Written during Easter week, and just published by the Church Mission Society, my latest CMS link letter ~ click on the link below…
Just published in the last few days by the Church Mission Society ~ my latest link letter, giving an overview of my 6-months home leave in the UK. Click on the link below, and it opens in pdf format.
Since writing that letter, I’ve discovered that the front cover of the Taiwan Episcopal Church diocesan magazine (Chinese edition) for the 4th quarter of 2018 featured my photo, presenting the Archbishop of Canterbury with an artillery shell cross on behalf of Bishop Lai. Feeling very honoured!
I returned to Taiwan on February 15, and since then I’ve been very busy moving house, now I’m back on the St. John’s University campus. Grateful thanks to all in the diocese, church and university who have helped to make this possible, especially facing the challenges of the damp weather ~ everything everywhere was covered in condensation for days, just gotta smile! 🙃😊🙃 Now I’m looking forward to some warmer dry weather. Soon I’ll be set up for visitors too ~ so do plan to come and visit!
PS Update on March 5, 2019: If you’ve read my link letter, in it you’ll see how I lament the no-photos policy in Durham Cathedral. Well today’s news report says that as from this coming Friday, the photo ban is to be lifted. The link is here. At last! Thank you Durham Cathedral. I’m not expecting to be there again for a long time to come, but yes, it’s great news for everyone!
YES YES YES!
Lots of smiling faces at our Church Mission Society conference last week – and my new variation on a group photo… Hey, why all stand in a long boring line when you can do oh so much more?
The conference was held at the King’s Park Conference Centre in Northampton…
And it was great! Great to meet so many old friends and make so many new ones, catch up with what’s what and who’s who, and listen and share and learn and enjoy. And be inspired too. The Bible studies were led by Rev. Anita Smith, former CMS mission partner in Nairobi, and they were brilliant. All on Jonah, and all really I.N.S.P.I.R.I.N.G. Lots of other worship and prayer times and sessions relevant to everyone and everything as well. And tons of good food. And some rest time in the afternoons for exercise in the parks at the back – where the snow and ice were oh so beautiful!
Thanks to all at CMS Oxford for their hard work, time and energy in organizing the conference. Being very modest, and very English, they all run away if I take out a camera, so you’ll just have to imagine what they all look like. But I did get one photo of the most wonderful couple, Tanas and Anne. Anne is our CMS personnel person for Asia and she does such a great job encouraging us all; emails from her always brighten my day, and make me smile. Thanks Anne – she’s one in a million!
While at the conference, CMS announced the appointment of the new CMS CEO, replacing Philip Mounstephen who left to become the new Bishop of Truro a few months ago. Please pray for Alistair Bateman, his family and CMS – the link is here.
Today is Chinese New Year’s Eve, and Taiwan is celebrating for the whole of this week. Your prayers are appreciated as I finish my time in the UK, say goodbye to family and friends, and prepare to leave the UK on Wednesday February 6, first for Dubai, then Sabah, Malaysia and finally arriving in Taiwan on Friday February 15. Hoping to write a CMS Link Letter somewhere en route. Watch this space, and thank you all!
Off to Oxford for 2 days ~ yippee! Main purpose – to visit CMS Church Mission Society HQ today – to meet all the wonderful people who work there and share with them a little about life in Taiwan. Oh, and to give them all a few smarties, glitter, bubbles – and fun. After all there they are, working hard all day long. Helping us. Supporting us. Always cheerful. Always ready to stop their work and welcome visitors like me. Ah yes, I’m so happy to visit them all 😊😊😊 – and this is the place, on the outskirts of Oxford….
But first a day of soaking up the Oxford Vibes….
Yes, a whole day yesterday in that great city of learning, the ‘city of dreaming spires’ ~ Oxford! What a city, what a university, and what glorious weather!
I admit, I’m not an Oxford person. I can’t recognise any college or building or landmark, haven’t got a clue what the colleges are, nor why they’re famous, other than just being part of Oxford University. So all I can tell you is that the buildings and colleges are beautiful, and spires are many. Spires and steeples and towers and gargoyles and churches and chapels everywhere.
And amazing autumn trees…
And some street art, especially on the Cowley Road – this poem, ‘Slowly Slowly Cowley Road,’ by Steve Larkin…
And I found a tower, belonging to the university church of St. Mary’s. It’s £4 to go up, and well worth it on a beautiful day. Great views of the Radcliffe Camera and lots of colleges. Do as I did and tag along with people who know what they’re looking at!
I spent hours walking the streets and looking at everything. What a great city!
This is the area around Christ Church Cathedral, which is also the college chapel of Christ Church. £8 entrance fee, so I didn’t go in – too much else to see. And yes, there was a field of cows there too…
Came back along the Iffley Rd ~ Roger Bannister’s famous 4-minute mile was done here!
Other scenes along the Iffley Rd, including the Mad Hatter Pub…
And The Oxford Blue….
And so to CMS HQ today. And it was quite some day. Non-stop action all day long. So many old friends and new, and lots to catch up on. And photos to take. Did a short talk about Taiwan at lunchtime. And I was very well looked after for the whole day by Anne, who smiled all day long. Ever cheerful. The salt of the earth. We all love her to bits. Spot her in the photos below, we’re the ones in red!
These are all the great people who spent 30 minutes listening to me talking non-stop about Taiwan…. and they were still smiling at the end ~ YES!
I presented CMS with an artillery shell cross from Bishop Lai and the Diocese of Taiwan, one for CMS, and one also for our CEO Philip Mounstephen as he leaves to become the new Bishop of Truro. He wasn’t there today, so everyone else posed for a photo on his behalf instead! Actually, Bishop Lai called me earlier this morning from Taiwan, and so I brought greetings from him to everyone at CMS.
A big thank you to all those who made my visit to Oxford today really wonderful – including those in the CMS house where I was given a warm welcome. And special thanks to all those in CMS HQ, these guys have been taking such good care of me all these years. Y’know, CMS is a great group of people, and I love ’em to bits. God is so good!
Just published by Church Mission Society, my latest link letter for you to read. It’s in pdf format. It mentions that we’re in the middle of the lotus flowering season….
It’s also telling you my UK Home Leave is coming up, starting in mid-August and that my church visits are already booked – dates given in the link letter. Many thanks to CMS for publishing it and to you for reading it! Just click on the link below:
It’s also on the website here
The countdown in on, packing has started, preparations are ongoing ~ YES YES YES!
Hot off the press comes my CMS Link Letter, No. 74. Just in time for Chinese New Year – YES! And just in time for this coming weekend, mentioned in the letter. Just click on this link below, it’s in pdf format:
The letter was actually written on January 24, 2018, and published by CMS (Church Mission Society) today. Thanks to CMS for getting it out in time.
And thank you all for your ongoing support!
Cambodia is THE country to go to, and Phnom Penh is THE city! Just forget for a moment that you’re not really sure where the country is, nor how to pronounce (let alone spell!) the capital city’s name. It don’t matter ~ just get yourself there!
Because Cambodia is changing, and changing fast. Phnom Penh has high-rise buildings going up all over the place, tons of private bilingual (or even tri-lingual, in English, Chinese and Khmer) schools, outlet malls, fast-food restaurants, Starbucks and more. There’s so many ATMs lined up in rows outside the main post office that they don’t even fit in a picture ~ and that means choice, man, choice!
Like every other capital city, everyone’s stuck in a traffic jam, but in Phnom Penh, there’s a sedate pace to traffic, hardly any honking of horns or road-rage. Life moves really quite slowly. There’s a pleasant laid-back French-colonial-style atmosphere, but mixed with modern Chinese-style ‘let’s get this building up’ can-do attitude. So the Cambodians are not hanging around, they have a city to build and a country to bring into the 21st century. And Chinese investment and business opportunities are helping to make it all happen. Now! This very moment!
Of course there are problems. Coming to terms with the past – the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian Genocide is one. The current prime minister, Hun Sen has been in power since 1985, and is a former Khmer Rouge commander. Cambodia has one of the highest corruption rates in the world. Then there’s also problems of political oppression, human rights, land evictions, deforestation, poverty, street children, human trafficking, the list goes on. Challenges abound. But I’ll just get on with showing you a bit of this great city….
I’ve just spent a week in Phnom Penh, October 4-11. Round and round the streets we went on the little auto-rickshaw-cum-tuk-tuk kind of vehicles. It’s such fun! Past the Royal Palace, National Museum, Art Deco Central Market, River Mekong, Wat Phnom Temple and many other temples, the night market, monuments galore, parks and shops. I could go on going round and round that city forevermore. In fact I did. Got lost. Took 2 hours to find the hotel on the back of the tuk-tuk. Ah, but it was fun! Not the air pollution that comes with riding in such traffic, of course, but seeing all the life and the people and houses and streets…..
We were in Phnom Penh for a CMS (Church Mission Society) conference for CMS-UK people in Asia and for AsiaCMS people, who are more local to Asia ~ plus lots of VIPs from the CMS family around the world, Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Africa, who were there for an earlier meeting, but some of them then stayed on for the first part of our 4-day conference. This was the very first photo I took on arrival at the conference, just as we were all going out for the afternoon – posing especially for me!
These 2 handsome young men posing with me below are our CMS-UK director, Philip Mounstephen on the left – and Raj Patel, in charge of our Asia office at CMS, on the right. Raj came to visit me last year in Taiwan (see that report here) and we had such an amazing time. BUT now Raj is leaving us ~ and we are so heartbroken!
I was so pleased to meet Steve Maina, director of New Zealand CMS – he also came to visit me in Taiwan, but that was 6 years ago ~ and yes, we had a great time! This is one happy Steve in the black T-shirt ~ with Dennis and Lucy, our VIPs from Africa CMS…
For the conference, we were based at the Sen Han Hotel ~ kinda just outside the city centre, with great views from its roof. I was up there regularly at dawn and at dusk – and even to see the rainbow after the rain….
We spent the conference sharing, learning, talking, eating, listening, laughing, praying, singing, worshiping and getting to know each other. There may have been 60-70 of us altogether, from all over Asia and elsewhere. Many are working in sensitive areas, so the only photos on here are of those who work from our CMS head offices – in Oxford or elsewhere around the world. Many new friendships made and old friendships rekindled. Lots of fascinating stories. Plenty to think about and reflect upon. We had fun too. This was the 3 wise monkeys pose: ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’….
And we had a great river cruise, ha ha, these guys really know how to pose for photos!
Anyway, the very lovely AsiaCMS people were there only until Friday October 6, while the CMS-UK people continued on until Sunday October 8. We had a day on Saturday on strategy, assessment, risk, impact and security. Important stuff. This is the very wonderful Anne and Raj who planned and implemented it all….
But I was so pleased to arrive at the party time hour last thing in the afternoon. The final game involved balloons, and a farewell to Raj as he leaves. We will miss him so much, he’s so much fun!
Any conference with balloons will be a success ~ so, of course it was a really good conference!
A VERY BIG BIG thank you to all those in CMS for organizing it all, and for all our CMS friends and link churches for your prayers and support. Much much appreciated!
But that was not the end of my trip to Cambodia. Taiwan had 2 extra days off on Monday October 9 and Tuesday October 10 celebrating 106 years of the Republic of China. So I could take the opportunity to see a bit of Cambodia!
Coming soon…. Part 2, about the trip to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, followed by Part 3 about visiting the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum…..
So watch this space, coming up soon….