As we were doing our demographic research the last couple of years as a mission as to where to locate in the future, many of us felt that the township in which I am presently residing, felt the darkest and most oppressive of the three.
Generally speaking, most people have been friendly and settling in here is gradually coming along. However, I've also been discouraged at times:
1. After putting down the deposit on a house here, a major typhoon rolled through Taiwan that exposed several structural flaws in the building. There was nearly an inch of water covering the entire second floor that I had to clean up. Some preventative action has been taken but I won't know for sure how effective it was until the next major rainstorm. A leak from the water pipes of the unit next door has also been leaking over to my second floor. Finally, the list of "to do" items to settle in here has been somewhat overwhelming and discouraging (though gradually getting shorter?).
2. The dogs and roosters and geese are keeping me awake a lot at night and early morning (pre 5:00 am) here!
3. The first week I was here, a neighbor kept parking his van on my porch, blocking my entrance and/or taking up my motorcycle spot. I solved that problem by putting a row of plants out front and...
4. I confirmed definitively yesterday that someone nearby is plucking off and stealing the flowers off those plants almost as soon as they bloom. There in the morning, gone by afternoon (I put them on a table last time after the mistaken belief that it was one of the loose dogs in my driveway gnawing them off).
5. Yesterday I dropped by a place that advertises on its billboard that among other things it repairs air conditioners. I asked them if they could take a look at mine but they responded "too busy". They were just sitting around talking at 3:30 in the afternoon so the thought at least entered my mind they didn't want to give the "A-to-ga" ("big-nosed foreigner"-- what we are commonly called in Taiwanese) service.
6. Most principals of public schools have been courteous when I made my visits for personal introduction. However, when I went to visit the school right by my house, which I thought might be most strategic and convenient to volunteer in, the principal didn't even acknowledge me by speaking or looking up from her desk when I spoke to her.
7. Several weeks ago, a friendly neighbor had invited me to attend a half day event he was helping to stage this morning (right at the conclusion of ghost month). I was ready to leave the house at 5:30am, and he asked me to follow another neighbor over to the other township for the event while the first ran an errand. However, in the first half mile the guy had lost me. I think that it could have been deliberate by the route taken and manner he was driving. Mei2 Guan1xi4 (it doesn't matter- a common Chinese response). I knew where the township was, but wasn't able to find the event.
In spite of these negative experiences, I thank God for the people I am meeting. It is generally easier to meet people here than in the big city. Please pray for God to continue to grant me grace and patience! And to ignore the slights while continuing to build relationships.
Also on the positive side,
- I re-start part-time Taiwanese on Thursday,
- Maintained a good witness and composure when I experienced a very unusual situation at the post office day before yesterday (someone who was somewhat slow mentally took nearly an hour to complete a procedure for me that should have only taken 10 minutes; his coworkers got on his case a little bit),
- On Friday meet with English teachers at an elementary school further out in the country near the ocean to get an idea what I might teach when I go back there next Tuesday afternoon to volunteer. I'm looking forward to seeing what that might be like...
As one team member commented in an e-mail to me yesterday evening, "this whole past year I have felt that SzHu would probably be the hardest of our areas to enter. I sense that Satan's stronghold is toughest there and the Christian presence is definitely weakest. Although people were friendly to us whenever we were there, we were concerned that there was no place for any of us to live...Anyway, I really do feel that a lot of the struggles you're facing there might be rooted in spiritual opposition. Hang in there in the frustrating and irritating and discouraging times and we'll be upholding you in prayer."
I'd greatly appreciate that anyone reading this blog entry would do the same!