Thursday, October 21, 2010

Typhoon Megi

It has been raining everyday this month, but up until Satruday there was always a reprive at some point in the day. Apparently this is normal October weather here. So I hadn't thought to much of the rain until it started pouring the last few days, and this time its been non-stop. Since Saturday we have gotten 28 inches of rain, 10+ of which has fallen in the past 12 hours and its beginning to show. The lake just down the road has risen anywhere from 4-7 feet and roads all over the county are closed due to flooding. We're getting another typhoon . . . Typhoon Megi is only the 2nd typhoon to hit Taiwan this year. Its a slow moving storm off the west coast of the island, its only moving 7 kms an hour and it hasn't even reached the southern tip of Taiwan yet. They are estimating that at this rate it will take over a week to swing past and continue on its way to China where its expected to make landfall. The bulk of the storm is still to come, which is going to be very interesting to see as already the country as slowed to an almost standstill. School ended early today so the parents could come get their kids before all the roads closed down.

Yilan County is expected to be hit the worst of all Taiwan, which just happens to be the area that the Home is situated. Its kind of exciting. But I am sure it won't be after the power and internet go out which is usually a matter of course when typhoons hit. We're just hoping that it doesn't flood bad enough that we need to move all the babies upstairs or something. So far there hasn't been any flooding near the Home, but who knows?

Some pictures for you. Keep in mind this is really only the first day of torrential rains. Theres a lot more rains to come!

This is usually a dry riverbed.

The water is usually 3 feet below this dock.
and this is the view from our roof. Its pretty wet everywhere!

and I just found out . . . about 30 minutes away there is some flooding that is 2 stories high! If you could keep us in your prayers that that sort of flooding doesn't happen here, it would be greatly appreciated!

Monday, October 18, 2010

1 month to go!

I am growing more and more excited about the fact that I will be home in a month and its only 2 weeks now until David gets here. Yet, I am also growing more and more decided of the fact that I don't really want to leave this place. Its become much more a home than I thought it ever could be and all these strangers that I live with, I realized recently that they've become more like family than anything else.

I thought when this time came that I would so anxious to leave, but I find that while I am counting down the days until I am back with the family, I wish that I had a little more time here.

I'm going to miss my babies!

The next week is going to be an exciting week as :
  • We have a new baby girl coming in the next few days.
  • Two court dates which means two babies could go home in a month or so.
  • A birth family will be coming. Its always interesting to see the resemblances between baby and parents and see how they respond the the little person they have given up. Some parents cry, others would rather not even be here. 
  • Bev and Ted get back from China where they've been for a week.
  • Ava's adoptive parents come and before David gets here, they will be back in the States with their new baby girl.
The remainder of my two weeks is going to fly by. Excited, yet not at the same time. 

Some highlights of the past few weeks would be:

We had a group of 12 musicians come to the Home and give the kids a little concert. They were all brass and sounded super cool! Bev sent us over to watch as well and we had a great time with the kids! The played "Do-Re-Me" and the kids all sang along in Chinese while we of course, sang in English. So neat to hear that familiar song in another language. When the show was over the players let the little kids try the instruments! 

One of the other highlights for me was that Ava started smiling. She is 2 1/2 months old and up until recently, despite my best efforts I was only ever rewarded with a yawn or two. But the other day she decided that smiling wasn't all that hard and since then has been grinning away. The best part of this little story is that I was the first person she smiled at. There is something so incredibly special about getting a babies first smile!

There were other highlights too, but this will have to do for now. We're being informed by the noise in the nursery that nap time is over and there are babies to hold and love.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Taiwan 10.07 Highlights

  • Staying up late with the girls (ie: 2am!) discussing everything under the sun.
  • Visiting the Cultural Center, again and discovering that it just gets better.
  • Ritz crackers with brown sugar candy in between.
  • Overcast skies for 3 days and much cooler weather. So cool in fact that we all donned jeans and some of the girls are even wearing jackets.
  • Meeting Timothy's parents and watching them fall in love with his big grin.
  • Having the Georke Gang here for 10 days from the States. Yeah for clean windows and all the help they have been!
  • Introducing the family to Elijah and finding that they think he's as cute as I do.
  • Finding my camera again after 24 hours of not knowing where it was.
  • Watching the watershow at night down by the lake.
  • Finding that I really do miss Ted, Bev, and Anna who are gone for a few days. What am I going to do when they are gone for over a week?
  • Discovering that being sick abroad is twice as un-fun as it is at home.
  • Building deeper and much more meaningful relationships with people on so many more levels than I thought could/would happen.
  • Riding in a taxi twice within a week! 
  • David comes in less than a month. There is so much here that I am excited for him to see.
  • Finding out that Ava's parents are coming soon, and Kwen has his courtdate soon too!
  • Meeting a family of giant snails and finding that I'm not the only one who thinks snails are kind of cute.
  • While sitting on a wall, the four of us girls counted that we had our picture taken at least a dozen times within a half-hour by people who were pretending to be watching the other scenery. Hurrah for being the circus side-show!
  • Loving the babies more and more . . . 
  • Thrilled that I only have a month left, yet sad for the very same reason.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

To Tainan and Back again.

On Tuesday I had the opportunity to go visit Juanita ( a friend of Gramma Ardron) in Tainan for a few days. Juanita is the director of the Ray of Hope, a crisis pregnancy centre. I didn't know Juanita before I went down, but I was so blessed to be able to meet her and spend some time watching as she shared with the people around. I only stayed for 3 days, but I had a great time!

I arrived in Tainan by rail, my first time spending any length of time on a train (unless of course you count the train at Heritage Park...) so it was certainly an adventure! Especially since the train system isn't set up as well as I thought it should be for the very small number of passengers who could not read Chinese. But I managed!

I spent a little time going through the ROH thriftshop but didn't buy anything (aren't you proud Sarah :-) because I didn't have room in my suitcase. These ladies are some of the woman who work there, it was fun to get to know them a little bit. The girl in the middle is the Mama to one of the babies that has been here so it was neat to meet her!

Juanita had a friend who had a scooter accident so we went and visited her in the hospital. Taiwan hospitals aren't anything like what we have at home! Here, the families have to take care of the patients themselves (keeping clean, feeding . . . ), the nurses only help with the medical neccessities. It was a little shocking to my North American upbringing, but so have a lot of things here! This lady was riding her scooter and got hit by a car and when she got up to complain to the driver her drove over her foot and drove off.

I have to admit that of all the food I've been crazing Subway was my #1. I was so happy that there was one ing Tainan. Juanita was a little surprised that of all the resteraunt choices I had, I would pick something like that, but it made me very happy. And it tasted just like home!

Juanita spoke at Morrison Academy, a boarding school for American kids and ABC's (American born Chinese) so I tagged along for that. It was neat to hear her share her testimoney with so many kids and how they responded to her. I was so grateful that she allowed me to be her little assistant for the day and tag along from classroom to classroom.

When we got back, instead of relaxing in her apartment after a very long day on her feet, Juanita suggested we go to the night market! So of course we did. Its a neat place to wander around but after 9 it got so busy we could not even walk anymore! But thats ok, because by that time we were both ready to go home :-)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A post without a name. ..

While we only have 9 babies here at the Home, it does not mean that we are any less busy. Bev keeps us going for most of the day and we get to do a lot more playing on a one-on-one basis that we would otherwise be able too, its been great fun! I wish I could update with pictures of the babies we have here, but for numerous reasons I can't, which at times is really hard. They have become my little family here in Taiwan and its hard not being able to share them with you. But I will have to be content to show you pictures of the other things that I find to amuse myself!

September 22nd was the Moon Festival here in Taiwan, an event which is the 2nd biggest holiday, next to the Chinese New Year. Its a family holiday and tradition dictates that everyone gets outside and barbeques, not anything like a North American BBQ, but it was still wonderful. They had all sorts of meats and vegetables that were grilled over open fires, so yummy (except the fish which wasn't). The kids from the home seperated into 4 'tribes' and us girls found ourselves drifting from one group to the next, wherever the food and company seemed right. The evening was a lot of fun! We don't often get oppertunities to visit with the kids like we did that night, but I really do enjoy them on the rare chances we get! Now being here for 2 months I'm the most familiar of the volunteers to the kids and they are really open, even though we can't speak the same language, somehow we can still manage to tease and have fun :-)

One of the other highlights of the last few weeks would also be the UTI 2010 International Triathlon that took place here at Plum Blossom lake. What I thought was going to be a small local event had over 1300 participants from Japan, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines, USA ... the Australian Olympic team was also there (they ended up winning).  During nap time Jennifer and I got to go out (after Jillian and Gabrielle had a turn of course!) and explore a little. We hung around with the group from the home (who were there watching some of the kids from the Home compete!) and wandered off a little by ourselves. There were a ton of people there and it looked a little funny to see the normally quiet and old fashioned place turn into an area of all the latest sporting equipment and even a few white faces!

Of course, there was some excitement when Tyhpoon Fanapi came to the Island. A typhoon and a hurricane are exactley the same thing, except one is in the Atlantic Ocean, and the other is a Pacific Ocean storm. I was pretty excited at the prospect of the typhoon and while I was hoping it would be more severe (for it would have made a better story) I am grateful that it wasn't. Here in Lu-Dong we were fortunate to get the tail end of the storm, down south they had a lot of flooding and severe damage. We had a lot of really strong wind gusts, but not much rain to speak of. It was interesting to see the damage that just that much wind could do and how the whole Island just shut down. Even when it appeared to be letting up, everyone just stays inside because these storms are so unpredictable. We had 3 windows break and later on found a leak in mine and Jennifer's bedroom, and other than the electricity going out for an hour or so, life continued as normal. Except for our poor Banana trees of course . . . Part of the Taiwanese army was down in the area helping clean up. I felt a little strange taking pictures of them, especially since they were already staring at the white foreigners in a very rural area, we're pretty much freaks here :-)

Eugene's parents are here from the States and will be taking him home early October. Its always sad to see them go, but its also a very good thing too. I'm so grateful that I got to know this happy little guy for the time I did, and grateful that we get to meet the parents and spend a little bit of time with them before leaving right away. It makes it a little easier knowing who he is going home with and seeing them interact first as complete strangers, and then by the end of the week, as a complete family.

There have been other things going on as well, but its getting late here and I should end this. Lets see if I can be a little more diligent with updating photos in the next little while!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mussings at a half-way point.

Now that I have successfully completed the first half of my time here at the Home, I thought I should update the blog with a little more than the quick updates I have been doing. I had very good intentions of being a very regular poster, but like at home, life keeps sneaking up on me and giving me more interesting things to fill my time with. Babies are napping now so I have the perfect opportunity to fill you in on some of the details of life here in Lu-Dong, Taiwan.

I have to admit that the first two weeks I was here, I thought I was going to die. I went through a lot of emotions those first few weeks and I'm daily grateful that I made it through that time. I guess I knew that it would be hard but I really had no idea what it would be like to be achingly homesick for family and friends and everything else familiar and comfortable. Because absolutely nothing here is like anything back home, for someone who likes things exactly the same, it really hurt at first. But now that the people I am with are no longer strangers and I have people to share this experience with, life is so much better. After a month and a half I have become familiar with the faces and the routine here so much so that its beginning to feel not just like the Home, but like a home.

We currently have 9 babies here which is a lot less than I was expecting to be here. When I first arrived in August there were 15 babies, but we've had 9 go home and 3 more arrive since then. But having a fewer number babies did something for my pride that needed to be done. I came with the idea that they needed me and I was going to be a hero for the struggling and overworked orphanage. Instead I find that I could go home and I wouldn't be missed and sometimes having too many volunteers in more of a hassle than anything. Ouch! But what I have seen the last few weeks is that I came here to serve and that doesn't have to be what I thought it should be. I find that with fewer babies to look after, I have a greater capacity to look for the other areas that I can serve in. Sometimes that means just being a friend with the other homesick volunteers, or being a peacemaker between parties that don't always understand one another, other times its just laughing and giving hugs to the orphanage kids. I don't always know, but I do know that when my attitude is to serve, the opportunities are there, and the opportunities are many.

On a daily basis I'm reminded of God's creativity is so many different areas. He is very gracious in the small gifts that I am blessed with in a never ending flow. Each day something small and new will come along to remind me that I'm not here alone and I can get through another day because this is God's plan, and not mine. Each one of the babies here is such a precious little person with unique gifts and laughter that make them easier and easier to love. I knew I would love them, but had no idea how much I would grow to love the little smiles, giggles, and noises that each one of them makes. I had no idea how my heart would thrill at the excitement they have at seeing me when I get them out of bed each morning. I sort of imagined that after a few weeks I would want a little bit of a break from holding babies and that I would be going bonkers from crying babies and dirty diapers but have been pleasantly surprised to find that God created a very unique feature into babies. He made them impossible to grow tired of. When I get back from an outing, one of the first things I want to do is gather a baby (usually Cade) into my arms and cover his little face with kisses.

I'm glad that I've reached the top of the hill and can begin the countdown until David gets here, but I'm equally glad that I still have half my time left. The longer I am here, the more I love Taiwan and especially the people. I've been extremely blessed by the girls I work with, Showhwa, and Bev, each in very different ways. I'm so thrilled that I get along so well with each one of them, I had little visions of being stuck here for three months with people I really disliked, because that would be the best thing for character growth. God saw otherwise and has made it possible for me to grow in ways other by trial!

I realize this isn't so much of an update as to what I've been doing, but how I've been doing. It seemed a little more appropriate for me to put all this down, than a day to day explanation of whats been happening here, since thats easy to do with some quick pictures.

Thank-you to each and everyone of you who have been following the blog, commenting on facebook, the endless supply of wonderful emails and phone calls I get. . . you've made me feel blessed to have you in my life, I am excited to come home and see you all, but for now, I'm excited to remain here and enjoy the experience as completely as I can.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Taiwan 09.10 Highlights

I could tell you what has been happening. But its easier to show you . . .

1. Abbey left on the 31st of August.
  Bev, Abbey, and Showhwa

2. Mei-Li went home to the States with her Mom and Dad

Mei-Li and Showhwa

3. Gabrielle arrived the 1st from Missouri
Gabrielle and Kwen

4. We spent the day out last week and found the best Italian Restaurant, spaghetti and garlic toast for $3!

Jennifer and I at said restaurant.

5. Visited this Taoist temple near the Home (its the largest of its kind in Taiwan) with . . . 


and Gabrielle.

view from the temple . . . 
I try to bike around this lake everyday. In the background in Lu-Dong, 
and to the left of that main road you can see, just hidden from view is the Home of God's Love.

there have been other things happening of course! But those would be the highlights of the last 10 days or so. Its hard to believe that I am almost half way through my time here at the home. Its flying by much faster than I thought it would . . . Tomorrow we get a new baby, my birthday is on monday, another volunteer comes in on Thursday . . . it will be busy again!

Thanks for keeping me in your prayers, they are greatly appreciated.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Home of God's Love

Most of the older kids, a few of the babies, and the rest of us at The Home of God's Love.

I'm so grateful for each and everyone of these people. the laughter, the love, the fellowship even though the langauge barrier doesn't allow for much, its amazing to me how much you can communicate with touch, gestures, and a smattering of one language or another. I love being here, and thats mostly because of these people.