Tag Archives: Typhoons

陳銘佑會吏按立會長聖職典禮 Congratulations to Rev. Chen Ming-You 陳銘佑 on his Ordination as Priest!

And what a great day it was!

Newly-ordained Rev. Chen Ming-You

Rev. Chen Ming-You 陳銘佑 was ordained priest by the Rt. Rev. Lennon Yuan-Rung Chang, Bishop of Taiwan, at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei on Friday August 6, 2021, the day the church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration. Thanks be to Almighty God!

Ming-You was ordained deacon by the Rt. Rev. David J. H. Lai, then Bishop of Taiwan, at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei on Saturday January 18, 2020, just a few weeks before Bishop Lai retired (for that report and photos see here. As you will see, it was definitely winter and we were all in our warm clothes!) Ming-You’s ministry is as a Non-Stipendiary priest, serving at weekends for the last 4 years at St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung, under Rev. Julia Shu-Hua Lin, who preached very powerfully at yesterday’s ordination service.

The ordination service was originally scheduled for Friday June 11, St. Barnabas Day, but due to Taiwan’s Level 3 pandemic restrictions, which came into force on May 15, all religious events and gatherings of more than 4 people were prohibited, so the service was postponed. Bishop Chang stressed the importance of all the clergy in the diocese being able to participate in-person at the ordination service, and so they decided to delay the service until that was possible, however long it might take. On July 27, Taiwan lowered the alert level from 3 to 2, and under level 2 restrictions, indoor gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, as long as there is social distancing, with compulsory facemasks, temperature checks, name registration and hand sanitizer in use for all. With only 50 people allowed to attend, so a list was drawn up, and everyone else was invited to watch the livestream on YouTube….

Thanks to the wonderful Livestreaming Team, working behind the scenes! This is Linda on the left, wife of St. John’s Cathedral Dean, Philip Lin, and Pin-Huei, on the right, daughter of Rev. C. C. Cheng…

Due to there still being community transmission of Covid-19, Bishop Chang requested that all clergy coming from the south and east of Taiwan should preferably drive to Taipei, rather than use high-speed rail or train, and he offered to provide accommodation for those needing overnight stays. Actually most of our clergy have relatives in Taipei, so they were pleased to visit them, others did the round-trip in one day, and a few did take the high-speed rail, which they said was virtually empty because of the pandemic – and the rain. ☔

Back in May, we were still praying for an end to Taiwan’s drought, the most serious in over 50 years. Now in August, we have had so much rain in the last 2-3 weeks that there’s serious flooding and landslides in some areas, including a rockslide that has cut off the high-speed rail line in Miaoli, reservoirs are having to release water, and southern Taiwan has closed schools and offices today due to the torrential rain alerts. The rains started with Typhoon In-Fa the weekend before last, then the typhoon gave way to more continuous rains, and now we have a tropical storm working its way north up Taiwan’s west coast, bringing flooding to the mountains and coastal areas. Our in-person church services only just restarted again last Sunday, but some had to be canceled due to the rains, and it’s likely some will have to cancel again tomorrow as well. Fortunately the ordination service could go ahead, though it was certainly very wet outside. The other precaution, advised due to the pandemic, was that it was not possible to serve wine during the Holy Communion, nor any kind of meal after the service. Instead, the cathedral kindly provided us with boxes of breads, cakes and desserts for us to take home. Thanks to St. John’s Cathedral for all their hard work to make us so welcome!

The Dean, Philp Lin and St. John’s Cathedral friends

Ming-You tells me that he comes from a very traditional Taiwanese family, and as the only son (with 2 older sisters), so he grew up well-aware that it would be his responsibility to take care of his parents as they grew older. In fact, he and his wife, their 2 sons (aged 12 and 15) and his parents all live together in Longtan, Taoyuan, just south of Taipei. His parents are retired, and Ming-You and his wife run a computer business during the week, which leaves them free at weekends to serve at St. Stephen’s Church, about an hour’s drive on the other side of Taipei. His wife says that even before they were married, he would talk about his calling to be a priest, though it took many years of part-time study and training for his calling to become a reality.

Ming-You and his family with Bishop Chang, and Regina Chang (far right)

By serving as a non-stipendiary priest, he is able to fulfill his traditional duties of ‘filial piety’ towards his parents, while also fulfilling his calling to serve in the Taiwan Episcopal Church. He talks about the freedom to be able to do both, and the joy of serving God both in his family and in the church. Others might feel weighed down by taking on so many responsibilities, but instead, Ming-You thrives on the freedom and joy of being the person God has called him to be. Fortunately, a few years after Ming-You and his wife were married, his parents became Christians themselves, and belong to a local church near their home; praise God that they are fully supportive of Ming-You’s calling and ministry.

Ming-You serves his father Holy Communion

Ming-You was born in 1975, and became a Christian through the witness of the student fellowship and chaplaincy at St. John’s and St. Mary’s Institute of Technology (SJSMIT), Taipei, (predecessor to St. John’s University SJU), while studying on the 5-year program in electronic engineering. Towards the end of his time at SJSMIT, he was baptized in Advent Church by the then chaplain, Rev. Samuel Ying-Chiu Lin, who later became dean of St. John’s Cathedral, and where many of the students later worshiped after graduation, including Ming-You.

Quite a few SJSMIT student fellowship members from that era have since gone on to be ordained, and many others serve in the church in lay ministry. In yesterday’s service, one of their student fellowship, Regina Chang (張沁杏), member of Christ Church, Chungli and also on the diocesan Standing Committee, sang a beautiful solo, titled ‘Beloved Lord, Please send me’. Ming-You was visibly moved, and later recounted how he was reminded, as she sang, of how Regina and other older fellowship members had shared the Gospel with him as a younger student, and how far he has traveled since then, particularly these last 10 years as he followed God’s call towards ordination. He said that God has been so faithful to him, and he found it hard to contain his tears. It was really moving!

Regina singing the solo, accompanied by Mr. Lu on the piano

Since Bishop Chang’s consecration in February 2020, Ming-You and his wife have been busy helping the diocesan office putting in a whole new computer system, video-conferencing and meeting room, plus setting up our new email addresses for the Taiwan Episcopal Church clergy and churches, plus our new website at https://episcopalchurch.org.tw/ Having a professional computer person always on hand is very wonderful for us all! Every weekend, Ming-You, his wife and sons spend much time at St. Stephen’s Church, where they help run outreach programs in the local community with Rev. Julia Shu-Hua Lin, who is already well past usual retirement age and looking to step back a little from all her many church responsibilities.

Rev. Julia Shu-Hua Lin and Ms. Su with Ming-You’s family

Julia has really built up the ministry at St. Stephen’s over these last 10+ years, and is widely respected in the local community. The church is in a largely disadvantaged area with many problems of poverty, family breakdown, addiction, suicide, unemployment, domestic abuse and more. The people are struggling even at the best of times, and much more so in this pandemic, plus the spiritual oppression from the local temples and shrines is much in evidence in people’s lives. Ming-You clearly loves the people there, and fits right in; he says that many similarities with his own family background have helped in developing relationships.

Ms. Huang and Ms. Su from St. Stephen’s Church with me, we’re all in black and white!

The ordination service – getting ready….

The service started at 3:00 pm….

Part 2 of the service starts with Ming-You introducing his family…

The blessing….

And then photo-time!

The service all went so smoothly, and Ming-You celebrated his first Holy Communion so professionally that it looked like he had been doing it for years! The readings, as set for the Feast of the Transfiguration, were read by Mrs. Marjorie Kuo from the cathedral, Ms. Huang Min from St. Stephen’s Church, and our deacon, Rev. Stoney Chia-Kuei Wu read the Gospel.

After the service, Rev. Lily Chang, as chair of the diocesan standing committee, officially welcomed everyone and thanked the cathedral for hosting the service, she was followed by Mr. Gary Tseng, cathedral senior warden who also gave us a warm welcome on behalf of them all…

Ming-You with Mr. Gary Tseng, cathedral senior warden and his wife, Ms. Amy Chin, our diocesan chancellor

We give thanks to Almighty God for Ming-You and his family, and we pray for him as he settles into his ministry as priest, serving at St. Stephen’s Church, and as he tries to balance his time between his business, family and church ministry. He joins a great group of clergy, all pictured here at the ordination service. Thanks be to God for them all!

Congratulations on 10 (now 12!) Olympic Medals🥇🥇🥈🥈🥈🥈🥉🥉🥉🥉🥉🥉Update from Taiwan 😷

Yes, huge congratulations to Taiwan on their biggest haul ever: 12 Olympic medals! To be selected for the Olympics is a huge achievement, and to get a medal, any medal, is an extra ~ and all deserve praise and encouragement. Taiwan won 5 medals at each of the 2 previous Olympics, and this time, they’ve already doubled those records with 12. The country is so bursting with pride, and social media is buzzing with excitement every evening as matches and games are broadcast live – and as Taiwan time is only one hour behind Tokyo – so the whole country can watch in real time. Well done everyone!

The medals: 2 Gold, 4 Silver, 6 Bronze
🥇GOLD: Women’s 59kg Weightlifting: Kuo Hsing-Chun (郭婞淳).
🥇GOLD: Men’s Doubles Badminton: Lee Yang (李洋) & Wang Chi-Lin (王齊麟)
🥈SILVER: Men’s Archery Team: Tang Chih-Chun (湯智鈞), Wei Chun-Heng (魏均珩) & Deng Yu-Cheng (鄧宇成)
🥈SILVER: Men’s 60 kg Judo: Yang Yung-Wei (楊勇緯)
🥈SILVER: Men’s Pommel Horse: Lee Chih-Kai (李智凱)
🥈SILVER: Women’s Singles Badminton: Tai Tzu-Ying (戴資穎)
🥉BRONZE: Mixed Doubles Table Tennis: Lin Yun-Ju (林昀儒) & Cheng I- Ching (鄭怡靜)
🥉BRONZE: Women’s -57kg Taekwondo: Lo Chia-Ling (羅嘉翎)
🥉BRONZE: Women’s 64kg Weightlifting: Chen Wen-Huei (陳玟卉)
🥉BRONZE: Men’s Golf Individual Stroke Play: Pan Cheng-Tsung (潘政琮)

Added on Wed. Aug. 4: 🥉BRONZE: Women’s Fly (48-51kg) Boxing: Huang Hsiao-Wen (黃筱雯)

Added on Fri. Aug. 6: 🥉BRONZE: Women’s Kumite -55kg Karate: Wen Tzu-Yun (文姿云)

First-ever medals for Taiwan in judo, badminton, pommel horse, golf, boxing and karate!

Final Tally: Taiwan ended at No. 34 in the overall medals table, below Georgia and above Turkey.

Taiwan @ Tokyo Olympics (screenshots taken from President Tsai Ing-Wen’s Instagram)

For political reasons, Taiwan participates in the Olympics as ‘Chinese Taipei’, but during the Olympics Opening Ceremony on July 23, Japan’s main broadcaster NHK introduced the team as ‘Taiwan’, and in response received a message of thanks from the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen. Each team was introduced in accordance with Japan’s 50-tone sound phonetic system, so whereas ‘Chinese Taipei’ would have entered the arena under chi (チ), instead the team entered the arena under ta (タ) for ‘Taiwan’. Everyone here is so happy, thank you Japan!

Taiwan’s official colours on a balloon left down at the beach!

President Tsai is actually one of the most enthusiastic supporters of Taiwan’s Olympic team. Her social media is full of photos of each athlete, along with words of congratulations and encouragement – she even spoke to Tai Tzu-Ying after her badminton final, when she just missed out on gold. As far as I can see, not many other world leaders have anywhere near the amount of Olympic coverage on their social media accounts. ☺️ Kudos Taiwan!

Of the 68 competitors from Taiwan at the Olympics, 13 are indigenous. Yang Yung-wei (楊勇緯), who won the judo silver medal is from the Paiwan tribe, and Kuo Hsing-chun (郭婞淳), who won gold for weightlifting, is Amis. Each of the 68 athletes has their own story to tell, and will be forever remembered as Olympians. One of the most moving stories is that of Taiwanese flyweight boxer Huang Hsiao-wen (黃筱雯); see this report: “Taiwanese boxer caps rise from humble beginnings with Olympic medal“. But when all the athletes return home, whatever their achievement in Tokyo, they are still subject to Taiwan’s strict quarantine regulations, albeit modified, since they were under strict regulations in Tokyo and are all double vaccinated. Instead of 14 days in hotel quarantine, followed by 7 days self-health management at home, they do 7 days hotel quarantine, followed by a PCR test and then 14 days of self-health management at a place of their choosing – and their first breakfast on arrival is provided by President Tsai. So no grand family reunions just yet!

Two of the medal winners are local to this area. Wen Tzu-yun (文姿云), the Karate Bronze Medal winner is from Tamsui, while Lo Chia-Ling (羅嘉翎), the Taekwondo Bronze Medal winner, is from Sanzhi, and both towns have been enjoying the limelight for the last few days. St. John’s University (SJU) is about midway between the two places. This is SJU and the sea nearby, photos all taken in the last few weeks ….

The Olympics has provided some welcome relief from worries about the pandemic. It has also coincided with Taiwan moving down from Level 3 alert to Level 2, which officially happened on Tuesday July 27, but instead of everyone rushing out to make the most of their new freedoms, instead they are staying inside to watch the Olympic matches live on TV. Under Level 2, we can now have up to 50 people meeting inside and up to 100 meeting outside, allowing for social distancing, and facemasks must still be worn everywhere, except for when eating and drinking.

Beaches are now open, and sports centres, but with no swimming. Restaurants are open for dining-in, but subject to local conditions, meaning they can be closed if there is a surge of cases in the area, like happened in Chiayi a few days ago, a cluster of 13 cases led to closure of all indoor dining in the whole of Chiayi City and County. Now that kindergartens and daycare centre staff are mostly all recently vaccinated, so they are allowed to open, but state schools are still on summer holidays. Our church kindergartens are opening up, and church services can now start again in person, as long as the rules are followed. We even have an ordination service this Friday (49 people allowed to attend), our first gathering for several months. Watch this space!

Fortunately, since we moved to Level 2 a week ago, confirmed cases have remained low. Today we have 16 domestic and 3 imported cases, with 2 deaths. Today’s new COVID-19 cases bring the total in Taiwan to 15,721, of which 14,230 are domestic infections reported since May 15, when the country first recorded more than 100 cases in a single day. To date, 791 people have died of COVID-19, including 779 since May 15. The vaccination campaign continues apace, 34% of the population have now received their first dose.

And the other distraction from the pandemic has been the rain – and the typhoon. Typhoon In-Fa passed near northern Taiwan the weekend before last, and although the winds were not too strong, the rains were torrential and there was flooding in some areas. The typhoon circulated out over the Pacific Ocean for several days before finally moving NW towards Shanghai on Saturday July 24. Down at our local seaside area, the waves clearly came right over the top of the embankment and left a ton of flotsam and jetsam lying on the road below. It’s been raining most days ever since, and has led to serious flooding and landslides in southern Taiwan. The News is reporting that this current low pressure area might well form into a typhoon in the next few days. This is the local scene after the typhoon, and since…

As a result of all the rain, there are now snails much in evidence, taking perilous journeys across the roads in the area – I counted about 20 this morning. By the afternoon, sadly most will have been crushed under the wheels of a motorcycle or car. It’s useless to speculate what on earth they are doing and why they risk their lives for no clear purpose other than to just cross the road!

The snails are not the only ones that currently seem to be finding it hard to know which way to turn. We have lots of overseas students here at SJU, and unlike the Taiwan students, they haven’t been able to go home over the summer. in fact, they couldn’t go home over Chinese New Year either, due to strict quarantine regulations at both ends, and many are getting homesick, the Malaysians in particular. The pandemic has meant there’s no summer jobs here, and with Covid raging in Malaysia, many of their families back home are struggling financially, and not able to send them money. We are providing food coupons for 16 of them, and with SJU willing for them to continue studying online this coming semester, so several of them have found cheap flights and have decided to return home to Malaysia, planning to return to Taiwan after Chinese New Year 2022. Do pray for them, and for all those struggling in the pandemic. This includes our SJU student recruitment for the new academic year – though not finalized yet, the pandemic is sure to have had a big effect.

Finally, in case you think I’m totally biased towards Taiwan in the Olympics, well there’s also the UK, but they are doing really well anyway, so now I’m turning my attention to Tanzania. There are only 3 Tanzanian athletes in this Olympics, all running in the marathon, being held this coming weekend. Apparently, London marathon bronze medalist in 2017, Alphonce Simbu, is Tanzania’s main hope for a medal, Other marathoners in the team are Failuna Matanga and Gabriel Geay. Filbert Bayi and Suleiman Nyambui won silver medals in the Moscow Olympics in 1980, so it’s now 41 years since Tanzania won an Olympic medal. Fortunately our local supermarket, Carrefour has been selling Tanzanian chocolate – so I am all stocked up, ready to cheer on the Tanzanian marathoners!

Go Taiwan, Go Tanzania, Go Malaysia, Go UK, Go Everyone, Yes GO!

Sunday August 8: For Taiwanese athletes, Tokyo Olympics their best ever

Results for Tanzania’s Olympic athletes: Men’s Marathon: Alphonce Simbu Time: 2:11:35 Position: No. 7 (The winner, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya came in at 2:08:38) Gabriel Geay did not finish / Women’s Marathon: Failuna Matanga Time: 2:33:58 Position: No. 24

Monday September 6: Taiwan won one medal at the Paralympics: Tien Shiau-wen (田曉雯) won bronze in Table Tennis.

Escaping Taipei’s Heat up in Wulai 烏來!

Ah, Wulai.  Think hot springs, cherry blossom and Atayal indigenous culture.  And mountain scenery.

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And views…

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And, sadly, in the last few years, think typhoons too.  Wulai has had more than its fair share of bad news.  Most recently, “in August 2015, Wulai was devastated by Typhoon Soudelor, wiping out several hotels and destroying hot springs in the region. The course of the Nanshi River that passes through the district changed and the riverbank was eroded heavily by surging water. Heavy landslides were attributed to the overdevelopment of the mountain areas around the river which damaged the soil and watershed along the slope lands”.

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But restoration work on the riverbed is ongoing, new bridges are going up and there are diggers and cranes and all sorts of construction work going on.  Wulai is on the mend!

The cable car is working again, the Yun Hsien Resort way up on the mountain top is open again, the Wulai Trolley Car is up and running, cafes and restaurants and hot spring hotels are ready and waiting for visitors.

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This past week, temperatures in Taipei have been setting May records, 37ºC and more, but ‘feels like 42°’.  Sweltering heat and humidity, and, despite thunderstorm warnings, none seems to have materialized to break the heat.  None where I’ve been anyway.  So, what better place to go than Wulai to seek some respite?  I was there yesterday.  Actually it was still baking hot ~ but only 33, ‘feeling like 39’, and that’s way better than 42!  Ah well, at least this frog was happy ~ a ‘Swinhoes Frog’ Odorrana Swinhoana, endemic to Taiwan and named after naturalist, Robert Swinhoe, 1836-77, who served as Bristish Consul in Tamsui.

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Wulai is a mountain town 25 km south of Taipei, easily accessible by bus (No. 849), taking 40 minutes from Xindian MRT Station – at the end of the green MRT line.  And only costs NT$ 15!  The road winds up and up to 250 m (not particularly high altitude, but feels like it!) and comes to a stop at the entrance to Wulai Town, perched on the steep banks of the Nanshi River.  The town is sprawling and nothing special as a town, but its location is.  And as it’s the home for the Atayal people 泰雅族, everywhere is decorated in their symbols and colours.

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Check out the RC Church, dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, built in 1963.  I met Fr. Arturo from Chile who serves there, dressed in Atayal colours.  Lots going on there, he was getting ready for a mass.  On Sundays, he gets about 30 people coming along, and he had a class of children on Saturday waiting to start too.  We even had a photo taken together..

Check out the 80m high waterfall, 25 minutes walk up the road.  Beautiful.

The river looks almost turquoise from the road above…

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And check out the cable car that runs up to the Yun Hsien Resort.  The cable car crosses the river with amazing views down.  Takes all of 2 minutes.  Costs NT$ 220, which includes cable car return trip and entry to the resort.

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The view from the top of the cable car looking down at Wulai ~ you can see where all the landslides have taken place….

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Yun Hsien Resort 雲仙樂園 is really quite incredible.  Who would ever think to build a resort up there on the very top of the mountain, and accessible only by cable car?  The temperatures up there were several degrees cooler than down in Wulai, and there was a nice breeze. There’s a hotel, boating lake, flowers and forest walks and archery and all sorts of things to do and look at.  Even peacocks.  But its main attraction has to be its location.  It is quite an incredible feat of construction to build a resort up there.

The flowerbed turns out to be Taiwan-shaped!

Views from the cable car on the return journey….

And back to Wulai Old Street by the Wulai Scenic Train 烏來台車 which started life as a rail cart, originally designed by the Japanese government in 1928 to transport timber, logging tools, tea and passengers – now only used by tourists.  NT$ 50 one way.

Must-visit the Wulai Atayal Museum 烏來泰雅民族博物館 which has lots of displays – and English explanations.  Most interesting are the facial tattoos, headhunting traditions, displays of weaving of the local people ~ oh yes, and the added bonus of air conditioning!

And of course there’s plenty to eat in Wulai, and drink, and things to buy.

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A good place to visit from Taipei for the day ~ lots of people cycle up to the waterfall from Taipei, others enjoy the hot springs – but really they’re best in winter, or they just relax in the river.  Plenty to do and see, and eat ~ and help the Atayal people of Wulai get back on their feet after the typhoon disaster of 2015.  An interesting place.  Even if the natural environment is badly damaged and over-developed with resorts and hotels for the tourism industry.  Still, let’s hope and pray that this year’s typhoon season is kinder on the people of Wulai than in the past.

I love CMS! A Great Big Welcome to Taiwan for Raj Patel, CMS Regional Manager for Asia ~ all the way from Oxford ~ YES!

Yes, honest, I love CMS!  And all those associated with CMS ~ the mission partners, CMS staff, UK Link Churches and of course all those who welcome us to serve in their dioceses, churches, organizations and communities!

CMS stands for Church Mission Society ~ I joined in September 1989, served in Tanzania for 7 years, and then in January 1999 arrived in Taiwan and I’ve been here ever since, first at St. James’ Church, Taichung for 7 years, and since early 2007 based here at St. John’s University, on Taiwan’s NW coast.  My last formal CMS-UK visitors came in November 2007 when we were honoured to welcome 4 VIPs from CMS: Rev. Canon Tim Dakin, then General Secretary of CMS (now Bishop of Winchester); the Rev. Philip Simpson, then Eurasia Director, CMS; Rev. Canon Chye Ann Soh, then East Asia Director, CMS; and the Rev. Simon Na, then North East Asia Manager, CMS, based in South Korea ~ all were here for a 5-day whistle-stop tour of the country, which included the consecration of the new Education Building at St. James’ Church, Taichung.

How could we in Taiwan ever hope to follow on from such a high-level VIP delegation of such handsome and charming visitors?!  Impossible!  So we had a very long pause, and now, fast forward to 9 years later, we have just had the great honour of welcoming Raj Patel to visit Taiwan.  Equally handsome and as charming as the other 4, of course!  He’s in charge of the Asia office at CMS-UK HQ in Oxford, so definitely of VIP status!

Here he is arriving at the Taoyuan Airport last Wednesday ~ from the photo you can just sense his excitement and enthusiasm arriving in Taiwan for his first ever visit ~ YES!  Just don’t mention the typhoon that delayed him for 18 hours in Bangkok on his way here!

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And in case you’re wondering, yes I did take him to St. James’ Church and he saw the 4 VIP CMS visitors sitting in the front row of the photo taken after the Education Building Consecration Service on November 24, 2007 ….. Ah yes, we love welcoming CMS VIP’s!

But now, back to that typhoon…. This past summer, between July 8 and September 9, despite being a very active typhoon season, none came in this direction, all headed to Japan or Hong Kong instead. But from September 9 to September 27, in a space of 2 weeks, we had 3 typhoons, 2 of them direct hits.  Raj was supposed to arrive on Tuesday September 27, but it was not to be.  Typhoon Megi was big, and brought widespread devastation ~ thousands of trees, electricity poles, scaffolding and signboards were blown down, and there were power and water outages and major flooding in some areas. Fortunately the authorities called a Typhoon Day (work and classes cancelled) on Tuesday and extended it to Wednesday, so although it was bad, it could have been a lot worse. As it was, 7 people were killed and over 600 injured, with zillions of dollars of damage, particularly to agriculture.

So Raj was stuck in Bangkok and we were stuck here.  But good news came early on Wednesday September 28 when Raj arrived in the very early morning, and at 7:00 am there I was to welcome him at the airport – but unfortunately minus welcoming balloons (couldn’t get any cos of the typhoon) and minus tinsel (discovered on the day before that the termites had eaten it all) so we had my yellow Mauritius scarf instead ha ha!

So we had to pack Raj’s already packed 6-day itinerary into only 5 days, and non-stop it was!  First stop upon arrival was to a very grey and overcast St. John’s University (SJU) and Advent Church where the maintenance staff were busy cleaning up after the typhoon, and students and faculty all absent (all work and classes cancelled), except for SJU President Peter Herchang Ay 艾和昌, Advent Church Rector, Rev Lennon Chang Yuan-Rung 張員榮牧師 and SJU Acting Chaplain, Rev. Wu Hsing-Hsiang 吳興祥牧師 and his wife, who all came along for the Grand Welcome Coffee Reception ~ yes, great coffee and then lunch!

Raj had brought photos on his iPad to share with everyone about his family, life and background covering his early life in India and East Africa and then in the UK so he was much in demand at every place we went….

Second stop was St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung, on Taiwan’s NE coast, and about an hour’s drive from here.  Rev. Wu Hsing-Hsiang kindly drove us there.  Rev. Julia Lin Shu-Hua 林淑華牧師 had phoned up the children in the church-run after-school classes to ask them to come to meet Raj and to perform some music and welcome songs – the children were all at home as it was a Typhoon Day, but the typhoon was gone – so lots turned up and we had such a warm welcome! Raj told his life story by getting people of different ages to stand up to indicate the age at which something significant had happened to him, starting at the age of 6 when his family left Kenya to move back to India.  We also heard all about St. Stephen’s history and ministry and their recent mission trip to Sabah, and all followed by yummy yummy soup and fruits. Such a moving, fun and happy afternoon, and they were all so lovely – thank you!

And so to Taipei City to stay overnight in the diocesan guest house and to meet Bishop Lai and Mrs. Lily Lai, who had just come back from the USA early on the Tuesday morning, landing just before all flights were cancelled by the typhoon.  Most importantly we had tea-drinking and sharing in the theology of tea ~ Raj called it Bishop Lai’s ‘tea-ology’!

Sightseeing had to be crammed in and around the church visits, so I scheduled a Taipei City Sightseeing Tour for 6:00 am on Thursday ha ha!  Off we went on foot to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, the Presidential Office and Taipei Main Station, then by MRT to Taipei 101 and Sun Yat-Sen Memorial and back by bus in time for breakfast!

Next stop was St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei to meet our brand-new, very-lovely and always-smiling dean, Rev. Philip Lin Li-Feng 林立峰牧師, in fact, he’s so new that he is not yet installed, but we had such great coffee and then lunch along with Rev. Michael Liu. How could we ever forget that lunch?  Rev. Michael Liu is one of our esteemed senior clergy, and in 1973 he was sponsored by CMS to spend a year in the UK for church visits and particularly for a period of study at the Royal School of Church Music.  His memory is amazing, and we laughed the whole lunch through as he shared stories of his experiences in the UK, starting with the fact that he lost about 20 kg (3 stone) of weight in that year. Wow! You wanna lose weight? Just spend a year in the UK eating cucumber sandwiches and waiting until 8:30 pm for ‘supper’ which for him started with being given copious amounts of sherry, which Michael wasn’t used to and not expecting, and on an empty stomach – he drank 4 glasses of the stuff and then thought UK was having a major earthquake, only to find out it was the sherry taking its toll!

And so farewell to northern Taiwan, and off by High-Speed Rail (HSR) down south to Kaohsiung. 90 minutes by HSR covers a distance that would take 5 hours to drive, and it is oh, so smooth and comfortable.  And Raj will be ever grateful that I am not showing you the photos I took of him fast asleep the whole journey – his 18-hour wait in Bangkok finally caught up with him!  We took the Kaohsiung MRT to Formosa Boulevard Station 美麗島 which has the largest glass work in the world, the Dome of Light, a magnificent multi-coloured ceiling. I love it!

We stayed the night at St. Timothy’s Church, Kaohsiung with Rev. Richard Lee Ray-Chiang 李瑞強牧師 and his family, they were so kind and welcoming.  Richard happily shared his testimony with us, they took us out for dinner, and for a tour of the church ~ it’s very moving to hear about and see the ministry of the church, and hear how the Gospel is moving hearts and minds in the city.

Friday morning and we were up for an early start to meet our good friend, Rev. Cheng Chen-Chang 鄭成章牧師 and his wife for the world’s most delicious breakfast (true true true!) and a quick visit to St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung.  The church is supposed to resemble a crown, and was designed by the same architect as Advent Church.  We met the principal and some of the children of the kindergarten, before rushing off the get the train to Tainan.  Ah, yes, non-stop action!

And 30 minutes later we were in Tainan, guests of Rev. Philip Ho Jeng-Long 何政隆牧師 and his wife Nancy.  Philip is a bundle of high energy and it’s very hard to keep up with him, but hey, we tried!  First he drove us to visit St. Andrew’s Kindergarten 聖安得烈宣道所 in ChiaDing 高雄市茄萣區 (variously spelt on signboards in the town as Jiading or Queding), where their son, Rev. Joseph Ho Ray-En 何睿恩牧師 is the newly-appointed priest in charge. The 30-minute drive towards the coast was lined by fallen trees after the typhoon and we discovered that the kindergarten had been closed an extra day on Thursday because of power and water cuts ~ they had also been flooded and were drying out when we arrived.  Such a warm welcome from the principal and staff and the 95 children who were having their lunch when we arrived, they loved to practice their English!

During lunch, the heavens opened and the sky came falling down.  Oh, such rain!  It was still going when we arrived at Grace Church, Tainan where we stayed the night and where Philip and Nancy have been based only since August 1.  Being new in the city, they’d invited their church members and friends, Hsiu-Chin and her husband to take them on a city tour for our benefit, and they did a great job – they also came along for dinner and the following morning too.

Tainan is the first and oldest city in southern Taiwan, and jam-packed full of history ~ and so after the rain stopped a bit, off we went to visit the famous and very beautiful National Museum of Taiwan Literature and the even more famous Taiwan Confucian Temple (built in 1665) and then Tainan Theological College and Seminary 台南神學院, run by the Presbyterian Church (founded in 1876 by Thomas Barclay from Scotland) ….

Philip and Nancy were biology teachers before they moved into full-time church ministry and so at 6:30 am on Saturday morning (and after a little persuasion!) we were up bright and early for a walk in the nearby but badly-affected-by-the-typhoon Barclay Park for a nature tour. Trying to keep up with Philip was quite a task but Raj managed it ~ and the rest of us followed far behind!

And so a fond farewell to Philip and Nancy, who were starting a nature class at Grace Church that morning, and off we went to visit my good friends, Dr. John Fan and his very lovely wife, Judy.  Judy is my former student from my adult English classes at St. James’ Church many years ago and their children were in the St. James’ Kindergarten. John is a psychiatrist, Judy a nurse and only a few weeks ago they moved to Tainan to open a psychiatric clinic not far from Grace Church.  So we spent a wonderful morning with them and their oldest son, Tim at the clinic, and later at the restaurant. Finally at last, after days and days of traveling round Taiwan, finally, finally Raj found someone who shared his passion for football and had heard of Leicester City F. C. Ah, he was so happy!

And so by train from Tainan, 45 minutes to Chiayi to visit St. Peter’s Church.  Mr. Carl Lee and his wife Anny kindly picked us up. Their vicar, Rev. Simon Tsou Tsai-Shin 鄒才新牧師 is actually in the USA at the moment on a visit to the Diocese of Los Angeles, so we were warmly welcomed by Simon’s wife, Lisa and their gorgeous son Jonah, who took to Raj immediately and kept appearing for a hug or a word of English. He was so fast that all the photos are blurred, but you get the idea!

Our purpose in visiting St. Peter’s Church was to meet and listen to one of their younger church members, Mr. Isaac Chen Wei-chieh 陳瑋杰 who was one of the 3 delegates from the Diocese of Taiwan to attend the Council of Churches of East Asia CCEA Youth Forum in Malaysia in the summer.  He had such a wonderful and moving experience at the Youth Forum, and as the subject was mission, and in particular the Five Marks of Mission, he kindly shared with us all about his experiences.  Quite a daunting challenge, but he did a great job!  Some of the church members also joined the meeting and we had some songs and prayers too, followed by tea.  Isaac and Raj got along very well, and it was such a great time of sharing and reflection together.  It was one of the highlights of Raj’s visit, he was still talking about Isaac on the way to the airport on Monday!

We then had a few hours for sightseeing and dinner, so our first stop was Hinoki Village, with 28 beautifully-restored Japanese-style Cypress buildings originally used by the Alishan Forestry Workers during the Japanese Colonial Era (1895-1945). The rain stopped just in time!  And then to a yummy Thai Restaurant, followed by Raj’s first visit to a Night Market.  Such fun, and thank you Carl, Anny and Isaac for your kindness!

And so to our last church (our 10th in 5 days!) ready for our Raj’s last full day in Taiwan on this trip ~ to St. James’ Church, Taichung with our church intern, Mr. Felix Chen Ming-You 陳銘佑. He is preparing for NSM ministry as a priest, and is on a placement at St. James, but helping out with the St. Peter’s Church Youth Group on Saturday evenings while their vicar is away.

He happily drove us to St. James, and we got there late evening, to be very warmly welcomed by the rector, Rev. Lily Chang Ling-Ling 張玲玲牧師.  On Sunday morning, Lily was to be at St. Peter’s Church, covering the service there, so we had Morning Prayer at the 9:30 am St. James’ English Service.  Raj had been invited to preach and we had a very dramatic sermon based on the day’s epistle reading from 2 Timothy 1: 1-14, especially verses 6-7: ‘I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.’  It was great fun, and of course will be long-remembered by everyone!  We even had a special group photo after the English Service…

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After a tea-break, we also attended the second half of the Chinese service which was led by my good friend, former student and retired priest, Rev. Sam Cheng Ching-San 鄭慶三牧師 who serves at the Church of the Leading Star in Taiping, about 30 minutes drive from St. James.  Then to the church lunch!

Jerry Liang, lay minister of the St. James’ English Congregation, and his wife, Jean and grandson James took wonderful care of us for the afternoon and off we went to WuFeng, an outer suburb of Taichung, near Jerry’s home and the mountains. The area suffered huge damage and devastation during the major earthquake on September 21, 1999 – nine months after I arrived in Taiwan, while I was living at St. James’ Church. There is now a museum there, called the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan‘ 國立自然科學博物館九二一地震教育園區 and “dedicated to the 7.3 earthquake that struck the center of Taiwan at 1:47 am on Tuesday, 21 September 1999. The museum is located on the site of the former Guangfu Junior High School; the shell of the building forms the exterior walls of the museum and the Museum’s Chelungpu Fault Gallery crosses the fault on which the earthquake occurred.”

It is both very terrible and very humbling to see so much damage and devastation, knowing over 2,000 people were killed in Taiwan on that day, and yet also amazing to see how well the damaged school has been preserved.  It was my first visit, and also Jean’s first visit. Many people have so many bad memories of that day and the aftershocks that followed, that lots of local people feel unable to visit – until now.  Many people visit the museum for the earthquake experience with shaking floors etc etc, but I was more interested in the damaged buildings and preservation…..

Then we visited the nearby WuFeng Lin Family Garden at Ming-Tai High School, originally built in the early 20th century but badly damaged by the 1999 earthquake and now restored. Beautiful!  We bought some traditional Taiwan Pearl Milk Tea and sat and drank it there, along with Jerry’s neighbour, Rev. Sam Cheng.  Amazingly this was the one and only place in all our 5 days of traveling around Taiwan that seemed unaffected by the typhoon.  The school has some tall cypress trees decorated with lights and baubles as for Christmas, and none of them seemed to have any damage at all!

And so back to St. James for a farewell dinner with Lily and senior warden Samuel Chen and his wife Luanne, supervisor of the St. James’ Kindergarten.  Raj was presented with some Chinese tea which had an ancient Chinese poem written on the box, Jerry read it out and we had a great time discussing the meaning.  For Jerry’s account of the day and lots of good photos, see his blog post here.

After the dinner, we had one last visit to make, to Lily’s mother, aged almost 90, who is staying with Lily and was busy playing on her iPad!  She loved meeting Raj and he loved meeting her.  She looked at his photos and shared about her life.  Turns out her surname is the same as mine, so we must be related!

Early to bed, early to rise!  Yesterday, Monday morning, Raj had a flight to catch at 7:50 am from Taoyuan Airport and really the only way to get there without disturbing everybody was by airport taxi service.  So at 3:00 am, there we were, in a taxi heading to the airport. For VIP visitors, it’s not too expensive, NT$ 2,100 ~ convenient, door to door and ah, so nice!

So a Big Farewell to Raj as he departed yesterday for Bangkok and onto other places in Thailand to continue his visit.  We had such a great time, and he was so much fun to travel with!  He loved seeing all the motorbikes, the high-speed rail, the churches, the clergy, the youth, the outreach programs.  He loved showing photos of his 3 ‘passions’: his garden, classic Enfield motorcycle and Leicester City FC.   Very modest, very charming and y’know what?  Very English. So so English.  Ha ha! Always so positive about everything (he never complained once!) and see, he was still smiling at the airport yesterday morning!

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Since Raj arrived last Wednesday, I’ve taken over 1,000 photos and Raj is in most of ’em, but he’s keen not to be the centre of attention ~ that place should be reserved for the wonderful people of Taiwan who opened their hearts to welcome us so warmly. Hospitality is Taiwan people’s gift to the world.

A very big THANK YOU to Bishop Lai and all our clergy, friends, church members and their families who welcomed us so warmly and generously, giving up so much of their time and energy to take us around and share about everything.  It was a truly wonderful week!

Thank you Raj for coming to visit ~ and do come again, it was certainly a week to remember!

And especially grateful thanks to Almighty God for his provision, blessing and safekeeping throughout!

On Typhoon Watch Again!

All Taiwan on Typhoon Watch again for the second time this Mid-Autumn Moon Festival as we batten down the hatches and wait for Typhoon Malakas to arrive, as it blows up the east coast of Taiwan tonight and tomorrow.  Lots of torrential rain expected in northern Taiwan.  As often happens, the day before a typhoon comes, the weather is stunning – with blue skies and fluffy white clouds….

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Hope our papaya tree still looks like this in a few days time!

7 years after Typhoon Morakot ~ up beyond 甲仙 Jiasian to 小林 Siaolin and 錫安山 Holy Mt. Zion!

The deadliest typhoon in Taiwan’s history, Typhoon Morakot on August 8, 2009, resulted in the deadliest mudslide ever, in the Pingpu village of Siaolin (Xiaolin) 小林, up in the mountains of southern Taiwan, about 90 minutes drive NE of Kaohsiung City.  A stunningly beautiful area – but on that tragic day in 2009, disaster struck and up to 700 people lost their lives when the village was completely buried by the mud, as were the roads, bridges, agricultural land, schools and temples….

Now 7 years later, and a huge amount of reconstruction has been going on. People have been rehoused in several new locations, and a new road and many new bridges of all different colours have been built up the valley.  Until last year, St. Timothy’s Church, Kaohsiung had a ministry to those affected by the typhoon in the town of Jiasian 甲仙, just downstream from Siaolin.  There were classes to help children with their homework, school visits, children and youth activities at the weekend, and groups for adults.  One of those involved in the outreach was our good friend from St. Timothy’s, Mrs. Hsu Pai-Hui, who is also in charge of the women’s ministry in the Diocese of Taiwan.

Last Friday evening I was in St. Peter’s Church, Chia-Yi for their youth Bible Study – and so Pai-Hui had kindly invited Mrs. Grace Chien and I to visit Kaohsiung for the weekend from Chia-Yi.  We even had a lift to Kaohsiung with 2 very gracious church members from St. Peter’s.  So yesterday afternoon, Pai-Hui took us both up on the road through the Hakka town of Meinung, on and up through Jiasian and beyond to Siaolin.  We stopped at the new Siaolin Village Elementary School, opened in 2012 to replace the old one.  The new school is beautiful, all in bright colours with stunning views, and full of Pingpu tribal artwork and decoration.