Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Taiwan Thanksgiving... with a twist

Ok... so I think now is about the time to write this blog post... I have had it created with nothing written for a couple of days. So here goes the story of the first Taiwanese Thanksgiving (not to be confused with the first Thanksgiving).
This is the first year that Austin has been away from the people he loves for Thanksgiving. I was thinking about it the other day and my family has been getting together in some sort of fashion for about 12 or 13 years... that would make it be since I was about 8. That seems like close to an eternity for my small mind. To be honest with you, I was starting to get very homesick when I was thinking on this matter. So I talked it out with my fellow living buddies... our conclusion. Lets have our Taiwanese "family" over for Thanksgiving dinner. This was very exciting for many of the because they had never had turkey (pwo-gee) before. They had also never had many of the other delectable things that accompany Thanksgiving.
So, each of us decided to split up the Thanksgiving staples.

The Menu

Main Course:
Mashed Potatoes

Green Beans
Corn (complim
ents of someone)
Sweet Potatoes

Fruit Salad
Deviled Eggs
Cranberry Sauce

Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Peach Cobbler
Lemon Meringue Pie
Egg Tarts (compliments of our friend Phoebe)

So, in order to get everything that we needed... many things needed to be done. First, we needed to find a turkey. We had our friend Hannah to look around to see if she could find one. She could not... so that led her to the internet... she found a mail-order turkey place in Taipei... they Turkey would arrive by the next day... of course you had to pay... which we did. Second, we needed to make a trip to Hualien City to go to Carefore which is a big supermarket that has lots of things that we can't get in Yuli. So we took a train to Hualien... Sarah, Lauren, Jonathan, Michelle (part of our "family"), and I. We had decided to leave home early so that we could do some shopping. But shopping led to Starbucks (a must while in Hualien city), which led to more shopping, which led to dinner... which led to about 45 minutes at Carefore. Needless to say, we did not get everything that we had set out to get. Third, Carefore trip number two. Lauren, Sarah, and I decided that we would go on Wednesday to Carefore again because we all had a half day and so it would give us a little time there. Well, much like the first visit, we decided to do some shopping... and some Starbucks... oh yeah... and we went to this little coffee shop that we found one say when we went to Hualien City a couple weeks ago. Well... by the time we called Johnny (our English speaking taxi driver) and by the time we got to Carefore (I didn't mention that President Chen of Taiwan was in Hualien City) we only had like 20 minutes to get the things that we needed. Praise God that it was not very much. And Johnny helped us do our shopping, kept us under time, and got us to the train station on time. Needless to say, he got a good tip. And finally, Fourth, we needed a place to cook our turkey. We had asked one of our friends and she said that one of her students had a big oven... well apparently there was some miscommunication but what we ended up with was barely big enough to cook the pies. The Lord was faithful to our cry for help in the last hours. He provided us with an oven at some people that we go to churches with house (does that make sense?). Anyway, this oven was big enough to cook both turkeys. The only down side was Hannah had to take us there by car. The people said that they would watch it for us (they even decided to taste some of it).
It was a blessing that the that the turkeys even came out. None of us had ever done a turkey before. We had all seen it done plenty of times... but had never been the ones doing it. It worked out... everything worked out without a hitch. It was an amazing night just fellowshipping together and thanking the Lord for everything that He has done for us in the last year... but just in general. The Lord is so amazing! It is evident in His creation. I am bombarded with it everyday as I go out to school... actually everywhere I go. This weekend we will kick off our Bible study. We are all very excited. We are inviting our friends and teachers. I invited one of mine today and she said that she would tell others about it as well. It is amazing to watch the Lord work right in front of your eyes.

Our Guest List:
(from left and around)
Mary (Hannah's Daughter)
Sam (Hannah's Son)
Esther (Hannah's Daughter)
Hannah (Our "Mother")
Dr. Chen (Hannah's Husband)
Phoebe (Robert's Wife)
Echo (Robert's Daughter)
Peter (Yah Mama's Grandson)
Yah Ma (Hannah's hired help)
Brian (Sarah and Lauren's friend)
April (Robert's Daughter)
Michelle (Our very good friend)
(Jonathan is taking the picture)
This is our Taiwan family. Robert owns a cram school here and that is where we go and do Chinese class. He is a Christian and so are most of the people that work there. All of these people are very special to us. There are many more... but some could not make it... and others... would not have been able to fit at the table.

Our Baking Supplies

We Robbed a Poultry Farm

Late Night Baking

Like My Rolling Pin?
(its a chopstick)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I am still alive...

I have been trying to post for the last couple of days... the blog site must have been down or something... since I could not post I decided to write out what I would post when I had the chance... here is what I came up with...

It has been an incredibly long time since my last post… I wish I could say that it’s because I am too busy… that’s not really the case… I like to… make myself busy with what I like to do… shopping, talking, and generally hanging out. I especially like to do this when there are other things that need to be done… such as keep the people who love me and pray for me updated. So… that is what I shall do… update you on the goings on of Austin… the weary traveler/happy teacher/tired student/child of a God who hears and loves me. This last point has been something that has been on my mind lately. A child of a God who hears and loves me... A couple weeks ago, we had some of our friends come down from Taoyuen… well… I had no clue they were coming until I came home from 7-11 one night and there they were, standing in my living room. But one morning while they were here I was going to go out and get some breakfast, so I asked if they wanted anything and what they wanted. So I headed out to a breakfast place that I had never been before. So I go and order the mass of food… and while I was sitting in “My Warm Day” (the breakfast place) I started to hear a loud noise coming from across the street. It was actually a pretty annoying ruckus. It was none other than some parade for some god. I sat there, and could not help but to watch… it is so amazing what these people do and put themselves through in order to try and “please” a “god” who is nothing but a statue made by the hands of man. Lauren was with me and I turned to her and said, “I’m glad that I serve the God that I do!” My God does not need paper money burned when we hit an animal while driving down the road. My God does not need me to lay out food, drinks, and other random things so that He can “eat.” My God does not need me to where a necklace, bracelets, rings, or any other type of accessory to show that I serve Him. My God all in all does not need me at all… I am the one who needs Him. Without God, I can do nothing on my own. It will only be fruitless and futile. With God, on the other hand, all things are possible. In order to do the simplest things, I need God.

Almost every day, I take a 20 minute train ride to school. This is one of the most beautiful trips I have ever been on. In order to get to Fuli, which is where most of my schools are, I must take a train that winds through the valley between the mountains. It is GORGEOUS! I am daily reminded of the power that God has. That it only took Him 7 days to create the whole earth and everything that is in it. And that on one of those days he did nothing at all... except rest. God did not need to consult Austin when He was making the Kiwi bird, to see if the colors matched or not. God did not need Austin when He was making monkeys to make sure that it was ok to have hands for feet and fingers for toes. But, Austin does need to consult with God when he gets out of bed in the morning. He does need to consult with God when things just aren’t working the way that I would like.

Over last weekend I was up in Taoyuen because some of the teachers of a local cram school that we are friends with were going to be in the area and wanted to see the English Village. We had made arrangements for them to have a tour and we also told them that at least one of us would be up there. Well, while I was there, I was standing on a flight of stairs where I really like to stand because it is a pretty view of the city. All you can see is buildings of all shapes, sizes, and colors. So, while I was standing there I decided that I wanted to go and get my camera and take some pictures. I got some pretty amazing shots. But after looking over the pictures later, there was one that I really liked. It was one where the camera was focused in some bricks of the building and then blurry in the background is a bunch of buildings. I loved this picture so much! I wanted to make it the background on my computer. But I wanted to add a Bible verse on it… so I opened my Bible and began flipping through the Psalms. My eye caught onto a couple of verses that I remember going over in team prayer one night that I thought would be perfect for the picture. Its from Psalm 114:5-8. It says,

“Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dweleth on high, who humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in Heaven, and on Earth, raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth them out of the dunghill; that He may set them with princes, even with the princes of His people.”

With this view of the city and the beauty that I saw from it... I can only imagine the view that God sees. He is such and amazing God to have brought me to this place... to be teaching these children. I love each one of them so much... they are all such bright children. At their young ages they have been through so much... and are daily put through things that some cannot imagine. Jonathan recently went to the town that my Monday morning school is in. He want with the owner of the cram school that is in Yuli. Most of the kids that were there where kids that are in my classes. He was telling me about one of the little girls who Dad is a drunkard... and I don't think that he said anything about the Mom... but anyway, when this little girls Dad runs out of alcohol he sends her a couple of kilometers away to buy him his drinks. And sometimes he sends her at night. This is just some of the struggles that these kids face on a regular basis. It's sad to see... but the Lord has these children where they are for a reason. We pray for our kids on a regular basis... we also pray for our unsaved teachers... which covers most of them. One of people that we work with on a regular basis, her name is Kitty. And very soon after we moved in here she had said that she had wanted a Chinese-English Bible. Lauren just so happened to have a Chinese-English Bible that she had brought from the states. So she gave it to her. About a month or so ago she asked if she could come over once a week to read the Bible with us. So she now comes over and we read... well she does... very slowly with her... She is very excited about it. She has even invited one of the teachers that Jonathan and I work with to come read with her... this teachers name is Becca. She has been through a bunch of stuff recently because one of her students parents said that she was abusing her students... so she has been going through many court battles recently. She does not seem like the type of person that would do this. She is always very quiet in the classroom. I think that now she is just gun shy. Anyways, Kitty invited her to come over too... so last Wednesday when she came Jonathan asked her why she wanted to come if it was because she wanted to work on her English or what. She told Jonathan that she knew that the Lord was the only thing that could give her peace in her heart. This was very encouraging to us. So just keep both Kitty and Becca in your prayers.

I should probably draw this to a close... It is pretty long. I hope that I have caught all of you up on whats new. We are also going to start a Bible study very soon. We are just working on getting the books sent. They are only coming from Taipei but someone has to be home to sign for them when they come. We have the English ones... we are just waiting on the Chinese ones... Well thats about all. I hope and pray that you all have an amazing Thanksgiving. We are attempting to through a Thanksgiving bash with our Taiwan "family" on Saturday. We just have to finish finding what we need... like a turkey... pray that we find one. I thank the Lord for each one of you who reads this. I love you all... miss you tons.

(sorry that there is no pictures... the internet here is being very weird)