Monday, August 27, 2007

The Ocean Blue

We had a typhoon last weekend, and it was pretty big, but I didn't have any problems except for not wanting to go out in the pouring rain. This weekend I went out with some ladies from the church, and saw some of the damage the typhoon had done in some more rural areas, saw lots of trees ripped out at the roots and what not. The highlight of our time together was a drive up the north eastern coastal highway. There are a few scenic rest areas along the way at which I took a ton of pictures:

In the distance you can see Turtle Island (龜山島)which is just off the coast of Yilan county. You can take tours out there, but you have to apply in advance since it's a protected natural area. It can be seen from various angles (including the angle at which it actually resembles a turtle) in a number of the pictures below.

Taiwanese ladies with their umbrellas! Rain or shine they must protect themselves from the elements haha. Maybe I should have followed suit since I ended up getting sunburnt!

Posing pre-sunburn.

Some really really neat trees. Apparently some people worship these trees. This place does look a little bit sacred with the light coming down and all.

Su-wan and I

Friday, August 24, 2007

Listening to....

This is a really powerful song by Jars of Clay, and the video is quite amazing too. I found out that the lead singer of Jars of Clay went to Africa and his experience moved him to start a ministry there. Check it out here. You can also support them online.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jin Gua Shih

ok while you're waiting for me to have something interesting to say, here are some pics from the eventful third week of camp at a little place we like to call Jin Gua Shih (well, that's its name)

A stop on the way up to the church, golden falls. There are gold and minerals in the water around here making all the rock orange. Since the camp was quite a ways from Taipei, we stayed in a homestay nearby. That in itself was interesting, the owner gave us lectures every morning about how drinking milk is "suicide" (he literally said that) and then fed us his own concoctions of soy milk and fruit/vegetable (heavy on the vegetable) smoothies. We got desperate and made a (over 30 minute) Starbucks run on the last day. Only half of our team went, but apparently the Starbucks was just opening (they were setting up but not selling coffee yet...) eventually they got us our 10 Ventis after they found out it was for Vickie! (She's really famous here in Taiwan, since she's been on the tv for a long time).

Gina, Tim, and Vickie practicing the music before the first day. The first day was probably the most "exciting" we were greeted upon reaching the school to the grounds keeper removing a freshly killed snake. The air conditioner didn't work the first day either, so we were sweating like crazy allll day! I couldn't wait to get into the shower that evening. Well the school was very "bu hao yi se" (they lost face) about the air conditioner, so decided to bring some people in to install a new one... in the middle of our class, directly over the students' heads. So we watched as the workmen tried to wrench the old one out (it was really ancient) and there was dust and debris flying everywhere. Suddenly there was a loud hissing sound and a mist coming out of the tubes, and we were advised that "it might be poisonous, so we should go outside" talk about lesson hijacks! Anyways, we spent the rest of the afternoon playing games under the sweltering sun...

Teaching in the mornings. Please enlarge picture to get the full impact of the bored expressions on our students' faces. We had to work hard to get them to overcome their attitudes and participate, actually, I don't know that they did overcome it... well they improved on the second day but the last day they were right back with the same thing.... i wanted to stop class and leave at one point, seriously, I was that angry. But in the end we had performances and water games and everyone left feeling good, so i guess that's all that matters.

Part of an old mine in the area, that could (in our opinions) easily pass for some kind of ancient temple ruin.

Looking out from where we stayed and from the school we could see incredible blue waters and rocky coastlines.

Students with Bessie after the water fight on the last day.

One group doing a line dance I taught them.

One of the performances.

Part of a dance "Love trusts at all times"

Playing an English game

Vickie taught us what is quite possibly the most hilarious game EVER. It's kind of like "telephone" but instead of passing a message along a line you pass a crazy face. It requires you very quickly to get over self-consciousness and within minutes has you laughing until your stomach hurts. Try it sometime I DARE YOU!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Happy Trails?

Ok I've been back in Yilan for exactly 24 hours and taught class this morning. Actually it went quite well. I'm not too terribly tired, though I slept for 3 hours this afternoon. I have enough energy now to give an account of my travels home.
On Friday night after the wedding I double checked the airport shuttle paper only to find that it was booked for August 12. I called them at 1:30 am and fortunately was able to change it! The next morning we had breakfast and packed before taking Cara and Steve to the London airport. Then I had about an hour to spend with Johanna's parents and niece Ally, who are about the sweetest people in the world. They took me for lunch and then we went to wait for the shuttle, which was late. I wasn't too worried since my flight wasn't until 7pm and the shuttle would take me there at 1:30. It pulled up just as the Brittains were starting to wonder if they needed to drive me to Toronto.
The ride to the airport was pretty quick and when I went to check in, I found something that only further confirmed my now ingrained opinion that no North American regional flight is ever on time. They said that my flight was already 45 minutes late and that I could possibly miss my connection in Minneapolis (only an hour and a half layover scheduled) which was the LAST flight from there to San Francisco for the day. The nice lady at Delta advised me to take a different flight through Chicago and would get me to SFO at 9:30pm, which happened to be leaving in just under an hour. So instead of a leisurely 3 hours to enjoy my last Tim Horton's and buy a few Canada souvenirs, I ended up rushing to another airline and checking in, then having to go through customs. This was a new thing for me. Now they have you go through airport customs on the way out of Canada instead of when you land in the States. The good thing about it was that I didn't have to pick up my bags and recheck them during my connection, they could go all the way to my final (American) destination. I made it to the gate just a few minutes before they started boarding.
Went to Chicago for the second time this trip and had some pizza and talked to Hope on the phone until it was time to head for San Francisco. Since I was going to be getting there quite a bit earlier than originally planned, I tossed around the idea of getting a hotel. A couple of quick calls on arrival told me that was not going to happen. A vacant hotel room near the airport on a Saturday night in San Francisco? hah
So I got my luggage and looked for a place to settle in for the night. I found a little restaurant area that had a Subway and a coffee shop (which was closed) and lots of empty tables. I noticed some people had made themselves at home in the booths and I followed suit. I took advantage of the wireless internet to go through wedding photos and post them on Facebook, and managed to sleep for maybe two hours in a rather uncomfortable position. I found myself feeling VERY cold all night! They keep the air conditioner in airports and on planes unreasonably high, especially for those of us now acclimatized to tropical countries. The coffee shop opened at 4:30 am and I was up.
I made my way to the international terminal and bummed around for awhile, before checking in as early as I could to get rid of my suitcases. I bought an overpriced (but rather nice) hoodie from a shop (which I was thankful for on the frigid airplane) and decided to go through security early. Good thing I did. I should have known better than to complain about my experience on the way in. Trying to be a polite and friendly traveler I gave a half smile and a good morning to the lady at the beginning of the security gate, to which she promptly responded by flagging me for extra security. It was obvious she got some kind of sadistic joy from doing so. So began a process that took almost 30 minutes. I had to go through a machine that blows air at you (i guess to search for detonation devices) then had all my luggage hand checked and swabbed for explosives. To add insult to injury, I opened my bag upon arrival in Taiwan to find it, too, had been inspected... you'd think they'd mix it up a bit in order to screen as many people as possible. Anyways, I didn't enjoy the process at all, it made me feel like a criminal or something... but at the end the guy thanked me for my patience, so hopefully my distaste for the whole process didn't display itself on my face. In my opinion, if there's really anything that dire that they couldn't find with just their machines (like if it's really likely that bombs and detonation devices are getting through the x-ray etc) then they should be checking EVERYONE with the same care. Otherwise it seems a little pointless that I'm being examined with a fine tooth comb while the "bad guys" are walking through. ... end of rant...

so ANYWAYS after making it through security I really didn't have that much time to look around so I headed for the gate after buying my last Diet Dr. Pepper for a few months at least. I took a couple of sleeping pills just before boarding, since I didn't want to repeat my up-for-30-hours experience on the way there, and they worked quite well, I slept for the hour we sat on the plane waiting to take off (another delayed flight) and another hour after that. I tried to watch the same movie twice but fell asleep in the first five minutes. Too bad, I actually really wanted to see it. I figure I slept at least 6 hours out of the 11. Had really friendly flight attendants and two Taiwanese ladies beside me who couldn't speak English. They were really surprised that I could speak Chinese, but it was good since i ended up helping them order food/drinks. I made it through customs without a problem and started the 2ish hour journey home, first to the train station then to a taxi back to Yilan where I met a girl who was going to Guatemala the next day! Unpacked, got some more sleep, and got up to take the train to class this morning. It went by really fast, and the kids are really great. Speaking of class, I've got a few more preparations to make for tomorrow...catch you later!

Monday, August 13, 2007


The wedding was wonderful! Weddings do tend to be, but I think it was a really great day. Things were a little tense in the morning but in the afternoon everyone was just mellow and quiet. Us girls got ready at Johanna's parents' house which filled up just before the ceremony. I posted more info and pictures on facebook, which you can view here.

This was my first time as maid of honor, and I could see the difference in level of responsibility (and amount of stuff in my purse). It was a lot of fun though, and sooo exciting to see my ex-roomie marrying a great guy. Jo's dress was gorgeous, though a bit of a pain getting her into it, there were these little white plastic snaps that did NOT want to stay done up, and the bustle broke about 10 minutes after we'd put it up....sigh....just unnecessary stress for the bride. the ceremony was lovely and i got a little misty, but managed not to cry until the very end when i said goodbye for the last time before they left.

The reception was nice, I forgot to print off my speech, but remembered more or less what I wanted to say. Here's what I wrote out before:

When I asked Johanna to be my roommate at the end of third year, I didn’t know her well, but thought she seemed mature, kind and godly. It wasn’t long after we started living together before I discovered that she was all of that and more. We really clicked and as we got to know each other we started talking, and talking more and more, and more. We’d go for walks, talk in the bathroom, and talk on msn when we were sitting in the same room. I came to learn that she was also smart, funny, accepting, considerate and compassionate. We really seemed to understand each other and became much more than just two women who shared a room. We drank lots of tea that year and shared experiences and stories. We took a class together, Peter Mitchell’s cults class, where the highlight was the day where the prof cracked a joke and Johanna laughed with her characteristic snort, which came at the exact moment everyone else in the room had stopped laughing.

We talked about boys a lot, as most 20 year old girls tend to do, and soon evolved a tradition of “FH” stories. As marriage minded bible college students of course any guy worthy of our attention must certainly fall under the category of a potential “future husband” We shared daily FH stories and spent more time than necessary lamenting to the tunes of Norah Jones about the mysteries of the male mind.

It’s been a long time since then, but I’m ecstatic that Johanna has finally found her “FH” and that he is certainly worthy of my dear Jo’s affections. She had more than her share of suitors over the years, perhaps attracted by her beauty or her cookie baking skills, but I’m so happy that she has found in Nolan both a best friend and the love of her life.

We’ve somehow managed to keep in touch since I graduated from Briercrest even though there’s been an ocean separating us and I’ve been so excited to see Johanna and Nolan’s relationship unfold and become the wonderful thing it is today. A few people have said to me “wow, you came all the way from Taiwan for this wedding!” but really, it is MY honor to stand beside the two of you today.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

there's something wrong with this...

Before 1998, West Edmonton Mall owned more submarines than the Canadian Navy.

Updating from the San Francisco airport, expect more ramblings in the next 14 hours.... as well as wedding pictures!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

In Ontario

Well hello everyone from chilly Ontario. Actually I think I'm the only one who finds it chilly, probably lack of acclimatization from Taiwan! I arrived here on Tuesday morning and have been hanging out with Jo and her family as well as Nolan and the rest of the wedding party. So far things have been going well and we've managed to have a little fun among all the wedding planning-ish stuff. They're getting married tomorrow (Friday) evening, so just a short time left. Today we're having a fun day including a bachelor/bachelorette party (going to some kind of amusement park, then out for mexican and back here for a bonfire). The wedding rehearsal was last night and went pretty smoothly. When the pastor asked for my address for the marriage license I wasn't sure what to tell him! Actually this was the second time this trip I needed my parents' street address which I couldn't produce. I wrote my Taiwan address down for him. The lady at Canada customs was a little suspicious:
"This is your address in Canada?"
"Yes, well it's my parents address."
"And you don't know the house number or street name?"
"Uh no, I don't"
"Well I've been living in Taiwan for the past three years and they moved while I was there, I've actually only been to that house twice, and their mailing address is a PO box, so no, I haven't actually committed the address to memory"

anyways, the most amusing moment of the wedding rehearsal was when it was just about time for Johanna and her dad to walk down the stairs toward the guests (the wedding is being held outdoors at a golf club) and as we all looked toward their direction, there were two teenage boys who'd decided to come down the stairs right in front of them.

Anyhow, I'll post again after the wedding unless I happen to be up before everyone else again, I was going to try and post some pictures, but they don't want to upload today so you'll have to wait, or check out my facebook if you have it!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hangin with Hopie

So I finally made it to Indianapolis at 11:30pm on Friday night. It was lovely to get some sleep and I'm not too jetlagged so far. I've been gorging myself on good food and spending lots of money... you know a typical visit to North America for most expats. Only a couple more days here so i'm not going to waste precious Hope time blogging, but here's a picture! Aren't we cute?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

here we go a-travelin'

I'm writing from the Chicago airport, it's 7:50 local time, and already getting toward 9am Taiwan time. I got up at 6:30am YESTERDAY... so I've been up for going on 27 hours. I had a really hard time sleeping on the plane since we left at noon, it's been a wierd trip.
Taipei to San Francisco was ok, i've noticed how the big, long, far flights tend to go much smoother than the short local reigional small flights...why is that?
I arrived in San Francisco and went through US airport security for the first time since 2004.... i felt like we practically had to strip down. Shoes off, belts off, anything metal of course, then any liquids and gels out of your bag in their own bag (lost a perfectly good toothpaste today btw) and laptops out of their cases in a separate box. So each person going through is literally peeling off their items and filling 2-4 boxes full of all their stuff. Even sweaters with no buttons, zippers, or pockets had to come off... I guess it is for our safety and all, but it seemed (just a little) ridiculous.
ANYWAYS when I got to my gate I discovered the flight was delayed, which would cause me to miss my connecting flight. I went to customer service and got booked on a later flight, then went to contact Hope's family, only to realize I couldnt' find her parents' number anywhere! Stupidness! So after trying a number of methods i finally broke down and paid for wireless internet access, which is not so bad, and have been sending Hope text messages via skype. Since she has no way to contact me (and i couldn't get through when i tried to use a payphone to call her) I guess I'll find out if she got then when I finally arrive in Indianapolis. OH YEAH and this flight was delayed too, so i'll be arriving about 3 hours after my original arrival time.... sigh.... i'm taking it pretty good at the moment. i read in the news that if you're up for more than 18 hours it's the equivalent of being drunk... welllllll maybe that's why i'm feeling a little happy right now, just me and the leprechauns here at gate C6 in O'Hare airport.