Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day 2010

At the beginning of December we had heard of no plans for Christmas Day from the other senior missionaries. The temple was going to be closed, but the rest of Taiwan was conducting business as usual. So we decided to invite everyone to our apartment for a potluck lunch at 2 PM.

While Kentucky was having snow, we could only dream about it and put up this decoration. Temperatures this day were in the 60's.

We had seven couples -- two others were on other assignments and one was in the US. Someone gave us matching plates, napkins and table cloth.

While people were arriving, we sat around talking ...

...and eating pistachios and dates filled with walnuts.

Dinner included rice, chicken and gravy, and a chicken casserole. In the background on the shelf is our miniature Christmas tree with lights. It was just the right size for us since we had no presents to put under it.

We also had homemade rolls, broccoli, cranberry salad, cole slaw and a salad tray with a wreath Sister Hahn made out of cucumbers. Our serving table consisted of two table/desks taken out of the spare bedrooms.

We were able to seat everyone, either at the large table, ...

...or at the small table, ...

... or seated on the couches.

After dinner we sat in a big circle and shared Christmas stories.

Then we pushed aside the tables and did the Virginia Reel. You need a caller and some instruction to begin.

We had four couples (the rest preferred watching) and we began with "Right hand 'round your partner."

Then it's "Do-Si-Do". Of course, you need a fiddler to play Turkey in the Straw.

Then you do the "Reel" from which the dance gets its name.

Then you "Follow the leader, single file."

"Make an arch" and the rest come under and you have a new head couple.

Then at about 5 PM we left our apartment to go caroling at a large hospital.

The two other couples who weren't able to come to dinner were able to join us for this activity. We didn't go to patients' rooms, but visitors stopped to listen and some of the brethren handed out candy to children who came by.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Creches from Around the World

In connection with the Christmas Pageant it was decided to display a collection of Creches from around the world. People were invited to come into the church overflow area of the chapel before and after the pageant performances.

At the entrance to the building was a large and beautifully decorated Christmas tree.

The 7th Ward (English-speaking) has a lot of members who have been stationed all over the world with various countries' foreign services. The members listed above brought in and shared their creches.

Some were elaborate.

Some were simple.

One or both of these were from Mexico.

This one from Ecuador.

United States




This creche was displayed on a Mexican hand-crafted blanket with the Aztec calendar on it.


United States




El Salvador

El Salvador

This is a tagua nut which grows in subtropical Africa. Its hardness is similar to elephant ivory.

These figures were carved out of tagua nuts in mainland China and displayed on a rack intended for paint brushes.

This one was not in the display, but sits in our foyer. It is from Taiwan and was carved by Catholic monks or friars who do this to raise money for their order. They have all different sizes available (this one about $60), with the larger sets being more expensive (naturally). This stable was not included with the figures but came from our favorite second-hand supplier, "B3".

Monday, December 20, 2010

Our Neighborhood

People ask where we live, and when we tell them "Qing Tian Jie" they invariably reply, "Oh, very expensive." What can you respond to that except "You are right." But when they try to convince us to go somewhere else less expensive, we tell them "No thanks." We've already made that decision once, and we don't want to continue making it all over again.

Here is an apartment building in our neighborhood. It looks very nice. I don't know what it looks like on the inside.

Here is another. And there are many more.

When we look out our master bedroom window, this is what we see.

If you looked very closely at the previous picture, you may have noticed this spire between the apartment buildings.

Near our Alley 10 on Lane 7, we have this view of the side and back of a mosque.

From the front, it looks like this, as viewed across XinSheng, a major street at the end of Lane 7. We get a lot of traffic on Lane 7 because there is a traffic light at the end which allows them to get on this busy street.

It is labeled the Chinese Muslim Association - Taipei.

On the other side of Lane 7 from the mosque is this little business called "BigByte" Learning Institute. One day I saw a bunch of school children going in there, so I stopped and asked what they were learning. "English" was the answer. I asked if any of their teachers were Americans, and they said "All of them." Children are taught English in the public schools, but if the parents really want them to learn it, they enroll them in private schools where they get a class every day instead of once or twice a week. A counselor if the 7th Ward Bishopric operates a private English school.

Beyond the English school on this busy street is the Holy Family Catholic Church.

They currently have a manger scene in front...

...which looks like this.

Beyond that is an elementary school.

Earlier this fall they had a clever display made out of flower pots.

Just beyond the elementary school is the JinHua Junior High School.

Here they let children bike to school instead of busing everybody.

Here is the back side of this school. We walk past here at least twice a day. We often see the students lined up in rows and columns (dressed in uniforms) doing some sort of exercise, and sometimes we see them running around the track.

Across the busy street (XinSheng) from the mosque and the Catholic church and the schools, is Da'an Park.

It has eleven entrances similar to the one above.

There is a running/walking track which goes around most of the park and it is usually busier than this.

One of the entrances (southwest corner) is at a busy intersection where they have an elevated walkway connecting all four corners (for those who don't want to wait for the light to change.

There are a variety of paths and benches.

This is not as quiet as the Dead Center of Frankfurt where we used to walk (that is what we called the huge cemetery near our apartment). You can still hear the cars here, but you couldn't there.

This man was walking barefoot forward and backward on these stones (to toughen up his feet, I guess).

And there are some play areas for young and old.