Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy 70th LYGS!

Last week was one of my school's 70th anniversary. They have an annual "Garden Party" or school fair, but this one was especially big, since it was 70 years.

I spend much of Sunday afternoon there talking with students and eating a lot!

You see, each class sets up a stand and sells 2-4 products, which you purchase with tickets you buy when you arrive.

I ended up spending about NT$300 dollars there since I have 10 regular classes at the school. It was fun to see the students' creative designs, costumes, and sales tactics!

Some of the classes also sold products designed by them, like buttons or little mirrors or notebooks with drawings by students.

They also had a school-wide talent show which went on all day, so there were a variety of performers singing or dancing on a main central stage. Each class also designed its own t-shirt, I wonder if I can get any? hmmm

Here are some students from one of my favorite classes. (I know you're not supposed to have favorites, but this is the only class I've taught for 2 years, all the other classes I've only been teaching since September.)

I've had a great "Birthday week" this week, and I'm going up the Maokong cable cars with some friends this afternoon. More details and pictures from this week coming soon!

Monday, April 21, 2008

What a week!

Well I managed to get through the rest of the week without any other scary things happening, but that doesn't mean it was uneventful....
but things are rarely uneventful when there's wedding involved.

Not MY wedding of course, but one of the girls I stay (stayed) with in Taipei got married this past Saturday! It was a lovely day, and I got some nice pictures of the happy couple. (See below)
But today's blog entry is about the night BEFORE the wedding! Here's what happened:
One of the bridesmaids was staying at our house for the night since it was a morning wedding and hair appointments started at 6am. For some reason unknown to man she had gotten some dental work done earlier that day, and arrived at our house really late, and not a little uncomfortable. Our other roommate (also a bridesmaid) gave her some medication for the pain. The bride took a sleeping pill so she'd be fresh for the big day. I came home from doing my nails at another friend's house and got ready for bed. A short time later, I heard some sniffling outside my door. I thought someone was crying, so I went out to investigate, and it turned out to be the bridesmaid who had taken the medicine, sneezing, blowing her nose and wiping her watery, swollen eyes. She was having an allergic reaction! It got worse and worse and her eyes were almost swollen shut. The girl who had given her the medicine felt awful and we were both really worried. But she assured us that she has a lot of allergies (might've mentioned that when you were being given the painkillers), and that it would probably go down in 4-5 hours... but she was going to be in a wedding in 4-5 hours!! So we convinced her to go to the hospital. Since she could barely see, her eyes were so swollen, I agreed to take her. Also because the other bridesmaid needed to pick up the parents of the bride at some crazy early hour! I was thinking we'd go to the ER, get her a cortisone shot or some medicine and come home to bed. We got to the hospital about 12:30am. After some waiting, a blood test, and more waiting, they finally put her on an IV drip. Around 3, I went on a 7-11 run for both of us. Actually we had a really nice chat, and she's a super sweet girl. But the circumstances were not the best haha! She took it well though, she kept making jokes that she looked like an alien or like Garfield (which she kinda did...)
Around 3:30am a group of guys came in all bloody from what I guessed was a bar fight. It was a little scary, and as the police were questioning one of the guys he made a run for it. Added some excitement to the evening.... by the way I think I've mentioned before that in most Taiwanese hospitals, the emergency room, waiting room, and treatment area are all one and the same. So I was next to her bed, which was more or less in the hallway and part of a long row of beds.
By 4am I started to lose it a little, and I must confess, started having some very selfish thoughts of being in my bed asleep... but in the end I knew I wouldn't want to be alone if it were me. Plus I didn't want us to have to pay for 2 taxis back to the house. But things got a little annoying, because her IV drip finished, but we couldn't get ANYONE to come look at it. We kept telling nurses and asking the doctor to come, but ended up waiting about 45 minutes! there were tears on my part, but I finally went back to the nurses office and said that we needed to see the doctor ASAP since the girl was in a wedding in the morning! The doctor finally came back and felt like the swelling hadn't gone down enough yet, and wanted to start ANOTHER IV.... (which would have been almost done by then if she had come right away when it ran out the first time grrr), I'm sure they had their reasons, but it was just really frustrating since there was no communication with us, we were just told to wait. We finally convinced the doctor to let us go, and got home by 5am! I only ended up getting about an hour and a half of sleep since people started waking up and coming and going from our house until about 5:30 when they left for hair and makeup appointments. But the poor bridesmaid didn't get any sleep! She wasn't able to wear any makeup on her eyes either... but the swelling went down quite a bit, and was pretty much back to normal by the reception.

The happy couple.
Beautiful ceremony.
They choreographed an adorable dance! It was so fun!

More dancing. Notice the change of dresses... kind of a tradition in Taiwan.

Me with my new friend (that was actually the first time we'd met! But nothing helps you get to know someone better than a midnight hospital trip!)

Oh yeah, and if that weren't enough I got a call about 5 minutes before I was supposed to leave for the bus (to go to the wedding) saying that the bride had forgotten her street clothes at the salon, and could I go pick them up? So I did and ended up speedwalking/running to the bus in my strapless dress and flip flops! What a morning!

My sister's getting married next August, and I'm the maid of honor... I guess this is all practice! By the time my turn comes around, I'll be a veteran!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Deliverer, He rescues me from all danger

On Monday night I was having some dinner and watching TV. My English Bible study started at 7:30 and my ride was going to come at 7. It was around 6:30 and I still had half an hour when I heard my doorbell ring. It was a little odd for 2 reasons:
First, it was the doorbell outside my door, not the downstairs buzzer. Second, I wasn't expecting anyone for another half an hour. The best I could guess was that it was my ride here early?

The moment I opened the door my stomach clenched in terror because the first thing I felt was a strong shove towards me from the other side. I saw that it was not one person, but two men standing there. All I could think was that this was a home invasion. I slammed the door shut and leaned against it as I struggled to lock it. I looked out the grate that faces out to the courtyard and elevators and saw the guys heading back toward the elevators, I yelled to them "Who are you?" and threatened to call the police. They said "Sorry" as the elevator door closed. I came back inside and realized my whole body was shaking. I tried to calm myself down. I wondered if maybe they had gone to the wrong apartment by mistake, and were just trying to scare their friends. But I couldn't erase the feeling of dread and the memory of my door being pushed open.

I called my ride and asked if they would come up to my door and walk me to their car.

I also slept with a light on that night.

I did tell the "security" lady downstairs (who only works 8-5) about what had happened and asked her to review the camera footage. She did some investigating for me, and found out that it had, indeed been friends of the people above me who had gone to the wrong floor. They passed on more apologies through her. It does give me some peace of mind to know that it was a mistake, but I have been double-checking my locks a lot this week.

By the way, guess what I was teaching about that evening?


It was like God knew what was going to happen to me that day, and had already prepared FAR in advance the very things I needed to hear to comfort me. In fact I had to teach and discuss them!
Here are some of the bible verses from the lesson that night:

Isaiah 8:11-13

11 With his great power the Lord warned me not to follow the road which the people were following. He said, 12 "Do not join in the schemes of the people and do not be afraid of the things that they fear. 13 Remember that I, the Lord Almighty, am holy; I am the one you must fear.

Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation; I will fear no one. The Lord protects me from all danger; I will never be afraid.

Isaiah 43:1

"Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine.

Psalm 23:4

Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me.

Romans 8:35, 37

35 Who, then, can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death?. . .37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us!

Psalm 118:6-7

The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid; what can anyone do to me?

One of the discussion questions, which students struggled with was:

Psalm 27:1 tells us, “The Lord protects me from all danger.” Does this mean nothing bad will ever happen to us?

And in light of my situation, what could I tell them?

But indeed God often keeps us from more serious danger, I could have forgotten to lock my door altogether, or suprised someone breaking in when I arrived home etc. They could have actually meant to harm me instead of coming to my door by mistake. In hindsight, attackers don't usually say "sorry" and true home invaders probably wouldn't choose to target a building with security cameras in the front entrance and elevators. But this experience really has given me a wake up call to be a little more aware of personal safety.

Leading a godly lifestyle also keeps you from some forms of danger because of situations you simply won't find yourself in. But even if something does happen, we can be certain that God knows about it. That he is aware, and never turns a blind eye to it.

I didn't write that evening's lesson. I chose the order of the topics back in January. But the Creator of the universe knew it was exactly what I would need to be reminded of on April 14, 2008.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Penging the Hu

My good friend Naomi and I had a lovely weekend getaway that started very, very early on Friday morning.

We went to Penghu, which is a set of islands off the west coast of Taiwan. It takes about 45 minutes to get there by plane from Taipei.

Because of available flight times we went at 6:30am on Friday morning and came back at 7:45am on Sunday. Two days was not enough to see all the islands had to offer, but we did get a great sampling!

The first day we were able to rent scooters, which we'd been a little doubtful about.
Here's how the conversation went:
"Do you have Taiwanese drivers' licenses?"
"How about an International Driving license?"
"Oh... well do you have a drivers' license in Canada?"
"No." (neither of us do by the way! I've found a kindred spirit!)
"Ok.. well just give us your passport number and we'll get those scooters ready for you."

We drove over 30km from one end of the "horseshoe" to the other. Covering 4 islands in all, the highway is connected by bridges. We stopped along the way to see some interesting things, and wandered through a little village. It took most of the day for us to go there and back, and one of the highlights was the "Western Fort" built by the French. It was really neat to explore! I'll have to get those pics later since Naomi took them on her camera.

We got back in time to scope out which beach would be best for sunset viewing, and headed over there just in time. It was really nice, and a great swimming beach, though I didn't swim, I regretted that later :(

Another cool place we saw the first day was the "Whale Cave" (above) where legend has it a whale jumped through the rocks. Not too far away was a mysterious sunken ship!

The funny thing was there was no sign or information, and the first person we asked didn't seem to have a clue it was there (a shop owner nearby), her answer was "Today is the first day this season we've been open, I don't know" funny thing is the ship looks like it's been there for quite a long time!

This is the eagle and the dragon. Congratulations if you can see either!

The second day we signed up for a boat tour of four more islands. We had a little miscommunication about what the tour was actually like, but did see some cool stuff on the islands, including the double heart built 300 years ago to catch fish but has now become a symbol of Penghu, rock formations apparently shaped like animals, and another traditional village.

The FUNNIEST thing about the tour was that on the first island we went to we had this really annoying tour guide who felt the need to single us out at every stop. We'd kinda look around on our own, and he'd yell through the loud speaker, "Hey, beautiful Canadian ladies, come over here so I can introduce this site." Meanwhile we're thinking we can't understand what you're saying ANYWAYS! But I guess he was really concerned that we would enjoy our tour....

hmm I'm already starting to forget all the funny things that happened to us! But all in all, it was a nice place, and I'd definitely like to go back again and try some water sports etc. For now, I'll just enjoy my souvenirs: a pearl necklace and cactus jam (one of many specialty food items available from Penghu).

You can see some more pics here.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Long Weekend!

I just got back from a fun weekend get-away in a place called PengHu with my friend Naomi. I've got fun stories and pictures to share soon!