the wu’s year in photos

I woke up this morning to the shocking reality that *gasp* it is the last day of the year!  I don’t know why this year passed so quickly.  Why do they keep slipping by faster and faster??

At the end of last year, I dreamed of being able to hold our little one in our arms by the end of 2010.  Well, it’s come and gone and we are no more parents today than we were 365 days ago.  So, all I can do is cling to the fact that God is kind.

Without further ado, let’s look back at each month of 2010 solely represented with just one photo.
This will be my sixth 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. :)
2009–our Taiwanese wedding, our first anniversary, and our first full calendar year married
January: Amanda went back to Texas to meet our newest nephew
Clay J!!

February: Chinese New Year
Out to Lunch

March: Daily life as normal (note the use of gloves to eat messy food) :D
Eating with Gloves On

April: A Happy Wedding!! We get to officially welcome Cindy to the Wu family
New Wu Couples!

May: We go to two MORE weddings!
Lawrance'a college fellowship member's wedding (旻君婚禮)

June: Amanda’s mom comes to Taiwan!! Wuhoo!!
me and mom at chikan lou

July: We introduce Mom to as much of Taiwan as we possibly can
Yehliu 野柳

August: Gilby gets bit by a mean, nasty dog, :(
feeling better after seeing the vet

September: Lawrance turns 30 and has his 1st Birthday Party EVER! Law's 30th Birthday Party!!!

October: We get to meet Melody, our newest niece!
Meeting Melody

November: Lawrance preaches for the first timePreaching and Translating

December: We celebrate our third Christmas together in Taiwan. The Wu's Christmas 2010

Oh, how only one photo a month doesn’t capture everything that happens!!  I think we went to a total of 7 or 8 weddings last year and I got to go to Japan for a few days for a conference, we spoke in public multiple times, Lawrance started serving weekly with a missionary in another town, we changed churches in order to increase our ministry, and so on goes the list.  We are blessed!!

Happy New Year from our Wu Home to yours!!

i’m forever grateful

This song has been playing in my head, in my heart, and on my ipod for the last two weeks:


You did not wait for me to draw near to You
But You clothed Yourself with frail humanity
You did not wait for me to cry out to You
But You let me hear Your Voice calling me
And I’m Forever Grateful to You
I’m Forever Grateful for The Cross
I’m Forever Grateful to You
That You came to seek and save the lost
(Written by Mark Altrogge, Hosanna Music, 1985)

Happy Thanksgiving!!

working together

Preaching and Translating

One of the things that we both are very thankful for are opportunities to work together.  We’ve had quite a few chances recently to speak to different groups on the topic of “Culture Matters.”

And, we also have been working together to lead worship occasionally at New Life Bilingual Church.  Lawrance leads, while I get to translate and sing with him.

We both really enjoy these opportunities to work together.  We both feel so blessed to have such an amazing teammate and partner to serve with.  The Lord totally knew what He was doing when He  made us husband and wife.

Nonetheless, nothing has made me more proud than getting to work along side him last Sunday as he preached for the first time.  He preached in Chinese, and I got to stand beside him and translate his sermon into English.
What a joy to stand next to him as he shared the Word of God!!

Preaching and Translating

I look forward to hearing God speak through him in future sermons that are yet to come. Praise the Lord!!

run, gilby, run

I’m thankful for our roof.  It gives Gilby a place to run, run, run!!  He loves running, even if there is no grass, 11 floors above ground.

Gilby runs on the roof

love unreserved

Lawrance is leading worship this Sunday at the bilingual church we are a part of, and below is one of the songs he’s using.  I think it is such a pretty song.

In fact, I first heard it when our friends sang it at our wedding.  There is another version with the lyrics changed to make a wedding version of the song.

Ceremony (91)

Since the song originates from Hong Kong, I can only find it online in Cantonese and English.  (Well, I did find it here, but I think the Cantonese version is prettier.)

Lyrics in Chinese:
常聽說 世界愛沒長久,
而我卻 確信愛是恆久,
誰人受 痛苦被懸掛在木頭?

Lyrics of the English version (not a direct translation, so it’s more “singable):

I’ve always been told love won’t survive
Promises will turn into lies
The world just thinks love comes and passes though
It never lasts pure and true
But I still believe can last
It’s your unfailing love that gives me rest
You were there when I needed you most
I’ll never walk all alone
On the cross you died and took away my curse
Love so wondrous no one ever could deserve
Your bleeding hands proved your love unreserved
You’re my greatest joy and treasure on the earth.
Make my life a fragrant offering I pray
Help me Lord to serve you truly every day
Through tears and joy I’ll give you all my praise
Let the whole world know your love and grace

lunch with hubby

So, two nights ago, after feeling thankful for our trash dumpsters, as I was parking my moped I thought about how I could blog about the trash.  Then I decided that perhaps I should blog about things I’m thankful for, and then suddenly I rememered that it is Novemeber–the month of thanksgiving!  So, I decided I needed to do it for sure.

So, without further ado–here’s number two–I’m thankful for being able to have lunch with my husband nearly every day of the week.  And, I’m also thankful that sometimes he does the preparing of said lunch–like these awesome dumplings with a spicy dipping sauce!

lunch with lawrance

a trashy thankfulness

Last night as I pulled into our underground parking garage, I saw trash containers, and instantly I had a thankful heart.  Not sure why last night I decided to be thankful for the trash containers, but I was.

Why be thankful?  Because in Taiwan many (most?) people have to wait for the musical trash truck to pull into their neighborhood on certain days at certain times in certain locations to toss their trash, but we are fortunate enough to be able to throw away garbage whenever we want.

It’s a small thing, but I’m thankful for it!!
Our Apartment Complex's Trash Site

microblogging with students

My teacher's blogThis is my eighth year to teach a writing class. Each year I thing I change something about my approach.

One of the things I love to include in my writing class is some kind of journal or reflection or discussion. I want them writing on a regular basis something that is not “academic” in addition to the academic essay they are working on drafting and revising.

A couple of times I did handwritten dialogue journals back and forth with my students. Another year I did an online discussion board where the students discussed topics among themselves. I’ve also tried giving a list of prompts and just having students write each week the answer to which ever question grabbed them.

But, this year, I think I’ve stumbled upon the jackpot. I had them all set up microblogs on typepad.

Each week I post a video from youtube, and their task is to summarize the video in less than three sentences and then respond to the video somehow.  Typeapad makes this really easy for them with their built-in “reblog” feature. I told them to aim for at least 150 words with each microblog.

I gave them a list of possible ways they could “respond”:
  • How does the video make you feel?  Why?
  • What do you think is the main message of the video?
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with the main message of the video?
  • How can you apply the main message of the video to your own life?
  • Think aloud about what the video makes you think about.
  • Reflect on the video and what it means to you.
  • Write a short story inspired by the video.
  • If you were in the video, who would you want to be?
  • If you can talk to someone in the video, what would you say or ask?
  • If you could change something about the video, what would you change?
  • Write a poem.
  • Describe what the next video in this series would be.
  • Write a song.
  • Write an academic style paragraph.
  • and MORE . . . . . .
So far, I’ve shown them:
My goal is to show them videos that are either creative or thought-provoking or inspiring.  I have a few more in the reserves, and I’ve also required each student to recommend one video that they think their classmates would enjoy responding to. (If you have a suggestion of a video they might like writing about, I’ll gladly take it.)

So far, I’ve been so pleased with the depth of the responses I’ve been getting from my students, and the quality of their summaries (a skill they must have) has improved in just a few weeks.  And, a great part is that I think they are really enjoying this assignment.

I am really excited when students enjoy learning!

of leaves and grass

Anxi Rou GuiThe summer of 1997 was my first time to see someone drinking tea with leaves.  The leaves were literally bursting forth from this man’s paper cup, and it kinda freaked me out a bit.

I also remember that my surprise at the leaves in his glass of tea amused all my adult students.  How on earth had this silly girl made it through 19 years of life without realizing that tea came from actual leaves?

For several of the years between 1997 and now, I adopted the attitude of sure you go ahead and have your leaves in your tea.  If you offer me some, I’ll drink it, but please just the tea. :)  But, this summer I got really excited when Lawrance bought me a special thermos for brewing tea leaves in.  So, I can have my tea with leaves and drink it easily too.

Lemongrass on our porchWhen I first tried jasmine tea (also back in 1997), I thought it tasted exactly like what soap should taste like.  Now, Lawrance and I also keep a pitcher of cold brewed jasmine green tea in our fridge. (Although, admittedly, the green tea helps with the soap flavor issues of pure jasmine tea.)

And, my newest thing is that I love lemongrass tea.  It is so wonderful!  I could drink it all day long!!  Corrina, our neighbor, friend, and matchmaker, gave Lawrance a lemongrass plant for his birthday.  What she didn’t know is that she was really giving it it me! :D  (Lawrance’s interest in finding the plant was to help me get one.  She didn’t know that; all she knew was that Lawrance wanted some lemongrass.)

Anywho, for two weeks now, I’ve been able to make my own lemongrass tea.  I step out onto our laundry porch (balcony), cut some grass, clean it, and then let it boil for a few minutes in our wok.

Making Lemongrass Tea

As I stood there yesterday, watching my leaves of grass boil filling our home with the oh so refreshing scent of lemongrass, I couldn’t help but think of how much as changed in the past 13 years.

What once shocked me is now commonplace.

What once took me by surprise is now normal.

And, this of course, made me marvel at God’s kindness.

responsive reading from our wedding

IMGP4304.JPGTomorrow is our second anniversary, and I’m finally getting around to something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  Actually, I’ve wanted to do it since about 1997, when I visited my New Testament professor’s home.   He and his wife had their vows hanging up in their kitchen for all to see and for them to remember daily.  I thought that was such a neat idea.

Plus, Lawrance and I are making our wedding vows a part of our anniversary.  Each year, on our anniversary we repeat them to each other again.  So, as I’m digging through my hard drive trying to find them, I also stumbled upon the responsive reading we used in our Taiwanese wedding.  Of course in the Taiwanese wedding, we used Chinese, but for my planning purposes, I used English.

I’m not sure where the idea came from–at this point it’s anyone’s guess.  We had a few goals with our weddings–one was to stress the idea of a covenant, one was to stress grace, and another was to make Scripture central to everything.  So, I compiled verses from the Bible into a responsive reading–I do remember it being too long and having a hard time cutting it down to a reasonable length.  Another couple that got married after us had a man and woman take turns reading aloud these verses at their wedding, and that worked beautifully too.

Then the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. (Gen 2:18)

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. (Gen 2:21)

And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. (Gen 2:22)

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Gen 2:24)

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. (Prov 18:22)

House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord. (Prov 19:4)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Eph 5:22)

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.(Eph 5:23)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (Eph 5:25)

Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (Eph 5:28)

You must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Col 3:12)

You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. (Col 3:13)

And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. (Col 3:14)

And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father. (Col 3:17)

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else. (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. (Mat 19:6)

Perhaps I’ll ask Lawrance when he gets home whether or not we also want to make reading these scriptures together a part of either our Aug 31st or our March 7th celebrations.

heaven’s eight blessings 天國八福

Last night, someone shared a video of the “Eight Blessings of Heaven” on Facebook.

Lawrance watched it, and since it was really catchy I asked about it.  He simply said, “oh, it’s the eight Christian blessings.”

And then the cogs in my brain started turning.  First I thought: “That’s really cool.  Some Chinese person who knows that eight is an auspicious number meaning blessing and fullness created a neat way to share truth.”
Then I thought: “Hmmm, I wonder how they choose only eight.  I wonder what those eight blessings are.  I wonder if they’re truly biblical.”

Fast-forward to today.  Lawrance found another video with hundreds of people dancing in the street at an event called “Kaohsiung for Jesus.”

I wanted to watch it for myself, so he sent me the link.  It was only then that I realized that “Heaven’s Eight Blessings” were the “Beatitudes”!

So, um, yeah.  That’s pretty biblical.  I never before realized there were eight of them.  I have no idea if that number had significance to the immediate culture Christ was “opening his mouth and teaching” to, but it sure does have a lot of significance to the Taiwanese and Chinese!  How cool!!!

Watch and see for yourself, how Taiwanese have turned the “Eight Blessings of Heaven” into a dancing chant:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
(Matthew 5:3-10 ESV)

taiwan is hotter than texas (on average)

When my mom was here, usually the first comment she heard was “Wow!  You look so young, you could be Amanda’s sister!!”  The second comment was then something like “Don’t you think Taiwan is so hot?”

My mom gladly accepted the first comment, but she fought the second one, insisting that Texas was indeed hotter than Taiwan.

Today on her facebook page, she is further trying to prove her point:
Taiwan friends and family…….we, TEXAS that is, win —- we had a high temp of 103 F (40 C) with 28% humidity to make it feel like 107 F (42 C) today!!! It is now 7 PM and temp is 98 F (37 C)!!!…! TEXAS IS HOTTER THAN TAIWAN!!!!
At first, I just agreed: Yes, Texas is hot.  We don’t usually get over 40 here in Taiwan.
But, then I started thinking about it.  And, while Texas is hotter than Taiwan a few days a year–what about on average or during the year as a whole?  So, I did some research and made some comparisons–comparing my two hometowns–Tainan to Bastrop.

As you can see in the charts below–Taiwan is in fact hotter than Texas!
Only for two months does Texas have higher high temps than Taiwan–but during those same months the average temps are the same and the average low temps are higher in Taiwan, so while Texas has high spikes, Taiwan stays hot.

(I only caught the months on one of my charts–so 1-12 is Jan to Dec, and 13 is the yearly mean. And, all temps are in Celsius.)
taiwan is hotter than texas avg temps
taiwan is hotter than texas avg highs
taiwan is hotter than texas avg lows
I used average dew point to compare humidity because as I told my mom, I don’t think comparing relative humidity is accurate for comparison.  Then I found this from to back up my belief:
If you want to know how comfortable you’re going to be, you want to know the dew point. Allowing for differences among people and their tolerance for humidity, most people are going to start feeling the humidity is getting out of hand when the dewpoint is above 70 degrees. Dewpoints above 60 are going to make it feel humid, maybe a little too humid for some people.
What’s wrong with using relative humidity?
To see what’s wrong with relative humidity, let’s go to Barrow, Alaska, on an average January day when the temperature dips to -19 and the dew point is -20, the relative humidity is going to be 94.96%. You might be wishing you had another parka to put on, but the 94.96% relative humidity is not going to make you feel sticky.
For more on why relative humidity doesn’t really tell you how humid you feel, and just what is this mysterious “dewpoint” that I’m talking about, go to the Understanding humidity page.
taiwan is hotter than texas avg dew point
However, if you are more comfortable comparing relative humidity, go right ahead, and you’ll find that each month, Tainan’s average humidity is higher than Bastrop’s.

When Taiwanese people like to tell me that Taiwan is HOT!  I respond with: it is humid, but that both Texas and Taiwan are quite hot.  I also make the following analogies: Taiwan is like a rice cooker; you will be steamed.  Texas is like an oven; you will be baked!

an admission

Sometimes the emotional pain of infertility is so strong, it seems like my heart physically aches.

As we journey though this together, I’m thankful for articles like this:The Bible and The Pain of Infertility.

breakfast with the wu's

On Saturday, Lawrance prepared breakfast for me and mom.  He made sweet potato “xi fan” (porridge) and fried eggs.

Breakfast at home!

Taiwanese people eat pickled things with their xi fan.  Here are some of the pickled things Lawrance likes on his xi fan.

My creation

Wanna know what mom’s favorite one was?  She loved the Chile Odorous Frying Fish.  She loved it so much, in fact, that she asked about taking some back with her!!

Breakfast at home!


Funny English on signs isn’t all that uncommon here, but it is now not very common to find incomprehensible English.  Usually it’s just funny grammar or a funny word choice . . . but my mom gets props for finding this rarity in the restroom at the Confucian temple here in Tainan.

Incomprehensible English
Essentially the sign is a reminder to flush.
Lawrance says the second phrase is a poem and has a double meaning.  Literally it is something like “spring mud clearly leaves no mark/trace.”  So, it’s kinda supposed to be a play on words about making sure you leave nothing behind in the toilet.

mom is HERE!!

My mom arrived late Tuesday night.   Wednesday was a national holiday–dragon boat festival–so we had lunch with friends and then met some other friends at the boat races.  Thursday and Friday we did school stuff.  Then Saturday we had lunch with close friends, visited the Confucian Temple in Tainan, and ended the day with a Bible study.

Mom on Train On a Commuter Train
Taking different trains
"Street Vendors" at the Festival
Vendors set up at the Dragon Boat Races
Dragon Boat Races
While she can claim that she saw some races, it was really crowded and ended up not being as exciting as other races I’ve seen in previous years.
Moped Riding
She’s also been braving my moped. :D
TOEFL B Freshmen
And, she’s met some of my students.
Lunch with Corrina's Family
Corrina is like my big sister . . . and she is also our matchmaker and neighbor, so lunch with her family was special for all of us.
ICE!!!! :D
Mom has also had her first taste of mango bing (ice). YUMMY!
At the Tainan Confucian Temple
At the Confucian temple
Tropical Fruit Bowl Lemongrass, sage, and rosemary tea
Tea time with some of my adult students included an awesome bowl of tropical and the most amazing tea made from lemongrass, sage, and rosemary.

Ob-la-di ob-la-da

Life goes on! Brah! La! La! How life goes on!!

This blog probably needs some virtual dusting since it’s been so long since we’ve blogged.

April and May were busy for us.  I can’t remember all that happened, but I do know we went to three different weddings–two of them lasting what seemed like all day.  I started teaching a new class off campus that eats up my one free weekday for grading meaning my schedule got totally twisted around and my free time disappeared.  We also were privileged to watch a good friend baptize her high school classmate in the ocean.

Several people have mentioned that having a baby will solve our lack of blogging “issue.”  And, boy are they right!!  We would love to have a baby and I’d enjoy blogging all about it, but we are struggling with infertility.  And, that is another reason why blogging has taken a backseat.  It’s something we’re working through right now, and I’m not ready to write openly to the world about it yet.    Maybe one day  . . .

And, kinda like when Lawrance and I were dating, when I couldn’t blog about it yet, it made me not want to blog about anything.  I’m an all or nothing kinda girl–it’s something I’m workin’ on.  If I don’t blog about one of the main things that occupies my mind, I feel like I’m lying.  So, it makes difficult to blog about anything.

One other thing we’ve been working on recently is cleaning out our home and getting our guest room ready because we have company coming.  My mom is coming!!  She arrives tomorrow night Taiwan time.  This will be her first time in Taiwan.  I’m so excited.

So, we have two weeks of school left, and then I have a month basically off and get to show my mom all around Taiwan.  Wuhoo!!

a wedding–prepping the home

Our Easter Sunday this year was a little different–we were privileged to attend Lawrance’s brother’s wedding.
It started with us going back to Lawrance’s childhood home to help the family prepare for receiving the bride.

The groom, YuHong, had shaved his head into the shape of a heart. 
heart shaped head
The groom showed us his transformed childhood home into a room to welcome a bride.  He was proud.
Placed on all the items were little red circles with the “double joy” wedding symbol inside.
New Room New Room __
Traditionally children are to jump on the new couple’s bed in order to ensure lots of children.  They substituted with a small bride and groom statue decked out in traditional Chinese wedding clothes.
New Room
Another new-to-me superstition was that a bride is not to look at herself in the mirror (don’t remember why, will have to ask). However, it really isn’t followed not, but in honor of that tradition YuHong covered the mirror in the bedroom with red paper.
New Room
Double Joys were everywhere–even the front door. And they will stay there till ?? (not sure–a year? till Chinese New Year? till they fall off?).
Double Joy
This wedding banner was placed over the household entrance. I think it is religious, but I don’t know more than that.
Over the door
TongYuan also needed to be prepared. So, Lawrance, the awesome tongyan master, lent a helping hand.  Why tongyuan at a wedding? Well, sweet sticky dumplings represent sticking together forever, a sweet life, and fullness of blessing.
Cooking Tong Yuan Cooking Tong Yuan
We also had tea and fruit prepared.  Serving the tea and tongyuan were my job. ;)
Flowers For Guests
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