Monday, January 30, 2012

Kaohsiung: Lotus Pond

Last week we went on holiday to Kaohsiung, a city on the southern coast of Taiwan. It's the world's sixth-largest port.

Caty and Dillon came with us, which made the trip extra fun.

We also took care of Micah for the entire week (since the orphanage was closed for the holidays). It was our first time traveling with a baby, and we enjoyed it though it was different than past vacations. (I will write more on that in a later post).

On our first day, we went to the Lotus Pond. This large lake is surrounded by twenty or so temples of all shapes and sizes. Because of the lunar holiday, the temples were crowded.

Inside, people gave their offerings and burned incense before stepping outside to partake in carnival games, stinky tofu, quail eggs on a stick, and a variety of other street foods.

Some people come to worship gods like this one (the god of war).

Many people burn paper money as an offering to their ancestors.

Another Chinese New Year tradition are fireworks. These kids were having a blast...literally.

We walked around the lake and took it all in: flashing lights, popping firecrackers, temple drums, and aromatic incense. It was a strange juxtaposition of chaos and calm.

That night we settled into our hostel and enjoyed cooking dinner and watching a movie together. We felt thankful for the chance to get away from Taipei for a few days to relax.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Another Semester Finished!

On Tuesday I sat in an end-of-the-semester staff meeting. Fifteen minutes in, my boss said, "OK, teachers, now that we've covered the basics of the winter program, we are going to practice building catapults out of popsicle sticks and rubber bands to shoot stuffed Angry Birds...."

Seriously?! Sometimes I can't believe I get paid to have this much fun.

This week we finished our third semester of English teaching. Woo hoo...hello winter vacation! We are traveling to the southern part of the island next week, so I will take a short break from the blog.

新年快樂! Happy Chinese New Year!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What have you been reading lately?

Last week, something amazing happened: our plans for each weeknight got cancelled, and we found ourselves with five free evenings to spend however we wanted. We're pretty sure that's never happened since we arrived in Taiwan.

So what did we do with our free time? One of our favorite activities: reading out loud together. We started doing this on our honeymoon, and haven't stopped since. It's a great way to relax, learn, share ideas, and spend quality time together. (We don't have a TV. When we need a little TV fix, we stream NCIS episodes from the internet on our laptop.)

Last week we started:

Other books we've read over the past few months and recommend include:

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream by David Platt

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

We try to select books from a variety of genres, and are always looking for suggestions. So...what have you been reading lately?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Things You Can Do in Taipei for 100 NT or Less

Sometimes we joke that you can do just about anything in Taipei for 100 NT (about $3 US). For example:

get your teeth cleaned, x-rayed, and a cavity filled
get prescription medication
buy a large popcorn and jumbo soda at the movie theater
get a haircut
get your spine adjusted
go to a hot spring
eat beef noodles or fried rice
take a mountain gondola ride
get an endoscopy
have a date at the zoo
get new brakes for your bicycle
get acupuncture
take a two hour train ride
get a drink at Starbucks
get a head massage + shampoo and style
use the gym for two hours
get customized herbal supplements
go swimming, use a sauna, and use the hydro-massage pool
rent a bicycle and ride along the riverside

Friday, January 13, 2012


Last Friday, my school had its annual "weiya" (end-of-the-year party). The weiya is a tradition in Taiwan. Usually a company treats all its employees to a nice dinner, hands out hong bao ($ bonuses in red envelopes), and does a drawing for cool prizes.

For our weiya, we went to KTV (Taiwanese karaoke) and enjoyed a night of good food, fun games, great (or at least entertaining) singing, and came home with some neat prizes.

I am very thankful for my job. And for the people I get to work with. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Walking at 國立中正紀念堂

I've started carrying my camera and snapping photos as I walk places. It reminds me to appreciate the beauty of our island-city home.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Naming Our Year

In Chinese culture, each year has a descriptive name. This year is "Year of the Dragon."

Our church borrows this idea and encourages each member to reflect on what God is doing in their lives, and to give the new year a corresponding name. For example, some friends have named their years "The Year of God's Faithfulness," "The Year of Prayer," "The Year of Abundant Grace," or "The Year of Testimony."

In 2011, Kalan and I chose the name "The Year of Established Pathways." We asked God to give us specific guidance and wisdom in life-planning for the next few years. Looking back, God certainly answered our prayer. Kalan knows where he will apply to grad school and what he will study, I chose to start taking online counseling classes through Westminster Seminary, we started planning a vision trip to India, and talked about when to start a family.

For 2012, we have chosen the name "The Year of Joyful Abandon." We want to be ready to follow Jesus wherever He leads and joyfully make any sacrifices He requires. We want to love others with radical generosity through Him.

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." Luke 9:23-25

"One's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions...sell your possessions, and give to the needy...for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Luke 12:15, 33, 34

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wintertime in 大安森林公園

This enormous park near our apartment is a favorite place of mine. This past week I brought my new Christmas camera and snapped a few photos as I walked.

Winter in Taipei is sure different from winter in Wisconsin!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Beitou Hot Springs

Several weeks ago, Caty and I had just finished final exams and run a half marathon...what better way to celebrate than with a soak in the hot springs of Beitou?

Caty is one of my oldest friends. We have known each other since sixth grade. After high school, we never lived in the same city or even the same state for five years. And now, we live in the same building halfway around the world from our hometown. I am so thankful that we get to share this season of life.

Monday, January 2, 2012

From Ashley

Ashley is one of my youngest students.
It's difficult to see in the picture, but she labeled several items:
"Teacher Kayt"
and my favorite...a "B"!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

We rang in 2012 on our rooftop with some friends.

Wishing you all a very blessed new year!