Tag Archives: St James’ Church Taichung

CMS LINK LETTER # 74!

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:

Catherine Lee 74

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!

Advent Word 2017, Day 8 ‘prepare’

#AdventWord #prepare

‘PREPARE for what? How do you PREPARE for the Word of God to come and “take our flesh and grow as a child in Mary’s womb?” PREPARE and “grow as a child.”’

Today we celebrate Rev. Charles C. T. Chen 陳金地牧師 82nd birthday ~ Happy Birthday Charles! He and MaryJo are not in Taiwan to celebrate, instead they are in Italy with Bishop David J. H. Lai and the group from the National Council of Churches of Taiwan (NCCT) visiting many people and places, including the Vatican and Pope Francis (check the report here).

This photo is Charles and MaryJo’s engagement photo, taken in 1958, as they PREPARE(d) for their marriage.  Wow, almost 60 years ago!

And what’s the connection with the ‘Visit to the Taiwan Episcopal Church 台灣聖公會 of Bishop John A. Pinckney from Taiwan’s Companion Diocese, the Episcopal Diocese of Upper S. Carolina (EDUSC), October 1965?’

Fast forward to 1996, and St. James’ Episcopal Church, Taichung became a parish, with Rev. Charles C. T. Chen as rector. In 1998, a letter from Bishop Manuel Lumpias of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines (EDCP) to then Bishop of Taiwan, John C. T. Chien described how Igorot Christians in EDCP were meeting for worship under mango trees because they had no church buildings of their own. Inspired by memories of the generous US$ 30,000 donation in 1971 from Christ Church, Greenville, EDUSC, to build St. James’ Church, Charles responded in faith and love, inspiring church members and friends to donate money sufficient to build a church in EDCP. That first church, Christ the King, Sandeline in Nueva Ecija, soon inspired a second, then a third, and eventually over 12 years, a total of 12 churches were built to the glory of God.

As Charles said at the time, “In Taiwan, we had nothing and we were so poor. Now we have everything, so it is time for us to help others. Just as Christ Church, Greenville, EDUSC gave so willingly to us in our early days, so we want to express our thanks by sharing our wealth with others.”  Thanks Be To God!

Advent Word 2017, Day 4 ‘simplify’

#AdventWord #simplify

‘SIMPLIFY: travel lightly. Cast off the things and thoughts which are dark and heavy. Put on the “armor of light.” Clean out the closets of your mind and of your house. SIMPLIFY and share the best of your mortal life.’

Visit to the Taiwan Episcopal Church 台灣聖公會 of Bishop John A. Pinckney from Taiwan’s companion diocese, the Episcopal Diocese of Upper S. Carolina (EDUSC), October 1965.

St. James’ Episcopal Church, Taichung 台灣聖公會聖雅各堂 at that time met in this rented building. Later, in 1968, a plot of land was acquired, and in 1971, a donation of US$ 30,000 from Christ Church, Greenville, EDUSC, and an equal amount raised from St. James’ Church members provided the funds needed to build a new church, consecrated in April 1971. Now it is a bustling, busy and beautiful place of worship and outreach, under the leadership of Rev. Lily Chang, rector. Thanks be to God!

聖雅各愛心園遊會 St. James’ Preschool, Taichung, Charity Bazaar 2017!

And what an amazing event it always is!  After weeks and weeks of preparation, it all came together on the day, and Saturday was THE day, YES!

Always held on the Saturday morning of the weekend before Mother’s Day, and always held in aid of charity, and always fun!  (This is last year’s report here – that was an amazing event too). This year’s event seemed even busier – and maybe even more fun! Well, all except for the poor pig who was on the spit soon after 6:00 am ~ but hey, it was delicious!

This year’s 2 charities are the after-school classes and ministry of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Keelung, and 安德啟智中心 St. Andrew’s (Anders) Training Center, Fuli, Hualien. The latter is run by R. C. priest, Fr. Yves Moal 劉一峰神父, who came to Taiwan from France in 1966 at the age of 25, and has been ever since.  Fr. Moal’s project is to build a nursing home for elderly physically and mentally challenged people – he has also been in the News (see here) recently for being one of the first foreigners in Taiwan to receive a Taiwanese passport while keeping his original nationality. Many congratulations!  He is trying to raise NT$ 80 million, but has started building in faith, and hopes to finish by the end of the year.  Fr. Moal’s representative, Bo-Jun 練柏均 came to the bazaar on Saturday ~ here he is presenting Bishop Lai with a certificate of thanks….

St. Stephen’s Church also sent along our good friend and former St. James’ teacher, Huang-Min and a group from their after-school program.  Yes, I just LOVE St. Stephen’s Church!  Rev. Julia Shu-Hua Lin and her team work so hard to help the children and local community.  The children played and sang to us…

There were hundreds of things going on all morning – so it was difficult to know what to see next!  We started with performances from the preschool children, then a prayer from Rev. Lily Chang and a short talk from Bishop Lai, and then each of the VIP visitors hit the big gong and put their donation in the box.  Then everything started in earnest – there were performances all morning from different groups of children, teenagers and adults. Rev. Philip Lin, dean of St. John’s Cathedral and former rector of St. James, also came with his wife, Linda and family. Linda is still active in running the community service program that she started when they were at St. James, but most significantly, their son, Daniel is a great yo-yo expert and performed for us, along with his coach, Harry who is No. 6 yo-yo performer in the world.  Yes, #6 in the whole world!  A great performance from them both!

Another highlight were the Taekwondo Team.  Amazing.  I could have watched them for hours!

And yet another highlight was watching Yasmin and her group acting out their version of the The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Every time I come to St. James, she’s doing something different – The 3 Little Pigs or Little Red Riding Hood, but this was extra special.  The caterpillar’s face was oh so expressive and the kids (and parents) were just so involved, and everyone was so happy when she emerged as a butterfly!

Dozens of local companies and businesses gave of their time and energy to help us raise money, everything from ‘Happy Hair’ haircuts to coffee to sausages (sold by our good friend, Feng-Mei’s brother-in-law and his daughter, who’d come from Taoyuan for the occasion) to children’s paintings.  All in aid of a really great cause.  And all organized by Shin-Chia, Teacher Ruby who has spent months planning everything and did such a great job. Helped of course by Principal Susan, Language Institute director Yu-Mei, all the teachers, children, parents and the local community, and supported by Preschool Supervisor Luanne, her husband and senior warden Samuel, Rev. Lily Chang and all at St. James’ Church, Rev. Sam Cheng, plus of course Bishop Lai and Mrs. Lily Lai.  Here’s Ruby on the morning of the event!

And finally I must mention Li-Mei, Teacher Vicky, who with one of the other teachers were the MCs for the event – Li-Mei comes from Hualien, and it turns out that her mother comes from the exact same village where Fr. Moal is building the nursing home.  She reminded me that she had taken me to that village a few years ago to visit her grandparents. Yes, I remember, ah, we had such a great day!  Here we are on Saturday…..

So a big thank you to all of St. James who worked so hard to make everything go so smoothly ~ and thank you to Bishop Lai and all the visitors who came especially for the event. There were at least 5 groups of us who came from northern Taiwan, including Teacher Tiger and her husband. Plus lots of former teachers who left many years ago, they came back with their families – wow, it was so good to see them again!

Thanks be to God for a really great day, fine weather and lots of energy and fun!

PS: updated May 22 ~ and the grand total raised is NT$ 457,000 (US$ 15,000 or £ 11,600) …. wonderful!

Yes! Celebrating 10 Exciting Years of Sister-School Partnership: St. James, Taichung and Cambridge-Ellis, Boston!

Really quite amazing!  10 years of partnership!  YES!

Y’know, partnerships between schools in different countries are famous for lasting a few years and then dying out.  Sometimes they’ve just run their course. Sometimes they’ve depended too much on one particular person, so when that person leaves, it’s all over.  Or sometimes the money runs out.  Or the enthusiasm.  Or whatever.

So it’s really quite amazing that the sister-school partnership between St. James, Taichung and Cambridge-Ellis (CES), Boston is still going strong after 10 years.  Yes, it’s ten whole years this year!  During that time, lots of teachers have been to visit in both directions, and even I’ve had the chance to visit CES twice, most recently in May 2014 (see my report of that visit here).  So it was with great excitement that last week we welcomed 3 VIP visitors from CES, including their very lovely principal, Gerlinde, on her first ever visit ~ here to celebrate our 10 years anniversary!

And it all started 10+ years ago with Wan-Ching, a former student of St. James’ Kindergarten who grew up and moved to the USA, and actually worked at CES.  CES has a language program which includes Mandarin Chinese, and Wan-Ching suggested CES could connect up with St. James, her alma-mater here in Taichung, Taiwan.  She linked up the CES director at the time, Jenifer Demko and the then rector (now Rector Emeritus) of St. James, Rev. Charles C. T. Chen.  Thank you Wan-Ching!  And so the connection was made, and a partnership came into being, formally signed in March 2007. Charles and Jenifer are both wonderful people of huge vision and determination, with big dreams and ideas, and thrive on trying new things.  But even they could not have predicted that we would have had such a successful 10 years together!

And so to celebrate this great milestone, we invited Gerlinde to come and visit ~ and she chose last week to come.  YES!  She brought Qiaoling, in charge of the CES Mandarin Chinese program and a great friend and support for all our teachers who have visited CES. Qiaoling just loved all the Taiwan food and was invited to so many meals here that even she couldn’t keep up! In fact she arrived in Taiwan a whole 12 hours early, which meant she could fit in extra meals with everyone.  She is just so popular!  Gerlinde also brought along her very charming and handsome husband, who kept us so well-entertained, always with a story to tell, or a cool pose for photos ~ there was never a dull moment all week! For all 3, it was their very first visit to St. James, in fact their first visit to Taiwan.  We LOVED having them here……  aren’t they oh so photogenic?!

And what did we do all week?  A tour of the St. James’ campus, meetings, classes, a lecture from Gerlinde ~ and meals with Rev. Charles Chen and MaryJo, our senior warden Samuel and supervisor Luanne, Preschool principal Susan, Language Institute director Yu-Mei, language teacher Jerry and his wife Jean, and St. James’ rector, Rev. Lily Chang (and we met her lovely 90-year-old mother too!), plus so many others.  They met tons of people and enjoyed having fun with children of every age.  Smiles and fun and laughter and of course, photos.  Photos galore.  For sure! Everyone at St. James was so happy to welcome them, and they were so gracious and kind and smiled all day at everyone!  On Wednesday last week, Luanne also organised us all to go to Puli and Sun Moon Lake for the day, including the famous Puli ice-cream, mushroom farm and wine factory ~ and then TungHai University and Taichung City in the evening. Plus they went on a tour of the brand new theatre in Taichung (for Jerry’s account of that visit, see here).  And for the grande finale, there was a farewell party on Thursday night, followed by a very lively visit to the night market ~ just don’t ask about that stinky tofu!

And a group photo at the farewell party of most of the people who’ve ever been to CES and their families, and those hoping to go this coming year….

I had the honour of being with our VIP guests all week, and on Friday brought them to Taipei to meet Bishop Lai and Mrs. Lily Lai….

And then for some sightseeing all around the great city of Taipei over the weekend.  CKS Memorial, Taipei 101, JianGuo Flower and Jade Markets, Grand Hotel and National Palace Museum.  All checked off the list.  Mostly all in the rain too.  Ah, but it was fun! Extra fun was that we invited former St. James’ teacher, Tiger and her husband to join us, they actually met in Boston, all due to our link with CES!  And 3 of the St. James’ teachers came to Taipei too to join us on Saturday, and for some of them it was clear that they had seen more of Boston than they had of their own capital city lol!

So a big big thank you to Gerlinde and her wonderful VIP group for coming to Taiwan, for their gifts, their enthusiasm, their time and energy, their stories and their fun!  It was such a great week.  CES is having their own 10th anniversary celebration in a few weeks time, and Rev. Charles Chen and his wife, MaryJo are planning on being there, representing St. James.  YES!  Thanks to all at St. James for all their planning, their welcome and hospitality, it was all amazing.  And thanks be to Almighty God for his many blessings on our partnership with CES over these past 10 years.

And here’s to the next 10 years, YES YES YES!

Penghu 澎湖 ~ a great place for Children’s Day 兒童節 ~ and birthday celebrations!

Greetings to you all from Zhuwan 竹灣 Village, Penghu!

And Happy Children’s Day 兒童節 for April 4 from us all in Xiyu Presbyterian Church 西嶼長老教會, Penghu too!

Yes, April 1-4 this year was a 4-day weekend for us in Taiwan, officially for Tomb-Sweeping Festival and Children’s Day, and Penghu was THE place to be!  Sitting way out there in the middle of the ocean between Taiwan and Mainland China, the Penghu Islands are just screaming out to be visited ~ from the air they look like beautiful pearls glimmering in the blue sea.  Must-go, must-see!  The islands are volcanic basalt, all low-lying, and now that bridges connect the main central islands, they form a kind of horseshoe shape.  If you can get tickets (quite an achievement – much in demand), it’s only a short flight from Taiwan, flying into Magong (Makung 馬公) – the main city and administrative centre. Magong is also famous for the beautiful Rainbow Bridge….

Xiyu is the westernmost island of Penghu, and until 40-50 or so years ago, it was not connected to the other islands, so it must have been kinda isolated out there.  And windy. It’s still windy. Even on our visit it was windy.  Penghu is very famous for its winter N.E. monsoon winds ~ the kind of wind where motorbikes get blown over and you have to hold on to your hat – and children – to stop them blowing away!  Penghu is also famous for its military bases, for saying ‘no’ twice to casinos in referendums, for its firework festival in the summer, and for its tourists – it’s THE place to go for a few days in spring or summer – sun, surf and sea all in abundance.

My good friends, Feng-Mei and her family have been at Xiyu Presbyterian Church 西嶼長老教會 for the last 6 years, and this was my third visit to see them.  My first visit was in late summer of 2013, coinciding with 2 typhoons (my blog post of that visit is here – also an account of the history of Xiyu Presbyterian Church), and the second one was in July 2014 with my friends Mike and Harriet (blog post here) when the weather was wonderful!

Here we are, Feng-Mei, her husband, Rev. Lai 賴志泓, 2 daughters, a church member and us – that’s my good friends, Miao-Shia and Chung-Peng, from St. James’ Preschool, Taichung.  Feng-Mei was also one of our beloved St. James’ teachers until she left to join her husband, first in Tainan, now in Penghu… yes, we love her so much!

Miao-Shia and Chung-Peng arranged our visit, and managed to get air tickets for last Friday evening, flying from Taichung to Magong, a 40-minute flight.  Except that I live 5-hours away from Taichung Airport ha ha – so it took a while to get there!  A cold front arrived that afternoon and we took off in torrential rain.  Fortunately by the time we arrived in Penghu, the rain had gone, and by Saturday lunchtime, the sun was out and it was blue skies for all the rest of the time – with wind, wind and more wind.  Fun!

There are 11 villages on Xiyu Island and Xiyu Church is located on the hill above Zhuwan 竹灣 Village, and that is where the main services and Sunday School are held, it’s also where the Lai family live.  Being on a hill, it’s very windy on the north side, but the village itself is tucked away down the hill, out of the wind.  From a distance, the church looks a bit like a large snail!

Zhuwan Village is famous for it’s temple and for growing peanuts, hence Mr. Peanut Man sitting at the main entrance to the village.  I went down there early on Sunday, and we all early went on Monday.  Feng-Mei’s daughter goes to the village school, she came too and gave us a little tour!

There is another church building not far away, where they hold the youth group.  This church is 小池角禮拜堂 and this is the village nearby…..

And so began a busy weekend! We were honoured to help Feng-Mei with their youth group on Saturday night – some who come are church members, but most are not. It’s a great outreach. We shared with the youth about mission, and about our trip to Tanzania – Feng-Mei and Miao-Shia came with me to Tanzania in 2005. Feng-Mei’s testimony about that trip is quite amazing – and so are the photos!  The youth group were great, and the worship leader had even prepared a prayer in English!  We finished with a group photo, that’s me trying to get them into a ‘mission pose’ – whatever that might be!

And so to Sunday at the main church in Zhuwan Village. The children who come with their families for Sunday worship go upstairs for a Sunday School session after the Praise and Worship down in the church – so we sang a few songs with the children, while downstairs there was a communion service…

Every Sunday afternoon, there is a really great Sunday School outreach program in the church – with games, praise songs, prayers and activities – we shared about Children’s Day, making little people cut-outs, like I had done at Laomei Elementary School last week – and Feng-Mei shared about how God loves all the children of the world.  Our teacher, Chung-Peng is the St. James’ Preschool Most Amazing Dancer, she is just so natural, so she led the children in praise dance.  Ah, it was such fun!

Also on Xiyu Island is Erkan Village 二崁 where the houses are beautifully preserved and much visited during the summer by tourists. Many of the local people open their homes to the visitors and make the most of the business opportunities available!  This was the scene on Sunday late afternoon…. Feng-Mei’s daughter was delighted to show me the small statue with his bare tummy and bare bottom on show!

And in-between, we had a lot of meals, coffee, paddles, chat and fun, and a delicious meal on Sunday night, kindly hosted by Rev. Wu!  The family rabbit was happy too!

And on Monday, it was my birthday and they had planned all sorts of exciting things – starting with a breakfast of long-life noodles (don’t break ’em and you can live for at least 2 centuries) and a visit to the Whale Cave on Xiaomen Islet 小門嶼. The nice lady gave me a free birthday egg with my noodles too.  Oh yes, and we had yummy red cactus fruit ice-cream at the end…

And so to the big birthday event – lunch at the White Bay Restaurant 白灣景觀餐廳澎 in 湖縣湖西鄉林投村 Huxi, Penghu, where the staff were wonderful and the food was great, and all followed by cake and grand present opening.  Feng-Mei supplied the outfit…..

I didn’t realise that Feng-Mei’s husband was filming me singing and distributing sweets to everyone in the restaurant, and then searching for a mirror to see what I looked like. This is a 53-second edited version of the whole 8 minutes!

Thanks to Feng-Mei for the 3 photos above.  And so to the beach – and a little shopping!

And Tuesday morning, yesterday, we were up bright and early for breakfast at Waian, the largest and southernmost of the 11 villages on Xiyu, and a visit to the lighthouse and a few scenic spots, finishing with coffee at Erkan…

By lunchtime, we were back at Magong Airport and on our way home to Taiwan – having had such a great time!

Of course it was the in-between times that were some of the funniest.  And one of the funniest was always Feng-Mei’s youngest daughter, who just loves to dress up and pose for photos.  The 2 children are so lovely!

A big big thank you to Feng-Mei and her family for their wonderful welcome, gracious hospitality, time and energy, and to Chung-Peng and Miao-Shia for their fun company on such a great visit.  Penghu is indeed a beautiful place, and such lovely people.  Please do pray for Penghu, for the churches, pastors, church members, outreach and especially for Xiyu Presbyterian Church and all the ministry there. There’s lots happening!

And thanks be to Almighty God for His many blessings – and a fun birthday!

My Kinda Art @ Taichung!

Every month off I go to Taichung to do the sermon in the St. James’ Church English Service, usually on the bus or train, and occasionally, just occasionally by High Speed Rail. Saturday was a rare HSR day….

St. James’ Church is right opposite the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, and even though I pass along the art museum skywalk every time on my morning exercise, actually I hardly ever go in the museum itself. Sorry about that.  Yes, the museum is all free, but still, y’know, I hardly ever go in. Except this weekend, I happened to notice that down below in the museum was a sort of street market art installation….

So yesterday afternoon in I went, and yes the street market art is really amazing.  Like the kind of thing we make for role play in a kindergarten classroom.  Except this is Art with a capital A, and you can only look and not touch.  But it’s wonderful!  Love it!

There’s also an exhibition on indigenous art, this painting is by Taiwan Paiwan artist, Etan Pavavalung titled ‘Migrate’.

Another piece, by a different artist using driftwood collected from Typhoon Morakot in 2009….

The art museum in Taichung is connected by a green walkway that goes for several miles, and ends up at the Science Museum.  Also part of the morning exercise!  At the far end is the science museum tropical greenhouse kind of shaped like a giant spider, and outside is the large horrible insect…. ha ha!

Ah yes, gotta make the most of my visits to Taichung!