This year provided many opportunities for all of us here to share about the meaning of Christmas in the different settings where we volunteer on the western coast of central Taiwan. For me personally, I shared different parts of the Christmas Story over the course of 3 weeks at the Flying Sands Elementary School. We also talked about the cultural aspects of Christmas, and played Christmas Bingo.
For three weeks we've read Christmas stories, played games, and (as of earlier today) talked about New Year's at the English Class that meets in my home on Saturday afternoons.
I was especially happy to welcome team member Lorne to my class at the Mouth-of-the-Lake Middle School, where he shared the Christmas Story with application, taught other vocabulary, and led Christmas charades.
I was also happy to join Lorne and his wife for a celebration in their home in Baojhong last Saturday night. Forty (!) of Lorne's students attended for a good time of games, food, and singing (Lorne had previously shared different parts of the Christmas Story spread over several weeks in the classroom). Coworker Fungyee, gifted in evangelism though soft-spoken, had the opportunity to share Christ at length to a couple mothers who attended.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, I accompanied Pastor Mike of the Beigang Conservative Baptist Church to a small elementary school in a remote village in his home county. Very few of the students had ever met a foreigner before. There I shared the cultural aspects as well as a powerpoint Christmas Story prepared by coworker Penny (including the rest of the story) to the entire student body of 130 split into halves over two hours. Since we were there not just to celebrate a birthday party, Pastor Mike (who is also related to the principal) shared the Good News even more directly, homing in on the meaning and effect of Christ's birth to all men, with personal application in Chinese. Before the noon meal, I was invited to say a prayer of thanks, with Mike translating.
On a sidenote, the most unique aspect of that last appointment was witnessing an intense emotional outburst by a young, high IQ but low EQ male teacher in the principal's office while we were having tea after lunch. The reason for his being upset had nothing to do with us, and it seemed very strange for us to be there witnessing it. The Chinese have a proverb about airing one's dirty laundry in front of outsiders -- - 家醜不可外揚 jiā chǒu bù kě wài yáng -- so his outburst was all the more unusual. The whole time I sat there wondering why God had arranged for us to be there during that time.
That wasn't the only unexpected event in my Christmas activities calendar. My final event for Christmas -- having the English Club at Four Lakes Elementary School over for an Open House at Don and Rachel's home on Christmas Eve-- had to be canceled that very day due to their son Mark' s acute shunt-related headache forcing him to be hospitalized several days leading up to Christmas. In their prayer letter today, Don and Rachel thanked everyone for praying: "an unexplained shunt blockage, and an unexplained clearly flowing shunt....God gave us our Christmas "miracle. " As of Christmas day, their son was home and fine, and now they now have a much better plan in place for the future should the need surface again to seek medical treatment in this remote area.