Friday, May 30, 2008


"It's a kind of politeness.... " That's what I said to myself in Taiwanese this evening when I got home to discover that people I barely know had pitched a large tent in front of my house and dumped a load of dishes and pots and pans on my front porch-- preventing me from parking in my own driveway for the night and day tomorrow -- without asking for permission first.

Lest I be misunderstood, I should add it wasn't the erection of the tent that bugged me, but taking over my porch property, an area which most of my neighbors, including the ones in question, have closed off as an extra addition to their homes by adding walls with metal doors that slide down.

Large tents like these are used for marriages and funerals-- tomorrow being the former for someone who lives nearby, but private property is still private property, at least to my Westerner's biased point of view. No sooner had I gotten home then they asked me to move the other car I had parked right by my front door which I am watching for friends. I told them politely next time it would be better to ask in advance.

It's times like these that I need a shot of supernatural grace. I need wisdom for future interaction as well. I'm heading out in the morning and not returning until my late afternoon English class.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Text Message

Yesterday I received a strange yet interesting text message on my cell phone out of the blue from someone I barely know: 「一位真的指導者不是為了突顯自己而是要使團隊帶來突破與發展。」Roughly translated, that means: "A real coach doesn't assert his own prominence,  but leads the team to experience breakthrough and development."

That statement serves as a good reminder for me as our team travels south next week to further flesh out our MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) over a four day retreat.

We want to actualize the Body of Christ by working together to accomplish common goals. While we will have a facilitative leader, we want to be the kind of team where leadership functions shift from time to time depending upon circumstances and the spectrum of unique gifts and skills of various  members. Even though we will live in different places, we want to work together as it is possible. Trusting in God, we want to challenge each other to personal development and celebrate both our personal as well as team breakthroughs. 加油!(ie. Go, go go! Make the Extra Effort....")

No Contest in the Countryside

A few days ago in my Taiwanese textbook I came across the following practice sentence: "Chng7-kha7-gin1-a2 thak3-ccheh na3 boeh2 kah2 to7-chhi3-gin1-a2 keng2-cheng, goa1 khoa*4, bo7 keng3-cheng." That sentence, written twenty or more years ago, still holds true in modern day Taiwan. Roughly translated, that means that if you compare the relative competitiveness in school of children who live in the countryside with those who live in the big city, there is no contest.

Last week I went to visit Jack, a homebound high school freshman who lives in a small remote seaside village not too far from here. Two years ago he came down with a mysterious disease which he says has afflicted only 17 or 18 people in all of Taiwan and only twice that many in all the world. I didn't retain the Chinese name of the disease, and don't have a clue what it is in English. The symptoms include eyes which cannot focus, effectively leaving the young boy blind. He also has completely lost his sense of equilibrium, which means he can no longer walk and has difficulty even with a walker. He cannot lift objects or exercise in any manner without extreme difficulty because his muscles just don't respond. Bottom line: his body rarely receives what his brain commands. The result of all this is that apparently spends all day most every day in his bed.

Just as tragic as Jack's physical afflictions is the cost being exacted on his sense of personhood. As he shed a few tears while sharing with us, he feels that no one would have any desire to be friends with him, and he feels awkward visiting the church youth group because he is so different now. Yet he yearns for friendship and companionship. He had other words he shared with the gal who accompanied me to visit after I excused myself which he said were the first time he had shared with anyone ever.

Please pray for Jack, that he would feel and experience the healing, loving touch of God.

Also remember Jack's family. Jack's father, like many in these parts, is unemployed. Jack's mother operates a small beauty  salon on the first floor of their house. Jack has shared with his mother the desire to be able to attend school. But there are no schools in this area equipped to handle the needs of special education students with advanced needs. Jack's family would need to move to FengYuan north of Taichung city. But to move to the city would mean the loss of the family's sole means of livelihood, so Jack's mother tells him he has to make due for now by studying at home. I sense she's riddled with guilt and pain. I can't begin to relate to the father, whom I haven't met yet.

No contest for those who live in the countryside.

Don't Talk Behind My Hiney!

In Mandarin, Chinese say  "back-biting" just like we refer to talking behind someone's back in the English language.  However, in the Taiwanese language, which I continue to study part-time in order to be able to work more effectively among the people here, I just learned backbiting is referred to as talking behind someone's buttocks! This is not considered rude or crude, just the way the language works. So after you've read this please don't go say anything bad about anyone behind their hiney!