Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!


As you can maybe guess from my blog recently, most of my time lately has been spent teaching, preparing for lessons, and grading... Sorry for my lack of updating.
I wore a witch (or fairy) hat to class today in honor of Halloween, and just to do something fun. Most students were all trying to conceal their smiles at my silly antics, though a few complimented my fashion choice. As I walked across the campus to go home after class I got more stares and attention than usual by far. A lot more students bravely said hello as well. I guess this could be some kind of sociological experiment, like how outward appearance relates to socialization or some such thing.. anyways, Happy Halloween to all of you out there, and to those in North America, eat a couple of Reese's Pieces for me!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

kids say the darndest things...

Here are some amusing responses from a test I gave recently after finishing a unit on recreation and entertainment.

Q: Which do you prefer, playing basketball or swimming?

Basketball because I can't swim.

I prefer playing basketball because I'm too short, and I need to jump to make me taller.

I prefer swimming because basketball is too exciting to my heart.

Because basketball is much easier than swimming and I don't like to wear that stupid swimming hat!

Which do you prefer, watching a movie or watching TV?

Watching TV, because I can stay at home.

and the next question from the same paper....

Which do you prefer, going out or staying home?
Staying home because I can watch TV.

and another:

Staying home because you have to dress up before you go out, that's too unnecessary for a lazy guy.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Correlation between time of day and student behavior

Ok now that I sound all academic, here's a little slice of my day... notes from the 5 high school classes I taught today

11:00 am Students arrive before me and have designated someone to retrieve the key, unlock the classroom and turn the lights on. Students are quite attentive but start to lose focus as lunch draws nearer.

1:15 pm Students are obviously still groggy from their afternoon nap. Regular greetings get little to no response. Icebreaker has moderate effect on class energy level once students manage to get up out of their seats.

2:15 pm Students answer greetings with grunts vaguely resembling language, but appear slightly more alert than the previous class except for two sleepers. Have brought energy to acceptable levels by the end of class.

3:15 pm Chatting giggling girls arrive five minutes before the class ready to engage, and asking to turn on the air conditioner since they just had P.E. Students jump right into class and move through activities faster than previous two classes.

4:30 pm Students arrive late because of school-wide dancing session during the break, which has a similar effect as the P.E. class though its benefits do not last as long. The almost-time-to-go-home lull sets in by the halfway point.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

3 years and still smilin!

It has officially been 3 years since I arrived on this rock called Taiwan. This picture is from one of our first weeks in Yuli. I remember all the hopes and fears and perspectives I had as I just arrived here. I remember that everything was new and exciting and a little surreal.
Now when I use the word "home" I'm often talking about Taiwan. I'm sure I've changed a lot, I've certainly learned a lot. My Chinese is far from "wo jyao Oh Tsai Lin" now.
If you want to take a trip down memory lane with me click on "The Arriving" on the right side of this page to read some of my impressions on arriving here!

A couple of excerpts:
....the traffic wasn't as bad as it was in Brazil! Not to say it isn't scary to cross the street! The walk lights have this little green running man who runs faster when the light is going to change. It's really cute actually.

....i discovered that you can buy almost anything on a stick, from chocolate covered bananas to squid!

This evening, we went to the night market.... basically a lot of narrow streets lined with shops and filled with throngs of people. It’s almost reminiscent of a mosh pit, an impression which is aided by the music coming out of the stores! It is really hard to get used to being that close to that many people, or even seeing that many people in one place at once!


So many people have been asking me.... how long am I going to stay in Taiwan anyways??
Well, after three years, I guess the answer is "Only God knows"
There's a saying here that the soil in Taiwan is sticky, and that's certainly been true for me.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Wedding



Our new assistant pastor got married this weekend. He's Taiwanese, and his wife is Korean. It wasn't as western as the other weddings I've attended here in Taiwan, though still "Christian" so not completely traditional.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

One Year Ago...

Last year on 10/10 I broke my leg, having surgery the next day. Today I'm thankful that I can walk, ride a bike, and go about a normal life (well, you know, as normal as it ever is). Thank you, Lord, for healing me, for helping me grow through this experience, and for protecting me from an even worse injury.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Aftermath

The sky this morning after the typhoon was gone.

Well I'd have to say this typhoon was the biggest one I've experienced so far since I've been here. Maybe because of the layout of the apartment, maybe because the typhoon hovered over Yilan before making a circle over Hualian then heading west. This meant that the strength of the typhoon hovered over us for about an hour. With winds almost 300km per hour, I was certain during some gusts that my windows were going to shatter. Since I have the balcony on one side of my apartment, and the sliding glass doors opening into the courtyard of the building on the other end, there was a lot of rattling as the wind seemed to be coming from both sides.


At about 3:00pm our building was plunged into darkness. I was hoping it would come back on quickly, but after about a hour decided to light some candles and dig out the flashlight. Good thing I did, because the power didn't come back on last night. I didn't even come back on this morning. It seems like it was out for around 18 hours but I went to church this morning (the typhoon had moved away from us by then) and when I came home around 2:00pm, the lights were back on. But spending a whole afternoon/evening in the dark wasn't so fun.




All around town there were signs that this typhoon had indeed left its mark on the city.

Some more permanent than others.


Signs and trees were down all over the place. Another good reason to stay inside during a typhoon, no matter how tempting a 7-11 run might be. This was NOT one of the "fun" typhoons!




Friday, October 05, 2007

The big one...


Typhoon Krosa is on its way to Taiwan as a category 4 storm. I was going to put some kind of adjective in there, but I've been noticing lately that the news overuses these descriptives to create panic about hurricanes and typhoons, so i won't call it a monsterous, deadly, severe, catastrophic etc. etc. but it is a pretty big storm. I ended up leaving Taipei early this afternoon so I could beat it back to Yilan and get my house ready before the heavy rains began. The view from the train was amazing as some of the largest waves I've seen in a long time crashed against the coast along the way to my town.
I think I'm almost ready for whatever this typhoon will throw at us this weekend.
Clothes brought in from the line and windows closed...check
Groceries, extra water, and non-perishables purchased (including tuna, bread, fruit and instant noodles)...check
Videos rented (will be watching High School Musical, The Bridge to Terabithia, and Deja Vu depending on how long i'm stuck inside and as long as we don't lose power)...check
Batteries recharged and ready to go....
Come on storm, do your worst! Or please maybe don't....

Question for any readers who feel like a more interACTIVE experience....
If you had to ride out a big storm (like a typhoon and hurricane) what is one thing you'd be sure to stock up on (either a necessity or a luxury)?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Clean Bill of Health


Next Wednesday will be the one year mark of my fall that resulted in a broken leg. I went to the doctor last night for an x-ray and my doctor was glowing. He said "congratulations" and brought out the old x-ray to compare. Where there had been a piece of bone jutting way out from the rest, it has now moved back in and filled in nicely. He said that it was healing "even better than expected"! Needless to say, I'm really happy about that!
The next step for me will be getting the rest of the hardware out, which to date is a metal plate and 8 more screws. The doctor said I should get them out anywhere between 3 months and 1 year from now, but not to wait too long. I'm certainly NOT looking forward to the prospect of another surgery, or being reintroduced to my crutches, so I'll have to carefully consider the timing. There's really never a GOOD time to have surgery.
Anyhow, that's the latest!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Well, it's back to the routine, another week of classes and comings and goings. I read this today in My Utmost for His Highest, and thought it would be a fitting post to follow the pictures below.

We have all experienced times of exaltation on the mountain, when we have seen things from God’s perspective and have wanted to stay there. But God will never allow us to stay there. The true test of our spiritual life is in exhibiting the power to descend from the mountain. If we only have the power to go up, something is wrong. It is a wonderful thing to be on the mountain with God, but a person only gets there so that he may later go down and lift up the demon-possessed people in the valley (see Mark 9:14-18 ). We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life— those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength.