and to think about the future!

I must admit that I am pretty excited about this coming weekend. We have a special birthday in the family, (Nic will be 28!) and we have saved our "recreation/ going out" cash for this event - so we should be able to really enjoy it! Dessert... here I come!

I am thankful for this time now when we are in a country where we don't have easy access to the conveniences of life so that we can learn to be wise with our earnings and to grow in self-discipline! So far, so good!

Tuesday, October 21

Cultivating a Thankful Spirit...

There are days in Taiwan when it would be very easy to be unthankful about things that are inconvenient.

-My "kitchen" is a table and there's not much room for food prep!
-I have no oven.
-Things like to burn and stick on the hot plate...
-It's hard to find known ingredients at the grocery.
-Known ingredients are hard to pick due to the fact that it's all written in Chinese. (Do I want tun with Japanese sauce or a tuna spread?) grr...
- I teach on Friday nights and on Saturday mornings now (I was just assigned a Saturday morning class from 10:30-12:30)

But when I have days when I want to complain or be unthankful, I remember how blessed I am to have running water. How blessed I am to have transportation to the grocery store, how blessed I am to have a job to be able to buy groceries. I want to have a heart that's thankful; the turns to God in the moments when I am tempted to complain and that thanks Him for his blessings in my life. I know that there is always something in life that I will be tempted to complain about - and I don't want to be "a complainer." My hope is that this amazing experience of living in Taiwan will help me to become a thankful person!

Updates on goals: I have been following this running program.

I am currently on Week 2 of this program. I ran 3 minutes and walked one minutes repeatedly today repeatedly. It's slow moving but if I'm dedicated I'm hoping it will pay off! I think some of the people like to watch me run - the foreigner running in the park. I would probably seem more normal if I were stretching on the monkey bars or slapping my body and stretching. ;) On another funny note - in the grocery store people look at my cart a lot! They slowly stop and try to see what the foreigner is buying. You just have to smile and keep going! :)

Ok - today we have Taco Potatoes for lunch. I'm trying to decide whether to boil and put the taco stuff on the boiled potato or if I should boil and mash and then put the stuff on the mashed potatoes. Hmmmm... How I look forward to my toaster oven.. that's our next purchase... which will happen before next Friday. :)

Wednesday, October 15

Update ... Goals... and Every Day Taiwan

Thanks for praying for my Grandma. She did have a heart-attack. This is her third heart-attack, but she is the most amazing lady I know, so she is a trooper and from what I hear is resting and is well-taken care of. Praise God! It's hard being away from family when things like this happen because I want so badly to stay in the loop!

This year I have set quite a few goals for myself. They are mainly physical goals that I have set in order to use my free time effectively. Since I don't have to work until 4pm most days of the week (the exception is Wednesday when we leave around 1pm) I have quite a bit of time on my hands and I want to use it wisely. We have decided not to have a TV this year, however, I will admit that we were addicted to LOST online and do plan on watching it once the new season comes out in January, however, that will be 40 minutes once a week. So, in the scheme of things, we will not have much "television" time this year and I want to make good use of that time.

Here are my goals.

I want to enjoy running. Right now I have a 10 week plan set that moves me from run/walking to running 2 miles straight. For some people, this goal might be laughable, but I really do want to be able to go for runs and enjoy them. I want to be healthy when I am old. I want to be like the elderly here that do stretches in the park for hours and walk and shake their hips as they stretch - and oh, did I mention, they also hike mountains and play tennis. Talk about a wake up call.

I want to speak Basic Mandarin. At least. I figure, you can't move to a place like Taiwan, live in the culture, and not learn to speak it. I enjoy languages. I think that getting basic Mandarin under my belt would better me as an individual and it will certainly keep my brain active. It will also help me to navigate this land and I will feel better in attempting to communicate; at least I will be making an effort to speak their language rather than expecting and hoping that they can speak mine!

I want to learn more about photography. This will be more of a free-time reading and practicing hobby. I have been to some pretty amazing places in the past few months, I know that I will be to more in the months to come, and I want to be able to have great pictures to look back on!

So those are my "free-time" goals for this year. Of course, there are the deeper, more important goals of growing in my faith and relationship with Christ, learning to be a better friend and helper to my husband and of blessing and ministering in a local church. Those were always set. These are new goals that I have recently decided upon.

Every-Day Taiwan

Here are more fun tid-bits about life in Taiwan.
*Random people like to ask you personal questions. The ladies at the tea shop by my job (where I buy my Passion Fruit Green Tea, almost daily,) have a new question for me each time they see me. How old are you? How long have you been here? Where are you from? I have never felt like such a fascinating person before. They make me smile. Oh, and then there's the random people at red lights who try to ask you questions in Chinese until they realize you don't speak it. Sad.

*A "yummy" snack was offered to me yesterday at work. Shrimp flavored "cookies" - it was more like pork rinds... but didn't taste bad. I'm trying to broaden my horizons in the gastronomical area, slowly but surely.

*Strangers will tell you that you're "beautiful." It's encouraging.

*People on scooters wear their jackets backwards. I don't know why - we hear it's to stop the wind, but I'm not 100% sure that's the answer.

*If you're trying to buy fruit or something at a little market, the seller really tries hard to get you to buy other stuff too. Right now the fact that we don't speak Chinese helps to ward off this problem.

*Sometimes people want to take pictures with you - just because you're a foreigner. Sometimes it's fun - sometimes it's just awkward.

*In the 7-11s, that are on every street corner, they have eggs boiling in tea. They are a snack here. They smell awful and make me dread walking into the 7-11, although, I think I'm becoming accustomed to the smell now as it doesn't bother me like it used to. 7-11 also offers bill-paying services, faxing, photo-copying and printing services. You can also pay your speeding tickets there (so we hear... don't panic. :)

And that's all I can think of for now. My brain is shutting down so I'm going to go get some sweet sleep.

Tuesday, October 14

Grandma and Our Road Trip

If you are reading this, you could say a prayer for my grandmother. She is the most amazing woman I know, has had 2 heart attacks, open heart surgery and has survived breast cancer and we think she may have had another heart attack. She is currently being monitored and hospitalized. It's hard being away from family and friends at times like this, but I am at peace knowing that God is in control and that He loves her a whole lot more than I do.

In other news, Nic and I had an amazing time this past weekend on a road trip through up, over and through mountains of Toroko National Park. It was beautiful though and we were actually above the clouds at some points. We drove through the clouds (actually got wet because of them) and it was so cold but the views were breathtaking! On the way over it was a 10 hour scooter ride and on the way back it took about 8 hours. We stayed in Hualien, a beautiful tropical city on the east coast of Taiwan. It was really relaxing and then on Saturday we went to a black sand cobblestone beach. I have posted all of my pictures at the following link, but am hoping to get more that friends took soon.


We are now getting back into a routine. I must say - it is nice to be back at our place and not be using hostel bathrooms! We are also trying to wake up earlier in the morning in order to get full use of day before we have to leave for work around 3:45 daily. Today I ran at the park that's three minutes from our apartment. It was great. Not as beautiful as running on the beach in Bermuda or along Bermuda's south shore, but it is so nice to have the park so close so that I can get a good workout. Today a bunch of little kindergarten aged kids saw me - I waved and said hello, and they were so excited. They waved and laughed and said hello.

I also took wedding pictures into classes today for the kids to have a look at. In my second class an 11 year old boy innocently said "Teacher, you are so beautiful." Hahaha... it was just precious.

Well, that's all of my ramblings for now. If you don't know my Grandma's name, it's Olive Correia. Please keep her in your prayers.

Thursday, October 9

On Being A Wife ... and other ramblings...

I am so appreciative of my mother. I have only been a wife for three months and my appreciation for my mother has increased so much over the past few months. Don't get me wrong, I love being a wife. I love cooking, I don't mind cleaning, and I love learning more about how to be a better wife. I never realized though how busy being a wife can keep you! Also, I must say that I am truly blessed with a helpful husband. If Nic sees me doing something he will pitch right in and help - and he also has taken it upon himself to be the "dishwasher" in our family. So, as you can see -I am completely blessed. Beyond that, we also don't have a washer or dryer in our apartment and therefore use a service that is provided right next to our apartment building. They wash, dry and fold our clothes. All I have to do in that department is put my clothes away, as Nic takes the laundry down for me and puts his clothes away. So I don't do that much, but thinking about planning meals, sweeping the floor, cleaning of the kitchen counter, cleaning the glass, deep cleaning the fridge, cleaning the bathroom, etc etc.. it all takes up so much time! This morning I woke up around 8:30. I read my Bible, and another book for a little while, made coffee and oatmeal for Nic and I and then began my work. I wasn't finished until 1pm. Well, I need to let you know that my "dishwasher" is officially out of commission for the next few days as he tore up his hands on equipment at the park yesterday. I'll post a picture of that for you soon. But yes, he had really bad blisters that all burst on his hands, and I'll leave it there. I also cleaned the bathroom and mopped today, but it just takes so long! Of course, making lunch (which needs to be a full meal for us since we work until 9pm at night) took up time too. The fact that this takes up so much time just makes my mind reel because I am not even a mother! It's just Nic and I!

All that to say, Mom, I love you so much and appreciate all that you and Dad did for me. My mother and grandmother have been my inspiration in my desire to take this "wife" thing seriously.. and to do a good job of it.

I read quite a bit of blogs by some women and have found some great ideas about meal-planning. This website: www.orgjunkie.com is a place where a ton of women post their weekly meal plans on Mondays. It's great to get some ideas from them! I also found this website: http://www.allrecipes.com - here you can search recipes by ingredient - which is very helpful if you want to use up items you have around the house.

In other news, Nic and I will be road-tripping this weekend. Tomorrow (Friday) is 10/10 - a national holiday here in Taiwan to comemorate an uprising . We are going to go with some other foreigners on a scooter trip east and then south. We will stay two nights in a hostel, hopefully see a lot of cool things along the way and of course will take a lot of photos that you can look forward to come Sunday. We are taking a backpack each and are going "snack" shopping tonight for this excursion. We are pretty excited about it.

The water just boiled, I'm going to go make myself a cup of tea. :)

Sunday, October 5

3 months of marriage and a month in Taichung

We have now been living in Taichung for a month. We are settling into a routine and are enjoying our little apartment. We now have a plant which we are loving.

We also were blessed by a delivery from Taipei that was full of things like towels, cutlery, dishes, and Christmas decor. This was left behind from when my (Mel's) college roommate, Katie Cole, lived in Taipei. It was like Christmas for us! We are so thankful for this!

Last night we went on a date out to TGI Fridays ... it was such a special treat! We both ordered an appetizer each, and a meal (we were so stuffed and felt like gluttons, but it was so nice to taste good Western food!) and then we proceeded to order one dessert to share between us. It was a three layer brownie with ice-cream, chocolate sauce, and carmel sauce on it. It was delicious! So much fun. This special date night was in celebration of our three month anniversary. We also spent the afternoon in the park, chatting about life and eating cheese and crackers - so it was wonderful to have a rain-free Saturday to enjoy Taiwan!

Today we went back to our church (which was cancelled last week to the Super Typhoon) and were so blessed. A lady was baptized which was cool to see, and then, I know that I (Mel) am just in awe of the passion that the locals here have in their worship. I think it's due to the fact that they are free from tradition, free from bondage and fear- and they are not complacent - they didn't grow up in a Christian culture - they truly celebrate Christ and know that He is powerful to change lives.

This afternoon we went to the Home Group for foreigners in the church. It was really encouraging to be with those believers. They prayed for us as we shared our desire to serve God here but are unsure how that will work out as we have the language barrier. We were encouraged and blessed by their fellowship, love and prayers. We know that God has us here for a reason and we hope to find a way to serve Him and His Church here in Taiwan.

Here are some cool things the church does:

*Free kids English classes (used for outreach)
*A Parenting class for parents of kids in the English classes (many moms stay and a lot have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior due to this outreach)
*An English adults intro to Bible class (It's a class to teach people God's word, held in English - (many adults come merely for the English - but have come to Christ through this too.)

It's also an amazing experience to worship God in both Chinese and English - I hope that I can really learn some songs and commit the Chinese worship to memory.

We are also blessed looking back at how God has worked in our lives to bring us here. We don't think that we really knew what God had in store - but this has truly been a wonderful bonding time for us in our marriage - as we seek to learn more about our God, more about each other and about ourselves.

We love you all, we miss you all and we so appreciate your continued prayers. Please feel free to comment and let us know of any prayer requests you might have. We love to stay updated on what's going on in our homes and how we can pray for those we love so dearly.

Just for the fun of it, here are some of our favorite things so far in Taiwan:

*The mountains
*Passionate Christians.
*Teas - Mel's favorite = Passion Fruit Green Tea (on Ice) YUM!
*The fried rice at the night market - a five minute walk from our building.
*The work hours. We get a whole day before we have to leave for work.
*The kids are really stinking cute!
*People are really sweet to us, even though we can be completely ignorant regarding their culture and language.
*Oreo's from the convenience store
*Did we say.... fried rice?
*Really cheap local meals - although I (Mel) am still learning which ones my taste buds like.

And our desires/ goals/ free time pursuits... when we're not spreading English to the masses:

-We both want to learn more Chinese
-I (Mel) have applied for a Master's Program (Master's of Education in Curriculum and Instruction - focus in Literacy), so if I
get accepted that will take up some of my free time.
-Nic is loving reading Christian books (right now he's working on Mere Discipleship)
-We both want to exercise more... I think the park nearby will be a good way to do that.
-Nic is thinking about learning guitar
-I am reading more about being a wife (i.e. making healthy, economical meals, etc.... I've found some great blogs I spend a bit of time perusing.)
-and of course, involvement in the church and exploring more of Taiwan!

Sunday, September 21

Mountains, Beans and Ghosts

We have had some very interesting and informative past few days. For the past two weeks I have been trying to find red beans. I wanted to try and make a family soup recipe, and I couldn't find beans anywhere at the grocery store. Then, on Thursday evening we went for a Japanese style dinner and after we went to a shaved ice place for dessert. It's an interesting concept... they shave ice - a bunch of it, like a snow ball, and add Carnation milk and chocolate ice-cream. Well, that was the option that I choose. Most of the dessert shaved ice options had one special ingredient. BEANS!! Turns out that the Chinese consider beans to be a dessert food. So I guess I was looking in all the wrong places. I shared this situation with a Christian Taiwanese girl that I met this weekend - and guess what she brought to church for me.... red beans. It's incredible how God can show us His love - in the little extra ways we need it. :)

We went with a small group of people from our church hiking in the mountains - about 20 minutes from our apartment building. It was an incredible hike. I didn't think that I would make it to the top. At one point we were climbing vertically up this mountain, on a log ladder that was bolted together. And since we thought it was going to be a dirt path, Nic and I both wore flip-flops, which helped to make the hike that much more challenging. It was a great time though with believers out in God's creation! Nic and I want to go back there. We were absolutely amazed by the amount of elderly people doing this hike. It was so intense I thought I would throw up, and there they were, elderly men and women passing me left and right, smiling as they came down the mountain. I was certainly rebuked in my health and fitness!

This weekend we also learned more about how the culture here affects the people's acceptance of Christianity. September is "Ghost Month"; the Taiwanese are very superstitious, and the worship of ancestors is deeply woven into their religious beliefs. We learned through a work email informing us about the culture, that people here are wary of swimming, buying new homes, and riding on the roads this month all because of the ghosts that have died in these places who may be looking for victims so that they can be reincarnated. We also found out through our friend who gave me the beans, that workers at construction sites pray twice daily to the ghosts who have died in construction, so that they may have safety on the site. We also learned that the importance of ancestor worship is a great hindrance in many Taiwanese men in coming to Christ. To leave behind ancestor worship, as a man, is a disgrace to the family as there will be no one to carry on the worship of that family line.

We are learning of the many layers within their religious beliefs, and honestly it is so saddening to us. We know the freedom from fear that Christ can bring, the hope that He gives and the life He promises. So when you think of it, pray for the church in Taiwan- that their ministry to the men will be effective - that God will help them to overcome tradition so that they may turn to Christ; that people would realize they don't need to fear the past but they can have a hope for the future!

As a couple we are praying about the specific ministry that God would have for us as a couple. It's hard to minister directly to the local people if they do not speak English, as for now our Chinese doesn't go much beyond Nee How. We are doing our best though to reach out and be constant examples of Christ's followers to the other foreigners that we work with. Many of them are also living in darkness, living for the moment - living as anyone without Christ would live. So we are trying to show the abundant life that Christ gives, trying to be good friends and to love in a way that when they need help and answers we will be ready to share the hope that we have.

Thanks for reading - this was a long post, but God has been revealing a bit lately and we wanted to share so that you can know how to pray.

I've posted a video of our hike on Facebook - so be sure to check it out!

Tuesday, September 16


Today we went exploring before work. We drove out away from the city, and into the mountains surrounding Taichung. It wasn't a long drive and it was so green - really made us realize that we do live on an island! I have posted a few pictures from our experience so far on Facebook. You can access them by clicking on the link below . We will post more soon! Hope you enjoy this little glimpse into life in Taiwan.

Copy and past the following into your address bar : http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2051253&l=3f5e3&id=141300814

Saturday, September 13

Typhoon Weekend!

Well, there's a typhoon approaching Taiwan. It's a good thing people told us about it because you would never know from reading western news. Supposedly, this storm is a category 3 and is going to really hit the north of the island, but we are definitely experiencing very heavy winds. The sounds of the wind coming through our glass sliding doors is so loud that I could hardly sleep last night!

So no hiking for us this weekend. Looks like a rainy relaxation weekend. :) And honestly, who doesn't like a rainy relaxing weekend? :)

Thursday, September 11

Settled in!

Well, we are officially settled in here. I wasn't able to post the video of the apartment here, but was able to post it on facebook, so just add me as a friend (Melanie) and you can check it out. We now also have furniture, a big maroon sofa, a beige rug, a glass coffee table, a desk and a sweet divider.

We also have a scooter! It has been really helpful in discovering more of our area. Nic and I are also both starting to get into the routine of teaching. The kids are very funny and are all so different. They love to call you "teacher" and correct you if they see you have made an error on the board. They are very intelligent! We teach a big range - from about 6 -15 year olds. The older ones are really interested in why we left our homes to come teach in Taiwan. They are also very interested in our home countries, however, no one here understands the concept of Bermuda. It's quite funny - it's like it's on another planet. They are entertaining and fun though, most of the time :)

This past weekend we found a church here - like a 5 minute scooter ride up the rode from our apartment. It has a good mix of Taiwanese and then a bunch of South Africans, which I found to be really random. They were very welcoming though and they have home groups so we may get involved in the "foreigners" home group. We are joining them on a hike through a mountain trail this weekend on Saturday. We're so excited to be getting connected to a body of believers. Keep praying that we'll build those relationships, that we can minister and be ministered too! Nic has had some neat opportunities to share his faith with other foreigners here. Most can tell how different we are just because our lifestyle is so different from theirs.

I was reading in James the other day about how effective the prayers of the righteous are - and we have truly seen that to be true. God has been blessing us so much and we know that your prayers to our God are powerful!

Below I'll post some interesting Taiwan things we've observed... so you can have more of an idea of the culture we are living in. Also - I hope to post pictures soon.

*I have now seen a family of four on a scooter... and a woman with a baby in a babystroller.
*Here when you order fish, they tend to serve you the whole fish, pan fried. It's your job to get to the meat.
*Fish mouths are a speciality. I mean, the whole mouth and throat. It's strange.
*They love coffee and tea here. Not just hot Chinese tea but all sorts of tea and coffee - cold and hot. It's great!
*If there's a space someone here will fill it - i.e. the scooters crowd together - there's not really a sense of lines in store, etc.
*The people are so kind and really try to interact with you - they will speak Chinese continually even though you don't understand! They also really want to serve you.
*There's a huge cultural/ generation gap between the older people and the younger people - it's extremely evident here. You see old Taiwanese men on bikes with lots of bags - women with the straw pointy hats, but then the younger generation is extremely into fashion and materialism.

Wednesday, September 3

Our Apartment

So here's a little tour of our little place! Our sofa, desk and coffee table will be delivered on Saturday- so imagine the new furniture in place of the folding chairs and big box and you'll have a feel for our home in Taichung! We start teaching tomorrow afternoon/ late tonight US/BDA time... we appreciate your prayers! It's so amazing to know that people are praying for us and that God has truly been blessing us in our relationship as a couple, in our walk with Him, in friendships, in getting settled in being helped and blessed by others. Thank you so much for your prayers. We know they are making a huge impact on our lives here!!

*will post video tomorrow.... it's late and i'm experiencing technical difficulties. *

Somewhat settled!

We are finally somewhat settled! We found a sweet studio apartment in Taichung that we are enjoying. We have a make-shift kitchen with a camping stove and hot plate. We went to the Carrefour (a french type of Wal-Mart) and got some items to help us get started- i.e., towels, hangers, milk, cereal, tea, kettle and of course cleaning supplies. We were up until 2am this morning sweeping, mopping, dusting, scrubbing and rearranging, (Nic is an amazing sweeper and mopper!) but we are somewhat settled and have set up multiple living areas in our studio. There's the sleeping area, the kitchen area and a living area - we are just waiting for furniture which should be delivered on Saturday. We are on the 23rd floor and have a sweet view of the city. We are off now to get some more groceries and items to make our new place homey. We have today off - a huge treat and blessing as we prepare for our lessons and organize ourselves... i am making spaghetti for dinner and we begin teaching around 4pm tomorrow! Praise God for His goodness to us!

Love you all!

Tuesday, August 26

So far, so good!

(Please excuse all typos - I feel like I can hardly keep my eyes open!!)

So we have made it through two FULL days of training with Hess. Both days have been very long, especially as we are still trying to recover from jet-lag! We have been at the Hess Headquarters by 8:45 am and let out after 5…. The training has been very comprehensive. Yesterday we learned about the various stages of culture shock and we’ve also covered a ton of teaching stuff. We are SO thankful to have each other so that when we are going through the culture shock we can help each other. We are also blessed to have each other in that we meet twice as many people – and it’s cool because Nic is so gifted in befriending people – we try to encourage and bless those who are out here on their own.

Interesting things we’ve noted about Taiwan:

*Smells – our senses have been assulted by all of the street vendors - the flavors are also completely different.
*It’s suprisingly easy to get around and understand things (most signs are translated into English)
*The locals are very friendly to foreigners and if you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone they will too.
*A moped – you can fit a whole family of four on one.
* Mopeds, buses, taxis, all love to run through the pedistrian crossings, while we are crossing.
* Green tea is everywhere and in everything (including birthday cake, so we hear)
*Toilet paper doesn’t go in the toilet – it goes in a basket in the stall.

I am sure we are forgetting a lot – but that’s what we have noticed and what I can currently think of. We’re still exhausted from long days in training (and jet-lag, we both woke up at 4am both yesterday and today!), but are trying to get out and try local food.

We are enjoying this period of training; the sights and sounds of the big city, but we are also looking forward to discovering our new city, starting our jobs, setting up our apartment, building relationships, joining a church and getting into a routine!

Answers to Prayer:
*A Christian in our training team! An encouragement to us and we try to encourage him.
*We are surviving training and jetlag!
*We are learning the names of some food we enjoy and people have been very helpful!

*That God would provide an apartment that is close to work for Nic and I. We will be searching this Sunday (Saturday in Bermuda/US)
*That next Sunday we would be able to attend a church service – that God would lead us to a body of believers where we can be blessed and be a blessing! (This Sunday we are leaving Taipei, travelling to Taichung and have a meeting with the school to find our housing)
*That we will continue to reflect Christ in training – that our coworkers will see the difference in our lives.
*Continual adjustment to jet-lag!
*Successful end to training.

We love you all!

Saturday, August 23

Taipei, Taiwan

So we arrived in Taipei! So far, so good! We've had some breakfast, and some blended carmel coffee and met two other Hess employees in the lounge of the hotel. The people here seem really friendly and English is a lot more common, spoken and on signs and such that I expected. So that's all for now - we arrived... and we're battling jet-lag. Hoping to overcome it before training which begins at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

Thanks for praying!

Anchorage, Alaska

Well, we made it to Anchorage, Alaska! We're sitting here in the "transfer terminal" waiting to reboard on our flight to Taipei. We're both tired- a little confused regarding the time - but know it will be worse once we arrive in Taiwan. In 12 hours our world is going to be upside down....

And a note if you ever come to visit.... turns out that the flight from JFK to Taipei is an older plane - i.e.... no personal tvs - only one big one at the front of the plane - which is hard to see. LA to Taipei has the flight with the personal tvs.... definitely make the trip via LA.

We'll let you know how we adjust.

Monday, August 18

We're Married and We're Moving....

God has truly taken us both on a wonderful adventure.  We were married on July 5th, 2008 in Bermuda.  We then had a wonderful honeymoon.  We travelled to the Azores, Lisbon, Venice, Paris and then to Ireland.  We came back to Ohio on July 26th and celebrated our wedding with a reception in Springfield, Ohio on August 2nd.

Since that time, we have been enjoying family and friends and getting ready for our next big adventure.  On Friday, August 22nd, we will leave from Columbus, Ohio and fly to JFK.  From JFK we will fly to Anchorage, Alaska in order to refuel, an then we will head to our destination of Taipei, Taiwan.  

Of course we both have mixed emotions about this new venture.  We are sad to be leaving family, friends, our countries, cultures and everything that is comfortable.  However, we are truly excited to begin the journey that we believe God has planned for us.  We will have one week of training with Hess Educational Organization so that we can be "prepared" English teachers to Mandarin and Taiwanese speakers.   After that week of training, we will begin our jobs as English teachers in Taichung, Taiwan.  

On this island of mountains, industry, rice, night markets and noodles, we hope to share Christ and His love with those we come into contact with.  We hope that through relationships in teaching, and community activity that we will have the opportunity to share the gospel.  

We don't know what to expect upon our arrival, but we are thankful to our Lord who is always with us, no matter where we go.  And we are thankful to have each other as partners on the journey.