The longer you are in a culture, the harder it is to see it. I have been reflecting on this idea the past week, and I have tried to “see” my surroundings from a somewhat “outside” perspective. Here is what I have noticed:
First of all, things are slower here. People walk slower than in the States. Plans are more short-term and spontaneous, and most people my age consider sleep as a mandatory morning effort if you do not have to work.
One thing that really struck me today is that things are still growing. It is December. There is knee-high corn growing in the central part of Taiwan.
The Asian responsibility of taking care of the older generation is not as “happy family” as we generally think of it in the States. A lot of the elderly here are taken care of by their children, and although that would on the outside appear to create strong family relationships, and certainly creates a strong family bond, many of the working-aged children care for their parents simply out of obligation. The parents need to be taken care of now and in the afterlife so that their family line is preserved and the ancestor worship continues. My Taiwanese friends tell me that hardly any of the younger generation actually believe that their ancestors really need worshiping or taking care of, but they still participate in the religious ceremonies and prayers to honor/humor them. I have to wonder if this will be an endless cycle, or if the successive generations will less and less find a motivation to repeat the past.
Not every Asian plays music. Or plays it well. Those who learn to play piano or violin, as I had once thought every family’s children did, are those who have money to do it. Kind of like in the States.
I played a real piano this weekend, guys! 🙂 I played for my first wedding, and it went pretty well. It was amazing to feel real weighted keys and hear the big, rich sound in the traditional-style church. I also ate some pretty whacky things at the lunch after the wedding. They have 15 course dinners after weddings here (or usually, that is the wedding) and the new wife comes out three or four times during the meal. It was pretty cool to experience.
I visited Tim and Penny Iverson this weekend and took the day off today. Tim and Penny are missionaries from the Alliance (Christian and Missionary Alliance, or CMA), and were also the ‘missionaries in residence’ (or the International Workers in Residence, as they are called nowadays) at Crown College last year when I was a senior. They extended an open invitation to me to come and visit them when I was in Taiwan, and so I took the weekend to travel to Yunlin, which is a small city in central Taiwan.
I got the rest that I needed. I could tell you about each day, but suffice it to say that I rested, read a book (well, half each of two books, which makes one) watched the Marx Brothers, and took a walk in the countryside with a new friend.
The most important thing is that I got good advice and was able to think process my plans for the future, including what to do about Burma. I made a decision to talk with the head of the church I visited while I was on my missions trip last year. We shall see what the outcome of a Skype conference is tomorrow. Please pray for that!
- Please pray for my conference tomorrow. Pray for good communication and wisdom on both sides.
- Please pray for Tim and Penny Iverson. Pray for their new church and for the young Christians there. Pray for P., whose parents are both missing and whose aging grandmother is taking care of her and her grandfather who has cancer.
Keep the Faith!