Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pictures from week 1

We started each morning with singing, which was led by some of the team from San Francisco.

English activities
The girls in my small group! They were so cute, and really great attitudes.

Phil, Beth, and I - the main English teachers for the week

Awesome helpers from the church in Taipei: Gina, who helped all three weeks, and Marli, who is from Myanmar but has lived in Taiwan for 7 years. She went to university in Yilan and goes to my church, but I'd never met her before! She was my small group helper, and was really sweet and kind.

Students doing a find someone who activity.

My small group playing a game

All of the groups had to choose a song and perform a dance or skit to go with it. This was one of the groups performing the song "Making a Difference"

Have You Ever activity

The game I've seen at almost every camp in Taiwan. They have to try and stand up relying on each others' strength

Relay races, passing ping pong balls on spoons

Newspaper models
There were a lot of bikinis being made, and interestingly enough, all on boys.

Our group performing our dance

Linda, the girl in the front was a really good dancer and she choreographed the girls' dance, it was great!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Camp 2

The second week we had to travel about 40 minutes to get to where the camp was. We met every morning at the office around 7:15 and took a taxi to the MRT station. Then we took the MRT about 11 stops and had to catch another taxi at the other end. Fortunately in Taiwan, taxis are extremely cheap, so we only paid about $3.00 per ride. We walked from the MRT station to the church the first day when we went for training and it took at least 20 minutes, so because of time (and hot weather) we didn’t walk during the camp itself. This week was more relaxed for me, because I wasn’t a small group leader. I helped with songs, PowerPoint and did a lot of English teaching in the mornings. Our lessons ended each day with a cooking class given by yours truly. It was really funny because the first day the dish was Chinese dumplings. You have to wrap a thin wrapper around a meat filling, which I was to demonstrate for the students, after teaching them the English vocabulary words. The funny thing is, I can’t really wrap them well. Anyways, the kids seemed to enjoy it, even if I made a fool of myself! The second day we made sandwiches for which I donned a Chef’s costume. After my demonstrations, the kids got to make their own. On the third day, they made sushi rolls. The camp was pretty fun. The kids were REALLY cute but their level was really low. The youngest groups were really sweet with the almost teenagers showing the typical “I’m too cool to be here” attitude. They did improve by the end though. The cutest moment of the week was when I was teaching the word “give” and I went to the middle of the classroom and asked the students to give me random things (a shoe, a watch, something yellow) and then giving a candy to the first student who could put it in my hand. For the last one I said (mostly just to get a laugh) “Give me a….HUG!” I looked around the room like I was waiting for them all to jump up and hug me and then one little boy did! Perhaps he just wanted the prize, but it was really sweet!

Friday, July 20, 2007

2 down 1 to go

This is the team from our second week of camp. It includes people from our office and two different churches. I'll try to post some pictures of our adorable campers soon! It was a good camp. A lot of the helpers have been stretched this week with acting, singing and translating on stage!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


My first impressions of Taipei perhaps weren’t the most positive. I remember a constant headache and grey skies every day. It was probably even more shocking coming from the lovely fall of rural southeastern B.C. But now that I’ve been here for a few weeks (this month has been the longest time I’ve spent in Taipei actually), I’ve been surprised by the blue skies I’ve seen almost every day! Tonight as I was walking home the sky was almost cloudless with a lovely sunset coloring the horizon, and a view of the Grand Hotel in the background starting to light up.

So, I’m changing my initial opinion of Taipei, though I do miss Eastern Taiwan, Yilan and Yuli! It’s nice to just hop on my bike when I want to go somewhere instead of the combination of buses, taxis and transferring to the MRT that have been part of my life lately. Our second week of camp has been less busy for me so far, though we have a bit of a commute to get there. It’s a kids’ camp, and I’ve found lately that teaching children is more challenging for me than teaching high school. Maybe I’m getting old…

Anyways, I’ve been able to leave the camp after lunch each day giving me lots of prep time in the afternoons which is really nice. I even made it to physio once this week. Next week we’re teaching in a place that’s quite a ways out of the city, so we’ve decided to stay there during the camp. It will be nice to not have to get up so early and travel so far every day, but will be a little tiring. I’ve got to say though, the team I’ve been working with from the church here is absolutely WONDERFUL! I’ve really enjoyed getting to know these new friends. I’ll post pictures if I can ever get some!!

Last Taipei observation, is that there’s always something interesting going on here. Last Sunday, I was waiting outside an MRT station to meet some of my students from last year who are now in University here. While I was sitting on a bench a man walked up with about 10 golden retrievers following him. They did a few tricks and posed for cameras, which there were a lot of. It quickly drew a crowd and people were whipping out their cell phones and digital cameras like crazy, taking pictures and calling friends to come check out the spectacle. On command the dogs would go down the stairs and walk through the crowd. It was so random. It didn’t seem like the man was selling anything, he didn’t have flyers or a sales pitch or anything, so I have no idea. After about a half an hour the dogs followed him down the street, perhaps to the next station. At times like this, I can only say “Oh, Taiwan!”

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Making a Difference

Wow, I have so much I could write about. It's been a crazy week. It all started last Saturday when I went for camp training, which was actually just getting to know the San Francisco staff who came out to help with our camp. We played a bunch of games and I met my two helpers (after finding out I'd be the leader of a small group during the camp), Jonathan and Marli. Jon is a 16 year old from SFO who is ethnically Chinese, but actually doesn't speak a lot of Chinese. Marli is from Myanmar but has lived in Taiwan for about 7 years (actually she lived in Yilan and went to my church, but I somehow never met her!!!!) and speaks Chinese and a number of other languages, but not a lot of English. So at times, I felt like I was translating for both of them!! Kind of ironic, since I'm the only one who doesn't look Chinese!! I was a little worried at first, but between the three of us it worked out ok.
Monday was more training and last minute prep, and Tuesday, we welcomed 110 students into our camp with ages ranging from about 10 to 18. Our group had 10 students, all of whom were 13-14. It was a busy week, but fun. Every morning I was up at 6:30ish, since we had to leave here around 7:30am to get to the church. I spent the whole day at the camp, usually getting home after 6:30pm, grabbing some supper, finishing up things in the office for the next day, and then crashing before 10, well except on Wednesday when LOST was on until 11.
The theme of our camp was Making a Difference, which kind of goes with a great song by Sunshine singers (on of whom is my awesome roommate Libeck). Throughout the week we did games, activties, and skits which taught English and of course challenged the students to make a difference in their own homes, schools etc. Each day the students worked on two large projects: creating a dance/interpretation for one of the songs we used, and creating a project that would somehow make a difference. The first day my students were low on ideas, and didn't seem to excited about doing either. I had 5 girls and 5 boys. 4 of the girls were really into dancing and started their own routine, but the 5th was REALLY shy and didn't want to do it. So I kind of juggled all these students and assigned them each a section of the song. In the end, I think it turned out great, with the boys doing a human pyramid as their finale!
I really got to love those kids over such a short time. I really enjoyed the camp (except for the being exhausted part lol). I was so proud of my group and really ALL the groups when they presented on Friday. I do like camps because they're so high energy, and they have an ability to bring out the best (though sometimes the worst) in students because it's such an intense activity. They really do push themselves more than they would in a weekly class.
Speaking of a weekly class, I started teaching the first of three weeks in a "Bible Basics" class at our weekly English Bible study. I've taught the Bible before, so I wasn't too worried about that aspect, but I was teaching the newcomers class, and since it's summer vacation, we've been getting a LOT of newcomers. Last week there were around 100! Well we'd also encouraged our students from camp to stay and attend, so I was envisioning a class of 200! Fortunately there were "only" 70, which was still quite a few. And despite having minimal time to prepare for it (and botching my magic trick....), I felt like it went really well. Now I wonder how many of those 70 will come back next week!!
There's so much more I could write, and I will post pictures as soon as I can get them from SOMEONE. But for now I should go get ready for next week's KIDS camp...should be interesting!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

On Saturday morning, I received a call from one of my Yuli friends with the horrible news that one of the missionaries/teachers in Yuli had passed away in a tragic airplane accident.
Our time in Yuli just overlapped a little, but I remember meeting him when he first arrived in Yuli and being so thankful that God has provided Christian teachers for the town I loved. I'd seen him a few more times on some of my return visits there, and could see that he and his team were making a huge positive impact on the people there. Some of my good friends were also really close to him.
On Sunday morning I took the train down to Yuli and was able to pray with a lot of people there. I was awed by the sense of worship there was. We know God is good, but sometimes when we face tragedies we have more questions than answers. Fortunately, we can know that God is still in control, and that he brings good out of even the most acute pain.
There was a memorial for Jon-Eric on Friday, and his family will be returning back to the States soon. Please keep praying for them, as well as for his team members and close friends in Yuli. In the days and weeks to come they will still be coming to terms with his loss and learning how to live without him.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Eagles - Hole In The World

Take a listen...this song kind of describes my feelings after my trip to Yuli, there's a hole in a lot of hearts after the passing of a teacher there.