We’re back in Taiwan. It’s been a week since we arrived at our little house on the campus of Tainan Theological College ( www.ttcs.org.tw ) and the time has come to crank up these stories again. We’ll start way back on the last day of last month.
July 31 Boat
It wasn’t our last speaking occasion of the home assignment, but WAS the only one involving boat travel. On the morning of the 29th Dave boarded the train in Holland, MI and went to New York City, arriving Saturday evening (somewhat worse for wear from having slept sitting up in the coach). The next morning he preached at Abundant Life Church in Wyckoff, NJ. After lunch, Tom Larkin (the associate pastor) drove him to Weehawken, NJ for the ferry boat to start his trip back home. As he crossed the Hudson he stared far enough into the distance to see under the Verrazano Bridge, beholding the Atlantic. (On the 23rd of July, he’d looked at the Pacific from the train in San Clemente.) 2 coasts, 2 oceans, all on the surface and not a plane between!
August 7 First Times
We went together to our final two speaking engagements, both a drive from Holland, MI. The first was to Lucas, MI, where Char did a lot of her growing up. It being summer, the church was only doing one service, and there were no other activities planned. We were both surprised when Pastor Adam, who is in charge there, asked the congregation to give Dave a round of applause after the sermon! It was a first.
That evening we were in Overisel, MI where there was another first…. the congregation sang Dave’s setting of the Lord’s prayer to the tune ODE TO JOY.
holy name and kingdom come.
Earth and hea-ven know your will done.
See our needs and meet each one.
We’ve forgiven sin in others,
do forgive the sin in us.
Tempt us not cause evil’s end and
shine your kingdom strong. Amen
August 8-11 Trip
Our daughter Kate and her husband Gene had relocated to Colorado the previous week. If we were going to see them there this year, this was the last chance. We got on the train in Holland, MI early Monday morning and transferred to the California Zephyr out of Chicago that afternoon. All went well along the way, the train arrived on time in Denver and we were picked up at the station by the rental car company. About 40 minutes later we were at Kate & Gene’s new place. A few hours later we saw the University of Colorado at Boulder, where Kate now teaches. That night in a motel (nice to be horizontal between two nights sitting up on the train) we caught up on sleep. Next day we took a level hike along a stream then helped a little with furniture newly arrived from IKEA. (Gene will work from a home office). At about 4PM we headed back to Denver to catch the train to Chicago, which was, once again, on time.
August 15-17 Clean and Pack
Having moved into the clean and orderly 21st Street mission house in Holland on January 31st , it was our responsibility to leave it in similar condition on our way out. We spent a considerable amount of time dusting, vacuuming and packing, getting most of our “leave it behind in America” stuff into boxes and bins for storage at Char’s parents’ house, and reducing the remaining “take back to Taiwan” stuff to what would fit into 4 suitcases and two carry-on bags. We drove the bins to Muskegon on the 15th and stashed them temporarily in the garage. Two days later, with all other things done, we left the keys on the kitchen table and vacated the premises. In Muskegon we removed suitcases from the car and filled it with the bins, then locked it all up in the garage awaiting our return in 2018.
August 18 Still on the Surface
We rented a car in Muskegon, filled it with our bags, said our goodbyes, and headed for Evanston, IL. On the way we stopped by the home of our friends Bob and Shaomay Young, who have always treated us royally. (In fact, we’d begun our home assignment in their guest room on January 30th!) This time we were just there to chat and say goodbye. We went from their place to the apartment where our son, Grant, and his bride Katelyn reside. After unloading the car we returned it to the rental agency, had a long walk and a pleasant dinner, then were at their place overnight.
The next morning we took a cab to O’Hare Airport, and our home assignment came to its official end. It was either of our’s first time to check in for a flight since leaving Taiwan on January 30th.
August 19 Into the Ether
Taking a cab to the airport certainly makes things easy. No worry about lanes, parking lots, or anything. Checkin was smooth and security an easy walk through. The plane that had arrived from Japan to take us across the Pacific was a little bit tardy, so we boarded about 45 minutes later than expected. No bother…. there were plenty of hours to kill between flights in Tokyo. All was smooth. The arrival in Japan and transfer to the Taiwan flight went well. We got to Taiwan about 40 minutes early. Because of the international date line, it was Saturday night when we arrived.
August 20 Visa
Dave’s resident card in Taiwan expires on August 31st. His entry was pro-forma. Char’s, however, expired on July 31st (it’s keyed to her teaching contract at Chang Jung Christian University). She had to come into Taiwan on a 90-day visa free basis that Taiwan extends to citizens of certain countries, including the USA. No hassle, we both got in and were at the luggage carousel before our bags arrived.
August 20-21 More Trains
Since we’re “getting along in years”, we decided not to rush to the train home and arrive at midnight. We stayed in a hotel by the airport and made our way, in a leisurely fashion, to the station the next morning. That’s when we found out how heavy our luggage was….. about 260 pounds altogether. But the service folks at the train were wonderful at getting things loaded for us, and also unloaded when we arrived in Tainan.
August 21 Arriving
We got a large taxi from the station to the theological college. Char went ahead to the house with one carry-on bag, and Dave followed behind, in separate trips, to get the remaining stuff from the gate to the door. Upon entering the house, Char’s first concern was our cat, Shadow, who was sleeping upstairs. His greeting was somewhat subdued. Shadow is usually very noisy, but had “lost his voice” during our absence (it has come back, gradually). He’s also thinner than he had been when we last saw him. Nonetheless, he’s healthy, and we’re back “in synch”. Sleeping is another matter. We were exhausted, so had good naps, but our days and nights were confused enough that getting those back “in synch” has been a challenge.
The laptop computers we carry both went right back on line. The desktop was more of a hassle, having to be reassembled from pieces carried in the luggage. That’s back up and running now, so we’re in touch again.
August 22-26 Cleaning
Sara and Ring, the graduate students from Chang Jung University who had cared for our house and cat in our absence, left things clean and orderly, but apparently hadn’t dusted certain parts of the house in our absence. Char spent the week wiping and doing heaps of laundry. Dave did the floors on Saturday.
August 25 Re-connecting
We went to the immigration bureau to deal with residence issues. Dave’s renewal application was accepted without hassle. Char, having run out of residency because her permission expired at the end of July, will have a more arduous process, involving getting documents from the university, applying for a new visa at the foreign ministry, and a couple trips to Kaohsiung. But, for the joy of having spent the first 3 weeks of August in Michigan, instead of in Tainan, it will all have been worth it.
August 22-26 Writing
One of the tasks we had neglected from February through August was to write a “Dear Friends” letter to the churches that participate in our work in Taiwan. We finally got one of those composed and sent on the 25th. Another bit of writing was a sermon that Dave has been invited to preach for the ecumenical committee of Chia-yi Presbytery (about 60 kilometers north of here) on September 4th. He chose the text, title and hymns and sent them out on the 23rd, and has been stumbling in the direction of a sermon on “That One Who Tears Down Walls” (Ephesians 2:13-14) this week.
August 27 & 28 Re-engaging
With the upset and hoopla surrounding the past few weeks, Dave got behind in a couple of online classes (one from Ohio State and another from Rutgers), so rather hastily put together assignments and taking quizzes before being “put back”. Finished Ohio State, and got in under the wire for Rutgers, so all’s well.
We went back to church this morning. It seemed much the same as it had been in January. Good people and lots of smiles. The last Sunday of the month always has blood pressure and BMI scanning after worship. Dave has a card and got his numbers. He already knew that during the time in Michigan he had gained more than 8 pounds.
After worship the small group that is supposed to use English was meeting, but lacking international students to present program, it all happened in Taiwanese and Mandarin. One member showed pictures of trips she has made over the past 2 years to Thailand, China and Europe. We saw a LOT of pictures and learned a lot about her travels. Lunch there, home and to bed for another nap. We’re back now. Watch this space as time passes for more thrilling adventures.