the world is your living room

As you probably know, the definition of "comfy" is different for different cultures.  The people in my neighborhood here in southern Taiwan find these chairs outside very comfy.  It is very rare to find them vacant like in the above picture.

Each time Gilby and I walk by here there are usually several old men having a conversation and enjoying the cooler outside air. 

Photo Hunter

google me

Recent things people have googled and ended up finding me:

taiwan peanut girl (huh?!?)

taiwan tofu jelly (well, I have had tofu pudding, but not jelly)

world's tallest 12-year-old girl (what?!?)

pics of grandma's riding mopeds (they do! I just don't have a pic of it)

girl cycler (I only dream about being a "real" one)

amanda scary pictures (I sure hope they didn't find any here!!)

where can i buy wu-long tea in texas (not sure, but try a local Asian supermart--Austin, Houston, DFW all have 'em)

erhu fingering D diao (there is a clear lack of erhu resources in English online--I constantly am getting hits from people searching for info on playing the erhu)

learning to say no

modern toilet (for those of you who keep googling for the one in Tainan click here, it is the last store listed) (warning: bad language on page, mainly because they don't realize it's a "bad word")

mcdonalds resturant taipei (I am sure there are lots of them, but I don't know well enough to blog about them because I don't live in Taipei)

bread of life in taipei (never been to the Taipei one, but have visited the Bread of Life in Kaohsiung)

what holds your esophogus in place? (I have no idea!)

worship songs in hokkien (I do know some in Hokkien (aka Taiwanese), but they are not on my blog; to pray for the Hokkien people go here)

vietnamese passion fruit icee recipe (hmm, please share if you find one--sounds delicious)

At first, I'd
never really thought about doing a list like this myself--mainly cuz I didn't want to lead searchers astray again by coming here and finding my silly list.  But some of them just made me laugh out loud, so I had to share them!! :)  So, please forgive me if you were led astray by my googled list.

Oh, and, just FYI, if you google "amanda" on and ask for Chinese only results, I am currently the second one listed.  Who woulda thunk it??

Have a great weekend!!  I'm off to clean and welcome guests.

teacher's day

Today is Teacher's Day in Taiwan.  And, like so many holidays in so many cultures, Teacher's Day in Taiwan is a mix of both the religious and secular.

To many Taiwanese, Teacher's Day is a day to show respect to their teachers and to thank them for all their hard work (I like that). 

Nonetheless, as Wikipedia correctly points out, "This date was chosen to commemorate the birth of Confucius, believed to be the model master educator in ancient China."  At the crack of dawn in Confucian temples all over the island cermonies take place in honor of Confucius.  These 祭孔大典 (or "Grand Ceremonies Dedicated to Confucius") start with the beating of drums. "54 musicians dress in robes with blue belts, 36 (or 64) dancers
dress in yellow with green belts. They are led and followed by
cermonial officers. Three animals--the cow, the goat, and the pig--are sacrificed. The hair plucked from these sacrificed animals are
called the Hairs of Wisdom."


So, now you know some students simply give their teachers cards which say "Happy Teacher's Day," but others go to temples and make sacrifices to a dead man.

(Pictures above come from this and this photoset on flickr.)

this morning . . .

This morning Gilby and I were taking a walk, but before we headed home, we stopped to buy some breakfast.  As we (yes, Gilby and me) were talking with the storeowner, two women who had been buying fruit just down the street started running and yelling obviously very upset.  They were chasing a moped that was weaving in and out of the crowded street traffic.  Since they were shouting in Taiwanese (I speak Mandarin), I could only guess what they were shouting about. 

I was close.  I guessed someone had hopped onto their moped and driven away with it.  Instead, as the breakfast storeowner told me, the two boys on the moped had driven past the ladies buying fruit and grabbed their bags; thus, stealing their purses and purchases.

Normally Taiwan is a very, very safe place.  As a single woman, I actually feel much safer here than I do in the States.  However, this is actually a problem for me.  Since the Taiwanese people are so nice, friendly, and inviting, it is very easy to get lulled into “they are a good people” mentality.  This line of thinking of course is very wrong, and it leads to a lack of zeal for sharing the gospel because it causes me to fail to see the lostness of the people I live among.

The Bible says
that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.”

I am not thankful that these two women lost some of their belongings today, but I am thankful for the reminder that the Taiwanese people are hopelessly lost without Christ.

Please join me in praying for the Taiwanese—less than 3% are Christian.

a major translation booboo

I love languages.  Their nuances intrigue me. 

I never cease to be amazed by Chinese.  I am working with a group of college students on their senior thesis which is comparing two different translations of the same movie.  The choices a translator makes are just so interesting! 

From a different slant, I often can learn a lot about Chinese from the mistakes made in English when someone attempts to translate. 

So, what can we learn about the Hebrew language from this mistake someone made in translation?

an interesting drink

Upon returning to Taiwan, I went to dinner with some of my former students. 

I had the most wonderful pumpkin "火鍋" (aka: "hot pot"--a kind of boil and eat and boil and eat some more dish).  The base of the soup can come in many flavors.  And, by far, my favorite is pumpkin--which is not common.

me drinking the green milk tea with pudding drink

At this same resturant, we had drinks.  Now, if you are not familar with Taiwan, you don't know that Taiwan has a HUGE selection of GREAT drinks of all sorts and kinds.  I think I could possibly try a new drink each day of the year and still not exhaust the drink menu of just one drink shop!  There really is that much variety! 

Anywho, I had a green milk tea with a green tea jello-ish pudding.  Yes, you actually use a giant straw to slurp the green tea jello-ish pudding into your mouth.

It may look gross, but let me tell you this drink has now made my list of top ten Taiwanese drinks!!!  It was so wonderful, I guess they must serve this drink in heaven. ;)

Take a look inside my glass at this wondeful drink:

green milk tea drink

I know, I know, it looks gross.  But, really, trust me, it is GREAT!!!

a living sacrifice

I recently listened to a sermon by John Piper on Romans 12:1: "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a
living sacrifice
, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite snippets from this sermon. He closely examines four words in these verses.  (To listen to or read the entire sermon click here.)

In the Bible the body is not significant
because of the way it looks, but because of the way it acts. The
body is given to us to make visible the beauty of Christ. And
Christ, at the hour of his greatest beauty, was repulsive to look
at. Isaiah 53:2-3 describes him: “He had no form or majesty
that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire
him. He was despised and rejectedby men; a man of sorrows,and
acquainted withgrief.” The beauty of Christ is the beauty of
love, not the beauty of looks. His beauty was the beauty of
sacrifice, not skin.


Let every act of your body in living be an act of worship. That
is, let every act of your living body be a demonstration that God
is your treasure. Let every act of your living body show that
Christ is more precious to you than anything else. Let every act of
your living body be a death to all that dishonors Christ.


“Present a living holy body to God” means give your
members—your eyes, your tongue, your hands and
feet—give your body to do righteousness, not sin. That's what
would make a body holy. A body is holy not because of what it looks
like, or what shape it's in, but because of what it does.

Acceptable to God
If the
sacrifice of our bodily life is holy, then it is acceptable to God.
So what do these words add? They add God. They make God explicit.
They remind us that the reason holiness matters is because of God.
They remind us that all of these words are describing an act of
worship—“which is your spiritual
worship”—and God is the center of worship.

Piper ends with these words:

Romans 12 is a call to live a merciful life, it is
a call to live a worshipful life. Or better: In calling us
to live a merciful life (built on the mercy of God in Christ), the
aim is that it be a worshipful life. The aim of showing
mercy is showing God. The aim of having bodies is to make the glory
of God more visible. And he does not shine through our muscles and
curves, but through our merciful behavior.

In the actual sermon (not the typed manuscript), Piper says "worship is both the fuel and the goal."  That is a neat concept: the fuel for being a living sacrifice is worship and the reason we are to be a living sacrifice is to worship. 

Worship is the center of all our human sacrifice because Christ made the greatest sacrifice of all. 

My own two cents: If I am sacrificing by living in Taiwan, but if I am not drawing others into the worship of Christ, my sacrifice is pointless; it is not really merciful.  What benefit is it for my students to speak good English in hell?  I must constantly be about my Father's business telling those who have never heard the good news of Christ's ultimate sacrifice so they can join me in worshiping Him. 

The same is true for you.  If you are making sacrifices, they are not really worth it unless the fuel and the goal is worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This post was submitted to the Carnival of Beauty sponsored by Sallie at A Gracious Home
This week the theme is The Beauty of Sacrifice and is hosted by Renee at Of Nobel Character .  Join us next week for The Beauty of Autumn over at The Autumn Rain.

does this mean I am not normal at all?

Saw this normalcy quiz on the Deo Volente blog.

My normalcy quotient was: 30 out of 100.

I got all thirty points from my answer to one question: "where I hang my hat."  I answered "In a charming apartment in the city."  But really, even that answer is not quite right, I actually hang my hat in a (ok we can say "charming") apartment located beside some pineapple and rice fields. ;)

So, does this mean I am not normal at all?

Oh, and question number 10 . . . "Which way should the toilet paper go? (a) End coming down over the top of the roll or (b) End coming down from behind the roll"  Uh, I needed a (c) neither because toliet paper comes interfolded in a plastic bags like Kleenex tissues do.

who is the god?

Several years ago, I was sitting with a group of college students at
a coffee shop. The conversation was casual, nothing too serious. Then
one of the students asked me first in Chinese and then in English, “who
is your god?” Wow! The question caught me off guard. Never before in my
whole life had someone actually asked me who my god was—as if there was
more than one! I responded humbly in Chinese, “I am a Christian; Jesus
is my God.”

About a year ago, another college student asked me, “Manda, who is
the God? What is his name?” Again, I told this dear friend that I
followed Christ Jesus.

Then, last night, after telling another Taiwanese college student about
how God had changed my life, the student said to me, “I would like to
trust a god, but I don’t know which god I should trust. Which god do
you worship?”

When was the last time someone wanted to know which god
you were talking about? Although I live on “the island of a thousand
gods” (title of a brochure I picked up at the airport), it’s not
exactly a question I ever get used to being asked.  However, it is one I am happy to answer.


Would you please join me in praying for the people of Taiwan who don't know which God to trust?

“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me
so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel . . .
Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians 6: 19,

"也為我祈求,使我得著口才,能以放膽開口講明福音的奧秘 . . . 並使我照著當盡的本分放膽講論" (弗 6:19, 20)。

1 Peter 4:13

Praise God that He still spares the lives of His children! 

Would you join me in praying for this couple and for their captors?



"But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (1 Peter 4:13)

a year ago today

gilby at 10-11 weeks

After I published my post about Gilby the other day, I realized that he had been in my home for about a year now.  In fact, he entered my home on Friday, September 23, 2005. 

A bit of triva for you: I was reading a "how to name your dog" webpage when I saw the idea to use "house names" to generate names for a pet.  I clicked on a page that listed names for houses in Australia and saw the name "Gilby"--so it got added to my "possible puppy name" list. 

Moreover, Gilby was nameless for about a week.  I had a poll online so my family and friends in America and students here in Taiwan could vote and help me name my puppy.  Other names in the poll included Kody, Timmy, Theo, Quincy, Bailey, Howie, Frankie, Jake, and Buddy.  I actually casted my online vote for Quincy, but in the end agree that Gilby suited my pup much better. 

Anyway, I thought I'd share photos of him from that very first day with me.  He was SO tiny!!  Looking at these photos makes me really, really want another one! :)

Isn't he just the cutest?

gilby and me gilby fits in my hand

~Saturday side note: Skipping the photo hunt this week, because I'm not really into photographing eyes. Will join back in next week for "comfy."~

quotation meme

I love quotations!  I've already admitted to collecting them when I shared some of my fave quotes on learning.  So, when I saw this "quotation meme" I thought it would be fun.

Here is the meme's instructions: Go here and look through random quotes until you find 5 that you think reflect who you are or what you believe.

So, here's what I randomly found:

1. "I have not lost my mind - it's backed up on disk somewhere." (Unknown)

2. "Son, always tell the truth. Then you'll never have to remember what you said the last time." (Sam Rayburn, 1882 - 1961)

3. I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." (Bill Cosby, 1937 - )

4. "A friend is someone who sees through you and still enjoys the view." (Wilma Askinas)

5. "In case of dissension, never dare to judge till you've heard the other side." (Euripides, 484 BC - 406 BC)

After I found these five, I kept looking, and I found these to add to my quotation collection too:

"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people." (Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884 - 1962)

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity." (Albert Einstein, 1879 - 1955)

"If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow." (Chinese Proverb)

At this point, I had to force myself away from the "New Random Quotations" button, and make myself click the little red "X" in the upper right hand corner.  It was a very tempting page . . . I so wanted to keep clicking and clicking.

And since it is a meme, I should tag people right?  Well, I tag you!  If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged.  I would love to read more quotes, so please comment and leave your a link to the post with your quotes if you accepted the tag. :)

Wow! Just wow.

I just saw the most amazing "have to see it with your own two eyes to believe it" sight!!! (Well, I guess if you live in Asia you'd believe it without seeing it for yourself.)

I saw one moped with 7 people on it.  Yes, seven. 

Two people on one scooter is no biggie at all; three to four is common if you have one adult and 2-3 children on board.  This photo taken by someone in southeast Asia of five on one motorbike is amazing, but even so not so unusual. 

But, 7?  I don't think I have ever seen 7 on one moped before!!  Two adults on the seat, three children between driver and sterring column, and two smaller kids squeezed in between the two adults. 

7 people one moped--that is more than we would squeeze into my mom's SUV.  Wow!

Too bad I didn't have my camera strapped to my moped helmet so I could have captured the image of film as it zoomed (yes, zoomed) past me on my way home from school today!!  Wow!  Just wow.

Since I can't provide visual proof of today's amazing sight, I leave you with this photo taken by hakym and posted at flickr even though it pales in comparison to 7--yes 7--on one moped:

three to a scooter

top ten and a red scarf

I've had VOM's Persecution Blog in my bloglines for a few weeks.  Sometimes, I honestly don't wanna read the posts there because they make me sick to my stomach.  They make me mad.  They make me sad.  But, they always without fail drive me to my knees before my Father's throne.

On Tuesday, one of the VOM bloggers posted a story from Extreme Devotion about a red scarf . . . only read it if you want to cry. 

On Wednesday, another of the VOM bloggers posted a top ten list:

As Christians in a culture where entertainment is given more media
coverage than the treatment of our fellow believers, it is no wonder
that most of us are probably more geared to recite the top ten college
football teams or box office hits than the top ten persecutors. Below
is a list of the ten worst offenders in the world, according to Open
Doors International:

  1. North Korea

  2. Saudi Arabia

  3. Iran

  4. Somalia

  5. Maldives

  6. Bhutan

  7. Vietnam

  8. Yemen

  9. Laos

  10. China

It really is very hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that tens of thousands of my brothers and sisters in Christ are incarcerated, tortured, and malnourished for their faith in Jesus.  It is hard for me to comprehend that there are other's who are beheaded in today's day and age because they claim Christ is Lord.  I just can't fathom it.

(Extreme Devotion is one of the books I got while I was in the States this summer, and I can't just read one story a day--I must read several.  Yet, apparently, if you are interested in reading these stories of believers throughout the ages who sacrificed
everything for Christ
, VOM will send them right to your email's inbox if you just enroll.)

here he is

Several people have asked about him via phone, email, and in person.  Here are some of the questions I've been asked about Gilby:

What did you do with him while you were in the States?
Gilby_and_phoebeHe stayed with one of my best friends in the northern part of Taiwan.  Ellen and her family were kind enough to give me a great home for over a month.  They took excellent care of him and bought him all kinds of neat new stuff.  To the left is a picture of him with his new little friend, Phoebe (Ellen and her twin sister's puppy).  Thank you, Ellen, for taking care of him for me!!

Is Gilby home yet?
Yes.  He has been back a week now.  He came home last Saturday.

Did he recognize you?
I think so.  He licked me for several minutes when I first saw him again.  He made himself right at home in my arms again.  And, he has made himself right at home again too.

Has he changed since he was a way from you for a month?
Not too much.  His biggest change is that he now absolutely loves his walks.  Before they were just a fun bonus; now they are a we-must-go-out-the-door-as-soon-as-Amanda-gets-out-of-bed-and-walks-in-the-door-from-work walk.  He runs down the stairs and out the door of my apartment complex--eventually he does slow down, but at first he bolts out the doors like his tail is on fire or something!

His other change is that he is more independent.  He isn't velcro-ed to my side anymore.  He doesn't mind waiting for me on the couch or in his crate.  He doesn't eagerly wait at my feet while I get dressed, and he doesn't wait for me to open the bathroom door so we can be together again like he used to. 

Why didn't you take him with you to the States?
Well, even though it is not that difficult to take a dog from Taiwan to the States.  It is hard to bring a dog into Taiwan.  This is because Taiwan is rabies free, so they keep dogs in quarantine when they enter Taiwan for (I think) two weeks.  So, if I do move back to the States later, Gilby will come with me.  But he won't be accompanying me on my shorter trips.

That's about it as far as Gilby is concerned.  He is still my puppy boy, and I am very thankful that he is a part of my life. 

Here are some more photos taken recently, in case you haven't gotten enough gilby in awhile. (Refesh page if you wanna see different pics.)  :)

the beauty of Romans

romans 10:9

I have always enjoyed the book of Romans, but I found it difficult for me to write about the beauty of one particular book of the Bible.  However, these women were able to do so--and very well, I might add--therefore, I am honored to showcase them here.  Please join me in reading about the beauty of Romans by visiting the bloggers below.

Loni @ Finding Joy in the Morning
Loni shares that a part of the beauty of Romans is the "Romans Road to Salvation" - finding a personal relationship and faith in Jesus.

Sherrin @ Small Things
Sherrin says the beauty of Romans is that the book explains our sin, the solution, the benefits of our salvation, and how we should live in response.

Malissa @ Malissa's Merry-go-round
Malissa points out that part of the beauty of Romans is that Paul admits that he too struggles with sin.

Ellen @ MzEllen & Co.
Ellen remembers her march through Romans pointing out that the beauty of Romans is  found in the heart and message of the truth Romans proclaims.

A Dusty Frame
This blogger looks at the beauty of Romans chapter 8 verse 28.


Thanks for joining us this week.  Please join us next week for The Beauty of Sacrifice. The Carnival of Beauty is sponsered by Sallie @ A Gracious Home

packing tip

After talking yesterday about all the stuff I bring back to Taiwan, I thought I could share a great packing tip.  Are you ready?  Here it is . . . a great packing tip from someone who has crossed the Pacific Ocean about twenty times (oh my that is almost a whole month of my life flying back and forth between Asia and North America!!) . . . alright already, here is the tip: you don't have to use a suitcase. 

my trunksIn fact, I don't even use suitcases at all anymore.  I only use these nifty footlockers now.  The airline maximum for "suitcases" is 62 cubic inches.  These wonderful stuff toters measure 61.75 cubic inches--can't ask for anything better!  Plus, you don't waste any precious packing space or weight with needless telescoping handles, wheels, or pockets.  They offer one giant holding compartment for all your travelling goodies.

They are also strong and sturdy.  I use the same one over and over.  They do a better job protecting my breakables than softsided suitcases do.  And, they weigh much less than your average hard-sided suitcase.  Moreover, one additional benefit is that you can use them to store stuff in after you have arrived at your destination.

And another wonderful reason to use them is they cost weigh less than even the cheapest suitcases.  I have found them in two colors--red and black--at Academy for about 20 USD.  I like to use the black ones with a colored suitcase wrap secured around it.  They are pretty unique and easy to spot.  This makes them really easy to identify at the "claim your suit case merry go round" at the end of a long trip. 

DSC00742However, they are not perfect.  They do not have wheels and usually require using both hands to carry.  But, if you are just travelling from point A to point B and wanna take a lot of goodies with you, nothing could work better.  I have managed 4 foot lockers, plus my carry-on bags all by my lonesome before.  That includes handeling at two airports, going through customs, and convincing the taxi cab driver I could get them all in his little yellow car with no problem. :)

Well, what can I say?  Using footlockers instead of suitcases works for me!!  Check out Shannon's site for more random helpful tips from bloggers just like you.

P.S. Trunks filled with goodies also make for great Christmas gifts to missionaries living overseas.  Well, the sister coming was an even better gift, but we didn't think to make her crawl under the tree too. :)

a fun way to kill some time


They suggested doing other photos to see which names/faces appear more than once.  I had Candace Cameron Bure appear as a match for each photo I tried (maybe that is one reason I like her so much).  Shirly Temple appeared more than once as well.  Some of my students claim I look like Meg Ryan (don't ask me why they think that)--but that name/face never did appear using this software.

Hat tip to ClaireSo, who do you look like?

answering some questions

Right before I left to come back to Taiwan, I did a post Q&A style.  I offered to answer other questions as well.  Deb asked a few.  And, finally I am getting around to answering them.  Thanks Deb for some great questions!!

Q: What did you enjoy most about your younger brother being with you this summer?
A: That is hard to answer.  I loved showing him Taiwan.  I loved watching him grow and learn and try new things.  I loved watching him be a young man.  But, most of all, I loved spending time with him.  I enjoyed watching two whole seasons of Lost in less than three weeks together.  I enjoyed our moped rides and late night talks.  I enjoyed laughing with him and teasing him.  I even enjoyed being able to spoil him.  Really, the answer to your question is that what I enjoyed most about him being with me was that he was with me.

Q: What will he do with all his new knowledge of a foreign country, and how do you think it changed him, if it did?
A: I guess only time will tell.  But, I did ask him his last week here (while we were riding my moped), "Everyone has said how much this trip will change your life.  What do you think?  Has it?"  His answer was something to the effect of: "OH YEAH!!  Before I was thinking to come back because you were here and that would make it easy.  But, now I would come back even if you moved back to the USA."  Whether or not he ever would come back, I don't know.  But, I do think that the trip has influenced who he is and who he will be . . . I just don't know how yet.

Q: Do you think your parents would ever fly over to visit you? (However, maybe they have in the past, and I didn't read your blog back when you posted those blog entries.)
A: They haven't yet.  Sarah, my younger sister, came out for two weeks at Christmas time three years ago.  And, my best friend from college came out for about two weeks when I was an exchange student (six years ago).  But, my parents haven't come yet.  I would LOVE for them to come.  I think my mom would probably make it over here before my dad would, but . . . you never know.

Q: What did you bring back with you from the US that you can't find in Taiwan? Any books? Any new clothes or food items? Or maybe Taiwan is so modern and well-stocked that you can find everything you need there!
A: Well, Taiwan is pretty modern, but there are just some things you can't get here--well, at least not easily.  There is a Costco in town that does a good job satisfying some of the cravings I get. 

You hit the nail on the head in your list though--I do bring back lots of books.  I actually go on a book buying craze a month before I leave Taiwan.  Mom says she can tell it's time for me to come home because they start getting several packages from Amazon. 

I also do all my clothes shopping in America.  Clothes here are inexpensive, but they only come in XXXS, XXS, and XS.  I am no where near a super-small, so . . .  (Actually, they do have S, M, and L, but their L is equal to an American size 6, 8 maybe.)  So, yes, I brought back a few tops, skirts, and two pairs of goucho pants (love those--they don't have that style here yet).

And, food.  Ah, yes, food.  This time, I brought back Dream Whip, salad dressing (one bottle of Bacon Ranch and a box of make your own Italian), a can of pumpkin pie stuff, and some spices.  I also brought back Splenda and Crystal Light drink mixes.  In April, I brought back lots of spice packages (for tacos, sloppy joes, and so on) and Jello packages.  I also brought Cinnamon gum and bubblemint gum. :)  Little luxuries are nice, right?  Along the lines of food, my NeeNee (paternal grandmother) gave me a small George Foreman grill that I brought back with me.  Can't wait to try that out with some of my Tony's spice mix.  Oh, I also brought back one jar each of natural peanut butter, no sugar jelly, and salsa.  And, I brought back one more little luxury . . . Velveeta cheese and canned Rotel tomatoes for cheese dip making. :) 

Other things I bring back include hair products and smell goods.  It is really hard to find stuff here for making curls stay curly and not frizzy.  So, I stop by Sally's Beauty supply and bring back to Taiwan my fave "ethnic" hair styling products. ;)   I also learned, after my first year here, that smells were very important to me.  So, I stock up on candle tarts to melt and Glade Plug-Ins to, uh well, plug in.  I actually buy different smells for the different seasons so my home tends to have an "American smell" to it that fits the holidays and seasons in America.  And that makes me smile.  As far as smell goods go--that also includes lotions.  I like to bring back a bottle or two from Bath and Body Works.  It is another little luxury I allow myself--but, usually, this luxury is given to me by my NeeNee. 

Most of the toiletries I need I can get here except deodorant, razors, and make-up.  I always bring a truck load of deodorant with me.  You can get that here, but it is not easy to find, not a big selection, and really expensive.  Many Taiwanese don't shave, so razors aren't easy to come by either.  I don't really wear a lot of make-up, and I could buy make-up here, but the coloring is a little off for my skin tone (they like/prefer really pale skin), and it is really expensive.  Once, I ran out of mascara, so I went to get some--the cheapest was about 12 US dollars.  I could get the exact same tube in the States for 3-4 dollars. 

The other thing I have bought in the States recently are my door decorations, photo frames, and albums.  They just aren't the same here as they are there, so I cave into my American-me for those things.  Oh, yeah, and I also bring back some cold medicines, Ziacam, and vitamins.  Vitamins (like I am used to) are hard to come by here.

This last answer may have been a little TMI . . . I don't know.  But, it is the truth.  I will also admit that it is always hard for me to shop and pack to come back to Taiwan.  When I make my Walmart/Target runs and come back with loads of stuff that I fit into giant foot lockers, I feel guilty, over-indulgent, and spoiled.  I don't really "need" much of the stuff I buy and bring back: want? yes; need? no.  But, then when I get back to Taiwan and start to unpack, it looks like I brought back so little, and I wonder why I didn't squeeze in some more stuff.  It is amazing how 8,000 miles can change one's perspective. ;)

I would be happy to answer more questions on life in Taiwan.  If you have them, please feel free to ask.  I enjoy being able to share my life here with others. On a similar note, Michelle, a missionary in South Korea, wants to start sharing about life in Korea; I might have to mimic her . . .

If I had $1,000 to spend today . . .

Sallie's asking us how we would spend a gift of $1,000, but the money comes with some stipulations:

You have to use it up that day and can’t save it.

You can’t use it to pay debts or bills.

You can’t use it for improvements on your home.

You can’t give it all to charity/church.

I think I would buy my mom tickets to Taiwan.  If I could get her some "off season" tickets, I would probably have enough left over to get another Maltese puppy for me and Gilby to love.

So . . . how about you?  What would you do? 

caught in the spin cycle

Carolyn Mculley's article, Whom do you fear?, is a great reminder for me to reflect at how I am doing as a recovering people-pleasing prefectionist (say that fast three times in a row).  Here is a snippet:

I hope, for [my neice's] sake, that she doesn't get trapped in a cycle of craving approval and fearing rejection. It's a nasty spin cycle of confusion and hurt. Seeking approval from everyone in our orbit is akin to the nauseating dizziness a dancer experiences when she does not keep her eyes on one object as she twirls. Just as dancers are taught to spot, Christians are also taught by God's Word to spot. The Bible tells us that we are to keep our eyes on the Lord and seek His approval only.

Being conscious of God's approval or His displeasure is what the Bible calls "fear of the Lord." It means to be in awe of, or to respect, more than merely to be afraid. Conversely, what we now call peer pressure, people-pleasing, or co-dependency is what the Bible calls "fear of man." In a nutshell, the fear of man can either be a fear of what others think of us or will do to us, or a craving for approval and a fear of rejection.

Read the entire article over at the Boundless Webzine.

happy (belated) birthday, mom!

Last week, my mom turned 50 had a birthday.  And, I want to take a moment to celebrate her. 

When my sister and I were talking this summer, one of the many things we talked about is what a great mother we have.  I don't know of anyone else (besides Sarah and Sam) who has such a great mom.  [I am sure others do--I just don't know about 'em.]  We truly are blessed.

Mom and Me as a Newborn She did a great job raising us--which astounds me to no end--because even she admits to having no clue about being a parent when she first started.  But, I can tell you, if I ever get the honor of being a mother, I want to be just like her. 

I am thankful for the work, effort, creativity, time, and love she put into raising us because it is because of her that we turned out like we did.  Thank you, Mom, for all the sacrifices you made for us.  We might not know the extent to which you have sacrificed, but we do not doubt your love or approval of us.

I am also thankful for the way she treats me and Sarah as adults.  She is literally one of my best friends.  I confide in her things I would never confide to anyone else.  I trust her with my heart's deepest secrets, desires, and fears.  I do so knowing that she will not take them lightly, won't tell me pattenly that it is all going to be ok, nor will she be judgemental or condescending about them.  That is a rare blessing that I treasure to no end.

I enjoy spending time with my mom, and I know that she also enjoys spending time with me.  I can actually "hang out" with my mom.  That is cool.  Usually, we end up laughing alot when we are together.  In fact, while we were saying goodbye right before I came back to Taiwan, she quoted something she had read recently by Martin Luther, "You will have much joy and laughter in life as faith in God."  As our faith in God grows deeper and stronger--our joy and laughter abound even more too.  Maybe that is why we are a family that loves to laugh.

Mom and Me at Sarah's WeddingI agree with Lisa Whelchel when she said, "As any daughter can attest, it's eerie when you wake up and realize you're becoming your mother.  Thankfully for me, that's a good thing."  It's a good thing for me too.  Praise the Lord!  Mom, just for the record: I don't mind looking like you, walking like you, or talking like you at all.  And, it is ok if you wanna let strangers think we are sisters. ;)

Happy belated 50th birthday, Mom!  I love you!

With much, much love and admiration,
amanda :)

~If you would like to read what my mom wrote about raising me--click here.

~Both the Martin Luther and Lisa Whelchel quote come from Heather's (from Mom 2 Mom Connection) book, From a Daughter’s Heart to Her Mom, that she so graciously sent me earlier this year to give to my mom for mother's day.  Thanks Heather!!

yea it's my turn again!!

It's my turn to host the Carnival of Beauty again!! 

If you haven't participated before, please check out the guidelines, and then join us this week as we explore the "Beauty of Romans."

We'd love to have you be a part of us!!

photo scavenger hunt: looking up

There are two things I enjoy about participating in the photo scavenger hunts: (1) being challenged to find a photo I've taken to fit the theme, and (2) seeing all the unique and creative ways others have interpreted the theme in their photos.  The diversity is just amazing to me!

The first photo I thought of for this theme is one I love from my sister's wedding. It is of her looking up into my grandfather's eyes as they dance at the reception (which was the first time he ever danced in his whole life).  I just love the expression of joy and admiration on her face.


However, this photo was taken by someone else, so it doesn't count. ;)  Instead, I offer you these two simple pictures of my puppy boy looking up at me--they are some of my fave pics of Gilby.  He is only four months old in these pictures.

gilby in black and white at 4 months gilby in black and white at 4 months

Thanks for stopping by this weekend!

For more of my photos from Sarah's wedding and Gilby check out my Flickr account.

Photo Hunter

before the dreams have left my head

In the morning when I rise

Help me to prioritize

All the thoughts that fill my day

Before my schedule

Tells me that my day is full

Before I'm off and on my way

I want to praise you

I need to praise you

Let the first song that I sing

Be praises to my God and king

Before the curtains part

Before my day is starting

Before I make up the bed

Before the snooze alarm

Reminds me that it's morning

Before the dreams have left my head

I want to praise you

I need to praise you

Let the first song that I sing

Be praises to my God and king

I love the music of Sarah Groves.  Her lyrics, like those above from a song on her third album, All Right Here, often capture the cry of my heart.  Not only do I enjoy her refreshingly honest, poetic lyrics, I like the sound of her music too.  I can't wait to get her latest album into my ipod. ;)

pocky flavors

Heather blogged her Pocky quiz results at both mom2mom and lively women with a different slant on each site.  And, living in Asia I couldn't resist taking the little blog quiz too. 

I found out that apparently . . .

I am Strawberry Pocky

Your attitude: fresh and sweet

Comforting, yet quirky ... quietly hyper

You always see both sides to everything

I know Pocky is now sold in the States, but it is everywhere here in Taiwan.  My brother loves them--it is something I started taking back home as a gift very early on in my adventures here. 

I don't think I
have actually tried strawberry flavored ones (or green tea ones either)
before.  I would be more inclined to try the green tea ones before trying the strawberry ones.  Heather, I'll be on the look out for green tea ones here and see if we can hook you up with some.

I might not have had green tea Pocky, but I have had green tea Kit Kats.  And, becuase you asked: yes--they were yummy.


first day of school

Today is my first day of school for the new school year.  And, we are actually a week earlier than most other colleges in Taiwan.  However, I hear we get a longer winter vacation than most--so, I can't complain! :)

The building to the above is where my new office is located.  My office is on the 9th floor of this beautiful building.  I am so excited.  I will share more pics later of the inside and of the view from my office window.

Mondays are going to be my longest days.  On Mondays, I teach Public Speaking (juniors), Business English Converstaion (freshmen), and Listening Comprehension (juniors in the night school program).

Taiwan is a little different than America in the way they structure classes.  Here all students of one major take basically the same classes as everyone else with that major at the same time.  The students don't get to design their own course plan or select which teachers and times they would like to attend.  Moreover, most classes only meet once a week for two hours (instead of the M,W,F one hour or T,Th one and a half hour set up).  Some classes (like my Business English Converstaion courses) meets for three hours a week.  (I have two Biz Engl courses.  One meets one hour on Monday afternoon and two hours on Thursday morning; the other one meets for three hours in a row on Tuesday morning.)  See, a little different than in America right?

Both systems have advantages and disadvantages.  But I won't go into that day. :)  Instead, I am off to grab some dan bing and get to my new office to get ready for the new semester!! 

Have a great Monday!

photo scavenger hunt: food

One word describes all photos below: yummy!!

Actually, now that I think of it, there are two other words that describe them as well: "Taiwanese food." ;) 

Enjoy the feast!

Some Taiwanese Food

Links to the individual photo pages on my flickr account:
1. Yu Mi Dan Bing, 2. Squid and Fish on a Stick
3. Curry Chicken with Rice, 4. 饅頭, 5. 小龍包, 6. Blessing Veggie, 7. The Lobster Dish, 8. Floating Mushroom Dish, 9. My Lunch, 10. "Dou Hua", 11. Gua Teigh, 12. Sam's Lunch, 13. Sunday dinner, 14. DSC02784, 15. Shrimp and Pineapple, 16. Steamed Bowl of 碗粿, 17. Spiced Tea Egg, 18. sam liked the chicken in this dish, 19. Little Fishies, 20. beef noodles, 21. Coconut Tapicoa Desert, 22. Sweet and Sour Chicken, 23. Radish, 24. mow-jee

There are even more of my photos of Taiwanese food here.

Photo Hunter

everyday miracles

"everyday miracles" is what looks like a new but promising blog.  The blog is a collection of stories of God's fingerprints in our daily lives. 

I found out about it because the author recently posted about me and linked to my why I live in Taiwan series.  My admittedly incomplete series--it is lacking the sixth and final (for now) installment--which eija so rightly pointed out a few days ago in a comment. 

So, be on the look out for the sixth and final (for now) installment of the "why I live in taiwan" series to just "'blob' into your bloglines" one day in the very new future.

If you haven't yet, you are welcome to do a little background reading to get yourself ready for the last post of the series if you would like:

Intro: Why I live in Taiwan

  Part 1: 1st trip to Taiwan, 1997
  Part 2: falling in love with Taiwanese culture, 1997-1998
  Part 3: returning to Asia, 1998
  Part 4: being an exchange student, 1999-2000
  Part 5: back in the States, 2000-2003
  Part 6: living in Taiwan, 2003-present
   (COMING SOON to a blog near you!)

here i am

20025600_1Well, after 1 truck, 3 planes, 4 airports, and 1 van, I am back in my home in Taiwan.

I got home at about 1 AM, showered then went to bed; I woke about 7ish.  I then spent all day at my new office unpacking boxes and preparing for classes.  It's now 7:42 PM here, and I can barely keep my eyes open. 

I want to fight the urge to sleep--to stay awake at least till 10ish.  However, I also need to be productive, and I think I can be more productive if I sleep now and work later (even if that means at 4AM tomorrow morning).  So, I have decided to succumb to the call of my bed.

After my interview-style post the other day, I solicited more questions.  Deb asked some great questions which I will answer either tomorrow or this weekend.  Anyone else care to add their own in the meantime?

And, with that, I bid you all a very good night.  晚安!

readiness, commitment, and compromise

At the moment, I am on a plane somewhere between here and there--probably somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.  So, here is a quote that set me thinking and pondering this past weekend:

Readiness is a sign of commitment.  Commitment that is unprepared to sacrifice is  merely compromise in disguise.  . . . Compromise takes a steady toll and weakens our desire and ability to be committed. In the same way, the believer's commitment to Christ must exact a price in order to maintain its value.  We must prepare for the test of our commitment by daily affirming that [it is] worth it.  It's worth spending our time in daily prayer.  It's worth gathering for worship at church.  It's worth enduring hardship and trial, abuse, and even arrest for the privilege of maintaining our commitment without compromise. (taken from the book extreme devotion, emphasis added)

"Compromise takes a steady toll."  I think this is so true in my own
life.  Little by little, just like how a steady drip of water can dent
a stone, small compromises begin to add up and take a toll.  So, I started asking myself:

(1) What
compromises have I made--large or small?
(2) Am I prepared to make sacrifices?  which ones?  how so?  Have I dictated which sacrifices are ok and which ones are not?
(3) In what ways do I need to prepare for possible future sacrifices?  How can I be ready, prepared?

Scripture says "do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12).  Do I live too comfortably?  If I am not living in the midst of painful trial should I be surprised? 

flying thousands of miles

21413004I am now on my way back to Taiwan.  After I brought my brother back from his three month visit to Taiwan, I was blessed to be able to stay in the States for about another month. 

Here is a little Q&A to fill you in a little more on my trip.

Q: How far apart are your two homes?
A: As the crow flies, I think my home in the States and my home in Taiwan are around 8,000 miles apart.

Q: How long will it take you to fly back to Taiwan?
A: Well, the easy answer is "about a day."  If you want the long answer, keep reading, I will leave my home about 3 hours before my Austin plane departs; then fly to LA (about 4 hours) and have a small layover in LA; then fly to Taipei (about 13 hours, and I also lose a day by crossing the International date line) and have a small layover; then fly to Kaohsiung (about 1 hour); then go though customs and immigration; then find my former student who is picking me up and drive home (about an hour).  So, I leave my Texas home at about 9 on Tuesday morning and arrive at my Taiwan home at about 1 in the morning on Thursday.  C.R.A.Z.Y!!

Q: What is the time difference between Taiwan and Texas?
A: Taiwan is 13 hours ahead of Texas.  So, if it is 1 AM on Thursday in Taiwan, it is 12 noon on Wednesday in Texas. (Well, that is right now before Daylight Savings time changes it to 14 hours ahead).

Q: What do you miss most when you are in the States?
A: Gilby and friends.  Also, I enjoy having a break from teaching, but it doesn't take long for me to begin to miss being in the classroom.  I also miss
hearing and using Chinese.

Q: What do you miss most when you are in Taiwan?
A: Family and food--in that order. ;)

21413737Q: What is your fave Taiwanese food?

A: Uh . . . is that really possible to answer?  Which meal are we talking about?  Does fruit count?  There are so many wonderful foods in Taiwan!!  But, I know I can't wait to have the stuff that a street vendor sells right down the street from my house.  I'll show you a picture of it the next time I eat it. Ok?

Q: What American food do you miss most?
A: Beef, milk, cheese.  I also really miss good Tex-Mex, Cesar salads, and a good grilled burger.  And . . . Diet Dr. Peppers (does that count as a food?).  And, Blue Bell ice cream.

Q: What is the toughest adjustment to being back in the States?
A: Not being stared at.  Why is no one looking at me?  Am I not special anymore?  And, all the choices!!  Oh, and being clueless about pop culture stuff--anywhere from names of people in the news to why are pomegranates so popular this summer?

Q: What is the toughest adjustment to going back to Taiwan?
A: In previous years, it takes me awhile to get back into the groove of using Chinese again.  And, this year, I know that I have no time really to "get over" jet-lag--I have to be at work on Thursday, and start teaching Monday morning!

Q:How long will you be in Tawian?
A: I don't know.  This is the first time I have purchased a one-way (not round trip ticket) to Taiwan.  I know my contract at the school is good through one more school year; but, I will keep living there until God leads otherwise.

Anything else you wanna ask me?  I would be happy to tell you more--so please feel free to ask away.  (And remember, no question is too trival or mundane.)  Just be patient in waiting for the answer; I don't have internet access while flying over the ocean. ;)

work and rest

Work.  No matter who we are or what we "do," we all work in some shape, form, or fashion.

001I go back "to work" this week--after enjoying two months on "no work."  By God's grace, I have always tried to apply this verse to my jobs: "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ" (Colosians 3:23-24). 

It is not easy to work heartily when I get no credit or, worse yet, someone else gets the credit for my hard work.  It is not easy to work heartily when I am frustrated with my boss, my colleagues, or my students.  It is not easy to work heartily when I am burned out or sick.  But, still I must focus on the fact that I am to work as for the Lord and not for men. 

However, thankfully, most days it is very easy to work heartily because, as I have said before, I love my job.  To be paid to do what I love is a blessing!  How great is our God!

I am starting to think that part of "work as for the Lord," also means
honoring his priorities and teachings, rather than just an excuse which
allows me to be caught up in prefectionism and self-rightousness.

Which means, I also have been thinking about how and when to say enough is enough.  What is the balance between being the best teacher I can be and working as unto the Lord on one hand and knowing when to stop, to rest, and to enjoy and participate in the other things of life and living on the other hand?

I don't know the answer.  But, I do know that I want to wrestle with it more.  In the next few days I am going to prayerfully set some goals and objectives for the coming year (for teachers--"the new year" is in the fall).  I already know that one of these objectives will be to learn more about rest and practice observing it. 

I read recently (but can't remember where) that the day before observing rest is a day of preparation for the day of rest.  This day of prep led to anticipation for the day of rest to come.  The Bible is a story of anticipation--waiting for the Savior to come and waiting for him to come again.  Partly, I want to observe a day of rest because God thought it was a good thing to do after working and because I want to practice anticipation.  I want to be reminded on a weekly basis that I am (supposed to be) waiting eagerly for the Savior to come again.

I guess one of the beautiful things about work is that we get to anticipate and enjoy rest. :)

This post was submitted to the Carnival of Beauty sponsored by Sallie at A Gracious Home
This week the theme is The Beauty of Work and is hosted by Mary at Relevant Blog.

what they mean

Thanks to all who played along and tried to guess what these things were:


Michelle (a missionary in South Korea), who said she was taking a "LONG shot" guessed the answer to what they mean very well!!  They are based on a foreign language, but not Greek like Crystal (a friend from college now living in the UK) thought. 

But, they are two different symbols inspired by an ancient form of Chinese calligraphy called the seal script, which is closer to what Claire (a Taiwanese woman living in Canada) elluded to.

As you probably know the 2008 summer Olympics are going to be held in China.  For each Olympics, the hosting country gets to create the pictograms for the sports.  Earlier this month, they announced what the seals for the olympics are going to look like.

The two pictograms above represent diving and judo--just two of the thirty-five pictograms that "integrate [the] pictographic charm of inscriptions on bones and bronze
objects in ancient China with [the] simplified embodiment of modern graphics." 

Fun, right?  I just love them.  Here are some more:


See all 35, more about them, and pictograms from previous Olympics here.

photo scavengerhunt: on the road


Taken while on the road when Sarah, my sister, was giving me a ride home last week.

I just love all that you can see in the reflection on her sunglasses.


Photo Hunter

do you know what they mean?



What are they?  Do you know what they mean??

Take a guess in the comments.  I'll let you know this weekend who gets it right.

they chose life . . . or did they?

After 13 days of harrowing captivity, FOX newsman Steve Centanni and
cameraman Olaf Wiig were released by terrorists…unharmed…emotional and
grateful. Images of them falling tearfully into the arms of loving
family graced the television Sunday from morning ‘til night. Who of us
didn’t rejoice?

Only those of us, perhaps, who understood the terms of their
release. Dressed in Islamic garb, Steve and Olaf, cameras rolling,
bowed their heads and converted to Islam. It was convert or be killed
and they chose life.

Wouldn’t you? After all, everyone knows “conversions” are just
performances required by deranged hostage takers to somehow advance
their cause. No one means it when they renounce their government, their
homeland….their God. You can believe something in your heart and say
another, can’t you?

You can read the rest of Sandy Rios' commentary on the Persecution Blog.

But, I find my answer in the Old Testament in the Daniel chapter 3

I agree with Sandy when she says:

It grieves me, not that Olaf and Steve converted, because I don’t know
if they have a personal relationship with Christ. I don’t fault them
for their choice and have nothing but empathy and grief for them for
making it….my grief comes from the lack of understanding by Christians
of what this means…the unwillingness up front to pay the ultimate price
and the lack of faith demonstrated by thinking that saving your
physical life supersedes securing your eternal soul.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...