Woke up to an overcast sky and the report that the typhoon headed this way would start really hitting hard at 8pm. Okay, I got the message. Stay inside and don't venture out to eat dinner.
We got on the bus at 8:15 and headed to Advent Church in Tamsui. Remember I was there earlier in the week, just not in this section. It is on the campus of St. John's University, where many of the Bishops toured earlier during this trip.
I was asked to preach, which I did. It was a bilingual (Mandarin and English) service. It is a beautiful church, with a healthy and growing congregation. I opened and closed my sermon bilingually, and had a member of the congregation read the Mandarin piece of my sermon as I preached in English. This helped me a great deal, and I was very grateful to her. At one point we got out of sync, and in a comic moment I said to her, "come over here honey, we have to sort this out." I then commented on the fact that this isn't as easy as it looks. Everyone laughed, and afterwards told me how much they appreciated the transparency and openness of that exchange.
The congregation was so warm and very friendly. They served us a delicious lunch and we sat outside to eat. Before the rain started, the winds were whipping around, but it didn't stop us. The temperature was much cooler outside than it has been, and we all enjoyed being out there. We said goodbye to our new friends and headed back to the bus.
We got back to the hotel at 1:00 and I did a bit of laundry and wrote a bit in my journal. At 3:00 we were back in session, doing a review piece with all the bishops and spouses -- how the trip has been for us. It was wonderful to hear the stories people shared -- how their lives have been transformed by the experience of being here. While there were issues in some dioceses around the money to bring us here to Taiwan, one thing is certain -- the Episcopal Church in the United States has much to learn about the zeal for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and doing mission and ministry in a country where Christians represent less than 3% of the population. It is humbling to listen to the stories of our brothers and sisters in Taiwan.
After that was a Fireside meeting (in this case flower-side) which is a private discussion among the bishops of things that are on our hearts. It was a fruitful time for us. A few of us went to dinner afterwards. It is so good to be together.
It is now almost 10 at night. The rain is falling hard -- they shut the storm shutters downstairs against the typhoon. I can hear it through the closed window AND with the air conditioning on. What has been a very quiet room has become quite, well, loud. Between the wind and the rain it is quite a show outside. I am praying that those who have little or no shelter normally will find some. I am also praying that no lives are lost -- animal or human -- and that any crops that are growing are not destroyed.
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