Rayliu1

Pastor Ray’s blog Raykliu is continued in Rayliu1.

Please go to http://rayliu1.wordpress.com/ for future posts.Pastor Ray’s blog

National Palace Museum

We visited the National Palace Museum, established 90 years ago and holds a collection of about 700,000 pieces of exhibit. The bad thing is that no photos are allowed😦 . This was also when we appreciated the fact that we were on a DIY tour, not a packaged one, as there were many buses herding tourists primarily from mainland China from one exhibit to the next.

The most popular exhibits are the Jadeite Cabbage and the Meat-shaped stone. The former is a piece of jade skillfully carved making use of its natural green and white colors into the shape of a cabbage. The latter is a piece of jasper the strata of which resembled pork slow-cooked in soy sauce. Hundreds lined up for half an hour to see them for a few minutes. We were expecting big pieces of precious stones, but were surprised that they were only a couple of inches in size. Often in life there are big promises but disappointment when you finally meet them. So much for hype!

Main entrance of National Palace Museum

Main entrance of National Palace Museum

It happened to be the 90th anniversary of the building of the museum.

It happened to be the 90th anniversary of the building of the museum.

Looking from the museum to the main gate

Looking from the museum to the main gate

Second and third building housing other exhibits, which most tourists skip.

Second and third building housing other exhibits, which most tourists skip.

Hall in basement with statute of Dr. Sun Yet San

Hall in basement with statute of Dr. Sun Yet San

Many also overlook Zhishan Garden, a nice Song and Ming Dynasty style garden.

Many also overlook Zhishan Garden, a nice Song and Ming Dynasty style garden.

Nice gold carp pond with fountain, pavilion, and bridges.

Nice gold carp pond with fountain, pavilion, and bridges.

Jadeite cabbage

Jadeite cabbage

Meat shaped stone

Meat shaped stone

Pastor Ray’s blog Raykliu is continued in Rayliu1. Please go to http://rayliu1.wordpress.com/ for future posts.

Tamsui

The next day we visited Tamsui (Fresh Water, 淡水) the sea-side district to the NW of New Taipei City. This is similar to Toronto’s Harbourfront, with many shops and full of tourists on weekends. Or like Scarborough Bluffs with its board walks. Many also bike along the waterfront bicycle paths. A good place to take your family for an outing or just a leisurely stroll.

Street performer "sitting" in this posture with no visible means of support. Seat hiding inside his pants?

Street performer “sitting” in this posture with no visible means of support. Seat hiding inside his pants?

Gold Coast, fronting Tamsui River and Taiwan Strait

Gold Coast, fronting Tamsui River and Taiwan Strait

Foot tall soft ice cream. Got to have steady hands when you eat.

Foot tall soft ice cream. Got to have steady hands when you eat.

Seafood restaurants along the waterfront, similar to Saigon in Hong Kong

Seafood restaurants along the waterfront, similar to Saigon in Hong Kong

Ferries take you across to Fisherman's Wharf, or Bali

Ferries take you across to Fisherman’s Wharf, or Bali

George Mackay, a Canadian missionary doctor went to Taiwan when he was 28.

George Mackay, a Canadian missionary doctor went to Taiwan when he was 28.

Mackay founded many church and is widely recognized as one of the most influential missionary to Taiwan. He died in Taiwan at age 57.

Mackay founded many church and is widely recognized as one of the most influential missionary to Taiwan. He died in Taiwan at age 57.

Tamsui Old Street, with many interesting eateries

Tamsui Old Street, with many interesting eateries

Fisherman's Wharf, a renovated, very clean tourist attraction

Fisherman’s Wharf, a renovated, very clean tourist attraction

Lover's Bridge, where many gather to watch the sunset

Lover’s Bridge, where many gather to watch the sunset

Crossing the bridge to the former fish market

Crossing the bridge to the former fish market

You can no longer buy fresh seafood at the "fish" market, only packaged delicacies.

You can no longer buy fresh seafood at the “fish” market, only packaged delicacies.

Taipei 101

After Wulai we visited Taipei 101 in the evening. With 101 floors above ground (plus 5 underground) and 509 m tall, it is Taiwan’s tallest building and #12 in the world. [Burj Khalifa in Dubai at 832 m is currently #1; Toronto’s CN Tower at 553 m is #6.] It also claims to have the fastest passenger elevator in the world, but at 16.8 m/s it is actually #3, behind CTF Finance Center in Guangzhou (20 m/sec) and Shanghai Tower (18 m/s). To reduce the tower’s vibration in typhoons, it has a damper 5.5 m in diameter and weighs 660 metric tons.

Admission cost is NT$500 (C$20) per adult. The view is not bad but personally I much prefer ascending mountains than towers. When you claim to be the world’s tallest, or fastest, or best in anything, someone is bound to come along later that’s even taller, or faster, or better (一山还有一山高). Don’t focus on bragging rights. We have all been entrusted with this life. Focus on being faithful, because that’s what God required of us. 1 Co 4:2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taiwan.

Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taiwan.

Taipei 101, formerly known as Taipei  World Financial Center

Taipei 101, formerly known as Taipei World Financial Center

Taipei 101 claimed to have the world's fastest passenger elevator.

Taipei 101 claimed to have the world’s fastest passenger elevator.

The tower's vibration damper to protect from typhoons.

The tower’s vibration damper to protect from typhoons.

View from the top. Even tall buildings look like toys!

View from the top. Even tall buildings look like toys!

A corner of the floor is made of glass, so you can see through 91 floors to the ground.

A corner of the floor is made of glass, so you can see through 91 floors to the ground.

Wulai

Our first day trip is Wulai (烏來), famous for its hot springs year round and cherry blossoms in the Spring. The hot springs are colorless and odorless, mildly acidic with a pH of about 6.9, and supposedly good for the skin. It is the home of the Atayal tribe, former head-hunters but currently about 70% are Christians. Thank God for missionaries!

The place has several delicacies, notably wild boar skewers or sausages. A former railway for transporting raw materials during the Japanese occupation has been converted to tourist trams, taking people to the waterfall and hot springs.

Just to compare DIY to packaged tours, for the former you can take a bus from the Xindian MRT station, and walk through the old street all the way to the waterfall. The cost? About NT$100 (C$250) for a return trip. The alternative is to pay NT$1,200 (C$48) for air-conditioned tour buses, which includes taking you to the Neidong Forest Amusement Park, suspension bridge and cable car (rides extra) as well. Take your pick.

Wulai, the famous hot springs district south of New Taipei City

Wulai, the famous hot springs district south of New Taipei City

Amaya Tribal Museum. Atayal is the second largest tribe or aboriginal people in Taiwan, after Ami tribe.

Atayal Tribal Museum. Atayal is the second largest tribe or aboriginal people in Taiwan, after Ami tribe.

The Atayal used to be head-hunters.

The Atayal used to be head-hunters.

We lined up half an hour to try the famous Jacob Wild Boar sausage. Very fattening but tasty.

We lined up half an hour to try the famous Jacob Wild Boar sausage. Very fattening but tasty.

Being carried on the back now replaced by little trains, used to be mining carts.

Being carried on the back now replaced by little trains, used to be mining carts.

Pausing for breath half way up the hill.

Pausing for breath half way up the hill.

Walking up to the waterfall as little trains whizzed by.

Walking up to the waterfall as little trains whizzed by.

In front of Wulai train tunnel

In front of Wulai train tunnel

The 80 m high Wulai Waterfall. Volume substantially reduced by the drought.

The 80 m high Wulai Waterfall. Volume substantially reduced by the drought.

View of Wulai Village from train station

View of Wulai Village from train station

Taipei Tour, and Ximending

Taiwan is such an easy place to get around, whether by car or public transit, that we prefer a do-it-yourself (DIY) tour (自由行) at your own pace than a “herd the duckling” packaged tour. To begin with, the electric high speed rail (HSR) with a length of 345 km and speed of up to 300 km/hour, could take you from the capital Taipei in the north to Kaohsiung, the second largest city in Taiwan, in the south in under 100 minutes. The seats are wider, similar to business class in planes, and have more leg room, plus you can buy all kinds of snacks from push-carts or in dining cars.

Taiwan High Speed Rail

Taiwan High Speed Rail

Seats are similar to planes, but wider and with more leg room. There's push cart snacks for sale.

Seats are similar to planes, but wider and with more leg room. There’s push cart snacks for sale.

We like Taipei’s subway too. Taipei Metro (MRT) has 5 lines, 129 km of tracks, and 107 stations, taking you to most places in Greater Taipei Area (GTA) (metro population of 6.95 million) within 30 min. In contrast, Greater Toronto Area has a slightly smaller population of 5.58 million), yet its metro (TTC) has only 68 km of tracks and 68 stations in 4 lines, taking you to far fewer places.

But the biggest differences are in the price and the riders. MRT’s pricing is proportional to the distance traveled, charging a minimum of NT$16 (C$0.64) for the first 5 km, topping at NT$52 (C$2.08) for 31 km and over, if you use the Easycard (similar to Hong Kong’s Octopus card). TTC has a single cash fare of C$3 regardless of distance, even if you travel as little as one stop. Toronto just does not have a very equitable pricing scheme because it’s behind in technology.

We give a thumbs up to Taiwan’s public transit riders, who are more polite and friendly. People line up to get on public transportation. There are priority seats in buses and trains designated for seniors, pregnant women or those with young children, and the handicapped, both in Taiwan and Toronto. But unlike in Toronto where those signs are ignored, riders in Taiwan do reserve those seats for those they were intended for. One time we saw a young woman sat down in the priority seats. The senior beside her said, “There are vacant seats further away. Use those.” She replied, “What’s the big deal?” He answered, “It is a big deal to help those in need!” She quickly moved away. It’s the culture to respect elders and assist those needing help. Hats off to them!

Taipei Metro (MRT) with 5 lines reach many places in Greater Taipei Area (GTA)

Taipei Metro (MRT) with 5 lines reach many places in Greater Taipei Area (GTA)

Subway stations are generally bigger compared to Toronto or Hong Kong, but with very few ads.

Subway stations are generally bigger compared to Toronto or Hong Kong, but with very few ads.

Subway trains are open between "boxcars", and clean.

Subway trains are open between “boxcars”, and clean.

Taipei Station is the hub, like Toronto's Union Station

Taipei Station is the hub, like Toronto’s Union Station

Since it was already afternoon when we traveled from Taichung to Taipei, we had only half a day and decided to tour Ximending, a famed shopping district frequented by young people. Most pedestrians were born post-90’s. We guesstimated the average age to be 20-something. The block encompassed several streets and are closed to traffic as pedestrian walkways. Most shops sell either fashion clothing, or are restaurants. There are many street vendors, including artists painting caricatures, musicians, people selling arts and crafts etc. And the later it gets, the busier the streets become – truly a hangout for young people.

Ximending, a hangout for young people and shopping district

Ximending, a hangout for young people and shopping district

Ximending 1

Ximending 1

Ximending 2

Ximending 2

The famous Ah-chung Rice Noodle, where people wait in long lines for a bowl of noodles to eat while standing on the street.

The famous Ah-chung Rice Noodle, where people wait in long lines for a bowl of noodles to eat while standing on the street.

Street artists (painters, musicians) often perform on the block of streets closed to traffic.

Street artists (painters, musicians) often perform on the block of streets closed to traffic.

Farewell, My Darling

As the lyrics of “A Summer Song” go, “They say that all good things must end some day; Autumn leaves must fall.” So our 4 weeks of STM came to an end. We did some ministry, got re-acquainted with some friends, made several new ones, and learned a few things. What’s most gratifying to see is how the Lord’s work here had grown – a new church had been planted, over 15 in Grace Meal had been baptized, campus ministries got started, children’s work had grown etc., and kids we met last time now become teacher’s helpers! How fast time flies, especially when you’re having a good time. Here are a few farewell photos. What remains is one week on our own touring Taipei, as we’ve never really seen Taiwan after visiting 3 trips and living here for over 18 weeks. I suppose we will return to assist wherever needed, but until next time, “Farewell, My Dalin”!

Dalin (大林)

Dalin (大林)

Dalin, also affectionately called "Darling"

Dalin, also affectionately called “Darling”

Saying goodbye to 2 of the "little teachers". When we first met them 2 years ago they were still in elementary school!

Saying goodbye to 2 of the “little teachers”. When we first met them 2 years ago they were still in elementary school!

"Last supper" with some colleagues

“Last supper” with some colleagues

A Man for All Seasons

I love preaching and teaching, even though I’m only so-so at it. I love witnessing and pastoring too, though I’m not very good at that either. But what I like most about missionary life and work is that it takes everything you’ve got, and you out of your comfort zone, to do what God wants you to do. When we went on short-term missions, over 40 years of critical thinking, problem solving, strategic planning, resolving conflicts, exegeting people – everything we learned is made use of when we’re on the front line in the field, nothing is wasted. You need to be a man for all seasons.

1 Co 9:19-23 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

One example. The Dalin church had its opening ceremony on May 3, so all of a sudden the missionary becomes an event planner, organizing many things including designing the program, inviting guests, printing invitation cards, ordering meals, decorating, renting extra chairs to handle the crowd etc. They have to do most things themselves, and must wear many hats at the same time, because as a new church plant they do not have stable church members to share the load. Public relations, for instance, suddenly becomes important, because they need to invite dignitaries and significant people such as mayors and school principals to smooth future relationships.

In mission work, flexibility is most important. I also think versatility is a close second, as a missionary is often a jack of all trades, master of many – a man for all seasons not only to stand strong for the Lord in all occasions, but also adaptable under all circumstances to do what needs to be done. I am not putting missionaries on a pedestal, I know full well how human they are, with their foibles and shortcomings, but God called them to be His ambassadors to a broken world. Many go full-out for God in the midst of their flaws and weaknesses. God bless the missionaries!

Visiting Dalin Township Office to invite the mayor

Visiting Dalin Township Office to invite the mayor

Visiting elementary school to invite the principal

Visiting elementary school to invite the principal

Enjoying tea and calligraphy in principal's office

Enjoying tea and calligraphy in principal’s office

Giving invitation to church's opening ceremony to village mayor

Giving invitation to church’s opening ceremony to village mayor

Sun Moon Lake

On our next Monday off our colleagues took us to Sun Moon Lake for team bonding. God was gracious as the forecast called for rain, but it turned out to be a mix of sun and cloud, not too hot, perfect weather for an outing. We left home early to avoid traffic, but got to Sun Moon Lake by 8 am, too early for the resort observation deck ticket counter to open. So we got a spectacular view for free! We then purchased a day pass for the ferry to take us from Shuishe Pier to 2 scenic spots (Xuanzang Temple and Ita Thao) across the lake. Since we were the first customers, the ferry operator offered us a 1/3 discount!

Lunch was at a restaurant recommended by a local souvenir store, with 7-course meal including local delicacies such as wild boar meat, president’s fish, wild mushrooms etc. at C$60 for 7 people. Not bad at all! We wrapped up the afternoon with ice cream at “Almost 18”, followed by a visit to Puli Brewery. The place gives away free coffee as a promotion. We didn’t exactly feel 18 again, but 18 years younger enjoying ice cream along with hundreds of happy customers under an open air canopy. God gave us not only a day of rest, an opportunity to enjoy His creation, but also good colleagues to encourage each other. Praise the Lord!

Sun Moon Lake, Nantou

Sun Moon Lake, Nantou

Observatory deck of Wen Wan Resort, overlooking Sun Moon Lake

Observatory deck of Wen Wan Resort, overlooking Sun Moon Lake

Glass bottom observatory deck of Wen Wan Resort

Glass bottom observatory deck of Wen Wan Resort

Chapel built by Chiang kai-shek, a Christian, at Sun Moon Lake in 1971

Chapel built by Chiang kai-shek, a Christian, at Sun Moon Lake in 1971

A ferry took us from Shuishe Pier to 2 scenic points Xuanzang Temple and Ita Thao across the lake.

A ferry took us from Shuishe Pier to 2 scenic points Xuanzang Temple and Ita Thao across the lake.

Ferries are like yachts. Daily pass costs NT$300 per adult, NT$200 (C$8) for early bird, not bad for C$8 a day.

Ferries are like yachts. Daily pass costs NT$300 per adult, NT$200 (C$8) for early bird. Not bad for C$8 a day.

View from Xuanzang Temple pier

View from Xuanzang Temple pier

Presbyterian Church at Sun Moon Lake. Church currently closed as there's no pastor. Want to apply?

Presbyterian Church at Sun Moon Lake. Church currently closed as there’s no pastor. Want to apply?

In traditional Thao tribal attire. Good day for team bonding.

In traditional Thao tribal attire. Good day for team bonding.

7 course meal, all local game, fish and vegetables for NT$1,500 (C$60). 7 people can hardly finish.

7 course meal, all local game, fish and vegetables for NT$1,500 (C$60). 7 people can hardly finish.

Ita Thao Pier

Ita Thao Pier

"Almost 18" Ice Cream, similar to Baskin Robbins with over 20 exotic flavors.

“Almost 18” Ice Cream, similar to Baskin Robbins with over 20 exotic flavors.

Puli Brewery, famous for Chinese wines.

Puli Brewery, famous for Chinese wines.

Appreciation and Encouragement Workshop

If there’s something all of us can use a little bit more, it would be appreciation and encouragement. But too bad both these are in short supply and come few and far in between. No wonder when we gave a workshop on this in our family conference, even though we didn’t have enough time for everyone to do the group exercises, the feedback was still positive. Everyone was hungry for what comes so rarely, so much so that our missionary friend referred us to his pastor to give the same workshop to his church.

This time we learned from our mistake and cut out some of our “lecture”, which was boring, and allotted enough time for the participants to share. They were divided into groups of 4 or 5 people who knew each other. Using an appreciation/encouragement word list we distributed as a reference, each person will receive verbal affirmation from his/her group members. Only positive comments were allowed; no criticisms. The recipients acknowledge the affirmation with a gracious thank you; no deflections were allowed.

The results were amazing. As facilitators we moved from group to group to make sure they did not have any problems. They didn’t. They were excitedly giving affirmation to their group members, something they had not done in the past but were eager to do when asked. Some recipients were genuinely surprised as to how highly their friends thought of them but never told them; others were embarrassed at all the positive comments, believing they did not live up to the praises heaped on them. One man remarked that he did not realize that Chinese have so many words of appreciation and encouragement until he read our list.

Since only a portion of the fellowship came to the Saturday workshop, we handed out cards for the people to write those they want to appreciate but who did not come to the meeting. The next day many cards were passed around after the Sunday morning worship. People were pleasantly surprised when they received a card and broke out in broad smiles. The pastor, an overworked and under-appreciated faithful worker and usually serious, was noticeably relaxed and cheerful as he thanked us in the afternoon service. It changed the atmosphere in the church, if only for a brief time. Pray that this continues as that’s the way it should be.

Appreciation and Encouragement Workshop at Double Blessing Church

Appreciation and Encouragement Workshop at Double Blessing Church

Participants divide into small groups for exercises

Participants divide into small groups for exercises

Short-termer receiving encouragement from the pastor and his wife

Short-termer receiving encouragement from the pastor and his wife

Fellow cell group members receive appreciation from each other

Fellow cell group members receive appreciation from each other

Mother-in-law was all smiles after receiving appreciation from son-in-law

Mother-in-law was all smiles after receiving appreciation from son-in-law

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