Here it is. The really long post about the Taiwan trip. Bear with me.
We arrived late after a day and a half of travel and crashed. Then we hit the ground running and we didn’t stop until we got home. We went to visit and support the missionary family that lives there, Clay and Rhonda and their three little girls. We pretty much just got in step with their lives in Taipei and did things like go with them to take the girls to school on the metro and join them in their ministry and outreach efforts. Our first day we got to go to the girls’ school and present bible verses during their weekly chapel. They go to a small English-speaking Christian school, but they are also learning Chinese. We got to go to a professional basketball game because Clay ministers to a few of the guys on the team. That was unexpected and less touristy. We went to church with them on Sunday and met their friends. It was awesome to worship with people from all over the world. They have a Chinese service in the morning and an English service in the afternoon. Clay took us to the famous Shi-lin night market, which was a whirlwind of light and sound and people. There were vendors selling everything you can imagine. One guy was grilling squid on a stick. We visited a Buddhist temple and learned about how people there buy food and other items to burn for their deceased family members and to appease the spirits. There’s a temple in every neighborhood and the temples make millions off the people. It was an eerie feeling in there. We babysat one evening so Clay and Rhonda could go on a date. We read the girls bedtime stories and then watched some comedy DVDs. It’s not your typical mission trip activity but it was really needed and appreciated. We had some ministry time with their friends and got to know them a little. We also did some prayer walking around the city and visited the campus of National Taiwan University, where some friends of theirs have a student outreach.
We also did some tourist things. We visited the Chaing Kai-Shek memorial. It’s a gigantic building with one bronze statue inside but it was awesome. We went to the Taipei 101 building which used to be the tallest building in the world with 101 floors. They have an observatory at the top where you can see the entire city. One day the guys went on a hike to a waterfall in the mountains and Rhonda and I took their 3-year-old to the beach. It was an hour away by train, but I loved getting out of the city and seeing the mountains and the rural areas. The beach was beautiful, and they were having a sand sculpture festival. The sculptures were huge and incredibly intricate. I’ve never seen anything like it.
The rest of the time we spent eating. Just kidding. Kind of. They took us to all their favorite restaurants and ordered lots of different dishes for us to try. Some stuff was really good, like fried rice and dumplings. Some not so much, like the seaweed and tofu dishes. They do some pretty weird stuff like put peanut butter on hamburgers and eat them for breakfast and put mayonnaise on fried shrimp and top it with rainbow sprinkles. I liked trying new things but by the last day I was pretty excited about Taco Night at Clay and Rhonda’s. They invite people they know and people they meet along the way to their home for some good ol’ Tex Mex.
Traveling back home was exhausting. We had to get up at 4 am and travel for 36 hours. We had a seven hour layover in Seoul and then had to fly for thirteen hours to Toronto. Then a short hop to Atlanta but then we drove three hours home. I was pooped. It took several days to finally recover from the jet-lag, but it was definitely worth it. I had an amazing time and I would do it again. But not for a while.
We did so many exciting things and yet the biggest thing that came out of Taiwan for me was the fact that I did it. I packed one carry-on, got on a plane with two dudes, and flew to the other side of the world. A year ago that would have seemed impossible. Now, it’s a memory. And it seems to have sparked a bravery in me. The idea of travelling and going far away from home is no longer scary. It’s exciting. Because of Taiwan I have the confidence to try. That is seriously not nothing.