Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mid-Autumn Festival aka. The Moon Festival-Part 2

Ok, so here is the rest of the story... sorry that it has taken so long...
So after we got our ice cream which was actually really good (I got mint-chocolate... it was some of the best I have had since I have been over here) we headed for an aboriginal arts center. After getting lost about 4 times in a bus... and heading down little tiny roads and attempting to turn around, we finally found it. What we did there was watched the tribal dances... it was very... interesting. They did many different types of dance. After that we headed back to our place that we were staying. The original plans were for us to have a traditional Moon Festival BBQ. But, because of the rain and all of that fun stuff we did not. So they just decided to give us money and drop us off in a part of Hualian City that has many places to eat. Which made us happy. The next thing to do was for our group to figure out what we wanted to eat. After many options were weighed we decided to go to Pizza Hut. The only problem was we didn't know where it was. We knew that there was one because three of the people that were in my group had been here last year and they had gone there. So we just kept walking down the road and we found it. It was so nice to have pizza! I had been wanting some for a couple of weeks. It cost more than we had been given for dinner... but it was worth it! After that we couldn't resist going to Starbucks. It was right down the road from where we were. Then all of the sudden it started to pour down raining. We still had to walk about a mile or so to where the bus was going to pick us up. And one thing thats different from America is sidewalk are few and far between (the same thing with garbage cans) so we ended up having to run through the rain to get to where the bus was. We were soaking dripping wet by the time we got to where the bus was going to pick us up. Praise God there was something for us to stand under while we waited for the bus because we had to wait about 15 minutes for the bus. After our night of adventures, we headed back to our sleeping quarters. On our way there, they told us when the other group would be leaving and that they were probably going to be stopping in Taipei to go to the 101 (the tallest building in the world). The whole Yuli team thought that that sounded like fun so we asked if we could go. They said that we could we just had to pay for our way home. We decided that we would, so we left at 8:00 the next morning to head to Taoyuen by way of Taipei (they are maybe an hour train ride from each other). It is one of the most beautiful drives from Hualian City to Taoyuen. Especially in the rain! It is also one of the most sickening rides. The roads are very bumpy and they are all two lanes and one side goes straight down into the water. It was crazy! And also the traffic was very bad because it was a Holiday and also the rain had made many mudslides and so some places the road was only one lane. So you had to wait your turn in order to pass by it. It was a looooooooooong trip. At one point we were taking so many pictures on the bus of the scenery so the driver of the bus was kind enough to pull over and let us take some pictures. At one point I was sitting on the guardrail to get a picture... it was so much fun. Well... to make a long journey short... we did not end up going to Taipei because by the time we made it there it was about 5:00 and we still had another hour or so to drive. So we just went to the English Village (EV) in Taoyuen. It felt like coming home... that is where my time in Taiwan started. It was so much fun. After we had been there for awhile and eaten dinner we went out to play a game of basketball. Basketball is not my strongest sport... I actually don't think that I have a strong sport. Anyway, we ended up playing a game with some of the local kids. It was so much fun. At one point I was on a team with a guy named Andrew and it was just me and him. We actually ended up winning... somehow. I was totally shocked! After we finished basketball we headed back to the EV to get clean. We then decided to finish our game of Phase 10 that we had started the night before... we actually ended up starting a new game. It was about 4:00am before we finished the game and I had to be ready to leave to head back to Yuli at 8:00. So needless to say I did not get much sleep that night. The next morning we had to get two taxis in order to get all of us to the train station. So we made it there about 8 minutes before our train was going to leave. So we decided to just head to Taipei and we would get a different train there. The only tickets that were left on the train were standing tickets. So we were standing in the aisles of the train with about 40 other people. It was quite amusing. After getting off in Taipei, we had to find where you bought tickets... it was up three floors from where we were. So we finally found it and all of the trains that were headed to where we live were full. So Lauren and I decided to ask for a train headed to Hualian. They had tickets! It was the nicest train that I have been on over here. We probably paid for the niceness but... It made for a pretty comfortable sleep. We then got to Hualian City and had to wait about 3 hours before the next available train left. This was ok because it was around lunch time and so we decided to find a place to eat. We were first going to go to a place that we went to when Lauren, Sarah and I had gone before. But they place was full. Lauren and I ended up walking around the block to see what the different places had. We ended up finding this place that sold what they called a hamburger... it was basically a chicken sandwich. It was really good. Oh, and a nice thing about the place was that the people spoke English. It was actually really good for most people over here. Especially to be working at a food place. We got on the train and then we made it home safe... so that was the end of my exciting weekend.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mid-Autumn Festival aka. The Moon Festival-Part 1

Sorry its been awhile. I am working on getting over a lingering cold. Most of it has gone away, there is just some left over sinus issues. Anyway, on to what I have been doing since my last post. I have been doing school... well Monday-Wednesday of last week. I had to call in sick on Thursday because I was not well. So school was school. I did not do too much teaching because the teachers of the class wanted to. But it is always a joy to just spend time with the kids. They are some much fun and they will come up to you and just greet you like your their long lost friend. I love them all so much. I also went with Lauren one night because she asked me to come and help out because she was asked to do an after school "club" with the kids. It is actually something the school already does. Its for students to come to the school at night to do there homework and have some fun instead of being at home alone because their parents might work late or their grandparents. It was so much fun... and pretty chaotic. We played musical chairs. But Lauren and I asked if we could do a drama thing with them because we figured that it would help with their English and also give them something else to do. The teacher said that we should probably do it around Christmas time because more parents would be off of work. This made us happy because we get a chance to share the Gospel through the play. And it will help us to grow a stronger relationship with the kids. I think that that pretty much catches you up on what I have been doing over the last week or so. Now on to the topic at hand...
Moon Festival is one of the most random out of the Holidays that have come around since I have been here. From what I can understand of it, its about this women who somehow ends up going to live on the the moon and for some reason they celebrate it. I'm pretty much clueless about what the holiday is all about except for three things:
1. School is off Monday and Tuesday
2. People give you lots of pomelos (a grapefruit type of fruit that is green)
3. People give you enough moon cakes to last you until the next moon festival
So since we were off for Moon Festival King Car (the organization that supports us over here) planned a trip to Hualian City. We had absolutely no clue what the trip would entail except going to Hualian City which is about an hour train ride from Yuli. So we decided to buy the tickets the night before we left... we did not know that it would be such a big deal to buy the tickets... but it was. According to the people at the train station, there were no more tickets left... we at least ones that you could sit. Standing on the train for an hour was not our idea of a good way to start a vacation. We had a very good friend of the teachers here in Yuli with us and she said that we should pray about it, and so we did. She had gone home and went online just to check on the tickets... she found 5 tickets that were very close to each other on the same train that we wanted to be on. Praise the Lord. So she came over to our house and she and our leader, Jonathan, headed about a block or so down the road to the train station. So the next day we made the trek to the train station with all of our luggage in the pouring down rain. Our train left at like 6:30 and we got there at maybe 6:25 so we moved pretty fast once we got there. It was pretty entertaining. We got to the station in Hualian City and had to wait about 30 minutes for the bus to get there with the other teachers that came down from the English Village which is up in Taoyuen. After we were picked up, we went to dinner. A traditional Taiwanese dinner. We had Sashimi (my first sushi-esqu food since I have been here) which is basically raw fish that is sliced really thin its really good, sweet potato leaves (very similar to collards or spinach), broiled fish, soup with tofu and fish balls, and some other things that were really good. We ate family style so you just basically pick up whatever you want with your chopsticks and put it in your bowl of rice, and eat away. After we ate dinner we headed to our place of lodging. It was some sort of French catholic training place... I think. All I really know is that it was catholic. I was on the floor of my friend Trevor's (a guy from the English Village) room. The next day was stocked full of activities. First, we went to the national park. It has been raining so much here recently so we could not do much there. So all we did was watch a movie and looked around the visitors center. It was a really neat... and looked really pretty because of the rain. *the picture is of me, Ruthie, Sarah, Jessika, and Andrew* After that we loaded back into the bus and headed to the beach. Now the beaches here are not like the white sand beaches that I am used to back home. They remind me more of the seashore in England. They had rocks and pebbles and smaller pebbles. It was really neat. It makes a different sound than back home. It was really pretty... the only thing that made it not to nice was it was VERY hot and humid. That part kind of reminded me of home. Overall I could have built a house on the beach and been content for a long time. After that we all loaded back in the bus and headed to lunch. Our lunch was very interesting. It was at this huge restaurant that was geared toward large groups such as ours. It had probably 50 round tables and they just started bring food... and more food... and more food. There was barely room on our table to put our small bowls of rice. In Taiwan they like to make sure that you have plenty of food. It was all much like the food from the first night. Except for this soupy looking stuff that was like solidified fat with grease... needless to say it did not get eaten... I think that a couple of people may have tried it but thats all. After that we went and got ice cream at this very busy... almost outlet mall type place.*in the picture: Junes, Wes, Tyler, Naomi. Jessika, Andrew, ME, Sarah, Ruthie, and Susanna* It had a bunch of stores that sold different handmade things. Like jewelry and key chains and other things. The kind of things that tourists waste money on. :-)

Ok... so this is the end of this post... I have been attempting to write in since the day I got back and that was Tuesday... It now... early Thursday morning. I will finish the trip very soon! I love you all and thank you for your prayers. They are greatly needed.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Introduction of the Cast and Crew

I have totally forgot to introduce the other teachers that are down here with me in Yuli. There are five of us total. We teach at probably 20-25 different schools. I only have a couple of pictures of the whole team. And none of each person separately so I will post what I think is the best one and work from there.The Cast:
In order of appearance (from left to right)
You already know me so we will skip that introduction...

Lauren- She's 19 and hails from New Jersey. This is her second year in Taiwan. Her Chinese is better than any of ours. If we did not have her I am afraid that we might be lost and malnourished people. She does most of the food ordering. She and I share a class on Tuesday afternoon.

Sarah- She is 20 and hails from Illinois I think. This is also her second year in Taiwan. She and Lauren were on the same team last year. She came over at the same time as I did from the US. She gave me a pretty good crash course in ordering drinks in Taiwan when we first got here. She is also a fellow Air Force child.

Susanna- She is 19 and has lived all over the world in places like Peru and Romania. She now calls Texas home. She has been teaching English camps in Taiwan during the summer. So she has been in Taiwan for about 2 months. She plays the guitar really well.

Jonathan- He is the oldest person on our team. He is 22 and is also the leader of the team here in Yuli. He is from Idaho. And has a degree in Political Science. He is also my roommate. This is his first time in Taiwan and has been here the shortest amount of time. It was one week on Thursday.

So that is us. We make up the Yuli team. There are 3 other teams here in Taiwan. There is a team in Taoyuen which is the largest number of teachers tipping the scale at 25 or so. They are running the English Village which is a brand new project done by The King Car Education Foundation which is the organization that has us come over here. Sarah and I spent about 1 week or so up there help get everything set up and the curriculum written. They had their official opening and press conference on Thursday. Basically what they do there is have different role play scenarios that they have students go through. They have and airport with a pretty scale model airplane, a doctors office and pharmacy, hotel, science class, future class (deals with the environment and the kind of fun stuff, we did not come up with it King Car did, its just our jobs to teach it), multimedia class, cooking class, library, and I think that is pretty much it. Its a really amazing place. I don't have any pictures with it finished because while I was up there it was still being finished. I will be going up there next month though so I will make sure and take pictures and share them. There is also a team in Nantou. I know two of the six teachers there because I took a class before I came to Taiwan with them. There is also a team on an island called Jingman Island. That is one of the first places that had English teachers from King Car. So we are spread all over Taiwan.

“Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord they God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for He hath glorified thee. Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon."

Isaiah 55:5-8

(This last picture was taken in the US in MI not in Taiwan)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back to School

After a weekend of excitement, we had to go back to school and teach. On Mondays I teach at two schools. They are not in Yuli, so I have to take about a 20 minute train ride. Its not to bad. I am used to it already. My first school that I go to is Yung Feng (Pronounced Yung Fong) which is in a town called Fuli. The school is gorgeous. It was amazing coming back there after a week. I teach 3rd through 6th grade. So I do four classes before lunch and also before heading off to my next school. As soon as the 4th grade class came in they latched on to me. I was sitting in a chair in the back of the classroom because the teacher at the school has chosen to take on the bulk of the teaching (It varies from school to school how much involvement is needed) and all of the little boys wanted to sit at my feet instead of at the table. The teacher told them that they needed to get to their seats, but every chance they could they were back there with me again. All of the children that I get a chance to work with are all very nice. I know that I will enjoy this year. After all of the classes were over, it was time for lunch. School lunch over here is very different then it is back in the states. It is required that you bring a bowl and chopsticks to school. This schools lunch routine is particularly interesting. They different grades take turns serving each other. The food is put on the table on this big lazy susan and the kids fill the bowls for the other kids before they come in. It is really cool. They food is really good to. After lunch I headed off for my last two classes of the day at Heueh Tien (pronounced Shway Tien). This school I go to twice a week (Mondays for 5th and 6th grade, and Fridays for 3rd and 4th grade). This school is doing a school wide project. They are all learning the Chinese Yo-yo. Now this is nothing like what our yo-yo's are like in the states. It is this big round almost spool type thing that you propel with a rope and two wooden dowels. It is very hard. Last week the 4th graders were showing me how to do it. Maybe by the time that I come home I will be a pro. The English speaking and comprehension ability at this school is pretty low. I had two activities planned (one for each class) and after I had tried the first one with the first class I decided to not do the one that I had planned for the next class. This totally threw me for a loop because I had 20 minutes that I had to teach and had nothing planned to do. The Lord put in my mind to do vocabulary word tic-tac-toe. This worked! It took up most of the class time. I was very happy. After classes were over I hung out in the teachers office because the train didn't leave until about an hour or so after that class is over. So my choices are wait at the train station for over an hour, or wait at the school. My choice is the school. Usually I will brain storm activities for the next weeks class. Sometimes, some of the teachers in the school will sit and talk to me to brush up on their English. And also, the principle will ask me how to say different things, or the proper usage of words. All-in-all it was a really fun day. Everything ran very smooth. The Lord is really helping me get through the classes when I just have to make things up on the fly. It is amazing what He will do when we trust in Him. I need to do some lesson planning for my lessons tomorrow that I just got emailed to me. I love you all!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Journey to the Waterfall

Today, Michelle (one of the teachers at the cram school) wanted to take us to a waterfall that was in the national park that is very close to Yuli. So our day started out by going to church, then lunch, then some shopping (because I hadn't had enough) and then to the house to get ready for our bike ride. I was anticipating maybe a mile or so... that is not what I had gotten myself into. The starting point was our house. We began the ride and it was not to bad to start with. There was a nice cool breeze blowing, there was good conversation... but then the hills started to get steeper and steeper. And my legs began to burn more and more. I was doing pretty good... and so was the rest of the riders... that is until we were passing by this house, and there was a dog that apparently didn't belong there messing with this ladies dogs. She must have had enough of him so she threw a bowl (yes a bowl) at the dog. This all just so happened to take place right as Susanna was riding by the gate. The dog took off and Susanna hit the dog which in turn made her go tumbling to the ground. But, the good thing was, all parties involved were fine and suffered no life threatening injuries. So we began our ride back up again. We reached this bridge that sat between two mountains and all the sudden it started to pour raining. This did not surprise us because we had anticipated the rain because when we left the house it was very dark over the way that we were headed (it has rained every day since Thursday). The rain was a welcoming cool down because of the already long bike ride. We finally reached the visitors center. We went in to the little gift shop (soaking wet) and looked at the different things that they were selling before heading over to the little park exhibit that they had. It talked about the different trees and wildlife that you could see in the park. And they also had this mock up of one of the indigenous tribes houses. It was pretty cool. We decided to take pictures and that kind of touristy stuff. We then watched a movie (in English) about the park and a bunch of other different things. It was about time that we start heading to the waterfall since that was the whole reason that we took this Tour de Frace-esque joureny. Where the vistors center was was a beautiful place. It backed up to a mountain and across the street in front of it was rice patties with really pretty green and then more mountains. And since it was raining the clouds were low which made it even more pretty. So, we decided to take more pictures. We could not resist. We then got back on the way to the waterfall. We rode along about 4 miles or so before we could see off in the distance many small waterfalls up in the mountains. We finally reached the one that we were headed to! There was one tiny problem... it was blocked off with warning tape with many signs saying "Danger! Falling Rocks! Keep Out!" As you could have well guessed, this did not make us very happy. We had ridden all of this way to have to turn around and go back home without getting the chance to see a waterfall. So where it was closed we ended up taking pictures of the water as it flowed on its way to the river. There was also a smaller waterfall that we had passed about 400 yards back that we decided to go and look at and take more pictures. After all of this we headed our soaking wet selves home to warm up and put some dry clothes on. It was so amazing to take in the beauty of the countryside that God so wonderfully created. So all in all we got to see a waterfall. Not necessarily the one that we had hoped. But it was still an amazing ride... and a very wet one to...

Psalm 148

Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. He hath

also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass. Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours;

stormy wind fulfilling his word: Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl: Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth:

Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven. He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the LORD.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Trek to Halian City...

Today, two of the people that are on my team and I decided that we were going to take an adventure to Hualian City. They had been there before (because they were in Taiwan last year) and after getting lost they decided to turn around and go home. So we decided that we wanted to go and do some shopping. The rest of our team decided that they did not want to join us because they had just gotten here, so we went just as a small group.
We decided that we were going to take the train that left at 11:10 from Yuli. After many failed attempts at leaving the house to get to the train station early, we got to the train station right as the train pulled into the station. We still needed to buy our tickets. There was one problem... we did not know how to say "city" in Chinese. So Lauren decided to pull out her handy English-Chinese dictionary. There was a guy behind us in line who spoke pretty good English and asked us if we needed a hand. We in turn told him of course. We told him where we were headed and he told the guy at the window. We paid for our tickets and made a mad dash toward the train. We made the train! The train went to Hualian City but stopped only at the first stop. We decided that that was where we would get off and head to shopping from there. An hour or so later, we arrived in Hualian City. Nothing screamed "CITY" to us so we decided to get a taxi and asked him to take us to Carefore which is this huge Walmart mixed with a small shopping mall place. We figured that this would be downtown and there would be places to shop around it... To our surprise... there was not. We walked inside because we were going to get something to eat before beginning our search for places to shop. There was nothing inside that we wanted to eat so we left the store. We started down this one road that was a large road and at the start looked promising... but we had no luck. While we were walking down this road we had spotted a place down a much smaller road that looked like a train station. So after we had no luck we decided to head down the lesser road to the "train station." We walked... and walked... and looked at the random food shops, schools, houses, etc. that were on the road. As we were walking down the road the thought was brought up by Sarah that the "train station" looked an awful lot like a police station. Lauren and I disregarded this idea and so we proceeded. We reached the end of the road. It was indeed a police station. Now began the debate on weather or not we should go in and ask them to call a taxi. Me and my chicken self didn't think that this would help us any. Lauren made the final decision by walking through the door of the police station with her handy dictionary. Sarah and I decided that we should follow to be moral support (Lauren speaks the best Chinese out of the group). After getting the conversational words that she needed together in her mind, she began to talk to an officer who then pointed us to another officer. We told him what we would like... and after the 3rd or 4th try he finally understood us. He called us a cab and said that we could have a seat in the little waiting area until the taxi got there. The next hurdle that we needed to jump was telling the taxi driver where we wanted to go. Out popped the handy book. While we were looking through the book the officer who had helped us brought us some water. It was very nice. The taxi got there pretty quick. He understood us and where we wanted to go. He took us right to where shopping was. Where he stopped just so happened to be right across the street from a Starbucks. Now in case you did not know, that is one of my favorite places... EVER! And when my fellow adventurers saw it, they made the decision that we would eat lunch there and also indulge ourselves in some coffee. After hanging out there for awhile, we decided to begin our shopping extravaganza. We shopped... and shopped... and shopped. We went up and down roads... alleyways... big stores... little stores. Shoe stores and clothes stores. Every store we walked into the people that worked there immediately made themselves known. Over here most people have the misconception that all Americans are rich. So in there eyes we could afford everything that was in the store. This of course was not true. We had a very fun time though. At one point we stopped at this place that was selling these little cake things because they were making them in this little... well it was pretty large... machine that put the batter in the molds, and then the filling, and then closed them, and the flipped them. They were pretty amazing. We finally decided that we had done enough shopping... and headed back to Starbucks to get some more coffee and to see when the next train left. It was about 6:15 at this point and the next train heading back to Yuli didn't head there until about 8:15. We still had some more shopping time to use up. After we had absolutely shopped our hearts (and legs... and feet) out we got another taxi and headed to the train station. We got our tickets... and had about 45 minutes before the train left. We decided to get some food to take and eat on the train and got side tracked with the area right outside of the train station. It was pretty cool and we could not resist taking tons of pictures. We then headed across the street to this little place that sold food. And ordered and walked back to the train station. We hopped on the train and headed home. It was about 10:00 before we got home but we had an amazing day. I love it here more and more the longer I am here. I love and miss each one of you. Keep me in your prayers. I need to head to bed because church is in the morning.

My New Blog!

Hello Everyone!
This is my blog. I hope that I can keep you up to date on whats going on, and also to share pictures of what I have been up to. Feel free to keep emailing me with your questions or comments. I love to hear from the states. I pray that each one of you is doing well. I miss you all. Please keep me and the rest of my team in your prayers.