Despite the previous nights typhoon event, I was the only one able to sleep through the entire night because of a genius idea to sleep with headphones in. All four of the other guys in room we were staying barely slept due to the hatch on the ceiling breaking in the storm as stated in the last blog.
Our curiosity guided us to the closest window where we peeked through the glass in an attempt to view the damage from Soudelor. Luckily remnants of the storm were nearly non existent because of the local’s hard work to clean up all possible trails of the storm. Men and women were outside in the streets cleaning the sidewalks and doing their best to show how much pride they had in their beautiful city by keeping it clean.
Around noon we took a walk to 7-11 followed by Taiwanese buffet for lunch. Our break for fresh air allowed us to see how little damage the powerful storm actually caused the city. Our break from being inside took us to the school where we met with Pastor Luke, his wife, and the camp helpers. We began to set up for the next day’s event to show the parents what their children had learned in our english camp. Our first sight of the school showed us the most damage which we had seen. The school was littered with trees and branches all over the entire campus. Our team began to start cleaning up any remaining damage left at the school before setting up.
After setting up at the school, we headed back to the hostel where we grabbed our supplies from camp and then headed to the church at which Pastor Luke preached. The plan when we left the states was to leave all supplies in Hualien as a gift for the church, as well as free up space in our luggage. Pastor Luke was very happy to receive our gift of teaching supplies, and sports equipment.
Dinner time was soon approaching us as the day grew on. Chris had joked 2 days before about the possibility of Salt Lick delivering. Little did we know he would actually make it possible for us to enjoy our favorite meal in Hualien thus far in the comfort of our hostel rooms. We even received the humble owner delivering our orders as an extra special part to our eat-in night.
We awoke early once more on one of our last in Taiwan to make sure our luggage was fully packed for the day. Managing to leave the house at 8:45 to grab food, head to 7-11 for drinks, and then go to the school where we would see the kids for the last time. Once arriving at the school, students and parents began to trickle in and fill the seats one by one. Our event was scheduled sing worship songs, run down each day’s holiday lesson, hear the testimonies of a few team members, and then hear a sermon from Pastor Luke.
The event went really well except for one thing; our last time to see the students. Many people on the team were very saddened by the fact we may never see these children again. The majority of the children’s parents asked to get pictures of us and their child because they knew how much their kids had enjoyed the camp which we led. Our work in Hualien was done. We came, we taught, we built relationships, and we left a lasting impact of God’s love for a non Christian community to see before their eyes.
The departure of our train back to Taipei was at 1:00. So we proceeded down the road towards the train station where we would leave the coastal city of Hualien we had come to know and love so very much. Our train ride was 3 hours of countless picturesque views of small towns, towering mountains, and the coast which has slightly changed color. The waves brought in murky brown water caused by the typhoon coming somewhat inland in certain parts of the country. We arrived in Taipei, hopped on the MRT, and then headed back towards Ximen where we had stayed previously in Taipei. It felt like home and we knew how badly it was going to hurt when we left.
Since it was Sunday, we headed towards Aroma for one last church service in the little coffee shop based church. Once again we walked in to a packed out church full of familiar faces we had grown so close to over the past 2 weeks. Chris shared about our trip in his sermon, and what it meant for God to be our heavenly father. The service ended and our team left with our friends towards the shaved ice shop we were introduced to on our first night in Taiwan. Eating our new team favorite of mango shaved ice, we shared community with the people of Aroma for the last time. Hugs, laughter, and hopefully “I’ll be back to Taiwan again” ’s were exchanged as we said our last goodbyes to some of the kindest people on the face of the Earth.
As I end this blog, we have been helped beyond measure by everyone back home, and the people of Aroma Coffee Shop. I’d like to personally thank Nancy, Chris, Jamie, Harris, Annie, and Jerry for everything you did to make our team feel at home in Taiwan.
PS. There’s no way I can forget Jesse Wagner and everything you did to make me feel at peace over the course of the trip. Jesse is by far one of the most loving people, and he can brighten anyone’s day no matter the circumstances. Thank you Jesse for taking the time to pray with me and ease my emotions about coming home. You have been a huge blessing to myself and the rest of the team!