Tuesday, March 31

Paintball, Colds and Beijing

On Sunday we went into the mountains and played paintball with our church youth group and another youth group.  What an experience!  It was a lot of fun to get to know the kids a little better.  I'm still recovering from the game though; I got a huge bruise!  

In other news, I am also battling a cold, again.  It's somewhat ridiculous.  I had the flu two weeks ago, and today I am feeling pretty run down with a sore throat.  I don't know if it's the germ-y kids, Taiwan, or my busy schedule that has my immune system down.  

God is still good though and we keep pressing on!   

In our free time we are planning a trip to Beijing that we hope to take in the end of May.  We will be there for about a week, found tickets and now just need to sort out our hotel.  

Life is certainly keeping me really busy.  My 15 credit hours and 22 hours of work make sure that I'm constantly doing something important.  I'm excited for life to "calm down" a little bit.... I'm not sure when that will be.  I'll get a few weeks off before summer classes begin and I'm hoping to take another 4 classes then.  By summer I'll have 27 of my 33 hours towards my Masters completed.  It's great to be meeting goals and I love a challenge.  I do really look forward to some lazy days with friends and family in the future though!  :)

Thursday, March 26

Things I'll Miss From Taiwan

The location of our apartment is very convenient here in the city.  Right below our apartment building is a laundry lady (who washes, dries and folds our laundry since we don't have a washer or dryer in our studio), a convenience store, a restaurant and then a 2 minute walk from our place there is:  a hardware store, a DVD rental, a plethora of tea shops and a night market for great food.  We probably buy fried rice from one vendor at least once weekly.  For the longest time we both ate pork fried rice but now we're really enjoying beef fried rice.  Yummy.  So on a rainy weekend or a cold Saturday night we can walk down to the market, buy fried rice or noodles, then I will go and get a freshly made apple juice from a juice/tea shop, and then if we want we can pick up a movie on the walk home.  

I like the fresh apple juice.  It's delicious.

Tuesday, March 24

Rain, rain, go away

Well, the sporadic rains have been continuing and I think the poncho may become a regular part of my wardrobe.  

Today I was offered cherry tomatoes as a snack twice.  I don't particularly enjoy cherry tomatoes.  I will eat them in food, but not on their own, in a snack like fashion.  Well today, that happened, twice.  :)   It's really hard to turn food down when it's offered by locals.  

On the topic of food, Nic and I went for dinner last night with co-workers to a great  local Cantonese food place.  It's the type of food that you would consider to be "Chinese" - like sweet and sour chicken and chicken with peanuts.  Nic and I are now pros with the chopsticks and eating rice dishes with chopsticks is normal.  I also have grown a new love for snow peas.  They are very common in stir fry type dishes and come as a common vegetable with chicken dishes.  I love them!  

Monday, March 23

It's time for the... PONCHO!

That's right, it's poncho time in Taiwan.  The hazy and muggy air finally dissipated this afternoon and the spring rains came, slowly, but surely.  We hear that we can expect daily downpours from now on, which makes our ride to work on the scooter more exciting.  Unlike in Bermuda, where you have rainy days and then sunny days, in Taiwan you have a rainy season and a dry season.  We just enjoyed about 6 months of dry weather, and now comes the rain.

I'm sure that we will give the motorists in Taiwan a smile as they see the foreigners in their big, light green ponchos.   Some might say that I look like a honeydew melon.  

Saturday, March 21

Kids and Daken

On Saturday morning I teach a class of about 10 boys and one girl.   Sometimes they are little monkeys - or they really act like them, but other times they are cute.  I love when they smile.  I've posted some pictures of them below and of Nic's hike today in Daken... he went back and climbed to the top of the ridge.  It was a more "polluted" or "foggy" day today so the pictures aren't super clear, but I'm sure you get the idea.

Ian Lin - The one in the red - He has two English words perfected, "I'm sorry."  Then he bows.  It's hard to get really annoyed with him.
Kevin - His toothless grin makes me smile
Shawn - Sometimes he's a little too hyper - having a hearty laugh in this photo
The studious ones. 
Typical Shawn face

Friday, March 20

Missing Grandma

Mrs. Olive Corriea, or Grandma, or G-ma - my favorite, was called to be with Jesus 4 weeks ago today. I often think of her and am inspired to live like her. I miss her a lot. I wish I could get on Skype and call her and give her an update on Taiwan. I wish I could have spent more time with her. I wish I could just tell her one more time how much I love her and how special she was to be.

Sometimes I think of her and cry. Other times I think of her and smile. Those times are more frequent - and for that I am thankful. I read the following at her funeral. It was a letter that I wrote to her before Christmas when she was struggling with congestive heart failure and had been hospitalized. I'm glad I was able to share my thoughts with her then.

How Do I Say Thank You?

Dear Grandma,

I want to let you know that I am praying for you as you go through this difficult time. Last night when I heard what had happened and didn’t really know what condition you were in I cried and cried. I am so glad to hear that you are breathing easier now and that you are resting. I want to let you know that last night Nic and I prayed for you. I prayed for your healing – that God, our great physician, would heal you. I prayed that He would be your comforter and rest. I prayed that He would be your peace. I prayed that He would give wisdom to the doctors and that they would give you the best care. I prayed that God would keep you safe and take good care of you. I know that He will and I trust Him with that! I wish I could come and visit you, but since I can’t, I thought I would write you a letter to tell you how much I love and appreciate you. Some people think great thoughts about others and value them so highly, and only after that person is gone do they express their gratefulness for that person and the role they played in their life. Well, I don’t want to wait until that time Grandma. I want to let you know now how much you mean to me, how much I have learned from you and how much I love you. So here is a list of things that you have taught me; either directly through time spent with you or watching you, or through my mom – who, obviously, learned directly through you!

Put God First
You have been an example to me of putting God first in your life. I can see this by your priority of spending time reading the Bible and praying in the morning. You also show by your example your commitment to God through your church attendance. I know that you hold firm to his word and that you live what you read. Your reading through the Bible yearly has also been a challenge to me.

I will never forget how, as a young child, I would spend the night at your house, and you would kneel and pray by the side of your bed, for what seemed to me to be the longest time. As I have grown and matured in my faith I know that your prayers have reached the heart of God. I know that God has worked through and in our family due to your prayers. I also have a great peace knowing that you pray for me. Not only do you tell me you pray, but I know that you do pray, you pray often – and that blesses me beyond words.

Not only have you shown great hospitality to our family, as your home has been the meeting place for many family meals, but also to strangers, believers who are new to our church and need an “adopted” family. You have shown me how, even in the simple ways, we can reach out and welcome others and show them love.

Make Home a Haven
Grandma, your home is a resting place and a place of great refreshment. Not only is it always smelling clean and fresh, and is organized, and everything is in its place, but also, there is always something available, food, tea or cake to nourish anyone who may stop by. I know that I, along with the rest of our family, I have been so blessed by the way that you have made your home a haven for those you love. You have taught me the importance of keeping my home clean and organized so that life is more enjoyable. You have taught me the benefit of blessing others with a meal to eat. You have taught me the importance of being faithful in the seemingly small areas, such as keeping my home, so that in that faithfulness I may also be faithful in other areas.

Service and Giving
You are always willing to lend a hand, to bring a meal, to help someone in need and you have taught me the value of serving in secret. I also know that you have taught me not to hold tightly to material possessions but that there is joy in giving. In a world that says happiness comes from how much we have, you have shown me that there is joy in blessing others. I have been the recipient so many times of your benevolence and I can’t put into words my thankfulness for not only what you have given me, but the truth that “it’s more blessed to give that to receive” which you have taught me through your actions.

The Value of Work Hard
Through your life you have taught me the value of work. You have taught me to work, as unto God, to be faithful in what I need to do and to do the best that I can. Your example at the Friendly Store and Lindo's as you pressed on as long as you were able was an example of commitment and perseverance. The work that you do at home produces such great fruit in that it provides the haven I wrote about earlier. You have taught me to not be idle but that there is value and reward in work.

Contentment In All Circumstances
In all that you have gone through throughout the years I never hear your complain. You always put your trust in God, you know that He provides, sustains and is our comfort. You never blame him but you trust him to meet your needs and be your comfort. It’s so easy for me to complain about a silly bruise or a sore muscle, but in all you’ve been through you quietly endure and that speaks volumes of your character.

Trust God and Don’t Worry
Throughout high school and college I always knew that I could come to relax at your house. Often, sitting around the table, I would share about what was going on – sometimes feeling stressed or worried about the future and what it would hold or how I would accomplish the tasks in front of me. You were a caring listener but also taught me not to worry; to do what was necessary and trust God with the rest. I also want to thank you for the time you helped me put my wedding invitations together. I remember how overwhelming that task seemed, and you sat there and struggled with me as I sought to tie bows. Thank you!

Loyalty and Love for Family
We all know that you have been the glue that has made our family so close. You taught us that being there for our family is so important and that we should bless each other and love each other always. You taught us the value of time spent together and of enriching each other’s lives. You taught me to value and appreciate my family for who they are and for what they do for me.

Grandma, these are things that I have learned from you. I hope that I will always remember these values and that they will be evident in my life. I pray my life will shine as brightly as yours has; that my family, children and grandchildren will be as motivated and inspired by me as I am by you. I pray that my life will shine, and that as the years pass I, too, will be found as faithful.

I love you so much, Grandma and will continue to pray for your health, for your body and for your comfort and rest. I wish I could be there to show you I love you or do something to bless you, but I hope that these words can express how much you mean to me.

I love you so much!

Days and weeks pass, and I'm sure the months and years will too, but I know that I will never be the same because of this incredible woman.

Busy... but we're back!

It has been a roller coaster month. One month ago today, my Grandmother, a woman that I love and cherish passed away. Dealing with the thought of this possibility had plagued my thoughts for months, and suddenly the nightmare became a reality. God is so faithful in small ways and in the huge, seemingly impossible ways. He provided a way for both Nic and I to go home to Bermuda for a week to celebrate the life of Mrs. Olive Correia and to be with family.

Now we're back in Taiwan. We're also really busy. I am nine weeks into my first semester of my Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction - with a focus in literacy. On top of the five classes that I am taking, which keep me really busy, we both teach about 22 hours a week, are trying to build and maintain relationships with our brothers and sisters in Taiwan and then of course build other friendships and continue to learn and explore this amazing culture.

Teaching, studying, working on assignments and the daily tasks of everyday life have kept me pretty busy. Oh, and upon return to Taiwan a flu attacked my immune system and knocked whatever energy I had left out of my body. Thanks to prayers from family and friends, my energy is back, I was sick for less than a week, and I've decided to begin writing again. I want this to be a venue to share our hearts with family and friends, and also a way for me to document this journey that is "Taiwan."

Last night Nic and I read My Upmost for His Highest and were encouraged that in living this life of faith sometimes we don't know where we are going, but we love the One who leads us!