Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Bird Tale

And as the time approached for my master to go on a journey, he tried to find someone to take me in, but there was no room for me in any inn. So he wrapped me in cloths and placed me in a manger, because there was no room in the last resort.

And when he could afford to hide me no longer inside his luggage on his way out the door to the airport, he got a papyrus basket for me and coated it with tar and pitch. Then he placed me in it and put it among the weeds of a nearby shrimp and fish farm. He stood at a distance with his motorcycle helmet and sunglasses hiding his face to see what would happen to me.

Then the parents of some English club students happened to walk down to the fish and shrimp pond to sneak in some fishing. They saw my basket among the weeds and sent their son to go fetch it. They opened it and saw me! I was squawking loudly, and they felt sorry for me. "This is one of the foreigner's pet birds," they said. And they took me home and took care of me as one of their own. And I grew and became strong; I was filled with wisdom (along with plenty of gourmet bird foods and liquids) and learned to speak more and more Taiwanese and Mandarin, and the grace of God was upon those who saved me!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Convenient Stores

One of the first things you are likely to notice upon first arriving in Taiwan is the ubiquitous convenient store.  They’re everywhere!

As this link relates, “Taiwan has the highest concentration of convenience stores in the world. Few people in Taiwan can make it through the day without entering either a 7-11, OK or Family Mart and hearing the customary "Welcome!".

The first time I took a bus by myself in densely-populated Taipei County to visit Canadian coworkers when I arrived in Taiwan in 1997, my coworkers told me to get off when I saw the 7-11. Oops!

7-Eleven by far has the largest market share (4,000 outlets in 2008).  Family Mart (全家) is second with  2,324 stores. Hi-Life is third with 1,236 stores, followed by OK Mart with 824 (Taiwan Times).

By far most of these are franchised outlets, but there still remain a few privately-owned English-challenged family businesses, such as the one I photographed below yesterday.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Taiwan Disaster Numerical Comparisons

Popular opinion continues to be that the Morakot “88 水災”water calamity which occurred over the Chinese Father’s Day weekend is worse in scope than the infamous 921 Earthquake.* This grieves not only the hearts of the people of Taiwan, but also the heart of God, especially as it becomes more and more apparent that certain aspects of this disaster may have been man-made and not so-called acts of God.

To compare some numbers, one week and two days after the typhoon, the official death toll from landslides and flooding is 107 with 307 missing (and the number of dead could surpass 500). Damage is upwards of US$130 million in crop damage alone.

The 921 Earthquake Sept 21, 1999 in comparison killed 2,416 with 11,433 injured, 44,338 houses completely destroyed, 41,336 houses severely damaged, and NT$300 billion (US$9.2 billion) worth of damage.

But there are equally tragic tales which are not told as often. For example, Taiwan has one of the highest worldwide suicide rates per capita with one about every 2 hours, mostly among unemployed men, a rate falling short of that in Japan (one suicide every 15 minutes) and perhaps one or two other countries.

Finally, in Taiwan (total population 22,900,000) every year there are approximately 30,000 abortions among women 20 years and under (as reported in this 2002 news post  and elsewhere). An abortion is performed every 45 seconds, leading to the establishment of temples in the last 20 years specifically designed to worship and appease the souls of dead infants.

In conclusion, our heavenly Father mourns for all the different kinds of losses above! Let us remember to mourn them as well.

*88 stands for August 8; which in Mandarin Chinese sounds like the word for “Papa”. Hence 8-8 is celebrated as Father’s Day here).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pray for Typhoon Morakot Flood Victims, Reconstruction, etc.

This morning at a nearby Presbyterian church service, the pastor asked us to pray as follows (reference my 90% reconstruction of the chinese here) for the victims of Typhoon Morakot and Taiwan:

1. Ask the Lord to forgive our sins.

2. Ask the Lord to forgive us for the way we have damaged nature and failed to take good care of the land.

3. Ask the Lord to have pity on the flood victims of typhoon Morakot.

4. Ask the Lord to have pity on the general populace of Taiwan.

5. May the love and grace of the Lord be upon us.

6. May the Lord use us to make his love manifest.

7. May the Lord protect the bodies of all those working in flood disaster areas.

8. May the Lord use our government, policies, units, etc. giving them wisdom and loving hearts.

Good ways to pray!