Saturday, December 31, 2011

Camp Week 12

Dear Praying Friends,

This week, the Lord blessed us with some very sweet kids. They were very respectful and thoughtful.

In our “Cookie” class, we review old material of “I like to eat ________.” Then, we introduce American Christmas foods, showing pictures with the vocabulary. At the end of class, we show them how to decorate a sugar cookie, and then the teacher eats it. Usually, the kids come unglued wanting to eat a cookie as well. These kids were so respectful, they just accepted it; though they did have some “puppy eyes.” Teacher Sanna offered some to Teacher Jo, and instead of being jealous, the kids asked “what about Teacher Bob.” We do the same scenario every week, and this is the first time the children have responded with “what about the teacher?” instead of “no! I want one!”  So amazing! They earned extra icing and sprinkles.

Many of the children got sick this week, and 6 children were so sick they were sent home. I am told this is quite normal this time of year. About half of the children wore masks, and a few of the teachers got sick as well. Here, it is quite typical for a child to be put in seclusion until their parents come. This is really a very wise thing, seeing that there are so many people in a small place, so germs pass quickly. However, I was floored that the sick children were set at a table to wait for 2 hours with nothing to do.  It was fun to find toys they could play with or pictures they could color, and the teachers really appreciated it. Before long, the sick table moved to the empty desk beside me. The Lord kept me well. I got tired and fought a cold, but I did not get a flu. Praise the Lord!

One day I was feeling especially discouraged. The kids did not know it, but they are so sweet anyway.  I got more compliments that day. “Teacher Bob is beautiful.” “Teacher Bob, thanks play me.”  “Teacher Bob, your hair is good.” “Teacher Bob, I love you!” The Lord gave me more doses of love than I would have dreamed of. What a blessing. Thank you Lord!

We do not have any more camps until next semester, just office weeks. Well, I take that back; we have one camp, but it is a three day camp that we travel to, so it is totally different. -More on that when it comes.

This weekend, for New Year’s Eve, a team mate and I awoke late feeling lazy, so we enjoyed a day of fellowship, food, and good movies. I learned a lot from the movies we watched, and it was nice to take a day off to truly relax. The American food was delicious; I’m sure we’ll make it again. We even went to bed early. I’ve seen enough New Years come in.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Few More Fun Facts...

a group of college students with whom I toured a peanut farm
- fried chicken is eaten with chopsticks (this takes some practice, but is a lot less messy
- liquids are not served with most meals
- a very common greeting is "have you eaten?"

- any slight sign of illness, from headache to a slight cough, is treated quickly; and the person wears a mask until the symptoms clear completely.
- mosquito bites are given treatment
- most treatment is healthy, as in a vitamin or a herb
- the hospital is basically a senior citizen's center, to hang-out, get a shot of vitamin C, and visit with the doctor.

General Living
- most places do have American toilets
- though we do have coins and bills like the US, there are no "cents," just dollars
- Christmas is not a holiday. People will work right through it, though some, mostly Christians, do celebrate "Jesus' birthday."
- the churches in Douliou did not decorate until the 24th
- dancing seems to be included in most Taiwanese parties, including Christmas

- gift giving is a major love language here. everyone is so friendly and tries to give us whatever they can, a bag of beans, bread, a calendar, a key chain, etc.
- culturally, gifts are NOT opened in the presence of the giver.

aboriginal dance
- jump rope is mostly a boy activity, though girls may do it as well
- what Americans would consider "personal questions" are normal conversation here, like "how much do you weigh?" or "how old are you?"
- a common ice-breaker that I have experienced is "will you take [a] picture [with] me?" which is asked before "what's your name?" or "where are you from?"
- colors are not gender specific. I have seen many boys wearing pink or carrying a pink bag, or girls with black backpacks or blue shoes.
- small children, (under 2) wear squeeky shoes so that parents can find them.
- people are very friendly to foreigners and will try all the English words they know. (usually "hello" "ok" and "I love you")

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Party!!!

We, the CEI English teachers, wanted to give the Chinese teachers here a real American Christmas experience. The food, the activities, and the Christ behind our celebration. So, today was the chosen debut. After many runs up and down 3 flights of stairs, I don't think exercise tonight will be necessary. The teachers were tortured with anticipation, as we gave them invitations yesterday. They kept asking what we would eat, but do you think we told? No way!

It was so exciting to prepare a surprise for them, knowing that they would love every minute. -And to share the story of Jesus, from the beginning to the coming of Christ. (Genesis 1-3, Luke 1-2) There are no words! They loved all our "traditions" and gifts, and just having fun. A lunch time party turned into almost 3 hours.

Here's a few pictures to tell the story.

 God is good! Each of us English teachers got each of the Chinese teachers a gift. Jo's were stockings, Sanna's were tree ornaments, and mine went under the tree. It couldn't have gone better if we had planned it.

American food, American syle.

 Decorating the tree-


 Christmas carols Taiwan style- Kareoke, which turned into dancing. Very fun with a group of all-girls.

 Reading the Christmas story.

 Making snowmen, courtesy of my mom. (They all say "thank you!")

They loved the fact that Americans open their gifts right away. Now they use that "rule." LOL!

Today, the teachers left the office looking all mischievous.  Sure enough, they called us UPstairs for a "meeting." We were immediately suspicious, as meetings are usually downstairs. As soon as we were all in the room, they sang We Wish You a Merry Christmas and proceeded to give us gifts. So sweet!
What they call me here in Taiwan, is apparently in 3rd tone: B-O-B. Thanks guys! This is perfect, as I can wear it with almost anything. Feeling so special. Jesus has blessed me so much!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

From Anger to Love

Praise the Lord for his kindness and mercy!

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a boy named *Rex. (Name changed for privacy and security.)  He came to CEI with a huge anger problem. One time, I even had to wrap my arms around him and pull him, kicking and screaming, away from a fight. When the end of the week came and he was not any better, wondered if the Character Institute had helped him at all. But, some kids are just a lost cause, and we figured he was one of them.

Yesterday, he called Yellow and asked to meet up with us. So, while Yellow, LanCi, and I were at the BBQ, his mother drove him half and hour to come see us. He said, since CEI his anger is not as big a problem anymore. Looking at him, you saw it. He was a completely different boy. The anger had melted into genuine love and concern for others. Everytime I said something, he asked for the translation. -He didn't want to miss anything. He even asked the teachers questions to learn more about us. And he wanted to share gifts with us.  This is a total change from the boy we had at camp two weeks ago.

Praise the Lord that he answers prayer and intervened in this boy's life! We are seed planters, but God privileged us to see the fruit of our work here. *Rex is SO much happier. Thank you prayer warriors for praying.

KEEP PRAYING! *Rex's battle is not over yet, but he's on the winning side! KEEP PRAYING! Our work here is not finished. There are more children to reach. KEEP PRAYING! There are still many souls that need won. Thank you for bringing me and my ministry before the throne of grace.

Earthen Barbeque part 2

 As soon as the fire goes out, the food, wrapped in foil and newspaper, is placed inside the ovens. Whole chickens, sweet potatoes, corn, and a veggie similar to bamboo. Yum!

Then, the young people viciously attacked the ovens with a shovel. The idea is to seal the pit so that the heat cannot escape.  Now it just looks like a mound of dirt. It takes about two hours to cook, so everyone goes to the festival to check out the sights.

 The wind was great. Otherwise the smoke would have been unbearable. The children took advantage of it and flew kites. I got to meet a few of them who were excited to practice their English and take a picture with an American.

This is peanut and sweet potato harvest. Here, they were drying the peanuts. Uncooked and still a little damp, they tasted like over-aged garden green peas.

Some of the guys were goofing off and burning the last of our unused wood, but it turned out to be a great reminder. The cross of Jesus is a difficult road, we have to constantly stay on guard. Sometimes, it gets a little hot. But, the cross is the only way to avoid the fire of hell.

After the two hours, we felt the tops of the mounds. If they are cold, they are perfect. Putting on heat-protective gloves, they dug the food out of the ovens.

 Dinner at last! The whole process took from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. It's a lot of work, but it is a great memory builder and time of fellowship.

Daddy, the guy who cut the chicken really appreciated my pocket knife. He admired it A LOT and said to tell you. I offered them my knife after seeing them attempting to rip apart a whole chicken with chopsticks and a 2inch pocket knife.

Earthen Barbeque part 1

I received an invitation to a barbeque with about 50 college students, and the Lord allowed me to go. There were hundreds of people at the sweet potato harvest festival. We were just a small group. I could try to explain the day to you, or I could just post pictures to explain for me. -I think I shall do the latter.- Sorry about the lighting folks... it was unavoidable in some pictures.

First, we had to hollow out a place in the ground. Then, piece by piece, we began to build the ovens out of clods of dirt.

We had five pits for 50 people. (And that was just barely enough.)

Everyone helped in one way or another. If you weren't building the oven, you hauled wood. If you weren't doing that, you wrapped potatoes and corn in foil.

Lathe... fond memories.

 Each oven/pit had a hole in the bottom to put the wood in to burn. Sometimes, they also have a hole in the top to put the food in later.

 Dad, you'd love it... they start the fire with a blow torch.

There was a tremendous amount of smoke! Everyone cried. Here's why: before using the oven, they have to harden it, so the first thing that cooks is the dirt. As long as the fire keeps burning, that means the dirt is still burning, but if the fire goes out and the dirt is black, it's time to put the food in.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Camp Week 11

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dear Prayer Warriors,

I’m feeling very Taiwanese as I sit here in a striped brown and black shirt, dark blue jean skirt, black knee high socks with gray diamonds, and brown shoes. Only in Taiwan! I got dressed in the dark, and when I saw myself in the light, I was going to change. -But, alas! Life got busy.

What an amazing week God has given us! was our first week having two camps at once, and what a blessing to have good children. These children are amazing!  (The CEI teachers here would call them “angels.”)  At first, they were so quiet it was a little creepy to be in class, but as the week wore on, they warmed up and have become a lot of fun to work with.

One of the classes have a very strict teacher. We found it very difficult to get them involved in anything. They seemed overly timid and cautious. After we knew more about the culture at their school, we understood them more. By the end of the week however, these children were confident and happy, even asking the teachers for hugs. A little love and attention makes a big difference!

In one class, where we introduce the idea of “Christmas,” the children were full of questions. Christmas is not a holiday here, though some people do celebrate it. At the very end, we teach the word “nativity” and explain why we have Christmas. “Christmas is someone’s birthday. That person is so important that everyone wants to honor Him, so they choose to celebrate His birthday on Christmas.” At this point, the children usually guess correctly “Yesu!”. But, in this class, a child asked, “What’s His English name?” When we answered, he sat there a little confused. “Then, who is Yeshua?” he asked.  We were shocked to have such a question from a country where God’s name is not common. Taking the children to the big map in the back of the class, we explained that Jesus is God’s English name and Yeshua is the name given to Him when He was born, in Israel. Wow! What a teaching moment!

Again, the Christmas party is the highlight of the week. Starting with, “Are you here for a party?  Are you HERE for a PARTY?  ARE YOU HERE FOR A PARTY?” The children shriek with joy and laughter. They usually behave better for the party than any other class. These children were country kids and were very excited to be invited to a Christmas party. For many of them, it was their first Christmas party, first time celebrating Christmas, first Christmas cookie, first Christmas present, and first candy cane. Can you imagine?  And, yes, we have Santa. If there is one thing the children know about Christmas, it is Santa Claus, so it would be terribly disappointing without him. However, we teach that Santa was a real person of very good character who lived a long time ago. Today, it is fun to pretend he is real, but he is really just a reminder of the spirit of love, giving, and good character. 

The last day of camp usually holds lots of tears and hugs as the children get ready to leave. These dear children clung to us and did not want to leave, but they are obedient and listened to their teacher.  Of the entire group, there were two boys who were a “little naughty” (though I never had that much trouble with them. When it was time to get ready to leave, one boy came and wrapped himself around me. I looked to see who it was and whispered “I love you” in his ear. He burst into tears. So, I held him and told him “It’s okay *Y. It’s okay.”  It amazes me how the naughty ones seem to cry most about leaving here. I think it is because they know we correct them out of love for them.

Merry Christmas All!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"My Daddy is stronger than your daddy"

"My daddy is stronger than your daddy. 
He is SO strong he can carry me on his shoulders."
"Yeah? Well MY daddy is so strong, he can lift me high in the air with one arm." 

"Well, that's NOTHING! 
MY daddy is SO strong that he can lift a car to change the tire!  
(with no knowledge of a jack.)

Remember conversations like this? When you were little and daddy was always the hero? When you argued with friends over who had the best, biggest, and strongest dad? When daddy could fix any problem and help you through any test?

I had forgotten.

That is, until two days ago. I awoke extremely exhausted. My body felt so heavy on the bed, I wondered how I would ever carry myself. As I opened my Bible to start the day, I pleaded with the Lord. "Lord, I know you have promised to give me strength to do what you have called me to do. Please remind me of that strength today. Give me your promise once again."

However, it was this verse that the Lord brought to my attention in Psalm 96. "Give unto the Lord... glory and strength."  What? How was I supposed to give the Lord strength? I thought I was the one that needed it from Him, not the other way around.

Though I was confused, I was determined to see what God had for me. He had a reason for giving me this verse. I just didn't know what it was yet. So, I humbly asked the Lord to open my eyes as I meditated on the verse throughout the day.

At lunch time, with the background sound of screaming, happy children, God gave me the most beautiful picture of this verse. -A child, being swung up into the air by his dad with ease, laughing and screaming with delight the whole time; and giving strength to his dad.

A dad needs his child to need him. He needs his child to think he can do anything. A dad without respect is a dad without honor. But a dad who wears a cape is confident and capable and makes other dads jealous.

My God is the same way. He needs me to "need" Him. Exodus 20 calls Him a "Jealous God." No, God does not need me to do anything, but He needs me to acknowledge that HE can do anything. He is the giver of strength because He IS strength. He needs me to brag on His strength, to give Him a "cape," to let Him be the Hero.

So, I share with you today:

My Daddy is SO STRONG He can carry me through the day without effort. He alone can give me delight through reveling in His power. My God is SO STRONG that my burden is but a drop of water upon His back. My Lord is SO STRONG He can take me up to the heights of heaven and carry me through the sorrow of the lowest hell. My God is big enough for every problem and humble enough to go through it with me.