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!