Tag Archives: St. John’s University SJU Taiwan

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 14 🎄🎁👼

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day14: This is Jing-Huei 靜慧 (left) and Jin-Luan 金鑾 (right), who keep Advent Church running smoothly from morning to night! Both have their birthdays this week, and we celebrated today ~ thanks to Jin-Luan for sharing her yummy chocolate birthday cake with us all. Happy Birthday to these 2 Lovely Ladies! 🥳🎂🎈

Jing-Huei works for Advent Church in charge of the office, while Jin-Luan works for St. John’s University (SJU) in charge of Advent Church cleaning, which is mostly done very early in the morning before 8:00am. She’s always leaving just as we’re arriving, off to clean other parts of the SJU campus, part of a small team who do a wonderful job, working long hours in all kinds of terrible weather ~ but always cheerful! Please pray for them both, for their health and strength, their families and their work in Advent Church. We value them both so much! 🥳

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 13 🕯️🎅🏽🎄

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day13: This is Min-Wen 敏文 from Malaysia, 4th (and final) year student at St. John’s University (SJU), who’s about to graduate next summer in Industrial Engineering (IE). We’re going to miss her so much! She admits that originally she had no interest in IE, but a scholarship was on offer, and she took it – and has really made the most of it since then. She also applied for the SJU Chaplaincy’s meal coupon scheme for students facing financial hardship. Through her dedication and hard work, she has since received a number of awards and scholarships, and consistently scores the highest grades in her class. Many congratulations! 🥇🎓🏆

Min-Wen’s home church is the Joyous Glorious Community Church, Sitiawan, Perak, W. Malaysia, and she still regularly attends their weekly online prayer meeting. Last year she served as chair of the SJU Student Fellowship; this year she’s the worship leader, sharing her amazing gifts of singing and dancing. She’s very talented! Sadly, Min-Wen’s father died just after her last visit home for Chinese New Year 2020, and she hasn’t been able to go home since then due to the pandemic. Like many of our Malaysian students, she longs to go home to visit her family this coming Chinese New Year, but that’s out of the question too.

Now, as Min-Wen prepares to graduate, she faces many questions about her future, whether to stay in Taiwan or return home, to study for a Master’s Degree or find a job ~ if a degree then what and where, and if a job, then what job to look for? If our overseas students stay on in Taiwan, they need a job that offers a residence permit, often easier said than done. Most are torn between their family at home and the better job opportunities they say there are in Taiwan. Malaysia’s loss is certainly Taiwan’s gain – many are excellent students. It’s a very uncertain time for them all. Please pray for Min-Wen and others in her situation, that God will lead them as they prepare for the future.

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 12 ❄️🎄🕯️

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day12: This is Huei-Ling 惠苓 (left) and Shu-Jing 淑靖 (right) who are the best of friends and for the first time ever, they were both serving together at this morning’s Advent Church service. They both work for the Bishop of Taiwan, Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang, Huei-Ling in the diocesan office in Taipei, Shu-Jing in St. John’s University (SJU), where Bishop Chang is the chair of the board. Until this year, Shu-Jing was on the staff of the SJU Chaplaincy, she’s also a qualified Japanese teacher, skills put to good use in our companion diocesan partnership with Osaka. And they both came with me to India at Chinese New Year 2017 ~ we had a such a great time together!

Their birthdays are both in March, one year apart. They both became Christians at university, the first (and so far only) one in their families ~ Huei-Ling was a student here at SJU and baptized in Advent Church, while Shu-Jing moved here looking for a quiet place to write her MA Thesis, and so joined Advent Church; she and her husband Jian-Chiang were married here in 2018. They ask for your prayers for their work, as they’re both extremely busy, often running from one place to another – there’s always so much to do!

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 10 🎄🎁🌟

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day10: This is Bishop Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang 張員榮主教 who became Bishop of Taiwan in February 2020, just as the pandemic was starting. Taiwan’s strict border controls mean that he hasn’t left Taiwan since then, but instead has been able to concentrate his time and energy into leading the diocese, and serving as chair of St. John’s University (SJU) Board of Trustees.

If he has any free time, he spends it with his wife and family, his 3 very lively grandsons ensure that life is never boring! Please pray for him, his family and all in SJU & the Taiwan Episcopal Church.

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 8 🎁🎄⛄

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day8: This is Tze-Wi 芷薇, our colleague at St. John’s University (SJU) Chaplaincy, Taipei; she and Yi-Ting 依婷 are both sponsored by the Taiwan Episcopal Church. Both are very talented & creative, and have put their skills to good use designing the Advent Church section of the diocesan website, it’s much admired by all our other churches! Together they organize all the many chaplaincy activities, and there’s always lots to do; coming up next is the SJU & Advent Church Christmas Bazaar, this year in aid of SOS Children Village in Chungli. Life is busy, busy, busy!

Tze-Wi is from Pahang, Malaysia and graduated 2 years ago from SJU in Creative Design. Her classmate & boyfriend, Jin-Ching brought her along to the SJU Student Fellowship, later she made a faith commitment and was baptized just after graduation. Now her younger sister is also a student at SJU too, in her second year of Multimedia Design. In all the busyness of Advent and Christmas, please pray for Tze-Wi, her family, boyfriend and all in the SJU Chaplaincy!

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 7 🌟🕯️🎁

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day7: This is the Rev. Charles C. T. Chen 陳金地牧師 and his second son, Christopher 陳智湧教務長, Dean of Academic Affairs here at St. John’s University. We had a cake today to celebrate Charles’ 86th birthday on December 10, while Christopher celebrated his 60th birthday last month. Happy Birthday and many congratulations to them both! 🎉🥳 🎂

When I first arrived in Taiwan in January 1999, it was the two of them who met me at the airport ~ Charles was then rector of St. James’ Church, Taichung, much supported by his wife MaryJo, and just starting what would become a huge fundraising project over many years building a total of 12 churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines. Christopher was then on holiday from his PhD studies at the University of Essex, UK, while his wife, Linda was the kindergarten principal at St. James. We have all worked very closely together for many years ~ ah, such a wonderful family!

In his retirement, Charles is still extremely active, full of energy, vision and ideas, hence his being invited to join the new diocesan Property Management Committee – and that’s why he’s here today at Advent Church, as the group visits each church in turn to assess the buildings and discuss plans for future ministry. The committee is out visiting churches every Tuesday, trying to complete them all before the end of the year. Charles and Christopher ask for prayer for good health for themselves and all the Chen family, including MaryJo, who’s also 86. Charles says he hopes to still be in good health and full of energy to celebrate his 90th birthday ~ he’s looking forward to the celebrations already!

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 3 ⛪🎄⭐🐾

#MyAdventCalendar2021 #Day3: This is Rev. Hsing-Hsiang Wu 吳興祥牧師, chaplain at St. John’s University (SJU) and rector of Advent Church on the SJU campus. Aged 37, he’s the youngest priest in the Taiwan Episcopal Church, and is blessed with a very lovely wife, Yu-Ru.

Sadly, both of them have kidney disease, his inherited from his mother (who’s already been on dialysis for over 10 years), while Yu-Ru’s started as a child, with no family connection. They both try their best to follow their doctor’s advice, eating healthily with sufficient exercise and rest, but they have to be very careful not to overdo it, and especially so at this time of year ~ we have so many activities planned for Advent and Christmas! Please pray for them both, and also their much-loved dog, Nana, who provides lots of entertainment for us all! 🐾🦴🐾

My Advent Calendar 2021: Day 1 🕯️🎶🧸

It’s December 1, the first day of #MyAdventCalendar2021 and so here I start with a photo a day for the next 24 days of people here in Taiwan who I would like to ask you to pray for. It’s not really well-planned in advance, but they will all be real people who I invite to open that day’s window on the Advent Calendar to enjoy the chocolate inside, yum yum!

Day 1: this is Yi-Ting 依婷, our newest and youngest colleague on the staff at St. John’s University (SJU) Chaplaincy, Taipei, she’s here sponsored by the Taiwan Episcopal Church. Yi-Ting is from Bintulu, Sarawak, Malaysia and graduated last year from SJU in Creative Design ~ as a student she was also chair of our SJU Student Fellowship for a year. Please pray for her, we all love her so much!

In previous years, I have participated in the AdventWord project of The Episcopal Church, with photos and meditations each day of Advent. It’s great, and is continuing this year, but their meditations are posted at 6:00 am New York time, which is 7:00 pm here in Taiwan ~ so it’s a bit late for us, the day is almost over! This year, inspired by the gift of a chocolate Advent Calendar (thanks to my good friend, Shiao-Chien) I am inviting you instead to pray for my friends and people I know here in Taiwan. I also include an ongoing prayer request for my 89-year-old mother, currently stuck for the last few days without power after Storm Arwen hit the north of England 🌨️ 🥶❄️ cold is the word ~ but relatively cheerful in the circumstances, fortified by kind people supplying lots of hot cups of tea! ⛄☕

😇 Grateful thanks to all! 😇

Wishing you a prayerful and hope-filled Advent 2021!

The Soul Still Trembles …. CMS Link Letter #84

Accumulation – Searching for the Destination

Published today by the Church Mission Society, my latest link letter, click on the link below…

The title, The Soul (Still) Trembles is taken from the exhibition by Shiota Chiharu running at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum until Sunday October 17. Accumulation – Searching for the Destination is the title of one of the exhibits, as mentioned in my link letter…

Accumulation – Searching for the Destination

But the link letter already needs updating! Since I wrote it 2 weeks ago, things have improved further in Taiwan’s pandemic situation, most notably new rules that say facemasks are no longer required outside in ’empty open spaces’, like beaches and mountains. Yippee! Two more countries, Israel and Indonesia have just come off Taiwan’s list of high-risk countries facing enhanced quarantine rules, which now leaves only 3, India, Myanmar and the UK. More good news is that the number of people who have received their first Covid-19 vaccine has now reached the milestone of 60%. The rollout of second vaccines has just started too, though it’s not easy to get a booking locally – I had to go into Taipei on Tuesday for mine, coinciding with Typhoon Kompasu passing by. It was very very wet. #SoakedButVaccinated is the new hashtag. #VaccinesNotWarships could be another, as related to my link letter. Grateful anyway. Peering at the hospital through the rain ……

It’s the time of the year when the Asia-Pacific region has its annual military exercises, plus Mainland China and Taiwan each celebrate their own national days this month with displays of military might and patriotism, so there’s a lot of tension, as you will have seen in the international news. Thanks to all who have sent messages of concern. Taiwan has also been in the international news today after a deadly fire last night in a high-rise residential building in Kaohsiung, at least 46 people known to have died. Such a tragedy. One of our students lives in the same street as that fire, and watched it all happen. Really terrible.

It’s also the time of the year when we have our annual earthquake, tsunami and WanAn air-raid drill, receiving a text message for each event ….

Actually this year’s WanAn air-raid drill was held on the day we were all at the diocesan office in Taipei for our monthly birthday celebration lunch, kindly hosted by Bishop Chang for the diocesan office workers, plus others. In past years we would have to stay put for the 30-minute drill, due to restrictions on movement outside, but this year, due to the pandemic, there were no such restrictions. Anyway we had a wonderful lunch! Thanks to all these lovely people in the photo who helped everything go smoothly at recent church events: Rev. Chia-Kuei Wu’s ordination service, Yu-Lin and San-Yuan’s wedding and Rev. Samuel K. L. Liao’s Memorial Service.

I had cycled to the diocesan office that morning ~ and back in the late afternoon too. It’s such a fun way to commute to Taipei, along the riverside paths and into the city at the Dadaocheng Wharf, passing the RC Cathedral ….

Anyway, back to the typhoon, we had another typhoon a few weeks ago too, also with lots of rain, but not so much wind. Still, a few trees fell down on our St. John’s University (SJU) campus and the sea was rough for days afterwards….

The bank had covered up the SJU ATM machine as a precaution…

Otherwise, in-between typhoons, the SJU campus and the sea down below have been looking beautiful!

Last week, we joined the local junior-high school children from Xian-Xiao on a beach clean-up. The weather was stunning….

And over at the local elementary school, we celebrated Taiwan’s success at the Olympics (photos supplied by the school)….

And we also celebrated the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival with a 4-day weekend. Great chance for mountain climbing – and we went last weekend too. It’s the silvergrass season up in the Yangmingshan Mountains, while elsewhere, like Guanyinshan, its the citrus and chili season, plus spiders galore!

And finally, we all need a good book to read on a long trip to a vaccination centre in a wet and windy typhoon, and I recommend the latest in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Series… it’s so lovely!

Thank you all so much for your support. The soul may still be trembling with all that’s going on in the world, and in this region particularly, but your prayers are most appreciated.

感謝上帝 (Gǎnxiè Shàngdì) Thanks be to God

Congratulations to 鄭喻璘 Yu-Lin and 王三源 San-Yuan on their Wedding Day!

A beautiful day for a beautiful couple! Such a special event, a wedding at Advent Church for 2 very special people, and the sun shone all day to mark the occasion. For us, this was THE wedding of the year, and a pandemic year at that. We give thanks to God that despite the uncertainties of the pandemic, everything went so well.

The wedding service was conducted by our rector, Rev. Hsing-Hsiang Wu, with Bishop Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang preaching and giving the marriage blessing. As both the bride and groom’s families are Christians, so we also had Holy Communion, celebrated by Bishop Chang. His sermon was particularly moving; he talked about Yu-Lin as if she were his own daughter, having known her since she was a child, and encouraged her all the way through. He made Yu-Lin’s parents stand up as he introduced them to their new son, and the same for San-Yuan’s mother, as he introduced her to her new daughter. There was hardly a dry eye in the church!

Yu-Lin is in her first year as a Taiwan diocesan seminarian, after a year of being a diocesan intern, which involved 6 months at Good Shepherd Church, Taipei and then 6 months at St. Peter’s Church, Chiayi. For the last few months, she has been living at the diocesan office in Taipei, with her weekend placement being at Christ Church, Chungli, Taoyuan. San-Yuan is a sound engineer, long based in Tainan, but a few months ago he moved up to Taipei, and has been attending the morning prayer services with Yu-Lin at the diocesan office, also taking part in some of the seminarian training sessions led by Bishop Chang. A great start to their future church ministry together!

Yu-Lin was our much-loved colleague here at Advent Church and St. John’s University (SJU) for many years, always keeping us on our toes. Life was never boring! She is very friendly, outgoing, extremely creative, multi-talented and highly-skilled in all things technical and practical – from fixing computers to driving her father’s minibus up and down the country. Yu-Lin’s father has long been professor of Electrical Engineering here at SJU and is now also Dean of General Affairs, which means he is in overall charge of the SJU campus and the maintenance of all buildings and equipment. He spends his weekends at SJU instructing courses that lead to license qualifications in everything from plumbing to driving fork-lift trucks, he told me once he has 23 different license qualifications! In between times he is to be found scurrying around the campus, checking the generators, the AC units, driving the workers in his forklift truck to trim some trees or installing lighting to make the campus brighter. Always busy, and in his holidays, he climbs mountains, and takes the family on holidays to interesting places. It was very moving for him, in the pre-wedding event on Saturday, when he and Yu-Lin’s mother placed the veil over their daughter’s head ~ he really struggled to hold back the tears.

Yu-Lin’s mother is the principal of the kindergarten at Jinshan RC Church, having taking over from her older sister. Yu-Lin’s mother has 3 sisters, and all but one of them are in Advent Church, all very lively and very lovely! The older one has now moved to St. Timothy’s Church, Kaohsiung to join her daughter, Si-Yun and husband, Rev. Richard R. C. Lee, who is the rector. Si-Yun came to the wedding this weekend, acting as ‘matchmaker’ – it’s an important role in making sure everything goes to plan! This is Si-Yun, Yu-Lin’s mother and older brother ….

So, with Yu-Lin and her extended family being members of Advent Church, Tamsui, and with San-Yuan’s family home being in Tainan, it was arranged that the wedding service would take place at Advent Church on Saturday October 2 at 1:30 pm, with the official wedding reception being held in Tainan next Saturday, October 9.

Taiwan is currently under Level 2 Pandemic Restrictions, which means facemasks are compulsory and indoor events are limited to 80 people. Because Advent Church is part of St. John’s University, so we are also allowed to use our Advent Church Centre as an overflow for a further 80 people, but because of the distancing rules, we would not be allowed to host any kind of formal reception with food. So after the wedding everyone went home with a box of delicious finger food to enjoy instead.

Yu-Lin’s family

A few months ago, Yu-Lin and San-Yuan announced their wedding event on Facebook with a sign-up form for those who wished to attend, but stressing that the event would also be livestreamed, so feel free to attend online instead of in-person. This is the video…

Then a few weeks ago we had a Covid cluster outbreak in Greater Taipei, and suddenly New Taipei City (which includes St. John’s University) went into enhanced Level 2 Restrictions, and events were suddenly restricted to 50 people. Some of us uninvited ourselves, but it was worrying week, not knowing what was going to happen! Then, as the pandemic situation improved, so restrictions were relaxed and it became 80 again. Relief all round!

San-Yuan’s family

Yu-Lin and San-Yuan first met through the Taiwan branch of ANM 萬國敬拜與讚美 ‘All Nations Worship & Praise Ministries’, which started in South Korea in 1987, and sends out mission teams around the world to reach Chinese-speaking people with the Gospel. Yu-Lin studied at university in Tainan, and in 2008, she and San-Yuan vaguely knew of each other through both studying on the ANM training program in Tainan. Then in 2018, they both attended 3-month ANM “Intercultural Community Mission Training” programs in Germany that overlapped by about 6 weeks. That was the start of their relationship. Yu-Lin then spent a further year in Germany with ANM, returning to Taiwan in May 2020 to join the Diocese of Taiwan internship program. Many of the people at the wedding on Saturday were connected with ANM….

ANM friends

This is an abridged version of Yu-Lin’s testimony that she wrote for our diocesan Friendship Magazine in May 2021:

“Not long after I was born, in 1988, my parents discovered I had an abnormal condition, which led them to embark on a day of running around different hospitals with me, unable to find a doctor willing to take the risk of operating on me. My mother was anxious and overwhelmed, and she prayed, “Dear Heavenly Father, if you heal my daughter, and find a doctor willing to operate on her, I will dedicate her to you…” Thanks be to God, He heard that prayer, and I was baptized in Advent Church at 7 months old, and at the age of 13, I was confirmed.

Advent Church choir

Although I grew up in the church, I didn’t really know anything about faith, and the word “Christian” was such a special label to me as if I was meant to prove: Why can’t Christians do bad things? So in adolescence I became very rebellious, stealing my parents’ money, running away from home, self-harming, bullying others.

Wedding Certificate

But God’s work is wonderful. In 2006, when I turned 18, a friend invited me to a special gathering of ‘All Nations Worship & Praise School’ (ANM). It was a 4-day event, but at the start I was unable to concentrate and ran away from the gathering until the third day, when my heart really calmed down and I found myself longing to meet the Lord who loved me. That day I met Jesus! My first feeling was being filled with the Holy Spirit, and I will never forget being touched and forgiven deeply by God’s love. He said, “My child, I don’t remember your past,” and in the presence of the Holy Spirit, I was completely set free. Later, the leader announced, “If you are willing to give your life to the Lord, come up to the stage.” I walked onto the stage with a grateful heart and in tears.

So I started to participate in the ANM training every Saturday until now, and that gathering became a turning point in my life. I experienced God’s love and forgiveness firsthand, and found myself changing my character, habits and values, including redefining what I saw as a ‘successful life’. In 2010, God led me to Advent Church as an education officer, and in 2012 I joined St. John’s University Chaplaincy (under the then chaplain, Rev. Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang) as a student fellowship counsellor and administrator, including in 2015, taking part in a memorable short-term mission trip to Myanmar.”

SJU Student Fellowship

ANM have the policy that dating couples only make their relationship public when they announce their engagement, and so it is that San-Yuan is known to many of us but has largely kept a low profile until recently. He tells me that while Yu-Lin was assigned to St. Peter’s Church, Chiayi earlier this year, he was confirmed into the Episcopal Church, and he is committed to moving with Yu-Lin around Taiwan depending on where she is assigned by Bishop Chang and the diocesan office. Hopefully he can find a suitable job wherever he finds himself based. San-Yuan is certainly very accommodating and committed! So far in the Taiwan Episcopal Church, as far as I know, he is the first newly-married husband to follow this path. We have several women clergy and seminarians, but all are either single or became seminarians later in life, once their children were grown.

At the wedding, we were delighted to welcome Sheerah and her husband, Yu-Wei. We first met Sheerah some years ago, when she came with a team from the Diocese of West Malaysia to Advent Church to lead some training for our children’s summer camps, a program called Kid’s Games. So she got to know many of our students and church members, including Yu-Lin. Since then, she has relocated to Taiwan, married to Yu-Wei. They have 2 children, Ethan who turned 2 on Saturday, and Eva, aged 4 months. Bishop Chang invites them to attend our monthly birthday lunches at the diocesan office, so they have got to know us all even better. Like San-Yuan, Yu-Wei is also a sound engineer, and he was invited to help with the sound system for the wedding. So with Yu-Wei busy, we all offered to help out with entertaining Ethan and Eva, who proved a big hit with everyone, and appear in lots and lots of photos. As it was Ethan’s birthday that day, it seemed an added bonus!

Before the service…..

The wedding service ……

After the service, the throwing of the bride’s bouquet…

And group photos…..

Please do pray for Yu-Lin and San-Yuan as they begin their married life together. The road ahead is long and challenging, especially during the next few years of training, but we pray for God’s grace to sustain them. Congratulations to them both and their families, and thanks be to Almighty God!