Sunday, September 21, 2014

Far East Daily Blog #8

September 20, 2014 The majority of this day was devoted to the experience of the sights and sounds of the Taiwanese culture. One again the bishops and spouses were divided into several groups and went to different destinations. Carolyn and I went with the group that went to the Yilan National Center for Traditional Arts. After a 1 1/2 hour bus ride we experienced such things as historic and contemporary music and dance. During the performance interludes we were able to spend time with native Taiwan artists whose creative skills ranged from the design of jewelry and clothing to making musical instruments. As has been the case in any number of our outing the visit concluded with a meal consisting of a wide variety of Chinese foods. In the evening after we returned to the hotel we attended an instructional tea service ceremony that was conducted by Bishop David Lai. Though perhaps we thought we knew something about tea and the service of same, we were quickly disabused of that notion. For over two hours we learned about the selection and care of tea pots, varieties of Chinese tea, how to make the tea and then how it is to be served. Finally we got to taste a number of different tea varieties. As persons whose initial basic concept of tea was that it comes in a small white bag and has the word "Lipton" affixed to a tab of paper at the end of a short string, we were in for a great surprise. While some of the tea was strong enough to put the tea-drinker at the position of "attention," still other types were exceedingly smooth. At the completion of the day Carolyn and I were musing upon how a person can learn a new culture, which was what Taiwan was to us. One of our conclusions was that a central part of culture learning is to partake of the local food and to take note of the customs of how the food is to be served. Having eaten food all over Asia, I thought the process to learn their food would be very simple. In fact, we have had to learn a whole new way to eat, be served and serve others. In addition to musing on the Taiwanese variety of Chinese food, I spent time thinking about the basic kindness of the people of the country. In particular, I began to think about the kindness of the Christian people we encountered each day. To put their hospitality into perspective, I believe these Taiwanese people know that as a minority group comprising only 3-5% of the overall population, these Christians know that their ability to effectively bear witness to the love of God in Christ will be enabled through initial acts of graceful kindness. Now that is something that we would do well to learn! +Jay

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