Sunday, 7 February 2010

Has it really been a month since the last update? Well, it does take an age to do, esp. sorting out all the photos and moving them around the input screen. Then umpteen edits, all the time realising that the e-mail updates have probably already been sent and the edits are going to waste!

So, what news from the Far East? Most have probably already heard that Bro Logan died a month ago. We haven’t yet heard whose taking over as Branch Co-ordinator, but you can read about Bro Logan’s story both in the jv book and the 1974 Yearbook. He was sent here to sort out some big problems back in 1961 (I think) and he visited the UK a few years ago and gave a special talk in Birmingham for the Chinese people, after which he urged the bros in the UK Chinese field to pitch in and learn Chinese. Other Taiwan branch news is that the first ever Taiwan class of the MTS has been held at the Hsinwu branch and is either about to graduate or just has. 22 bros have been involved and the regular branch workers have been delighted to have more or less doubled their normal numbers for 2 months.

Our congregation news: We’ve had several more new students on the School recently, including one making her debut as a householder, so that’s been encouraging. We’ve also got some more temporary congregation members as Rob & Jill Stevenson from Dublin group are with us for another 2 months and we’re planning to go to Hualien and Taroko Gorge etc at the end of the month with them. We’re all more likely to actually go if we plan it together!!! Whilst we’re there, it’ll be nice to catch up with my old friend Wenfei whose in Special Pioneer service over there.

Wen Dixiong from our cong decided he wanted to do something to encourage the youngsters, so he invited a group of them to get together, which ended up being at our place for space reasons. When he came in he was sorry he hadn’t invited more kids as it seems that all space must be crammed full of bodies at social occasions!!! Anyway, there were 9 of us and, as many of the bros who were in Martin’s former cong are now in Wenshan with us, his old photos were of quite some interest, as you can see here. Here’s the whole group, except me, of course. On the left are the 3 Lin girls, then my little student, Huiling, Sir and his student, Huiling’s bro Yinxiang. In front are Wen Dixiong and Bro Yida (Fantian Dixiong), the same two who appeared with covered faces on the pic with Emily 2 posts ago – they didn’t get away with hiding this time!

We have 4 days at school this week, then we break up for the New Year hols until a week the following Monday, so we have 6 school days off. We’re very much looking forward to it, we’re ready for a break from school. This term has been rather tough as our teacher has been racing through the book at a breakneck speed and we’ve been covering material much faster than we can really absorb it properly. So, I hope next term will be a bit slower and we can benefit from what we do fully. We’re going into different classes then. Martin’s going to be doing the intermediate-advanced listening practice class, which some of my former students (now graduates here on more or less the same scholarship programme as me) have been doing this term and said was wonderful. Martin feels his listening comprehension is his weakest point. Mine is reading really. I give up too quickly and rarely trouble myself to really read in another language, so I’m taking the first of several newspaper reading classes. I’ve been reading ‘Anne of Green Gables’ in Chinese over the past 4 months, which has helped to make me read (esp. as I’ve now run out of novels and have even already read the book that Jill gave me last Monday!).

Anyway, there are some excellent teaching and learning materials out here, more than enough to keep us in new class material for 3 or 4 years yet, but we’ll only be here for another 3 terms, so we’re having to plan carefully and hoping to carry on using the good books etc after we go home. I hope we can actually stick to it for once!!! We’ve got more Chinese learning materials than you can shake a stick at – and that’s even before the stuff we put into the Leeds cong learning library. Speaking of which, any feedback on how that’s been going??

So, we’ve now decided what our timescale will be. We’ll be here at school until mid-late November this year, then, after looking around at the places we didn’t get time for before thanks to very short hols and needing most of them to recover from the intensive term-time (what the actual intensive classes must be like, I dread to think! Supposed to be 7 hours a day of work!), and I also really want to see the Flora Exposition starting in November, we’ll take the long route back to the UK via Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Germany (to see Sir’s mum, which made her whoop with delight!), and we may even make it back home by the end of the year. Then we decide where to go from there…

Other than the youngsters this afternoon, we’ve been having some bros over socially recently. We had the CBE, Bro Cheng and his wife a couple of weeks ago and gave them my speciality of spaghetti and homemade tomato sauce. Well, it was linguine actually, as you can’t get wholemeal spaghetti here, unless you’re prepared to pay about £6 per pack for it! The linguine is about £2.40, and that’s quite enough! At least it’s organic. This last Monday we had the Stevensons for afternoon tea. Rob is coeliac, so we had an interesting time finding some goodies for him, but it can be done! We found some mango fruit desserts and a gluten free cereal bar.=)

Horror story time! We found a cockroach living in our dining table when Sir was putting it back to the normal size after dinner with the Chengs! Yeech! Still, it was a fairly small one and does answer why I’ve been finding dropping type things in various corners of the living room since we moved in. It must have crawled up the pipe and in through a grate in the kitchen or bathroom (like the one poor emily happened across when she came out of her room here that time. I agree that she was very good not to yell out!), before we moved fully in and starting sealing all entrances for creepy crawlies! We’ve now found a way to block off the drains as the little net things weren’t very good – too easy to push aside and so we’ve started putting something on top of them before we go to bed so they can’t be moved.=) Just need a roll across the front door and then we’ve got the lot and I can’t imagine how else they could get in.

Another horror story was my recent trip to the dentist’s. My own fault in part as part of a filling fell out and, at home I would have gone straight to the dentist and got it sorted, but I was rather nervous and not sure what to expect, so I put it off for a while and so, of course the situation got worse. Eventually, I went to one of the nearest places and they did it straight away. First off, they don’t use any anaesthetic whilst doing fillings here, unless it’s the two back teeth, so it wasn’t the most comfortable experience to start with, but when the dentist coolly announced that he was going to do a root filling and take the nerve out etc, I was, thankfully, on the ball enough to respond with a firm, ‘No!’ For one, it was clearly a live nerve and there wasn’t the shadow of a reason to do such a treatment (he said there was some infection, but that’s no reason to do root canal work! It’s like saying, ‘Oh look, you have a scratch on your relbow, let me chop off your hand.’) and he was going to do such deep work still with no injection, if you please! He looked and sounded quite surprised when I said I’d want one if I felt a root filling was necessary. Anyway, he likes to give the patient a hand mirror and show them various stages of the treatment, and I couldn’t see anything irregular or infected looking about my tooth, so I insisted he just put a regular filling in and so he did. Phew! I hope that that will be the last time I need encounter a Taiwanese dentist! The surgery was lovely and clean (quite remarkable for Taiwan) and the equipment almost as up to date as in the UK, but they’re over the top with treatments and verging on the barbaric with the amount of pain they expect you to tolerate. Thankfully, they were at least cheap at only a tenner as opposed to the forty-odd quid I’d have had to pay in the UK. I always really appreciated how gentle and thorough my home dentist is, (esp. as I almost fell asleep several times whilst having stuff done by her), but now I’m almost ready to deify her!!! If I can have to go again, I’ll be strictly going to one recommended by another foreigner. There seems to be a lot of precautionary treatments here given the amount of medicine you get given for a virus etc and I hear that root fillings are very common indeed as well! Not for me they aren’t and I demand to speak to Katy before I submit to that sort of thing!!=)

Oh, and an erthquake took place at about 2:10 this afternoon, whilst I was washing up. At first I thought Martin was doing something that was rocking the fridge!! It was way out at sea this time, and was only a level 2 most places, but the whole island felt it, according to the usual report map. The joys of seismic activities..

So, I think that’s it for now. Hope the next one will be in less than a month and with a few less horror stories and more photos instead.

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