Tag Archives: Taiwan

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.

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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

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

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.

Church Planting Plan

We did a number of projects during this STM, including conducting workshops, preaching, teaching Sunday school, visitation, helping a missionary with his computer challenges etc. One of the assignments involved reviewing a church-planting team’s budget, which evolved into an examination of the team’s plans. A budget is an itemized allotment of funds, and reflects how the team plans to spend its money to achieve its goals. For a church-planting team, the ultimate goal is the establishment of a reproducing church. From a zero-based budgeting perspective, this immediately raises the question of whether each proposed expenditure is justified in the light of this objective.

For instance, some activities may be aimed at attracting the unchurched (the community) so that they might become regular church attenders (the crowd). [Refer Saddleback’s 5 different groups of people.] However, if the unchurched are outside of the church plant’s normal commuting distance and unlikely to attend the church, then programs targeted at attracting them may not be justified.

Saddleback Church's 5 different groups of people

Saddleback Church’s 5 different groups of people

Since a church is people, one of the first questions is “who is the target group?”. In analyzing the programs being offered by the team, it turned out that our team members are targeting four distinct target groups:
1 The poor,
2 University students,
3 Children, and through them the parents,
4 Families.

Reviewing church-planting strategy

Reviewing church-planting strategy

Each group has its unique characteristics, and a church based on that group would be very different from churches built on other groups. For example, the poor would form a grass roots church, at the opposite end of the spectrum from a church comprised of highly educated university/graduate students. Besides the education level, much of a campus church’s congregation might have a short tenure of a few years before they graduate and move on, which is different from a more stable church based on traditional families. One cannot form a church of children alone, you need to get to the parents, which is less direct and involves more time and effort.

"Happy Family Filling Stations" as building blocks for church plants

“Happy Family Filling Stations” as building blocks for church plants

And the team’s vision is much bigger than planting a single church in a town. Vision 119 calls for recruiting 119 workers to plant 60 churches in 60 towns along Routes 1 and 19, the least reached areas in Taiwan. Each of these towns consists of a dozen or so districts, totaling over 750 districts for all the towns. What the team had dreamed about was establishing a fellowship cell in each district. These cells would form the building blocks for a cell church in that town that comes together each Lord’s Day for worship and instruction, then scattered the rest of the week for service and witness. The cells are the spokes feeding into the hub, the cell church, and these churches would form a loose network spreading throughout western Taiwan. This dream is much bigger than what the team can do on its own, and requires much prayer, enlisting more workers, and having a detailed plan with milestones and deadlines. We need right brain visionaries and left brain planners to work together to realize this vision. Has the Lord called you lately?

Removing Idols I

Idolatry is a serious obstacle to faith in Christ in Taiwan. Sometimes pressure from family and neighbors are so great that even after a person confesses Christ as Savior, he/she does not feel free to stop participating in idol/ancestor worship, let alone go to church. So when families remove idols and ancestor altars from their homes, it showed their faith is genuine and is a big thing that doesn’t happen often enough. We were privileged to assist in two idol removal ceremonies during our short stay, the fruit of our hosts’ hard work in leading the families to faith in Christ. Here is the order of service and some photos:

* Call to worship
* Hymn e.g. This is My Father’s World
* Prayer
* Scripture Reading e.g. Ex 20:3-6, Ps 115:1-18 etc.
* Message
* Hymn e.g. Jesus Loves Me
* Cleansing Prayer
* Dismantle idols
* Testimony
* Prayer for the family
* Announcements
* Hymn of Blessing
* Prayer of Blessing

Our sister in Christ used to be a devout Buddhist-Taoist, spending thousands of dollars on I Ching (易經) literature which she studied laboriously. She would kowtow 70 times each day, chanting, praying and burning incense. For all her devotion to false gods, what she got was constant complaints from neighbors who sued her for disturbing the peace and polluting the environment. So when our hosts shared with her the gospel, she gladly accepted because her dedication to idols brought her nothing but trouble. She and her children were baptized this Easter, gloriously delivered from the bondage of idolatry. Not all troubles are bad. Some may be allowed by God to bring people to Him. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Large idol shrine to be removed

Large idol shrine to be removed

Cleansing Prayer

Cleansing Prayer

Praying for the family

Praying for the family

Removing idols and paraphernalia, including books and incantations

Removing idols and paraphernalia, including books and incantations

Idols replaced by the Cross

Idols replaced by the Cross

Family rejoicing after the idols were removed

Family rejoicing after the idols were removed

Icons were smashed at the city dump

Icons were smashed at the city dump

Alishan

Short-termers, like career missionaries, get a day off every week. The first Monday we were so tired from the week before that we all rested. The second week, however, our colleagues took us to Alishan (阿里山). Here are some photos:

Xiding  (隙頂) Scenic Area

Xiding (隙頂) Scenic Area

Alishan Post Office

Alishan Post Office

With our hosts Ed and Beth

With our hosts Ed and Beth

Scenic trail around mountain top

Scenic trail around mountain top

Many of these Cypress trees are over 1,000 years old, 30-45 meters tall, and have a circumference of over 6 meters.

Many of these Cypress trees are over 1,000 years old, 30-45 meters tall, and have a circumference of over 6 meters.

These pathways are newly constructed from a few years ago. This one leads from the Shenmu (神木) area to the railway station.

These pathways are newly constructed from a few years ago. This one leads from the Shenmu (神木) area to the railway station.

The

The “little train” that zigzags its way from Chiayi up Alishan. Tickets sold out quickly as the alternative is a long, gruelling bus or car ride through many twists and turns.

Alishan train station

Alishan train station

Carvings from tree stumps at train station

Carvings from tree stumps at train station

2216 m = 7270 ft high

2216 m = 7270 ft high

On the way to Fenqihu (奮起湖), one of 4 towns in the Alishan area.

On the way to Fenqihu (奮起湖), one of 4 towns in the Alishan area.

Fenqihu train station

Fenqihu train station

Too bad the ice cream in persimmon store was closed when we visited :-(

Too bad the ice cream in persimmon store was closed when we visited 😦

Campus Ministry

campus ministry 1

It’s a small world after all! Our friend wanted to introduce us to an associate professor of life sciences at National Chung Cheng University, who had been instrumental in organizing the Fellowship of Evangelical Students on campus. He was born in Hong Kong, went to Taiwan for university, then to the US for his graduate studies.

As we’re also from Hong Kong, we hit it off right away and chatted using a mixture of Cantonese, English and Mandarin. Since he went to Cleveland, Ohio for his doctorate, he asked us whether we knew a Chinese pastor in that city. We didn’t know anyone from Cleveland, but decided to inquire his name anyway. He said, “Pastor H.M. Yeung, he was also my chaplain when I was in high school.” E. jumped with surprise when she heard the name. “H.M. Yeung! Of course I know him; we went to the same fellowship when we were in high school!”

It turned out the professor attended the same Methodist middle school in Hong Kong as E., only years later. That started an exciting exchange as E. queried whether he knew various people, including her former classmates, teachers and the principal of the school. What’s amazing is that he “happened” to be the nephew of one of E’s friends at the high school fellowship, who knew E. and her siblings well. He quickly asked a grad student to take a group photo of us all and forwarded it to his aunt. E. reconnected with her after having not seen each other for decades, as she immigrated to Australia while we went to Canada.

All our missionary friend wanted was to refer us to her network, but by providence we have a deeper connection than just a casual acquaintance. It’s a small world because our great God is in control. Our new friend quickly gave me an invitation to give a lecture to his “Jewish Customs and Life Sciences” class, which is as close as you can get to teaching the Bible in a secular university. He is a Ph.D. in biology and has been using the Old Testament to teach this elective for the past six years. The enrolment is limited to 60 students each year and the class is always full. Quite a few became believers after the course, as the students encountered the Creator instead of the usual idols so prevalent in Taiwan. Since we would have left Taiwan already, we passed the referral to our colleague. He will speak on marriage from a biblical perspective, as cohabitation is becoming widely accepted in Taiwan.

If you want to reach the class who has a significant influence in Taiwan, you need to be involved in campus ministry. In America most church goers became Christians before the age of 18. This may not apply in Taiwan, as many parents are bound by tradition to ancestor worship and folk religion, and may not encourage their children to go to church. However, when the youth leave home for university, they found a new freedom to explore everything, including faith. Many young people found Christ when they attend university, so campus ministry is an important strategy in reaching Taiwan. What’s your strategy to reach your community? Of course you need the Holy Spirit, but you need a method too. What’s yours?