Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Speaking of Friends in High Places

I teach Sunday School from 9 am to 10:15, then I usually go to worship at Grace Baptist Church, which has English worship services. But I wanted to meet with Michael at 12:00, so I stayed for Suan Lien's worship. It is in Taiwanese, but offers English translation by radio headset. I sat in the balcony and was greeted by former students I hadn't seen in years.

One of them was May. She is a doctor and really smart. She designed Taiwan's National Health Care system. Unfortunately, the system is now broke and is being adjusted. I remember she had a lot of pressure 12 years ago when she designed it. Everyone loves to complain and these systems never work as designed. People's desire for good health is always greater than our desire to pay for it. I don't know what her duties are now, but I was shocked to see her with so much gray hair. Well, she still looks cute for a grandmother.

I met another former student, but I can't remember her name. At first I couldn't remember any details about her, but she was friendly and greeted me. (No one forgets me as I have been the only foreigner in the Church in the last 12 years; perhaps the only foreigner ever.) Then I remembered who she is. She is the wife of the President of the entire Presbyterian Denomination in Taiwan, and this is the largest denomination in the country. She was my student for a couple of years. I remember she told the story of nearly choking to death when a fishbone got stuck in her throat. Taiwanese eat a lot of fish, so there's a lot of choking goin' on. Last time I saw her she ran out of my class, angrily screaming (in Taiwanese) "Is this Righteousness, Is this Righteousness". Maybe she has forgiven me, or she's just really good at maintaining "face". Anyway it was good to see her again.

Just for the record, that eventful day, I was teaching how the Taiwanese sinned against the aboriginal people who came to the island before them, just as the American settlers did to the Indians. Taiwanese don't think of themselves as oppressors, they believe they are victims. They don't see any connection with the fact that they are rich, powerful and successful living on former Aboriginal lands, while the Aboriginals are poor and humble living on mountain land that others don't want. Calling a Taiwanese "a mountain person" is an insult. The last thing to mention is that many people in my church and the denomination do work hard to help the mountain people; but I have not.