my nephew has entered the world :)

I'm an aunt!!!!!  Below is the email my mom sent out updating family on her first grandchild's arrival!:

Nathan Lee H------ has arrived! It was a long and difficult labor--about 15 hours, with Sarah pushing for over 1.5 hours and the baby not making enough progress, so she had to have a c-section. (She was being induced 3-4 weeks early because Nate was too big and amniotic fluid too low.) So, after entering the hospital at 5:00 AM, Sarah and Chad had a baby at 10:39 PM on Friday, May 30th!!

Nathan weighed 8 lbs and 5 oz, was 19.5 inches long. His little forehead and one eye were bruised from being stuck, and he has the cutest little conehead!! Since it was a c-section, we didn’t get to hold him…..Chad got to go with Sarah to OR and see Nate arrive. Then Chad and Nate stopped by to say hi, but were quickly taken to the nursery for washing, weighing, etc. I’m anxious to get back to the hospital and hold him!! They had to have the neo-natal unit standing by, since he was 3-4 weeks early….imagine that ---- a nine pound preemie!! But the neo nurses weren’t needed….he was fine!

Sarah and Nate will be in the hospital for 5 days, I think. Nate’s Grandpa H----- had open heart surgery on Wednesday, and is doing as well as can be expected, still in ICU. Chad has been/still is under a lot of stress, caring for both wife/baby and parents.
Love to all,
Joi (Nonny!!)

a day for birth

Right now my sister is giving birth to her first son!  I am sad that I can't be there but I am SO thankful for modern technology that allows me to keep up to date on things as they are happening.

I'm on my way to bed . . . but I am guessing (hoping) that when I wake up, my nephew baby Nate will have entered the world.

Sarah, I am SO excited for you and Chad!!  YAY!!! :)

Picture to left is of Sarah at 35 weeks--taken earlier this week!  Nathan is coming a month early . . . and was already measuring 8lbs 8oz's and 20.6 inches by the sonogram tech.

And, because I asked her too . . . my sister has started blogging!!!  I am so excited to be able to keep up with her and her growing family this way!  Thanks Sarah!!!

Ok . . . I hear my pillow calling my name. 


So . . . life got even too busy for some simple blogging.  I'll get back to simply taiwan soon. 

Thank you to those of you who emailed or commented and asked if I was doing ok.  I am doing great!!

God has been kind, very kind. 

sung chiang battle array (simply taiwan 8)

worshiping after performingmilitary dance for god of war

I don't have much knowledge of the Sung Chiang battle array (a form of martial performing arts) beyond what I observed the day I took these photos.  I took these photos not long after I moved to Taiwan and lived in Meinong in Kaohsiung County.  Two of my students invited me to a "fair" which turned out to be in reality a temple activity.  They had taken me to the annual Goddess GuanYing Festival at the Neimen Zihjhu Temple in Neimen, a city north of our school.

Neimen has reportedly around forty or fifty different battle array "troupes."  Several different troupes performed one right after another.  Each troupe had weapons and preformed to beating drums and gongs.  Some troupes had young and old alike all performing; some didn't include children.  Nearly all the performers were male.

Here are some of the facts about Sung Chiang battle array that I learned by reading this article online:
"Unlike many other traditional Taiwanese folk arts, the Sung Chiang
battle array has never been recorded as existing in mainland China; it
is purely Taiwanese."

"Many of the weapons used in the Sung Chiang battle array are actually
farm tools--rakes, sickles, hooks, umbrellas--used by the early

"The performances declined during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan
(1895-1945) and today they are seen only during festivals, especially
the birthday celebrations for Matsu (Goddess of the Sea), Emperor
Paosheng (God of Medicine), and Cheng Huang (City God)."

"A full-size Sung Chiang team has 108 members; smaller ones have 72 or, at a minimum, 36."

"The performances vary but all include the same tactics, which add up to
a total of 108."

"All team members must pray to Sung Chiang before a performance starts;
and, at both the beginning and end of a performance, the performers
gather at the temple gate (most often, performances take place in
temple courtyards), raise their weapons high, and shout 'Ho! Ho! Ho!'"

Here are some of the videos I took of one of the troupes we watched:

The video below is of the troupe worshiping after performing. They start by worshiping the idol in the center, then move to the right and then to the left to worship the idols to the right and left of the center god.

Like I said yesterday, sometimes at temple performances there is a crowd watching and sometimes not. At this particular event, the crowd was huge! Here is only part of it:

watching crowd

drama performance for a god (simply taiwan 7)

Drama Show for the gods

drama show for the gods

Many Taiwanese worship a variety of Buddhist, Taoist, and folk deities. One of the ways Taiwanese people use to celebrate a god's birthday is a presentation of some sort to entertain the idols.  I've seen people showing god's live "opera like" drama performances, demonstrations of "the art of war," movies shown on screens stretched between poles, women scantly clad singing and dancing, and puppet shows. 

Recently, I also saw a mechanical version of what is shown in the very short video below.  Actually, there were five different mechanical stages set up around a traffic circle.

Sometimes there is a human audience watching as well and sometimes not.

men at work (simply taiwan 6)

men at work

No time to comment tonight, so I will simply give you a photo of one of my all time favorite signs in Taiwan!!  I love that the construction worker is wearing a pointy hat! :)

And, these guys below who are cleaning the street . . . I just love that their pointy hats are covered in bight-can't-be-missed reflective material!    Classic!

cleaning the street  cleaning the street

men and shopping (simply taiwan 5)

Men waiting at Dream Mall

Some things--like men waiting at a shopping mall or women giving "the look"--seem to be universal and transcend culture.

I saw this scene when I was riding an escalator at Dream Mall in Kaohsiung City.  I thought it was so funny because these guys were doing the exact same thing their counterparts around the world do at malls--wait on their women. :)

Dream mall2 by yuankuei on flickr

Dream Mall (夢時代) is one of the largest malls in Asia--and opened about a year ago.  It is HUGE!!  And, there is even a Hello Kitty ferris wheel on top of the mall.  Including the "roof" (where the ferris wheel is) and the two basement levels, this mall has 12 floors in all!

Malls--as we know them in America--are not common here in Taiwan.  Instead there are "department stores."  So, Dream Mall is actually very special.

dream mall Dream mall at night by Michael Mozzarella on flickr

taking out the trash (simply taiwan 4)

i hate trash

There are very few things I don't like about Taiwan.  But, I seriously hate tossing the trash in Taiwan (and I consider hate a very strong word, so I'm not using it lightly here).

At different times though out the day a trash truck will drive through every neighborhood.  Each trash truck announces their presence by playing an electronic version of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise," which to the unknowing American sounds like an ice cream truck.

Each neighborhood/city is a little different, but each has their own trash truck traditions. 

At my old house, people from two apartment complexes all gathered along the alley in front of the buildings, the trash truck stopped and literally about 100 people tossed trash into the back in about 5-10 minutes each night.  We all knew that the truck would arrive at about 7:30, so at about 7:20ish people started heading downstairs and gathering out front to wait.  I, however, lived on the 2nd floor near the front entrance, so I would wait till I heard the tinny melody to grab my trash and head out the door. 

The nice thing about that neighborhood was that about 30 minutes later another truck drove down a side street, so if I missed the 7:30 trash truck, I could meet the 8:00 trash truck. Now, the 8:00 trash truck didn't stand still.  People would stand outside their "townhouse-like" homes with their trash, and as the truck slowly drove by they would toss in their trash.

This phenomenon is something that can't be captured by words and photos alone, a video is necessary to help you experience this.  So, without further adieu, here is a trash truck I got stuck behind while on my moped one night.

I always wondered what in the world I would do if I always worked nights and could never be home to take out the trash between 7:30 and 8:00.  In some neighborhoods, the trash truck comes during the day . . . and I do wonder what people who don't work from home do about their garbage.  Hmmm . . .

Ok, now let me just take a second to further justify my hatred for tossing trash.  It is not just that I have to be responsible for taking out my trash and tossing it myself.  That's ok.  But is the fear that I've done something wrong and will have to dig in the trash to undo my mistake.  You see, they have strict mandatory recycling polices here.  And, if you throw out something that should be recycled, the garbage guys (aka trash nazis) will tear open your bag, and make you take care of it the right way. 

Once, right after my neighborhood started to recycle food scraps, I included egg shells in my food waste pile.  I thought egg shells were supposed to be good for compost piles.  Except, I later learned food scraps collected on the back of the trash trucks in blue barrels are not for composting but for feeding pigs.  So, when the trash nazi saw my egg shells in the blue barrel, he made me dig through the pile of food scraps to remove them.  All the while, people were tossing their garbage bags over my shoulder as I diligently stuck my hand into that disgusting mess of pig slop and dug out all the egg shells big enough to see with a naked eye.  YUCK!

Recycling trucks tag along behind trash trucks on certain days of the week--playing a different song (yes, at the same time).  But, that's a story for another day.

For now, here are four more Taiwanese trash truck videos I found online.  Enjoy!!!

Here is a link to a one minute video that is pretty good but can't be embedded.

frozen delights (simply taiwan 3)

Chaw-Bing 剉冰

There were many times I told my cousins "you've not really been to Taiwan if you haven't ________."  And, one of those "fill in the blanks" was "eaten cuo-bing" (剉冰, shaved ice).

Cuo-bing is a wonderful Taiwanese delight!!  Cuo-bing is shaved ice topped with yummy stuff.  I like it topped with either fruit or an assortment of chewy things.  And, traditionally it is topped with things like peanuts, beans, sweet potatoes, or taro pieces.  In addition to these yummy things, a sweet syrup water is poured onto the ice and sometimes sweet condensed milk is also added.

The above photo was taken at a self-serve cuo-bing shop at a night market.  You fill up the bowl, they weigh it, and then top it with ice and the brown sugar water.

Here are some fruit topped bings I've enjoyed:

Fruit Bings

Here are some of my students enjoying a great big bowl of fruit bing:


This one is a more traditional bing one of my friends enjoyed--it is topped with green beans, herbal jelly, and peanuts:

traditional chaw bing

These girls are enjoying ice covered with green beans.  Yeah, I prefer mango too. ;)

eating ice with beans

There are many kinds and types of cuo-bing. And . . . they are so YUMMY!!!!

Lots of Kinds of CuoBing!!

shopping carts (simply taiwan 2)

Shopping Carts in Taiwan

Shopping Carts in TaiwanIn order to keep carts on supermarket grounds, they are chained together.  

To use one, you need to insert a 10NT coin (a coin about the size of a quarter worth about 33 US cents) into the gray device and then the red part of the chain unlocks and lets you pull the cart away.

When you are done using the shopping cart, you can return it to any location that has another "red handle device."  Once you plug the red thing back into the gray thing, your money is returned to you. 

I suppose this also helps to discourage shopping carts from being left abandoned throughout the parking lot.

public toliets (simply taiwan 1)

a fancy squatty potty

This is the nicest "squatty potty" I've ever seen.  It has a fish tank at eye level once you are squatting!  Yes, there were live fish swimming around inside!!

Some homes have squatty potties, but mostly homes are equipped with western style toilets.  However, when out in public you are most likely to encounter squatty potties--like the ones below.   The one from the left is from McDonald's and the one of the right is most likely from a train station.

To flush a squatty potty you will either step on something--like the photo above and the photo below to the right.  Or, there is something to pull that will be hanging from the tank somewhere on the wall above the squatty potty.

Oh, yeah, and most places would prefer you put your toilet paper in the trash can rather than flush it.  And, just in case you are wondering, there is a front and a back--the "hooded" part is the front.

Now, you might be able to find a western style toilet out in public . . . but, beware, people will stand to squat on these too.  So, just be careful before you choose to sit.

Squatty Potties in Taiwan

Thanks for the input/comment on the last post . . . it is quite helpful.  And, I still welcome more suggestions, questions, or ideas. :)

simply taiwan--a new series

Something new for following an unknown path is about to start . . .and I need your help.

Recently, I've been uploading my older photos onto my flickr account.  Photos I took before I had a blog, and so have gone largely unseen by others besides myself.  Also, life here is getting a little more busy--it always is a little more hectic at the end of the semester than at the beginning.  In other words I have no time to compose thoughtful, relevant posts.

So, I'm going to try something new.  For the next 46 days at least (that is till I get to go home, Lord willing), I'm going to be doing a series of simple posts featuring photos I've taken while living in Taiwan for the past five years.  (I may or may not post other kinds of posts during this time . . . I've yet to decide.)

But, I'd like your help.  What are some things you'd like to see photos of?  So, you wanna see food? bathrooms? public phones? mail boxes? people? temples? flowers? landscapes? You name it or ask about it, and I'll search my photo archives, and if I don't have a photo of it already--I'll see if I can take one just for you. :)  Be as specific or as general as you'd like.

The other thing I'd like to do is answer questions you might have about life here in Taiwan.  Awhile back, Deborah, from Cup of Joy, interviewed me for her March missions month, and I really enjoyed answering her questions.  It allowed me to talk about things that are close to my heart but that I don't think about mentioning anymore because they seem so common place now.  So . . . what would you like to know about life in Taiwan?  Ask away, and I'll try to answer.

about the title "following an unknown path"

Oh, if I could compose like Anne Bradstreet or Mary Gardiner Brainard I would write poems. But, alas, I cannot, so I am left to quote them instead.

The poem below, “Not Knowing,” captures my heart’s cry. It echoes the desires of
my inner me. I could not express my own emotions better than Brainard
does in this poem.

Not Knowing” by Mary Gardiner Brainard (1837–1905)

Not knowing the things that shall befall me there.—ACTS XX. 22.

I know not what will befall me: God hangs a mist o’er my eyes;

And thus, each step of my onward path, He makes new scenes arise,

And every joy He sends to me comes like a sweet surprise.

I see not a step before me as I tread on another year;

But I’ve left the past in God’s keeping,—the future His mercy shall clear,

And what looks dark in the distance may brighten as I draw near.

For perhaps the dreaded future is less bitter than I think;

The Lord may sweeten the waters before I stoop to drink;

Or, if Marah must be Marah, He will stand beside its brink.

It may be He keeps waiting, for the coming of my feet,

Some gift of such rare blessedness, some joy so strangely sweet,

That my lips shall only tremble with the thanks they cannot speak.

O restful, blissful ignorance! ’t is blessëd not to know;

It keeps me still in those mighty arms which will not let me go,

And lulls my weariness to rest on the bosom that loves me so.

So I go on not knowing,—I would not if I might;

I would rather walk in the dark with God than go alone in the light;

I would rather walk with Him by faith than walk alone by sight.

My heart shrinks back from trials which the future may disclose,

Yet I never had sorrow but what the dear Lord chose;

So I send the coming tears back with the whispered word, “He knows.”

A path unknown
For most people, not knowing is a scary thing.  But
as the Message translates Acts 20:22,  that even though "I'm completely
in the dark about what will happen when I get there,” there still "is
another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go . . . ." Paul
goes on to say that hard times matter little; however, “what matters
most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave
me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly
extravagant generosity of God.”

So, here I am.  I am following an unknown path.  I
am compelled to follow it. So, I am sending back the coming tears with
the whispered word, “He knows.” So, I am eagerly anticipating the joys
that are to come as I attempt to focus on what matters most,  enjoying
the privilage of being His messenger of amazingly good news!

And because He does know this path, although narrow and unknown to me, it is worth traveling.

O restful, blissful ignorance! It is blessed not to know!

the faces of persecution

A Believer dies for their faith in Christ every 3 minutes according to Voice of the Maryts.
{RSS Readers: Click over to see the embedded video.}

Join me today in praying for our brothers and sisters around the world.

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