聖約翰科技大學 ‘長齡生命關懷中心新建工程’ 動土典禮 SJU Advent Church Centre ~ Groundbreaking Ceremony!

Today is the day!  After 3 years of fundraising, another 2 years of planning and getting permits, today we have launched forth on the construction of our long-awaited new church centre behind Advent Church in the grounds of St. John’s University ~ YES!

Our chaplain and rector, Rev. Lennon Chang is finally seeing his (and our) vision being fulfilled, praise God. He has worked and prayed so hard for this, and we have joined in!  And why? Because as our church has grown and as we do more and more church outreach into the local community, and as the university also opens up more and more, so we realize that Advent Church is no way big enough for all that’s going on and all that we would like to do… there’s only the church building itself and 2 small rooms at the back.  So in the new centre will be a large hall, many smaller rooms, kitchen and all sorts of new facilities for everyone to use and for us to welcome the local community in more and more ~ YES!

Today’s Groundbreaking Ceremony and Service was wonderful – the sun shone, the sky was blue, perfect beautiful weather!

VIPs galore (all except the Chair of the Trustees and our SJU President, both unfortunately ill with flu), including Bishop Lai, SJU trustees, SJU Vice-President Wang, the Mayor of Tamsui, SJU Alumni, the architect and construction firm, plus lots of church members, university faculty and staff, students and local community….

We had a walkabout around the construction site singing hymns, then prayers, Bible readings, speeches from the Mayor and representatives of the SJU trustees, SJU alumni and the bank, then the groundbreaking ceremony – all wearing helmets, white gloves and holding red and gold spades ~ and followed by Bishop Lai’s prayers and blessing, then photos and interviews with the press, and finally lunch!

IMG_9934

Praise the Lord the project is finally underway!  We start with a 3-day non-stop power cut just after Chinese New Year the week after next (to remove the electricity substation currently located on the construction site) …. and work is expected to be finished in the autumn.

So watch this space, and please keep us all in your prayers!

鄭啟璋弟兄追思禮拜….RIP 鄭伯伯

49 years!  49 years of praying ~ that truly shows some dedication and perseverance…

That’s how long Mrs. Cheng prayed for her husband before he finally decided to become a Christian.  This family sure has an amazing testimony!

On Saturday we gathered at Advent Church for the funeral of the man we knew as 鄭伯伯 Mr. (Uncle) Cheng, who died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 90.  His son and family have long been members of our church while Mrs. Cheng always went along to the Presbyterian Church in Tamsui, near their home, and would come with her son here once a year on Mother’s Day.  But never with Mr. Cheng!

Until 4 years ago, that is!  In 2009, aged 86, Mr. Cheng made a radical decision – to become a Christian and be baptized.  A whole new beginning for him and his family!

IMG_9511

Mr. Cheng came from Mainland China to Taiwan alone at the age of 27, and after years of study became a professor of P. E. at TamKang University in Tamsui.  Aged 36 he married Mrs. Cheng.  She has a very long Christian heritage as a 3rd generation Christian from the Chen family of Xindian (the other end of Taipei) where her grandfather was Presbyterian pastor, one of the original students of Rev. George L. Mackay……

And so there followed 49 long years of prayer for her husband to come to faith……

In 2009 Mr. Cheng was in hospital, very ill.  One of Mrs. Cheng’s relatives, a pastor, visited him, and asked him a simple question about what would happen to him after his death. Mr. Cheng was deeply challenged and troubled by that question, and knew he could no longer put off making a decision.  When he came home from hospital, still very weak, he called our rector (who had been visiting him for several years and sharing the Gospel), who came to the house and baptized him.

Amazingly, Mr. Cheng recovered from that illness.  In fact, he lived on for another 4 years, became a very committed Christian; and whenever his health allowed, he was always in our church on a Sunday with his wife beside him.

We give thanks to God for Mr. Cheng’s testimony, his wife’s faithfulness in prayer over the years, and for all the family ~ God certainly works in amazing ways!

Paper Embroidery Art Exhibition Opening Day!

St. John’s University is hosting an exhibition of Paper Embroidery Art, in association with our neighbouring junior-high school – and yesterday was the grand opening YA!

Really quite amazing stuff!  A traditional Chinese handicraft, using parchment (like thick tracing paper)…. and leading expert is Ms. Shen Hai-Rong 沈海蓉 who also happens to be famous in Taiwan for her acting roles in Chinese drama, and now devotes her time to teaching this craft to our local children, along with her team of teachers – they all came along yesterday, pupils and teachers – to show us and teach us how to do it ourselves.

This kind of craft is small and fiddly, demands a lot of concentration, and hands ache by the end ha ha!  But it’s fun and, well, the end result is of course quite beautiful!

And the pink orchids?  Well, they were a gift from SJU chaplaincy and Advent Church to offer our congratulations to the school on the opening of this wonderful exhibition!

Happy Keelung ~ Happy Yellow Duck!

How to make a city smile?  How to make a city famed for its miserable weather smile? Install some ART!  The famous Rubber Duck is here, and despite plenty of mishaps en route, hey here it is smiling away, and surrounded by plenty of happy people also smiling away, helped by a sunny day of course.  Unbelievable the affect that a very large (well, 18m) yellow duck can have on the mood of a city.  I love it!  And there’s even some real yellow ducks on hand nearby to say hello….

OK, so not everyone is smiling in Keelung City and every day we have an update on the News about the duck’s condition, the state of the water, the sales of yellow duck merchandise, the crowd numbers ~ and the fact is that the yellow duck is now competing with the baby panda (real, not rubber) who makes its first public appearance at Taipei Zoo next week…..

But when the yellow duck has gone and Keelung returns to its normal wet and windy self, then the happiest places in the city will continue to be the churches.  Hoping that all the churches in Keelung are as full of joy as our 2 churches – Trinity Church and St. Stephen’s – whatever the weather outside, the people there are always smiling!

Well we do have a great God after all – that fact alone’s just gotta make us smile!

TAIPEI 101 Global Circle ~ and TABORA is right there!

In Taipei 101 is a large black granite circle in the floor, and in white marble are carved the names of a whole host of places, some well-known, others nobody has ever heard of.  This of course is ART.

IMG_8778A

Public Art in fact, known as the ‘Global Circle’ and described on the Taipei 101 website rather eloquently as:

In the most luxurious and hottest shopping center, this Global Circle exists in silence. The black granite ring is embedded in the Social Plaza of the shopping square, and white inscriptions of names of cities from celebrated metropolises to unknown towns mingle in disorder along its border—in the tide of globalization, we are in the center of the world as well as the margin of others. Under sunlight, the Global Circle creates another dimension of space, echoing constellations in the cosmos.

So there I was on New Year’s Eve with many hours to spare before midnight, and there I was staring at all these randomly arranged places – and there, in the middle of them all is no lesser a name than the mighty TABORA!  Yes Tabora!  Is it one of ‘unknown towns’ mentioned above, or in fact a ‘celebrated metropolis’?  After all, there it is placed between Hiroshima and Miami….

IMG_8802

Ah Tabora, what memories!  Famous because – well, David Livingstone hung out in the area long ago, but more famous cos it’s a major junction on the railway line between north and south Tanzania, the station where the trains going upcountry divide to go west or north, and where they meet up on their journey south – either way, travelers spend many long (sometimes never-ending!) happy hours waiting there on the train…..

So now Tabora can know it’s on the map – not just any old map – but on the Global Circle right in the heart of Taipei 101!

Taipei Welcomes 2014!

And for the first time ever, I was there ~ and not just watching from a distance, but right in there among the zillions of people who had come to watch the show at Taipei City Hall and Taipei 101 ~ YES!

And it was WONDERFUL!  AMAZING! SPECTACULAR! INCREDIBLE!  All worth every minute – and yep there were plenty of minutes to wait until midnight, in fact the show went from before 7:00pm until 1:00am ~  but I had a grand viewing platform, clinging to a large bush growing on a raised flowerbed ha ha!

The Taipei City Government and the police and all the organizers did a great job with generally everything….

The event was sponsored by hTC (‘happy Taiwan Celebrates’ and ‘happy Taipei City’) and NUSKIN (‘Happy NU Year’) and we had Spiderman as the star to laser the start of the fireworks…

Performance after performance of every major music star, oh yes and a link with Japan and performance of theirs too ~ then we even had some swahili (Hakuna matata) and scenes of the African bush ~ and an appearance of famous (and conveniently handsome) baseball heroes, plus the mayor of Taipei in his baseball kit.  Ah yes, and the president came in time for the fireworks – after which we had an hour of S. H. E., one of Taiwan’s most famous girl bands…

And not to be forgotten, a broadcast wedding proposal from a couple in the crowd in the middle of it all…

And hope you catch ‘Believe in Jesus and receive eternal life’, among other things on banners being waved in front of Taipei 101!

Taipei Times article on the event here….

Happy New Year everyone, wishing you a wonderful start to 2014!

Yes to God, Yes to Mission, Yes to Taiwan!