The day started out very early with the need to be on a bus by 6:50 in the morning to go to Taichung and visit St. James' Church and School.
Sixty bishops and spouses were on time and ready to go! We boarded the bus and ended up shortly thereafter at the Taipei Train Station. I remember well two years ago eating at the train station with Bishop David Lai -- I couldn't imagine then that I would be back now with so many bishops! I was the one responsible for making sure all the bishops who signed up for this day were on the bus this morning -- only one did not show. We couldn't stop and figure out why as we were on city buses and they were not going to wait!
The train station is a bustle of business with people coming and going. We waited until our train was on the platform and made our way down to it. There we waited for the doors to open. We each had assigned seats -- and off we went! The train was clean and very fast -- just less than one hour to arrive in Tai Chung. During the trip, a cart came around with snacks and coffee. We were all fascinated by the replica toy train you could purchase -- several people did, which was fun.
We arrived in TaiChung and were taken by bus over to St. James. We were greeted warmly by the children, teachers and clergy. The children sang songs for us, including This Little Light of Mine. So cute! At the end of their songs the children presented each of us with a gift they made -- a card. Here are two pictures -- one of me being presented with my gift, and the other of the gift itself.
We were taken to the auditorium and given an overview of the work of St. James. This is a community that was started with seed money of $30,000 from Christ Church, Greenville Upper South Carolina -- the money was used to build the first building on this campus. As the Bishop of Upper South Carolina was with us (Andrew Waldo) he was treated like a rock star by the people of St. James!
During the presentation, we learned that there are 5 major areas of focus for St. James -- Evangelism, Community Service, Counseling, Language Institute and Preschool Education. The Diocese is known for its preschools -- and St. James is top notch! Through their growth over the years, they have been able to "pay it forward" -- partnering with the Diocese of the Central Philippines, St. James was able to either rehabilitate or build 12 new church buildings. When asked what prompted this movement for them, the leadership replied that they preach and teach about stewardship -- citing a Chinese proverb: "One must remember the source when drinking water." They explained that the gift that they were given to build their own church lead them to want to help to build or rebuild other churches. Here is a congregation that not only reaches out into the community with a preschool in which Mandarin, English and Taiwanese are taught, but which also looks beyond its own walls and neighborhood to make a difference in the world. It made we bishops proud!
Speaking of other churches, this church is growing and has already created a second congregation nearby, also with a preschool.
We were then given a tour of the school itself, including the butterfly garden that is housed there. The children learn about the circle of life and the care of these beautiful creatures.
We said goodbye to our new friends (actually these are OLD friends to me -- I met them two years ago when I was here, and loved sharing St. James with Steve -- he has heard me speak about it, but he never encountered it himself until today). We headed across the street to the Taichung Art Museum which houses collections of art by current artists. We were welcomed by the director of the museum and given tours in small groups. I'm including some of my favorite pieces of art from today at the end of this blog.
Next -- lunch, where the Mayor of Taichung came to welcome and speak to us. The only difficulty for me is that I'm allergic to shellfish -- so they had to make special accommodations for me -- which is kind. LOTS of shellfish was offered, which my table mates quite enjoyed!
After lunch we headed back to Taipei. Another beautiful ride on the train! I should note that it has been VERY hot and humid. We are being told that this is a record -- it hasn't been this hot and humid and Taipei in 100 years. Apparently a typhoon is headed this way which is bringing this heat and moisture in the air. Can't wait to go through that little adventure!
When we arrived back into Taipei Ada Wong-Nagata, Steve and I were met by the Rev. Cn. Lily Chang, who took us to the Textile market to buy fabric. I was looking for some fabric for table runners, and Ada was looking for fabric for an altar frontal. Here is a picture of me with Lily looking at fabric samples. Thanks to Lily, we were successful in our endeavors! Steve loved walking through this, the oldest part of Taipei -- streets lined with little shops housed in very old buildings. And here is a picture of Steve on the street.
Dinner in the hotel -- at the dumpling restaurant. Wonderful pork and beef dumplings as well as beef noodle soup (a Taiwanese favorite).
I leave you with scenes from today --
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