Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hsinchu CI - Day 1

“It was a dark and stormy night.” This is how stories are supposed to begin…or is it? That would be true if I changed “dark” to “windy”, “stormy” to “freezing”, and “night” to “afternoon”. At least this is how CI began for me this year, on a windy and freezing afternoon. To complement this auspicious start, I was sick, ruffled by the “zephyr”, and just short of being paralyzed by the cold. It will only go uphill and downhill simultaneously from here, with the former meaning things could only get better and the latter meaning the road would only become easier.

Tonight fitted these two predictions wonderfully. As a bridge for three ebullient teachers and eleven obedient children, I had never felt so content to be trampled on, not literally, of course. My team members were vigorous, not violent. Their enthusiasm was a great boost, supplanting my sore throat with boiling energy. “Story Time with Alex” is, and will be, a most memorable incident.

My team, efficient as they are, designated a section of the lessons to “Alex’s stories” even before I met them. It was an excellent attention-grabber, compelling the kids to listen closely to the messages that we try to convey. Today’s story – recounting a particular person’s unwise choice in downing a gallon of milk in one go – involved a lot of gurgling noises and pretended-puking by the storyteller, whom I made my best effort to imitate. It worked, well, well. We absorbed the children’s attention like sponges sucking up water; except we didn’t get drenched in the process and they weren’t exactly drained of anything, either. It actually felt nice to act crazy and see the kids thoroughly enjoy every minute.

There were other moments, just small captured moments, that I will not readily forget: the rows and rows of children bowing their heads, clasping their own hands in prayer; the teachers who cheerfully try to enunciate one of the most difficult and complex languages; a small, small boy intrigued yet frightened by the tall, scary foreigner; the wise advice teaching us how to make our socks un-slippery; the melodious songs. There were all beautiful, and I couldn’t help but forget my physical discomfort. God put CI in each of our lives to make us better, to answer our question, and much more. I look forward to tomorrow, and every day that comes after that.

If you have borne with me thus far, through my misery and happiness, please take a moment – even just a minute – to kneel before God and pray for us – that the seminars will not lose focus of God as the center of everything, the we continue to love the children without reserve, unaffected by the minutiae of work, knowing that they and we alike are all God’s design.

Peter Chen

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