Sometime last autumn at the end of a note about something else, a staff member at Tainan Theological College dropped in a sentence that our neighbors, Chris and Johanna Dippenaar, would be leaving on January 16th. Since for various reasons over the years they had regularly gone to either South Africa (his homeland) or to Switzerland (hers) for 2 to 4 weeks at least once a year, we merely thought that it was one of these trips, and were happy that we’d see them during our visit here.
But it was not to be so simple. They weren’t just “going out”, but “going away”. Seeing them in the middle of their packing up rush for the past several days has been “saying goodbye.”
Chris and Johanna arrived in Taiwan in 1988 similarly to how we did in 1976, as single people intent on doing missionary work. They married a couple years later and went to work in college campus ministries. Chris moved into theological education. They worked at Taiwan Theological College in Taipei. Their children were born then. Eventually they took an extended break during which Chris taught in a theological school in Germany for a couple years followed by a longer stint inSingapore, where Chris taught New Testament studies using Chinese, and local Singaporean professors taught similar courses using English. Chris’s language preparation in Taiwan plus his theological education experience done completely in Chinese made him better equipped than the Singaporean faculty to deal with students from China who didn’t have enough English!
They returned to Taiwan early in the 21st Century and went back to Taiwan Theological College in Taipei, then transferred to Tainan in 2014. They were our next-door neighbors until we retired in 2018. We loved having them near.
Now they have left, and that half of the duplex is empty. We were happy to be part of the “goodbyes” on their front lawn on the 16th. We don’t know if or when we’ll ever get to Switzerland, but hope to see them again this side of heaven.
David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.