We left for the trip to the Nantou mountains around 9:00 am. Annie drove us to meet with Pastor T.J. Hsieh and his wife, Pastor Aman at the off ramp of Highway 3. T.J. then drove his SUV (donated by Life-River ministry) and took us to the mountains. Along the road, we saw damaged road, buildings, houses, and farms. The road is under reconstructions and the tourist traffic is not there.
We met Pastor Chiuen and his wife and followed them to visit the suffered families. They are all aboriginal people. The first family is so poor that three brothers are living in one shack (small hut) with their mother. We met the widow (Mei-Hwa, wife of the eldest brother) and her sister-in-law. Their farm was destroyed by the flood. All we could see on the location of the old farm was nothing but covered with dirt and rocks. We saw the cars drove on the dirt. At present, they lost their means of life-supporting. Their water supply comes from the mountain spring which is not as contaminated as the river water. Mei-Hwa likes to attend church but she still worships the traditional idols because of her concern of not offending her mother-in-law. There are family feud mainly contributed from the second brother. Mei-Hwa came from a village of Chunghwa county, the same county that I was born. We comforted them and prayed before we left.
The next family we visited also suffered greatly. Their farmland was washed away. Their house lost a third of the foundation. The husband died of an accident. Her friends and relatives were also there and we comforted her with God’s words and gospel music. I played the violin and Annie led the singing. The widow cried and Pastor Aman prayed with her to comfort her. One of her friend showed John the newly planted coffee tree. He said this is a new adventure and hope the coffee planting will bring supplement income for their life. Here, we sensed their desperations and hopes.
Then, Pastors Chiuen took us to a restaurant for lunch. There were no other guests besides us and we were told that the restaurant had no business after the 88-flood due to the road damages which brought no tourists into the area. The food were well-prepared and we appreciated the hospitality from the Pastors and the restaurant.
After lunch, Pastor Chiuen changed the driving vehicle from motor cycle to van as I later found out that the road was heavily damaged that motor cycle driving would be very difficult. The trip was bumpy and having many dangerous spots. We went to the most damaged village in this area — 神木village. We saw school buildings were destroyed by the mud/rock slides. We saw a road just disappeared and sunk more than 20 feet.
We arrived at a 3-generation Hakka family. Originally, they operated a tent covered tomato farm but it was destroyed by the flood. They are looking for land for farming. Their water supply was from the mountain spring, too. It is difficult to find a farmland with clean spring water supply. The water spraying irrigation system needs particle-free water.
They applied for government assistant but have not received any money yet. The son is working on a temporary job which is only good for three months and he will be unemployed in a month or so. Without much hope, they are turning to God for help. Annie gave them the books of “What on earth am I here for?” Pastor Aman encouraged them to seek for God’s help and taught them how to pray. Pastor Aman and Pastor Chiuen’s wife invited them to join the coming Christmas celebration and asked the grand-daughter to play piano. She obtained honor award in piano contest. Her teacher is Chiuen’s wife. This is a 3-generation family with their hope placed on the youngest generation.
We went to a grape farm that was supported by T. J.’s church. The farm is owned by a widow. Her husband was a truck driver and died in an accident. The employer cheated her the insurance payment. The church and a law firm are helping her to recover the money.
Pastor Aman also helping her in getting better sales channels that will avoid the payment to the middleman. After an investment (loan) of NT 300,000, the farm is still in “red”. Here, we see the need of educating the farmers in managing their business
Before we depart, T.J. and Pastor Aman shared more of their ministry and missionary works with us. T.J. is seeking continuous support for his missionary works. Annie told them that we will bring their situations to the attention of the Saddleback church and other churches as well as the Taiwanese communities in Orange County.