Monday, December 14, 2009

Stewart the Wonder Dog


I have a new Dog! He is Stewart the Wonder Dog! He is a young Shiba Inu pup. He was rescued off the streets of Kaohsiung by a volunteer group called BARK. He was furless from scabees and nearly deaf from ear parasites. Now he is healthy, wealthy and wise and living in my house. In just a few days we were the best of friends and he is my shadow in all endeavors. Even the clerks and the local 7-11 know his name and welcome him into the store. The local computer shop even lets him into their store and they "baby sit" him while I shop. There is a lot of love in a dog... and there is even more in a rescued dog. He was clearly someone's dog at some point because he knew things about house living and riding a motorcycle (which he cannot get enough of). But he was homeless for a long time. Many people will get a puppy because they are cute, but after a year, they lose interest and will just turn them out into the streets. Shibas are known as wanderers so Stew wandered off and got lost for at least 6 months to a year judging from his illnesses. Go out an rescue your own homeless dog or cat today! Get them cared for and spay or neutered. Show them that they have a home and that they are loved... and they will return that love 100s of times over. They may just make you into a happier and more merry person as well!

English Worship and Mental Hospitals


We are now 5 weeks into leading the English Worship Service. Some of you know about Pastor SS and the small town he ministers to. Pastor SS came to me recently with a dream of his to have an English Worship service. In his mind, there were enough foreigners in the area now to justify it, and he hoped some of his youth group would attend as well. He asked me to lead it. I was hesitant at first… I didn't really come here to lead an English worship for foreigners.

On our first Sunday we had around 30 people, half foreign and half locals Hakka youth and young adults. The local colleges and English cram schools supplied the foreigners. Local interest was better than I had imagined. We average about 20 to 25 each Sunday and new faces show up all the time. Because of the nature of college students, their research, and their part time jobs, we don't see them as regularly as we would like, but none of them have been one-time-only visitors! We have even had a few Hakka and Taiwanese state that this was becoming their primary worship time because they appreciated the message being preached there.

Our little congregation has been praying for Mr. R for a few months now. Mr. R is a Hakka man that has some strong anger issues and depression that have caused him a great deal of sorrow in his life and forced him into deeper and deeper isolation. He once came to my house, where I shared the Gospel with him and he pretty firmly rejected it because Buddha would just "give him what he wants," rather than having to "serve" Jesus. Mr. R stopped coming to the house even though he often asked about me when he saw friends.

Last week a friend informed me that Mr. R has been hospitalized in another town for his deepening mental illness. Ms. T, a devoted Hakka believer some of you may know, took a group of four Taiwanese Christians, including herself, up to see Mr. R. She drove the hour and a half to take some folks to see a guy that is not really all that lovable and who had shown them a lot of anger and rejection.

While visiting Mr. R in his hospital room, Ms. T took the opportunity to share the Gospel message with him again. This time things were different. This time Mr. R knew of his own sinfulness, the pain that it had caused him and his family. This time Mr. R had a few weeks of the Holy Spirit reminding him of the things he had heard from Mr. E and Michael and others. This time Mr. R prayed to receive Jesus Christ into his heart.

The man in the next bed over also prayed to receive Jesus into his heart!

Mr. R says he will be joining us now in Bible Study and Worship, just as soon as he comes home. Ms. T did some discipling too, telling him to listen to the Doctors and continue his medications and counseling, and that we would be there to help him.

Pray for Mr. R and his hospital roommate as they face their own issues… and give thanks that they do not have to face them alone now. Give thanks that they can now face them with a new life in Christ.

Pray for Ms. T and give thanks for her boldness to share. Praise the Lord that we are seeing people like Ms. T and Mr. E… just as we have always hoped… Taiwanese Christians sharing Jesus with Taiwanese in their own language and with their own culture but with the full life of Jesus guiding them.

Pray for our new English speaking congregation as they grow and learn to be a family in Christ, serving their community and sharing Jesus.

Merry Christmas!
Michael & Sandy Haggard

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Drug Side Effects

video

Photo of the STONES!!!


Aren't they lovely? Shown here on a 1x1cm graph grid next to an EPIC model for wargames (6m scale). You can click on the photos here for a full resolution photo.

NOT Stone free... but close!

video

Test of Vlogging

I am thinking that I might blog more if I video blog... vlog.
Here is a test to see how the system works.
video

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Waiting after waiting

So now after three years of arguing with doctors in a language other than my own I lay awake in the hospital, unable to sleep because I will start the day that finally sees the kidney boulders removed. I shall report levels of success as soon as I am able. Thank to all the well well-wishers who have written and thank all of you who have prayed for me through out this ordeal. 

Thursday, August 06, 2009

They Shall Know We are Christians by Our...

There are few things in the life of a Christian that show the change, that comes from God alone, than in the way they give. Christians should be givers. Christ set the example; he gave his life for us. Not only that, he gave up comfort and safety to live among the dangerous lives of men... and often with the unlovable. He gave up not just life, but living abundantly, so that we might live without fear of judgement. Too bad that so much of the Christian world is not willing to give, to lose their lives for others, to give up their comfort, or to abandon judgement so that others might live.

Giving is the sign of the Change Life in Christ.

We have a student that became a Christian recently. This student is now out of college and living in the "real" world. The job this student took pays about $6 (US dollars) an hour. It was the best offer given in the job hunt. After a year of bible studies and a serious discipleship, this student is out of daily contact with the Church that was home.

Today I went to the post office to check the mail and there was one envelope. Inside was a thick fold of paper hiding about $50 (US funds again), and a note that said, roughly; There is no better way to share what God has given than to give back to those who helped the student to find God in the first place. Please use this for the summer mission team coming next month.

We had rarely talked to this student about giving other than when it came up in bible reading. So much of the Christian world has to be told, begged, to give. But the changed heart that has recognized what Christ has done desires to give. That old saw of the Tithe, the %10 giving of your income, is often used to beat people into guilt, "You don't give enough." In reality, God set the %10 as a limit! Those with his heart want to give it all away, but they should stop at %10 so they don't go broke themselves!

Our student received the first paycheck of post-college labor... and immediately felt the need to give. At once obeyed the call of God on the heart. This was done alone, without pressure, without guilt or request... all in love.

Oh! For a church of 100 of these givers. They would change Taiwan. They would change the world.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Latest on the Stones of South Haggard

At the suggestion of a dear friend, last Friday I visited a private practice urologist in Taipei with high hopes. The nurse at the clinic immediately changed my appointment to a different doctor in the clinic because she thought he had better experience with sonic bombardment. Uh... that was what I was NOT coming here for. Once again, repeat tests and x-rays and wait. The doctor calls me in and says he wants me to go to a different doctor.

I am sure my face turned a shade of light purple that is not found in the rainbow or color wheel.

He quickly added that he thinks my stones SHOULD come out and soon because he understands that the infection they are causing is bad for my kidneys as a diabetic. Wow.... a doctor finally GETS it. However, there is another doctor that he thinks is better at removing multiple large stones like mine. And this new doctor is on the national health care so it will be nearly free.

So, my all too helpful and dear friends, St. Steve and Angel Amy, help to bring my blood pressure down by nearly carrying me through the convoluted subway systems and train-to-bus changes to get to this hospital. A hospital laid out much like an Escher painting... if Escher has been asleep and on mind altering drugs while painting it.

We find out that this doctor is SOooo popular that he has a waiting list. I can't get in until Wednesday. This is Friday. I live 4 hours away and made the special trip for TODAY. My Taipei friends encourage me to stay the week with them. There was a croquette mallet involved in the negotiations that finally convinced me to stay and wait. They were wonderful. They were having their own issues that week and really didn't need me around but they were self-sacrificing and hospitable. They will be honored in the halls of records for eons to come.

So, first thing Wednesday morning, Amy and I go to the hospital (Steve must work)... the first time I have EVER had to pay first. Granted it was only $10 for the day, but pay first??? Then Amy hands my appointment to the nurse at this doctor's wing and the nurse says that I need to go get my blood pressure checked. "You don't do that?" I asked and I see wall of self-service machines. I stick my arm in, write down my numbers on my chart and go back. Irritated, she says, "Now I need your weight!" Again, self service in another place. I end up getting almost all of my basic vitals and measurements on my own at self service desks. Finally she takes my form and tells me to wait for my number.

The number comes up, I go in, the doctor listens for a few seconds and declares that I MUST be mistaken because kidney stones do not cause this kind of pain. I need to go see a orthopedist.

Visible smoke rises from my ears as my eyes begin to glow a deep orange. Amy reaches for the mallet... I am not sure who she intended to convince with it.

The doctor pales and stutters, "Well, we can also do some tests to see if your kidney stones are bad." He FINALLY looks at my past x-rays that I brought and suddenly changes his tune. Now, with some real concern, he orders tests and for the FIRST time in my journey he orders a CAT scan.

I cool down... until I hear the next part.

"Go schedule the CAT scan and find out when they can do it and I will make an appointment for you after that to see the results."

Schedule? Me? Can't you do that?

"No, you must go down there and find out when they can do it."

Will that be today, you think?

The doctor laughs, "No, no chance. There is a long waiting list for CAT scans."

The smoke is billowing now. Open flames break out on loose papers on his desk from the heat.

The doctor goes white... "Perhaps we can get you into the ER's CAT scan today if they have an opening."

So I get all my labs... another lesson in patience and hospital navigation using GPS and Laser Guidance. Had Amy not been there to ask questions in Chinese for me, I might have given up. I have NEVER been in a hospital in Taiwan less foreigner friendly, which is very odd for a hospital in a town with the most foreigners in Taiwan. Who would have thought that the LAB would be next to the cashier, or that the CAT scan would be on the first floor but the office to schedule the scan would be on the 5th floor. Who would know that to PAY for the CAT scan would be one window, but to get the stamp to say you had paid would be the next window... and that the cashier cannot hand the payment slip to the girl next to her, but you must get out of line, go to the next line and hand it to her yourself.

So I wait 5 hours for an opening to get into the CAT scan. When finished, laying nearly naked on the table, the man OPENS THE DOOR TO THE WAITING ROOM and tells me to stand up and get dressed. When I look at the door where Amy and all the people waiting look at me with smirks, the man says, "Sorry" and then walks away without shutting the door. The stones nearly shoot out my back from the tension.

Now, with all the heroic feats accomplished we must call the Doctor's personal nurse, as instructed, to get back into see him today. The nurse is confused, "The results of the scan will not be published today. Why so see him?" Again, Angel Amy be honored in the record books of time, it was argued that the doctor TOLD us to come back.

Back in the doctor's office, he says that all is done and that he will have the nurse call me later.

For what? I ask.

"For the next step," he says.

And what IS that?

"To see what we will do next..."

And that IS what?

"The next treatment..."

Which IS......

He drops his shoulders in defeat, hangs his head the loser and whispers, "To schedule you for surgery."

I CAN'T HE-AR YOU!

"TO SCHEDULE YOU FOR SURGERY!" The lab tests showed pyuria (puss), blood and infection... which I had told him... so he wants me on some stronger antibiotic than I have been on. It is likely that I have not had many different UTIs over the last few months but one big UTI that the other doctors had not given me enough treatment for. This doctor wants as much of that infection GONE before he cuts into me.

Amy guided me out of the hospital and onto the train home, not returning my knives and other weapons to me until there was no chance of me going back to somewhere were I could vent and blow up emotionally. Steve and Amy had thoughtfully disarmed me when I got off the train on Friday. Even though I am closer to getting what I need and want, the journey has been something of a stressor.

So, I walk away a little tired from the psychic warfare with a promise that I WILL get surgery to remove these stones from one of the best urologists in Taiwan. I await his phone call. Until then, I wait...

Prayers encouraged,
mostly to keep me from running out into the night screaming at the insanity of it all.

Onward and upward.
-The Haggard

Monday, July 20, 2009

Church asks Obama to prevent China takeover

From http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2009/07/18/2003448968

By Loa Iok-sin
STAFF REPORTER
Saturday, Jul 18, 2009, Page 1
The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan yesterday issued an open letter to US President Barack Obama, reminding him not to sacrifice Taiwan’s national interest as the US develops closer ties with China.

“We urge the US government to review its policies concerning Taiwan and China, recognize the fact that Taiwan and China are two separate countries, and take a leading role in calling together all peace-and-justice-loving countries in the world to prevent China from taking over Taiwan through military or any other means for any reason,” the Church’s statement said.

“The Taiwanese are a people who enjoy democracy and freedom, and we cherish our achievements [in freedom and democracy],” the statement said. “At the moment, more than 80 percent of the people are opposed to unification with China, thus we insist on defending our right to self-determination under peaceful means and wish to participate in international affairs as an independent country.”

The statement said that if China were to take Taiwan by force, it would not only destroy the hard-earned democracy in Taiwan, but could also jeopardize peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

The statement was issued following a decision made during the church’s 54th General Assembly meeting that began on Thursday and ended yesterday, said Leonard Lin (林宗正), a pastor of the Church who presided over the meeting.

“According to a report by the Taipei Times, US President Barack Obama may meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao [胡錦濤] at the G20 meeting to take place in Washington in September,” Lin told the Taipei Times.

“We’re worried that Taiwan’s national interests may be sacrificed as the US’ new cross-strait policy forms after the meeting and thus wanted to make sure that Taiwan’s voice is heard beforehand,” he said.

In 1977, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan also issued a statement calling on former US president Jimmy Carter not to overlook the interests of Taiwanese as Washington established formal diplomatic ties with Beijing.

The Church had not yet completed an official English translation of the letter, but it plans to deliver the letter to Obama by the end of this month, Lin said.

“Besides handing the letter to the American Institute in Taiwan, we will also ask Christian organizations friendly to Taiwan to help deliver the message to other political leaders and peoples of the world,” Lin said.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

THE KIDNEYSTONE SO FAR



JUNE 24th:
Today I went to the emergency room because my 28 month old quintuplets residing in my right kideny started kicking far more seriously than before. On a pain scale of 1 to 10 it was a "Oh (explicative)," for about 24 hours. So, in the ER of my hospital they dope me up through an IV (hep-lock) and do all the tests. High white blood count, blood in the urine, acute pain. "Come back to see your urologist next week.". Uh, could you call one in? "We did. He said since your stone has not moved there is nothing he can do. Want a pain shot again before you go?" No, I want a second opinion because I am diabetic... Remember? "Oh... OH! You should go get a second opinion," the ER attending said with sudden understanding.

So an hour later I am in a hospital that is older, closer to my home, and owned by the Presbyterian Church. The ER doctor there says, upon seeing my x-Ray and having NO other history, "Wow! Those will have to come out with surgery. No way those can be disolved sonically. Come see the urologist first thing in the morning and see if we can't get those out soon."

Tomorrow I will go to the urologist and HOPEFULLY get my octuplets... Yes, octuplets now that someone is bothering to count more closely... Get my octuplets delivered. So far the largest is 2.5cm and the smallest is just under 1cm. I am hoping this can be done early next week because I don't want to be on pain meds all that long. It could even be tomorrow.

Will let everyone know.

-in His grip,
Michael The Haggard

JUNE 25th:
New doctor... new headaches.
So this urologist sees my x-ray and says that those stones need to come out by surgery but that he is also troubled that there is hydronephrosis in the other kidney as well. So, ultrasound and contrast study later...

... I have bilateral Uretero Pelvic Junction Obstruction, congenital, due to ureters that are too thin. So, Monday I go for a gamma-camera study of my kidney fluid production for possible surgical correction of BOTH kidney pelvic joints.

"What about the stones?" I asked remindingly.

Oh. Those can't be bothering you. Let's just leave them alone. Even if we go in, we would only get the three or four largest ones.

"But I have blood in the urine, bacteria and WBC elevations and acute pain."

No (he smirked) you CAN'T be having pain from those 9 (yes 9) kidney stones. Ha Ha Ha. Just take these pain pills.

"Doctor... I DONT want Pain Pills."

Oh... okay... just come back to the ER each time the pain is too high.

"So... you wont take them out."

No. "Kidney Stones do not cause pain. I can't imagine why you would think 9 kidney stones, each the size of of a Buick, would cause any pain at all. I think you have a congenital birth defect."

Uh... Doc, I am 45 years old. Wouldn't such a birth defect show up by now?

"Come back later for a gamma scan and we will see about fixing the defect in both kidneys."

NEXT (next Doctor, that is...)

JUNE 29th:
So Sunday night I get back from a long trip on the train to the North of Taiwan. I am starting to get unbearable flank pain again, so I go to KMUH's (Kaohsiung Memorial University Hospital) ER at about 9:30pm... luggage and all (since I am on my Scooter from the train to home).

I give the triage guy my National Health Insurance Card and sit down. As he is filling in stuff on the computer and communicating through pantomime and semaphore communications that resemble the mating dace of the Red Crested Mockingbird, he finally asks me through the group of candystripers' collective english, "How will you pay for this?"

"Uh... the National Health Insurance."

Surprised, he asks, "You have?"

I point to the card he is holding. Oh, yes. "Okay, follow me," at which time he walks away briskly through a crowded maze that in my state of mind made the Minoean Labyrinth seem like a simple two rights and left. Just before I lost him he turned to wonder why the old guy with luggage from a recent trip who was bent over with flank pain could not keep up.

Neither my doctor nor the nurses spoke much english and often had to have me repeat many times and much more slowly what it was I was there for. A couple of hours sitting, an IV of normal saline and a pain shot later I was told to go home now. WHAT??? I am still in pain and I haven't seen a urologist! Confusion sets in. The foreigner is confused. He clearly doesn't understand that he should be pain free now.

At 2am I finally see a urologist that looks to be about 22 years old. That would be 3 years younger than my ER doc. He wonders why I would have pain from just 9 renal stones. I begin to wonder if the majority of Taiwanese walk around with multiple large, non-passible kidney stones regularly because it sure seems to shock all the doctors I see that this might hurt in some way. Finally he agrees to let me see a urologist in the morning. Wait... aren't YOU a urologist? Yes, but this is the ER, we only deal with unstable patients. If you had acute pain, infection, unstable vitals, then I could help you. DID YOU READ THE CHART??? I have acute pain, infection, blood in the urine, elevated white blood cells, and a BP of 160/110... I think THAT is in your criteria!

But this is the ER. You need Outpatient.

So, I wait until 11:30 am to see the Outpatient Urologist.
Yes... until 11:30 am - I was in the ER for over 12 hours.

When I leave the ER I almost have the police called as I have seemed to seek drugs and medical attention with a false name. My chart says "Hagga Mi" but my Health Card says "He Mai Ke" (My correct name in Taiwan is He Mai Ke for those of you who know me but have always used my false name of Hagga Mi or the Americanized Michael Haggard)- I have NO IDEA where the Hagga Mi name came from but sure enough it is on ALL my paperwork. Now understand, every time I got an injection, and x-ray, a tissue or a deep breath I was asked by a nurse, "What is your name" and I would answer, "He Mai Ke" at which they would nod and give me said treatment. Now I find out that no one has bothered to actually READ the name on my charts. After we get that all cleared up, I sit in the outpatient waiting for an hour...

... I get called in, tell the doctor my history... wait as he explains everything I already know about Kidney Stones and the like... and get told he will see me next monday.

What?

Next monday we will discuss treatment options.

"Can we talk treatment options now?"

Of course not! You have to go to all your other ER visits from other hospitals and get your x-rays on CD for me!

You see, all medical data in Taiwan is digital. Xrays and the like are transmitted to the doctor's desk from the other departments instantly. EVERY hospital does this... and they have no way to do that between hospitals??? I have to go to the hospitals myself and ask for a CD???

So, I have a week's worth of Pain Pill which I will most likely NOT take because I already have something stronger (I have a bottle of Aspirin already, thank you), and instructions to not come back until I have all my ducks in a row and why didn't I think about having all those with me at the time (having just gotten off the train from a trip and running to the ER, mind you).

So tomorrow I will go to the other hospitals, each an hour away, to get a CD from a department that speaks no english and always has attendants that start acting like either junior high students all giggly and shy or like judges who can't figure out how badly I should be punished for having so little Chinese skill.

I really need that bottle of 12 year old scotch now.

JULY 6th 2009
Today I visited my seventh doctor, the third urologist, in my quest to be pain free from kidney stones through removal of said.

I drove the one hour from my home to Kaohsiung Memorial University Hospital and got there at 9am. According to the waiting room chart, I was to be number 48... the counter said the doctor was seeing patient 6. I got some studying done.

When I finally saw the doctor, I handed him my CDs from the two other hospitals showing the history of my kidney stone progress. He studied them for nearly 8 minutes without saying a word to me. Finally, he told me that there were two paths we could take in treatment. The first would be to watch the diet, drink more, and avoid infection. I told him that this had been the treatment since January 17th 2007 when I first was seen for this problem. Now I have had 3 infections and the pain worsens. Okay, he said, the other option would be surgery. But, that would be complex because you have so many, and it would traumatize the kidney too much. So, he said with finality, I think there is nothing we can do.

What?

"Yes," he said, "we shall use option one, the conservative approach! However... wait... what country do you come from."

I live in Taiwan.

"No, no, I mean originally."

America.

"Oh! Well then, you could go to America and talk to an expert. Perhaps they would remove the stones."

Uh... Doctor, YOU are an expert at a teaching hospital.

"Yes, Well, I will have the nurse cancel the appointment today." (At which point she did, immediately and erased my visit from the computer, deleting any evidence that I had been there today) "So, you have no bill. You may leave now." (he said pleasantly and with a giant smile.) "Pay nothing. Don't see the cashier."

I must have looked pretty dumfounded because the nurse also then said, "You may go now."

Ah... no pain meds, no antibiotics? No labs? No vitals? I mean, hey, you gave me meds last week for an infection... don't you want to see how I responded?

The doctor might have said, "No, we are hoping that you go to another hospital and die before anyone finds out we saw you." But I was still in shock so I am not sure I really heard that.

I sat there a moment longer, the doctor and the nurse just smiling at me and sweating... either hoping I would get the hint and leave soon before I came unglued and did the American thing on them... or hoping I would in fact first "thank" them and leave.

I thanked them and left... Because I can't own a gun in Taiwan and do the American thing. This may be the reason.

So I wandered aimlessly around Kaohsiung in a stupor from shock. I came to suddenly in a Pizza Hut buffet with a sore tummy and about a dozen empty dirty plates before me on the table... I blacked out again then and found out later that I had gone to the Game Store and bought a new box of Assault Marines for my table top wargames and a magazine after having broken several of the models that were on display by violently throwing them across the room and into a wall. The store owner, James, wondered why I was breaking things but since I spend so much money there he really lets me get away with murder...

... OH....

I hope he didn't let me get away with that...

Anyhow...

I found myself at home, drooling on the couch, Sandy rocking me in her lap and cooing, "It will all be okay." The numbness is fading...

Now I am going to just take handfuls of Naproxen Sodium (Hey Mom, send me a case of it, will ya?) and drink vinegar until my eyes ooze sour wine in an attempt to self medicate and dissolve the nine slabs of granite in my side. I have informed Sandy that a bottle of Glenfiddich and a hobby knife are in our future and she is now reading "Urological Surgery for Dummies" that we got at the library... it is in Chinese but its all greek anyhow.

Onward and upward,
The Haggard

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taiwan is NOT part of China!

From Author Michael Richardson at:
http://tiny.cc/5iUMf

Taiwan's freedom march censored by U.S. news media--the photos they don't want you to see
May 19, 1:59 PM


The streets of Taipei and Kaohsiung were crowded on May 17th with Taiwanese seeking an independent Taiwan free from Chinese domination and those critical of Ma Ying-jeou, the Kuomintang leader of the Republic of China in-exile.

America's failed treaty obligations to the people of Taiwan under the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1952 were the subject of many demonstrators' shouts and signs. Meanwhile, across the Pacific Ocean in the United States the public was unaware of either the protest or unmet U.S. obligations.

U.S. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the District of Columbia U.S. Court of Appeals is aware of the unmet obligations. Judge Brown declared the treaty lapse to be the result of "strategic ambiguity" by the United States and has led to "political purgatory" for the residents of Taiwan.

Judge Brown is prepared to act "expeditiously" on the request of Taiwanese plaintiffs in the lawsuit Roger C.S. Lin, et al vs. United States for a determination of rights under the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Plaintiffs are seeking U.S. supervision of a self-determination process free from coercion and use of U.S. passports in the interim since they are denied nationhood by the "strategic ambiguity".

The longstanding "Taiwan question" is an artifact of the Cold War, ignorance of the historical record, and lucrative profits from the arms race that the unresolved national status has triggered.

Taiwan, commonly called Formosa, was a Japanese colony at the end of World War II when Japan surrendered to the United States. The U.S. Navy 7th Fleet landed Republic of China troops on Formosa in October 1945 to process Japanese soldiers. The civil war in China and the Cold War caused United States to prop up the Chinese government of Chiang Kai-shek allowing them to occupy Taiwan as the U.S. occupation proxy. And then the Chinese never left.

After the 1949 revolution and the People's Republic of China was born, the United States went along with the fiction that Chiang was the legitimate ruler of China and the people of Taiwan were subjected to forty years of harsh martial law and never did get an internationally sponsored referendum.

Not only has the U.S. government been silent on Taiwan's "political purgatory" but also the U.S. news media either ignores or provides misinformation about Taiwan's status. There was virtually no reporting on the Taiwan freedom marches to the American public. The Associated Press played down the events and said it was the first large protest of Ma's administration when it is actually the fourth massive demonstration.

Some of the signs in the protest, kept from the American public, refer to unmet U.S. treaty obligations. President Barack Obama has been silent on the matter and has not responded to Judge Brown either in court or by public announcement.

Monday, May 18, 2009

My buddy Lemon from Pingtung University of Science and Technology really gets into this Video Game... a game with the largest touch screen I have ever seen in a game. What a great way to overcome stress and relieve aggression!

Empty Nest Fears

Time is growing short. It is a month of good byes. Man, I hate those.

Sandy and I moved to Meinong, Taiwan five years ago... at that same time Dana and Karen moved to Meinong for the same reasons. For five years Dana and Karen have labored in Meinong to being the good news to the Hakka and they have become dear to us and to the people of Meinong. This week, Dana and Karen pack up and leave for the USA for some rest and training before going on to a mission elsewhere. Last night was the big Good Bye party. More than a couple dozen people tearfully told Dana and Karen what they meant to Meinong. They leave behind a church in Meinong that was not there when they arrived. They will be missed.

Also this month are the college graduations. In Taiwan, seniors graduate much earlier than other class would end their term. We have three college campus Bible studies, and two of them will be completely vacated by the seniors moving back to their home cities. Many of these young men and women are personal blessings to Sandy and I. They come to our home for dinner and talk often completely aside from Bible Study. I am not looking forward to those final dinners. Sure I will see them past those days, but not as much.

However, that means that next term I will be able to cultivate new relationships, meet new freshmen, start new Bible Studies and dinner & a movie nights in my home.

God bless you all as you find new paths on God's direction for your lives.

-The Haggard

Monday, May 04, 2009

Why Are People Reluctant to Go into Missions?

Why Are People Reluctant to Go into Missions?
John Piper

When I spoke at Missions in the Main Hall Sunday night, I tried to give a biblical response to possible obstacles that are in the way for some people that may keep them from moving forward toward missions. My prayer is that God would use these responses to call more of you to go. Here are eight objections and a biblical response.

1. "I am not smart enough."

"Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe." (1 Corinthians 1:20-21)

"Consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise." (1 Corinthians 1:26-27)

2. "My body and my personality are not strong enough."

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." (2 Corinthians 4:7)

"[Christ] said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

3. "I am not a good speaker."

"Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." (1 Corinthians 1:17)

"Moses said to the Lord, 'Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.' Then the Lord said to him, 'Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak." (Exodus 4:10-12)

4. "I am afraid of the horrors I read about in the newspapers."

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore (katartisei--"mend" or "repair" your horribly disfigured body when the lions in the coliseum are through with you), confirm, strengthen, and establish you." (1 Peter 5:8-10)

5. "I am afraid I won't be fruitful"

Your responsibility is not to be fruitful but to be faithful. "And said, 'The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come." (Mark 4:26-29)

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)

6. "There is plenty to do here."

True, but there is a division of labor and God calls some to MISSIONS, not just evangelism. The difference is seen in Romans 15:19-24: "So that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I [Christ] have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named. . . Now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions . . . I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain."

How could Paul say there was no room for work when there were millions in that region to be evangelized? Because evangelism is not missions.

7. "I am not married."

The best spouse is found on the path of obedience. "An excellent wife [or husband!] who can find? She [and he!] is far more precious than jewels" (Proverbs 31:10). The finding is exceedingly hard. It will happen on the road of obedience.

8. "I fear that when I get there it might turn out I made a mistake and will come home with shame."

Which is worse, shame for having endeavored to follow Christ in missions, or fear to venture? Shame before others for making a mistake will not hurt you; it will humble you and can make you more useful in a new situation. But fear will make you useless everywhere.

Consider Ecclesiastes 11:4 and what it says about risk: "He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap." Meaning: without taking the risk of sowing when the seed might be blown away and reaping when the rain might ruin the harvest, you will starve.

Oh, how precious is the freeing word of God,

Pastor John

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I come to the Tea Stand alone...

I sat down at the Tea Stand Cafe' in front of the College Library preparing myself for the Thursday afternoon English Bible Study. It had been a rough day and I was mentally tired. I had about 5 minutes to close my eyes and just relax before the class started trickling in.

Then I saw four high-schoolers walking toward me with purpose.

Oh man...

You see, living as the only american in Neipu can gain us some attention. Many times, the attention is kind of useless... the local group of kids that come to say "hi" don't really want any real conversation, they just want to have fun saying the three english words they know to the foreigner. I really wasn't in the mood for that! I was tired, I had some things on my mind, and I needed to get focused on the Bible Study that was about to start.

The two young men and two young women giggles and said, "Herro!" I played nice. "Hello," I said, and then in Chinese I asked, "Do you speak English?" They laughed and looked at each other nervously until one said, "no." Oh boy, I thought, more laughing and giggling with the foreign man. I was weary.

They spoke no English, and my Chinese is still pretty weak. But for the next few minutes I tried my best to turn this from the silly encounter with a foreigner into a more useful discussion. I found out where they lived, what they were learning in school (all nursing students in a technical high school 5 year program), and a few more items of small talk. As we spoke, more of the Bible Study students showed up... but not as many as I had hoped! Sandy came first and talked with the two girls a while... one of the College teachers that works with Sandy showed up. But really only a couple of the regular students showed up this time. I was getting more bummed.

But then the Holy Spirit poked me in the side with His rather SHARP elbow and said, "Tell them about the Son!"

I reached down to my bag for the Bi-Lingual Gospel presentation book we use, when Sandy said to me, "Should we tell them the Gospel with the Purple Book?" I smiled and held it up, and said, "Just what I was thinking." But then, I realized, there was a better way. A more productive way. I handed a purple book to one of the Bible Study students, a seeker named Ted. Ted is a school teacher in ChouJou how drives over to our study. At first just to practice english, but later because he is considering following Jesus.

"Tom," I said with a sly smile, "You tell them about Jesus." He didn't hesitate. As he started to tell the two young men about the gospel, I handed Sandy another copy of the Purple Bi-lingual Gospel Tract and said, "Have your co-teacher tell the girls about the gospel."

For the next 30 minutes, two people who just 3 months before said in class that they did not know that Jesus claimed to be God, were now telling people in their own heart-language that Jesus was God in the flesh come to take them out of the world of bowing to idols and asking for luck. I looked over Tom as he taught and Sandy looked over the girls. Occasionally we would offer some helpful illustration or clarification. It was the first time these students had ever shared the gospel and it was the first time these High Schoolers had ever heard it. In the end, the High Schoolers took copies of the Gospel Tract and a couple of New Testaments and promised to come back next week!

God's timing is not my timing any more than His ways are not my ways. He will choose to encounter you and use you where ever HE deems fit, in the garden alone, or in the cafe' crowd.

Pray for these folks. Pray that the joy of sharing the gospel infects our group. Pray that these High Schoolers return next week to hear more... and come to believe.

-In His Grip
Michael

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hakka Pestle Tea

Sam, Tracy, Sandy and Michael all enjoy a Winter Tea made from old an Hakka Recipe. This restaurant preserves this old custom for its patrons in Meinong, Taiwan. Hilarity ensues.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Erik is a good buddy who was a Senior in Sandy's class two years ago.  Here he is at Chili's getting a taste of his FIRST REAL American Hamburger.  Up to now, all he has had is McDonald's.