I traveled to Taiwan on May 19 to visit my mother and to take care of personal matters. Along with it, I visited Guogou Center again. During Ruth and Steven’s tour of Southern California in March, they visited the families of our Saddleback P.E.A.C.E. team members. At that time, we planned another Gougou visit in May/June 2010.
Dr. John Stark, a retired Biochemist traveled with me on June 27 to the Center. Annie, John and Ching-Ya joined us in the weekend to give two music recitals, one at Gougou middle school auditorium and one at the Center in the same day on June 29. After the concerts, Annie, John and Dr. Stark went on for a tour in China. Returned from China, Dr. Stark stayed with me for one more week to teach English to the children and for him to get familiar with the village. I stayed for another four more weeks to do missionary works with Guogou coworkers and started my jail ministry with Sulian. On June 30, I traveled to Minshung (Chiayi) with Ruth and Shulin to attend a special meeting held by CCEA. We met Pastor Hsia and his assistant Shu-Fai of CCEA and learned their five-year plan to help the small churches which was named “The Miracles of Mustard Seed”. Next day, I flew back to Los Angeles.
The high-lights in this visit included:
- Music Recitals
- English as Foreign Language Classes
- After-school Tutoring
- Weekly Bible Study
- Family Visits
- Visits to Other Churches
- Vision on Church Planting
- Local Culture
1. Music Recitals
The program in the music recitals included violin with piano accompaniment, piano solo, cello with piano accompaniment, Soprano/Alto duet and Lady’s choir. The recital at the middle school is aimed to introduce classical music and instruments to the students. The music selection also included movie and popular songs for easy listening. The recital in the Center included more difficult pieces. Here is the program:
- VIOLIN/PIANO (Wen-Ching & Yichia)
- Schubert Serenade
- Andre Rieu (Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet)
- Vivaldi Winter 2nd movement
- The Holy City
- Beethoven Violin Sonata #5 (Spring), 1st movement (at Guogou center)
- Cello Solo – Unaccompanied (Yichia)
- Pop Song（originally singed by Jay Chou 周杰倫）
- Piano Solo (Yichia)
- Chopin Waltz
- SOPRANO/ALTO DUET (Annie/Ching-Ya)
- Flower (Japanese folk song)
- Alleluja (Moazrt)
- Over the Rainbow
- O mio babbino caro
- LADY’S CHOIR (Guogou Center)
- Muli Flower
- Home Song
- Villager’s Song
- Mend Broken Nets
At the school auditorium:
At Guogou Center:
2 to 5: EFL and Others
English as Foreign Language (EFL) was taught to two classes on Saturday afternoon from 2 to 4:30. The teaching materials was received from Saddleback P.E.A.C.E. ministry. EFL emphasizes conversational English which is different from the school English class. Though speaking in the class was encouraged, the students were shy and need time to get used to. In the last class before I left, I gave a test to the students. The photo below was taken during the test for the “B” class.
John Stark opened several conversational classes at night to different groups of students. The students loved the classes even though they had so much difficulties in listening and speaking. I had to cut-in sometimes to help in translation but I tried to put a limit on my part so the students were forced to sort out themselves by whatever means they can think of.
Weekly Bible study was held every Friday morning from 10 to 11:30. The participants grew to over 12 persons. Ruth and I had several family visits. Occasionally, we rode bicycles to visit the families and took longer detour routes for our exercises. In some visits, Lihua joined us in the visits. The families were either needing helps or new to the church. For example, a young lady just joined the church Sunday worship for two weeks. She fainted during the service and was rushed to the hospital. We learned more about her poor health and found out that she was living alone. We visited her to show our caring hearts and prayed with her. There are many families needing our cares and helps. We hope to have more people involved in this ministry.
After-school tutoring was both fun and rewarding. Some of the middle school mathematics were indeed very challenging. Both students and their parents appreciated my teaching. I wish I had more time to help in the tutoring.
At 5:00 pm, the students received free meals which is supported by Chinese Christian Rescue Association (CCRA) 1919 program and by the funding from Ruth Care and Development Association (RCDA). Below is a photo of students’ thanksgiving singing after the prayer.
6. Visits to Other Churches
Because Gougou Center has established her after-school tutoring program and is known by many charity organizations. Once in a while, the center was requested by the charity organizations to visit other churches, survey their programs and invite them to visit Guogou center. I went with Ruth and Eunice to two churches, one nearby and the other was located in Chang-Hwa County which took us over 90 minutes one way to reach the place.
The nearby church is a Presbyterian church with a new Pastor on board recently. The tutoring program is relatively small with one college student volunteered as the helper. The porcelain making class is quite unique and was taught by the church Elder. Also, as shown in the photo below, the door painting was done by the children with the helps of the church adult members.
The far-away church at Yuanlin, Changhwa County was newly planted by Taiwan Evangelical Formosan Church organization. The parent church would help the local church for couple years and let the local church grow to self-support. They hope to plant one hundred churches in 5 years.
7. Visions on Church Planting
Guogou center has a vision to build a church nearby. Many visitors and neighboring friends also suggested to us to have a larger facility to expand the tutoring program as well as to draw more people into the church. On June 30, I went with Ruth and Sulin to attend a special meeting held by CCEA (Chinese Christian Education Association) at Mingshung. Pastor Hsia and his assistant Shu-Fai Wang presented the new program on helping small churches to grow. The program is called “Miracle of Mustard Seeds” which will apply a strategy of “Four in One” that using a well-thought schedule for Sunday sermons with outlines as the main theme. Along with this Sunday sermon is for the church member to act, worship, and fellowship during the week. This strategy will help the small churches to transform and grow. The program is based on the need of the members and strengthened by the various church programs that are organized by members’ gifts (special talents) and supports.
We were so impressed by this program and had exchanged some ideas with Pastor Hsia and Shu-Fai. The program calls for a 5-year cooperation between the local church and CCEA. The long-term commitment from the local church is essential for the success of this program. After returning to the Center, we shared this program with the coworkers and made a decision to apply for joining this program.
8. Local Culture
Guogou church locates inside a rural area surrounded by country villages with agricultural, fishing, fish farming, sea-salt and tourist industries. It nears the sea ports of Budai and Donshih. The religion in this area is dominated by the traditional Buddhism-Taoism worship. I watched several parades of local temples and took some photos for one parade.
The temples are highly organized and with strong financial backing. The local religious establishments imposed a strong social network that is hard to penetrat. Christianity becomes a threat to them and is pushed back by whatever means.
The month of June has a major Chinese festival — the “May” festival (Duanwu Festival 端午節) according to Chinese lunar year. The legend went back two thousand years ago during the “War Period” in East Chou Dynasty. A royal minister of Chu nation, Qu Yuan took his own life by jumping into the river and drowned to advise his Lord. The people desperately searched the waters in their boats looking for Qu Yuan but were unsuccessful in their attempt to rescue him. Every year the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated to commemorate this attempt at rescuing Qu Yuan. In the festival, the community will have contest in rolling dragon boats on the river. On the festival day, people will make special rice dumpings that are wrapped in bamboo leaves.
The dragon-boat contest was held in Donshih port. The park of the port was used as the festival fair-ground. Guogou center volunteered to guide the traffic in the parking lot during the festival. We spent over two hours to guide the traffic and then had lunch at the fair-ground.
The photo below shows the Guogou volunteer group (not include the Gentlemen):
There was a fishing farm next to Guogou Center. We watched the catch of the fish on our way to the breakfast one day. John Stark went alone the next day to watch again and the owner gave him a bag of fish. We had to call our friends to share the fish because they were so plenty.
The above was the harvest of the fish. The fish catched were immediately weighed and put into the low temperature water tanks on the truck (not seen in the photo).
At the left was Eunice scaling and cleaning the fish.
At the right was John doing the same.
9. Sight Seeing
Guogou Center planned to have an outdoor Sunday worship at Golden Orange Farm located in Mingshung, Chiayi. We went to the farm to survey the facilities and to reserve the space with the manager. The trip was enjoyable though the weather was hot and humid. We saw varieties of fruits — breadfruit, pineapple and dragon-eye fruit, etc.