December 7 (Wednesday) A Holy Family in the House
Since 2008 when we began to reside on campus at Tainan Theological College different groups have met in our living room on Wednesday mornings. For years it was international students for breakfast and chat. When Dave moved out of the international advisor role in 2012 the student association assigned him to meet with local students share once or twice monthly in a student-led activity known as “holy family”. For a couple of years they used our living room, and for another a classroom. This year they’re back around our coffee table.
Because it’s a student-led activity, Dave generally has to keep his mouth shut (not easy for a preacher). He’s noticed that some student leaders have set programs to run, and others mainly like to share and pray for each other. Either way, the time is well spent and it’s nice to have a Holy Family in our house.
December 7 (Wednesday) Decorations on High
Students leading community worship at Tainan Theological College on Wednesday afternoons are evaluated on a number of things, including how they have or have not decorated the chapel to enhance the theme of what they have chosen to preach. One problem is that they usually decorate the area directly in front of the pulpit where few people see anything from the pews. On December 7th, though, one student boldly used the cross on the wall behind the pulpit as center of several long pieces of cloth, hung on high from side to side of the chancel. His decorating scheme really brightened the place up!
December 11 (Sunday) Small Group Travel Logs
The small group in which we participate at Dongning Presbyterian Church usually gathers on the 4th Sunday of the month. But because that’s Christmas day this month, and because the church has a banquet laid on for that hour, we met early.
Two members showed pictures of their vacations: Sonia, who was Char’s student several years ago, showed her trip to Australia, including a skydiving adventure. Royce, who usually resides in Hawaii, showed pictures of his life there. We followed him on the hike up Diamond Head!
Since there are not so many international students at Tainan Theological College any more, the small group leader is questioning whether or not the church really needs to have a group that uses English as it’s main connecting point. Should this group dissolve, we hope to be invited to participate in a different one (though we don’t yet feel ourselves ready for the senior citizens’ gathering).
December 12 (Monday) EDAN
The Asia-Pacific region of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates’ Network (a function of the World Council of Churches) held a consultation in Eastern Taiwan from December 12-14. Tainan Theological College was asked to send someone, so Dave went. As he prepared, he consulted with Terry DeYoung, the staff member at the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America who deals with disability issues.
It was Dave’s job to respond to one of the network’s documents as a faculty member of a theological college. In his brief minutes of presentation he spoke from his position as director of the language center and as one who uses Taiwanese in his work. Since in Taiwanese there are two distinct forms of “we” (one of which includes the person or persons being addressed and the other excludes them), he was confused by all of the “we, us, our, ourselves” language in the document. He presented a tool to analyze and correct all of the ambiguity. Alas, having presented a tool, now he has to do the work and report back before the end of January!
December 13 (Tuesday) EDAN Online?
Documents and discussions about the issues of disability which the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network seeks to promote haven’t really taken off. Periodic meetings bewail this fact, and occasional forays into requesting that theological colleges and seminaries open courses face resistance because curricula are already filled and scholars don’t feel competent addressing the issue. Because he’s currently taking training in writing online courses, Dave volunteered to design one and put it up on the web. He should learn to keep his mouth shut! Now, having volunteered, he’s got another job. At least this one doesn’t have a close deadline.
December 14 (Wednesday) Social Media Mistakes
Dave’s Theological English course read and discussed a blog post about mistakes made by people using social media (facebook, twitter, blogs, etc.) in ministry. Before they even got to the content, though, Dave led them to look at the blog itself for clues to its “weightiness” and to ascertain where it sat in the wider world of Christian publishing (comparing that to the various publishers of books). Though you can’t judge a book by its cover, the ads surrounding a blog will tell you a lot about the audience to which it is addressed.
December 15 (Thursday) Cyber wrangling
Students in Dave’s Theology and the Arts class had been given a list of special Sundays in Taiwan (things like Mass Media Sunday, Women’s Work Sunday, AIDS Sunday, Environment Sunday, etc.) and asked to choose one and find 5 or 6 pictures to accompany the presentation of that day in a local church. In general they did well. They’re all getting better at selectivity AND at presentation (the two skills Dave is teaching). One woman had a problem. She’s not particularly skilled at internet stuff, and had put her presentation “in the cloud”, accessible through her e-mail account. She had quite a time getting her homework out of the sky and onto the screen. But even this was a teaching point (nothing is wasted). If you are going to use something in church that you’ve saved in the cloud, get it down outta there before the prelude!
December 16 (Friday) Alliance Outreach
Chang Jung Christian University (where Char works) and Tainan Theological College (where Dave works and we reside) are members of a Christian school alliance that held an outdoor Christmas concert at Tainan’s Cultural Center. The theological college arranged things, so had more skin in the game. A men’s choir, the Aboriginal club and an instrumental trio were on stage at different times. The university’s own aboriginal club sang and each of the high schools in the alliance sent a choir or two.
The staff member at the college responsible for the activity was so nervous about not having enough “acts” that she got a couple of guys from her church who do a guitar and vocal duet. They were great, but we wonder what singing the 23rd Psalm (in Taiwanese) followed by the rock and roll “Stand By Me” (in English) had to do with Christmas!
December 18 (Sunday) Invitation Accepted
From 1982 to 2007 we lived in Kaohsiung and were active in an English language community church that met on Sunday afternoons. Each of us served on the church’s board, taught Sunday school, took roles in leading worship and served potluck suppers.
In 2008 we moved to Tainan and all that stopped. Though there’s a small English language community church here (it borrows space at Dongning Presbyterian Church, where we typically attend church) our needs are filled through worship in Taiwanese in the morning. Of late, however, however, its trained leadership has dissipated. The core members members of what remains realized their need to be more than just a weekly Christian get-together, and have invited Dave to take charge. Starting on Christmas day in 2016 he’ll be responsible for arranging and leading worship (including preaching) every Sunday until the end of our Taiwan sojourn in 2018. He’s grateful to have been invited, and excited about the possibility of getting back into form as a preacher.