Tag Archives: Funerals

R.I.P. Janet Tan 譚瑾姊妹追思禮拜 Funeral Service @ Advent Church, Taipei

Well over 200 people gathered at 2:00 pm today, Sunday, at Advent Church to give thanks to God for the life and witness of our close friend and beloved church member, Janet Tan 譚瑾姊妹, who sadly died on June 25. Hers was a life lived to the full, she never wasted one single moment, and all of us who knew her were touched by her kindness, love, self-effacing charm, endless optimism and interest in everything and everyone. All the photos used in this post below bring back many memories, but the top photo above shows Janet with Bishop Lai in 2014 at the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Taiwan Episcopal Church, and that’s how I remember her, always with a smile on her face!

The Tan family have long been the party-family of Advent Church, and until Tan Mama and Tan Baba both passed away last year (see my report of Tan Mama’s funeral here), we regularly gathered at their home to celebrate and enjoy delicious food and great company, whether it was birthdays, Christmas or other festivals, the returning home of one of the grandchildren or welcoming visitors coming – whatever and whenever, it was the Tan family who always knew how to host a great party. Tan Mama was in charge, but somehow it was Janet who made it all happen!

Janet went to high school in Taipei, and after leaving Christ’s College, Guandu, she traveled the world with Cathay Pacific for 10 years or so – she used to tell so many stories of her backpacking adventures! Later she worked in the USA, then at the family T-shirt company in Taipei City, and finally moved with all the Tan family to the coast at Baishawan, just north of Advent Church, where she and her parents took care of the Tan family pets: 7 horses, about 15 famously noisy dogs, a host of cats and a whole gaggle of geese. In their Taipei days, Janet had had a whole pack of Dalmatian dogs, all white with black spots, and she had clothes to match ~ plus the car and the family factory were all painted in white with black spots too ~ ah, she was just so special!

In the countryside at Baishawan, Janet learned how to renovate derelict houses, grow vegetables and live off the land, while also taking care of her beloved parents, and all the pets. Visitors were always welcome! And thus it was that I’ve been to the family home many times for early morning breakfast, other times for lunch, and even more times for late evening parties. Tan Mama was always just getting warmed up at 9:00 pm when most 90-year-olds were well gone to bed!

And when the party was over, often getting on for 11:00 pm, then somehow I had to get home, and that’s when the fun started ~ Janet would offer to drive me the 5 miles or so – only 5 miles but it would take absolutely ages! Tan Mama, fearing that Janet would fall asleep driving, would insist on coming too, and Tan Baba didn’t want to miss out on a car trip, so all 4 of us would then launch forth into the night, pile into the car and head down the hill and along the road in the darkness, going very slowly. The only way to keep Janet awake was to sing loudly and get her to join in too, and so that’s how we got home. Being a kindergarten teacher, I know endless children’s songs, and we sang them all, over and over again ~ ‘Jingle Bells, Happy Birthday, The Wheels on the Bus, Incy-Wincy Spider, If you’re happy and you know it’ every verse, over and over! By this time, Tan Mama and Tan Baba were both fast asleep themselves, and Janet and me were having a great singalong all the way home. It was hilarious. Visitors would join in too, ah such amazing memories!

Janet and her parents also came to every social event in Advent Church. They rarely came on time, and sometimes not even on the right day, but hey, they always came, often right at the end, just in time for the food. One time they called me and asked could they visit. When they arrived, they came with a huge plate of watermelon chunks, enough for about 20 people. The 4 of us munched our way through all that watermelon. It turned out they had thought it was a social evening at Advent Church, and had turned up very late – only to find the church closed. After a quick phone call, they discovered they were a week early, it was on the following week instead. So rather than go home, hey they just brought the watermelon to my house for a watermelon party instead!

When the then-Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori came to visit Advent Church many years ago, she also visited the Tan family and met the horses. Then when the Episcopal Church House of Bishops came to Taiwan in 2014, Janet was on hand to renew her friendship with Presiding Bishop Katharine and her husband, Richard – here they are having lunch!

And only Janet could have pulled off a group photo on the steps of Advent Church with her in the front row with all the bishops!

Today’s service was a fitting tribute to Janet’s life, and also to her witness of her deep and very real Christian faith. She always made the most of every opportunity to share her faith with others, particularly in the context of her simple rural lifestyle, depending on God to supply everything they needed – and over this past year of declining health, she has always remained grateful and appreciative of God’s grace, mercy and love. When Tan Baba died last July, Janet was not able to be at his funeral, she was already receiving treatment for cancer – however she kept as active as she could right to the end and in this last semester, she came along most weeks to my community English class, including the one only a week before she died. We loved having her, she was a real blessing to us all.

Today’s funeral service was led by our rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, who was with Janet in the days and hours leading up to her death, and he also led her cremation service on July 1. Her death was a shock and the whole church has been in mourning for weeks; Janet was too young and died too soon, only a year after both her parents, and yet she would not have wanted us to be mournful – but to rejoice with her that she is now with her Lord in heaven, where there is no more suffering and pain, and where she is reunited with her beloved parents. The reading was from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-15, most appropriate. The funeral service in a packed Advent Church….

After the service, we had a tea party in the church center, which the family had decorated with flowers, and Dalmatian-style tablecloths! There were gifts of memorial books and T-shirts. On the T-shirts, designed and made by the family in their own factory, were the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1, headlined with the song, ‘Turn, turn, turn’: “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” So beautiful.

Janet’s 3 older brothers shook hands and thanked everyone as the service finished. We offer them and all the Tan family our condolences and prayers. The brothers and their families are looking after all Janet’s horses and dogs, cats and geese, and also trying to complete some of her building projects, like the huge cross that she wanted to make on the flat roof of the horses’ stable, so that as the airplanes pass by overhead on their flight-path to the international airport, so they can look down and see the cross outline all lit up. Janet had so many ideas and so much vision, she was brimming with creativity and imagination for what was possible. You can see from her outfits she wore that she always dressed as creatively as she could. Janet really brightened up our lives, and was a great friend to so many of us. I thank God for the privilege of having known her.

Fondly remembered. May Janet rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.

R.I.P. Tan Mama 譚鄧承義姊妹追思聖餐禮拜 And what an amazing lady she was!

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Today was Tan Mama’s funeral and funeral party.  It was held in Advent Church, the sun was shining, the cherry blossom was out and Tan Mama would have been smiling!  Just like in these photos of her taken a few years ago!

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Tan Mama’s funeral was moving, dignified and fitting, a service that included Holy Communion, in which we thanked God for Tan Mama’s life and commended her into God’s care and keeping.  Her ashes were in a box (actually a chocolate biscuit box!) at the front of the church for the service.  The church was full, family and friends had come from all over.

Following the service, we moved into the church center for the funeral party.  And what a funeral party it was.  It was totally in the unique style that is Tan Mama and all the Tan family.  She would have loved it!

The church center was decorated with paper flowers and real flowers and with all Tan Mama’s beloved possessions, her large wooden cross decorated with horseshoes (from their own horses), her multi-coloured socks (Tan Mama ALWAYS wore 2 different coloured socks!), her hats with their beautiful feathers, her Bibles and books, her home-made candles, and all the T-shirts.  Yes, T-shirts!  The Tan family business is T-shirts, and they come in all shapes and sizes, colours and patterns, and with logos or words, many designed by Tan Mama herself.  And her homemade wine was offered to everyone for a toast!

Tan Mama and Tan Baba have 4 children and 5 grandchildren, and all were there – the grandchildren sang 2 songs, and the whole family sang a song….

Some friends gave short tributes, some sang songs, others recalled happy memories of Tan Mama.  I was the last to speak, and fondly remembered Tan Mama’s love for parties.  She was the party girl of Advent Church!  Whenever and wherever there was a party, Tan Mama would be there. And wherever Tan Mama was, there was always the potential for a party.  If Tan Mama decided to have a party, well, it happened big-time.  She was the life and soul of any and every social event!

I’ve found many photos in my collection, taken over the last 6 or more years, many of them at parties or social events.  Spot Tan Mama in the middle of each, smiling away!

Anyway, back to the funeral party today.  After the sharing time, we had yummy food to eat, and we were all given potted plants and chocolate-filled Easter eggs to take home.  Y’know, it was quite an occasion, never has Advent Church seen any funeral party like this!

Tan Mama died on March 3, peacefully in her sleep. These last 2 years have been difficult ones for her and the family after she suffered a bad stroke in January 2016, but she valiantly rose to the challenge and determined to walk again, which she did, with some help.  What was amazing was the way the family cared for her and devoted their time and energy to the task. It is just so moving to see their love in action.

Tan Mama’s No. 8 younger sister came to the funeral.  Here she is today, standing in the centre, next to the Tan family cross with the horseshoes, with Hannah (wife of Advent Church rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang) on the left, and Janet Tan on the right….

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Tan Mama was the oldest child in her family, with 10 younger siblings, and her family were Christians, all living in Sichuan, China.  She studied at West China Union University 華西協合大學 in Chengdu, and in about 1948-9 came with her then-fiancé to Taiwan – they married in Gangshan, southern Taiwan, where Tan Baba was stationed in the air force.  That was a period of major political upheaval in China, and like many others who came to Taiwan at the time, they had no idea that they would not be allowed any contact with their families back home for decades to come.  And so, sadly, Tan Mama was never able to see her parents again.  In recent decades, visits have been possible, and these days, we’re glad that No. 8 sister is able to come from Sichuan and visit, she is so delightful!

We truly thank God for Tan Mama’s long and amazing life (95 years or thereabouts, we never quite knew what year we were celebrating with Tan Mama!), her joyful spirit, her cheerfulness and friendliness, her warm hospitality and generosity, her witness for Christ and her dedication to her family.  And when I say ‘family’, I also mean all the animals that are so much part of the Tan family – their horses, dogs, cats and geese.  Nobody else in Taiwan has quite the family that Tan Mama has.  Yes, the Tan family are quite amazing!

This is Tan Mama in years gone by….

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Tan Mama and Tan Baba recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, and Tan Baba celebrated his 100th birthday only last week.  They were such a support for each other, and it will not be easy adapting to life without Tan Mama.  We were so pleased to see Tan Baba today, and he posed for many photos….

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We pray for Tan Baba and all the Tan family to know God’s strength and comfort in their time of loss.   Tan Mama was one very special lady, and we will miss her, but we thank God for her life and the blessing that she was to so many of us.  May she rest in peace and rise and glory.

Updated on August 6, 2018….

Tan Baba passed away peacefully on July 7, 2018.  His funeral service was held yesterday at Advent Church, with many family members and friends in attendance – the church was completely full.  Tan Mama died on 3/3, Tan Baba on 7/7.  Both 3 and 7 have special spiritual significance for Christians.  Both also died on a Saturday, meaning the family were all at home, and could pay their last respects more easily.  At the funeral, their oldest son, Benjamin shared about his father’s life, and what an wonderful man he was.  I remember Tan Baba very fondly.  Always cheerful, always smiling.  He will be much missed.  May he rest in peace, rise in glory and may all the Tan family know God’s deep comfort and great strength at this sad time.

Hot off the press ~ CMS Link Letter # 73!

In 1,400 words (that’s the CMS limit), my long silence on here has ended with the publication today of my latest Church Mission Society (CMS) Link Letter ~ click on this link below and it opens to a pdf document with words and photos describing why I’ve been silent for so long…..

Catherine Lee 73

However, 1,400 words was not enough – and I had to leave much out.  Notably thanking certain people.  My family of course, and all those who offered support and prayers….

Next would be Alice from Mauritius who spent the summer here in Taiwan, staying in my house while she visited her very lovely elderly parents who live up the road from me – while her energetic husband, Bishop Roger was on a mission study tour of the Church of South India.  She is the reason why we visited St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung on Sunday August 6, and I was very grateful for her company and support all summer – and for looking after my house while I was away.

Then there was Rev. Keith C. C. Lee and lovely people of Good Shepherd Church and Kindergarten, Taipei where I had completed only one week of a four-week children’s summer camp when I had to return to the UK.  It so happened that they managed to find another teacher at the last minute, who herself happened to return to Taiwan from her own holiday on the day I left.  Amazing.  God is good.

And especially big thanks to Bishop David J. H. Lai, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang and all the great people of the Diocese of Taiwan, Advent Church and St. John’s University for their support and prayers, and for releasing me for 3 weeks to return to the UK.

And finally, my mobile phone died on me the day I arrived in the UK.  It refused to charge itself and so breathed its last, leaving me phone-less.  As Taiwan is THE best place to buy a new phone, I decided to wait. And anyway, 3 weeks without a phone is not really the end of the world, and gave me a chance to switch off and focus on what was going on there.  So maybe God had a purpose in it all after all!

So, many apologies if you’ve been checking this blog and wondered how come I was so quiet and posting nothing for so long ~ and no explanation either.  Now you know ~ and I hope you will continue your support and prayers as always, thank you!

鄭陳愛美姊妹追思感恩聖餐禮拜 R.I.P Mrs. Cheng Chen Ai-Mei

Our beloved church member, Mrs. Cheng Chen Ai-Mei 鄭陳愛美姊妹 (known to us as Cheng Mama 鄭媽媽) died on March 14, and this past Saturday was her Memorial Service in Advent Church.

Her cremation and burial of ashes took place a week after her death and this Memorial Service was for the church community and her wide circle of friends and colleagues to say goodbye.  It was also a Holy Communion Service, as is fitting for a family where all are Christians.  And what a service it was!  Advent Church was so full of people that we had to bring in extra chairs.  So many people had come to pay their last respects, to grieve, to bring comfort to the family, and to thank God for her wonderful life. And what a life it was. Cheng Mama was much-loved by everyone – and is much missed.

Cheng Mama came from a very big and very well-known Tamsui family. Her father Mr. Chen Ching-Chung 陳清忠校長 (1895-1960) was principal of TamKang High School, Tamsui and was responsible for introducing the sport of rugby into the school – and into the whole country.  The TamKang schools and colleges were founded by the first Presbyterian missionary to Taiwan, George L. Mackay.  Cheng Mama’s paternal grandfather, 陳火 Rev. Chen Huo (after he became a Christian he changed his name to Chen Rong-Hui 陳榮輝) was one of Mackay’s first students and converts, and became the first pastor of Xindian Presbyterian Church, Taipei.  Her great uncle, Chen Rong-Hui’s elder brother married Mackay’s elder daughter, Mary Ellen.

Cheng Mama spent most of her life worshiping in Tamsui Presbyterian Church, but her son, Paul and his family have been members of Advent Church for many many years, serving on the Vestry and in many leadership roles.  In recent years, his sister, Carol has joined us too.  We love them all so much!

Cheng Mama’s testimony is amazing.  She prayed faithfully for her husband for 49 years that he could become a Christian.  49 years!  Suddenly in 2009 at the grand old age of 86, through the ministry of our rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, Mr. Cheng made THE decision – yes, he was going to be baptized!  The Cheng parents then both started to attend Advent Church every week as long as they were able.  Mr. Cheng died on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2013 and his funeral was held in Advent Church a few weeks later (see that blog post here). Cheng Mama continued to come to Advent Church along with her family, until she became sick a few months ago.

Cheng Mama is lovingly remembered for the way she showed such great care and concern for all those in her family, and her friends, colleagues, classmates, church members and so many more.  Even when she couldn’t go out and meet them all, she would call up and keep in touch by phone.  Always smiling and giving thanks to God for his many blessings, she was a gift to us all.  One of her great friends was Tan Mama – this is the best photo I took of them both in Advent 2015, Cheng Mama on the right, Tan Mama on the left.

So we give thanks to Almighty God for Cheng Mama’s wonderful life and witness. We pray for her family and friends, and for us all, that the faith of those like Cheng Mama, who have gone before us, will continue to inspire and challenge us afresh.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory, Amen!

R.I.P. Mr. Liao Hong-Ming 廖鴻鳴弟兄 Loyal and Faithful Servant of the Lord

Mr. Liao Hong-Ming died peacefully on December 17, ‘with a smile on his face’ as Rev. Philip Lin wrote in his announcement – and today was his funeral and cremation at the Taipei Second Funeral Home.

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Mr. Liao was the husband of Mrs. Chao, who until she retired last year was our colleague in the St. John’s University Chaplaincy.  In fact they both worked at St. John’s University (and as it was formerly known, St. John’s and St. Mary’s Institute of Technology) for virtually all of their working lives, serving faithfully on the administrative staff, devoting their time, energy and expertise to ensure the smooth running of the school. They were both totally dedicated to their work, to their family, to their church and to Almighty God.   The world definitely needs more loyal and faithful servants like Mr. Liao and Mrs. Chao.

Mr. Liao became ill some years ago, and has shown amazing resilience, determination and fortitude in the face of so much pain and increasing agony.  All through his illness, Mrs. Chao and family and friends have all been beside him, supporting and encouraging him. Their faith has kept them strong, and the support of their friends from Good Shepherd Church and former colleagues has lightened the load.

Today at his funeral, Rev. Lennon Chang spoke of the joy of knowing that Mr. Liao is now in the presence of Almighty God, held in his arms, and that for those who believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and life, that opportunity is open to us too.   The service was beautifully led by Good Shepherd Church clergy and lay leaders, and finished with us all placing orchid flowers on the open coffin as they prepared his body for cremation.

About 100 of us joined in the funeral service, including some who, like me, cannot get to next Saturday’s Memorial Service at Good Shepherd Church.   All were there to show their respect and gratitude to Mr. Liao, and to show support to Mrs. Chao and the family. Having so many good friends and colleagues around at such a time is a great blessing.

Thanking God for Mr. Liao’s life and witness; may he rest in peace and rise in glory.  And praying for God’s comfort and grace to sustain Mrs. Chao, their 3 children and all the family throughout this sad time.

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!

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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!