I Bleed Asian

June 12, 2013

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! GARDNERA (20) 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. GARDNERA (39) 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. GARDNERA (50) 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. GARDNERA (52) 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. GARDNERA (272) 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! GARDNERA (281) 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. GARDNERA (289) 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) GARDNERA (506) 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. GARDNERA (520) 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. GARDNERA (558) 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. GARDNERA (559) 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. GARDNERA (769) 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.

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