Monday, April 26, 2010

Birthdays in Taiwan are fun!


Here are my two favorite birthday cards! It's technically not even my birthday yet, but this week has been filled with birthday fun! On Saturday, some of my friends from Taipei came down to Yilan for an eventful day of Thai food, going to the beach, running for trains, hot springs, and the night market.


On Sunday I had dinner with my awesome friends from church and a special guest - my former Yilan coworker Tony came back from Taipei with his family to join us for dinner! Tonight at Bible study we also celebrated birthdays from Jan-June with a cake and some no-bake peanut butter marshmallow squares I made. As for the real day... well I have class for most of it, but it's ok, I'll bring some cake for my students and try to do things a little more laid back. In the evening I'm going to celebrate with my Chinese teacher and her family, who last year made a Blue's Clues treasure hunt for me! I love how birthdays in Taiwan seem to last a whole week!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Passover

Last Tuesday was the second day of Passover, and Hope invited me to join in a celebration being held in Taipei. Since I've never experienced anything like it before, I thought it would be fun and interesting! I learned a lot. It has also really enriched my reflections during Passion week, especially reading about the Last Supper, where Jesus and his followers were actually eating a passover meal.
It was not a messianic service, but Hope did explain some of the symbols and how they relate. It started with a prayer meeting in a different room, and the rabbi sharing story after story. Then we proceeded down to the banquet room where each table was outfitted with the necessary things, including wine, matzah (unleavened biscuits), bitter herbs, and little books containing the liturgy and readings. The books were 126 pages long in Hebrew and English, and it seemed like we read every single page. Most of it was the rabbi reading at a rapid pace in Hebrew with us following along in English (in my case). Sometimes other people would read, or those that knew the songs would sing them. There were also times where we had to stop and all raise our wine glasses and drink.
The story of the Exodus was retold along with some other traditional stories, and readings from Psalms and other places. A lot of the food and symbolic actions are to remember the night of the passover, the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt, and the way God freed them. For example, the bitter herbs represent the bitterness of 400 years of slavery.
I think it is interesting that the Passover is so much about remembrance, and remembering what God has done, since Jesus also instructed his followers to do this "in remembrance of me". Freeing us from sin and death is an even greater miracle than when God freed the Israelites from Egypt.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Just when you think your Chinese is getting good...

well I had my test, and it was really tough! It was an hour of listening and an hour of reading. I didn't get the results yet, but the listening section was ok. The reading, on the other hand, was horrible! I actually guessed at about half the questions, and even ran out of time... I think I can identify with my students a little better now who are taking various English proficiency tests. But anyways, the test was free, and who knows, I may have done better than I thought ;)
My Chinese was dealt another blow when I arrived back in Yilan last weekend. Something was different. The bus was turning down a strange street. It was a huge, newly-built bus terminal that I didn't know existed. Yes, the bus I take twice a week changed routes, and I had absolutely NO idea! You think there would have been signs... well there probably were, but I have no recollection of seeing anything to that effect. At that point it was actually faster to walk home than to walk to where I had parked my scooter in the relative safety of the church. From now on, I have to park in the big scooter parking lot, and then extract my scooter when I get home. I promptly invested in a big tire lock. I have had two bicycles stolen from a similar parking lot..... Anyways, I was just kind of shaking my head at how such a huge move could have occurred without my awareness!