Tag Archives: Lao-Mei Village

Advent & Christmas 2017 @ St. John’s University (SJU) & Advent Church, Taiwan

SJU is definitely a happening kind of place during Advent and Christmas!  Taiwan doesn’t have any holidays for Christmas, so apart from weekends, the students are here in classes all over Christmas, the office staff are working all over Christmas, the professors are teaching all over Christmas (and this year our engineering faculty / college had an OFSTED-style inspection starting on December 25!) so we just get on and make the most of it!

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During Advent, every department and main office in St. John’s University has an Advent wreath on display, and every week the St. John’s University Chaplaincy Team and student fellowship walk around the university campus visiting all those offices in turn, starting with President Ay’s office.

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We invite one of the staff of each office to light the Advent candle(s) and read a Bible verse, we sing a carol or say a prayer, share greetings, and move on to the next office.  It takes 3-4 hours to complete the circuit.  One day we also included our new class of Vietnamese students, who gathered in a large group and joined in…

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As there’s about 30 offices on the campus and we visit each office 4 times over the course of Advent, hey that’s quite a few candles being lit and prayers being offered!

Our students and church members have been busy for weeks preparing a Christmas drama, this year it actually included the Bible story of Christmas.  We had 2 teams rehearsing, one of students and one of church members – with some overlap; during Advent, we took the performance around the community to different places.  The students performed the drama during their evangelistic outreach event early in December, and on Saturday December 16, the church members performed the drama for our children’s Christmas party ~ it was fast-moving and thrilling to watch!

At Advent Church, we have said thank you and goodbye to Rev. Michael T. H. Liu, who after about 5 years of monthly preaching at Advent Church is finally retiring, at nearly 80 years old.  This was his last Sunday with us on December 10 – so we all gathered for a group photo.  Thank you Michael!

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My monthly visits to Laomei Elementary School (an extension of Advent Church ministry) also continued through December, with our theme of Christmas trees.  Ah, the kids are so much fun – these are the younger ones!

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Our combined SJU and Advent Church Christmas Charity Bazaar is held every year on the Wednesday before Christmas.  This year it was December 20, and everyone was busy for weeks beforehand getting ready.  This year’s charity is Taiwan Xi En 希恩之家  in Kaohsiung, which was founded originally to provide a way of helping mothers who might otherwise decide to have an abortion, and the charity’s home helps take care of babies and small children up to the age of 2 years old.  Our aim was to raise NT$ 250,000 and it looks like we might exceed that, thanks be to God!  Most of the money is actually raised from direct donations, but the bazaar gives the students a chance to do their bit to help, giving of their time and buying their lunch that day at the bazaar.  The day of the actual bazaar was dry weather – for the first time for many years!  Not only that, but the weather continued dry and even sunny throughout the whole Christmas weekend.  Possibly a first – YES!

The following day, Thursday December 21 was the Christmas carol-singing and final Advent walkabout, lighting all the 5 candles, and also visiting the student dormitories and our local neighbours.  We had also visited Xian-Xiao (our neighbouring junior-high school branch) a few days earlier for carol singing and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.

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Then on Friday evening, our church members joined with the student fellowship and we extended our carol singing to cover the whole area from Tamsui up to Sanzhi. I joined the group that was singing outside the new ramen noodle shop run by our church members in northern Tamsui….

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And then all the different carol-singing groups met up to visit SJU President Ay’s home here in his university accommodation.  We had such a warm welcome!

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On Christmas Eve, we held our evening service at 7:30 pm, starting in candlelight, and wonderfully supported by our choir, who as always, sang beautifully.

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We had 2 baptisms that evening, Mr. Huang, brother of one of our former students who was baptized himself here a few years ago, and the other was our good friend, Jasmine Yu, in charge of Xian-Xiao School….

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Jasmine invited 12 members of her family to come and witness this momentous event.  These were virtually all people I know from the mountain-climbing trips we have done together over the years.  Apart from one of her cousins who is a Christian, Jasmine is the first Christian in her family, and yet they all came along to support her.  What a great testimony, and praise God!  Please pray for them all!

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Christmas Day, being a Monday, was a normal work and school day here in Taiwan.  We had a short service on Christmas Day, and then we had another one today, December 27, for St. John’s Day – patron saint of SJU…

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And last night, December 26, we had a wonderful Christmas Party for my combined community English class groups.  Normally I have 2 adult English groups, one meeting on Monday afternoons, and the other (a new class this term) on Tuesday evenings.  Actually the Monday afternoon group are mainly church members, and they took on the responsibility of running the party for the Tuesday evening group, who are mostly not.  Everyone brought food, wore red and we all had a great time. Ah, I love red!

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And just check out the fruit animals, made by Ms. Cho, one of the students!

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We danced, ate, played Bingo, musical chairs and musical animal statues and it was all so funny, I could hardly take photos for laughing so much. Spot the penguins. And the lions.  And plenty of other animals.  Just my kinda party!

SJU has a brand new set of LED lights along our main campus boulevard, strings of blue and white lights hanging from all the banyan trees, and looking very splendid.  The students are so impressed they are all taking and posting photos of themselves in the lights.  This was last night, the grand opening was tonight!

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Non-stop all month, and more to come lol.  For now though, this is it.  Christmas is well and truly upon us!

Belated Christmas greetings to you all!

Updated on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2017:

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This morning in Advent Church we celebrated the First Sunday of Christmas.  As it comes only days after St. John’s Day on December 27, so our SJU student fellowship were responsible for leading the worship, doing the readings, the notices, collection etc.  They all did a great job!

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We also welcomed Bishop David J. H. Lai for a confirmation service…..

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Seven people were confirmed ~ ranging in age from 17 to 90!

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Congratulations to everyone ~ and what a great way to end 2017!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year 2018 ~ and I’m off to write my new year resolutions!

Advent Church Summer Camp 2017 降臨堂兒童喜樂營 ‘YES! You’re Extra-Special!’

And what a camp it was!  Two whole days of fun, laughter, games, water fights, action songs, drama, handicrafts, prayers and much more!

The theme was ‘You’re Extra-Special’ – the initials of which happen to spell ‘YES!’… and that logo was on our dark blue T-shirts too, the YES is written into the shape of Advent Church… here’s some of us in the T-shirts!

The summer camp happens every year at this time, with a large group of lovely students from our SJU Student Fellowship group who spend 2-3 days in training and preparation, followed by the actual camp, open to children aged from about 4-12. Once the children are too old to attend, then they can come along as helpers and attend the training too.  So this year we had over 30 student leaders, and 55-60 children.  The kids come from all over the local area, and some are children or relatives of our SJU faculty and staff and live further away.  Two very small children had come from Yilan with their aunt, who is our school nurse ~ she said it was their first time away from their parents, and several had even come back from overseas to visit grandparents, so it was all quite international.  Here we all are!

Until last year, the summer camp was held in Advent Church (left), but since we now have a wonderful new church centre (right), we used that ~ and just look at the weather!

The overall camp leader and organizer was our just-graduated and former chair of the student fellowship, who we call Pi-pi ~ and he did a really great job.  He is multi-talented in music (here he is on the right) and all things related to talking (ha ha!) ~ and has tons of personality, always making everyone laugh, as well as good at organizing everyone.  We’ll miss him now he’s graduated!

He was ably assisted by Hong-Wen, one of our former students, and both were under the general watchful eye of Yu-Ru, our person in charge of all the outreach and social services of Advent Church, who also happens to be married to our chaplain, Rev. Wu Shing-Shiang.  And all of the summer camp comes under Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, our rector.  The ladies of the church (plus a few men!) had an amazing ministry in providing breakfasts and dinners for the whole 5 days – they smiled and laughed continually throughout. All helpers and students were invited to a celebration thanksgiving banquet on Tuesday evening after the children had gone home.  Here’s some of the lovely ladies!

Here’s our student leaders ~ taken after singing in the Advent Church service on Sunday – in the summer camp T-shirts…. they’re all set for the off!

We had some special visitors too!  Number one VIP visitor gave us a huge and very wonderful surprise ~ Sheerah from West Malaysia!  In 2010, she and a group from the Diocese of West Malaysia (DWM) came to Advent Church to lead some training on ‘Kid’s Games’, an international program using sports and games to teach children spiritual truths and character education based around the Bible.  Sheerah oversees this program in DWM, and she happened to be in Taiwan this past week, so she came along for one afternoon.  Amazing!  She is full of life and energy and ideas of what we could do together in the future too!  Here she is….. with Rev. Lennon Chang (left) and Rev. Wu and Shu-Jing (right)….

When the DWM group came in 2010, we did not yet have any students from Malaysia, now we have lots.  In fact we had 6 students helping on the summer camp who come from Malaysia, and one had even attended Kid’s Games in her own home town, Ipoh, which happens to be Sheerah’s hometown too ~ ah, it’s a small world!  And they were all so happy to pose in a photo together!

Next set of VIP visitors were from Lao-Mei Village, Taiwan’s northern tip, and one of my favourite places, since I go to the school for English classes sometimes.  Ms. Cheng (back row, left of Rev. Lennon Chang) brought a group of very happy children, and we were delighted to see them ~ with Yu-Ru too (right)!

And so ~ a selection of randomly arranged photos of the summer camp!  We had 2 or 3 us taking photos, so the photo numbers are all mixed up.  Thousands of photos in total.  290 on our church facebook page, and you’ll be glad to know, less than 60 here!  But all mixed up just adds to the fun!

Thanks to everyone for all their hard work, and especially to Almighty God for his many blessings!

PS We had 2 sets of identical twins on the summer camp, each set dressed alike, and all girls ~ taking photos is even more of a challenge than usual, hope we got them all in ha ha!

Laomei Elementary School 老梅國小 celebrates 117 years!

Every school in Taiwan has an annual school celebration, with a mixture of performances, bazaar, fiesta, fayre and reunion for old school friends all rolled into one.  Lots of VIP visitors from the local community, and principals from other local schools come and bring their congratulations too.  On Saturday, LaoMei Elementary School, in Shimen Township on Taiwan’s northern tip, had their 117th birthday celebration, and invited me to go!

This is LaoMei Village, nestling down there by the seashore….

I’ve been going there about once a month to help the children a little with their English. A few weeks ago our classes were on the theme of ‘Family Tree’, and at the end of March, we celebrated Children’s Day (see that blog post here).

Usually it rains.  Yes, sadly, it’s wet wet wet!  So we were a bit worried about what would happen on Saturday.  Specially seeing as the plum rains have started, and it’s been raining in bursts all week.  Actually at 5:00 am on Saturday morning it was raining, and looked as if it would be terrible weather.  But hey presto, the rain cleared up, the sun came out, blue skies appeared and by mid-morning, it looked like this!

Beautiful!

We started the celebration with 3 performances from the children, all the kindergarten, the African Drumming Band and the Percussion Group.  Amazing talent!

And check out the view at the back!

There’s 88 children in the school, plus another 27 in the kindergarten.  That’s 115 in total. Add in the principal and head of parents committee and you have 117!  Yes, that’s the age of the school, founded in 1900.

After the performances and speeches we went to the library for an introduction to an amazing storybook project that the school has been doing in cooperation with one of the education colleges.  They’ve produced 3 huge huge story books, filled with pictures and words telling stories about LaoMei.  Really great.  And all published as real books no less. One of the books contains an illustrated map of LaoMei, done by one of the children. It is so true to life!  I love it!

There’s even the R.C. Church in the bottom left corner – it no longer serves as a church since all the church members who were in the military dependents village nearby have moved away ~ but the building is let to Ms. Cheng who runs after-school classes for the children, and that’s how we came to be connected with LaoMei.

After eating my fill of goodies made and sold by the children, off I went to find the LaoMei Maze.   Ah yes, the LaoMei Maze.  It even has its own Google Maps Location, and is a famous landmark, although it is nearer to the army camp at Fugui Cape Lighthouse and Fuji Village than to LaoMei.  And not easy to find!

Not quite sure why it’s there, and it’s falling down bit by bit.  Until last year, the lighthouse wasn’t even open to the public, so nobody came here anyway.  Even now, there’s no signs to it, and it’s hard to take a picture of it without taking the whole army camp too.  But it’s fun all the same!

And so down to Fuji Fishing Village, with it’s fish markets and restaurant area – with its colourful roof…

The boats unload their catch directly for the restaurants in the village to make the most of it all, and people come by the coachload for fresh seafood….

At midday, the boats are resting….

This is the view looking back, on my way to the main road….

Ah, yes the northern tip of Taiwan, and LaoMei Elementary School ~ a great place!

Happy Children’s Day 兒童節 in Laomei Village 石門鄉老梅!

Laomei Elementary School 老梅國小 is in Shimen Township on Taiwan’s northern tip, and on a sunny day in spring and summer it’s beautiful.  The rest of the time, sadly it is not. The rain lashes down in buckets, the wind blows in great big gusts, and the children are well-used to spending endless days indoors.   But surprise, surprise, after a very wet weekend, suddenly yesterday was beautiful, the sun was out and it was warm!

Laomei Beach is famous for its Algal Reef 老梅綠色石槽, formed from wave-cut volcanic lava and every year covered in bright green algae, especially in April – May, and best seen at low tide.

Yesterday morning was not low tide, but the algal reef was really starting to look very green! Great!

The village was also looking quite cheerful with the sun out.  Many of the residents are elderly, but the people are tough, and very committed to their village. It’s in the danger zone for the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant, so there are notices all over. The centre of village life is the old people’s activity centre, located on the ground floor of the temple….

It so happened I was spending the morning at Laomei School…

The children were enjoying the weather….

In honour of Children’s Day, celebrated in Taiwan on April 4, we were learning a little about children around the world.  We used an excellent You Tube Video, Scenes From Schools Around the World and we learned the song, Hello to all the Children in the World – a great way to introduce the subject.  At the end we made some cut-out children with the greetings in different languages written on them, and got each class together for a group photo….

See how the declining birth rate is affecting Laomei School?  A few years ago, the top classes had 30+ children, now down to less than 20, and the younger classes have less than 10…. they are all so lovely, of course!

Happy Children’s Day to all the children of Laomei ~ and to all the children of the world!

超級好朋友 Supermaster and his Superfriends Christmas Show @ LaoMei Elementary School 老梅國小!

Our amazing team of students from St. John’s University and church members from Advent Church combined to put on a spectacular performance for our Christmas Show 2016 this morning at LaoMei Elementary School ~ and the children were all very lovely and we had a great time!  Thanks to our leader Yo-yo, who took a day off work to support his team, thanks to those who stood in at the last minute, and thanks to everyone for taking part.   It was GREAT!  Here we all are…..

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LaoMei is one of my favourite places in the whole world ~ and I go to the school there sometimes for a few English activities.  So it was extra special.  I took over 800 photos, but you’ll be glad to know I deleted 90% ha ha!  This is the show ~ a wonderful story of the meaning and value of friendship and the importance of accepting yourself and others…

So a very Merry Christmas to all the amazing children and staff of LaoMei Elementary School ~ and to you all of course!

Advent Word, Day 25 ‘animate’

Day 25 #animate #賦予生命 Wednesday December 22

‘The Spirit of God animates us, but it all happens in the flesh: every deed of kindness, every act of generosity, every word of encouragement happens in the flesh. Every embodiment of Christ’s grace or truth or love happens in the flesh—or it doesn’t happen’.

上主的靈賦予我們生命,但一切都體現於「肉身」之中。[譯者註:此「肉身」令人聯想到「道成肉身」!]舉凡仁慈的行為、慷慨的舉動、鼓勵的話語,都藉由「肉身」來表現;而基督的恩惠、真理、愛的具體顯示,亦是如此,若沒有「道成肉身」,這一切都無法實現!

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A Fantastic Day ~ a very animated and super-talented Supermaster and his Superfriends from St. John’s University perform their Christmas Show for the very lovely children of LaoMei Elementary School (老梅國小)!

Calling the World @ Laomei Elementary School 老梅國小!

Laomei Village is right there at the northern tip of Taiwan, and it’s elementary school is Taiwan’s northernmost and maybe one of the wettest, and yes, it was raining hard yesterday. The school is building a shelter in the playground so that the children can still be outside in the rain but not get wet.  Laomei is also famous for the Shimen Kite Festival, and this year the sun was out, and it was wonderful!

It’s such a friendly school with such lovely children, teachers and staff. As part of our community outreach program from Advent Church and St. John’s University, I was there yesterday teaching a little English.  We were working on the theme of numbers, and telephone numbers in particular, using Laomei School Telephone Number as a good one to learn. We held imaginary phone conversations, and the older children were finding out about international telephone codes…. Ah, such fun!

Such a great place and such a nice atmosphere ~ thank you Laomei for your extra warm welcome, and see you soon!