This week from Monday to Wednesday we had our annual meeting with all our Marburg Mission colleges who work here in Taiwan. We met in Hualien, at the east coast of Taiwan, were Marburg Mission has a home for handicapped children and adults. The director of Marburg Mission, Rainer Becker, and the leader of Tabor (a Christian community and seminary), Matthias Frey, came from Germany to attend the meeting, too. We had bible studies, worshipped and prayed together and heard the latest news from our mission organization. As we had our bible studies and meetings, we brought Amy and Anna often to one of the groups of handicapped kids, where they played together with them.
This summer we were able to spend some time in Germany. We were happy to see our families and a lot of our friends. We also spent some days to go on vacation with our parents. First we went to Lago Maggiore (North Italy) with Joe’s parents. At the end of our time in Germany we went with Simone’s parents to Tyrol in Austria. We all enjoyed the time with our (grand-)parents a lot. In Germany Joe also was working on his dissertation. He also met up with his doctor father in London to discuss his progress over the last year.
A few weeks ago Simone and a few other mums started a toddler group at the seminary. The mums here mainly know bible study groups for mothers. A group that focuses on the little kids is for many of them a new idea. A lot of churches in Germany offer this kind of group. Simone wants to show this concept to the mothers at the seminary. We hope that we will be able to invite some mums who live nearby after the summer break.
Because our church in Germany has a very good toddler group ministry, Simone takes their material, translates it in Chinese and adopts it to the Chinese context. It’s a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. At the moment we are six to seven mums and about ten kids. At the beginning we sing a few songs and then we use a hand puppet called Lili to share a little Bible story with the kids. After that we have a little snack time. During snack time we have a short sharing for the mums before we do some activities like doing easy crafts or playing games with the kids…
Not long ago the Lutheran Seminary had its yearly fundraising event for missions. The raised money was given to the work of the Scharrer family, our Marburger Mission colleges. They do mission work in prisons, detention centers and among guest workers from Thailand. The students and teachers of the seminary offered car washing, painting t-shirts, cutting hair or you could just have a cup of coffee. Amy had a lot of fun helping to wash the cars and painting a t-shirt. Besides other cars Anna also washed her own “car” :). It sure was a lot of fun.
Mid February we moved to Hsinchu. Simone’s mum came to visit us for that time to help us move. That really was a big help. We already settled in pretty well and feel at home. Joe started to participate in the teaching at the Lutheran Seminary. He is teaching a church history class together with another Taiwanese teacher. At the beginning most of the teaching will be done by the other teacher. Joe can participate in class and contribute his opinion. He already taught one class and will be teaching another class next week. Teaching in Chinese still is a big challenge, because besides preparing the content of the class, Joe also needs to learn a lot of new vocabulary. He also needs to spend a lot of time for his doctoral thesis, so that he can finish it as soon as possible. Amy attends a preschool of the Presbyterian church now and has settled in very well. We also got to know a lot of families with little kids already. So often in the afternoon Simone can take the kids out to play with other kids. We are really happy that we already settled in so well and are excited to see what God has in store for us here in Hsinchu.
Before we moved to Hsinchu we celebrated our third Chinese New Year in Taipei. At the same time that was also a farewell to our beloved friends in Taipei.
In the days before Chinese New Year preparations have been seen all over the city. There have been mountains of candy and everywhere tons of oranges and apples, as these fruits as New Year gifts symbolize peace and prosperity. Also many other things that are needed for the sumptuous New Year dinners are piled up in the markets. One day I was still out running after midnight and even at that time the market was still open and on the road side 3 trucks with half pigs were unloaded… That was quite delicious, especially when next to me a load of intestines was thrown from the truck into a basket…
The holidays we have spent with our neighbor families and friends and on the third day of Chinese New Year Simone’s mother came from Germany and we finally moved to Hsinchu.
Here are a few videos from the New Year’s dinner with our neighbors, if you like see how a celebration and the food looks like: New Year celebration 1, New Year celebration 2, New Year celebration 3.
Last night at 4am there was a 6.4 earthquake in the South of Taiwan. Here in Taipei there was only a slight shaking and some rattling. But in the big city of Tainan some houses collapsed and there are still some people missing. So far there are 11 victims and a few hundred injured people. A tall house just fell down like a tree. In the house lived about 250 people and so far 220 have been rescued of whom only 30 needed to be treated in the hospital, which is quite miraculous…
On Sunday the Chinese New Year holidays begin and so this tragedy hits the people of Taiwan just before the most anticipated holidays of the year. Please pray that the remaining missed people can be rescued safely and for comfort for the families that suffered any loss.
Some weeks ago on Sunday the district that we live in offered a free health check up. There were several tables where they did a lot of different check ups. From a blood test, a lung function test, a dentist, to an eye doctor, everything was there. When we arrived, we first had to fill out a form. It feels really good that we can read most of the Chinese now and also write our data in by ourselves. After that we went from table to table and did the different check ups. On each table we got a stamp on our form and they also put all the results on it.
We are very grateful that we are both healthy, because our health is something we really should not take for granted!
Children are really helping a lot with building relationships. Especially when they look different than most of the other kids, like having blond hair instead of black. At least that’s the case for us. When people walk by, we often hear them saying “Oh, how cute!” And so it’s not difficult to start a conversation.
Our neighbors who have a car repair shop also like Anna (and of course also Amy) a lot. Almost every day Anna spends some time with them (mostly when I pick Amy up from preschool). Often the father of the car repair shop owner takes Anna for a walk or they spend the time together in the shop. So Anna gets to know many people we do not necessarily know … That’s also the case with the staff of the Ministry of Sports, which is on the opposite side of the street from our house. There Anna was invited to a birthday last Thursday, and I had to take her there. Some employees of the Sports Ministry wanted to give a surprise to a colleague and therefore invited Anna. Since they only knew Anna, not me, they always talked with our neighbors who passed all the information on to me. When we arrived on Thursday, we have already been waited for and where brought to a small room, because Anna’s visit should be a surprise. They gave us a present that we had to hand over to the woman who celebrated her birthday (a funny drawing of her with Anna). Then we and some employees walked to her office with a big birthday cake and the present, sang a birthday song to her, handed over the present and ate the cake. She was very happy having Anna as a surprise guest. They call Anna lovingly “Shiao De”. “De” comes from “Deguo” (“Germany”), whereas “De” also means “virtue” and “Shiao” simply means “small”.
It’s really nice to see how God also uses our children in order to increase and deepen our relationships here in the neighborhood!
This summer we flew to Germany for a three weeks’ vacation. We are grateful that our two girls every time did very well on the long journey. During our time in Germany Joe also had to go to London for a few days in order to meet with his professor, who mentors him during his doctoral studies. We were very happy to see our family and many friends and it’s also great that Amy and Anna were able to get to know Germany a bit better.