Today, February 28 is a public holiday in Taiwan for Peace Memorial Day, this year commemorating the 75th anniversary of the 228 incident in 1947, which marked the beginning of the White Terror era. Today also, a ‘host of golden daffodils’ has bloomed in Yangmingshan National Park after 2 months of endless rain, and are smiling up at blue skies, like the colours of the Ukrainian flag. Daffodils are also known as Lenten Lilies, reminding us that Lent starts this week on Ash Wednesday, and lasts for 40 days until Easter. This Lent, let us pray for peace in Taiwan, peace in Ukraine and peace with our neighbours whoever they may be.
Daffodils are also the national flower of Wales, so Happy St. David’s Day for tomorrow, March 1. And if you’re in Taipei, now that the rain has finally stopped, get yourself up to Yangmingshan to see them, they’re stunning!
#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day24: This is the very lovely Cai-Pei 采沛, just arriving now at St. John’s University (SJU), and all ready for her baptism during tonight’s Christmas Eve service ~ and she gets the largest Teddy Bear chocolate in the Advent Calendar! Ah, she’s so happy! She comes every Sunday to Advent Church from her home in Taoyuan, having graduated last year from SJU in Creative Design, a classmate and good friend of Yi-Ting who works on our SJU Chaplaincy staff and the one who originally invited her to join the student fellowship. They also did their senior project together on the theme of Advent Church, designing and making a wonderful welcome video, cards and a book, all now featured on the Advent Church website.
Like Jia-Wei, who is also being baptized tonight, Cai-Pei is the first (and so far only) Christian in her family. She says she’s still waiting for the right moment to tell her family of her decision. Like many of our recently-graduated students, she’s finding it difficult to find a permanent job in her chosen field, design. Please do pray for her and her family, her search for a job, and her new-found Christian faith. Thanks be to God, and to you all for your prayers ~ and joyful greetings to you all this Christmas Eve! 🕯️🕯️
#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day23: This is Melissa, second-year student of Creative Design at St. John’s University (SJU), also one of the leadership team of the Student Fellowship and in charge of tonight’s Christmas outreach event, the colours for which are blue, grey and white ~ the photo is taken against the stunning back wall they’ve designed for the occasion! She’s really amazing at leading worship, singing, dancing, design, art and music ~ in fact, she seems to be multi-talented in everything, and is such a blessing to our student fellowship. In the elections on December 30 for next year’s student fellowship leadership team, Melissa is expected to be the only candidate for the position of chair, so it’s looking like she could be the one!
Melissa is from Sabah, East Malaysia, brought up in Labuan until the age of 12, when she moved with her family eastwards across Sabah to Sandakan, where they joined their relatives as members of Good Shepherd Anglican Church. It’s really exciting for us to have someone from the Anglican Diocese of Sabah at SJU because our 2 dioceses have long been connected. Both Taiwan and Sabah dioceses have a strong kindergarten ministry, ours led by Mrs. Grace Liu (wife of Rev. Michael T. H. Liu), who arranged about 15 years ago for 2 kindergarten teachers from Sabah, Evelyn and Yvette to come for about 6 weeks to St. James’ Kindergarten, Taichung. We all became friends, and in return I visited them in Sabah, including a trip to see Yvette at Good Shepherd Kindergarten, Sandakan. We had such a great time ~ and now it turns out that Yvette and Melissa are friends from the worship team and choir at Good Shepherd Church. Ah, it’s a small world!
Melissa asks for prayer as she prepares for the possibility of taking over the leadership of SJU Student Fellowship for the coming year. She needs a lot of wisdom, patience and courage, as well as time and energy to be a good chairperson and also keep up with her studies. Please do pray for her!
#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day22: This is 2-year-old Ethan, in his reindeer hat, in thoughtful pose ~ ah, we love him so much! He and his baby sister Eva keep us all entertained at our monthly diocesan office lunch gatherings in Taipei – including the one today. Ethan has won the hearts of all the diocesan office staff and all the visitors!
Ethan’s mother, Sheerah is from Ipoh, West Malaysia, and for many years worked as their diocesan children’s worker. In 2010, she came with a diocesan team to lead ‘Kids Games’ training in Advent Church, and we’ve all kept in touch ever since. Now she’s living in Taipei with her family, and we all really look forward to seeing them every month.
Ethan is in regular touch with his grandparents in Malaysia, but it’s not the same as seeing them in person, and they have never met baby Eva, who was born in June. The family would love to go back for a visit but the pandemic makes travel so difficult. They ask for your prayers for the grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Lee, especially for their health. Yes Sheerah and I share the same surname, we’re both part of the worldwide Lee family!
They also ask for your prayers for West Malaysia, facing severe flooding at present ~ St. Mary’s Anglican Cathedral, KL was flooded up to knee-height last weekend, so all services were cancelled. It’s a worrying time, please do pray for them all, and especially in this Christmas season.
#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day21: Good News! 好消息! Remember Jia-Wei 嘉偉 from Hong Kong who featured here on #Day2? He’s one of our students in the St. John’s University (SJU) Student Fellowship, and he’d said he really hoped to be baptized on Christmas Eve, but needed courage to first ask his family. With time moving on and Christmas Eve approaching fast, he finally summoned up the courage to talk to his family last night ~ and rather to his surprise and great delight, his father agrees with his decision, saying that as Jia-Wei is an adult, so he’s free to choose his own religion. YES! 😇
So in great thanksgiving to God ~ and to everyone for your prayers ~ we assembled a group photo of some of Jia-Wei’s ‘Support Team’ at lunch time today ~ all members of the student fellowship, who’ve encouraged and prayed for him throughout his time in Taiwan. As he said, he and his family don’t know any Christians in Hong Kong, and the first ones he himself got to know were here in the SJU Student Fellowship. Thanks be to God ~ and please do pray for Jia-Wei as he prepares for his baptism on Christmas Eve!
#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day20: This is Shi-En 世恩, this year’s chair of St. John’s University Student Fellowship. He’s popular and outgoing, generous with his time and money, and his latest hair styles are always the talk of the town! Shi-En is a third year student in Leisure Sport & Health Management, and comes from Kluang, Johor, West Malaysia, where his family are members of Peace Assemblies of God Church 佳安神召會.
Shi-En’s sense of identity coming from a Christian family is very strong. His name Shi 世 means ‘world’, En 恩 means ‘grace’, and he says his parents gave him this name hoping that wherever he goes in the world he will share God’s grace with others. They certainly have a great vision, and Shi-En is a wonderful blessing to us all! In the student fellowship, he is always so welcoming of everyone, especially those on the edges of the group, and is very good leading online meetings, making sure everyone is included. In the fellowship meetings, he often leads the praise and worship ~ it’s always very lively! When Advent Church services were all online, his parents joined in from Malaysia and shared the peace with us during each service. Now, his family are preparing for his brother’s wedding at Chinese New Year, but sadly Shi-En won’t be able to return home due to the pandemic. Please do pray for him, his family and all in the student fellowship ~ they’re busy preparing for their big Christmas evangelistic outreach on Thursday December 23. 🎄🎶🔔
#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day19: This is Yi-Mu 義牧 (left) and Yung-Mu 永牧 (right), sons of the Very Rev. Philip L. F. Lin, dean of St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei and his wife, Linda ~ the photo taken today at the cathedral’s English Service Christmas celebration. Such friendly boys, and so happy to pose for a photo!
In 2011, while the family were living at St. James’ Church, Taichung, and when Yi-Mu was 5 years old, he was diagnosed with leukaemia. Then started a very long and gruelling 4 years of intensive chemotherapy. For a whole week every month he would need to stay in hospital in Taipei, accompanied by his mother, while his grandmother went from Taipei to Taichung to take care of his younger brother, Yung-Mu, while Philip continued his ministry at St. James. Treatment also continued after the 4 years, but less intensively. In 2015, Philip became rector of Good Shepherd Church, then dean of the cathedral and the family moved to Taipei, which made hospital visits much more convenient. Yi-Mu tells me that now he only needs to go for a check-up once every 6 months, he’s so very pleased. The illness also took its toll on his education, and he missed so much schooling that he couldn’t keep up, and the emotional stress was hard for all the family. The good news is that now, aged 15, he’s happily settled in a year group that is 2 years younger than his actual age, and he’s much more confident and doing well at school. He’s also won prizes for his calligraphy skills, and he tells me today that English is his best subject!
What kept Yi-Mu going all the time that he was sick in hospital was learning to play with a yo-yo from watching videos. He would roll the yo-yo along the floor from his bed, and with great persistence, he has learned a whole range of amazing yo-yo skills and techniques. He is now a star yo-yo performer, one of the best for his age group in Taiwan, performing regularly at school shows, church and charity performances, and he’s appeared on television too. He’s quite incredible to watch! 🪀🪀
As a young child, Yi-Mu would ask his mother why life was so hard and his life so full of suffering. Now, when I ask him how we can pray for him, he says everything is going well, and he just wants to give thanks to Almighty God! It’s very moving to hear him say that, what a great witness. Please do pray for him and all his family!
#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day18: This is the very lovely Mrs. Hsu and her helper, Linda, who I’ve just been to visit today at Suang-Lien Elderly Center to wish them a Happy Christmas! 🎄⛄🕯️ Actually Mrs. Hsu is even more looking forward to December 28, her birthday ~ she says she’s going to be 95, so Happy Birthday too! 🎂🎁🎈 Mrs. Hsu is wonderfully well-cared for by Linda, whose family home is in Boracay in The Philippines. Linda’s family are really grateful to her for the money she can send home every month from her work in Taiwan, and she always appears with a smile and with words of encouragement for Mrs. Hsu.
Mrs. Hsu’s late husband was a Presbyterian pastor, and together they spent 15 years serving in a church in Mauritius, where their 3 children grew up ~ now all of them live overseas with their own families. There are many elderly people in Taiwan whose children all live overseas, and it’s not easy for them in this pandemic, when international travel is so difficult. On this grey wintry day, with the bitterly cold winds blowing up the big waves on the sea just outside the care home, it’s so good that Mrs. Hsu and Linda can live in a warm and friendly place like Suang-Lien. Please do pray for them!