Saturday, September 4, 2010


This past week while reading Paul Hiebert’s  discussion of peasant worldviews in his book Transforming Worldviews: An Anthropological Understanding of How People Change, I was reminded of a numbing truth I feel from time to time in our village here: “Although individuals and groups of people who come from outside and pass through the village may participate in its life, they remain “others” or “them.” (p. 126).

While traditional society here has and continues to be affected by modernity, postmodernity, and “glocalization”, I still often feel very much like a “them” here. For example, I am often welcomed “to go drink tea” according to the culture’s code of hospitality. And when the Mid-Autumn or Chinese New Year comes, invitations to join others often come as well. Sadly though, due to cultural, lingusitic, and faith differences, at other times the feeling of distance and disconnection from the community feels so palpable you could cut it with a knife. For example, the other day I was riding my scooter around town to visit folks and felt a little discouraged as to how few folks I could really call friends here, although I have many acquaintances.  After three years!

God encouraged me when I parked by the phone company to change my service. Just as I was getting off my scooter, a mother and her two children also parked to go in to pay their bill. Just this past Sunday, that same mother and two children had walked unexpectedly in the front door of our office to attend our small group. The previous day, the two children had attended the Children's English Club for the first time. In the small group, the mother shared her open-mindedness to the Christian faith, and asked us to pray for her husband, who is suffering from cirrhosis and some other serious health issues. So I was reminded once again that even though we don’t have that many close friends here, the Great Physician indeed is still subtly at work behind the scenes introducing spiritual, emotional, and physical healing to those of us who are sick and in need of a doctor.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Introducing the Formosan Golden Bat

A mere four kilometers from my front door down a less-travelled country road which passes briefly through Water Forest Township on the way to Northport lies a tiny hamlet named Sucin village.


The village had a few murals painted in the last few years:


suxin mural



But today the reason for my stopping briefly on my way to conduct business at the bank in Northpoint was to see the village’s Formosan golden bats (金黃鼠耳蝠), which I only heard about yesterday despite the fact that I’ve lived here 3 years.  That’s because I don’t always pay good attention to my surroundings when I’m driving through (preferring to listen to my audiobooks!), and I’ve missed the story each time it’s been broadcast on the TV news.

mural 2

The Formosan golden bats live within the walls of an elementary school I often pass by. The word pun in the directional mural above associates  幸福 with  幸蝠. In Western society, bats are often associated with evil. But in Chinese society, the character for blessing  福 sounds just like the character  for bat 蝠, so bats might be taken by some (especially enterprising businesspeople) as a sign of blessing. I still wouldn’t want one living in my house!

IMG_0674IMG_0675IMG_0676IMG_0678IMG_0679Even with the help of the staff there, I was only able to detect a few of the small golden bats (they appeared from a distance to be smaller than the palm of my hand). This time of the year most of them have already scattered (plus, today the weather, influenced by  tropical storm Lion Rock, has caused them to hide).

IMG_0681Finally, I should  add that at the end of last year a small but very colorful and respectable museum opened inside the side door of the school property. My hosts were very hospitable!

IMG_0689IMG_0690IMG_0691IMG_0692IMG_0693I am told the ideal time for viewing the most bats together inside the schoolyard is around Mother’s Day. What an ideal date for the mothers among our international workers who live in the area to go out on with their husbands!

Around that time, the bats should look something like this, all clumped together like fruit on a tree (mmmm, delicious!):


Check it out if you happen to be in the Northpoint (BeiGang) area of Yunlin County around that time.