Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thoughts on an Evangelical Discussion

A recent debate within the Evangelical world has brought interesting discussions within my Taipei community. You can get a feel for the debate here:

This first: Al Mohler's critique of Bell's book:

This next: Brian Mclaren's response to Mohler:

This last: Mohler's response to Mclaren:

As part of a conversation in Taipei concerning the debate, I wrote some friends to share my thoughts. I thought I could share that paragraph here:

While the topic of debate is interesting and highly charged, I find the debate itself more interesting. It is interesting that two individuals can share the same categorization, Protestant Evangelical Christian, but be so widely divided on one issue. It is also interesting that while many Protestant Evangelical Christians differ on other ideas, this one is so highly charged. Finally, I find it interesting that that Protestant Evangelical Christians have no arbiter for such a debate and so a definitive conclusions will never exist-only continuing Protestant Schism.
Perhaps this debate is the result of an inherent deficiency in Protestantism. The only requirements to be a Protestant are to use the Bible and not be Catholic. Without additional boundaries, Protestantism will continue to struggle internally to define itself. Either Mclaren or Mohler will come down closer to the historical Christian position, but neither will be able to defend that position while only relying on their Protestant resources.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I finished David Platt's new book and wanted to share a quick review.

David Platt's 'Radical' reads like a less-theoretical, more concise version of John Piper's 'Don't Waste Your Life'. He challenges consumer Christianity with passages such as John 6, Luke 9, and Luke 14 but quickly shifts to the Christ-centered ethos of the passages and saves his book from promoting poverty theology. Platt's personal and cross-cultural illustrations make the book accessible and entertaining. In the end, his one year 'radical living' challenge offers an opportunity for his audience to put Jesus above themselves in practical ways. However, I am concerned that daily prayer and Bible reading, regular church attendance, community service and charitable giving constitute 'radical' for any Christian. I enjoyed it as a quick read and would recommend it to anyone else as the same.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

生日快樂!...Happy Birthday!

Kalan and I recently celebrated our first birthdays in Taiwan. We felt so blessed and loved by our friends and family, both near and far.

For Kalan, we had a KTV party with cake...(yes, that is an iPhone candle...ha!):

My special day started with an early morning breakfast with friends...

...and ended with flowers and and date night. :)

Yesterday evening we had a birthday party at our house...

...and it was fun to introduce friends from different parts of our lives to each other.

Also, a BIG thank you to our families who sent us wonderful care packages...we have been enjoying gluten-free macaroni and cheese, new clothes and razor blades, and U.S. standard size measuring cups...just to name a few of the fun (and useful!) gifts we received. :)

Finally, my sisters gave me a special "electronic" birthday present that I wanted to share. They sang this song for us before our wedding. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Doctor Adventures

Well, the verdict is in. Kalan has pneumonia. After three weeks of coughing and feeling lousy, he begrudgingly agreed to see a doctor. I contacted our pastor's wife and she made him an appointment for earlier this afternoon. As I type this, he is resting in bed. Now that he knows it's pneumonia, he's ready to "kick it in the face!" What a trooper.

I also went to the doctor this week...the Chinese doctor. I have chronic upper back/neck pain and problems with my jaw. At the suggestion of a friend, I decided to see if Eastern medicine could help. First, they put a hot pad on my upper back. Then, they did acupuncture. (If you look closely at the pictures below, you can see the needles!)

Next, they gave me the best massage I've ever had and did some chiropractor-like maneuvers. Finally, they put a medicated patch on the area (it felt like icy-hot cream). After the treatment, my neck and shoulders felt great, and the popping in my jaw was greatly decreased. The whole treatment only cost $3 US...unbelievable.

We are so thankful to live in a country with excellent and affordable health care!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Stopping to Smell the Roses

Today we visited Chiang Kai Shek's Presidential Residence, which is surrounded by beautiful gardens.

We saw gorgeous tropical flowers...

And we also saw a few strange sights...

"Pants plants?"

"Eco-friendly" flowers made out of plastic yellow drinking straws:

Giant fish sculpture:

And this woman who decided that the garden would be a good place to take her pig for a walk:

You just never know what you will see as you explore Taipei!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sick Days

Since Kalan and I arrived in Taiwan, hardly a month has gone by that we have not fought against some sort of cold or flu. This week illness hit us again. Other foreigners have assured us that this is normal during your first year here. I was doubtful, until I read From Far Formosa by Dr. George MacKay. He was the first missionary to Taiwan, and made these comments on Taiwan's climate in 1896:

"The climate of North Formosa is excessively trying to foreigners. Those who have traveled in the Orient will understand that statement, but to the average Westerner it will be meaningless...

"About the end of December our rainy season sets in, and continues through January and February. It is rain, rain, rain, to-day, to-morrow, and the next day; this week, next week, and the week after; wet and wind without, damp and mould within. Often for weeks together we rarely get a glimpse of the sun. All the year around we have to fight against depression of spirits...

"Personal experience has convinced me that but few foreigners can resist the enervating influence of the climate in Formosa..."

I was actually encouraged by Dr. MacKay's words; and feel determined to be one of those "few foreigners" who will persevere!

That being said, here are some things we are thankful for this week:
-our cozy apartment and space heater
-that Kalan figured out a way to get the hot water to stay on in the shower
-our awesome small group
-new Taiwanese friends
-cute notes from my students that make me laugh
-encouraging cards and phone calls from home
-weekly date night
-a day of sunshine
-feeling like we are "fitting in" well at work
-a cup of "real" (non-instant) coffee from a friend

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Marathon Weekend...Race Day

Beep beep beep. 5 am came quickly. Outside I could hear racers arriving on their scooters and milling about. I had slept in my race clothes, anticipating that the single bathroom at the hostel would be occupied. I drank some water, ate a banana and hard-boiled egg, and prepared my shirt number and shoe chip.

Around six we headed to the race site. On a large stage, young women in color-coded jumpsuits conducted warm-ups choreographed to pop music. Thousands of runners stretched around us. As the starting time drew near, a drum line started pounding bongoes. My heart felt like it was beating along with them as we crowded into the starting area. Suddenly, we were off!

The first mile took us through a tunnel inside a mountain; on the other side the beach and cool ocean breeze greeted us. Groups of cheerleaders in neon outfits with rattles were stationed along the route shouting "Jai-you, jai-you!" (You can do it! Keep going!) The runners around us were encouraging, too. I think we were a bit of a novelty...two curly-haired white girls running in a sea of Asians. One man asked to take our picture as we ran, and many asked where we were from.

The first 9-10 miles felt good, even with the gently sloping hills. After that, it started to get tough. I felt tired and tempted to slow down. But the steady sound of pounding feet and Beth's encouragement kept me going. We looked forward to the water stations and wet sponges we could squeeze over our heads.

During the last mile, as we ran through a dark tunnel, Beth and I couldn't help but wonder if this would be what the end of our lives would be like. Pressing on, through the pain and exhaustion...pounding through that dark tunnel, with the hope of the bright light and finish line around the last bend.

We had made it in 2 hours and 2 minutes! We couldn't stop smiling.

Our husbands cheered and greeted us with big hugs of congratulations.

We felt great. We had trained hard and finished well--together.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Marathon Weekend...Yeliu Geopark

Our adventures started after Saturday morning coffee and veggie omelettes. Ellie and Steve (a friend visiting from the U.K.) met us at the bus stop and we traveled one hour to the northeastern coast of our island home.

Our first stop was Yeliu, a peninsular geopark known for its unique rock formations. Sunny blue skies and the cool sea breeze provided the perfect setting for our exploration.

We hiked to the highest point on the peninsula and took in the vivid turquoise panorama.

We hiked up an appetite and ate stopped at a picnic table for simple Taiwanese noodle bowls. After resting and chatting awhile, we walked back to the main road and caught a bus down the mountain.

We said goodbye to our British friends and disembarked at the village of Wan-li on Green Bay.

Next, we registered for the race and I picked up my information packet and free tote bag and running shirt. Unsure exactly where our hostel was located, we soon found it conveniently right across the street from the starting line. The owner, a middle-aged woman, warmly greeted us and showed us to our clean and comfortable room.

Although she spoke no English, I was surprised and encouraged to find that I could communicate all the basic information we needed (thanks, Teacher Evangeline!)

We dropped off our backpacks and headed to the beach for a late afternoon stroll. Several stranded pufferfish laid strewn about the sand, and the salty smell of fresh seafood filled the air.

Following the beach brought us to the local fishermen's wharf, which was bustling with weathered men in rubber boots selling their days' catch.

As we walked through the village we felt shocked by the rural "small-town" feel. "I can't believe there's no 7-11 here!" Kalan exclaimed. I guess we've grown quite accustomed to the hustle-bustle and convenience of city life.

A bit later, Ben and Beth arrived in town and met us at the hostel. Soon after, our fellow hostel guests checked into their adjacent rooms...five Taiwanese runners, all about my father's age, all retired teachers, and all super excited to converse with us in English. They shared their pre-race snacks and drinks with us, including a local liquor distilled from sorghum.

"Helps me sleep good before big race," one of them exclaimed, who claimed to run an average of 35 marathons each year. "Please--try some!"

I politely declined, convinced I would never wake up in the morning after a sip of the vodka-like liquid. But we had a fun time talking and laughing with our new friends.

By nine we were snug in our bunk beds, trying to catch some winks before our 5 am alarm. I had trouble falling asleep because I felt so excited, but after a while the days' hiking and exploring caught up with me and I drifted off to a dream about running on the beach...