the wu's year in photos

Even though I've let my blog slip majorly in the past few weeks and months, I couldn't let my blogaversary and annual tradition of choosing one photo per month slip past.

This will be my fifth year to do this:

2005--was my third year in Taiwan, and I started blogging
2006--my sister got married and my brother came to Taiwan
2007--I moved to a new city, and my cousins came to visit
2008--I met the love of my life; we dated, got engaged, and then married . . . it was perhaps the most perfect year of my entire life. :)

I think I took less photos in all of 2009 than I did in many of the months of 2008.  Kinda makes me a little sad, and makes me want to resolve to take more photos in 2010.  Anywho, not analyzing anything right now, which I am OH so tempted to do.

Let me get right to the point . . . below you find a month by month look at our 2009 using only one photo per month.

January: We celebrate our first Chinese New Year together in Meinong
Flowers in Meinong

February: New Life Bilingual Church in Kaohsiung starts meeting
New Life Bilingual Church

March: We marry again . . . well, ok, we celebrate our marriage covenant in Taiwan with our Taiwanese friends and family
Banquet (79)

April: I have my first birthday as a wife (aka, I turn 31)
31st Birthday

May: Some of our friends marry . . . and Lawrance is the MC at their wedding banquet
Us with the New Couple!! :)

June: We start our summer Sunday afternoon tradition of eating ice after church
Frozen Desserts

July: We go on several dates during the summer . . . Thai food, the beach and more
Date Night . . . Sunday Afternoon

August: We celebrate our first anniversary in Kenting
The Beach House

September: Sadly Wu Mama is diagnosed with liver cancer Out to Eat with Wu Family

October: Lawrance is a clown (well, maybe he always is one, but at least he LOOKED like one this time)
Lawrance the Clown!!! :)

November: I start studying Chinese again (This is my awesome Chinese teacher)My Wonderful Chinese Teacher

December: Law's parents help us to decorate our tree . . . a Wu family first! Decorating the tree with the Wu's

apricot chicken delight

Apricot ChickenThe first half of this semester was hard.  Weird schedule, lots of new pressures and responsibilities, and a lack of energy.

Unfortunately lack of energy is a vicious cycle--no energy to cook good stuff = eating out; eating out = not always eating the best foods; not eating healthy = no energy. 

So, during the midterm week, when I wasn't grading tests or catching up on laundry.  I searched for some recipes to turn into the 30 meals project that Carrie, my RD in college (well, and my college roommate's sister-in-law) told me about on this post. (BTW, thanks Carrie!!)

My requirements were that the recipes:
  • could be made in less than 20 min,
  • needed to be low-carbish,
  • needed to delight mine and my husband's taste buds, and
  • could be made with things easily found in Taiwan.
Finding meals that meet all four requirements was no small task!

Although Lawrance is generally easy going and not too picky about food, finding things we both love to eat often has proved to be a challenge.

So, my first recipe test was something I found at Cooking During Stolen Moments: Apricot Chicken.

It was SO easy and best of all packed full of flavor!!

I kinda went a bit overboard using freshly cracked black pepper and might have used extra garlic--so our's was not only tangy, but spicy too--she does say to season to taste. :)

This is probably the least low-carb recipe I collected since it uses apricot jam, but it is definitely something I'll be making again before too long.

Side-note to anyone in Taiwan wanting to give this a try: I used half of a jar of Carrefour brand apricot jam (french name on bottle) to cover 6 chicken breast quarters.

my two clowns

like grandfather,

PAW PAW clown 

like husband . . . or something like that. :)

Lawrance the Clown!!! :) Lawrance the Clown!!! :)

I love my two clowns!! 

Besides sharing a similar costume idea, my two clowns both LOVE children and are also both great big kids at heart!!  Gotta love my clowns!!

a "what's up" list

What's up:

  • Wu MaMa is home for the week, after 2+ weeks in the hospital.  If she qualifies, she might be placed on a research project testing a new direct chemo treatment for liver cancer (which is more common in Asia than it is in America).

  • School started three weeks ago.  I've finally been to every class once as of last Wednesday.  Several of my classes require students to "test in to" them, so they started a bit later than other classes.

  • I'm teaching two freshmen classes.  I like this classes because I get the upper-intermediate non-English majors.  Most of my students don't know each other outside of class--this is a good thing for class dynamics; easier to take risks and not lose face so much.  I also like that it is all four skills.  Much easier to teach when I can blend all skills together.  We talk about what we are reading; we write in response to what we've heard and discussed.  Much more "real."

  • I'm also teaching two really cool classes for junior and senior English majors.  One is called International Career Path and the other is called Social and Global Issues.  In these classes, the students spend one week preparing to discuss a topic and then one week discussing the topic with students in Japan using the internet and online chatrooms.  Really cool.  I love that my students are using English for a real reason and that they are using English to learn about their own culture as well as Japanese culture.  Let me say it again, really cool.

  • I strained my back last Friday.  We spent our Moon Festival holiday
    (this past weekend) watching movies and doing not much more than that. 

  • Law has taken superb care of me when I've not been able to move quickly and take care of as much as I do when I'm feeling better. 

  • I've cried several times this weekend in appreciation for all he does for me.  He truly has been so sweet.  It's really hard to believe that he knows me SO well--all the good and ALL the bad--and chooses to still love me completely anyway.  It is humbling.

  • I'm studying Chinese again.  I've not actually studied language in . . . oh, about a decade.  I really wanna work on my reading and writing.  And, to improve my oral self-expression.  I'm really good at ordering food, shopping, and answering questions about myself, but I fail when it comes to carrying a conversation on a deeper more complex topic.  I can listen and understand, but I'm unable to respond in Chinese the way I want to.  Hence, the studying again.

  • I stumbled upon Laura Story a little while ago.  I've been listening to her stuff over and over.  I've not done that in awhile.  Her song "Grace" is available free here (you do have to register though).

I could keep going, but for now, I need to go get ready for my classes tomorrow. 

I miss blogging, and hope to get back to it sooner rather than later.

wu mama

We found out this week that Lawrance's mom has stage 3 liver cancer.   We've been told to expect her time left on earth to not be very long. 

Wu Mama and BabaMy husband and his siblings are in the midst of making lots of decisions, trying how to provide the best care for their mother and father right now.  

We would very much appreciate prayers for the Wu family right now. 

The one praise this week has been that Wu MaMa accepted Christ as her savior on Wednesday.  After Lawrance shared his testimony, a dear Christian friend invited Wu MaMa to believe and she did. Father is merciful to the end.  I am so thankful for his patience and mercy!!  Praise Him!

So, in the midst of a heartbreaking situation there is hope. 

Right now, I will just leave it at this . . . we thank you for going to the Father on our behalf.

Taiwanese Wedding: Wu MaMa and her new daughter-in-law Wu MaMa and Lawrance 


I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

(Psalm 121)

please pray

Today, September 22, 2009, at approximately 9AM Taiwan time, Peter Bennett, sustained a head injury when struck by a car
as he was crossing the street in Yonghe, Taiwan, a suburb of the capital city of Taipei.

I do not know Peter, but it seems like according to the blog set up for him that he worked with Team Expansion.  I found out via Scott's facebook who blogs at SQJ Taipei, and set up the site to help others pray for Peter.

I invite you to join others in prayer for this young man who is serving the Lord in Taiwan and is now in critical condition in the hospital.

I just found--literally stumbled upon--Laura Story. 

And, right now, I am enjoying this song because it seems like I could have written it.  It's as if she is speaking my story.

My heart is so proud. My mind is so unfocused.
I see the things You do through me as great things I have done.
And now
You gently break me, then lovingly You take me and hold me as my father
and mold me as my maker.

At times I may grow weak and feel a bit discouraged, knowing that
someone, somewhere could do a better job. For who am I to serve You? I
know I don't deserve You. And that's the part that burns in my heart
and keeps me hanging on.

As I walk with You, I'm learning what Your grace really means. The
price that I could never pay was paid at Calvary. So, instead of trying
to repay You, I'm learning to simply obey You

by giving up my life to you For all that You've given to me.


I ask you: "How many times will you pick me up, when I keep on letting you down?

And each time I will fall short of Your glory, how far will forgiveness abounds?"

And you answer: " My child, I love you. 
And as long as you're seeking My face, You'll walk in the pow'r of My daily sufficient grace."

great is the Lord

Running through my head this morning:

"Great is the Lord, He is holy and just, by His power we trust in His love.
Great is the Lord, He is faithful and true, by His mercy He proves He is love."

"For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods" (Psalm 96:4).

"Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 145:3).

"But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, Great is the Lord! (Psalm 40:16).

there is hope

I was crying within 5 minutes of listening to this Focus on the Family program, and tears streamed down my cheeks for the rest of Ann Kiemel's talk.

She talks about her desiring to have a baby and her struggles with miscarriages and adoption.

Just a small taste . . .

I knew I had a choice.  I could make sorrow my friend or my enemy.  Sorrow could make me hard and cold and bitter or Sorrow could be my best friend and teach me things I had never learned before.  I reached out and took Sorrow's hand in that quite moment.  She removed all the sham and fluff from my life.  She taught me what it is to be real. She taught me what it really is to celebrate because only when you really know sorrow do you know how to laugh.  She taught me what it is to love; it is to be vulnerable.  It's to hold you hand out and to never hang on to anything.  It's to let Jesus take out or put in anything he wants, and it is to say yes.

If you are waiting for a husband or baby or struggling with sorrow, listen.  (On the Focus on the Family page click "listen now.")  It will be 15 minutes well spent.

HT: Kelly's Korner 

repeating conversations

Shop Signs in Taiwan

There was a joke in one of my foreign language education classes in grad school about a student of French who went to France and came back upset because no one in France knew their lines to the dialogues. 

I think here in Taiwan, someone actually could memorize "their lines to the dialogue" because they are most likely going to be asked the same questions in nearly the same order . . . .over and over and over again.

However, one thing to be careful of is that the conversation patterns change depending on what phase of your life you are in. 

So, since I've been amused by the conversations I've been having lately, it seems that I'm entering a new phase of repeated conversations.

Here is an actual conversation I had yesterday in Chinese (translated to English by me):

Shop Owner: So, hey, why can you speak Chinese?  You been here long?

Me: Yes, I've been here 7 years. 

Him: Ah,  married?

Me: Yes.

Him: Taiwanese guy?

Me: (with a smile) yes.

Him: Oh yeah!  Taiwanese guys are good guys, aren't they!?!

Me: (with an even bigger smile) yes.  they are pretty good.

Him: yall have a baby?

Me: No, not yet.

Him: Oh, that is just not right!  If you really think we Taiwanese people are good.  You should make a little Taiwanese baby!

Me: Well, we've only been married a year.

Him: (visibly surprised) Oh!  Just a year!  I thought it would be much longer than that since you speak Chinese.  . . .So, uh, hey, you a teacher?

This particular shop owner cracked me up.  He had a very lively
personality and talked with me for a least 20 minutes while I waited in
his shop. 

So, as I hopped on my moped leaving his store, I started thinking, and here are my observations/ponderings:

Observation/Pondering 1:

His reply to the baby question was a new one.  Usually it is followed by something along the lines of "oh, mixed blood babies are beautiful.  I'm sure your baby will be so gorgeous."  

Following, Lawrance's example, I reply to that with "all babies are beautiful."   He can get away with it--they stop that line of commenting with him.  When I'm alone, whoever I'm talking to (especially the grandmas) insist I don't know what I'm talking about because it is a "known fact that mixed blood babies and the most beautiful in the world."  At this point all I can do is smile. (Something Lawrance and I have already talked about is how to help our future children deal with all the compliments they are going to receive while in Taiwan.  But that's another topic for another day.)

Observation/Pondering 2:

The other place this conversation usually takes me is to the fact that we don't have a baby yet.  I mean come on we've been married a full year, surely there is a little one by now . . . or at least one the way!  When the shocked listener finds out, that truly the answer is "no, not yet"  four out five times they will respond "加油" (Jia you)!! 

Jia you is a cheer that roughly translates to something like "Go! Go! Go!"  It is often used to cheer on sports competitors at sporting events or to encourage someone who needs a little encouragement in their studies or to show support to someone who is about to take a test or needs to be brave.

At first I found it quite embarrassing . . . that is because I was listening to it with my American ears.  Once I realized that it just meant something more like "good luck!" or "hope you get what you want soon," it has become much less embarrassing.

Observation/Pondering 3:

I find it funny/interesting that everyone I've spoken with so far about my language skills since I've been married seems to think that having a Taiwanese husband explains why I'm pretty fluent in Chinese.  This is a new one for me and something I've got to puzzle through and figure out.  I mean it totally and completely explains everything they need to know about why I'm here.  Before people always wanted to know why I came . . . and that leads to a good opportunity to share the Gospel, but now that question is gone once they know my husband is Taiwanese. Hmmm . . . 

That's all my ponderings for now. . . back to course planning and syllabus making I must go.

small world

Years ago . . . maybe about 8 . . . Lawrance was a new Christian.  He attended a "One Day Taiwan" conference. 

When scanning in photos a while back for our wedding montage, I saw this photo from that conference.

Long ago 

And, after looking at the younger version of Lawrance, looked back a few rows and saw a red head that I recognized!  Someone I knew from college was in Lawrance's photo!  I even emailed her (ok, facebooked her) and asked if it really was her. 

In fact, several people from my college in America were at the same conference in Taiwan that Lawrance was at.

It's a small world.

crab crossing

Life on a tropical island is never boring!

Lawrance and I saw this really cool street sign . . . "crab crossing." 

Crab Crossing

And, Sandy saw this one for "beware of falling coconuts" that she posted on her blog a few days ago.

how we celebrated

To celebrate our first year of marriage, Lawrance and I went to Kenting for three days.

We had a great time just being together, relaxing, and being in a beautiful place!! 

As for "anniversary traditions," we've decided to read our vows to each other each year and to write and then read a card to each other each year.  We'd also like to make it a tradition to just get away for at least one day to be together alone.

This time, Lawrance choose for us to read our vows and cards to each other on the beach.  We got there a bit late (after sunset) so we used his cell phone as our flashlight to read to each other on the darkened  beach.  It was really sweet.

Taiwan's Tourism Train
{we first took a tourism train--to kaohsiung--huge seats}


lunch on Sunday
{we had yummy chicken fajitas, just like we did at our wedding}


East Coast
{we rounded the tip of the island and got to the "other" side}


On Our Balcony
{our room had a balcony with a view of the ocean}


Sunset on our balcony
{sunset from our balcony}


Oreo Cheesecake
{we couldn't eat our wedding cake (since it's in mom's fridge) but we did get to eat oreo cheesecake}


Chu-Wa (Natural Gas Fire)
{natural gas coming up from the ground}


1-4-3: I love you!
{Law lit sparklers from the natural gas fires and wrote me this message "1-4-3: I Love You"}


Go-Karting Lawrance
{Law got to go Go-karting for the first time}


The Beach House
{Law picked out this really cool bed and breakfast for us to stay in called the "beach house"}


The Beach House
{great view from our third floor room}


The Beach House
{the white and blue is so fun!}


The Beach House
{it's main drawback was that it had REALLY steep stairs}


We did go to the beach twice . . . but those photos are on Law's cell phone.

And, even though we used 50 SPF, we both still got sunburned. :(

i delighted in the lord . . . and he gave me YOU

I love you Lawrance!!  I thank God daily for making you my husband.

What a privilege to walk life next to you, with you. What great joy is mine . . . all because God is kind and gave me to you and you to me.

Happy 1st  Anniversary, LaoGong!!

my groom sings to me

I am SO excited by what a good friend handed to me last night!!  She passed on to me a CD of videos from our Taiwanese wedding!

Here is the first thing I saw . . . Lawrance singing to me a song entitled "Vows" after we had exchanged our vows.  I got giddy just listening to it last night!! 

My Groom Sings To Me from amanda wu on Vimeo.

I LOVE listening to him sing . . . and I often ask him to sing me to sleep.  I am blessed!

birth day for my new nephew

I don't have much time . . . but I did just want to shout from the mountain tops that my sister gave birth to a BEAUTIFUL 12 pound 4 oz baby boy on Thursday, August 27!!  He shares his birthday with two of his great-grandmothers!! 

Welcome to the world Clayton Joe!!

About to pop 

Clayton joe 

BIG baby 

Mommy daddy and baby 2 

My mom with Clate (his Nonny) 

Meeting baby brother 

Precious little one 

I'm in love with this newest little guy!!! 

I can't wait to snuggle with him . . . I just hope he hasn't lost his precious baby smell by the time I get to hold him!!

野地的花 wild flowers (aka the flowers of the field)

A beautiful song . . .

My unpoetic English translation:

Wild flowers wear beautiful clothes
Birds in the sky have never had to be "busy"

Merciful-Loving Heavenly Father daily watches over us
He so loved the people of the world that he prepared a path to everlasting life

Every single need the Heavenly Father already knows
If your heart is full of troubles, allow him to get rid of them for you
Each day Merciful-Loving Heavenly Father is taking care of us
He is the All-powerful Lord: Blessed are the people who depend on Him

The original BEAUTIFUL Chinese version:









Here is an a capella version of the same song recorded in Taipei during the Franklin Graham conference last fall.  (The first 30 seconds is talking that can be skipped in order to get to the song.)

dinner at dudu cafe

One of our favorite restaurants is called DuDu Cafe.  It is a family style restaurant that serves food that is most similar to Chinese dishes you might find in the States.

Here's what we had. . .

Bamboo Shoot (served cold)

{bamboo shoot, served cold}

Cashew Chicken
{cashew chicken}

Kung Pao Chicken
{kung pao chicken}

Pumpkin Seafood Soup
{pumpkin seafood soup}

Beef with Green Peppers
{beef with green peppers}

Now do you see why we like it?  DELICIOUS!!!

men worshiping

Our Church

We typically sent in the front, so when we sat in the back (yes, there are only five pews and three rows) I noticed something unusual for Taiwan--lots of men.  More men than women in fact on this particular Sunday. 

Lord, bring more Taiwanese MEN unto Yourself!!!  Raise them up as leaders of their families and of this nation.  Lord, please let what was true for the jailer Acts 16:33-34 be true for men throughout Taiwan "he was baptized at once, he and all his family.  . . . And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God."

how do ghosts eat?

Sarah Beth, an MK in Peru, asked on my last post:

interesting. Who ends up eating the food? In Peru we have something
very similar. They put tons of food on top of the graves of their
family members and leave it for several hours. But when midnight comes,
the family eats the food! I wonder about the logic... what is it like

Something similar happens here.  The food and drink offerings are made first before the paper money is burned.  In order to offer the ghosts (at ghost month), ancestors (during ancestor worship), and idols (at temples and Chinese New Year), incense sticks are stuck into the foods or food packaging.

After a set amount of time--it varies from family to family and holiday to holiday and probably other factors too--the offering table is taken down and the food brought inside. 

The family will then eat the food. Many college students have told me waiting for the tables to come down at Chinese New Year (after midnight) so that could eat the goodies was one of their favorite parts of the yearly holiday.

I have been told that the "spirit of the food" is eaten, they are after all feeding spirits.  Some have told me that because the spirit of the food has been eaten the food tastes bland and stale.  Others have told me that because the spirit of the food has been eaten the food tastes better, as if it has been blessed.  And, then others admit to the food not being that much different at all.

The offering tables are set up differently from area to area and family to family, just like every American family decorates their Christmas tree differently.  But there are also differences in setting up an offering table to idols, ancestors, or ghosts. 

At Ghost Month, often a basin of water and a hand towel can be found on or near the offering table so that their "honorable guests" can wash their hands before partaking of the meal being given to them. These two flickr photos (here and here) show ghost month tables with the typical basins with hand towel out front. 

Not to be confusing, but I don't have any Ghost Month photos easily accessible.  What I do have is photos I took last November outside of my school.  I noticed everyone was setting up tables with drinks as the main offering.  (I have no idea who or what was being worshiped.)  And, at many tables instead of the traditional little red wine cups, there were bottles of coke and tea boxes.

Thirsty gods {seven traditional little cups with rice wine}

Thirsty gods
{seven cans of beer from a restaurant}

Thirsty gods
{seven lemon tea boxes from a resturant}

Thirsty gods
{seven bottles of coke}

Thirsty gods
{coffee boxes from a grocery store}

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