Sunday, 27 December 2009

Catching up with a long post....

OK, so it's not sub-zero here as it is at home, but at least you people have heating! We managed to get a decent heater for our living room from the 2nd hand shop near our school, but it's only warm sitting rather close to it!! Martin also found out how to turn the gas up so that the hot water actually is hot and not barely warm as it was set to. Fine for summer, but not s good when it gets much below 20C. One Japanese student in our class recently asked when the school would turn the heating on and was horrified to be told that there wasn't any!! That day, many of us were wearing coats, shawls, wide scarves etc in class. I took my blanket in the next day!! Might look a bit odd, but keeps me warm and, with all the viruses I've had recently, I don't want to let myself get cold and risk yet another! We've also been buying some new winter clothes, which we really didn't expect to need that much here.=( The weather has been totally rotten since the end of September with really only a few days here and there of 'normal for the time of year' weather. A couple of people have told me that they've heard the winter will be milder than normal, but I'll wait and see....

Something that did liven things up recently was the Hualien earthquake that some of you may have heard about. It was about 6.8 at the epicentre, (which, as you can see from this map, was out at sea). The earthquake reference page (that I swiped this map from) reported over 20 more, smaller quakes in Hualien since this one hit last Saturday. Unlike many quakes here, this one was felt all over the island and got up to about 4 on the Richter Scale here in Taipei. We get a lower level tremour every couple of weeks, probably up to about 3, but this was quite a shake and, as one sister told Emily, she'd remember her visit to Wenshan congregation thanks to that! We were almost at the end of the Watchtower study, 2 or 3 paragraphs to go, when the room started to move! After the shaking stopped, the WT conductor took a break for a couple of minutes for everyone to collect themselves and then went right on with the study! The final song was quite helpful in calming shattered nerves, but I've found myself feeling a bit nervous the twice we've been at the Hall since!! 'It's OK to be a bit scared during earthquakes, you know!'

Last Friday afternoon we met up with Rosie, Emily and Jenny to go to Bethel. It's about 45 minutes to the local train station from Taipei and there are a couple of taxis outside the station who are used to taking visitors to the branch. As soon as they see someone smartly dressed come out, they know where they want to go!! We met up with an American sis from the Nanqu cong (who share our Hall) and a Japanese sis from Banqiao East who was putting her last full day in Taiwan to good use.=) She went home the next day after 2 years here. Here are some of the photos taken there:

Here's our tour guide showcasing a copy of 'The Finished Mystery' in the library (above) on the English side of the room and (below) telling us about the paintings in the dining room. They were done by the paraplegic Taiwanese brother you see on the 'The Bible, Mankind's Oldest Modern Book' video/DVD.

After the Bethel trip we had lunch in the food court area upstairs in the Taipei main train station and here's Jenny showing that being prepared means you can eat at a good speed! Use of chopsticks is a skill best acquired when you're not that hungry!!

Everyone then came back to us for a cuppa and some goodies.

Then Emily spent the weekend with us. We didn't do much sightseeing, although she got to experience a Taiwanese supermarket and a market where there are a lot of stalls selling Chinese clothes. After that we went to admire the wildlife at the 2-28 Peace Park., such as lots of cute, chubby tree sparrows.

And a fascinating variety of koi carp

Finally finishing up at a gathering at the home of Korean couple, formerly living in Australia, who arrived in Taiwan a month ago to improve their Chinese before heading back to Korea to help with the Chinese field there. Being at a do with these girls just felt like old times, aahhh, lovely!

Thanks so much to Colin and Anne-Marie for the lovely chocolates, (which didn't last very long at all!) and to Graham, Emma & Co for their card/letter. I will be answering the e-mails I've had etc soon properly, but I just wanted to respond to the surprise that's been expressed that we'd send our home friends wedding anniversary cards from here. Put simply, we're the same people we've always been and we're interested in much the same things and people that we were only 4 or 5 months ago when we last saw most of you. Also, we're really not doing anything special out here. We're living an ordinary life, just doing it in another country for the time being. We came out here as we wanted to improve our Chinese and my getting the scholarship helped give us the boost we needed to do that. We might be in a (mostly) Mandarin speaking location, but, as far as we're concerned, we go to meetings and on the min, supporting the local congregation wherever we are. And, you know, Leeds Mandarin had approximately twice as many studies as the local cong here - both congs peaked at just over 100, but there are twice as many publishers here! The internal ministry (as Lucy & Steve called it on their visit home last summer) is almost a bigger need than the external one, with a need for 100 more elders and half of the average cong having been in the truth only a couple of years, but, again, one supports the local cong wherever one is and does what's needed to help the local bros, no? One of the many reasons it was lovely to have Emily with us for a few days was to catch up with the news from home, which otherwise no-one tells us. It's not boring to us to hear who's courting, who's doing what in the cong and all that stuff. We still consider home friends as friends and we want to know about what's going on in your lives. We're all doing exactly the same work wherever we are and there's nothing really special about what we're doing. Nothing at all actually!

Here are a couple of photos from recent meetings. This one is a new student on the school - we had another one the following week as well=)

And here we are with Emily and the 2 kids we study with whilst their poor mum is monster stressed out and rushed off her feet. Why the 2 other bros came in the photo themselves, then covered their faces, I dread to think!!! Congregation full of nutters here as at home!!!

This is from the local (to the Hall) supermarket. We thought it was an interesting arrangement for products and this photo is dedicated to Katy!!

Finally, this is the view from the Presidential International Tower's 27th floor window, showing the top of the Dr Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall etc.

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