All posts by Catherine Lee

🐰 Bouncing into the Year of the Rabbit! 🐰

There’s rabbit clothes, rabbit lanterns, rabbit displays and rabbit-everything everywhere!

An abundance of real live rabbits is one of the things I noticed about the UK on my recent visit – they were everywhere, munching away on people’s lawns. Not so here in Taiwan, but hey we’re celebrating the Year of the Rabbit, and with the Lantern Festival officially starting this coming Sunday, expect some more rabbit photos! 🐰 The Lantern Festival has already started in Hualien, where we were this past weekend – the home-painted lanterns are beautiful!

The Light Show was amazing too, shown every half hour during the evening – do check it out here!

Part of the fun of Chinese New Year is that everyone has the week off and many take the opportunity to travel around the country, visiting relatives or just enjoying the break. My good friend, Ah-Guan came from Taichung with another friend and we joined the crowds on Taiwan’s east coast, visiting Rev. Antony Liang and his family, who moved last summer from St. John’s Cathedral where he’d been in charge of the English congregation for the past few years serving his curacy. Now he’s the vicar of St. Luke’s Church, Hualien and settling in really well ~ we were very warmly welcomed by Antony and everyone. The church is small, with about 25 on an average Sunday, and lovely – all green and yellow, and the people so lovely too!

There’s lots to see in Hualien, including walking to Qixing Beach (yes, we really did walk – it took 4 hours!) and visiting the cultural areas of the city – and enjoying the night markets. The wind was incredible on the first day, but after that it was calm and mostly cloudy, which made for comfortable walking…

As happens in many beautiful places, once you learn the history of a place you find a lot of tragedy, and Hualien is no exception. There are military bases all over the area, and fighter jets practicing whenever the weather allows, so the noise is tremendous – just like the Lake District! Antony took us to visit the ‘Hualien Pine Garden’, originally named the ‘Hualien Port Army Military Department’, on a hilltop above the city, within walking distance of the church. The Okinawa Pines were brought to Hualien during the Japanese Era, now all over 100 years old. During World War II, this compound housed the Japanese Military Command, and towards the end of the war, it is said that from here Japan launched its kamikaze attacks on battleships in the Pacific. The kamikaze pilots would spend their last night here, eat their last meal, and in the log cabin, in front of the shrine to the Japanese Emporer, receive some heavenly wine. It is also reputed to be the place where, at the end of the war, the highest-level Japanese general committed suicide rather than surrender. These days it is a museum, also housing the bomb shelter, cafe and art gallery – currently displaying an exhibition of digital art…

Sobering thoughts which contrast with the atmosphere of celebration at this time of the year ~ and the rest of my Chinese New Year was spent eating, drinking and partying, as is usual for everyone in Taiwan at this time of year! I started with a visit to Bishop Lai and Mrs. Lily Lai in Tainan…

Then on my first Sunday back, I was presented with a farewell gift from Rev. Wu – on behalf of Advent Church – of a coffee grinder, a must-have item for a new house here – coffee parties, tea parties all coming up! And with all that caffeine, bouncing into the Year of the Rabbit seems an appropriate phrase!

Then I moved house into Taipei City – but returned to Advent Church for Chinese New Year’s Eve, invited by my good friends, the Tan family…

This was taken at Advent Church on New Year’s Eve…

New Year’s Day was actually a Sunday, which was most appropriate, and Advent Church welcomed Bishop Lennon Y. R. Chang and his wife Hannah to the service too…..

Now I’m now based at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei and so far have enjoyed a nice meal with the Liu family, and 2 tea and coffee house-warming parties, more to come! Thanks to the cathedral dean, Rev. Philip Lin and his family, plus Rev. Joseph Ho and his family for their warm welcome…

Chinese New Year would not be complete without a visit to the Taipei Jianguo Flower Market, located under the overpass not far from Da’An Forest Park, and open at weekends and holidays…

Yes, everywhere is red and gold!

As my new location is not far from Taipei 101 and Xiang-Shan, Elephant Mountain, so we’ve made the most of it, by night and day…

And finally, Chinese New Year would not be complete without the cherry blossom, everywhere is pink! It brightens up a dull day…

And of course on a sunny day it’s stunning!

Enough for now, do keep a look-out for the Lantern Festival coming up, there’s more rabbits to come! 🐰

Goodbye London, Hello Taipei! ✈️

My six months in the UK has come to an end, and on Saturday January 7, I left Gatwick Airport and flew to Taiwan on Turkish Airlines, via Istanbul. A delay meant I was stuck in Istanbul Airport for 7 hours overnight, but hey, it wasn’t too bad – and I arrived safe and sound in Taipei on Sunday evening about 10 pm. Thanks for all your prayers and concern for my journey. This is Saturday night coming into land at Istanbul…

In Taiwan, the good news is that the plum blossom is out in Taipei, always the iconic first sign of spring, and it’s beautiful ~ and with Chinese New Year coming this weekend, so it fills everyone with hope that spring is on its way at last.

Taipei is famous for its never-ending rain, it’s usually damp and cold all winter, but there’s been a bit of sun in the last few days. This is Taipei 101 in all it’s glory…

And the Presidential Office, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial area of Taipei…

And Taipei’s brand new Performing Arts Centre… how’d you like it?!

Apart from the plum blossom, the other big news on coming back to Taiwan is that I’ve now moved from St. John’s University out on the northern coast into downtown Taipei City, to be based at St. John’s Cathedral. It’s about 30 km (20 miles), an hour’s drive, between the two. I’ve been coming to the cathedral for many years so I know it well, but this is the first time I’ve ever lived in Taipei City. I hope to be settled in this week, before Chinese New Year this coming weekend, then spring into action once the new year celebrations are over, at the beginning of February. More news then, and thanks for your ongoing prayers and support!

🐰 Wishing you all a Happy Year of the Rabbit! 🐰

Happy New Year 2023! ❤️

Yes, wishing you all many blessings as we start a new year, 2023, and grateful for all the blessings of this past year, 2022 ~ and with lots of thanks to you if you’ve been part of that! Today is Epiphany, marking the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of the Orthodox Christmas, while this week has been the start of a new term here in the UK ~ but it’s the end of term in Taiwan! And tomorrow I fly back there, all ready to celebrate Chinese New Year in 2 weekends’ time! Lots of happy memories of this last month in the Lake District, just a few of which I’ll share with you here, including lots of wonderful Christmas festivities!

First off, though, the snow and ice which went on for several weeks in December, which all sounds lovely, but mostly Troutbeck looked like this, misty, bleak, icy and cold…

But when the sun came out, it was beautiful! On Friday December 9, I did half of the Kentmere Horseshoe, from Troutbeck Bridge up via the Garburn Pass to Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag 784 m (2,572 ft) and High Street 828m (2,715ft), with the descent via Threshthwaite Mouth and Troutbeck Tongue 364 m (1,194 ft). Total: 30.6 km with 1,267 m elevation gain. Started at 6:40am, arrived on High Street at 11:15 am, finished at 4:00 pm. A long day but oh so beautiful! Temps on High Street: -3.5°C with -11°C wind chill, my hands were totally frozen! Stunning views ~ and the National Trust used this first photo below in their Instagram #NTChallenge post…

On Monday December 12, I did the Wansfell Pike circuit & Baystones via Jenkins Crag from Troutbeck Bridge. Very frosty, icy and sunny. Check out the photos below of the very boringly-named ‘cloud inversion‘ over Lake Windermere, which is just so much better described in Chinese as a ‘sea of clouds’ – am sure Wordsworth would have approved!

Then all that glorious weather got even more icy and a lot more treacherous, with a lot of freezing fog, but also with some lovely sunrises and views over and around Windermere…

And so to Christmas at Jesus Church, Troutbeck…

This was the Christmas Day service view from the balcony…

Then on Boxing Day, Monday December 26 we again had snow on the tops of the high mountains, and I got as far as the south summit cairn of Pike O’Blisco 705m (2,314ft), going up from the Wrynose Pass which was very icy, -2°C with driving winds on summit, otherwise lovely and sunny…

Plenty more happened in December with lots of happy Christmas events, many lovely family visits, especially with my mother who is now much more settled in Grange-over-Sands, my brother and his family in Kendal, and all with a lot of delicious meals! I’ll maybe save some of the yummiest food photos for my CMS link letter which is due soon. Over New Year weekend I was in Garstang, Lancs where the sun was shining…

and where I enjoyed time with Geraldine Leopard Gecko and family!

Geraldine is 4 years old, eats live crickets, and spends most of her time in the darkness of her cage, but was having a cleanout one day… so we became acquainted. She is stunning, I was transfixed!

And now I’m in Sussex, with my younger brother’s family, who are kindly ferrying me around as I return my car to London – train strikes an’ all – and wait for my return flight to Taiwan tomorrow. Thank you to all my family for their welcome and hospitality, to my friends and link churches too ~ and to you all for your Christmas greetings, cards, messages and prayers. It’s been great to see many of you over these last 6 months, but I’m well aware I’ve not had the chance to see as many of you as I would have liked. Sorry about that, and time has sadly run out. Grateful to you all for your support and to Almighty God for his protection and grace. Grace – and wisdom – are needed more than ever, for us all. Praying for those of you struggling with colds, flu, Covid, chest infections, coughs or just generally under the weather, especially those in hospital, those working in the medical profession or caring for elderly relatives, and the many facing financial problems with the cost of living crisis, transport strikes and endless uncertainty. Times are certainly not easy.

And now, Taiwan is calling ~ and I must go!

WISHING YOU ALL A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023! ❤️

Advent Word 2022, Day 29 ‘Emmanuel’ 以馬內利

#AdventWord #Emmanuel #以馬內利

‘Emmanuel—God is with us. Really? Is this true?

During these last few years political uprisings, poverty, harsh climate change, COVID-19, and endless hate crimes have taken a toll on almost everyone.

Nonetheless, God is with us. And we as Christians can reassure the rest of the world of this in one simple way: In our actions.

We may be called to act in different ways, but for me, I will wave the pride flag in support of the LGBT community and stand against gun violence, unapologetically proclaim Black Lives Matter, raise awareness of the refugee crisis, and water the sunflowers of Ukraine.

So, yes, Emmanuel-God is with us. And he always will be.’

Minda Cox

‘Madonna and Child’, Alfredo Roldán 1999

Lady Chapel, St. Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, London EC1

At the end of Advent Word 2022, may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Advent Word 2022, Day 28 ‘Birth’ 誕生

#AdventWord #Birth #誕生

‘Talking about the #birth of my children, I mostly shared “positive” feelings—hope, excitement, anticipation, joy. Only with close friends and family did I share my fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. In this week’s gospel, we see Joseph wrestle with these same feelings. With only the comfort of an angel’s promise and faith in an unseen God, Joseph answers the call to become Christ’s foster father. Joseph and Mary will celebrate birth at the foot of the manger soon, but for now we wait with them in disquiet. Are we prepared for Christ’s arrival? What do we fear?’ (Lindsay Barrett-Adler)

New Birth Commemoration of John & Charles Wesley, Aldersgate Street, London

Advent Word 2022, Day 27 ‘Restore’ 恢復

#AdventWord #Restore #恢復

‘Restore is a spiritual reality perfect for Advent. God comes to restore us—every moment of our life. In Advent, we are reminded that Jesus restores us by being God with us, God for us, and God in us. Without shaming or blaming us, Advent invites us to the important task of paying attention to the ways in which God seeks to restore us. Advent reminds us that God comes to us and to our world. Advent reminds us that we need to come to God to be restored spiritually, psychologically, culturally, politically. May we deepen our desire to be restored in God. Will you let God restore you?’ (Rev. Dr. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones)

Leadenhall Market area, City of London: restoration, renewal, revitalization at every turn

Advent Word 2022, Day 26 ‘Choose’ 選擇

#AdventWord #Choose #選擇

‘I lived with this word for several days. I began to see the freedom and the responsibility of being able to choose. I can turn away from evil and turn toward good. Turn away from large evils—violence, war —and small evils—hatred, unkind thoughts. Turn toward good, keeping a soft heart for the whole globe. God walks with me. God thunders, “Choose the good!” God pleads, “Choose the good.” God whispers, “Choose the good.” God stands with the poor, the suffering, the hungry, those in pain and weeps, “Choose the good.” With God’s help, I can choose.’ (Ann Case)

Stanfords, Covent Garden, London

‘Stanfords is a specialist bookshop of maps and travel books in London, established in 1853 by Edward Stanford. Its collection of maps, globes, and maritime charts is considered the world’s largest.’

Choose. Choose what kind of world you want. Choose the good.

Advent Word 2022, Day 25 ‘Obedience’ 順服

#AdventWord #Obedience #順服

‘As the eldest child of an eldest child, I find that obedience has always been at the forefront of my life. Over the years, I have enjoyed its sweet freedom. This word might be fraught for some, but for me, it’s a measure of love, devotion, and commitment. It’s doing something that someone asks of you, not because of obligation but out of love. We are called as Christians to be obedient to God. The command can seem heavy, but in it, there is freedom to be who we are as God’s children. God’s expectations of our lives, our love, and our passions give us boundaries that provide a safe and constant place to be formed, nurtured, and cherished.’ (The Ven. Jeffrey Queen)

London Eye & Palace of Westminster

‘Obedience keeps the rules. Love knows when to break them’. (Anthony de Mello)

Advent Word 2022, Day 24 ‘Hear’ 聽

#AdventWord #Hear #聽

‘We are surrounded by loud noises and voices, by ringtones and notifications. How many of these are merely “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1)? What messages do we choose to hear?

Luke’s story of Advent is marked by some remarkable voices: Zacharias and Mary see and hear angels. Elizabeth hears two poems of praise and prophecy—one from her cousin Mary and one from her husband Zacharias. Later in the story, shepherds hear angels sing.

Whose voices are you hoping to hear this Advent? How can you create the quiet in which they can be heard?’ (Hugo Olaiz)

The National Windrush Monument, Waterloo Station, London

‘… Unveiled in June 2022 , the bronze sculpture by Basil Watson memorialises the British West Indian immigrants who came to the United Kingdom on board HMT Empire Windrush in 1948, who subsequently became known as the Windrush generation. The inscription accompanying the monument lists the members of the Windrush Committee who commissioned the sculpture and a poem “You Called..and we came” written by Professor Laura Serrant OBE, Queen’s Nurse’….

‘Human values needed to truly lead change…and add value.

Remember… you called.

Remember… you called

YOU. Called.

Remember, it was us, who came.’

Advent Word 2022, Day 23 ‘Sign’ 記號

#AdventWord #Sign #記號

‘When I worked at a library, I helped design and update the wayfinding signs around the building. That job taught me that a thoughtful sign is an act of welcome. The best signs point the way for longtime community members and new visitors alike. Signs can show you how to find what you need before you ask. They may even show you something you didn’t know you needed.

God’s signs are rarely so color-coded and clear. But if we pay attention, they still point us to a kingdom coming near—a kingdom where our needs are met in God’s abundant love.’ (Margaret Ellsworth)

‘Mind the Gap’: London Underground’s iconic sign, in use since 1968.

‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Emmanuel’. Isaiah 7:14

‘This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger’. Luke 2:12.

Emmanuel, ‘God with us’, the birth of the Christ child: God bridging the gap between us and Him.