I was going to post two reply comments, but I was so excited that I'll just write a whole entry!
Marc: Welcome to my blog! That's really exciting that you're coming to Taiwan! Are you coming by yourself? I live close to Hualien, and it is the main city I go to. During Chinese New Year I will be visiting most of the cities you listed. Hualien/the East Coast is really beautiful and is the least polluted portion of the island, though you will find more conveniences (and English speakers) in other places like Taipei and Taichung, though maybe if you're wanting to experience culture, that would be better! That sounds like a great program! Let me know if there is anything I can do to help! Oh and for learning Chinese: good idea to at least get some basics and food words ;) Maybe a phrase book like The Lonely Planet's would be good since you can also carry it around with you - mine is quite creased!
Randy and Ann and anyone else who heard the founders week broadcast: we were totally listening to it here and were so excited! Hope had emailed them earlier and came to tell me that they'd replied and told her they were going to read her email at the session! That's so amazing that you guys heard it as well!! We are REALLY loving the messages, as that has been one big struggle for us (not having biblical and English teaching while we're here).
Oh the excitement! I must say, things have been really exciting lately (well maybe just today).
The grandmother of one of the teachers we know invited us over for some traditional Taiwanese food this afternoon that is kind of difficult to describe, but was really good it was similar to a turnip cake (if you are familiar with turnip cakes) and is made from boiling/steaming vegetables (white carrots and the like) and then somehow cooking out all the liquid until it is firm enough to be shaped/cut. Hmmm yeah... After that we went upstairs to engage in Taiwan's national passtime: Karaoke... hahaha fortunately it was only the 3 of us, so much less mortifying though I think I have lost a lot of confidence in my singing abilities! I knew I should have taken some music classes at Briercrest! Oh yeah, speaking of music Phantom was pretty good, though I don't know if it was the theatre or what but i could barely hear some of the dialogue.... i wished i could read chinese so i could read the subtitles and know what the people were saying! I guess it can't compare when you've seen it live, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.. i may buy it whenever it comes out on DVD...
Anyways, ALSO this afternoon I got a letter from my grandma :D Thanks grandma! That was a nice suprise, and some new teaching material to look at, which is always welcome! This particular material will be for our adult class, which i am growing a little more nervous about these days.... We found out that there was some kind of dinner/party for a bunch of the volunteers in Yuli put on by the library manager (maybe) that we were invited to, and that we would be taking flyers to advertise our class. There were a lot of people there and we didn't know most of them! While it could be that no one will show up for our class, it seems like there is a LOT of interest... almost everyone we talk to says they want to come! Many, many, many toasts later, it was time to go... by the way they do toasting differently here than in Canada, they never bang their cups together (sorry kids, i know that's the funnest part) but instead will raise it up in the direction of the person they are toasting (I think it's more polite to hold the cup with both hands, but i could be wrong), then you raise your cup in reply and both take a sip. The funny thing is you never know when toasts are going to happen, and if you don't happen to understand a lot of chinese, are never sure if you are supposed to be included in a toast... for example we were following Coco (the friend/coworker who accompanied us to the dinner) in what to do for the evening (like not eating Pig's kidneys or lungs.. i'm not sure which it was) and we noticed her toasting one time so hurriedly raised our glasses, but it turns out the man she had been talking with knew her father so they were toasting to that.... the funny thing is you never know when someone is going to come over, or out of the blue toast you and say "Xin nian kuai le" (happy new years) and you have to drop your chopsticks (or the shrimp you are trying to extract from its shell) and grab your glass. That was kind of a rabbit trail, but maybe someone will find it interesting! Anyhow, I'm off for now, and tomorrow around noon i leave for the big vacation/adventure! I hope i don't terribly offend anyone by my lack of knowledge of chinese customs!! I don't think i'll be able to update in the meantime but i'll try to keep a journal so i have a lot of stories to tell when i return! So, I shall leave you with the other New Year's greeting and my most recently acquired Chinese phrase: Gong Xi Fa Cai!