Off the Ground, Part III

It’s amazing how being away for a while can refresh your perspective and reset your priorities. That way, you see your work in a new almost appreciative way–probably because you understand better how it fits in with the life and work of so many other people. And what’s even more encouraging is when you are able to see that your work is in co-operation with what God is doing. Then the work is truly”off the ground”: in motion, more ready to operate three-dimensionally, in tandem with others whom God is using.
It’s been a tremendous time here. I’ve enjoyed working at the Ping Tung Nan Jung English Village and everything associated with it–getting situated, building relationships, trying the food, learning the language and exploring the town. Then came the opportunity to revisit the English Village where so many of us had worked last year. Students, teachers, families and shopkeepers in the area had all become familiar to us and it made four months seem like a long time to be away. The Lord confirmed the timing by giving me a Wednesday through Friday off and I took an extended vacation to visit our “old friends” in northern Taiwan. By the way, there are discounted rates on the High Speed Rail (HSR) during the month of November!
Rather than staying at a hotel, I enjoyed real oriental hospitality: some “friend’s teacher’s friends” hosted me five nights straight, beginning on Tuesday night. Like many people they were both learning and teaching English and used the well-known curriculum from Doris Broughm.
Kuai Le Wednesday the weather was perfect. I took a jog, went to see the outdoor morning flag-raising at Kuai Le Elementary School as I had so many mornings before, and then spent most of the day at She Zeh Elementary School. OcarinaI was surprised to see the former Principal who also “happened” to come for a visit that day! And almost as surprising was the sight of She Zih2nd- and 4th-grade students from last year in a different classroom, one grade higher. It was great to see their beaming faces and see how many names I could remember. Though we had taught this school on Tuesdays, it was on a Wednesday exactly 20 weeks earlier that I had last come to the school: for the 6th-graders’ graduation ceremony in the evening. As this day closed (also with a beautiful sunset) three from this memorable class, Jack, Owen and Tony, biked over from their Junior High School and once again we had time to talk.
On the way to the train station in the car was when the English Teacher told me the outcome of the US elections. Already experiencing a very wide range of emotions, I was in a daze for that train ride home. I still have the feeling somewhat of watching an old cowboy movie in stark black and white with the screen playing just a little too fast.
The next few days didn’t slow down a whole lot either. Nevertheless I enjoyed them by choice. High SchoolBetween the elections and Thanksgiving and life in America, there was a lot to share in the class I was invited to teach Thursday morning. It was the first time I remember teaching in a Senior High School.
LibraryThe rest of the day I spent at the Kuai Le Elementary School English Village. As well as building a new Library complete with a group reading area, improvements included a piano (keyboard) in the Drama classroom, baskets in the Store and customs forms in the Airport. There were six teachers and I was English Village happy to meet each one. With fewer teachers however, the Bank, Science, PE and Hotel classes weren’t running and thus it became possible for students to tour the entire village in one day. In Cooking class, Mike figured out a way to make little pizzas all day every day and even though it was his first try, the one I Lisa and HankCookingsampled was delicious. Before leaving, it was as encouraging as always to chat with Al, another American teacher who teaches outside the EV.
Friday, Jen was happy to give me some much-needed tutoring on Chinese and Queena took us out to a steakhouse for lunch. In the evening I enjoyed supper with the Chens in Taipei, met the Hualien Team (unexpectedly)!, Lee, Peter and Joseph; and bought a few of the IBLP materials for gifts. At 11:01 I walked into the bus station and found the Taoyuan bus had left already. So now I have experience taking the train too 🙂
Saturday was a full day in Taipei. Friends showed me all around Yang Ming Shan (a mountain from which you can view Taipei) and though it was raining in the afternoon, LiusI got a good taste of the ruggedness and beauty of the park. The waterfalls reminded me of Zion National Park in Utah. These are the friends whom I had met at Guandu last year and rather than revisit Guandu for the Bird Fair this year, I opted to help them with their move that afternoon. It was a well-spent day.
Later in the evening back in Taoyuan I stopped by Jack and Lynn’s coffee shop–a favorite of our team last year. I however had never been there before and it must have been a sight when I first walked in with my backpack, uncombed hair and dripping raincoat. It didn’t take long to warm up though with a cappuccino and I was glad to introduce myself and relay greetings from the Lyons family. Praise the Lord, there was a translator there.
Jack and Jen also joined us that night at the coffee shop then insisted on seeing me off the next day. They generously drove me to the HSR and would not let me leave without more food and a new supply of Chinese study materials.
This trip, I return with renewed appreciation for all the work that has been done last year and for those with whom God put us in contact. With the relationships that He has given us, our current projects are illuminated with real objectivity–a beam of gold sunshine from the past. What about you? Do you see what you are working on right now as part of a much bigger picture that God is painting through many people? He will use you if you let Him.


  1. Mom November 18, 2008 at 9:33 am #

    Sounds like you had a great time as well as a very rewarding visit. It is an encouragement to be reminded to look at the bigger picture!

  2. Daniel November 19, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough update, Donald. It was good to see you were able to include pictures too. And speaking of pictures, I found your closing question quite thought-provoking. I tend to think of the bigger picture as what God will do through my life over time, but O how much larger it becomes when the lives of all Christians are included! Then our own small part of the panorama takes on a whole new purpose and meaning.

  3. Crystal November 19, 2008 at 7:43 pm #

    Thanks for the reminder to consider the bigger picture. In the day to day events of life it is very easy to forget.

  4. Robert November 19, 2008 at 9:58 pm #

    Great report, Donald! Thank you so much for sharing all of the exciting events going on! God bless you!

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