Friday, July 22, 2016

Life in Sanchong

Today is our Taiwanniversary!

Exactly six years ago, we arrived in Taiwan.  We were two months married, jobless, homeless, and didn't speak a word of Chinese.  (Looking back now, it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen...but by God's grace we're still here!)

To celebrate, here are some pictures of our new neighborhood in Sanchong.

On the street in front of our apartment building is a traditional market, a grocery store, a convenience store, and lots of small food stalls.  Buying groceries or eating out is super easy!

Where I buy pork and chicken
Corner dumpling shop
The grocery store has a play car outside.  It's cool but makes our shopping trips twice as long.  ;)
This sweet lady gives us chunks of watermelon almost every day.
We've met lots of our neighbors, who have been very welcoming.  The couple who run a shop downstairs often give us mangoes from their mango tree.  Mmmm.

This park is just a 5-minute walk away, and we go there most mornings after breakfast (before it gets too hot).

In the late afternoons the kids and I often go out exploring.  Over the past month we've been finding useful places, like the local pool and post office.

We've also stumbled upon a few surprises, like this giant reindeer down the block...

...and a pen of unattended, hungry goats on the riverside.  (?)

Public transit is not that great here, so I got a new bike.  I can ride this one with all three kids!

Walking around Sanchong still feels overwhelming sometimes (at least to me!), but our new apartment already feels like home.

I love that we have space to sit around the dining room table.
It's a refuge from the crazy.  :)  And we've enjoyed having lots of friends over to play.

We sure have come a long way in six years.  We would not be here without you--friends and family who have prayed for us, supported us, and helped us in practical ways.
Thank you!

A mighty fortress is our God; a bulwark never failing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Moving Time

We're moving one week from today!  While I was typing this our moving company delivered this huge load of boxes.  This is getting real.

We're moving to Sanchong (三重), a district just outside of Taipei City that has the lowest number of churches per capita in all of northern Taiwan.  We're excited to settle in, learn a lot, and continue on our church planting journey there.*  

We're sad to be leaving this apartment which has been our home for three years.  This little space on Chaozhou Street holds many special memories for our family.  
Here we grew from a family of 3 to a family of 5... 

...and celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary.

This is the home where Keira learned to talk.  This is where Jude took his first steps.  Here's the bathtub where James was born!

We're even more sad to be leaving this neighborhood that's been our home ever since we moved to Taiwan six years ago.  You'd think that when you live in a crowded city, you'd feel detached from your 3,000,000 neighbors, but to my surprise the opposite is true: your city block is like a small town.  Everyone knows each other and looks out for each other.  

The man that runs the corner cafe knows exactly how I like my coffee and has offered endless words of encouragement as I've pored over Chinese textbooks at his counter.

The security guard on our street invites us in for tea every time we walk by and always brightens up our day.

The convenience store clerk always gives pop rocks or chocolate to my kids.  Our meat and vegetable vendors at the market always give us the "regular" discount or throw in a few free lemons.

The grandpa who lives across the street always brings out freshly baked cookies when he hears us coming, and remembers all our names.  A neighbor a few doors down brought us food every day for a week after James was born.  

Not to mention all of our "park friends," and our friends up on Xinyi Road!

We're going to miss you all.  Thank you for blessing our family.  
We'll be back to visit!

"We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near.  
We recount your wondrous deeds." 
Psalm 75:1

Now...time to start packing.

*If you want more info on why we're moving, or want to join us in praying for Sanchong, please message or email me.  :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

James: 5 Months Old

It's about time James got his own blog post.  (Keira got her first one at 1 month, Jude got his at 3 months, and James is 5 months...I'm seeing a pattern here!)  Well, it's not because we don't love him to pieces.  It's because we're so busy surviving soaking up every fun/crazy moment (which we've realized pass way too quickly!)

James loves to smile and from a super early age (like a month old) would seek out our faces and surprise us with huge grins!  He charms everyone we meet and makes new friends everywhere we go.

At a rest stop while hiking.  James especially has a way with Taiwanese grandmas.  ;)
Making friends in the church nursery
In keeping with his extroverted ways, he enjoys sitting up at the table with us during mealtimes...

...and is pretty happy to tag along on whatever adventures our day holds.

He loves sucking his thumb (and toes)!  

And takes the prize for best sleeper in our family.

He was baptized at the beginning of the month.  

He loves big sister and brother, and lights up when he hears their voices or sees their faces.

We gave him the Chinese name 聖安 (Sheng An).  安 means peaceful, calm, content, safe.

James, you are SO loved.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Let's Make Dumplings! 我們來包水餃吧!

I'm not a natural city gal, but one thing I truly love about living in Taipei is the opportunities to meet people.  There are no backyards here, so everyone goes to the park to play.  We go to the same parks nearly every day, and so I get to meet other neighborhood moms often.  We usually only chat in five-minute segments punctuated by "No throwing rocks!" "Spit out that leaf!" "Stay where I can see you!"--but despite that, over the past few years we've gotten to know each other.  :)

Today one of those friends invited several of us "park moms" over to make dumplings. 


I've been wanting to try my hand at wrapping dumplings for a couple years now, and it was such a fun experience.  The kids loved it too--I think they ate their weight in dumplings and egg drop soup.

I'm so thankful for these mom friends, who are patient and speak slowly when I can't quite keep up with the conversation, who pretend not to notice when I accidentally wear the bathroom slippers out into the living room*, who help put my kids' shoes on when I'm having trouble wrangling them all out the door.  

I'm thankful for friends who make us feel welcome and at home here.  

*In Taiwan, everyone takes their shoes off before entering a home and puts on house slippers.  When you go to the bathroom you change slippers because the bathrooms are often wet (many don't have bathtubs or a separate shower area) and this prevents water from being tracked all over the house).

Monday, April 18, 2016

Four Dragons Waterfall 四龍瀑布

Last Saturday we did our first hike as a family of five.

The actually "hiking" part was not long--maybe 20 minutes up and 20 minutes down--just the right challenge for the little ones.

At the top we got to splash around a bit.  This would be a great place to cool off in the summer.

The locals use the waterfall as a massage jet.  We watched a man in his sixties do yoga-like moves underneath it for quite a while.  I could only stand the pressure for a minute before crawling back down!

Afterwards we walked down to the town of Shenkeng and had lunch on the Old Street.

It was so good to get out of the city!  

This is a great hike to try if you have small children but no car.  ;)  It took me a long time to find info on how to get there so I'll post it here in hopes it will help someone else...

Take the MRT to Taipei Zoo Station, then hop in a taxi (it's a 15-minute drive to the trail head).  Tell your driver to follow the 106 from Taipei towards Shenkeng (深坑).  Follow the signs for the Paozilun Trail (炮子崙步道).

Drive straight past the Formosa Gas Station (turning left leads to Shenkeng Old Street).  Then you'll see a second gas station; that's where you turn right and go up the mountain.

The beginning of the trail is really easy to miss.  Keep driving up the road, and you'll reach a sign that says "Paozilun Trail" pointing over a small bridge to the right.  DON'T TURN THERE; KEEP GOING!  Watch carefully for a small unmarked trail on the left.  It looks like a little dirt path with a few sandbags/tires someone put in to make it less slippery.  If you're unsure, check the telephone standing on the right of the trail...if it's number 44, you're at the right place!

When you're done hiking, you'll have to walk about 20-30 minutes back down that road toward Shenkeng to catch a bus or taxi back to the MRT.