Ghost Month

Ghost month. A period of time when the gates of hell are opened, allowing ghosts and spirits to enter our world. It is a time for them to feast on the food and drink offerings made for them.

Ghost Month Offering

At the height of the month, the ghost festival (the 15th day of the seventh lunar month), it is believed deceased ancestors visit the living. Around this time, people will offer food and drink, burn incense, joss paper (paper money), and various other things to the ghosts to alleviate their suffering and hunger. Also, a wash basin is provided for ghosts to wash themselves.

As we watch on from a distance, grandparents invite their grandchildren (toddlers and such) to follow their lead, worshipping their dead ancestors. Store owners pack tables full with various goods in hope of appeasing any mischievous spirits. People stand over a brazier burning mounds of joss paper…

It’s depressingly sad. I wish I could tell them there was another way, there is no reason to be scared…

The blessing of support ministries!

We’re new field missionaries. We’ve served for the past couple of years as support missionaries on the “homeside”, but now we are serving on the “field” in Taiwan for the next 18 months or so.

As new cross-cultural workers, we are in the midst of transitions. We’re dealing with culture shock, faced with the limited ability to communicate effectively, learning how to manage day-to-day life in a culture and society different to our own.

These last few days, we were faced with a frustrating situation. Sickness. As we struggle with all the challenges of transition, we now need to figure out the medical system of this country. It’s not like going to the supermarket and figuring out what’s fresh milk, soy milk, or yoghurt milk…

After a misdiagnosis yesterday, we contacted our medical advisor (who happens to be in New Zealand) for a second opinion. We were able to get the opinion of a medical profession who understands our home culture and our adopted culture. While Taiwan certainly provides excellent medical care, there are cultural differences which result into slightly different approaches to patient care.

Just the ability to speak to someone who “speaks our language” and understands our situation without getting things lost in translation is a huge relief. As a result, tomorrow we’ll return to the hospital to get one small detail adjusted to see if we can’t get an improved care plan as we deal with sickness in the family.

We’re fortunate we work with an organisation which believes in supporting its workers to enable long-term effectiveness and survival (it’s already hard enough to survive in cross-cultural ministry without the added stress). Our organisation enlists the help of various people with suitable gifts to support its workers. Some of these roles you would find in any typical organisation: finances, HR, IT, etc. Some, however, are unique to the cross-cultural sphere: language & culture, prayer, TCKs, etc.

There’s more which can be said about the importance of support ministries (check out this article). I just wanted to say thank you!