What’s in a name?

Glory // 榮耀

The Chinese word for ‘glory’ is 榮耀. My Chinese name is 盧耀國. My dad’s name is 盧榮林. When you highlight the generational (middle) characters of my dad’s and my siblings’ name— and 耀, respectively.

What legacy will my dad and I leave to my children and future generations?

My dad was a humble man, he never sought his own glory, but sought the benefit and blessing of those around him. His funeral was a testimony to this; the funeral hall was full and people spilt outside in memory of his life.

The significance of this name is not lost on me. At this stage of my life, I’m not the humble man my dad was, I can only trust God will finish this work in me—seeking not only my own glory, but the glory of our Lord and Saviour.

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…

Culture shock: the early days

Well, it’s Day 4 of our new journey in Taiwan. We arrived safely last Wednesday and we were warmly welcomed by a fellow co-worker.

To date, there are daily communications in the form of personal visits, phone calls, and messages from one or more of our new co-workers here in Taipei. All of them are truly happy to have us as part of the team here, and all of them empathise with our daily struggle as we transition into life here.

However, the culture shock is setting in quicker than I expected. It just hit me in the face. Honestly, it’s probably a good indication of how stressed and tired I am from these last few months of preparing for this current transition.

I could entertain you with the things which frustrate me, but that’s the danger of culture shock, entertaining those frustrations about differences—not failures or mistakes, between my home culture and my current adopted culture—which fuel bitterness and anger, defeating the whole purpose of coming here in the first place.

Rather, my prayer and desire turns to Jesus:

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:29 (ESV)

He is the reason we are here. He is my hope and my salvation. He is the hope and salvation for all peoples.

I’ll still have days where I will struggle with the culture, but I know that my Lord and Saviour is able to carry me through.

Angry dad!

I find myself tested more and more by Joseph’s stubbornness and impatience. Externally, I’m frustrated by Joseph’s behaviour; internally, I’m wrestling with what is an appropriate response. I certainly lacking the grace that Julie exercises, while I wish I could share her gracious optimism, I’m characteristically responding a lot like my own parents. My recent psychological assessment for work showed as much; my anger is expressed externally and obviously. While the assessment showed no indication of physical expression of anger, my demeanour is far from restrained.

Parenting tests your all of your restraints: physical, mental, emotional, and even, spiritual. What social restraints we learnt before parenthood in our relationships and associations with our people are taken to a new degree. It is often our greatest weakness that comes to surface, in my case, my lack of an attitude of grace and anger response are put on show.

It is another lesson to learn on this parenting journey.