I Bleed Asian
Every blogger knows that no post is complete without pictures. It makes the blog post feel naked. I’ve been wanting to share with you all about growing up in Taiwan for quite a wile but, without pictures, it’s like a naked Asian running around my blog. We don’t want that now, do we? Everyone on my blog is required to be clothed. Even Asians. Um… Moving on… (I’m now a little concerned what sort of searches I’ll find in my Google analytics!) The point of all that is just to say – I got pictures off my mom’s computer so now I’m able to write this post! You know, to be completely honest, I’m not exactly sure what sparked the move to Taiwan. It happened when I was three and, up until now, I’ve never really thought to ask. It was just a part of my life. All I know is that somehow my parents got hooked up with a missions organization (CBInternational – now called WorldVenture – for those of you curious) and my dad took on a teaching job at a school for missionary kids in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I loved growing up in Taiwan. I can honestly say that the years living there were six of the best years of my life. Life was so simple, I had a wonderful community surrounding me, and I got to be the center of attention due to my blond ringlets and bright blue eyes. My family lived in the village outside the city and it was the perfect location for a child to grow up. My brothers and I would take our bikes out and ride around without any worries. We’d go over to the neighborhood basketball court and play all sorts of games with our neighbors – both Chinese kids and Americans. We’d walk about a mile to the village market to spend our allowance on bings or red bean ice cream. The first few years (until Kindergarten) I got to attend a Taiwanese preschool. I learned so much of the language and made tons of friends. (unfortunately, I’ve forgotten almost all of the language by now) The only ones who weren’t my friends were “the hitter boys,” as I called them. Since the preschool was near our house, my mom would ride me over on her bike and everyday, without fail, the other kids would point and yell out “Me gwo rein” meaning “American!” They never did get used to me attending school with them. Before we got a car, my family of five would pile up on my dad’s motorbike to go place. No, five on a motorbike was not abnormal. Once we had adopted Rebekah and Deborah, we got a van and would fight over who got to sit in the middle seat, where we thought the fan spent the most time. It was so hot! We travelled all over the island. We would go down to Kenting, a tropical resort and swim in the wonderfully warm South China Sea. We would go to Puli, where our denomination would celebrate Thanksgiving at a wonderful campground full of ropes courses and fun! (Also where we spent a whole summer one year!) We would go to Guanziling, the hot springs, and enjoy wonderful relaxation. Typhoon season would come and, instead of being worried, I’d be excited because the flooding meant I got to have a swimming pool in my front yard. Even when the house flooded a bit it was fun to help get the furniture up on bricks to keep it from getting wet. (Yeah, I’m sure I really wasn’t much help) With my blond hair and blue eyes, I was asked to model for all sorts of clothing ads, runways, and product boxes. I had the time of my life getting dolled up and fussed over. I felt like a celebrity in my own little world. It was also in Taiwan that I met Jesus. I remember driving through the Taiwanese countryside, passing temple after temple, seeing the sadness and fear that went along with so many of the Taiwanese people’s Buddhist/Daoist religions. I remember being stopped while driving somewhere by a funeral procession where individuals were carrying idols and whipping themselves. I remember the pain in my best friend’s heart when she became a Christian and her family still required the she bowed to the family idols as a part of their worship. Buddhism didn’t all come with pain, though. I remember going on a long hike with my family and stumbling upon a Buddhist monastery. I remember the monks joyfully inviting us to share a meal with them. Thrilled that we were there. I remember wedding feasts of our Buddhist friends full of vegetarian cuisine disguised as octopus, beef, and lamb. I remember the fun and laughter I shared with the kids in our neighborhood as their parents burned incense to the idols. It was in Taiwan that I gained a much broader perspective of the world. The life we have in America is such a blessing and so many people take it for granted. I don’t need the things of this world while there are those I lived next door to who had next to nothing and yet shared all they had. Taiwan turned me into a third-culture kid, someone not comfortable in America, my home, but never truly a part of Taiwan. When I was nine, my family moved back to America. There were many reasons for the move. My grandpa was sick and my mom wanted to be able to help take care of him. My oldest brother was going into ninth grade and would have had to attend a boarding school to continue his education. It was just time to come “home.” That move was one of the hardest times in my life. The joy and peace I had in Taiwan were stripped away. That country was my true home. But that’s a story for another time.
Purposely at Home
June 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm
amazing! growing up in taiwan would have been such an exciting childhood. thanks for sharing the pictures! 🙂
June 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm
I had no idea you lived in Taiwan! What an amazing life you have lived!
My brother-in-law is Taiwanese, and he and my sister went over there for a second wedding for his grandmother.. The traditions they have amazed me. Such an interesting culture!
June 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm
Wow! This post was very inspiring. I hope to truly live in a third world country one day. I have visited of course but it is not the same. I crave the simplicity and I want to show others the peace we have in Jesus. You have a way with words. I appreciate this post and I appreciate your family and the work they did in Taiwan!
Gina at CampClem
June 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm
Hi, I'm new here! [wave] I have no idea how I stumbled onto your blog, but my jaw almost dropped as you started to share about Taiwan. A friend of mine's eldest son is moving to Taiwan TODAY with his family. What divine timing! I shared this post with her, and I hope your happy experience there is a great encouragement to her!
g i n a
June 12, 2013 at 2:13 pm
I love that you lived in Taiwan for so long. I think we've already discussed, but that's where I'm from and I miss it sometimes. Have you been back to visit since moving away? Did you ever go the Taipei city? It's like whole other world in the city from the countryside.
Jennifer – The Deliberate Mom
June 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm
What an amazing childhood you had. So many opportunities, so many adventures, and this is the place where you found Jesus… how wonderful is that?!
Thank you for sharing! I almost want to gather my family and move to Taiwan!
Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird
June 12, 2013 at 2:38 pm
I think that's amazing, what a life changing experience for oyu.
June 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm
I love it. What a lovely experience as a child!
I did giggle about the "google analytics" thing though! HA!
June 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm
This is AMAZING!!! Seriously, how many people can say they GREW UP in Taiwan!?! 🙂
June 12, 2013 at 5:40 pm
i loved loved loved reading your story. i had no idea that you spent time in Taiwan! And now I'm craving red bean ice cream 🙂 I would love to hear more about the Buddhist/Daoist religions you witnessed.. More posts please!
June 12, 2013 at 6:15 pm
This post makes me so happy! Growing up in Thailand I can relate to everything you said! And yes, being a blonde haired, blue eyed child in an Asian country definitely resulted in many experiences!
June 12, 2013 at 6:46 pm
What an amazing wxperience, thanks for sharing this part of your life with us!
June 12, 2013 at 7:11 pm
Thank you so much for sharing the pictures and tell a bit about your childhood. I love your stories and the pictures, it really sounds like an awesome time. I especially love the flooding story. 🙂
June 12, 2013 at 7:22 pm
What an incredible young childhood you had. I'm sure you'll never forget those days. I would have been terrified of typhoon season..but I guess that's the beauty of little ones, they always see the fun in everything! Love all those photos with you, the little blonde one. So awesome about your modeling days!:-)
June 12, 2013 at 7:33 pm
Wow, what an amazing experience. I love learning about other religions and living in another country would be the perfect way to do that. Seriously, what fun childhood memories you have.
Stephanie @ Life, Unexpectedly
June 12, 2013 at 7:35 pm
Those pictures and your story are amazing, Susannah! It must have been quite an adventure in hindsight. I bet re-adjusting the living in the States wasn't easy…
June 12, 2013 at 8:05 pm
what awesome memories! and I'm sure you did stick out with those adorable blonde ringlets!
June 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm
What a wonderful way your parents taught you!!- there's more to life then just you and there's such a bigger world then just us- I hope one day to teach my children the same!! Love how fun and vivid all your memories are! Thanks for sharing this- enjoyed reading it! -And I'm fully clothes so I thinks it's ok that I post;)
June 12, 2013 at 10:55 pm
You are so well rounded and have been so many wonderful places. I am glad you were blessed with such a wonderful once in a lifetime experience 🙂
June 12, 2013 at 11:06 pm
You're making me so homesick!! Different country, of course, but there are so many similarities to my home, because I lived in a very Chinese part of Malaysia–and all those emotions about being a TCK are quite similar. I don't think I'll ever feel at home in America. After nearly 3 years of living here continuously, I don't feel at home yet. But I do feel at home in Malaysia.
I was wondering if you learned how to read and write Chinese while you were there? (even if you've forgotten it by now). You did a pretty good job of writing the sounds of "MeiGuo Ren" from memory from all those years ago–I understood the phrase perfectly. I can't wait to go home and polish up my Mandarin.
June 12, 2013 at 11:07 pm
Wowowowoowowowow! What a wonderful place to grow up! It's a pity you have forgotten a lot of the language now though, I'm sure you could pick it up again though if you studied =)
June 12, 2013 at 11:34 pm
Susannah, such a great post. Lovely pics in which the joy of childhood shone out. I bet if you visited with some Chinese living in the US you would be stunned how much Chinese you actually know. Cheers
June 13, 2013 at 12:21 am
great post, susannah. loved all the photos. :]
June 13, 2013 at 1:22 am
that's funny that all 5 of you would ride on the motorbike. what a crazy and neat experience and life stories you have from that!
June 13, 2013 at 1:48 am
These pics are presh. Love it!
June 13, 2013 at 3:33 am
I LOVE these pictures. Taiwan does look like it was a fabulous time for you.
June 13, 2013 at 6:26 am
Wow, I really enjoyed reading this. I'd love to hear more some time. The pictures are just precious as you were too as a little young lady. Take care,
June 13, 2013 at 2:23 pm
Wow! What an amazing opportunity you had! I do hope that you share more about living in Taiwan! I'd be really interested in reading more? 🙂
June 13, 2013 at 5:15 pm
I'm right there with you, I feel like I bleed Asian. It was a littl weird to come back and not have everyone be amazed by me and make a fuss over me. I kind of got used to being a local celebrity, haha. I just love how simple life can be over there. That's interesting your take on Buddhism, they probably are a different type of buddhist in Taiwan. I saw some amazing blessings in people's lives due to their devotion to buddhism, mostly the amazing sense of forgiveness they have.
June 14, 2013 at 3:26 pm
WOW!! What an awesome way to grow up and experience your most formative years. These pictures are just priceless! What an awesome experience. I hope to give my son the gift of travel to open his eyes to the world like it has mine, but this type of experience is so much more!
June 16, 2013 at 1:48 am
Wow! I'm surprised you can still remember so much since you were so young when you lived there. Sounds like an amazing experience.
June 16, 2013 at 7:09 pm
As I scrolled through the comments on here, almost all of them said "WOW!" and that was my initial thought, too!! What an amazing background you have!! I loved reading about this part of your life, but I'm sorry it was such a rough transition for you when you moved back. I'm anxious to read more about it!
October 14, 2013 at 10:19 pm
This was a great post, I'm glad you linked back to it. 🙂 I would have loved getting dolled up to model. You paint a beautiful portrait of this time in your life. 🙂
Rach @ This Italian Family
February 6, 2014 at 3:16 am
Oh wow, I'm so glad I got to read this! What an incredible experience you had! All foreigners stuck out in Wuhan (the city in China where we lived), but my height (I've always been tall), my sister's blonde hair & blue eyes, and my dad's red hair & blue eyes made us all look pretty conspicuous. At least my mom was an appropriate height, haha! Though she has SUCH fair skin that people would always comment on how beautiful it was. Anyway, the point of that being that I totally hear you on standing out! I loved reading about your years there! 🙂
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