Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Hanna Family - Missionaries to Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Ok, so I realize I’m doing things a little out of order; this post should have been our very first post on Taiwan. Oops! “Better late than never”, as the saying goes . . .
I’d like to quickly share with you the ‘story’ behind our decision of coming to Taiwan and to introduce you to the Hanna family, the missionaries we came here to help.
You may be wondering, how in the world did we get to Taiwan? A plane, of course!! :o) Alright, just kidding. Tad just finished his Master’s at NBBC this past year (May 2007), and we were seeking the Lord as to what His will would be for our next ‘page’ in life. We both have been lead towards missions, and within the last couple of years have been leaning towards the Asian part of the world. In 2004, when we were still in the dating stage, Tad went to China to teach English as a second language (ESL). After some consideration this past year, we decided to sign up with NBBC’s Team China to team-teach ESL for 6 weeks this summer. We put our names on the list and started attending meetings, not knowing the plans the Lord was yet to unveil. On a personal note, obviously we know the Lord’s timing is perfect and it truly is! Although Tad was excited about going (since he’s done it all before), I, on the other hand, was a bit nervous even hesitant. I had never done this before and therefore was stepping out into the ‘unknown’. Yet the Lord did give me a peace. Thanksgiving break came and we mentioned to our families what we were planning to do this coming summer, 2007. Once we returned from break, we knew we needed to start getting letters ready, passports in line and everything in order to finalize our plans for going to China to teach. About a week after returning, we were told of another ministry opportunity. Dr. Lamansky took a lunch hour with us to explain the need and the opportunity of going to Taiwan. We were almost immediately taken with the idea, but decided to go into a season of prayer before making a very big decision such as this. After talking with each other and spending time in prayer, we went to talk with Team China about the change and with Dr. Lamansky about the acceptance. I really believe that the Lord used the decision for Team China to prepare us (at least me) for this decision of going to Taiwan. Then the fun began! We had MUCH to do in a VERY short time! We had to apply with Baptist Mid Missions, send prayer letters, raise support, and have much contact with the Hanna’s to ask all the questions we had. The Lord’s hand in everything was SO evident. He was so comforting and gracious. He perfectly orchestrated everything. We took the month of May to go on deputation and visit churches (it was really the only time we had with Tad finishing school). Again, doors were opened and we were able to be at a different church nearly every Sunday and Wednesday as we traveled from Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas. With the Lord bringing in all our finances, the day finally came that we had the ‘go ahead’ and were off for Taiwan. We left June 5th, arrived June 7th, and had exactly 7 days with the Hanna’s before they headed back to the US for furlough. Yikes! :o) We had a great 7 days with them. Yes, they were busy and packed with learning and being shown around, but it was a wonderful time getting to know these godly people. We both wish we had more time with them! We’ve been here about 3 months and have loved it. It’s been such a blessing to be a part of their ministry here in Taiwan!

Back row: Rose, Beth, Dolly Wong
Front row: Luke, Mr. Hanna, Mrs. Hanna

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ghost Month & Ghost Festival

Well, the month of August is considered Ghost month here in Taiwan. Therefore, it’s a month dedicated to ancestor worship. The Taiwanese believe that everyone at death becomes a ghost or spirit. These spirits become either ancestors or “hungry ghosts”, hence ghost month. The ghosts are those that have not been properly cared for by their living families and are therefore destined to haunt the living. The month’s “festivities” start on the first day of the seventh lunar month when 'Open Day' in hell is held. Supposedly, the gates to the underworld are opened and the spirits are allowed to cross over into the living world. During this month, ghosts are honored and appeased as they are treated as “guests”. Families regularly sacrifice throughout the year, but do more often during this month. You will see incense offered, food dedicated, and hell money burned. About halfway through the month a large banquet is prepared and offered as sacrifices. We didn’t really see this in action, but there was a lot of extra sacrificing going on. Thankfully, there was A LOT of rain this month so that cut back the sacrificing quite a bit. We were told by some of the church members that during this month those who participate and believe this have a list of do’s and don’ts. Many things are advised not to do, such as the following: weddings, giving birth, making special plans, traveling, business deals/ outings, purchasing things like cars, homes, etc. Some of the things I read not to do were things like – whistling (as it will attract dead spirits to you and your house), talking ill of the dead, swimming (as the spirits can easily drowned you), walking by riverbanks (spirits can easily steal living spirits there), and adding to the dead by burying the dead. There are many weird superstitions. Then, on the 30th of the month, on ‘Closing Day’, the gates of hell are closed again and the ghosts return to the other side.
It’s very sad to see the devotion to sacrificing and the rooted beliefs they have in this worship. It’s actually very interesting … there is a business right next to the church that regularly performs sacrifices. Many of the pictures below are that I took of them on Ghost Festival day (Monday). Pray for us that we may have an opportunity to witness to them. We cannot communicate well with them, due to the language barrier, but we hope to find a way – even a simple tract being given.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Our Afternoon Out

Sorry that it's been so long since I've posted! We have been pretty busy, especially Tad, so I haven't had time or access to the computer. I hope to get a number of posts up soon because I have quite a few things to share - be patient with me!!
These pictures are about 2 weeks old. We needed to go the the grocery store and we were able to take an afternoon to drive around and do a little bit of site-seeing on the way. The first few pictures are just sights along the way to finding the Tuntex tower. You can see it from so far away, but it's a little difficult to find how to get up to it. Alas, we made it! :o) Although Tad hates heights, he went up with me to the 75th floor to see great scenes of Kaohsuing City. The expanse of the city is so incredible!! It's daunting to see the number of buildings, to imagine the thousands of people out there, and to grasp the truth that so many of them need the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ! We enjoyed looking out on the city and the harbor. After leaving the Tuntex tower we sat in a park across the road and watched a water fountain synchronized to music. I had a lot of fun watching it and wished I could go out and run through it! (It's SO hot and humid here - it's in the 90's and usually about 90% humidity!! yuck!) After we drove around a little more we passed a mall - the Dream Mall. We have had a couple ladies in the church mention the mall to us, so we decided to check it out. For you shoppers out there, this would be your dream!! It is a 9 story mall with countless stores. It was unbelievable!! We walked around a couple of the floors and then decided to go do what we started out to do - go grocery shopping at CostCo. We can share more pictures of the Dream Mall at a later date. We hope to go back sometime to walk around. We had a very enjoyable afternoon together. :o)