Tag Archives: Sun Moon Lake

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!

Round-Taiwan Tour with Nicky and Harriet ~ YES!

Yep, we’ve done a whole circuit of Taiwan this past week ~ ‘n what a beautiful country!

Nicky and Harriet, my 2 lovely visitors from one of my CMS Link Churches, St. John’s, Neville’s Cross, Durham, UK, had already been here a week, based in Taipei, and so this was the chance for them to see a little of this beautiful island ~ Ilha Formosa (‘Beautiful Isle’, the name given by Portuguese sailors), otherwise known as….. Taiwan!

Last Monday, July 11, when we set off, southern Taiwan was still reeling from Typhoon Nepartak which had wreaked havoc a few days before.   So we were not sure how far we would get to see the things we hoped to see.  But still, off we went – by train from Taipei, 2 hours eastwards to Hualien, where we were warmly welcomed by Rev. Joseph Wu, his wife and family and the really friendly members of St. Luke’s Church, Hualien.  His daughter’s English and art skills are amazing!  They treated us to delicious meals, yummy pearl milk tea, and a visit to Hualien Night Market with its music and stalls, delicious foods and things to buy.  Hualien County has about 300,000 people, of whom about a quarter each are indigenous / aboriginal, Hakka, Taiwanese and Chinese. So we were delighted to enjoy all the different cultures and their traditions.  Ah yes, we love Hualien!

The scenic highlight of the trip to Hualien was on Tuesday when we went to Taroko Gorge太魯閣, with Mr. James Chien, brother of our former bishop, Bishop John C. T. Chien. He is such a great tour guide and gave us ample time and opportunity to enjoy the gorge and the scenery.  The gorge was open as far as Buluowan Visitors Center which is about half way up – further up the road was closed due to landslides from the typhoon. The river was very grey and very muddy, filled with water from the typhoon.  We had great weather all morning, and just as we got in the car to return, it started to rain!  After a wonderful buffet lunch with James and his wife in Parkview Hotel, we visited Liyu Lake 鯉魚潭, where the rain had just stopped and the sun was now out – good timing eh?!  The red-faced giant duck and family on the lake are just so much fun!  Also to the Farglory Hotel for a panoramic view of Hualien.  More food in the evening and lots of great fellowship with the church members. It was so moving to be so warmly welcomed!

On Wednesday we set off southwards by train heading to Pingtung on the south-west coast via Taitung.  This may have been the fastest train on the line, but oh it is slow, slow, slow, 5 hours of stop ‘n start, stop ‘n start – but y’know what, we loved it!  Plenty of time to look around at the scenery, though it was so sad to see how devastated the banana crops and many other fruit crops are in Taitung County after the typhoon.

We arrived in Pingtung to another warm welcome, this time from Rev. C. C. Cheng (CC), his wife and many delightful and very lively members of St. Mark’s Church, Pingtung. Meals and more meals, yummy local style, including a very delicious breakfast prepared by CC and his wife….

Then we set off for a tour around, firstly to visit an old Hakka house in central Pingtung, originally owned by the Ciou 邱 family and now a museum.  They told us that the population of Pingtung is about 50% Taiwanese, 30% Hakka and 20% Indigenous / aboriginal, so again it was good to see a little of all the different cultures and and taste all the different foods!

We visited the mountainous and indigenous Sandimen area of the Paiwan and Rukai Tribes, which I had visited a few months ago (see that blog post here).  That day was great, and so was this!  One of the St. Mark’s Church members, Ju-z and her friends had organized a whole tour for us, starting with the Dragonfly Beads Art Studio, an amazing coffee and jewelry place, where we had the chance to make our own jewelry pieces forming the glass beads over the flame.  The coffee tables and chairs were also decorated with beads, and we had a wonderful view out over Pingtung.  Harriet was so so so happy ~ so was everyone!

We had a very traditional and of course, very good Hakka lunch in Dalukuan and then on we went to the relocated indigenous community of Rinari 禮納裡部落 in Majia 瑪家 Township.  This is one of 2 villages we visited that are new communities for the Paiwan and Rukai peoples who were forced to relocate after Typhoon Morakot in 2009.  The second village was Ulaljuc 吾拉魯滋部落, newly built for residents of typhoon-damaged Taiwu Village. Both places are full of interest, good coffee, yummy delicacies and of course beautiful indigenous things to buy…  Ah yes, we love Pingtung too!

On Thursday evening, we said reluctant goodbyes to all our good friends from St. Mark’s and headed up to Taichung, this time by High-Speed Rail.  Rev. Charles C. T. Chen, Rector Emeritus of St. James’ Church, Taichung kindly picked us up with all our tons of luggage. Then on Friday, our good friend, Jerry Liang from St. James took us on an amazing trip to Sun Moon Lake, where we enjoyed coffee at the Xuanzang Temple (definitely a temple with a view ~ and thanks to Jerry for some of these photos below taken at the temple) then lunch and a walk by the lake.  The weather was beautiful, and the spider was ginormous!

That evening, we went to the St. James’ Preschool Graduation, always a memorable fun event, and full of performances, speeches and all sorts of singing and dancing from the children and teachers.  Great to meet our friends, Matisse and Abby from our sister school, Cambridge-Ellis Preschool in Boston, USA here for the summer.  Jerry’s 5-year-old grandson gave a great speech, amazing!  I loved it all, just glad I no longer have to wear a white dress and dance with all the teachers!

On Saturday morning, my good friend, Marina kindly took us to Rainbow Village 彩虹眷村on the outskirts of Taichung.  This is such an amazing place, and in my humble opinion easily the most attractive set of buildings in the whole of Taichung.  It’s the last remaining few houses of a Veterans Village, built for the old soldiers and their families who came to Taiwan after 1949. Most the houses are already gone, demolished and redeveloped, but old Mr. Huang, now aged 94, decided to start painting the remaining houses a few years ago, and in doing so, has saved his village.  He was there when we visited – and posed for a photo.  He has painted THE most wonderful set of buildings in such vibrant colours. Just my kinda house ~ I love it!  And then we had tea and lunch in an old-style tea house.  Love it too!

And in the evening, Luanne and Samuel, Charles and MaryJo, Rev. Lily Chang and the lovely people of St. James treated us to an amazing welcome dinner.  And in-between times, we had a chance to catch up with old students and good friends, Leighnae visiting from USA, Ah-Guan (trying her best to get Nicky using a selfie-stick!) and Ming-Wen, and plenty more, even the student leader at St. James who had been on the same youth camp as Harriet had attended on her previous visit in 2014. Ah, such fun!

And we finished Nicky and Harriet’s trip on Sunday, yesterday, at St. James’ Church, Taichung, where Nicky bravely preached twice, once in the English service at 9:30 am and then again in the Chinese service at 10:45 am where she and Jerry worked in tandem, he translated as she preached.  And very smoothly it all went too!   The readings yesterday were from the Gospel reading about Mary and Martha, and Nicky shared about how that story fitted in with her ministry as a medical doctor and NSM priest.   Really good sermon!

The sermon is now on You Tube ~ all 31 minutes of it in English and Chinese, check it out here!

Yesterday afternoon, Charles and MaryJo generously offered to take us around and about, and so we went to TungHai University where the Luce Chapel (designed by I. M. Pei) was looking beautiful in the afternoon sun.  Then to Banner Church where we had great coffee and then later, noodles (check out just how proficient Nicky and Harriet have become with those chopsticks in the last 2 weeks!)

All very convenient for the HSR train to Taoyuan and the airport…..

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen and goodbye to Nicky and Harriet ~ we’ve had such a great time together, so many laughs and so much fun, every day filled with non-stop action and so many hilarious moments!  Thanks to you both for coming!

And a very special thank you to all my friends in Taiwan for their very generous and kind hospitality and welcome to us all, it was so much appreciated ~ YES YES YES!

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Warmly welcomed by St. James, Taichung ~ as always!

A non-stop 3 days at St. James’ Church, Taichung – it’s always non-stop action!  Straight off the flight from Penghu, and in at the deep end!  Mike and Harriet, my always-ready-for-action visitors, spending the last few days of their trip visiting all my old friends and colleagues at St. James.  And what a great time we had!

An 8-course (or was it 9?) welcome dinner with Luanne and Samuel at ‘Tasty’, followed by a night city tour….

On Tuesday the weather was amazing, thanks be to God ~ and my good friends Jerry and Jean kindly took us to Sun Moon Lake for the day, including a visit to the Peacock Collection, walk around the lake, coffee at the famous temple-with-the-view (stunning views while Harriet shared her ppt about her family and Durham City life!), lunch and then a visit to the beautiful Paper Dome (Paper Church) where there was also a high school wind band performance…

And back to St. James in time for Tuesday evening’s Kindergarten Graduation, and what an event it was…. I even met 2 girls I had taught when they were 5-6, and now here they were attending their younger brothers and sisters graduation…. gosh time flies!

Note Harriet at the end of the evening….!

IMG_4989And so to Wednesday and Mike and Harriet’s last day in Taiwan…..

A birthday party for Lauren, one of our English teachers – at lunch time and lots of food kindly provided by my good friends!

And then to the Taichung Science Museum Greenhouse…

and so off into the sunset to the airport for a midnight flight home!

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Goodbye Mike and Harriet, we’ve loved welcoming you, and come again soon!  And many thanks to all who gave of their time and energy to welcome us and treat us like kings and queens, your kindness truly appreciated!