Tag Archives: USA

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!

Just Married! Many Congratulations to Yi-Chia 鄒宜家 and Si-Han 陳思翰 on their Wedding Day ~ and it all started in Boston!

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Our beloved Teacher Tiger’s big day ~ YES!  And yes, we call her Teacher Tiger (well, after all she was born in the Year of the Tiger!), otherwise she’s known as Yi-Chia 宜家, and in fact that’s what our friends in Boston call her.  Yesterday was a very big day for her and her brand new husband Shawn ~ Si-Han 思翰, and what a lovely couple they are!

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IMG_0136Yi-Chia’s family are all members of ‘The Church in Taipei’, YongHe Branch 新北市召會永和區一會所, affiliated to the ‘Local Churches‘ Movement or ‘The Little Flock’, which was started in the 1930’s in Mainland China by Watchman Nee, and in Taiwan from 1949 onwards by Witness Lee. Interestingly Watchman Nee started his education in a CMS (Church Mission Society – that’s me!) school in China, and was quite influenced by CMS people throughout his life.  Ah, connections!

Yi-Chia teaches in our St. James’ Preschool, Taichung ~ where I was for 7 years from 1999-2006 – she arrived after I left, but she arrived at a key time.  We had just started linking up with Cambridge-Ellis School (CES), Boston, USA and over time that link has developed into a full sister-school partnership, of which I am part of the liaison team from St. James. In 2012, Yi-Chia went to CES for a year as part of our exchange programme, and one of the activities arranged for her was daily English classes at a local college in Boston.  Boom! Not only did she learn plenty of great English, but it was at that college that she met Si-Han.  Both are from Taipei.  But they met in Boston!

Yesterday was their wedding day, YES!  I had the honour of attending the wedding celebration at their church in Yonghe, Taipei at 9:00am, and speaking on behalf of St. James’ Preschool to share a little about their story and the Boston connection, and to offer congratulations and best wishes to them both.  So easy to do, as Yi-Chia and Si-Han are both such wonderful people!

It was my very first experience of a wedding celebration in a Local Church, and it was very moving.  Both Yi-Chia and Si-Han shared their joint testimony, kind of one sentence each at a time, and much of it centred around how Si-Han had come to faith in Christ since knowing Yi-Chia, and how he was baptized almost exactly a year ago, and has now become a member of the Local Church ~ and all this because he genuinely came to faith, not just because he fell in love with a lovely Christian girl!  God is good, and it’s quite a story!

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The 6 elders of the church all spoke from their hearts and shared verses from the Bible, words of wisdom, blessing and thanksgiving ~ also the father of the groom, and the father of the bride – who had everyone laughing away, and here he is, below!

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We also sang a special hymn, chosen by the couple. The most important part of the service was right near the end, when the 6 elders and the bride and groom knelt down in a close group, and the elders laid hands on the bride and groom and prayed for them and for God’s blessings on their marriage.  Both in their sharing and in their praying, the elders showed such passion, joy and eloquence, speaking from their hearts, moved by the Holy Spirit, and the congregation responded frequently with shouts of ‘Amen’.  It was humbling, joyful, worshipful and awe-inspiring!

The couple had been the day before to officially register their marriage, so the next step was lunch, and then they had a whole day of celebrations to follow, with the wedding banquet in the evening,  for which a coachload of teachers and friends from St. James were coming.  It being Easter Eve, I was to be back at Advent Church, but I was delighted to attend the wedding service, along with some of our St. James’ teachers, their boyfriends, and the groom’s friends too ~ here we all are, the ‘Friends’ group!

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A very big Thank You to all the church members and the families of the bride and groom for their very warm welcome and their friendly greetings, much appreciated!

And many congratulations, best wishes and God’s richest blessings to Yi-Chia and Si-Han on your marriage ~ yes, may God bless you both greatly and your new life together, Amen!

On the road with Elvis….

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You never quite know what you’re gonna find in this country ~ and so it was that on my way down to S.W. England along the A303 today, found myself passing Stonehenge for the first time in my life ~ and then a hour or so further along, there was Elvis and his friends hanging out at an American diner on the same road….

wpid-img_20150316_110635_1426528963788.jpgThere’s Elvis and his friends cruising along on the wall of a diner all covered with signs of the iconic Route 66 in the USA.  Driving along the A303 and such an association with Route 66 does not spring immediately to mind, but y’know there are some similarities ~ the road to the west and the sense of freedom – but well, sadly that’s about it. The A303 is slow, slow, slow.  This may be the main road from London to the SW, but most of the A303 is single lane carriageway, much of it is 50mph, and at one or two places it goes down to 20mph.  Get behind a tractor with a bale of hay, and well, we’re all chugging along at 20mph ~ ah, fun!

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Y’know, I once went along Route 66, all the way from L.A. to St. Louis. Took 2 nights and 2½ days pretty much non-stop.  All on the bus.  Loved it!

Pretty relieved that the A303 and then the A30 didn’t take that long today.  6 hours to be precise.  Mostly in the drizzle.  Passed a lot of dead foxes, and even more dead badgers, killed trying to cross the road.  Sad stuff.

But then I got to Cornwall and saw all the yellow fields.  Daffodils.  Tons of ’em.  And big fat lambs.  And sea.  And seagulls galore.

Y’know, there’s no seagulls in Taiwan.  Or at least I’ve never seen one.  People ask me what I miss about the UK when I’m in Taiwan.  The answer is seagulls.  Big white raucous ones screeching and swooping and soaring and generally making their presence felt.

Welcome to Cornwall, where there’s loads of ’em 🙂 yippee, I just love seagulls!

John Eliot, ‘Apostle to the Indians’ ~ the Taiwan Connection!

Just in case you hadn’t noticed ~ my favourite church is of course Advent Church on the campus of St. John’s University, Taiwan, and my favourite stained glass is the one in Advent Church – it’s BEAUTIFUL!

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So beautiful in fact, that I use it for all my cover photos for this blog and everything else, it is truly stunning!  The glass was designed and made in 2008 by our good friend, Lyn Hovey ~ who is based in Boston, USA with his lovely wife, Naticksqw, Chief Caring Hands of the Natick Praying Indians.  They’ve both been to Taiwan many times, and then last May I had the chance to visit them in Boston, and we went to the ancestral lands to eat delicious ice-cream, plus visit a church that Lyn was busy restoring…..

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The story of Naticksqw’s people, the Natick Praying Indians, and how they came to follow the Christian faith starts with the arrival in the USA in 1631 of John Eliot, Puritan missionary to the Massachusetts Indians. He learned the language, preached, taught, and translated the Bible, helped by a local team. In fact the first Bible actually printed in America was their translation, in the Massachusetts-Natick language.

John Eliot was from England, born in Widford, Herts, and grew up nearby in Nazeing, Essex.  He was baptized on August 5, 1604 in Widford Church. Widford is a tiny little village not far from Ware, Herts, and today I had the chance to visit ~ yippee!  Except that it was raining all day ha ha!

Anyway, John Eliot appears on the Widford Village Sign, and in the church the big east window is dedicated to his memory, erected in 1894 by his American descendants.  The font is the one he was baptized in too.  The church is part of the United Benefice of Hunsdon with Widford and Wareside….

My next stop was the Nazeing Village Church, in the village where John Eliot grew up. But by then it was raining very hard, and the church was closed ~ so only 3 photos of the outside!

An amazing day ~ an amazing man ~ following an amazing God!