It's taken me a few weeks to communicate the last blog entry on this site, but I'm finally here to tell you how I finished up in Taiwan. I enjoyed many amazing moments in the 10 days after I wrote the previous entry and before my departure on October 4th. The final weekend of my time in Taiwan, we had another typhoon, and it hit pretty solidly on Sunday afternoon so the government officials canceled Monday classes. This was a gift to me (which later bit me on the backside, but I'll get to that in a bit) and my roommates.

The Saturday of that weekend, my friends Mari, Anneloe and Julie treated me to a massage and lunch. Thanks, girls!! That afternoon, my friend Lucy, came over from Taipei to bring me a homemade cheesecake and see where I'd been living. (Lucy is Irene Morris' sister and she's a generous person.) In the evening, my friend Hein and I attempted to make a homemade gnocchi, which ended with us opening a packet of pre-made gnocchi instead. (Don't ask how long it took to get our kitchen back to clean again.) That Sunday, we had to taxi to church because of the weather, and we retreated quickly back to the apartment afterwards. We were pretty scared in our 18th floor home when later that afternoon the wind got so gusty the building was literally swaying. But what could we do? I must admit I got a little queezy. This didn't deter my roommates taking me out for dinner at a local teppanyaki joint (Japanese style cooking, prominent in Hsinchu and all over Taiwan) just as the schools were officially canceled, and the rain settled down. We took some pics, which you can see here.

Mari, Anneloe, Me and Ryno eating teppanyaki.

Because of the typhoon, it was a slow night
for the teppanyaki cooks, so they posed for a pic.
I think their names are, left to right, Grumpy,
Stumpy, Happy, and Giggly, collectively known
as "Boys to Boys" on the musical touring circuit.

Starting in August, some of my co-workers and I would go out on Wednesday nights after work for some late dinner and laughs. We met up with some friends that weren't working at Kang Ning so it made it feel like we were doing something different than normal. We had some good times in the last few weeks, the best being the last Wednesday night when we met up at Amber and Sarah's and had Mexican food. It was a crack up night to remember and I was so thankful to the girls for hosting it. I've posted some pics so you can see what we got up to.

Mexican food makes a bunch of tired
act crazy after midnight.

Close up of the girls and a few of the guys.

Me, Amber and Sarah saying goodbye!

The last week of work was short but intense. I was told pretty early on that because of the Monday school cancelation, my Monday night class, A15, needed to have Parents Day on my last day at work. (A15 was a class I inherited the last month of my contract, and I never really wanted to be teaching beginners that late, 7:45-9:15, on Monday and Friday nights.) Doing a Parents Day didn't really bother me because in most of my Parents Day experiences, no parents showed up and it's just a party day for the kids. Color me shocked when I had 6 parents show up to that class, WHEN IT STARTED, not at the end of it. This meant that rather than throwing a party for my class, I had to TEACH!! I had spent the last three days throwing parties for all of my classes and would you believe it, I had to actually do my job. I was pulling out all the stops for the parents in front of a class that's only been studying English for 3 months. I was sweating it and at one point I said to my manager, "I'm done, man, if you want to teach you can do it. I just want to talk to the parents and get outta here." He was cool about it and let me get on with the parents part of the evening.

Before I left school that night, Alex paid me my months salary, plus bonus (Praise God!), I said my goodbyes and went to church to sell my scooter to my pastor. My friend, Julie took me home and I got to hang with some friends for a late dinner and coffee. As everyone left at about midnight I was just sitting in the living room with my roommies talking about the day, when Mari said something about my ARC and it suddenly dawned on me that I didn't have my ARC (Alien Resident Card). Then I realized I didn't have my passport!! I freaked out, called Alex, explained to him that I had given him the ARC and passport the day before so he could make all the arrangements for my taxes to be processed. He was so embarrassed and apologetic, and he asked where I was so he could bring it to me right then. I was laughing so hard as I met Alex in front of my apartment complex at 1:20 in the morning to get my passport and ARC.

I stayed up most of the night finishing the packing, and after just 2 hours of sleep, got up to leave. My cool roommies got up at 6:30 in the morning, on a Saturday, to have coffee with me before we said goodbye and I left Taiwan.

When I got to the airport, I discovered that my school had failed to keep my ARC valid, and after paying a fine, I got a stamp in my passport prohibiting me from traveling to Taiwan again for a year. It felt like a fitting send off from a situation I'd struggled to embrace for over 13 months.

All is not lost, of course. I had a great time in my apartment with my precious roommates (whose mamas all raised 'em right), and with my co-workers and friends from church, I made a years worth of memories that I'm enjoying reminiscing over these days.

Thanks for keeping up with me on my blog and praying for me. This will be the last entry on this blog site. You can catch up with me at www.aftertaiwan.blogspot.com where I'll continue to journal life as I see it here in Asia and wherever God takes me.

All the best,
LC, no longer from the TW


Little Old Men...and a few young ones!

These are just some snippets of life here for me recently, mostly things that put a smile on my face and perhaps one or two that leave me scratching my head asking questions about why people (men, especially) do the things they do.

It starts with a little old guy at my church, (which I think I wrote a blog entry about) and how he almost made me cry. Just this cute little old guy that never really interacts much, and I've always assumed he was at church to learn more English. He got up and made an announcement a couple of weeks ago in church, and it turned out to be more like a testimony of how God took him to the states many years ago to study in Hawaii and then on to Georgetown University. He's started a book club for people who want to work on their reading, because he's retired from over 40 years of teaching and he doesn't want to just sit around and do nothing. I was mesmerized to listen to him, and thought it was adorable when he told us the first book they would read in the club is "Charlotte's Web". How cute is that? I love him.

A few days later, on my scoot to work, I saw something I've observed several times here. There was an old man on a bicycle determined to get the bike up an incline (not much of one, but he was old and skinny), pumping with all his might. As he passed in front of me at a red light, I saw the silhouette of his frail body and there was a profound curve in his spine, that made me ache just to look at it. I couldn't help but watch him labor on his bike to cross the intersection before the light turned green. I've seen similar sights with old people lugging big loads of recycling or supplies for a cooking stall, but this guy was on his own, and it was a hard thing to see.

Last Sunday, I got up at the close of the service to give an exhortation and sing the last song. As I did, I focused on thankfulness, since I'm one Sunday from being gone, and our pastor had just made thankfulness his third point when trying to keep from taking the Lord's name in vain (yeah, it's sort of funny, but it kind of worked for me at the time.) So, I got up and in my ramble to express thankfulness for the body of Christ in Hsinchu, I said I was thankful for the man that gave his testimony and was starting the book club. Only much later in the day, did I think about what I'd said. I asked my roommates and they confirmed that from the pulpit I said, "I'm thankful for the little old man...blah blah blah!" How embarrassing! Right now, I'm thankful that many of those people will not have understood what I said, and if they did they wouldn't have thought it was inappropriate, just accurate.

As I was scooting to the apartment after worship on Sunday, again at a red light, a scooter came up next to me and stopped suddenly. I looked and it was an old man with three days growth on his face, looking all weather worn, with a construction helmet hanging half on/half off of his head, and as if that wasn't a sight in itself, he had a cigarette sticking out of the side of his mouth burning. Our eyes met and I couldn't help but smile. Maybe I laughed a little bit too, cause it was funny! Wish I'd had my camera ready.

Not one block later, I stopped for another red light, and an old man on a scooter was coming through the intersection "flying low" as my mom would say, and he got my attention because he had no teeth. His lips were sucked into his face so far, I couldn't help but notice, and yes, I had to laugh, again.

Then on Monday, at work, the guy who works security in the apartment complex where our school is, came into the office to deliver the mail. He speaks two words of English, (Pizza Hut) but he always talks to the English teachers through the Chinese staff. He's loud and raucous, and we like to talk back to him as he comes and goes about three days a week. He often asks if I have a boyfriend. He's married and just playing around with me, but you can tell he's kind of flirting and thinks he's funny. This time when he came in, no one was translating what he was saying. I was at my desk working so I didn't really care, but when he left, I asked what he said. My manager said, "He said you should wear some makeup and lipstick." Well, in Taiwan, I wear a little makeup everyday, more than I usually wear in the states, and so I was kind of annoyed about that. As I thought of it more, I got more annoyed and started asking the questions...Why do people think they can get up in your koolaid and tell you what you should do or shouldn't do with your personal appearance? Why do men think more about the outside than the personality and what a woman can bring to their lives as a whole? I kept on with this line of internal questioning for the better part of the day and grew more frustrated with life here in Taiwan. It's not enough that I spend a year of my mid-forties in a blazing hot and humid climate, standing on my feet speaking at the top of my voice to children who sneeze in my face without reservation on a daily basis, but I have to endure the advice of near strangers about my personal appearance in the midst of this mayhem. Dang it! (What do the mid-40's have to do with it? Well, if I'm not having some hot flashes, I don't know what they are.)

So, I determined I'd pen this blog entry and rant a bit about old men...not all ranting, some raving...but then...

Yesterday, the 23 year old Canadian guy I work with, Ryan, had a much longer break than I had, and I thought he might be running a 15 minute errand to get himself an ice tea drink. So, I excused myself from my tutoring for a minute and called to ask. He said he'd brought two so he didn't plan to go. I said no problem and went back to work. Later, when I was on a 10 minute break and frantically trying to keep up, he walked in the front door with my favorite tea drink. He was singing a Star Wars song or something grandiose like that as he presented me with my drink. In one second, he restored my faith in the ability of men to think of someone other than themselves! Way to go, Ryan!

Regularly, my precious roommate, Ryno (yes these two names are very similar, so you can imagine the confusion I go through) does kind things for me and the rest of us in our house. He is only 24 and such a catch, I really pray that one of my young friends from America will snatch him up (like Julie Veneer or Janae or someone like that) so he can live in the states and I can see him more often than if he stays in Taiwan or goes back to South Africa. (Details are available if anyone wants to set him up.)

So, I know all is not lost on the men in the world. The future looks quite bright actually.

Have a great day...and give your eyes a rest after reading this long one.

Until next time, LC from the TW

Ryan and his kid Norman!
Ryno fixing drinks for our guests.


"No one in the world can be my best partner...

except the Dio." This is painted on the side of one of the scooters here in Taiwan. It cracks me up the misuse and abuse of the English language in a country desperate to learn but not approaching it the right way. Many people have just enough language to be dangerous.

So, I was at the party on Saturday night (read previous entry for more info), and met this guy named, Thomas. He's been in Taiwan for 5 years, so he's well acclimated, but was cracking me up 'cause he brought up the ridiculous sayings they write on the side of their scooters. It's the manufacturers that do it, and they are funny. I remembered that when I first got here, I cracked up daily at the things I read...before I got angry (some of you have been sending your concerns for me. I think I'm getting a little better.) So, I dug up a card that I had written all these things on about a year ago when I first arrived. Here are a few things I found humorous on the side of the scooters parked near mine.

"Fuzzy: The scooter of wind called 125"
This is a scooter called Fuzzy 125, and someone destroyed the English language with this comparison.

"Sniper 50: Just for Windcutting"
At 50cc's, I don't think anyone's cutting wind. (Breaking wind maybe, but not cutting it.)

"The best racer you are from now on"
Wow...what can I say. Send more teachers. I'm outtie here.

Until next time,
LC from the TW


Typhoon'd, but not marooned!

Just a quick entry to say thanks for everyone who's been praying for me. You know I've been disconnecting from Taiwan for several months and will spend the next three weeks getting more and more excited about that. This process always creates dissonance between the present and the future, and my experience here is no different. So, I've been unhappy about much of what's happening in my work situation, and as a blog is a place for rants and personal thoughts, I've shared my unhappiness with my readers. Well, this weekend, we are having (although it's died down a lot now as I write on Sunday afternoon) a typhoon, and I've been chillin' at the casa letting it roar outside. (This doesn't look much different than my usual weekend, just perhaps the howling wind makes it more distracting for naps.) Yesterday, Saturday, I woke up and made my roomies a light breakfast of muffins and fruit in honor of Anneloe's birthday. Then the day was spent getting some chocolate chip cookie dough prepared for last minute baking, and cooking Mexican food for her party last night (which had a guest list of 26 people). It was not too stressful and actually a lot of fun...the climax of which was being in the apartment with 21 (typhoon deterred some attendees) South Africans boisterously speaking their native tongue, Afrikaans, and laughing as they enjoyed the Mexican food, bought in an international store and prepared by an American in Taiwan. It was a very relaxing atmosphere, full of love and laughs. South Africans are raised to be polite and genuinely gracious people. I believe every person told me at least once how much they enjoyed the food (burritos, nachos and salad) and they did it with varying expressions of praise and gratitude. It was heart-warming and precious to me, a memory I will cherish as I look at three weeks until leaving.

This morning, we had a smaller crowd and they trickled in even slower than usual as I'm sure everyone waited til they got up to decide if they would brave the storm for church. My pastors sermon was on the first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" and two other gals and I sang a follow up prayer to the sermon with "Captivate Us" by Watermark. I've been wanting to do that for some time, and had to make today the day since my genious guitarist is heading back to the states for university again at the end of this week. I was really blessed by worship this morning (we also managed Indescribable and I Am a Friend of God) and was so happy to have such a Spirit-led experience here in Taiwan, where I've found such times infrequent and challenging to create.

Icing on the cake: my pastor bought my scooter after worship for the amount I was asking. I'm excited to get that done, and now just ask for prayer as I need to drive it for the next three weeks and don't want to have any problems, mechanically or accident induced.

Thanks for caring about me...and praying. I'm typhoon'd but not marooned! (Oh, teachuh, so funny!!)

Until next time,
LC from the TW


"What happened to your face?"

That was the first question of the day yesterday when I walked into work. I discovered after a frustrating few minutes of dialogue that I had made my makeup just a little dark, and my manager, Stanley thought I had a bruise. Yea, it's funny now that you think about it, but it prompted this rant, which can only really be titled, "10 Things I Hate About Taiwan" (but there may only be a few in this entry since I don't have mental energy on a Wednesday morning to come up with the entire list...probably.)

1. I hate the way the Chinese cannot speak subtly about anything, so they end up saying things like, "What happened to your face?" when they probably shouldn't say anything at all, or if they must say something, it should be something like, "You have a dark mark on your cheek." My T.A. kept saying, "You have black." It wasn't black and my Canadian co-worker looked at her after she said it the third time and said, "It's not black. It's makeup. You need to review your colors. This CHAIR is black." I laughed at that.

2. I hate that today I have to teach 7 hours in a row without any more than 20 minutes break at any one time, and the Chinese think that this is o.k. This hate can also be summed up in their determination to squeeze the life blood out of their teachers, because they don't value humans, just work, material things, and money. I hate that.

3. I hate when I'm riding my scooter in the dark and I hit a large pothole that sends my scooter down to the earths' core and me on the back of it landing with a mighty jolt to my entire system. Sick of that, and it happens at least once every day.

More to come...later!

Until next time,
LC from the TW


One Julie, Two Joyce's and Too Much Juice

So, today was Thursday, and I woke up excited to see my friend, Julie, who was coming over for breakfast. Most mornings, I just take my time getting ready for the day, without too much pressure. I usually have the apartment to myself, and it's a good time to talk to friends and family, or surf the net. But this morning was different and fun. Julie has been in Taiwan for 9 years, and she's getting ready to head back to the states at the beginning of next year, so she and I are processing together. I enjoy her a lot, and am so thankful that God orchestrated our meeting at the English fellowship on the first Sunday I was here a year ago. For breakfast, (cause I know some of you will be interested) I made breakfast burritos (complete with Trader Joe's salsa I "smuggled" into the country) and fresh mangoes. Good times.

At the last possible moment, I dashed out the door for work, hopped onto my scooter, and began to listen to Joyce Meyer's sermon, as I do most days on the way to the job. She was on a roll today, talking about how all of us have the fruits of the Spirit in us, but some of the fruits haven't yet been developed so we can't see them. As she was talking about this, a huge tanker truck rambled at a pretty fast pace right out in front of the scooter in front of me, and we all (there were others near me) had to stand on our brakes to avoid hitting him. I was incensed...once again at the utter selfishness of some of the drivers in the TW. Surprising myself, I showed no outward signs of my inner rage, but kept scooting toward work and listening to Joyce. Not long after this, Joyce said, "So, you have all the fruits of the Spirit in you...love, gentleness, self-control, patience..." and on she went. I was pondering these things and agreeing with some of her thoughts, when I was approaching a light and a car just about ran me off the road so he could get two feet in front of me and only to be stopped by the red light. I could not help myself (at least that's what I told myself) and I reacted with some outter rage. I got next to his window and stared through it shouting, "Was it worth the two feet? Just so you could stop at this light? Huh? You almost killed me, and for what?" Then I scooted around him, went the four cars ahead of him and was with the rest of the pack when the light turned green, way in front of him. I heard Joyce say, "You have patience, but it just needs to be developed in God's dark room" about the same time I heard the car I had told off peep it's horn at me from back in the line. I had to smile at the irony and timing of such events, and then feeling some conviction, had to ask God to forgive me (and pray that the guy wasn't a member of my church. Isn't that awful?

Well, after all that happened, I realized I had an extra couple of minutes so I stopped to get some tea at the tea/juice shop I like. Since I would be at work late today, I bought two drinks for the day, one grapefruit green tea, and one milk tea. I scooted on down the road, and when I walked into work, there was a grapefruit green tea on my desk, a frequent but unpredictable gift from one of my co-workers. Wow! Now I had three. It's so hot here, it's not that difficult to drink that much tea in a day, and by tonight I had them all down. There are few breaks in our schedule for using the bathroom, and often when we do have a break someone else is in the toilet, so I don't always get to go. I've sort of adjusted to this, and tonight I didn't really notice that I needed to go.

After work, my co-worker, Cara and I went out for a light dinner with another co-worker Joyce (both Chinese girls) because Joyce will have her last day at Kang Ning tomorrow. We talked a lot about how disappointed she was with the leadership of the school and how she had been treated. Her English is quite good so she was able to express herself pretty well. She told me that she had done her best so she had no regrets, just that she didn't feel things had gone fairly for her. I was able to encourage her a little bit, I think. After we shut down the TGI Friday's, we were standing out in the parking lot and I realized I needed to go to the toilet, but there was nothing around. Then, Joyce started kind of doing the pee pee dance, and I said, "What's the matter Joyce? Are the mosquitoes gettin' ya?" She said yes, and we continued to say goodnight. As I was getting on my scoot, I looked at Joyce again and she was laughing and dancing around and she said, "Oh, I have to pee!" I started laughing then too and knew I better get home soon. For those of you who are jumping ahead in this story, thinking that I wet myself, I want to quickly assure you I did not, but I will say, the potholes were more torturous than normal on the way home tonight!

I'm excited for this weekend. Apparently, my new co-worker, Ryan, is a big basketball fan, and he found out there was a game this weekend in our town between two teams made up of retired NBA players. Clyde the Glide and Scotty Pippin were a couple of names he dropped, and I'm sure there are others I'll know. So, Ryan and his girlfriend, Liz, me and my roommate, Ryno, and two of our other friends, Amber and Sarah, are all going to the game on Saturday. Should be a blast.

Well, that's the update from my end of the stick. As always, thanks for praying!

Until next time,
LC from the TW


Urging, Splurging, and Aging

Just a quick check in to tell you a little about the last week in my life here in the TW. That's more or less what a blog is for, and sometimes I neglect it, mostly out of laziness I guess.

Last Monday I was informed by my Chinese co-worker in a communicae that went something like this, "Hey, Loreesa, you have new class. You do demo August 28, start beginner class September 1st. O.K.?" I had been warned this was coming, and I knew there was nothing this woman could do but tell me, so I said o.k., and she kept talking. "You new class is Monday Thursday 2:30. When you have 1 on 2 you start at 12:40. O.K.?" Again, I had a heads up from my Teaching Assistant, so I knew what she was talking about...that on the days when my adult tutoring class of 2 came in, which they do from time to time at 2 on Mondays and Thursdays, they wanted me to teach them at 12:40 until 2:10, then the beginning class at 2:30. I told my co-worker o.k. again, and I continued to work on my lesson plans.

The next morning, Tuesday, before I left for work, I penned an email to the owner of the school, Serena. I told her I felt with one month left in my teaching contract it wouldn't be the best use of my time and wouldn't for many reasons be in the best interest of the school if she asked me to open a new class, demo for the parents what I do as a teacher, and then pass the kids off to someone who is not me (duh!!) in four weeks time. I asked her to reconsider giving me hours doing something that I'm good at and I enjoy, like editing the school newsletter or various other English signage that exists around the school, or anything else she could think of. Urging was the order of the day, and I did my best to urge her to be wise about this.

The next day, Wednesday, was and is always my longest day, and after being at school for 10 hours about to head out the door, exhausted, I got a phone call from Serena. She said she understood my email and agreed with me so I didn't have to open the new class. Then she tried some urging of her own. She asked me to stay at Kang Ning teaching until the end of the calendar year. She said she had been let down by two new teachers she thought she was going to have that didn't end up coming, and she really needed me. I told her I would think about it, but I know she is not as desperate as she sounded, and I know it's time for me to leave, so that's not going to happen.

The rest of the week played out pretty well, with me enjoying Thursday afternoon without teaching, working on planning. It's a new thing for me, and I love it.

I arranged with my new Canadian co-workers, Ryan and Liz, to come over this weekend for Mexican food and a swim in our village pool. (I live in a place called Holland Village, but it is not a village in the quaint and cute sort of way. More like a village because enough people live here to populate one of those cute and quaint mountain towns that we think of when we say the word village. We have a pool.) So, on Saturday, planning for Sundays visit with Ryan and Liz, I "splurged" on some sour cream at the gourmet western food store in my city. (Actually, it is kind of expensive, but something I deem necessary for Mexican food, so I wouldn't have called it splurging, but I wanted another word to rhyme with urging for my title. It costs about $4.50 for a tub of Daisy Sour Cream and it lasts for about a month.)

Lastly, I want to tell you about my Sunday, or at least part of it. My pastor, Rocky, is a retired missionary from Wisconsin or somewhere up there. (Those states kind of all run together for me. Sorry, Lea Ann.) He's boring, and that's putting it nicely. I easily get distracted while he's "preaching" because he doesn't usually preach, more like talking. Yesterday was no different, except that he sprinkled an adult believer and called it baptism. First time I've seen that at this Lutheran Brethren church that's full of people from many denominations. I don't want to talk theology but it was not very moving. I like the immersion baptisms at my church, when there's a little more drama when the person is "raised" to new life in Christ. So, that was during the sermon. We finished worship and then Rocky came back up to say, "I've got one more announcement." He's almost 70, and he came to Taiwan two weeks before me last summer. He nursed his wife about 3 years ago when she was dying of cancer. He's got 5 adult children back in the states. Well, anyway, he called a woman up to stand beside him, and I took a double take as I saw him hold her hand as you would with someone "special". Then he said, "This is Rebecca. We started spending time together in April and we're going to be married in February."

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I've never seen the woman before, never heard a peep that the dude had a sweetheart, and "married" is what he said. I was thinking, "Mawwied?" "Mawwied?" (You have to picture Long Duck Dong from 16 Candles saying that to understand what I was thinking.)

So, that brings me to the third and final point of this blog...aging. Kind of creeps me out that Rocky is going to marry this woman, about 15 or more years younger than him, and I can't decide if it's the creepy old man thing, or the he should marry someone from America who can relate to his culture thing, or if it's the secretive nature of it, or if I'm just jealous...o.k., that's it. I guess deep down inside I don't think my pastor should be making out more than me! I've said it! It's not an aging issue...it's a jealousy issue.

I'll leave you to ponder that one. Looking forward to the comments this week.

Until next time,
LC from the TW