Advent Church Community Concert 2016 社區音樂會!

Our annual community concert at Advent Church last night to celebrate Mid-Autumn Moon Festival – and to give the local community a chance to come together to perform and celebrate.

A great variety of choirs and groups and individuals as always, all wonderful!  We had all sorts of music, from musicals to pop to classical, from indigenous aboriginal to traditional Chinese, from ancient to modern, from Bunun to A-mei to Taiwanese to Chinese to Japanese to English, and everything in between….. loved it all!

And the highlight is always the Bunun Church Choir who perform last, and they were wonderful as always!  Here’s a selection!

And at the end every group or individual receives a certificate of thanks.

A great evening, fantastic music and a wonderful outreach.  Thanks be to God, and to everyone who participated in any way!

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Taiwan’s North Coast Kite Festival 2016 @ Baishawan Beach 白沙灣, Shimen District ~ YES!

Kites, kites and more kites ~ amazing kites, beautiful kites, fun kites, crazy kites, stunt kites, home-made kites, kites of every kind and from every where ~ and all on show at Taiwan’s annual North Coast Kite Festival, held ever year since the year 2000 at Baishawan Beach in Shimen, just near Taiwan’s northernmost point and lighthouse. Happens also to be only 5 minutes on a bus from where I live ~ YES!


Last year, this last weekend of September was Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, and also a big typhoon was on its way, so although it was nice and windy and cool, it was grey, grey, grey! This year though ~ what a contrast!  Yesterday was all blue skies and blue seas to match. But another typhoon is on its way, so it was wildly windy, but oh so sunny.  Perfect!


There were zillions of people everywhere ~ including the Mayor of New Taipei City, Eric Chu 朱立倫 who came for the opening ceremony at 2:00 pm along with lots of other VIPs. We had dancing and singing from the Beinan (Puyuma) 卑南族 Tribe, greetings from all the VIPs, and then a tour down to the beach where Mayor Chu launched a kite, and then walked around shaking hands, mine too.  As I was in hat and sunglasses, don’t suppose he’ll recognise me again ha ha!  Here he is shaking the hands of the people next to me…


There were displays by all different kite teams from all over the world.  All amazing!

The kite display teams did a great show, each had their own kite, and somehow even in the huge winds, they would control them to fly in formation and do all sorts of shapes – and even form words.   And there were parachuting sweets that fell out of a bag sent up on one of the kites!

No time to attend the evening show of kites that were all lit up. And today the skies are grey, so the 400 photos I took yesterday will have to do!

Yep, I love kites ~ they are such fun!

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On Typhoon Watch Again!

All Taiwan on Typhoon Watch again for the second time this Mid-Autumn Moon Festival as we batten down the hatches and wait for Typhoon Malakas to arrive, as it blows up the east coast of Taiwan tonight and tomorrow.  Lots of torrential rain expected in northern Taiwan.  As often happens, the day before a typhoon comes, the weather is stunning – with blue skies and fluffy white clouds….


Hope our papaya tree still looks like this in a few days time!

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A grey Mid-Autumn Moon Festival @ Keelung!

A grey grey day in Keelung, on Taiwan’s NE coast, as always!  Grey city, grey weather.  But particularly so today as the country surfaces after yesterday’s Typhoon Meranti, and prepares for tomorrow’s Typhoon Malakas.  We’re in a kind of typhoon-sandwich….


Today is Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, the first day of a 4-day holiday weekend, when the moon is supposedly at its best and brightest all year ha ha ~ no sign of any moon round here!  It’s grey grey grey with rain rain rain and more rain!


In Keelung today, my arrival coincided with the arrival of the huge Golden Princess Cruise Ship returning from a 5-day cruise to Japan….

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In fact the only major colour in Keelung was all the balloons on sale outside the famous temple!


Keelung outdoes itself for signs and billboards saying ‘Keelung’ or ‘I love Keelung’, including on the roadside electricity substations….


Hopefully the locals do love Keelung ~ even if they don’t love the Keelung weather!

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Super Typhoon Meranti targets Taiwan, mainland China –

Praying for southern Taiwan ~ and it’s gale-force winds and torrential rains up here too….

Hundreds of people have been evacuated in southern Taiwan as the island braces for the impact of the strongest storm of the year.

Check out this CNN report…

Source: Super Typhoon Meranti targets Taiwan, mainland China –

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Natural Hazards, GIS and Disaster Management: Earthquake in Tanzania kills 10

Terrible news from Tanzania of a 5.9 earthquake on Saturday….

Excellent reporting of the earthquake on the following blog post written by one of my former students….

Source: Natural Hazards, GIS and Disaster Management: Earthquake in Tanzania kills 10

Tanzania needs our prayers…

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Freshers Week @ St. John’s University!

It’s that time of the year again, and we’re pleased to say we have well over 700 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed first-year students enrolled for St. John’s University for the coming school year, which officially starts on Monday September 19, after Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. 100+ of them are actually enrolled in the junior college program of St. John’s University, meaning they’re 15 years old, and opting first for 5-year junior college rather than senior high school ~ I’m so pleased that I met one, Jia-Yun who I recognized from my English Classes at our neighboring junior high school, Xian-Xiao!


The whole Freshman Orientation / Freshers Week is organized by the St. John’s University Chaplaincy, and involves months and months of hard work, but it does mean that a spiritual element to the Freshers Week can be added, and the emphasis on this being a church school, a Christian-run university, can make a much deeper impression. This year the theme song was ‘Let your dreams fly’, sung many times throughout the week, and the logo on the blue T-shirts.

The chaplaincy staff are helped by the student fellowship group, who’ve now spent a whole 6 days together preparing and helping the whole event to run smoothly.  First came 2 days of preparation and retreat for them, starting last Sunday. Then on Tuesday and Wednesday, there was the training for the student leaders who would be running the Freshman Orientation.  Then finally on Thursday and Friday, the 700+ new student gathered for the two days/one night camp here on the campus.

The climax of the student leaders training program was on Wednesday afternoon when they all gathered in Advent Church, and as part of the closing ceremony, we had foot-washing.  This is an annual event, but for our new university president, President Peter Herchang Ay, it was his first experience of foot-washing.  A symbolic 12 faculty, staff and alumni washed the feet of 12 of the student leaders, very meaningful for everyone.  Each of the student leaders was later presented with a certificate and T-shirt.


During the freshman orientation, this year as every year, all the students visited Advent Church where they learned a little about the history of the university from the chaplain, and were introduced to the student fellowship – who taught them the theme song, the school song and encouraged them all to come along to the welcome dinner event being held in the second week of the new semester.

Then came the climax of the Freshman Orientation on Thursday evening when all the students, leaders and many faculty, alumni and staff gathered in front of Advent Church for a candlelit ceremony, which ended with 2 big fireworks and all the students processing with their candles around the campus, following the cross ~ all trying to keep their candles alight, as it was so windy!

Normally the new students stay overnight in the dormitories on campus, but over the summer, our largest dormitory has been completely renovated, and although more or less finished, is not yet clean enough for the students to sleep in. So tents were erected on the playing field and the campus transformed overnight into a Tent City.  Looked really impressive!

The closing ceremony on Friday afternoon marked the end of a very very busy week for our new acting chaplain, Rev. Wu Hsing-Hsiang, our chaplaincy staff, Shu-Jing and Yu-Lin, our student fellowship plus all those who gave so much of their time and energy to help. Well done everyone!

A constant worry throughout the week was the weather. Mostly the rain held off, but by Friday it seemed it could hold itself in no longer, the sky got darker and darker, and about an hour after the new students left for home, there was a massive thunderstorm with torrential rain.  Phew, what amazing timing ~ and thanks be to God for His many blessings!

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