Wednesday, December 29, 2004 nose is froze and my toes is froze

Ok, so I know my Canadian friends will have little to no sympathy for me... since as Johanna would say, these temperatures are positively balmy.... but that no central heating thing does add an extra coldness factor! I've actually had to explain to people what we do in Canada during the winter because the people here don't heat their homes at all. So yeah, it's been quite cold these days, down to 8 degrees, which is ok for walking around etc but for say, sitting outside eating dinner, or other stationary activities it's not so fun! It's 15 degrees (celsius) in my room, which is noticeably a lot colder than the normal 22 degrees (room temperature). We bundled up to sleep last night! Hope's outfit consisted of 2 pairs of socks, 3 pajama pants, a tank top, 2 long sleeved t-shirts, a turtleneck, a sweater, and a hoodie AND she wore socks on her hands. lol. I wore really warm socks, my flannel pajama pants, a tank top, a long sleeve shirt, and my big fleece housecoat over all that! I tried to sleep in my toque too but it was kind of uncomfortable.

ANYWAYS... Happy New Years everyone!! Xin Nian Kuai Le!! We had a fairly uneventful New Years Eve, went out for dinner with the people we normally eat with on Fridays and since the wife, Mimi is a kindergarten teacher, they were having a little staff party, so all the teachers from the little school the church runs and their families were there. Many of them went into the hot springs afterward (where we had supper), but we didn't. We were reallly cold by the end of the night since we had been sitting on a semi-enclosed patio for over 2 hours! Then we came back, wandered around, got coffee, and watched a movie! The funny thing though was that Yuli was having a big celebration in this field that's really close to our house, so at midnight they started screaming, playing instruments and setting off fireworks (which after all, originated in China), it was actually louder than our movie! After that I phoned some people to say Happy New Years! Good fun.
Tonight we are having some of the buxiban teachers over for a little shindig.. lol so on my agenda for the morning is some grocery shopping, cookie baking, cleaning, and an attempt at making egg nog... man i remember Theresa's great recipe... i think it uses whipping cream though, which i don't know if we can get here (i wouldn't know how to read the label anyways...). Can you have egg nog without nutmeg?
Anyways, to finish off this entry here are a few more pictures from last Sunday: our little performance, the following lunch, and our favourite boys doing their great dance routine complete with 'angel paint'!

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

A short pictoral of Christmas day!

The first two to wish me Merry Christmas!

Awwww aren't they cute?? I've dubbed this one Bing Cafe (iced coffee), and she is the one Jeff and Sherly are keeping! We are babysitting the puppies, Shao Guay (the mom), and the goldfish because Jeff and Sherly are going to Taipei for the weekend! Oh yeah, Happy New Years everyone!

Hope and I with our stockings!

Our tree (actually Jeff and Sherly's! It's been in that spot since we arrived here)

Hope and Amy

All of our gifts! Suprisingly a lot!

The stuffed animals I bought the girls.

Hope and Amy holding their gifts: yes that is a bottle of Kaluha lol she used it to make cake, I promise!

The Pam Fairy? My little stash :)

The COOL traditional Chinese farmer hat Hope bought for me, you will be seeing it again!

The book from home! Thanks everyone!

Jeff receiving his present from me (though here it looks like he's more excited about the bow!)

We have been introducing people to the strange and wondrous practice of putting a candy cane in your hot chocolate.

Our friend Esther who came over for lunch!

Christmas curry, stuffing and fresh veggies... a Christmas meal unlike any other...

Us with the Su's, aren't they cute??

December 24 pictured

Thanks to Amy, we have pictures from the whole weekend! I'm going to try to post them in a calm and orderly fashion:
That Friday really was a fun day! This is us having lunch with the buxiban teachers, David, Michelle, and Ariel. Ohhh Ariel made us lunch today! She came over with rice, a big pot of curry, and a thermos of soup. She is a really good cook!

From there we went to get our hair done by Eva (doing Hope's and my hair) and Phoebe (doing Amy's hair). They were really busy that day, and we even got to see Pastor Huang's (from Mt. Carmel church) wife! Her son was getting married the next day, so she was getting her hair done. And we again got invited to the wedding lol.

This is definitely something I will miss when I return home. It's really quite a fun and relaxing experience.

From there we go to the Christmas Eve service, where we sat with our friend Mandy and her family for part of it. This is her ADORABLE daughter Annie.

The service included the kids doing a flag dance, the girls from the youth group singing silent night, Hannah and Pastor Huang's wife (also known as Apple) doing a beautiful duet, Pastor Zhang preaching, Jeff and Sherly's drama, the men doing a flag dance (pictures coming soon), and a conga line.... (again pictures to come later from Dr. Su). One of the amusing things about the service was that on this huge back drop they had 2005 X-Mas... I don't know who was in charge of that or if it was intentional... maybe they're trying to save money so figured they could just use it for two years (nah that sounds more like a church back home, not here lol).

The cute young lady in the yellow shirt and pink jacket is my pal Jenny. I walked through the night market with her afterward and then let her come up to my room and gave her some stickers. She's Mandy's oldest daughter.
stay tuned for more pictures....

Monday, December 27, 2004

A very Taiwan Christmas

Christmas eve was a pretty fun day, we got our hair done and went shopping (I actually think this is the first time I’ve done Christmas shopping on the 24th). We had lunch at the Thai restaurant with the buxiban teachers, which was also a lot of fun! That sneaky Robert paid for the whole thing without us even knowing… these Taiwanese people, they have it down to an art! We had supper at Amy Lin’s which was great as per usual, there were a bunch of other families coming and going as they had to leave for different time to prepare for the Christmas Eve program. We also ate the famous Beijing (or Peking) Duck, which is one traditional Christmas dish someone said. The Christmas eve service was quite fun, we got to see everyone we knew, and there were a ton of little performances. Our landlords did a drama that we have watched them practice for awhile now.
On Christmas morning we went for breakfast and then came back to open presents.
Peggy gave us these beautiful file holders that she made (like an accordion file, they are too gorgeous to describe, I’ll have to take a picture! She DID major in fashion design in university lol it shows! We also received cards and a stocking full (and I mean full) of chocolate from our students at Yuli Jr. High! When it’s all added up, I’m sure I have enough chocolate to last me the next year! Sabrina a teacher from San Min gave us these beautiful necklaces made of “secret stone” not really sure what that is, but they are really unique and beautiful! And more chocolate! Hope and Amy filled my stocking with all sorts of fun stuff, including chocolate and a princess wand (from Hope) it’s really cute! I’m trying to think of a way to use it in one of my classes lol. Amy had brought down a ton of stuff for us that we had asked for (baking stuff and other fun groceries we can’t find in Yuli, including, but not limited to: vanilla, salsa, cake mixes, chocolate chips, cornbread mix, and pudding mix) but wrapped them all! We had tons of gifts under our tree! Add those to the gifts from our families and we were able to spend quite a bit of time opening presents. A couple of friends from Taipei also got us gifts which was really sweet and also unexpected! One of those was subway subs that Amy brought down on the train! Mmmmm Hope also very sneakily got me a cd when we were in Hualien a few weeks ago! I was quite impressed with her when I found out lol. I wasn’t really even thinking about Christmas then, well except for the cool things I bought Tammy, but that’s more like a package since I’m not sending it for Christmas. I got fun gifts from each person in my family, but my favourite (mom you never cease to amaze me with your creativity and crafty-ness) is this little book that Mom made for me and had a ton of people I know write little messages! I almost cried as I was reading it! It is really really special! I also had to explain Canadian Tire money to Hope and Amy LOL.

I found out when I chatted with my mom that the poor Abeitkoff girls didn’t even know I was gone!! How sad…. Maybe if they had working email accounts and didn’t disappear off the face of the earth! Well I guess it probably seems like I’m the one that did that! And Johnny was over to visit my family! What a guy, I miss the Christmas reunions we always have! It’s one of the only times I can see all these friends from high school!
Anyways, I brought a gift over for my friend Esther who sadly had to work at the church today… man the church is the worst slave driver lol… many of my friends can probably testify to that… (Court are you out there?) And was able to invite her to lunch!! We had Christmas curry… LOL unfortunately we couldn’t find red peppers to make it an especially festive dish, but it was good. This maybe be my first turkey-less Christmas ever! We did make stuffing though mmm.. and Hope made this AMAZING Kaluha chocolate cake, mmmmmm. We had our other friend Ariel over for supper, since her plans were cancelled last minute and she ended up having to stay here for the weekend. We watched what was supposed to be “A Charlie Brown Christmas” but most definitely wasn’t! It was cute anyways. Esther brought us a healthy gift of chocolate covered cherries and a stocking full of apples! It’s really cute!

We went over to the Su’s to bring them our gifts and carolled for them a little (which I would later regret lol). On Sunday morning we went to church, which was ok… I definitely would have liked to sing more traditional Christmas songs. Afterward they had this huge banquet with so much food it wouldn’t fit on our tables. Shortly after we sat down, while our buxiban friends started to sing a couple of numbers for the crowd (and it was a really big crowd) on this stage up front, Dr. Su came and informed us that we were next. I was not too impressed. I must admit I was thinking some very unchristian thoughts at that moment.. Anyways, we sang a couple of Christmas songs lol and all three missed the one high note in Silent Night… which made me almost start laughing… ah well, not like we had been ardently practicing for this performance in advance :S

So in all, this was a blessed Christmas. Even though there were moments of sadness at being so far away from the people I love the most, God has been faithful to let me feel those but to surround me with love and opportunities to love others.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Christmas is Coming!!

I baked a pie today, but I wouldn't exactly call it a culinary masterpiece.... well at least the apple crisp I made looks good! I'm sure it will taste fine, might just kinda fall apart... anyways, we went out to buy Christmas cards to deliver to about 17 families here, which will be fun as well!
Tomorrow are my only two classes of the week! How crazy is that? Anyways, they will be a lot of fun because I'm going to teach my students "Joy to the World" which they have in Chinese, so some of them have likely heard it before!
We've been finding out some new things about our job description lately for next semester, it's quite exciting actually! We will probably be teaching at an aboriginal elementary school (the place, where incidentally, we went on that big bike trip to the first week we were here). We also have plans in the works for a book club for adults beginning in February as well!
Well hopefully you got my group email about the coming Christmas activities, i'm sure i'll give full description in here ;)
OH and I almost forgot, I felt my first earthquake today!!! there have been a few since i've been here, but that was the first one i felt! how exciting..... actually it wasn't really that exciting, oh well

Monday, December 20, 2004

only me....

I don't know why these kinds of things always happen, but it does serve to make life more interesting...
Hope and I went on a bike ride today, all the way to Nanaan, a really nice park with a visitor's centre. It's about 9km away from Yuli downtown. The plan was to get lunch to go and ride out to the park to eat.... oh but things i plan rarely turn out so simply....As I was crossing a bridge, with the visitor's centre in sight.... one of the pedals fell off my bike. no kidding! It was quite shocking... I tried to put it back on, but something was broken, and maybe a missing piece.... What to do now? well i considered knocking on someone's door for help, but figured that's much easier to do back home where you can speak the same language as them.... although holding up my dismembered bicycle pedal probably would have done the trick, anyways, Hope rode ahead and I walked my bike the rest of the way to the centre and there called someone to come rescue me.... it felt like i was in a cartoon or something where like everything that can go wrong does lol so here i am, walking a broken bicycle through the mountains of Taiwan, and wouldn't you know it, it begins to rain! anyways, it was all good, kind Mr. Yang came to pick me up and drove me to get the pedal replaced.... i'm just shaking my head...

Sunday, December 19, 2004

breakdancing pastors and beautiful bi-dze's

Oh where to start??
this has indeed been an eventful weekend. after my quick (and random post - i watched Les Mis again today, and would love to see the theatre version of Phantom, though i'm sure it can't compare to the real thing), we headed off to the bbq/kids Christmas party, which were happening at about the same time. It was a lot of fun, and we got to see pretty well everyone we know in Yuli! The children were soooo cute doing their little songs and dances.... awwwwwwwwww the youngest ones did this little "I love to dance I love to sing" number which was choreographed (well as choreographed as 5-6 year olds can be). Oh my it was beyond cute!
After that was over and we had thoroughly socialized with everyone, we hit the night market quick as lightning to buy french fries for one of our skits on Saturday morning... boy were they nasty by then... they were none too fresh when we bought them at 10:30pm!
English club went pretty well, though we only had 16 students this week, we had a lot of fun with them. Our skits went quite well - Dan was such a good sport too! My favourite one is the one where Hope gets ketchup all over my "favourite"shirt (aka a shirt we bought at the market so we could ruin it at English Club), which was this interesting pink colour... the ketchup was a brand new bottle, so it really did take some work for her to get it out... but it looked horrendous on the shirt, i almost laughed when I saw it! It did make it easier to act shocked though! I think our English teacher/translators have the hardest job during English club! Afterward we took Dan out for brunch, and I am proud to say I successfully was able to pay for his! This is the first time I have been able to treat someone here, as they usually think of SOME sort of excuse as to why they MUST buy!
What a busy day, next we gave three of the puppies a bath (they're starting to stink somethin' awful) which was fun and interesting... i'm really glad they are all looking healthy still today and none of them died! They were really scared, and shivered for a long time afterward... i was getting worried... anyways, at some point we will bathe the other three probably!
By then it was about time to go to Hualien to get our new glasses (among other things). We spent a very, very relaxing afternoon sitting in starbucks, reading... it almost felt like being at home... We had supper at a really good (though kind of expensive) place called Taipei beef steak (Taipei nyo pai) which to my excitement sells Canadian beef! mmmm... all of the placemats on the tables had Canadian flags... it made me feel very patriotic... well for a few minutes anyways lol
it was like a really big buffet with everything from a huge salad bar, to beef, pork or lamb cooked for you, to crab shells stuffed with rice, to sashimi! mmmm so i had my first sushi in Taiwan, and it was quite good. Wow i can't believe i've remembered so many random details! I like my new glasses, though they are taking a little bit to get used to... my eyes were really sore last night, and today i had to wear my old glasses for awhile!
Oh yeah, this is where the "beautiful bi-dze" comes in... hehehe
When we got our glasses, mine were sitting up too high b/c the little nose pad things were too close together, and while he was adjusting them i asked Peggy what the word for nose is and she told me "bi-dze" so i said sadly "Wo yo da bi-dze" (I have a big nose) lol, then the owner gave my glasses back, telling me "ni bi-dze piao lian" (your nose is beautiful) how cute!!! it cracks me up.
Maybe it's one of those you had to be there things...
Ok, well i'm about ready to wrap this up, but I must mention the events of tonight! They had a big Christmas party for kids tonight from all around the community which included hot dogs and french fries (even here bleh) and a dramatic retelling of the Christmas story which included the infamous (well not really) Pastor Zhang and his wife as Mary and Joseph (who did a little romantic dance, heightened in cuteness by the very pregnant costume and by the fact that people here don't really show much affection in public), a hip-hop dance team of angels (teens, soo hilarious) and some of the kids dressed as animals, the manger and a water bucket (who formed a conga line at one point), the absolutely funniest moment of the drama though was the finale after the angels did some fun little dances and made their exits when Pastor Zhang aka Joseph, dressed all in white and beaming his angelic little smile, began to break dance! He even did the worm.... I would have to say I was both shocked and impressed, Hope and I are both wondering where he learned how.... that man is just full of suprises, i wish i could take a video of him sometime to show you, he's kind of indescribable! If you can remember, he's the one who had a spiritual revelation about a bunny rabbit, acted out being a baby, and would be an instant star in any kung fu movie. Everything he does is with 110% energy. What a guy. We're hoping to be able to go for lunch with him and his wife sometime after church... though i suspect they'll be hard to pin down.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Second week of teaching COMPLETE

Ok, so now that I've washed the chalk off my hands (did i ever tell you how much i hate chalk? if i ever own/run/have any sort of influence over a school i will make sure they have whiteboards only!!!), i can describe my last two days... actually there's not a ton of excitement to relate.
I have two classes on Thursdays, and my first one was kind of wild, and very loud. I am trying to think of strategies to channel their energy without them getting out of control. I'm also considering planning quieter lessons for them so they have less opportunity to act out. This class will be a challenge. Part of it is that there are 31-33 students, which is just generally difficult to manage since there are so many personalities, interpersonal relationships and conflicts, and levels of learning and motivation combined in one room!
Last night we got to go to Mt. Carmel church (Ja Mi Shan) to help our dear friend Amy Lin teach a children's english class. They were doing parts of the body, and so we got to play "Teacher says" (which closely resembles "Simon Says" in case you were wondering...) I really like the kids there, they are so cute! It is nice to work with different age groups.
Today's class went pretty well too. It is my smallest class, and I have many of the students for a two hour period (with breaks). Today I actually got 3 of the students to speak in front of the class, and they didn't die of embarrassment! I gave them a prize afterward! I'm so amazed... actually maybe I should say I am agog lol it's a word from this great song in Les Miserables, which i have been obsessed with lately.... Amy and Jack leant it to us, and since I watched it, i have been listening to the songs non-stop... maybe i'll take a wander through blockbuster to see if they have Phantom of the Opera... i would love to watch that too!
Anyways, I must be off again... tonight we are going to a BBQ for the youth group in the church and possibly as well to the kindergarten Christmas program! Then I'll have to tweak the powerpoint for tomorrow and we need to run through our little skits again.
Tomorrow morning is English Club, and then a trip to Hualien to get our glasses (and also to spend some quality starbucks time!), in the evening we have Young Holistic which I am thinking of skipping out on... though we left early last week, so i don't know if that will be possible!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Today was a fun day! We met with Dan this morning and reviewed our skits for Saturday, he was quite agreeable to participating, which is really exciting! We also found out that he spend four years in Australia and a year in Japan! Craziness... everything's so close here, many of the people we know have visted a number of countries in Asia, and visiting Australia and New Zealand are just as common as visiting Canada or the U.S.
After the meeting we went to get our hair done, which is always fun! We told them that today we wanted "teacher hair"
The most exciting thing that happened today though was that I got a letter from my dear friend Vanessa! I don't know if she ever ventures out as far as this blog in the internet world, but anyways, it was really fun... she even sent me some homemade snowflakes!!! I'm going to put them up in my room!
Teaching went well, though we weren't able to teach our "second class" because they had some other activity! Also, we won't be teaching at Yuli Jr. High for two more weeks! Craziness... i really like my students though, they are so much fun!
I have a picture of when I taught that class last week!

I am holding up a picture of my family (hey it's almost like that "we're all connected" phone commercial that was airing before i left, except that no one in that picture is holding a picture....). Anyways, the students were really excited to see my family! How cute! I took my small scrapbooking album to dinner on monday to show the family and the kids really liked it! They had some really interesting reactions. They were really interested in the Brazilians in some of the pictures, and they just couldn't believe that all my pictures of Johanna were the same person (and I don't even have one in there of her with dreads!). Anyways, next week I'll continue this "show and tell" when we go to the different places for supper!

 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello

These are pictures from Sunday Worship, aren't they fun?? They really like to get everyone in the church suddenly holding hands... it's really cute, though we're usually the last ones to figure out what's happening! I really have NO idea how someone (Dr. Su) managed to get a picture of the translation fiasco, but there it is, in all its fiasco-ness, I didn't even know that picture existed until he gave it to us (I told you he was tricksy....oh WHEN does ROTK come out here????) But it really does capture the moment.  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Got pictures!!

That may have been the most exciting thing of my day lol.
I like tuesdays, they're pretty laid back, but still a work day.
We met with Dr. Su today and did lots of planning for our English club this week, it's going to be great! The topic is resolving conflicts, and we are going to do some role plays, the first of which will not be announced as a role play, so we are going to pretend to get in a big fight while we are leading the club! At the end (after our 'conflict' is resolved) we want to try to break into the last two lines of a friendship song we will be teaching the students. So far we have had a hard time managing the transition.... but we did laugh until our stomachs hurt (at least mine did!) Our regular teacher helpers, Michelle and Ariel have to take a test this weekend, so another one of their coworkers, Dan is going to help us! What a nice guy... he hasn't found out about the acting part yet! We're meeting with him tomorrow, and hoping that he'll be ok with doing a little acting!
In other news, I made blondie brownies today mmm, baking is so much fun. They are a little different since brown sugar here has a slightly different taste (more "molasses-ey") and a different texture (not as moist).
We have been finding out that many of our classes will be cancelled in the coming weeks..... starting with tomorrow! My second class and Hope's are being cancelled, though I'm not totally sure why, we were told that it is just for this week. Next week though, so far two out of the three schools will be having Christmas parties while we would be teaching, so yeah, it's interesting
Anyways, since I have pictures, I shall post some! I decided to keep you all in suspense and post only a few at once! Here are the pictures from the shauy jiao EXTRAVAGANZA!

L-R David (one of the only other foreigners in town!), Michelle (you can't really see her face), Ariel, Hope, Dan, Me (like my hair??), and Eileen. All of them work at the Buxiban.

Our feast afterward!

Some of the ladies who have been so wonderful to us! We eat a meal at each of their homes in a week: Amy Lin, Peggy Su, and Kathy Zhen, who was hosting the shuay jiao event.

Us with our pal, Dr. Su. We really do appreciate him (most of the time). This picture is from our first week here, but I don't think anyone has seen it yet. I should be getting more pictures shortly!  Posted by Hello

Monday, December 13, 2004

Sing in English? Did we ever!

So Dr. Su, the spontaneous little feller that he is (to quote the real Amy Jieh), decided to suprise us with a solo about 10 minutes before we began Sunday worship..... We were singing Amazing Grace in Chinese and English, and he "suggested" that the second time through the English version, just the ingwun Laoshr's (being the two of us) should sing it.... soo all of my gentle probing as to whether there would be any "suprises" was for naught.... my first reaction was "I KNEW it!" He's always up to something that one lol... and he's so polite about it.... Hope's reaction was "How about EVERYONE sing it together?" to which he responded "Wo ting bu dong" (I hear no understand) I didn't believe it for a second... so anyways, another solo for us... good thing that was our last week leading worship for awhile! It wasn't so bad, though that one high note wasn't my best moment...
Ariel translated for us, though the setup remained the same as the previous week, it wasn' t SO bad since her voice is pretty quiet, and she is more conscious of the people around. It did kind of take the mystery out of Pastor Zhang's intense preaching, although at the end he shared a vision he had (I think) about a bunny rabbit... it did have some sort of spiritual meaning... but it really does tend to be the stories that lose the most in translation!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

late nights, early mornings

On Friday I taught at the third school, Yu Dong Jr. High, which is good in that instead of two large classes, I have one smaller class for the whole two hours! I'm so excited about that opportunity. The class was fun, but the students are at a pretty low level, it will be interesting to see how i can adapt LTE for them, but they have good attitudes for the most part. I think it will be a lot of fun! One of my big teaching difficulties right now is figuring out how best to work with the classroom teacher/translator. I'm not used to having a translator, and am actually wondering if it's a hindrance in many ways since I don't have to try hard to teach at their level, and they don't even have to listen to me, they can just listen for the translation! Also the teachers have the tendency to take over at certain points, or translate things that wouldn't necessarily need to be translated, like if i say "draw," mime it, and point to a picture of it, it probably doesn't need to be translated! I want the students to associate it with the action instead of just turning their brains off until they hear it in Chinese.

Yes I did go on a glasses adventure last night, and chose 2 pairs of cool glasses, but I only bought one.. maybe in a few months I'll buy another! They are much cheaper than at home! I should have them in a week or two. I'm really sleepy today b/c we got back from Hualien around 11:30 and then I was up for a couple of hours doing final preparations for our English Club. We were supposed to get up at 5 to meet with the church people to pray (once a month they go up on a mountain to pray for the area) but we got up and decided it was more important to be coherent for our English Club. Still, we were at the church by 7:30 to set up (and had a few more communication difficulties, since there is a bible study in the room we were supposed to be using right before so we couldn't do a run through/make sure our technology was working until almost before it was supposed to start!). It did go pretty well though, we had more than 20 students again! 22 I think. We got some of their email addresses, so maybe we'll be able to correspond a bit.
We're helping lead worship again tomorrow, which promises to be fun and exciting... at least we get to sing half of it in English this time.... I wonder who our translator will be?

Can you believe I've had over 500 visitors to this site?? I can't... though half of them are probably my own haha that's ok. Thanks to all my faithful readers! I love you! I'm glad some of you are taking the time to read, even if i'm not taking the time to email you :S (sorry)

OH and the best news of all.... I GOT TO HOLD A PUPPY TODAY!!!!!!!!! They are probably still a little young to be holding them, but hey everyone else was! Jeff and Sherly have had a change of heart and are going to keep 1!! I'm so excited! THEY ARE SOOOOO CUTE! ok... i'm done

Thursday, December 09, 2004

And you thought Hilda was good!

That title is for those of you who remember my time as Hilda the Spy this summer!
For the skit I was in at soccer camp I had to wear these sunglasses as part my costume, and had to perform many tasks in them, including running through a darkened gymnasium full of children and sound equipment! Anyways, Hilda was revived, minus the sunglasses, but with all of the super spy powers! Ok well maybe not, but here's the story:
Hope's glasses broke today (and she wasn't even doing anything too strenuous, just taking off a sweater) , about 15 minutes before we were supposed to leave for class! She is even blinder than me, if you can believe it! Anyways, we were wondering if she would have to cancel class or something since she couldn't see! And I got the idea that she should use my glasses, since I can see passably enough to teach a class without mine. Well my glasses were better than nothing, so we decided to go ahead with the plan! It was interesting that's for sure, I couldn't really see the students that well, and even though they had all made beautiful name tags I wasn't really able to read them! But the classes went pretty well! I still have a headache though! It was really strange to go that long without wearing my glasses! But I suppose that it did allow for one quite amusing moment in the day: when I first arrived to class, some of the students got really excited about my blue eyes (which they could probably see better due to the lack of glasses) and one of them asked me (via their teacher who translated for me) if they were my "real eyes" to which, I of course responded, yes, they're the only one's I've got! Some of my kids had really interesting English names, including: Marrin, Jacod (yes, he says it with a "d" at the end), Happy, Zev, Jester, Zer, Vennis, Lancy, Branda, Bing, Petter, Timen, Gig, Sky, and Elvis. One of the girls, Yuki, is quite funny and very vocal, one of the first things she asked me today was "are you free tonight" haha! I found them to be more outgoing than the students at Yuli Jr. High where I taught yesterday, but then that whole day was just interesting...

My first class yesterday went really well, the highlight was after the students left, two of the girls came back and shyly said "teacher, you are so cute" awwwww
My second class was quite stressful though, mostly due to lack of communication... see, I was told that it was an elective conversation class and thought the students would also be using LTE (a magazine). I discovered that it is a compulsory class, and about half the students have almost no English (some couldn't even say "My name is ___, I am ___ years old, and many didn't know numbers past 10), hence not really what I would think of as a "conversation class." Also the majority of the students were extremely hesitant to speak at all (even more so than "normal" as I have observed in the other classes), the regular teacher implied that I would probably not be able to get many of them to speak. Further, she told me (though I didn't fully understand what she was trying to communicate) that many of the students have mental, learning, hearing or speech disabilities. The teacher does not plan to order LTE for this class. I found out all of this AFTER I taught the class...
So i'm quite perplexed with this situation, especially since i'm not really clear on which students have disabilities, and what they are. Hope had different issues with her second class, and so we sent a big long email to our supervisors asking to speak with them, instead they emailed us and said they would call the schools and talk to us afterward... anyways, after a lot of confusion, and probably some unnecessary conversations, we agreed that we could do what we had proposed in our emails. So I will be adapting the children's curriculum, which means more work for me, but that's ok... i really hope i can help these kids even just a little!

So one more class tomorrow, a lot of prep for our saturday morning english club, and a possible trip to Hualien for glasses (i may get new glasses too how exciting! Amy Lin told us tonight that glasses are MUCH cheaper here!)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

the beginning of my career

this should probably title tomorrow's post actually, but that's ok!
today was a work day that wasn't really a work day..... we had our ministry meeting/Bible study with Dr. Su and Peggy, which is always rather enjoyable, and spent much of it sorting out details for teaching... we did get our Bible study in, but didn't get to sing :(
It was an hour instead of the usual two hours because of what can only be described as a Shuay Jiao extravaganza (just kidding!) We went to Kathy's house where we met with their fellowship group (including the english teachers from the cram school here) to make Shuay Jiao! Known in Canada as dumplings... they are kinda like won tons. The process is quite fun, first you take the small dough circle, and drop a teaspoonful of filling (there was pork, chicken, and vegetable) in the middle. Then you wet the edge and fold it in half, pinching it over to seal it. There is another way too, but I didn't quite master it, my teacher, Dan (one of the english teachers) showed it to me first, and then quickly switched to the simpler way lol... no suprises there...
Since they had already been there for an hour we didn't get to make too many before they were ready to eat... mmm they are yummy! We had a rather large feast of Shuay Jiao and something called "Devil Soup" which Hope did find quite devilish.... we switched bowls when no one was looking so it would look like she had eaten hers... she gave a hearty "hen hao chr" (great food) and set "her" bowl down after pretending to take the final few sips... i cracked up.... life is so funny! I think we have too much fun sometimes.... Oh yeah, we also had a really interesting beverage which I think was mulberry cider vinegar... yeah. there's no way i was trading cups with Hope on that one....
It was a really fun afternoon, we were there until about 2:00 (including pumpkin cheesecake for dessert) and I really enjoyed hanging out with the other teachers. Michelle and Ariel are quite hilarious! I'm so glad we get to work with them in our English Club. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, I just spent more time preparing for lessons and looking for pictures
of creepy crawlies (since our lesson on Saturday is about Facing Fear)

First day of school tomorrow! I'm so excited! I wonder if i'll be able to sleep tonight

Monday, December 06, 2004

Cookie Extravaganza!

"Bringing the gospel and cookies to Taiwan since 2004"
Since I didn't update yesterday, I'll have to describe its events later on, but first, the cookie extravaganza! What a fun word... probably wouldn't dream of using it in conversation here... though maybe i could teach it as vocabulary? lol
Anyways, we enjoyed baking so much the other day that we decided to bake on our day off... this small flicker of an idea turned into an all day project! In addition to wanting to bake, we have been wanting to encourage the pastors here, as well as say thank you to so many people who have been taking us places and never letting us pay for ANYTHING! So we made cookies. What could be more perfect? Not only did we make cookies, we made 4 kinds of cookies, M&M (a variation of my famous chocolate chip since i haven't been able to find any), oatmeal rasin, hershey kiss cookies, and peanut butter cookies! JoJo you would be proud! This almost rivals my bake sale days, and is much more fun! I'd love to make mint chocolate ones, but I don't think I could find all the stuff! ANYWAYS, back on subject here, we spent the morning going for breakfast and grocery shopping (and a haircut for me), the afternoon baking, and the evening delivering... well more or less.... We even attached little notes with a Bible verse that Hope painstakingly wrote out in pinyin (transliterated from our bo po mo fo New Testamants woohoo).

Anyways, onto the singing extravaganza, ok well not really the most accurate description, but hey gotta get my word for the day in!
As I previously mentioned, on Thursday we learned we would be helping lead worship with the youth group and were given two new songs to learn. They weren't easy songs either, they were contemporary Christmas songs from a CD (which fortunately we got to borrow). I worked really hard to learn the songs and was understandably feeling a little nervous about it! We practiced on Saturday night, there were a few surprises such as a Chinese phrase they wanted us (just the two of us) to say to begin the worship set, a “solo” (again, the two of us singing the first few lines of O Holy Night at the beginning and end of one of the songs), and that they wanted us to pray loudly into the microphones during the “free” prayer time… Anyways, despite my reservations and bad pronunciation, it ended up being a lot of fun, and I was able to worship! I think the people in the church were really happy that we tried to speak/sing in Chinese, and most were really surprised to see us up there!

From there we move to the translation fiasco which is more amusing than anything. There is a Doctor from the church who translated the sermon for us, which was so nice! It definitely makes it bearable. His English is quite advanced, and we are definitely appreciative of his efforts. When we arrived we found out that they even had headsets for us! The way it's supposed to work is that the people with head sets can sit anywhere in the room and the person translating speaks quietly into the microphone which broadcasts into the headsets... minimal service disturbance, everyone's happy..... in theory it's quite simple, like giving a hearing aid to elderly people. Oh but in reality.... it is far from simple.... you see, they had arranged it so our translator was actually sitting right behind us.... as well, he has an extremely loud voice. So we put our headsets on, and he begins to speak into the microphone, but we can hear him quite loudly since he is sitting right there! We tried to communicate this to him, but he didn't understand.... at all... he suggested that we could turn the headsets down if it was too loud.... so by this time i have broken down laughing at the situation and am trying to hide it and allow Hope to attempt further explanation, which included "maybe you could go sit at the BACK" I don't think I can do the humor of the situation justice here, but anyways, we settled for not using the headsets and him translating for us from there. Throughout the sermon we were quite aware of the fact that everyone else could hear him translating... even the kids who sit in little desks in front of all the benches were turning around to see who was talking.... perhaps by next week we can make SOMEONE understand how it's supposed to work....

So, to do conclude this posting extravaganza, i would just like to say
Women dzway xihuan Shang Dahn jie le. Which, of course, means "Christmas is our favourite holiday"

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Let the fun begin!

Well the typhoon wasn't so bad, all over now! We stayed at home most of the day because of heavy rains and such, but had to venture out to the library to set up for our English Club.
Later we had supper at another nice family's house, who have a 6 year old daughter named Angel (her English name) she was darling, and quite a good artist!! They served us homemade pizza and 2 diffferent dishes of stir-fried veggies and some duck soup. It was quite delicious! I have to say their pizza was better than what I had at Pizza Hut last time we went to Hualien!
Later in the evening we got the crazy notion to bake, and so donned our "rain clothes" and umbrellas and walked to 7-11 to pick up what we needed! How fun! We really didn't get nearly as wet as we thought we would, but that's ok, we can say that we braved the typhoon! (It may have been downgraded to a tropical storm by then, i have no idea!)
So we bought M&M's to make cookies mmmmm Jeff and Sherly were quite impressed at our baking skill and Sherly asked me to teach her next time I make cookies! This is my third request, and I am thinking of starting an English Baking Class! LOL
We ended up talking with Jeff and Sherly, having tea, and seeing their wedding photos, and then we realized that it was midnight!! We were all shocked, and so departed for bed! I didn't get to sleep until around 1!
I had to get up early to organize for the English Club which was supposed to start at 8:30 (we were hoping to be at the library by 8 to set up!) But we didn't know if it would be cancelled this morning, and honestly, i was kinda hoping it would be, esp since we hadn't had very many registrations prior to the typhoon! Things like that tend to affect attendance.....
Anyways, many phone calls later this morning we did have English Club (the library opened just because of us i'm told, otherwise they would have had a typhoon day). And actually had 24 youth!! Some were really young!! But we had a lot of fun!! The kids were REALLY shy at first which worried me! It's quite disconcerting to ask a question and then just have complete silence. When this happens for a number of questions you start to worry!! But eventually the ice broke somewhat and things got better! This is definitely something to think about as I'm preparing for my first classes this week! The game show went quite well, now we have to think of something great for next week! We have a few ideas already.... the topic will be "Facing Fear" and we were thinking of doing a mock Fear Factor game, but Hope pointed out that they may eat half the things on that show without batting an eye in every day life!! Some cultural differences there...

Thursday, December 02, 2004

life is getting busier!

I ended up having supper at the Su's house instead of the other family, which came as a suprise! But it was a lot of fun... after dinner they showed me their wedding pictures and pictures of their children. I also learned about some of the Chinese wedding customs: They have a big ceremony at each family's house before the church ceremony. The bride's family have a big dinner while the groom waits outside (maybe for a couple of hours even!) and then they both join the groom's family for more ceremonies and then go to the church!

Afterward I went to church which was interesting.... anyways it was the last lesson of a book they have been studying, and at the end I got to pray with one person who is a little older than me, and is really involved in the church programs here, she's feeling pretty burned out lately, so I am going to try to make it a point to encourage her when I see her.

Today was a flurry of chinese lessons and bible study planning meetings, so far we only have 4 students signed up though!!! I'm a little worried! But we'll see I guess... less students will give us an opportunity to get to know them better and they will probably learn more English! We also found out that we will be joining the youth group in singing Sunday morning! One song we already know, but we just got the other two TODAY! talk about pressure! at least we'll be sharing a microphone... so it won't be too disastrous heheh, and yes the songs are in Chinese in case there was any doubt!

I made simple cinnamon rolls yesterday which suitably impressed everyone! I've already had two requests to come over and learn how next time i make them! lol i think they'll be disappointed at how easy they are...

We went to Amy and Jack's house for supper which is always so much fun! their children are so cute! I'll have to get a good picture of them soon to post on here!

Now for the most exciting news of all: Our dog (actually our landlord's dog) Shao Guay had 6 puppies last night!!!!! They are sooooo cute! So yeah if anyone wants a puppy just let me know, since they are planning to give them away....

In weather, there may be a typhoon heading this way tonight/tomorrow, a December typhoon is pretty much unheard of, but it hit the Philippines pretty hard today and we're right above them. I wonder if that will affect our plans...hmmm
I'll let you know tomorrow I guess!

Oh yeah, and I'm listening to Christmas music!! Some of the stores here have put out Christmas displays now... it's nice to see them actualyl during the right season, rather than at the end of September lol.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Sounds of the morning

A scooter drives by. I can hear the people next door having a conversation through my open window, since their house is only a few feet away. Their dog starts barking loudly at something passing by, causing another dog to begin howling. A lady comes around, as she does every day, she is selling or collecting something, and her voice resonates through the neighbourhood, "Hi-aaaay, Hey Hi-aaay." Her voice resembles that of an old mother calling for a disobedient child to come home for supper....

This is planning week, it's pretty slow, but it is the final preparation time for our English Club and our classroom teaching. Yesterday we visited the public library to see the room where we will be teaching on saturdays, and discovered that there are pictures of us on the bulletin board outside the building, as well as some sort of article. I hope we will be able to get copies of it, but I'm not sure if we can. We had a chinese lesson and Peggy gave us two pie crusts that she bought in Hualien! More baking ahead for us! Mom sent me the recipe for a good baking powder biscuit too so I will make cinnamon rolls and cheese biscuits...mmmm...
Tonight is our first night of a new dinner schedule. For some reason unknown to me, the families in the church are quite eager to have us over for dinner on a regular basis. There are actually some families who are waiting until next month! To me it would seem to be an inconvenience, but I guess it's not too much of one. We will be eating with a different family 5 days of the week. This arrangement was a suprise to us, but I am excited to get to know the families more! I'm sure all the parents will make their kids break out the English textbooks to read to us lol.
Anyways, I guess I better get to work! Happy December everyone! I can't believe it!!