Thursday, November 02, 2006

Music to my ears

A while ago, Sandy and I were invited to go out to coffee with some of her Senior college students. They are a great group of English Majors who like to hang out with each other outside of class. They often call us up and ask of we will join them. This coffee shop was about 30 minutes away and on top of the mountain near the town of Sandimen.

Some of the reason I love this culture was seen this night with these students. Taiwan is a friendly culture where strangers will invite you to their homes, out for dinner, and over to their table. There is just a part of the culture that simply enjoys each other. This is odd for me, since I am really an introvert who tries hard to LOOK like an extrovert (the Myers-Briggs test says something about this condition but I forget what... perhaps it just confirms my schizophrenic status). They enjoy the conversation and company of other people’s viewpoint and existence.

What happened after the coffee was nearly gone and the tea was getting cold was amazing to Westerners such as Sandy and I. The natural leader of the group stood up and said that we were going to play some games now. Okay, I thought, some kind of variation of “truth or dare” or “spin the bottle” because that was the only college level game I could think of. Soon they were carrying the chairs out to the parking lot, 9:00pm on a school night, and they were telling us, “we will play some music and walk around the chairs, but there is not enough chairs, then we will stop the music suddenly and people will sit down. Whoever does not have a chair will be sitting out next turn. Then we will take away one chair. Do you understand?” YES! We know this game... we played it as little kids.

I was stunned. They were stunned. They were stunned that Americans would know this game. I was stunned that people THIS age, Seniors in college, were not only playing this game, but that they thought of playing it on their own. We had a blast! It was fun, we laughed, we teased, we will have memories to last a lifetime. I am still stunned.

Can you imagine a group of American College Seniors sitting around at a hang out in the evening and suddenly saying, “Let’s play Musical Chairs!” And I mean that they would say this in all seriousness and not as sarcasm.

As I drive and bike around I see adults playing bat-mitten and table tennis with each other. I see groups of people sitting around parks and drinking tea, or singing songs, or practicing calisthenics together. People walk in groups, they eat in groups, they travel in groups. Just the other day, Sandy and her students began to walk to class and the students where troubled (really troubled) that one of their number was still in the bathroom and might have to walk alone!

Our neighbors who speak no english are always helping us, trying to communicate with us. So different from when an immigrant moves into a neighborhood in suburbia-west.

Has the west lost its love of the neighbor? Have we grown so distrustful of strangers that we cannot “break the ice” with them anymore to convert them from “stranger” to “acquaintance?” Have we become so “mature” that college students must drink alcohol watch porn to have fun in groups, and adults must be dignified and not sing to their friends?

Despite all the Taiwanese lack in knowing Jesus and knowing assurance of salvation (they fear the night so much, they fear bad luck so fully) they are rich in knowing each other and trying hard to de-strange the stranger.

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