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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Reconnecting

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which gives value to survival." 
~ C.S. Lewis

One of the things that I appreciate most about the weekends this year is that they are a time for friends to gather and spend time with each other. The past couple of weekends friends who we don't see as often or haven't seen for awhile due to work or school have been able to join us as well. :) 

Some silly pictures after church Sunday. :)
Picture courtesy of Erin.
I am thankful for the encouragement of friends, both old and new, near and far! 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Easter at School 2017

"While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!" 
Luke 24:4-6

This has been a week of celebration! The school is celebrating it's 50th year. Even more importantly, we've been celebrating Easter with the students. 


Tuesday kicked off the Easter celebrations with the Kindergarten Easter festivities. In the morning, K1 through K3 students and teachers gathered in the kindergarten gym for an opening, which mostly consisted of singing songs and saying "Happy Easter!" Although, when asked "Why do we celebrate Easter? Jesus is..." Many of the students could supply the answer, "ALIVE!" After the opening, each of the nine classes went to various stations: story (the story of Holy Week told using Resurrection Eggs and pictures), dying Easter eggs, and a game. I was at the K3 story station. The kids really enjoyed opening the Easter eggs to see what part of the story would be revealed next. The empty egg caught many of them by surprise. When I explained that the egg was empty because on Easter the tomb, or grave, was empty, many of the students cheerfully cried out, "Jesus is alive!" My favorite response though was when one of the students actually started clapping for Jesus, and his classmates joined in. :) 


Students participating in the 30 Hour Famine
Wednesday there was a whole slew of activities going on both in the elementary programs and also at the middle and high school. The 30 Hour Famine activity had started for those participating (There's an article in Chinese about it here), so over lunch there was a program of entertainment and activities. It included performances from teachers and classmates, an auction of small items to raise money for one of the mission projects, and a short video about famine in the world. In the afternoon, the elementary school students had their Easter activities, which for many included dying eggs and hearing/watching (a video about) the Easter story. 

Some of the K3 students drumming with the principal at the opening

Dying Easter eggs (It's hard to see the eggs' color in these photos)



Thursday night the O.S.F. students had a chance to dye eggs and hear the Easter story, along with learning a bit about some different Easter traditions. There were about 42 students who came. They were divided into two groups, with one group dying eggs while the other heard the story and then switching. I was in the kitchen with the eggs, and Mindy led the story section over in the religion department. This year, drawing pictures on the eggs wasn't very popular. Most of the students went straight to dying them. Their eggs turned out nicely! But that meant that dying eggs didn't take very long. Overall though, the students seemed to have a good time. :) 






It's a lot of fun sharing the tradition of dying eggs with the students! The eggs can remind us of the new life we have through Jesus because of His death on the cross and His rising from the dead three days later. Jesus is alive! 他真的復活了!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

And Immediately a Rooster Crowed

I'm always looking for new ways to introduce Bible stories to my students. My CE3 students have been starting to look at the Holy Week stories: the Last Supper, Peter Denying Jesus. (We'll get to more of them, they'll just come slightly after Easter itself). This week's story was the later of the two. These particular groups of students seem to really enjoy drawing, so I thought, Why not make it into a comic strip of sorts? I typed up a simplified version of the story, one that I thought they could actually read and understand, especially because part of this class is supposed to be reading. And before class, I tried to figure out what I would draw to illustrate each section, so that I could give them some ideas, although I told them they were free to draw something different than I did, as long as it pertained to the text. Although it took longer than I'd expected, I was really pleased with the results. The students were able to read and understand it. They gasped in surprise when Peter denied Jesus, not once, not twice, but three times, especially since earlier Peter had claimed that he would die before running away in the face of difficulty for Jesus. One boy even exclaimed, "This is so many times!" "Three's an important number in the Bible," I answered, "And, it'll come back later." And they took their time with the drawings, really putting effort into it.

Working on illustrating the comics, reading as we went along


In color!



As I told the students last week, this really isn't the end of the story. All of these stories leading up to Easter, yes they are events by themselves, but ultimately, they are leading up to Easter. Next week we're going to be dying Easter eggs (which all of the students are really excited about!) and talking about the Easter story: how Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again three days later. Because of Jesus and Easter one day we too can be with God.

My Brother's Visit - A Glimpse at Taiwan

My youngest brother had a chance to visit me here in Taiwan this past week. It was his first international trip, and for as long as the flight is, he wasn't here for a long time - just under a week. Tomb Sweeping and Children's Day, which always fall close together, were both this week, so we had a long weekend at school (Monday and Tuesday off, and we don't even have to make them up!) which gave us a bit more flexibility with what we could do and when we could do them. Instead of doing one big trip somewhere on the island, we did two separate day trips, with time in 嘉義 (Chaiyi)/民雄 (Minhsiung) on days in between. Here were some of the highlights.

Around 嘉義 (Chaiyi)... My brother was able to see the school that I work at. He met many of my friends. We visited a night market, and he tried 臭豆腐 (stinky tofu) and squid. We also were able to go on one of my favorite approx. 10 mile bike rides through the fields surrounding 民雄 (Minhsiung). It takes you past rice paddies and pineapple fields. There's a big carrier pigeon house. And I just really enjoy the variety of views as you bike along.

Rice paddies and hints of the mountains in the background

Pineapples! 


高雄 (Kaohsiung), which is about a two hour train ride south of where I live, is probably my favorite city in Taiwan. My brother had wanted to see the sea, and I ruled out 墾丁(Kenting) a) because it's farther away and sort of a difficult day trip and b) because Spring Scream was this past weekend, so 高雄 seemed like a good place to go as it, too, has a beach. A friend who had met us there, my brother, and I took the ferry over to 旗津島 (Cijin Island). There we walked up to the lighthouse and nearby fort, and eventually made it over to the beach. It's a black sand beach. Both my friend and my brother decided to stick their feet in the sea and test out the water. They said it was pretty nice! On the way back to the ferry, my brother tried another Taiwanese street food: tiny snails that you suck out of their shells to eat. He wasn't overly impressed.

The view of 高雄 from the lighthouse

Asking about getting some snails to try

His last day in Taiwan was spent up in 台北 (Taipei), Taiwan's capital city. The weather up in 台北 was beautiful that day! The sun was shinning (it might have actually been hotter than in 嘉義)! The sky was blue. The mountains were beautiful. It was just perfect! I had Google-d directions to get to 象山 (Elephant Mountain) for some time now, since my brother enjoys outdoorsy stuff and I've always wanted to hike up and see the view of the city. The blog post I found said that we could walk from 101, so we did. And it was only about a ten minute or so walk, which was fine. There was a bend in the road where there were stairs ahead or the road curved to the right. My brother and I had stopped to debate which way we were supposed to go, and a kind Taiwanese vendor selling drinks motioned to us that we wanted to continue up the road. The steps leading up were just ahead. "Sweet revenge!" my brother said good naturedly, when he saw all the stairs. I'm the biker; he's the stair master. :) I hadn't realized how many trails are actually up there. We still had to check into our hostel, so we didn't have a chance to explore most of them, but it was a nice hike up and then back down. I did feel bad for the dachshund I saw that someone was trying to get to do all those stairs, especially since half of them were steeper than the poor animal's legs. After checking into our hotel, we also stopped by the 中正紀念館 (Chiang Kai Shek Memorial), and it was even timed so that we were able to see the last changing of the guard of the day. It still makes me smile that color guards, and sometimes marching bands, will set up yard line markers in the open space in front of the Memorial and between the two theaters in order to practice drill. After that we also visited 101 and ate some ice cream.

The view of the city from 象山

Taipei 101

Looking out from the 中正紀念館
It was really nice having him visit!