Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are thankful to have all of you in our lives. Thank you for your encouraging comments, emails, and packages these past few weeks!

You may be wondering how we will celebrate Thanksgiving in Taiwan.

Well, today is a regular work day for us. However, this weekend we plan to have our American friends over for dinner. Since we have no oven, we will be a little creative with our menu. Most likely we will eat fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and applesauce.

Next week, our pastor and his wife will host us for a real Thanksgiving dinner (I hear they even ordered a turkey, which are hard to come by!) We are looking forward to that.

Happy Thanksgiving from Taiwan!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hiking Adventures: Wulai and Yangmingshan

A few weekends ago, we went to Wulai, a little town within an hour of Taipei by bus. For us it was a perfect place to get away for the day.

We took a "log tram" to see a waterfall and enjoyed some Taiwanese tea and homemade mochi...

...did a little hiking...

...explored a temple and visited the aboriginal museum...

...and soaked in the natural hot spring with the locals.

(This was the changing room).

Yesterday, we went hiking at Yangmingshan National Park (again, just about an hour outside of Taipei).

I am continually astonished by how easily accessible the mountains and jungle is from the city. Since I'm not exactly a city-girl, I am thankful for these "nature get-aways." They leave me feeling refreshed and ready for another week!

Around the World in 365 Days

On November 8th of last year, Kalan and I went hiking in North Carolina. While standing under a waterfall, he asked me to marry him.

On November 8th of this year, Kalan and I went hiking in Wulai, Taiwan. While standing under a waterfall, we marveled at what an adventure the past year has been.

In the past 365 days, we: graduated from college, planned a wedding, got married, lived with friends and family in three states, moved to the other side of the world, began our first teaching jobs, joined a new church, and started learning Chinese. We never could have imagined what an adventure we would be on together. Through it all, God has been so faithful to give us grace and perseverance.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I've Got it Covered

I think I forgot that Taiwan is a tropical island.

When I arrived, I expected to see giant insects, poisonous snakes and lizards in my house.

This is not the case.

I encountered vastly more cockroaches in South Carolina. I have yet to see a snake (poisonous or otherwise). We did have a lizard in our house, but it was less than 1.5 inches long. We welcomed him because he ate the mosquitoes that congregated in our house for free drinks.

Overall, however, I found myself amazed at the limited number of non-human creatures I encounter here…until about two weeks ago.

Sure, you get a mosquito bite at night every once and a while. Sure, there is a lot of rain during this season, so a few more mosquitoes isn’t unusual.

However, sleeping with the sheet pulled tight over your head because you wake up 6-7 times a night swatting mosquitoes only to end up with 10% less blood in the morning is not acceptable.

So, just like the Peace Corps workers in Somalia, we put up a mosquito net to protect ourselves at night.

Only we live in a city with millions of people, have indoor plumbing, electricity, and a McDonald’s down the street.

On the bright side, Kaytlin likes it because it reminds her of a fort and she is entertained by crawling through the opening at the foot of our bed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Finishing Strong (?)

In America, I struggled with the dilemma of hating running, but needing to exercise. Taiwan has provided the answer: a ‘race’ where you don’t actually run.

I awoke dark and early a few Sundays ago to attend the Samsung Race at the Taipei City Hall. I joined 25,000 people for a 3k (1.86 miles) race. People made running motions such as slightly bouncing while they stepped and swinging their arms fluidly, but after about 3 minutes I realized that I kept pace with the crowd using a brisk walk.

The mass of people hedged us in on all sides, preventing anyone from accelerating into an actual run.

Within 15 minutes, my compatriots and I had completed the race--up the street on one side and down the street on the other side. On our return we greeted about 5,000 who had not yet left the starting line because of the crowds.

For our participation we received a Samsung sport T-shirt and a bar of organic soap shaped like a leaf…Ah, the spoils of athleticism.

Getting ready for the race

...with 25,000 of our closest friends

A race like no other:

Greeted at the finish line by a special friend

Friday, November 5, 2010


Lately, I have been feeling a bit homesick.

As the cooler weather approaches along with the winter holiday season, I often think about my family and friends back in the U.S. I miss you all very much.

However, this past Sunday night, I was very encouraged.

We hosted a baby shower for a British friend, Hannah, who is expecting her first baby next month. The women who gathered were so diverse-- American, British, Taiwanese, young, old--yet we all came together to celebrate and support Hannah and her baby.

The next morning I read what Jesus said when he was with his followers: "Here are my mother and brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother" (Matt. 12:48-50).

I was reminded that when we become part of the Church, we become part of a huge, worldwide, spiritual family. As Christians we are called to love, serve, and take care of each other, just like our biological families. At the baby shower, I experienced this "family" as women from all over the world who love Jesus came together to help Hannah.

I will always miss my American family. But through our separation God is teaching me about His bigger family, the Church. And for that I am thankful.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween in 60 minutes or less…

Not a description from late-night infomercial, but the account of the Halloween experience at my school of Friday afternoon.

The afternoon parties of my elementary days don’t line up with the Taiwanese education system’s values. Bobbing for apples-too unsanitary, cookies and cake-too expensive for a ‘pretend holiday’, afternoon party-too much time out of the classroom.

My school did set a new standard of efficiency for holiday celebrations however.

Within the course of an hour, all the students in the school put on their costumes, walked around the block to ‘trick-or-treat’ at prearranged locations, took a barrage of pictures and were back in their classrooms learning.

It helped that the school had gone to different business and supplied them with candy to give to the children a week or so in advance. This way the children could walk into each store single file and receive their 1 allotted candy item.

You thought your teachers were scary...

Someone who really understands the Halloween Spirit:

Trick-or-Treat takes on a new feeling in a city of millions