09 March 2006


1) I spent last weekend in Taipei for an English teacher's conference, of sorts. It was really just a chance for a bunch of publishers to show off curricula. Every workshop was a commercial, to some degree. But at least I got to go to Taipei, which I haven't done before, other than the airport, which doesn't count.

While in Taipei we had a chance to visit a sister in Christ, and just about the most joyful cancer patient I've ever seen. She recently retired from a career of teaching in a high school and owns the popular hangout for Western foreigners, the Golden Eagle Pub, in Chiayi. A little more than a month ago, she was diagnosed with lymphoma and the doctor advised her only to go ahead with treatment if she had a strong desire to live. She responded that she knew her God was strong enough to bring her through and continues hard-lining a dependence on Jesus Christ rarely seen by this (albeit novice) missionary.

Though, like any hospital patient in Asia, she wore a paper mask over the breating organs on her face, a shining smile was unmistakeable, and she was sitting Indian style on her bed. From the time we spent with her, it's clear that she hungers and thirsts for the living God. Though the visit left us surprisingly strengthened, she still needs our prayers. Difficult times are still to come.

It occurs to me that this is not such a different prayer request that those which might be offered at any church stateside. Some things don't change across the ocean.

2) Belated updates to the sidebar: Sam Beltz and Mel Scheer. Sam is my candid team-mate who clearly spends a lot of time in thought. He teaches at CMS (Concordia Middle School, on the same campus as CELA) but in a little bit of a different capacity from the other teachers at CMS. There's a segment of the student body who failed a test somewhere along the way, and their only hope for the future now is to learn a trade. The tests have already decided who has a shot at college. Whatever these students may be, they've been told that they're basically worthless, and they've come to believe it. Sam teaches these kids conversational English and Bible. I'll let his blog take it from there.

Mel Scheer (center) (this won't be news for some of you) is the DCE at St. Peter Lutheran Church. We didn't go to college together or anything, but I love to spend time with her whenever I'm in Lodi. I'm happy she's at my home church. She puts things together: people, events, probably sandwiches. That's why you can't get a picture of her by herself. Just for the record, she's been a bona-fide crusader on behalf of My Handsome Accomplice and I from the very beginning, and she plays a mean game of low-stakes poker. On her blog, she keeps track of her zany antics--I mean, life.