Tag Archives: Visitors

‘Love and Peace’ Thanksgiving Concerts 愛與和平感恩音樂會: Welcoming the Lawings to Taiwan!

Wonderful visitors, wonderful friends of the Taiwan Episcopal Church ~ these last 10 days we’ve really enjoyed a feast of music welcoming Bill Lawing and his wife, Cynthia from Davidson College, N. Carolina, USA, and Cynthia’s sister, Gloria from Rollins College, Florida  – and some of the younger ones in their family too!

IMG_5369

The Lawings are passionate about their music and just love performing.  And smiling for the cameras.  And talking and meeting everyone.  So natural – yet so experienced, so professional – yet so down to earth, so talented – yet so humble and modest.  Everybody in Taiwan loves them, and from what they said, seems like they love everybody here too!

Here’s Bill, Cynthia and Gloria after their concert last night at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei with Bishop and Mrs. Lily Lai, Professor Herbert Ma and Mrs. Aline Ma, Rev. Philip Lin and Ms. Linda Lin, and Ms. Amy Lin…

IMG_6048

Anyway, on to the music – we had Bill on his trumpet, Cynthia and Gloria on the piano ~ and away we went!  This was their concert finale and my overall favouritest piece, This Little Light of Mine ~ recorded at St. Timothy’s Church…

While they’ve been here, they’ve performed a whole range of music at 2 concerts, 2 church services and 2 kindergartens.  What an honour it was to welcome them and listen to their music and watch them play.

This is a very short excerpt from ‘Go Tell it on the Mountain’….

After a 16-hour non-stop flight from New York last Thursday, May 24, they arrived very early in the morning in Taipei, and after a traditional Taiwan-style breakfast, they went straight into practicing at St. John’s Cathedral.  Their stamina and enthusiasm were amazing.  And not just for music ~ Cynthia’s other great passion in Taiwan is the food.  The more local the better.  Street food expert extraordinaire!  So after practice at the cathedral, off we went straight to their welcome lunch with cathedral clergy and friends.  Ah, it was a busy morning!

Cynthia and Gloria were brought up in Hong Kong, where their family were members of St. Paul’s Church, whose rector was Rev. James T. M. Pong – he was also their close family friend.  He left St. Paul’s in 1971 to become Bishop of Taiwan, and in 1974, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Taiwan Episcopal Church, Bishop Pong invited Cynthia to come and give a concert tour all round Taiwan.  Those were the days of no a/c, just windows open and fans blowing – and just think, it was high summer!  This is Cynthia and Gloria at the diocesan office outside the room named in memory of Bishop Pong, and his photo.

IMG_5875

One of those concerts that Cynthia gave in 1974 was in Tainan Theological College, where Bishop Lai was then a student, and he remembers attending – and shaking her hand!  Fast forward 37 years to 2011 – and then 2014, and Cynthia was so pleased to be able to come back to Taiwan, along with Bill, offering their musical talents and skills to perform in a series of concerts.  So this is their third trip together and this time, they’ve brought some of their family too.  Ah, how we loved them all!

IMG_5455

Their first concert was at 2:00 pm on Saturday May 26 at St. Timothy’s Church, Kaohsiung, the second a week later, at 7:00 pm on Saturday June 2 at St. John’s Cathedral.  Both concerts were co-sponsored by the Taiwan Episcopal Church and the Christian Tribune 基督教論壇報 – and  were on the theme of ‘Love and Peace’ 愛與和平感恩音樂會, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 823 Artillery Bombardment, part of the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, which saw about 480,000 artillery shells dropped on Taiwan’s outlying islands of Kinmen.  It is some of these artillery shells, that, through Bishop Lai’s vision, have been made into artillery shell crosses, symbolizing the transformation of objects of war and hatred into objects of love and peace, hence the ‘P’ in the middle of the crosses.  This is Bishop Lai and Bill holding one of the original artillery shell crosses, and Cynthia holding the piece of marble that she picked up in Taroko Gorge when they visited in 2014, and which Bishop Lai has faithfully watered every day, and is now blooming with small green ferns.  In 2014, Cynthia promised that when it bloomed they would come back to Taiwan to perform again ~ and so here they are!

IMG_5883

The artillery shell crosses were on sale at each concert – here is Gloria and Daniel selling them at the cathedral…

IMG_5978

Bishop Lai and Mr. Luo from Advent Church have composed a hymn, ‘Raise High, the Transformed Artillery Shells Cross’ which we sang at the beginning of each of the concerts.

At St. Timothy’s Church, the first 2 verses were sung as a solo by Ms. Lynn Liu, and accompanied by Cynthia on the organ, then in the final verse by Bill and Gloria too.  This is the hymn, sung in Chinese.

This is Lynn with the Lawings afterwards…. so great!

IMG_5406

St. Timothy’s rector, Rev. Richard J. C. Lee shared Cynthia’s story with us, he also welcomed us all and Mr. Timothy Cheng, Christian Tribune CEO to speak.  Then the concert started, and we all relaxed, and enjoyed the variety of music on offer.  It was beautiful!

I videoed some excerpts of their concert in Kaohsiung.  Ah, I loved it!  A few I’ve put on You Tube.  Two short excerpts are here for you to enjoy ~ though I have to admit, I don’t know what pieces they are excerpts of, but hey, I like ’em.  Listening to music is a bit like enjoying nature, you can appreciate all the flowers and trees around you without needing to know the names of ’em all ~ well, that’s my idea anyway!

The concert at St. Timothy’s Church welcomed all our clergy from southern Taiwan, and many church members, some from every church.  In fact after the concert, each church group came up for photos together with the Lawings.  Everyone was so appreciative, and especially the youth group who’d come all the way from St. Peter’s Church, Chiayi, 2 hours drive north!

And a group photo of everyone at St. Timothy’s Church concert…

IMG_5423

Then off to dinner later that evening, hosted by Rev. Cheng Chen-Chang and the leaders of St. Paul’s Church, it was so so so delicious!  On the right is Mr. Di, who provided so many photos and live broadcasts throughout the concert and service.  Really appreciative of his help!

IMG_5456

On Sunday May 27, Bill and Cynthia also played 4 pieces during the service at St. Paul’s, starting with a prelude on the steps of the church. This is St. Paul’s Church before the service ~ that guy on the bike just happened to appear at the right moment!

IMG_5553

This was the Lawing’s main piece, played after the creed, I think it is also my most favourite of all!

They were also presented with small gifts in appreciation…

And of course, we all had a group photo after the service!

IMG_5608

Then off they went to Taiwan’s southernmost tip, Kenting, with Rev. Richard Lee and his family, and I went back to Taipei.  Seems like they had a great time there – then to Tainan where they played at the kindergartens and had a fun time with Rev. Philip Ho and his wife, Nancy at Grace Church. By Saturday, they were back in Taipei and we went to visit Bishop Lai for tea-drinking, always one of the highlights of their visits to Taiwan!

IMG_5857

IMG_5864

And so to St. John’s Cathedral concert, held last night, and a similar programme to the one at St. Timothy’s Church.  So I got to hear them twice, ah, a double blessing!

We finished with presentations – Bishop Lai gave Bill, Cynthia and Gloria a small artillery shell cross each.  Then a group photo, as always!

IMG_6031

Today the Lawings were playing at Good Shepherd Church, and then leaving Taiwan to go on to the next stage of their travels.  For us, we have many wonderful memories of their visit, and especially their music.  It was great to welcome the younger members of their family too, they enjoyed exploring Taiwan.  Hoping they’ll all come back again soon, but in the meantime, we say goodbye with hearts filled with gratitude and love.

Thanks be to Almighty God!

Congratulations to Antony F. W. Liang 梁凡偉 on his Ordination as Deacon! 梁凡偉傳道按立會吏聖職聖禮

What a great and joyful day for all in the Taiwan Episcopal Church ~ for Bishop David J. H. Lai ordaining a new deacon ~ and for Antony Fan-Wei Liang and his family, in particular!  Many congratulations to everyone, and thanks be to God!

IMG_2484

This all happened last night, May 1, 2018, at a special ordination service at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei ~ YES!

IMG_2451

Antony and his parents are long-time members of St. James’ Church, Taichung ~ in fact, I’ve known him since he was a teenager.   Antony’s much-loved father is Jerry Liang, lay leader for many years of St. James’ English service.  I go there once a month to do the sermon and I know that whenever Jerry is there, the service proceeds oh so smoothly – but if Jerry is not there for any reason, everyone is noticeably less relaxed and anything can – and often does – happen!  Antony’s very lovely mother, Jean helps too, she is the world’s most amazing singer and oozes elegance, refinement and style.  Both parents are very committed Christians, the first in their respective families, and both are also retired teachers, devoted parents to Antony, and very energetic and supportive grandparents to Antony’s 2 young sons.   Ah, we all love ’em so much!  This is Antony and his family last night with Bishop Lai….

IMG_2505

So, some years ago, when Antony married his beautiful wife, Anita, the wedding too was at St. James’ Church.  And then the 2 boys came along ~ but in-between times, Antony responded to a call to enter full-time ministry.  For his theological college training, he had the unique opportunity, kindly offered to the diocese by Archbishop Paul Kwong of Hong Kong – and supported by Bishop Lai – to train at Ming Hua Theological College, Hong Kong.  He was there 3 years, while his wife and family stayed in Taiwan, living with Jerry and Jean, who rose to the occasion wonderfully, and provided the family with lots of love and support, as well as a warm and caring home.  Antony finished at Ming Hua last summer, and his graduation in February this year was attended by former and current rectors of St. James, Rev. Charles C. T. Chen and Rev. Lily L. L. Chang, as well as Jerry Liang.

Since then the family have been serving at St. Andrew’s Mission, Jieding, Kaohsiung, and most recently involved at St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung at weekends.

Now, though, starting May 1, Antony has been assigned to St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei, to be in charge of a new English service, starting this Sunday – and every Sunday – at 9:00 am.  Many years ago the cathedral had an English service, but in recent years it had stopped.  Now it is being restarted, and Antony is taking up the challenge – along, of course, with the dean, Philip L. F. Lin.

But first to Antony’s ordination last night…

And we welcomed church members and friends from all over Taiwan ~ and an extra blessing was to welcome so many of Antony’s fellow students, faculty, clergy and friends from Hong Kong, and specially Dr. Gareth Jones, principal of Ming Hua, who also represented Archbishop Paul Kwong.   Here he is with Antony… (notice the candle light that looks like it’s on the top of Antony’s head!)

IMG_2566

I counted about 20 visitors in the Hong Kong (and friends) group photo ~ wonderful!

IMG_2791

A coachload also came from St. James’ Church, Taichung – and they sang “I the Lord of Sea and Sky” during the service.  Loved it!  This is their group photo…

IMG_2785

And then we also had all our clergy in attendance, plus many church members, particularly from our churches in northern Taiwan.   These are groups photos from St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung, Christ Church, Chungli, and St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung…

And this was the main group photo ~ kindly taken by one of our diocesan staff…

31749523_1350656831701737_1548920779242995712_o

All our happy clergy…

IMG_2778

Y’know, yesterday, May 1 was not just a special holy day, the Feast of St. Philip and St. James, it was also Labour Day – so quite a few people had a day off work.  In Taiwan the day off is limited to those who qualify for Labour Insurance, which does not include teachers in universities and schools, so the schools were open and students were in classes.  But our church kindergarten teachers and staff do qualify for Labour Insurance, so the kindergartens were closed.  The good thing was that many could therefore come to the ordination, including some of the teachers from St. James’ Kindergarten and Leading Star Kindergarten.  The bad thing was that everyone with a day off was out at restaurants, enjoying the beach, relaxing, and the roads were all full of cars.  Students were trying to get home, and as it was also a full moon festival, so there were temple celebrations and processions all over.  And in Taipei City there were Labour Day marches.  Ah, crowds everywhere!   Praise God we all got to St. John’s Cathedral more or less on time!

The service started at 7:00 pm, led by Bishop Lai, who also preached.  Lessons were read by Samuel Chen, senior warden at St. James – in Chinese, and by Jerry Liang in English. The service was full of meaning, and very moving….

IMG_2301

IMG_2431

By tradition, Antony’s wife also gave a short speech after the actual ordination part of the service, she was wonderful – she thanked everyone on behalf of the family, and the whole family were introduced.  Dr. Gareth Jones also gave a short speech.  We had photos galore – and lots of meeting up with old friends!  So, this is the album…

A big thank you to Bishop Lai and all the clergy, staff and church members of St. John’s Cathedral for all their organization – and attention to detail, and the refreshments too.  This is the cathedral group photo, with our beloved Canon Chancellor, Professor Herbert Ma and Mrs. Aline Ma in the front..

IMG_2805

We give thanks to Almighty God for his many blessings to the Taiwan Episcopal Church, and for Antony’s ordination.  Please do pray for Antony and his family as they settle into life at St. John’s Cathedral and of course, as they start the new English service this coming Sunday!

Welcoming the Dean and Clergy of St. John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong!

After an hour of blue sky and sunshine last Saturday, the sun sadly gave up and has never been seen since.  It is a completely wet, cold and horrible week.  But kinda normal for this time of year.  Do not come to visit in winter!  Unless you are hardy and strong and very cheerful, like most Taiwan people or our eleven lovely visitors from Hong Kong (HK), namely the dean and clergy of St. John’s Cathedral, who are visiting northern Taiwan all this week.  They’re spending the week smiling, enthusing, encouraging and really enjoying themselves, hey, they seem to be having a great time, despite the weather!

27164371_1699781200078885_2921847074932811951_o

The dean, the Very Rev. Matthias Der 謝子和, grew up here in Taiwan, when his father, Rev. Edmund Der 謝博文 was the vice-principal at what is now our St. John’s University (SJU). The senior Der parents visited us at the end of April last year for the SJU 50th anniversary celebrations (see here).  So a triple blessing for us, 3 Ders in 9 months!

Every year, about this time, the dean and clergy of St. John’s Cathedral, HK go on a short study tour to interesting places, and this time, Dean Matthias has brought them all to Taiwan ~ yippee!  They have a packed programme, visiting our churches and sightseeing.  And the weather forecast all week is…. guess what? Rain.  Yes, rain. All week. And cold.  And horrible.  But y’know, they’re a very happy group, and yesterday on their visit to St. John’s University and Advent Church, well we had such a good time together.  Sharing about what we’re doing here in university and church, and hearing all about St. John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong ~ oh, and presenting gifts too. This is SJU President Peter Herchang Ay (left photo) and  Advent Church rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang (right photo) with Dean Matthias receiving gifts from St. John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong.

Y’know what? St. John’s Cathedral, HK has 7 (yes seven!) services at their cathedral over Saturday night and Sunday, and their Sunday main service at 9:00 am gets 700 people.  And all the others together add up to over 2,000 people.  That is quite some number, believe me.  In fact, it’s about double what the whole of the Episcopal Church in Taiwan gets on a Sunday in all our churches put together.  How’s that for a challenge, eh?!

Anyway, they have lots of clergy, some also with responsibilities for daughter churches and they all come from all over, Philippines, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and UK.  Before we left for dinner with our church council members in the restaurant in Tamsui, we took them to visit Advent Church….

IMG_3305

And in case you don’t believe me about the weather, just check out what Dr. George MacKay wrote in 1896 after 24 years of living in Tamsui……

“The climate of North Formosa is excessively trying to foreigners. Those who have traveled in the Orient will understand that statement, but to the average Westerner it will be meaningless. In fact, it cannot be fully comprehended save by those who have spent a number of years in such a climate. . . . We have no frost or snow, and those accustomed to invigorating atmosphere cannot understand how at times in Formosa we long for just one breath of the clear, crisp air of a frosty winter morning. . . . About the end of December our rainy season sets in, and continues through January and February. It is rain, rain, rain, to-day, to-morrow, and the next day; this week, next week, and the week after; wet and wind without, damp and mould within. Often for weeks together we rarely get a glimpse of the sun. All year around we have to fight against depression of spirits, and say over to ourselves as cheerfully as possible: ‘Be still, sad heart, and cease repining; / Behind the clouds is the sun still shining.'”

(George MacKay, From Far Formosa, 1896.)

So to our wonderful visitors from Hong Kong ~ a very big and very warm welcome to Taiwan! 

Advent Word 2017, Day 2 ‘journey’

#AdventWord #Journey

‘Is the JOURNEY this Advent about our daily routine lives from point A to point B? Or is the JOURNEY about our earthly travels to the “land of heaven” where we will be speechless with gratitude? Our JOURNEY is both/and. The JOURNEY to God is now. Holy paths we travel.’

Bp Pinckney, Bp Wong and others

Arriving at Songshan Airport, Taipei!

The Taiwan Episcopal Church welcomes new companion diocese, the Episcopal Diocese of Upper S. Carolina (EDUSC), visit to Taiwan 台灣聖公會, October 1965.  Left to right, back row: Bishop John A. Pinckney (Bishop of EDUSC 1963-72), Bishop James C. L. Wong 王長齡主教 (Bishop of Taiwan 1965-70), Mr. William (Billy) S. C. Wang (Diocesan Treasurer); front row: Mrs. Julia Liang (Bishop Wong’s secretary), Mrs. Julia Liu Fu (Chair of Taiwan Episcopal Church Women ECW).

Welcoming old friends from afar…. from St. Paul’s RC Church, Daya Rd, Taichung!

Welcoming Rev. Toon Maes 馬世光神父 CICM and church members from St. Paul’s RC Church, Daya Rd, Taichung 台中市大雅路聖保祿天主堂 to visit Advent Church today!

IMG_7787

CICM, the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Scheut Mission) was started in Belgium just over 150 years ago, and has quite a group of priests in Taiwan from Belgium, Congo, Cameroon, Philippines and other countries.  Fr. Toon Maes is with CICM from Belgium…. and he is AMAZING – he just has so much energy!

Fr. Maes was born in 1932, came to Taiwan with CICM in 1959 and has been here ever since!   He used to be based at Jinshan Church and responsible for our local Sanzhi RC Church, plus Laomei Village, but a few years ago he took on a new challenge and returned to Taichung, where he’d been some years before.  It is through his vision and encouragement that until now, we are still doing outreach in Laomei.  And today he brought all his church members to visit us in Advent Church.  We had such a great time together.  Wonderful!

Long may our ecumenical links bring forth blessings to all!

Taipei 4 Teens!

Always accept a challenge!  And one of my challenges this week was to take 2 very lovely American teens around Taipei for the afternoon.  They were very interested and very keen to see everything!  Their parents were busy at a conference, so I offered to show them a few sights…

First stop was the Changing of the Guard at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, whose days may be numbered, so it’s worth going to see now.  Not for the memorial itself but to see the guards. It’s hot work and they stand there totally not moving for a whole hour while the sweat drips off them.  Only one fan each blowing a bit of air around.  And they’re wearing tons of clothes.  Then they perform a wonderful choreographed display with their bayonets, every move coordinated with their fellow guards, as 2 of them change places. The place to stand to watch this is right in the centre in front of the statue.  Looks like this guard almost punched me in the face, he was that close!

Then walk down to the Presidential Office ….

And by MRT from Taipei Main Station to Taipei 101, which on a fine day is worth going up, or worth looking at from below.  It’s NT$ 600 for adults – which is not cheap so don’t bother if the weather isn’t good! I took my visitors up, and it was very empty up there – it used to be always full of Chinese tourists, but no more.  Fastest elevators in the world and all that.  Engineering heaven with that big ball up there that sways to steady the building in a typhoon or earthquake.  Video recordings on display of the ball swaying.  Check it out.

Taipei 101 is surrounded by construction sites, and some of the new buildings are amazingly high.  Pretty good views though!

But by far the most interesting new building in view from Taipei 101 is the construction of ‘Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut’s DNA double helix-shaped Agora Garden Tower’. Check out the Taiwan News article here for pictures of what it’s gonna look like when it’s finished.  Must go and visit it from ground level next time there’s a sunny day. Here it is below….

Finished at Taipei 101, and it’s time to eat – the food court on Taipei 101 Level B1 is good, and in the early evening midweek there’s not many people so you’ll easily get a seat.  By then it’s dark, and the only place left to go is of course a night market.  Shilin is the one to go to, and the must-see for teenagers is the live snakes – and the bottles of bits of dead snakes waiting to be made into soup.  No photos allowed though.

My visitors were staying in Nangang 南港 at the far eastern end of Taipei.  Full of businesses and office buildings. Not like the rest of Taipei at all.  I’d never been there before at night, in fact I’d hardly ever been there during the day come to that.  Full of colored lights, changing color all the time – this is the red look!

These Nangang photos were taken at 8:30 pm.  Still tons of lights on, people still at their desks!  From there it took me 2 hours to get home.  But hey, it’s so easy, just sit on a train and bus.  Taipei is just so convenient and easy and safe and worth seeing.  Morning, afternoon or night.  Tons of stuff to see and do.

So do come and check it out!

Yes, we love you all in the Diocese of Osaka! Welcome to Taiwan!

The Dioceses of Taiwan and Osaka, Japan have been linked as companion dioceses for the last 12 years ~ and we’ve signed the official agreements to renew the partnership every 3 years.  So this week Bishop David J. H. Lai and the Diocese of Taiwan welcomed a group of 26 from the Diocese of Osaka, led by Bishop Andrew Haruhisa Iso, here to sign the agreement for the 5th time – for another 3 years. YES!  See the smiling faces of Bishop Lai and Bishop Iso just after the grand signing!

Actually, our link with Osaka really goes back much further than just 2005.  Way back in colonial times, 1895-1945, the Japanese Anglican Church (Nippon Sei Ko Kai) in Taiwan was under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Osaka.  The Taiwan Episcopal Church was founded much later, in 1954, and when we celebrated our 60th anniversary in 2014, we were honored that Bishop Iso’s predecessor, Bishop Osamu Onishi brought a group from Osaka to attend.  Then last year, Bishop Iso visited Taiwan for the first time as bishop, bringing a group from Osaka to attend the opening service of our convention.

And now, we welcome this year’s group from Osaka, plus everyone who came to the service on Tuesday afternoon!

Yes, we love our friends from Osaka!  Over the years, some have come to Taiwan many times.  We were delighted that our good friend, Rev. Akira Iwaki, retired dean of the cathedral in Osaka, was able to join us, and it’s his birthday this week ~ cake and candles were all ready for him! Here he is enjoying a chat with Bishop Lai….

The Osaka group arrived on Tuesday and we held a service at Good Shepherd Church, Taipei to sign the agreement. Rev. Keith C. C. Lee visited Osaka for 3 months last summer, and when he returned to Taiwan, he became rector of Good Shepherd Church.  So he worked very hard and made many of the arrangements for this visit – and his wife Sindy played the piano for the service.  Also involved in organizing everything were Linda, principal of Good Shepherd Kindergarten, Mrs. Lily Lai, kindergarten supervisor, and Linda, wife of Rev. Philip Lin ~ she is also the drumming teacher ~ and so the children sang and drummed, as did some of the adults, to give a really enthusiastic welcome as the visitors arrived. Oh and the children had made lovely little gifts for the visitors.  I even got one too, thank you!

Many of our clergy came from all over Taiwan, plus church members and friends, all to welcome our lovely Osaka friends.  Here we all are!  And Mrs. Masako Kawamura from Osaka came in her kimono.  Here she is with Rev. Keith Lee – isn’t she beautiful?!

During the service, Bishop Lai presented Bishop Iso with a Kinmen Artillery Shell Cross, and Bishop Iso presented Bishop Lai with a beautiful and very special chalice and paten, made by one of the Osaka church members.  All mother-of-pearl ~ it’s gorgeous!

The service was also attended by a group of 9 lady visitors from St. Patrick’s Church, Tawau, Sabah, E. Malaysia.  They are visiting St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung for a week on a mission exchange trip, and Rev. Julia Lin has been taking them around visiting our churches for outreach.  Here they are with Rev. Julia Lin and Rev. Joseph Wu!

And so to the service, which was bilingual – Chinese and Japanese, with Bishop Iso preaching…..

After the photos, off we went for the formal welcome dinner, hosted by Bishop Lai and the Diocese of Taiwan, and very delicious ~ and followed by a birthday celebration for Rev. Iwaki!

The Osaka group left on Wednesday early morning for a visit to St. James’ Church, Taichung, then to Sun Moon Lake.  Today they are visiting Alishan, and tomorrow they go to St. Peter’s Church, Chiayi, before leaving tomorrow night.  A flying visit, but oh, so meaningful, and so wonderful to see them all!

For Jerry Liang’s report on the service, check out his blog post and photos here.

And finally a group photo of all the clergy who attended the service, including Bishop Iso, Rev. Akira Iwaki, Rev. Kiyomi Senmatsu and Rev. Warren Wilson from Osaka.  Most of our clergy from northern Taiwan attended too, plus…..

Plus…. what?  What else can you spot in the above photo?

Just check out Rev. Elizabeth Wei, on the front left, and what she is standing next to. Ha ha!  Yes, it’s a frog!  Presumably from the Good Shepherd Kindergarten.  That was a surprise ~ I love it!

So please do pray for the next 3 years of our partnership with Osaka, and especially for our plans for a 3-year mission training and outreach program involving young people from both dioceses, starting this summer.   It’s the vision of our Advent Church rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang, supported by Shu-Jing from our chaplaincy, in partnership with our Osaka friends.  It’s still very much in the planning stages, and there’s lots to do!

And finally, a big welcome to all our Osaka friends ~ and thanks to Good Shepherd Church and the Diocese of Taiwan for all the arrangements.  And thanks be to God for such a great partnership between our 2 dioceses ~ YES!

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!

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!

img_9668

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…

img_0525

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…..