Monthly Archives: April 2013

Island Teaching

A typical work-week for Olivia and I consists of us driving to school together, sharing an office, having lunch together, and then going home and spending the evenings together.  In these last 8 months of teaching in Taiwan, Olivia and I have spent nearly every moment together (at least, that’s how it seems).  Last week was very different.

This semester, the public schools of Penghu decided to try something new.  There are 5 foreign teachers who work in the public schools, but many of the students who live on small islands never get the opportunity to speak with a native-english-speaker.  Solution: send the foreign teachers to each of these small islands (7 in total).  Last week marked the beginning of this experiment, and I was the first to go.

Monday morning, I went to the main port of Penghu and boarded a boat for JiangJun island, destined not to return until Friday.  I was warned that I should bring some snacks and food (like instant noodles) because there is a scarcity of shops and stores on this particular island.  In other words, they don’t even have a market.

Another challenge of uncertainty was what I should teach.  I would be teaching 1st grade through 9th grade during the week, but some of the subjects they requested were very different from my typical style of teaching.

Successful activities! Having fun with a map to practice simple prepositions.

Successful activities! Having fun with a map to practice simple prepositions.

When I got to JiangJun elementary school and junior high (they share a campus), I knew I had nothing to worry about.  All the teachers welcomed me and introduced themselves, and the students were so excited to wave and say “Hello.”  (Their excitement was a great comfort, as we have experienced an attitude of “We live on a small island, why do we need to learn English” from past students.)

Throughout last week, I taught many classes, got to explore a beautiful island, and met some amazing, talented teachers.  I also gained a new appreciation for the job I have, as these teachers have to live on the island every week and can only travel back to the city on the weekends.

Meeting, teaching, and learning from junior-high students was by-far the best part of my time on JiangJun.  Every class was full of students who were excited to learn (even if each class only had 4-9 students in it), and some students even asked if we could have some extra conversation time in the evening.  If the students were doing anything, they asked me to join them, including eating lunch with them instead of the teachers, go swimming after school, playing basketball, and celebrating birthdays.  They even had a going-away party on Thursday night before I headed back to Magong!

I was reminded about the importance of why I am here continuously last week.  All the junior-high students made thank-you cards for me, and their English teacher remarked that while they were making the cards, it was the first time she saw the students eager to learn and use English.  Many of the students also told me (in broken English) that they want to study English more and get better at having conversations because of the interactions they had with me.

Although my week in JiangJun was exhausting (between classes, basketball, and everything else), it was so rewarding for both myself and the students I taught.

I’m sure Olivia enjoyed some time apart from me and my shenanigans, too, but the dog was ecstatic to see me when I returned.

Categories: Education, Island Teaching, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Field Trip!!!

Yesterday was field trip day for our school.  Each grade level went to a different place in Penghu.  Nick and I decided to go with 1st grade to Lintou Park because we had never been before.  It was a warm beautiful day and we enjoyed walking around the beautiful park and watching the kids play.  Kids can be so imaginative; it’s so great to see!

Lintou Park has a little of everything- a playground, foot paths, a beach, pavilions, a restaurant, and a war memorial, everything you could ask for in a park, right?  It was a great time, but we were really tired when we got back.  That’s all I have to say, I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

Categories: Education, Taiwan | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Cooking is Fun…sometimes

A couple weeks ago, we had a four-day weekend and we celebrated with some cooking adventures, and trust me, cooking is almost ALWAYS an adventure in our house.  We have decided that our cooking motto is “However long it is supposed to take, double that, times it by five and subtract three, and that is how long it will actually take us.”  (Yes, it is a bit long for a motto, we’re working on making it short and sweet then slapping that baby on a t-shirt.) 😛  Okay, so maybe it doesn’t take that long, but it always always takes us much longer than we anticipate at the get go.  I guess we just haven’t gotten cooking/baking down to a science yet.  I always feel like I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get everything put together correctly.

Anyways, we kicked off the weekend with cooking our pumpkin.  Canned pumpkin is not a commodity we can find here in Penghu, and Nick and I love pumpkin.  We just couldn’t imagine letting a year go by without some yummy pumpkin treats.  We made our first batch of pumpkin puree back in November (when everyone on Pintrest was pumpkin crazy), and it turned out really well.  We were just about to run out of the frozen pumpkin puree, which would be a tragedy,  so we decided to make more.  Making pumpkin puree is very easy, but we only have a tiny toaster oven, so it takes us a loooong time to cook a whole pumpkin.  We’re talking four hours of time.  Each batch has to bake for about 45 minutes, and then we have to peel the pumpkin, puree it, measure it, put it in a bag, zip it, label it, and finally place it in the freezer in what has become “the pumpkin spot.”

After sitting around and being lazy for the rest of the weekend, Sunday night we  decided to make some muffins and egg salad.  We’ve been craving egg salad ever since the Eggtastrophe.  Our biggest problem was not having mustard to make it (we checked every store in town, and all we found were packets for the hot dogs at 7-11), but our fellow FET was making a trip to Taipei and told us she could pick some up for us!  So, mustard in hand, we  enlisted our friend Anly for some help, and we began making our egg salad and muffins (don’t worry, these were new eggs).  While the eggs were boiling, Anly and I started making some yummy French Toast Muffins for breakfast in the morning. All was going well until Nick took over washing the dished for Anly.  He always uses the excuse that his hands are too big to fit in the glasses in order to get out of doing the dishes, and was making that exact comment, when all of a sudden he yells out, “Ouch!  That’s deep!”  I rush over and see that his hand had broken one of the glasses and had stabbed him.  The cut was deep and seemed like it would not stop bleeding.  We cleaned the wound, and were about to leave for the ER for some stitches when the bleeding stopped.  We bandaged it up the best we could (which wasn’t very well  considering we have 4 band-aids at our house), and Nick sat down to rest while Anly and I finished up the dishes.

Nick is fine now, he saw the school nurse and she cleaned and bandaged the cut thoroughly and it’s healing nicely.   I’ve made it clear to him that this does not get him out of dishes for the rest of his days, he’ll just have to leave the cups to me.  Also, we are proud to say that despite the incident, the egg salad and muffins both came out wonderfully!

The pumpkin making process

The pumpkin making process

The finished product- 8 cups of pumpkin puree!

The finished product- 8 cups of pumpkin puree!

Yummy Egg Salad Sandwich

Yummy Egg Salad Sandwich

It's always fun to have a friend around.

It’s always fun to have a friend around.

Categories: Cooking, Friendship, Humor, Taiwan | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

A Quick History Lesson

This morning in church we learned how Christianity came to Penghu, Taiwan. We thought it was really interesting and reminded us of God’s amazing power and plan. We hope you enjoy the story as much as we did.

Back in the 1860s some missionaries were making their way to the main land of Taiwan. While on their journey, a storm came up and blew their small vessel off course. When they finally reached some land, the found that they had landed not on the main land of Taiwan, but on one of the small islands so Penghu. The missionaries did not let this stop them, and knew God had sent them there for a reason. The missionaries found a town and started doing what they could to share the gospel to the people coming and going from the local temple. Through their efforts, the first two families in Penghu came to believe in Christ Jesus.

If you don’t know, Penghu is an Archipelago, so while Christianity began to spread to some of the islands in the island group, it did not reach them all right away. In 1919 a temple performer from Chi Mei (the southern-most island in the Penghu Archipelago) had a vision telling him that he needed to serve someone named Immanuel. He went searching for more information about this Immanuel. He eventually ended up on the main land of Taiwan and found some Christians who told him about Immanuel. He immediately went back to his home on Chi Mei and began spreading the gospel there.

That’s the end of the history lesson, but not at all the end of the story.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20

Categories: Faith, Taiwan | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Grave Sweeping Day

Last week Taiwan celebrated Grave Sweeping Day. This is a time once a year for families to go the the burial sites of their ancestors and clean and pray to them.  Lucky for us, we got to have a four-day weekend; but it reminded us again of our mission as Christians to share God’s love and salvation with the people we meet in Taiwan and around the world.

At church and during our weekly Bible study at our house, our Taiwanese brothers and sisters in Christ shared with us about how difficult this time is for them.  Many believers in Taiwan are the only Christians in their families, and they are caught between standing firm in their faith and offending their family members by refusing to take part in the ancestral prayers.  This is also true when a family member dies.  The funeral traditions here are to burn paper objects, such as cars and houses, etc., for the family member to use in the afterlife.

On the bright side, while their numbers may be few, the Christians of Taiwan are very strong in their faith and fellowship, and that is a refreshing thing to see.  I have been so encouraged by the faith and testimonies of the brothers and sisters here.  Please take some time and join us in prayer for the believers in Taiwan.  Pray that they will remain strong in their faith and that they will have opportunities to share God’s love and salvation to their family members, co-workers, and friends.

Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…

Ephesians 6:18

Categories: Faith, Friendship, Taiwan | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Stuffed Peppers

Hello Friends!

We know we’re not a foodie blog, but the stuffed peppers we made last week were epic, and they had an epic (at least for food) end as well, so we decided they were blog worthy.  Just sit back, relax, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the show!

Let’s set the scene.  

Now, if you’re new here or have memory problems, we live in Taiwan.  Penghu, Taiwan to be exact.  In Taiwan, specifically Penghu, Tex-Mex is hard to come by, and if we want it, we pretty much have to make it ourselves.  We’ve been craving Tex-Mex lately, so after scouring the internet, we decided to try our hand at Tex-Mex Stuffed Peppers.

Act One.

After  many busy days and nights, we had a quiet Thursday night in which to make and enjoy our stuffed peppers.  All day long we were looking forward to these tantalizing treats, and couldn’t wait to get home to start on them.  But when we got home, we were both exhausted (an ill-planned late-night cup of coffee left us wide awake most of Wednesday night), and decided to take a quick nap.  Given our track record with “quick naps” we should have known; this nap would not be a short as we hoped.  We woke up around 7:00 and hummed and hawed about whether we should go ahead and make the peppers or get something out.  We eventually decided we would make the peppers, and I am glad we did.

Act Two.

These peppers were delicious!  They totally satisfied our Tex-Mex craving and left us raving.  We normally don’t get this excited about food, but we couldn’t stop saying how delicious these puppies were.  I’m drooling just thinking about them.  Anyways, we were watching Psych (a great show, btw) while eating our delectable peppers, and all of a sudden we hear a CRASH!  We whip our heads around and see the second pan of peppers dumped all over the floor and the dog running for cover from the wrath he knows he’s about to receive.  I almost cried over the loss of the peppers; there was no way to save them, so I just had to trash the whole thing. 😦  Nick pulled the dog out of his hiding place (under the table), and made him sit in time out.

Closing Scene.

After several minutes of time out, Nick knelt next to the dog and calmly talked to him about what he did wrong and that it made “mommy” really upset.  He knows this doesn’t have any affect on the dog, but it made him feel better. 🙂  He’s gonna be a great dad!  Our evening ended well with some family time on the couch and no bitter feelings, just longings for left over stuffed peppers.

Moral of the Story: Put the left over food in the highest place possible when curious puppies are sniffing around.

Categories: Cooking, Family, Humor, Taiwan | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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