Friday, October 29, 2010

Taiwan Update 2

My opinion on Taiwan has yet to waver, as we are fully enjoying our time here still. This country and it's people are absolutely beautiful. I like just walking around the NCKU campus by where we're staying and just soaking it up -- the students heading to and from classes, and others packing out the recreational areas; the beautiful architecture and landscaping; the countless rows of scooters and motorcycles parked in the lots. We hardly ever eat at the same place twice because there are so many great options, especially in Tainan City. Our friends Li, Louis, Joan and Grace all make sure we get the best of the best. We've also had a few amazing meals at Kenny's grandmothers' apartment. You have to love a good home-cooked meal.

On Sunday, we attended the service at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (where we are staying). It was all in mandarin, and we didn't really have a translator until the end. The best moment of the service was at the very end of one of the hymns when, in the second of complete silence after the final note rang out, an old woman behind us released a very loud burp. The timing was amazing! Elijah and I did our best to suppress our laughter -- it wasn't easy. After the service, we joined in on the community potluck. We met a girl named Rae (not sure about he spelling), who was of Asian ethnicity but was from Oregon. She is teaching English in a nearby town, and attends Good Shepherd regularly. I found out she went to Wheaton College, and we had an immediate connection since Chaz and another friend of mine, Justin, went there. She knew who both of them were though she didn't know them. We enjoyed talking about our Christian college experiences.

Anyawy, we are currently in Kaohsiung, which is a little further south than Tainan City. We are staying with an OMF missionary couple, David and Ruth Ullstrom. They have been great hosts. We're so thankful for them. Most of our time in Kaohsiung is being spent observing the ministry that's being done within the OMF community here. We've attended a prayer meeting each morning at the Ullstroms' church, as well as two other bible studies connected with another church in the area. I met a girl named Ansy at the first bible study (she also attended the second one), who was from Cardiff, Wales. We got to talking after I mentioned that I worked in media and was seeking the Lord's guidance on whether to focus on media missions this next year or stay in L.A. She mentioned that she did some video work herself, and that she knew of a media job opening within OMF. They've apparently been looking to fill it for a while now, and so, of course, I immediately emailed the contact she gave me to find out more. I've already exchanged a couple emails with OMF and it's only been two days. It seems like an awesome opportunity for me, but I don't want to get into the details of it right now. Please just pray that the Lord would give me wisdom as I weigh all my options. I'll be meeting with OMF when I get back to L.A.

While I'm in Kaohsiung, I am also visiting a good college friend of mine, Sara Hatcher. It's so great to see her. She is in her third year of teaching at Morrison Academy (a great school by the way), and working with His Hands orphanage. She cooked me and the guys dinner last night, and then took us to His Hands. We sat around for over an hour, and held/played with babies. That was one of my favorite experiences on the trip so far. I am looking forward to visiting with Sara more this weekend. Always good to catch up with old college pals.

Tomorrow, we are helping the Ullstroms' church take a group of university students on a hike in the hills. I'm not sure of all the details, but I know we'll be doing some ministry with them, and after the hike, everyone will have dinner back at the church. The guys and I are looking forward to it. We've all been craving more ministry opportunities.


Wisdom and guidance for all three of us: Kenny and I are both seeking the Lord on whether or not to seek out long-term jobs with salaries and do ministry on the side, or to commit to full-time ministry for at least the next year (we have opportunities for both); and Elijah has to get his schedule of classes together as he prepares to return to Shelton State in January to study Civil Engineering.

More OMF workers in Kaohsiung: David has been sharing a lot about the work that OMF is doing in Taiwan, and has mentioned more than once the need for more missionaries in the south. They are lacking in strength in comparison to the north.

Thanks, Everybody!



Saturday, October 23, 2010

Taiwan Update 1

Okay, so there's a lot to cover since my last update, but I'm going to do my best to keep it as succinct as possible.

Elijah and I wrapped up our last few days in Hong Kong with a trip to Lamma Island, a couple trips to Mong Kok, a random trip way out to the middle of nowhere, and then we attended another service at The Vine. Lamma Island was one of my favorite moments of our time in Hong Kong. We took the ferry out to it, and then spent a few hours just walking around and taking photos. It was nice to be somewhere away from the masses. It was a lot of walking and my feet and knees were killing me but it was very peaceful. I was also glad we got to attend The Vine one more time. We sat with our new English friends, James and Alexa. I hope to visit them again someday. They are wonderful people.

Flash forward -- We are now in Taiwan. We are based in Tainan City, which is in the southern part of the island. Kenny is staying with his grandmother, and Elijah and I are staying in a mens dormitory owned by the aforementioned grandmother's church. The living conditions are not quite as nice as they were in Hong Kong, but the cost of living is much cheaper here and, so far, I've really enjoyed the people. The weather is pretty rough due to typhoons. It's actually kind of nice to have rain for once. Living in L.A, I don't really miss the humidity, but every now and then I kind of miss the rain. In Taiwan, they have a long period of typhoons, but once they're done, they have 2-3 months of no rain which is kind of nice. I wish I could combine that weather schedule with the dry heat of L.A.

We've had the opportunity meet quite a few wonderful people. Elijah and I have gotten to know two of the guys in the dorm well -- Li and Louis. Li has kind of become our point man for living here since we are not staying with Kenny. He has done a great job of showing us around, and we eat breakfast with him every morning. He's a funny guy. He's getting better, but he's been quite nervous around us as he speaks in English. Today, Louis took us to lunch, and then showed us around their campus. Their school is called National Cheng Kung University. It's quite nice.

The most fun I've had so far since being in Taiwan was over the last couple days. Kenny's friend Joan and a couple of her friends took us up to Taichung, which is in between Taipei and Tainan along the west coast of the island. We stayed at Joan's alma mater, Tunghai Univeristy. The night we got there, we walked around the night markets and ate new, interesting foods, and then drove to a lookout point to look at the skyline of Taichung. The next day (yesterday), we drove 2 hours into the mountains to a hot springs resort. I forget the name, but it was really nice (only cost 7 or 8 USD!). Kenny, Elijah and I all bought speedos because people don't wear board shorts to the springs. I never thought I would ever wear a speedo, let alone buy one, but I did. If you haven't seen the pictures on my Facebook page yet, check them out. You should get a good laugh. I know we did. After a few hours at the hot springs, we drove out to a flower farm. Our time there didn't last long because it began to rain, but it was nice nonetheless. We took Kenny to the high speed rail station in Taichung after that because he's spending the weekend in Taipei, and then the rest of us drove back to Tainan.

That's all for now. I'll post more of my thoughts later. To sum Taiwan up so far though, it's a great place -- great people, great food, great prices, great sites, etc. We'll see if that assessment stands after my time here is done ;)

Until next time!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Hong Kong Update 3 -- some random thoughts, etc.

This update is going to be a bit helter-skelter as I don't feel like typing up a long, well-composed post.

A couple things that I have noticed about Hong Kong:

1. The people here are as plugged in, if not more than the States. Everywhere I go, most everybody is talking, playing, emailing, etc. on their phone, iPod, iPad, etc.; and I've seen a lot of people with their headphones in. Being from the U.S. -- specifically L.A. -- this sort of thing is not uncommon, but I feel as if it's just more common here.

2. Another thing that is common in the States is print advertisement; and in L.A., most of our ads are film, tv, fashion, etc. Here, in Hong Kong, I have been bombarded by fashion ads -- posters, massive billboards, small billboards, electronic marquees, massive LCD screens, TV, magazines, and the list goes on. As a result, most people here dress pretty fashionable.

3. Everyone smokes.

(I think the first three points could be summed up by saying that Hong Kong is a more intense version of Los Angeles)

4. Also, you don't drive a car here unless you're wealthy and can afford a BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, Bentley, Ferrari, Porshe, etc.


Two days left in Hong Kong. Kenny is already in Taiwan. Elijah and I head there to meet up with him on Monday. Hong Kong has been fun, but I'm ready for some Taiwan. Not to mention, money's getting tight, and it's hard to have fun in Hong Kong when you don't have much money to spend.

I think I could live and work here...maybe not. I don't know. Hong Kong is cool and now I have contacts. We shall see. We still have a lot of trip to go, and a lot of people to meet.

Song of the trip so far for me (can't get it out of my head) -- "Forever Reign" off the latest Hillsong Live album.

Until next time!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hong Kong Update 2

Oh, Humidity, how it's been a while. Call me spoiled, but I miss air conditioning. We have fans in our flat but I'm still hot and sweaty from just sitting around at night. It's been relatively cool since I've been here due to cloudy skies and some rain. Today was our first day of sun, which is great, but it meant no more cool.

Yesterday (Monday), Kenny and I went out to lunch with MSI (the organization that is housing us), and then we visited their office. We spent a good amount of time with one of their directors, Ian Chng. He explained in more detail what they do, and talked with us about future missions/work opportunities with them. He also laid some wisdom on us in regards to waiting on the Lord and not running too far ahead when it comes to missions. It gave me some good stuff to chew on as I decide whether or not to commit to traveling and producing videos for missions for a year, or planting myself somewhere and making money for a year. After MSI, we hung out at one of the many shopping centers in Hong Kong, saw a movie in Mandarin (had English subtitles for me which was nice), and had dinner with an old coworker of Kenny's.

Yesterday was the first day that Kenny and I were intentional about sitting down and praying at the beginning of our day, and it's awesome to see the Lord move in response. We asked for guidance and for open doors to future missions opportunities, and I believe we received via our time with Ian at MSI. It could be a year or more before our meeting with him will bear visible fruit, but the door was opened. If nothing else, we definitely acquired wisdom from our brother.

Today, since the sun finally came out, we took a cheap bus ride to Sai Gong, which is on the east side of Hong Kong. It's on the water, and there are a lot of seafood restaurants because there's a lot of fishing there. All the restaurants had big tanks with live fish, crabs, lobsters, etc. out front. It was cool to see all that sea life. We walked around some and then just sat outside McDonald's and read until Kenny's friend, Andrew, joined us. I read for a little while, but decided to turn to people watching instead, which turned out to be more entertaining. There were a lot of internationals (Brits, Americans, etc.) there, which I concluded was a result of there being a nice school in the area. We eventually walked around some more, ate dinner, and then made our way back to the flat.

Please pray for more appointments like the one with Ian and MSI for us. Also, Elijah joins us tomorrow. Pray for safe travels for him.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hong Kong Update 1

First off, Hong Kong is a crazy city. It's packed full of people, and all the buildings are tall. I don't think the city ever really dies down. There's so much to take in; I'm having trouble processing it all.

Kenny and I are the only ones here so far. Elijah will join us on Wednesday because he and I missed our flights (silly mistake on both our parts). I changed my flight before he did so it was cheaper for me to come a couple days later whereas he had to wait a week for it to be cheap. Anyway, we were totally blessed right off the bat to have a place to stay provided for us. We are staying on the Kowloon Peninsula in a flat provided by an organization called MSI (not sure what it stands for yet). It's a pretty nice location. We haven't really gotten a good chance to explore our area yet though. We're going to do that tomorrow. We have been using the MTR (subway system) a lot which is okay because it's cheaper to travel by train than by taxi or bus.

We've been hanging out with a few of Kenny's friends who came to visit just for the weekend -- Andy (from Thailand), Ray and Eva (from Taiwan)-- and another friend of his, Andrew, who is here studying for a while. We also met up with a guy named Sam who does ministry with his family here (thank you, Drew Crofton, for connecting us with him). I've had a blast hanging out with everybody but it's been tiring at the same time. We've done a lot of walking around in various areas -- Mong Kok, Lan Kwai Fung, Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui, etc. (for those of you who know Hong Kong). Mong Kok is the most densely populated area in the world apparently. Lan Kwai Fung and Wan Chai have a lot of cool bars, and I saw a lot of internationals (Brits, Americas, etc.) hanging out there.

My favorite part so far was going to church today at The Vine located in Central on Hong Kong Island (again, thank you Drew Crofton, for the recommendation). The Vine is a cool English-speaking church, and is led by a couple British pastors. The worship was wonderful and refreshing. One of the senior pastors, John Snelgrove, spoke out of 2 John on Truth, which was a solid teaching that Kenny and I both fully enjoyed. After service, we made friends with a young couple -- James and Alexa -- that had recently moved to Hong Kong from London for work. They gave us their contact info, and we will probably meet up with them later this week. We also made friends with a couple women who had been sitting next to us during the service. They gave us some information on things to do and see, and then we all took the ferry back across to the Kowloon side together. I snapped some cool pictures of the city skyline along the way. I'll post a few of those to the group page, but the rest are in my Great Asian Adventure album on my profile.

That's all I have for right now. I'm quite tired as I am still getting over jet lag. Until next time, be blessed!