This is the 50 meter outdoor public pool that the kids and I have gone swimming at about twice a week since we´ve lived in Tienmu. It is about a 10 minute walk to get there. Are you seeing a pattern here? It is next to the park where to section of walking path closest to us is. This is one of the places I practice paying in Mandarin, because they don´t take a credit card. I´m learning how they say the numbers and some short cuts in how they refer to money amounts. The staff speaks little or no English, but we exchange greetings to some extent.
About a week ago when we were here we met a young Chinese man (most people we have met refer to themselves as Chinese living in Taiwan). He spoke good English and was glad for a chance to visit with someone from the US. He had spent about 8 years in Texas. At least part of that time was in pursuit of a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He works at the airports. He doesn’t want to get a car in Taiwan because he says the drivers are crazy. He looks forward to meeting us again at the pool.
The outdoor lap lanes have been in constant use whenever we have gone, but never so busy that we can’t find at least one lane for all of us to share. People share lanes with complete strangers as well when all the lanes are taken. There is also a 25 meter indoor pool in the building behind the canopy. Most of the women seem to go in there. I am told they are keeping their skin from getting too dark. But many of them don’t look like strong swimmers, either, or are walking laps. Although some have smiled at me, none have ever spoken to me.
So you can see that the pool has been a pleasant place. It is harder to swim 50 meter lengths, but being outdoors is wonderful. Today we swam while it was rainy and windy, but still so warm that being chilled was never a concern. It was just as we were arriving we had a fun encounter with a Chinese lady about my age.
What do you think the chances are of meeting a Chinese Christian lady my age in a non-Christian venue in a city of at least 2 million when the estimated percentage of Christians in the population is no more than 4%? When I did the math, not taking into account the even smaller percentage of people in that age group, I came up with 80,000 to one.
She saw Natalie and Carlie first, while I was around a corner, and began a simple conversation in English with them. (I don’t know the probability of meeting an English speaking Chinese Christian lady!) She thought they were cute and wanted to practice English (Okay, so they being cute may affect the statistics, too). When she found their mother, she was very excited and began telling me how we could help each other practice languages. She asked how many years! I had been in Taiwan. She gave me her name and address and told me where she works and said to come for the free lunch/ladies get together on Mondays. That’s when she skimmed over an explanation of why they were open on Mondays and took the weekly “holiday” on Sundays – because “I am a Christian.” ( Most businesses here that have a day they are closed take Mondays off) It was not an announcement nor did she linger over the words with any special meaning. She was on to the next detail, but I managed to quietly slip in that I am a Christian, too. She was astounded and pleased, as shown by her face lighting up and her “Hallelujah!”
In the end, she also has my name and address. She also introduced me to two of he friends who were around there, but they didn’t speak English. Maybe I’ll be able to talk to them soon. So I will plan on visiting her group at the shop on Monday. The kids are invited, too, as we did communicate that I teach them myself. As I began to swim my laps I felt I might cry tears of happiness at how God arranges things. He who plans all things holds me in the palm of his hand.