Friday, April 17, 2015

God's Love Remains: The Story of Jonah

For O.S.F. last night, we looked at the story of Jonah. And we did this in a variety of ways.

Watching the video
First, the kids watched a short LEGO video telling the story of Jonah. The sound wasn't perfectly balanced, and sometimes the dialogue was hard to hear over the music that was playing, but it got the main points of the story across. After watching, I asked the kids what they remembered. Answers included: A man was eaten by a fish. He went to a city. [There was a] Pirate ship. And this allowed us to discuss a little about why these things happened in the movie. Why was Jonah eaten by a fish? How long was he in the fish? Which city? Why was he supposed to go there? Why was he on a boat?

Then, as a group we read through "A Whale of a Tale", a skit by Bob Latchaw. I divided the students into groups of two to five kids, so that no one was stuck reading by themselves. And then we started. The narrators did a great job reading! So did one of my Jonah boys. As we read, we stopped to talk about what was happening in the story. But all in all, they did well. After reading as a group, we tried reading through it with one or two kids on each part, and when it was their turn to speak, they'd stand up.

Jonah and the sailors

Our narrators.
Once we'd finished reading and discussing the skit, we listened to "One Thing Remains" by Jesus Culture. We talked about how God loves us and is compassionate.

We ended with snack, and then the kids were free to return to their dorms. It's been great this year to see so many faces at O.S.F. They're a good group of kids always willing to participate. I'm thankful to be a part of the group!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Why Do We Celebrate Easter?

Why do we celebrate Easter? 

(or... in the cases of multiple days/classes this week the even simpler question of: What are we celebrating today?)

This has been a question that I've asked a lot this week as we've been celebrating Easter with our students at school. No. Easter isn't a Taiwanese holiday. It's viewed as an American holiday and therefore a fun way to share American culture. But it's also a great way to share some very good news!

This week K1, K3, E1, CE5, CE6, and E6 have all had their Easter festivities. The kindergarteners dyed Easter eggs, participated in an Easter egg hunt, and had a craft. E1 talked about the Easter Bible story as well as all the aforementioned activities. And CE5, CE6, and E6 dyed Easter eggs along with reading the Easter story and watching an Easter movie. In E6 we were also able to talk a little bit about how Jerusalem is a real place - the temple, the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane. These are all places you can visit. It makes the story more tangible.

So, sure it's fun. And yes, Easter is a "traditional American holiday." But why do we celebrate Easter?

Well, my younger students had a variety of answers:


Well, yes. Candy is involved. In the States we often have Easter baskets or eggs filled with chocolate and jelly beans.


Students knew that they'd be dying eggs. They were also familiar with Easter egg hunts. So surely eggs must be the reason we celebrate.

"Jesus died!" 

That's half of the answer. 

One of my first graders, after saying Jesus died and seeing from the look on my face that he was close, but now quite there added, "And three more days and He [Jesus] was okay."

It's no real surprise to me that my younger students don't really understand why Easter is a holiday. I wonder if I were to ask American children the same question if their answers would be all that different. But it was nice to be able to share the real reason we have Easter as well. Jesus is risen!

Jesus, God's Son, was born at Christmas (another holiday that here in Taiwan is recognized for things like Santa, trees, and presents, but not so much as Jesus' birthday). He lived perfectly - which we can't do. He died for our sins on the cross. Because of that we have a direct line to God now. Being God's Son though, Jesus didn't stay dead. He conquered death for us. Three days after being put in the tomb, Jesus was alive again! And He'd go on to ascend into heaven to prepare a place for all those who believe in Him. That's the reason we celebrate Easter. Through Jesus all of us have new life.

Some of the CE6 girls coloring on their eggs before dying them.

Interestingly enough, yellow and red were very popular colors this year!

Some of the finished CE6 eggs

Dying eggs with the CE5 students

Some of my K1 students drawing on their eggs before dying them

Dying their eggs!

E6 students dying their eggs

Their finished products

"The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay." Matthew 28:5-6

天 使 對 婦 女 說 : 不 要 害 怕 ! 我 知 道 你 們 是 尋 找 那 釘 十 字 架 的 耶 穌 。 他 不 在 這 裡 , 照 他 所 說 的 , 已 經 復 活 了 。 你 們 來 看 安 放 主 的 地 方 。馬 太 福 音 28:5-6

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dying Eggs with the K3 Students

Setting up before the opening ceremony.
This year Easter is being organized a little differently in the kindergarten. Instead of all the classes coming together for one big Easter celebration, each of the levels (with Pre-K and K1 making up one tier) are having their own mornings of Easter activities. Today was K3's turn.

All three of the classes (Ladybug, Butterfly, and Bee) met on the kindergarten playground for a short opening. We sang songs like Allelu, and Jumping Up and Down. The kids have so much fun bobbing up and down as it's their turn to sing. :) We talked about why we celebrate Easter - that Jesus had risen from the dead! And we had a short prayer. Then each of the classes rotated through three activities: egg dying, an Easter egg hunt, and a craft (where they made little clothespin butterfly magnets).

I was helping Tracy at the egg dying station. When the kiddos arrived, one of us would explain that there were four colors of dye. Each student would get one egg. They could color or draw on it, and then bring it up to one of the two tables to dye it. The kids did a really good job! And as a result there were some beautiful eggs!

Coloring their eggs

Yellow was a surprisingly popular color this year!

Class two is here for the fun!

Putting their eggs on a stand to dry.

The final products. :)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

他真的復活 - 復活節星期天在嘉義 (He is Risen: Easter Sunday in Taiwan)

I've always loved Easter Sunday. Coming off the somberness of Holy Week with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday the light and joy of Easter always seemed twice as great. Growing up I always looked forward to the brass playing at church, the victorious hymns, the brightness of the white lilies and knowing that Jesus had indeed risen. Every church has their own traditions for celebrating Easter, so here in Chaiyi not everything is exactly the same as it was in my church growing up, but there are still many common threads. And this year is unique in that Tomb Sweeping day happens to fall on Easter Sunday.

Can you spot the egg in the umbrella bin?
One of the traditional activities here is an Easter egg hunt for the neighborhood children (most of whom hear about it because they attend Saturday school) which is held after the service. The pastor's wife had called me yesterday to ask if I'd help to hide the eggs, so I arrived to church early (some things never change) to hide forty plastic eggs. Inside each egg was a slip of paper which correlated to a prize when the child handed in the egg. The eggs were hidden through out the first floor classrooms and then directly outside the front door. I'm not too sneaky with my hiding.

Then there is the service itself. No trumpets or trombones at the service here, but the music is no less joyful. One of my favorite Easter hymns is "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" and we still sing that here. This year there weren't any Easter lilies perfuming the sanctuary, which was simultaneously strange and a relief (I'm terribly allergic to Easter lilies), but there were still some beautiful flowers. We had a guest preacher with us to deliver the sermon today, a fellow missionary from elsewhere in Asia. And at the end of the service the Saturday School kids performed a short rhyme with actions sharing the Easter story. Two of the older kids had microphones and the major speaking parts, while the younger kids had an echo part and actions. By having the Saturday school kids involved in the service families that often aren't usually in church are there. Many of them are from the neighborhood around church. It's a great outreach tool. The service still acts as special celebration of Jesus defeating death and rising triumphant over the grave!

Reading the Easter story in Chinese and English together

Saturday School kids

Opening their eggs
After the service the kids ran down the stairs to start finding the hidden eggs. They'd been told to start with three each, but then they could find more after everyone had at least three. Then they'd take their eggs to the Pastor's wife exchanging them for a small prize, like stickers or bubble solution, etc. Meanwhile, the adults were lining up for the Easter lunch. A few of the members had put together a lunch of traditional spring roll fixings (Traditional Tomb Sweeping food), fruit, hard boiled eggs, and then a couple of the American teachers made hot cross buns and a few other baked goods.

Hard boiled eggs decorated for Easter

All the fixings for making spring rolls

"The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay." Matthew 28:5-6

天 使 對 婦 女 說 : 不 要 害 怕 ! 我 知 道 你 們 是 尋 找 那 釘 十 字 架 的 耶 穌 。 他 不 在 這 裡 , 照 他 所 說 的 , 已 經 復 活 了 。 你 們 來 看 安 放 主 的 地 方 。馬 太 福 音 28:5-6