I am catching up. For the few following closely, my apologies. We have been busy and I also had a few technical difficulties as well. By now, many of you know that a typhoon which had been expected to take a sharp right turn and essentially miss us, has now decided instead to pay us a little visit here in Taipei, like head on. But now, as I write this, working at my desk in my room, the wind has picked up, the rain is quite light, off and on, and the sun still peaks out from time to time. That, we are assured, will soon change but the predictions are winds at 35 mph tops, and a lot of rain. We will be fine. But pray for all the people in the lowlands, and in the Philippines where 10 died by the same storm and many are displaced. Some of their bishops are traveling to be with us here as well as others in the region to share with us here, please keep them in your prayers too.
Even with Fung Wong coming our way, this wonderful diocese of Taiwan, and its good people, have continued to be the most gracious hosts imaginable. Friday we were treated to a fabulous sermon by our Chaplain Simon Bautista before we began our presentations and work for the day.
We then heard from Bishop David Lai of Taiwan, our gracious host for this trip on the topic, “Theological Context and Mission Challenges in Taiwan” We learned the history and some of the context to the reality we have been experiencing, that being the incredible generosity of the people here. Following lunch we heard from Peter Koon, St. John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong, and Dr. Gareth Jones, Dean of St. John’s College, Hong Kong speaking to the same topic as it pertains to Hong Kong. The afternoon ended with the same topic being addressed by Samuel Azariah, Bishop of Pakistan. His was an especially moving presentation. With the anti blasphemy laws and the great oppression of Christianity in which he lives, his witness was powerful.
That night we had class dinner. Everyone in my class is present and we all were together. This is always a wonderful time.
Saturday was sightseeing day with three trips possible. Marti and I took the Taipei City Tour which included the National Palace Museum, the home of Chaing Kai-Shek and also the Memorial to Chaing Kai-Shek.
At the memorial we attended the changing of the guard which happens every hour. Here is a short video of some of it.
We rounded out the day with a visit to Taipei 101, for a while the tallest building in the world but now second to Burj Kahlifa in Dubai.
Honestly, the mall in the first few floors make one feel you are back in Seattle. The fascinating thing to me on this was the huge damper in the center of the building at about the 89th floor. This huge sphere absorbs wind and earthquakes. The Tuned mass damper in Taipei 101 is the largest and heaviest in the world at 660 metric tons.
The picture of the day comes from here too. There is a corner with mirros everywhere. It gives the illusion you are seeing into infinity up and down. Unfortunately it also allows one to look straight up to those standing on the mirrors, hence this sign.
On Saturday night Marti and I attended a Presentation by Bishop Lai on the Tea Ceremony. We learned a great deal about tea, but even more Bishop Lai shared with us about the relationship and spirituality involved with and surrounding tea. Bishop Lai just recently completed a book on the topic. Tea is a significant part of the culture here.
Sunday we traveled to several different locations for worship. Marti and I traveled to the Church of the Advent in Tam Sui about an hour north of Taipei on the campus of St. John’s University which serves 6000 students with electrical engineering being its most popular major. We were treated to beautiful music before, during, and after the service, as well as a meal with parishioners. Here is a short video of the singers before the service.
This church is an architectural beauty, with stained glass on the ceiling and a “jacob’s ladder” sculpture leading up to the light and the heavens. The Baptismal Font graces the entrance. The people were so welcoming and were so deeply grateful for our visit. I met two, brother and sister, who have relatives in our diocese and the sister once lived in Bellevue for many years. It is a small world, and we can make it more so by coming to these places.
One of the most moving parts of this service was the different wording or translations I experienced in the Lord’s Prayer and in a hymn, I have to admit, I have a bit of a problem with when it comes up, “Onward Christian Soldiers” Today, at the end, we sang that tune, but with these words. I leave them with you, with my prayers for you and the request of prayers from you for our work here, for our brothers and sisters here, who feel now all the more connected, and we to them. Fung Wong is blowing a bit more now, but all shall be well.
Forward Through the Ages
Forward through the ages, in unbroken line
Move the Faithful spirits, at the call divine
Gifts in differing measure, hearts of one accord
Manifold in service, One the sure reward
Wide grows God’s dominion, Reign of love and peace
For it we must labor, till all strivings cease
Prophets have proclaimed it, teachers testified
Poets sung its glory, Martyrs for it died
Not alone we conquer, Not alone we fall
In each loss or triumph lose or triumph all
Bound by God’s far purpose In one living whole
Move we on together to the shining goal.
Forward through the ages, in unbroken line
Move the faithful spirits at the call divine.
Blessings to you all,