Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Off for Mandatory Military Service

sakray Tonight my neighbor's 20 year-old son dropped by to say goodbye before he heads off for 3 weeks of basic training as he commences his mandatory military service. For basic training, he'll be in nearby Chiayi County, but he doesn't know where he'll be stationed after that.

I asked a blessing for God's protection and the peace of Jesus for Sakray.

Sakray feels lucky because he only has to serve for one year. When I first came on-island 11 years ago, the term was for 2 or 2 1/2 years and before that it was longer. When Sakray's brother Ben, an elementary school student, reaches age 20, Taiwan will probably have already done away with its mandatory service obligation.

Hiking with Formosa Plastics on Mount DaDong

 hike1 Last Saturday I joined my neighbor Wu Hai Qin to hike again with some of his coworkers from Formosa Plastics. This time we went to Mount Dadong, elevation 1975 meters, very close to Ali Mountain, and almost just as high an elevation (so I don't feel like I need to go to Ali Mountain quite so much now).

The weather was much cooler than my last hike last spring, and we hiked a little farther (though still only 9 km). hike3 With a some kids along this time, and some of the men who usually hike tougher trails absent or out of shape, I hiked faster than most of the folks this time around. But one guy was really "li4hai4": he carried his baby the whole way on hihike2s back both up and down the  mountain and finished in front of most of us!

Light in the Gloomy Darkness

 road2Yesterday afternoon after completing prep-work for this month's English classes in Western Yunlin, Taiwan, I emerged from hiding to discover that what has passed for a road (mostly dirt) in front of my house the last few months is even  less passable than before.



road3They've removed 3 feet of dirt, not leveling what remains, so that now it is impossible even to drive my scooter  back to my house at night, not to mention a car. To say the least, things look rather bleak outside, especially at night, since even the  street lights have been out of commission in recent weeks.


To brighten up the gloomy-looking neighborhood, xmas lightsI've decorated the small tree in front of my house, put up a string of Christmas lights on my second floor, and have another small tree inside. Although they're not much, may God use the colored lights to impart a sense of the hope we are reminded of in Christ every year this time of year:

 "But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish....The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined." Isaiah 9