Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 in Pictures

January: my first trip home to Canada since coming to Taiwan. I got to spend one great month visiting friends and family. That seems like a really, really long time ago! P.S. Going back on February 11-26, a month after my next surgery, January 11.

February: I just remember lots of teaching, bust one highlight was going to Yilan's lantern festival with the Pastor and his family.

March: Green Expo. I actually ended up going 3 different times because so many students invited me to go there with them. But it was fun, and situated in a really beautiful area!

April: A Chinese painting lesson! Still waiting for my second lesson ha ha. Maybe that means I wasn't a good student?

May: I did lots of bike riding in May down by Yilan river, where they also had dragon boat races at the end of the month. I wonder where my Hello Kitty bike is now.... I hope she's happy with her new owner...

June: without a doubt the highlight was my trip to Korea!! Here are Attack, Rosalee, Amanda, and myself in Seoul.

July: Having fun and beating the heat at children's festival.

August: Amanda coming to Taiwan, and a lovely weekend at Green Island! That place is paradise!

September: A fun little visit to Yuli before I went back to classes, to see old and new friends, including Jeff and Sherly's twin boys!

October: well we all know where this is going... my week-long hospital stay and subsequent trials with a cast and crutches

November: Yep.. just more broken leg... wasn't doing a lot, though I got to graduate from a cast to a splint!

December: I really wanted to put up a picture of singing last Saturday with my students, but I didn't get a copy yet, so the December picture is my adorable friend and helper, Alice. We've been spending lots of time together lately, and have even gone on a couple of wheelchair adventures.

Monday, December 25, 2006

My third Christmas in Taiwan

Even though I've been here just over two years, I just celebrated my third Christmas in Taiwan. Every year has been a little different, but there are some underlying similarities I can highlight in way of describing my Christmas this year.

  1. Churches I've been to have almost no build-up before Christmas, apart from decorations. No advent candles, no month (or two) of singing only Christmas songs on Sunday mornings. In fact, I wonder if the only songs they know are Joy to the World and Silent Night which are sung quite liberally (a record breaking 4 separate times in two hours last night)
  2. Christmas programs are a big outreach event for the church, and also take on the flavor of a church talent show
  3. Singing, dancing, aboriginal costumes (whether you're aboriginal or not) and at least one person dressed as Santa (last night there were 6) can all be seen in Christmas programs
  4. Dramas and sermons have almost nothing to do with Christmas
  5. Drama done by kids or adults that is lip-synched to a cd soundtrack. All the dialogue, songs, and sound effects are on the cd, and the people just act it out and move their lips. I find them really cheesy, but their popularity can't be denied. Actually I saw the same one 3 times this year (lucky me)
  6. Any and all resident foreigners suddenly become singing celebrities
  7. Activities last the whole Christmas weekend (this year I attended 3, and skipped a dinner)
  8. No holiday on December 25 if it isn't a Saturday or Sunday. Actually, I'm writing this from school, I have a break in between classes. At least I can teach my students about Christmas today, and I even got my biggest class of 54 boys singing Silent Night... now that's an accomplishment!

Actually it's been a nice weekend, quiet but good, without too much of the characterstic Christmas loneliness. On Saturday I got a pedicure (Christmas present to myself lol) and then went to physio before going out for a decaf caramel macchiato. If I could have one of those every day my life would lack nothing..sigh... (ok maybe i exaggerate a little). Saturday evening I attempted to make pumpkin soup and then joined my students for the program at the church with the stairs! Our class was the second act and we sang "Angels we have heard on high" and "Joy to the world" (little did I know...). I also met some hilarious little boys (probably around 10 years old) who were angels in the aboved mentioned cd soundtrack drama. I asked them how old they were, and they answered "99" without hesitation. Foolishly I asked what grade they were in, and they all told me they already had master's degrees. Sunday morning I went to church, which included 16 baptisms, communion, sermon, singing and lots of announcements. It lasted a really really long time! In the afternoon my friend took me out for a bit since it was a sunny day and around 25 degrees. I wheeled around for awhile then went home to get ready for the evening program. Got home around 9:30 to get the almond bark for today's classes ready, and go to sleep early. I opened my one and only Christmas present, which was from my Chinese teacher - a clock, which her daughter had noticed my house doesn't have. It's really cute, I just have to figure out where to hang it. Teaching 5 hours today with 3 hours of doing nothing in between (thus the nice long update) and then I'll do physio. Not exactly Christmas-y but that's ok. There's Christmas music and hot Chocolate waiting for me at home.. and maybe even some apple crisp when I get my oven back (it was borrowed, then broken, and now waiting for me to pick it up.

Friday, December 22, 2006

This pic is from last Saturday, at the end of the activity at the university. Lots of students took pics with me at, and I convinced one of them to email his pictures to me. I didn't think he actually would, but there it was in my inbox today!

I've got a busy Christmas weekend coming up, with a Christmas program at one church where I teach on Saturday night. Our class is singing at the beginning. It will be great except that I have to climb a lot of stairs to get there.

On Sunday my regular church has morning service and a Christmas cantata in the evening. Other than that I'll just be wishing for turkey and trying not to be lonely.

I've got to teach on Monday, just like any other day, but I'll be doing Christmas lessons for my students that day. I also might make some treats for the students, but sadly, my oven broke when I lent it to someone today, so there go my plans of apple crisp, cookies and whatever else I might have baked this weekend. I'll try to get it fixed, otherwise I have to buy a new one... arghh

Anyways, I'll probably get another update in before Christmas, but you might not make it over here, so MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

On my cereal box

Text reads: Free crazy body x-ray inside.

Yeah, me too.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On a completely different note...

On Saturday night I got to go out! I went to a high school and college event at the university where I was invited to share. We had dinner and played some games, and I ran into a few of my present and former students, as well as some people I know from church. The university is right next to my house, but it was still a bit of a journey to get there! A guy came and picked me up in his car and we drove to the nearest entrance, which was anything but wheelchair accessible. I had some creative crutch use (next step - obstacle course!) and made it onto campus, was wheeled a short way and then we came to the place where the event was being held. The building had an elevator, but there was a flight of stairs I had to climb to get to the elevator. I got over my fear of stairs a week or two ago, but they still make me nervous... anyways, I made it up! This time there were about 8 steps in succession and I did it without difficulty! I may just be taking the train soon.. though to where, I'm not sure!
Back on topic. I prepared a speech in Chinese because they weren't sure they'd be able to find a translator for me. I was a little nervous about it though, afraid I might make too many mistakes and render what I was trying to say incomprehensible. I also put together a little powerpoint with English and some pictures. As I started speaking my face got really hot, but other than that, it was ok, I even ad-libbed a little at the end. I told them about myself and how I became a Christan, and came to Taiwan. Then I showed them the "gross" picture of my broken leg and encouraged them that God is with them even during trials! It was really great. I think there were about 60 young people there.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Embarrassing to say the least

This morning after church, I hopped across the street for a hair wash, and when I was almost finished, the hairdresser brought out a tube that she said someone had given to them. The only problem was, it didn't have any Chinese on it. It had English and a couple of other languages though, so they handed it over to me, asking me what it was, hand lotion or conditioner or....

Turns out it was "personal lubricant." Now try explaining that using simple Chinese and/or body language... needless to say once they figured it out, they were as embarrassed as I was, though not nearly as red.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Grow little bones, grow!

Well I got some good news at the doctor today, after unnecessarily waiting a really long time (I was waiting for them to call me in, they were waiting for me to go in on my own). Oh communication! Anyways, my bones are growing!! The doctor compared my original x-ray with the current one and I could see where it has been growing. It looks like it's about halfway there at the most serious part. After seeing the x-ray he also confirmed that my original dislocation "was really serious".
Anyways, I've had opinions from two doctors that I could do surgery next month (3 months after the original) and I think I'm gonna go for it, despite the original surgeon's 6 months. I've done some research online as well, and it seems that the screw is usually removed after 3 months. This means I could be doing surgery in Mid-January and hoping for a speedy recovery for when my parents come. The doctor said I really can start walking after that screw is out and with all the work I'm doing in physio hopefully I'll be ready to walk then! This means that by next semester I could potentially resume "normal life" and that possibly I can go home without crutches, making life MUCH MUCH easier! But of course I'll be careful and take it as it goes. So give my bones another month to GROW! And we'll see what happens then. I start "water therapy" tomorrow too, and I was recommended to wear shorts... well it's supposed to get to 10 degrees and rainy tomorrow, so that will be fun!
Do I trust the physio people? Welllll they're all really nice and seem to know what they're doing, but I feel wierd that none of the people actually working on me have seen my x-rays. I see the doctor on the first floor and she writes a little card with my treatment which is sent up to the next floor. I'm always careful to tell them what my doctor said I can't do yet. For example the one guy asked me "am I brave enough to step on it?" and i was like ummmm maybe if my doctor hadn't told me not to! But actually I'm allowed to use a little weight now, 5kg the doctor said, which I discovered really isn't very much at all. At least it helps my balance.
By the way, does anyone know what this "new blogger" thing is all about? Anyone made the switch-over yet? Let me know if it was worth it...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I wish I was here....

Instead I'm here. In my house. Flipping through the 6 English channels we get. Old movie, old movie, CSI.. oh its the one i watched last night, chinese talk show, horror movie...
Ok back to Christmas music.
Physio today was ok...he kept pulling my ankle, which was almost the exact same motion they used when they set it 2 months and 3 days ago. I guess the memory was too vivid, because the therapist took one look at my face and asked if it was really painful. Actually I wasn't experiencing pain at all, just the memory of that feeling and the fear that my ankle would pop right out as he was manipulating it. Guess I need to get over that.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Well this is what they do to me during PT. They hook me up to these little things and send electric pulses through my leg, while baking it under an infrared light which is supposed to stimulate circulation and other things.

This is the original and current x-ray. The most interesting thing that you can make out from this picture is how far my ankle bone actually moved from its original position. The bone is supposed to be touching on the right side.

This is my friend Alice who has been helping me clean my house and taking me to PT. BTW I thought I should post this in case you forgot what my face looks like.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Physio Tales

So I would have to say going to physiotherapy (from now on known as PT) at Pu-Men clinic is one of the more interesting times of my week at this point. There's a new guy, and he's a little strange. The second time I met him, he followed "hi, how are you?" directly with "I'm 5 years older than you." Which maybe he thought was cool, but made me feel a little violated... obviously he'd looked at my patient sheet/record/whatever you want to call it since my last visit. After that the conversation turned to how you spell "pee" and "poo." Oh dear. I also got the feeling he was hitting on my friend, although there could be a cultural thing I'm not getting... if we were in Canada he'd have been hitting on her.

I've also met a Filipino lady who comes to chat with me when she can. She's got it pretty rough actually, taking care of an elderly woman 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She doesn't get days off, and can only sleep if her charge is sleeping (she rarely sleeps through the night). She's really upset that they won't give her any time off at Christmas so she can go to church. I only know a little about the plight of the "other" foreign workers here in Taiwan from the few I've met, but those of us with white skin are much, much better off here. Please pray for her and pray that I can find a way to encourage her this Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The joys of crutches

Before you had to be on crutches you never knew cooking a simple dinner could cause you to break a sweat. Or washing the dishes. Or getting the ingredients out of the refrigerator.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

River of unstoppable blessing

This song comes off a cd given to me from a friend in Yuli, which interestingly enough is a group from Canada that I seem to know a lot of people connected to (Taiwanese), though I'd never heard of them before I came here. The group is called Singing Waters, and they have a retreat centre in Ontario. You can check them out here.

There's a river of unstoppable blessing
Flowing from the throne of God
There's a river of unstoppable blessing
Flowing from the throne of God

I saw a river of pure water
On both sides were trees
And their leaves
Were for the healing of the nations

We are walking in exceeding abundance
Flowing from the throne of God

It's really simple, but the tune is lovely, and I just find it really compelling for some reason. How can I claim this while I sit here with a broken leg? Where are my blessings? But you know what, there have been blessings through all this, trials too, but blessings both during and through those trials. Last night I was able to see many of my students at an activity where the Christmas story and the testimonies of three people were presented clearly and in an interesting and exciting way. I know many of the 2000+ people who attended were really touched. Unstoppable blessings, they are coming, whether you choose to see them or not.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Nothing Better To Do

I found out on Friday that my two middle classes at this school would be cancelled today, leaving me with 4 hours in between my first and last classes in which I am stranded here at this school with nothing to do!! Oh how I wish I could hop on my bike and go home and come back whenever I wanted today!
Anyways, this weekend Ariel and Richard came to visit. They are so wonderful! Instead of taking the hour and a half train ride, they drove 3+ hours, especially so they would be able to take me out when they got here. So I got to leave my apartment a lot this weekend, which contributed positively to my sanity. We had a nice hot pot dinner on Saturday night, especially great because it's getting chilly here! And a steak lunch on Sunday after church, all aided by crutches/wheelchair and car. When something like this happens to you, you really discover who your true friends are.
Anyways, what else do I have to talk about? Tonight is the Christmas rally, I'm really excited about it! Also I'm going to start doing physio 5 times per week. Last time I went they added massage to my treatment, and it's really cool, although kind of nerve-wracking. She's rotating my ankle and I'm just waiting for it to break/dislocate again, but it DOESN'T... amazing! haha I think I'll get used to the increased movement. It's still quite swollen, but nothing compared to what it was a month ago. I'm still waiting for a couple of spots on the skin to heal up as well. But have I mentioned that I really like going to physio? I feel like I make new friends every time I go there, and the people are all so friendly. On Saturday there was a new guy who just started working there and he was really eager to practice his English with me. Right now my physio time has gone from 20 minutes up to about 45 minutes. I'm going again today!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Gettin' Around

Two major accomplishments in the transportation area yesterday. First I crutched up a series of 5 low stairs. It wasn't too scary, though I still don't think I could do too many.

Second, I managed to wheel myself downstairs to wait for the car to pick me up for class. This actually entails a lot of things, like crutching over to the door with my backpack on. Using crutches/one hand to open the door and get the wheelchair out over the raised doorstop. Then transferring my backpack to the wheelchair, putting my crutches inside the house, locking the door and wheeling myself down to the elevator and then out the door. This whole process took about 5-10 minutes.

My next challenge is attending Studio Classroom's Christmas musical, which is coming to one of my schools on Monday evening. Do I bring crutches, or wheelchair or both? Do I attempt to sit in their auditorium seating, where the seats could be too low to get in and out of easily? Maybe by an aisle so i can stretch out my leg, but risk being stepped on, and having to get up to let people by? Or do I do wheelchair and try to find a spot, but am able to keep my leg elevated for the 3 hours I will probably be there. And make my poor friend Su Wan navigate my heavy wheelchair into her car?