Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dinner and Music

Our Taiwanese friend, Lily, had invited Emily, Rachel, and myself to come and play some music at a local cafe/restaurant in the city. She'd set it up months ago, but last week when we tried to nail down some details, all we were told was, "Show up at 7pm. Pick three songs to put on a handout. Maybe play more?" Rachel and I both play piano, and Emily plays flute; we're all pretty competent singers. We were under the impression that our music was supposed to be some sort of outreach to the community, so we picked a combination of hymns and FNBS songs (two of each). And although we weren't certain of what to expect, the three of us were in front of the cafe/restaurant by 7pm Wednesday night.

Come to find out, we were just three of the ten guests who'd be in attendance, along with Lily, her husband, and their son Daniel. Altogether, we made thirteen. We headed inside, and the owner of the restaurant had to push four tables together to fit us all, but that's alright. The more the merrier. There was a keyboard, along with several saxophones, a trumpet, a flute, and a clarinet at the front of the place. There was also a retro-mint green box.

But, first, we ate. (I didn't know we'd be eating). It was a delicious meal! Very Taiwanese, not just in that there were copious quantities of a variety of family style dishes served, but the food itself was very Taiwanese. It included: cabbage with oysters, several different leafy, green veg dishes (one of which you can only find in the mountains of Taiwan), steamed fish, chicken, stuffed peppers, three huge meatballs (the house specialty), and a delicious soup to wash it all down with. Daniel and his friend, Benjamin, translated between conversations, seeing as everyone had varying degrees of English and Chinese in their language arsenals.

After we'd finished eating, David (Lily's husband) asked everyone to go around the table and introduce themselves. We were to state our name, hobbies, and a dream we have. Being that we were all a variety of ages and coming from a variety of backgrounds, it was interesting to hear what everyone had to say. And then it was time for music.

Lily had us start. So, I went to the keyboard and played some FNBS songs, while Rachel led the singing and helped with actions. Then Rachel and Emily played the hymns. One of David and Lily's co-worker's daughters also played flute, so she played a flute solo for us. Another of David and Lily's co-workers sings and knows Hakka (a traditional aboriginal language of Taiwan), so he performed a song in Hakka. Somehow, by this point, the owner had heard that I play drums, so he asked if he and I could improv together, with me playing the retro-mint green box, while he played saxophone. Then Emily and the other flutist sightread a hymn as a flute duet together. And finally, with Rachel on piano, Emily on flute, and me on the drum box, the three of us pseudo-sight read a hymn and performed together.

The owner and I jamming (photo courtesy of: Lily)

The three of us playing "Praise to the Lord the Almighty" (photo courtesy of: Lily)

Emily and the other flutist playing a hymn together.
It's been ages since I've had a chance to improv music with other musicians, so it was a lot of fun! Even though we went into the evening not really knowing what to expect, it turned out to be a huge blessing! And two hours later, we were well fed, and had enjoyed meeting some new people and playing some music.

Our whole group (photo courtesy of: Lily)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

God Makes All Things New

Today was the second American led J1 (seventh grade) chapel of the semester. This week the message is that God makes all things new. The theme verse was:

"Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new." 2 Cor. 5:17

As usual, we started with some songs. Since English may or may not actually be something that the students present can communicate in or completely understand, and it's early in the morning, the songs are usually action songs. That way the kids who want to sing can, and the rest can just follow along with the movements. Then we read the theme verse in both English and Chinese. Finally, it was time for the skit (I didn't actually take pictures this morning at chapel since I was in the skit, so the pictures are from the practice we had on Tuesday at the PH). It was a skit that some of the team members adapted for ESL.

Jesus talking to Anger wanting to be his friend.
The skit starts off with five people on the stage. Each person wearing a heart with a word (in both English and Chinese) on it: anger, hopeless, fear, not good enough, lonely. Most of them are sitting, but Anger paces the stage. Off to the side is the person portraying Jesus, and he starts to talk. "Anger," he says. "What?" asks Anger indifferently. "Anger," Jesus calls again. "What?" Anger asks, a little louder this time. "Anger," Jesus calls a third time. "WHAT?!" Anger yells, "What do you want?!" One by one, Jesus approaches each of the individuals. One by one, Jesus offers them an alternative to their current state. He offers: joy, hope, peace, forgiven, thankful. And one by one, as they talk to Jesus, each person lets go of the pain, frustration, and fear in their heart and accepts what Jesus is offering them. The first four either haven't heard of Jesus or know very little about Him, but the fifth one is different. She knows Jesus. She just feels that He is far off. But as He calls to her, she slowly relearns to listen and turns over her loneliness to Him and receives thanksgiving.

Hopeless is a bit dubious. "Do I have to give you my hopelessness? Can't You just borrow it for awhile?"

Fear doesn't know what to make of Jesus when He first calls her.

Not Good Enough can't believe that anyone would choose her, since no one has before.
As we performed the skit in the chapel for the students, there were bi-lingual Bible verses relating to each attribute on the PowerPoint behind the performance. The verses were:

Joy - Psalm 16:11 "In Your presence there is fullness of joy." 
Hope - Romans 8:28 "In all things God works for the good of those who love Him."
Peace - John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you...Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." 
 Forgiven - Jeremiah 33:8 "[God says] They sinned against me, but I will wash away that sin." 
 Thankful - Hebrews 13:5 "God has said, 'I will never leave you; I will never run away from you.'"

After the skit, Emily gave a short debrief. She pointed out that everyone, even Christians, sometimes feels hurt or angry or alone, but that doesn't mean that God is not with us and isn't listening to us. It doesn't matter where we're coming from, whether it's the first time we've heard about Jesus or whether we've been Christians our whole lives. We just need to give our hurt, our anger, our loneliness, our problems to God and He will fill us with Himself.

This makes me think of a quote from Kisses from Katie (a book that I read earlier this semester) which said:  

"He [Jesus] loved me first; I love Him back. And sometimes it hurts. But even then it is pure joy to even be considered worthy to share in His suffering. That is the promise: not that He is sorry that it hurts, but that He sees; that He knows; that He is here with us” (205). 

Isn't it amazing that we serve a God who doesn't just feel for our pain but feels our pain with us?! Jesus was 100% man and 100% God. He knows what it's like, and He chooses to walk through the trials with us, even though we're not always the best traveling companions. 

Chapel ended with everyone singing, "Trading My Sorrows." 


Narratives: Part Two

It's been a lot of fun continuing our work on narratives in my sixth grade class! (If you want to read about how we started, check out: Narratives: Part One). We incrementally branched out from just talking about pictures in a story like fashion to talking about: describing setting, introducing characters, using dialogue (albeit minimalistically at the moment).

The final story was inspired by a picture of the pyramids with a lone camel and rider in front, along with some hieroglyphics. The working title became: Amanda and Tim's Adventure.

We started out by describing the setting and deciding what the main problem would be. Admittedly, I helped with some of the words when it came to describing the setting. The students would tell me what word they were looking for by giving me examples or describing it.

Describe the Setting:

- there are old hieroglyphics inside the pyramid

- they are made of triangles

- dusty (sand everywhere)

- inside: dark

- mummies inside the pyramids, sarcophagus
- inside: echoes

- outside: camels
- outside: it is HOT because the sun is beating down on them

- inside – hieroglyphics – bumpy

- dry, dusty

- inside: cold/cooler than outside

- inside walls feel bumpy, cold, dry
- inside: musty smell


Then we worked on filling out a beginning (describing the setting and introducing the character), a middle (the action!), and end (how is the main problem resolved?).


Introduce Characters, Setting, Set Up Story
- They didn’t have any money.
- And they’re almost out of water.
- Amanda and Tim walked to Egypt.
- They want to steal treasure.
- Inside the pyramid, it is cold.
- It is dark inside.
- They see skeletons.
- Another big door appears, and it is darker than the first.
- They walk through

- Bats come flying at them.
- They fly all around them.
- A hand breaks through the floor and grabs Amanda’s ankle and drags her down through the floor.
- Tim runs down stairs and comes to save his poor Amanda.
- They found hieroglyphics.
- Unfortunately, they can’t read them.
- They find a button and they push it.
- Arrows come flying at them!!!!!!!!!
- Tim catches arrows mid-flight.
- The arrows are wrapped in a letter written in hieroglyphics.
- They see treasure at the back of the room.

Problems Solved
Wrap Up
- Unfortunately, they didn’t get the treasure because they fell into a snake pit.
- They saw the sparkle of the treasure. And they die.

And finally we took all the sentences that they came up with and worked on turning it into a story. We talked about organization. What information should come first? Second? Third? Etc? Why? We combined sentences and ideas to add variety. We inserted transition words to engage the reader and encourage them along. And this was the end result:

Amanda’s and Tim’s Adventure

Amanda and Tim walked to Egypt, because they wanted to steal treasure. They didn’t have any money.  And, after five days, they were almost out of water. Suddenly, they saw a big pyramid. Inside the pyramid, it was cold. It was dark. They saw skeletons. Another big door appeared, and it was darker than the first. They walked through.
 Bats came flying at them, and they flew all around them. Suddenly, a hand broke through the floor and grabbed Amanda’s ankle, dragging her down through the floor. Tim ran down the stairs and came to save his poor Amanda. Three days later, while they were sill wandering lost in the pyramid, they found hieroglyphics. Unfortunately, they couldn’t read them. Then they found a button, and they pushed it. Arrows came flying at them!!!!!!!!! Tim caught the arrows mid-flight. The arrows were wrapped in a letter written in hieroglyphics. Finally, they saw the treasure at the back of the room.
They saw the sparkle of the treasure. Unfortunately, they didn’t get the treasure because they fell into a snake pit. And they died.

Along with working on a story as a class, each of the students have continued to work on their own individual narratives that they started a couple of weeks ago. Last week, the students turned in their rough drafts. Tim had the students in his class exchange stories, read through them, and offer suggestions or write a question that the reader had as a means of peer editing the narratives. In my class, this week, I did something similar (his idea had produced results!). My students were already sitting in a semi-circle, so I had them take turns reading their stories to their classmates (this also afforded them some practice in front of an audience, albeit small, before the reading contest in a few weeks). In return, their classmates could offer feedback. I'd already read through the stories and written my own comments to each student. After we finished that, the students worked on their final drafts.

Here were a couple of my favorites:

Jungle, A Scary Story about Tom and Diana
By: Doris

A long, long time ago, there was a story that talked about a boy and a girl in the jungle.
One day, a boy, named Tom, who lived in the jungle went to his neighbor, Diana’s, house. He asked Diana if she wanted to have an adventure with him. Of course, Diana said, “Sure!”

They began to walk inside the jungle. No one told them how dangerous it could be. Suddenly, the worst animal in the world came. “Snake!!” shouted Diana. They wanted to return to their houses, but they couldn’t find the road! Then the snake said, “Don’t use that ugly face to look at me. Turn around!” When Tom and Diana turned around, the snake said, “Listen! I have a lot of power! I can kill you! But, today is my birthday. I am happy. I will just take you to hell.”

Tom and Diana needed to work in hell until their contract was up. One day, the snake came to meet them. He said, “Now, it is time. You can go back to your world.” Tom and Diana were very very very happy. But, they spent 30 years in hell. They are now both 48 years old people. 


Help! I’m being Chased by a Gift!
By: Eve

A few years ago, Anna, Jackson, and Susan went to the arctic to play. Their tour guide was a strong man that looked very bad. He led them to watch penguins, but then he went missing! After that, something weird happened. There was a huge shadow next to where they lived. But, they couldn’t find who that huge shadow belonged to. The two girls turned around and ran away quickly. Of course, they didn’t forget to scream!

“AaaaaaahhhHHHH!” Anna and Susan screamed loudly. At the same time, Jackson shouted, “Don’t run away! Maybe that thing over there is not so scary!” But, no one was listening. Jackson didn’t have any choice, so he ran with them, and asked, “Who will it be?” Of course, there was no answer. They kept running for a long time. Then, they stopped to rest, but the shadow was still chasing them!!! Anna began to scream louder now. Because, Susan was missing!

When Anna looked at the other side, she stopped to scream, because she just couldn’t say a word! Jackson was missing, just like Susan. Then the shadow left. It was a polar bear, with the tour guide! Anna was so scared. But, suddenly, Jackson and Susan came out with a smile, and said, “Happy Birthday! This tow bear was your birthday gift!”

Jungle: A Scary Story
By: Jason

A long time ago, there was a man called Jack. He had a friend called Jason, and they were good friends. They had black hair and black eyes. They lived in the jungle. One day, Jason went to Jack’s house, but he saw Jack was dead. Jason cried loudly. After that, he had a new friend: John A.

At a great day, Jason and John A went hunting, but they walked and walked, and they saw Jack’s house was bright! “Hmmmm,” Jason thought, “Jack is dead. Why is the house glowing?” So, they went inside to look. On the way, John A. touched a strange button, and the floor broke. Jason and John A. were separated.

Later Jason found a strange room, and inside were lots of dead bodies and skeletons. He also saw a glass bottle. Inside of it was a heart, and on it was the name “Jack.” He ran away, and he saw lots of rods, and he knew it was John A. who killed them. John A. thought he couldn’t let Jason go, so he tried to kill him, but Jason took a sword, and killed John A. He was sad, again. He didn’t know that he would have a friend who liked to kill people, so he lived in the jungle forever. 

Terrible Storm in the City
By: Lucas

There was one very beautiful city, and it had so many people living in it, like: monsters, people, dragons. But there was one small monster in particular, and he wanted a friend. Many people didn’t want to be his friend though, so he did a very scary thing.

He went to see one big monster, and the big monster’s name was Jake. The small monster told him that he wanted to use the big monster, Jake’s, magic to kill the beautiful city people. The monster, Jake, said, “Ok,” but he wanted the small monster’s heart, and the small monster said, “Ok.”

The next day, the city people saw a big storm coming for the city, and many people were scared. The storm broke a lot of things, like: houses, threes and cars. The king knew it, and he used his magic to make a stronger man, and used the magic to kill the big monster, Jake, and made it as though the storm had never hit the city. The city people learned everyone had to be a friend.