January 24 Entertaining
One of the things we don’t do a lot of during the semester is entertaining. We found out why last week. In addition to the fact that we’re each too busy with school work, and want our free time to unwind, entertaining is REALLY time consuming. We had two couples over for a meal on Tuesday. To set up for it, including the shopping and cleaning, took Char all day, and the food preparation took both of us the entire afternoon. After the guests left at about 10:00 PM, we were up for another hour doing dishes.
Both of us are certain that it shouldn’t be so complicated, but we’re going to have to learn what that means, or we’re going to have a very lonely retirement.
January 24 Renewed
Our neighbors Juan and Ruth arrived from North Carolina in September to spend one academic year here. Their tickets back to the US were already reserved. On Tuesday Juan went to visit the college president, Dr. Wong, and came back with an invitation to extend for a second year. They’ll be away for the summer, but back in the Fall again. We’re thrilled, and especially happy that they have adapted to Taiwan well enough to consider that extension.
January 26 Invited
Even though it’s winter vacation, Dave spends most of his days in his office. There’s always something to do, especially now that he has to prepare a Sunday worship service (including the computer files for musical accompaniment of hymns) and a sermon each week. Beyond that, he’s still finding that when you have a 10-lesson online class under preparation, every time you remember that something is needed, it’s needed 10 or 20 times!
Dave keeps his office door open, and a student passing by stopped in with an invitation to Dave to do the opening worship for a retreat on February 16-17. He’s not sure if the student came looking for him, or just spied an open door and seized an opportunity. Anyway, he’ll do it, and be happy to.
January 27 Entertained
New Year’s Eve is traditionally a time when Taiwanese families gather to feast and celebrate “out with the old and in with the new.” Our neighbors Juan and Ruth invited us and another neighbor, Chris, for dinner. When we arrived, Ruth (who rules the kitchen in that household) was a bit behind schedule, so Char pitched in. Ruth asked her to slice half a dozen lemons into thin slices for a honey/lemon drink she was planning to serve. Char’s cuticles are a bit torn up lately (a nervous habit) but she had volunteered to help, so had tingly fingers for a while.
January 28 The Year of the Chicken
The year of the Chicken began on January 28th. There are 12 years, each named for an animal, in the Chinese Zodiac. Generally they are named generically (the rat, the dog, the rabbit, the monkey, etc.) but when there’s a chance to “masculinize” things, it gets taken. So there’s the year of the Stallion (rather than the horse), the Bull or Ox (rather than the bovine), the Ram (rather than the goat or sheep), etc. Accordingly, this is widely known in English (though not in Chinese) as the year of the Rooster.
January 28 Pastor’s Annual Exam
Dongning Presbyterian Church holds worship on the first day of the new year. It’s pretty standard Presbyterian stuff, including hymns, prayers and a sermon. But on New Year’s Day the pastor has to name everybody in the church, if not by given name, then at least by family association. Since our Pastor has been with us less than 2 years, he’s still learning names. Good laughter all around as he got things right, and made a few slips.
January 28 Haunting the Park: Attempt 1
Tainan Theological College was established in 1876 by Thomas Barclay, a Scot sent here by the English Presbyterian Church. In those early days of mission presence in Taiwan, many institutions were begun. Barclay is credited with the church publishing house and being behind two high schools as well. 110 years later a university also blossomed out of the work he started. In 1895 Barclay negotiated the peaceful surrender of Tainan City to the invading Japanese who were going to win anyway and had done horrible things all over the rest of Taiwan on their way here. Some years ago a park was named in his honor.
Dave grew a mustache, bought a pair of round framed glasses and dressed up as Barclay complete with a Geneva collar, a black robe and a red stole. He also made a medal (to resemble the one Barclay got from the emperor of Japan for saving so many lives.) After trying it out on the campus of the theological college, where staff were enthusiastic, students amused and teachers indifferent, he donned the outfit and went to Barclay Park on the first day of the new year. Nobody noticed.
January 29 Foolishness
The assigned Bible texts for January 29 included St. Paul’s assertion of God’s foolishness, in I Corinthians 1:18-31, so that formed the basis of about half of what Dave preached at Tainan International Community Church on Sunday. He set it over against that day’s Psalm (15) which is all full of “common sense.” The epistle won the argument.
January 30 Mail
We’ve been terrible at responding to mail since returning home from America in August. Christmas brought a pile of cards on top of whatever was already in the house. Dave’s first job of the first weekday of the new year was to work through it all. So far about 60 pieces await the post office’s opening on February 1st, and there remain about 10 more to do. He’s seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, people on the other end will be able to decipher his scrawled comments.
January 30 Haunting the Park: Attempt 2
Nobody noticed much when Dave went to Barclay Park dressed as Barclay on the 28th. He was too busy to do much of anything on the 29th, so waited a day before a second attempt. Reaction today, slightly better, but still not “up to” what he had hoped. Planning to try again on the 31st, the last day of the official holiday.