One of many activities for visiting youth from the Diocese of Taiwan was panning for gold at Ft. Langley

On Monday July 12, a delegation of 9 young people and 2 chaperons from the Diocese of Taiwan safely arrived at Vancouver International Airport after their 12-hour journey across the Pacific. On the home front, the welcoming team from our diocese, led by the Reverend John Mash (St. Catherine’s, North Vancouver) waited patiently outside the gate for their much anticipated friends from our twinned diocese.

This trip has taken 2 years into planning, and the original trip, scheduled during the summer of 2003, was cancelled due to concerns over SARS. In February this year, the Diocesan Partner in Mission Unit received a confirmation from the Bishop David Lai of Taiwan that the Youth Exchange was to go ahead this summer. The Taiwanese Youth Exchange Task Force quickly regrouped to prepare the groundwork for extending our hospitality to our friends from our twinned diocese.

Partners in Mission is about encouraging one another through sharing the Good News that is already living among us. For two weeks people in our diocese share with our Taiwanese friends our land, our language, our homes and our stories of faith in many of our parishes. After the welcoming supper and Opening Eucharist at St. Alban’s, Richmond, the first week of programming began with sightseeing and parish visits.

The young people learned about the history of First Nations and the subsequent settlers at Fort Langley National Historical Site and the newly opened Storyeum. They left their tracks along the forest trails in Lynn Canyon, experience the thrill of waterslide at Cultus Lake with the youth from St. Andrew’s.

They tasted the hospitality from Sunshine Coast as people from St. Batholomew’s, Gibson warmly hosted the group for a weekend. Harry Cheng, Ken Hsiu and Justin Lin said they would never forget their first time spending the night in a sailboat. The young people also visited many other parishes during their first week, among them include St. Helen’s, Point Grey, St. Martin’s, North Vancouver, St. George’s, Fort Langley, St. Andrew’s, Langley, and Christ Church Cathedral.

Taking a break from language school at St. Anselm’s were youth visiting from the Diocese of Taiwan this summer

The second week comprised a 5-day English Language School held at St. Anselm’s, Vancouver with free time and evening activities. The Reverend Kattleen Schmitt, Co-ordinator of the Language School and her team of teachers and volunteers put together a fun and practical curriculum that aims at improving conversational skills. Each day the youth from Taiwan would meet people from a different parish as they brought lunch over and hanged out with them as language partners.

Many thanks to volunteers from St. James’, St. Philip’s, St. Anselm’s, St. Catherine, North Vancouver, and St. Mary’s Kerrisdale. The adventure continued in the evenings with visits to Metrotown, the Museum of Anthropology, Evensong and Bell Tower tour at St. James’, and Vancouver Art Gallery. On Friday evening at the conclusion of Language School, a Graduation Banquet was held at the University Golf Club. The second week concluded with an opportunity to spend the weekend with members of the youth’s respective twinned parish.

Hospitality was provided by members of St. Andrew’s, Langley, St. James’, Vancouver, All Saints’, Ladner, and St. George’s, Maple Ridge. Ken, Harry and Kathy from St. James’, Taichung found themselves attending

The Taiwanese youth at St. Bartholomew's, Gibsons

the Solemn High Feast of St. James’ the Apostle that Sunday, the same day when the parish celebrated the ministry of Archdeacon David Retter in full Technicolor, who had visited their parish in Taiwan only a year ago. On Sunday evening, the group re-gathered at St. Anselm’s for a Closing Liturgy. With lots of laughter and a few tears, we said farewell with our beloved friends at the Vancouver International Airport.

When being asked what was the single most significant thing they would remember from this trip, there came the surprising answer of “Safeway” (where they stopped by every night for supplies), and “Michael (Burns)” (one of the volunteer drivers from St. Catherine’s, North Vancouver who spent a lot of times with the group). For us, members of the Exchange Task Force, among many other things, we shall never forget the music they shared with us—whether it was Emily on the piano or Ken on the guitar, the challenges they faced being Christians in Taiwan, and the friendship that has become so evident after only two short weeks.

The Taiwanese Exchange Task Force:
The Reverend Margaret Cornish
The Reverend Roberta Fraser
The Reverend Clarence Li
The Reverend John Mash (Chair)
The Reverend Kathleen Schmitt

The Taiwanese Exchange Participants:
Advent Church, Taipei, Hsien Emily Hsin-Hua Chang
St. James’, Taichung: Ken Kang-Chun Hsiu, Kathy Kai-Ping Hsiu, Harry Hao-Yuan Cheng,
All Saints’, Kangshan Tiffany Sun, Ting, Deniss Liao, NancyYen
St. Timothy’s, Kaohsiung Daniel Cheng, Sandra Szu-Tsun Liao,
Jane Hsiu-Chih Ou (chaperon)
The Reverend Justin Chun-Min Lin (chaperon)

- The Reverend Clarence Li
Member of the Taiwanese Exchange Task Force