Once upon a time it was today, and Nica and I were coming home from church on a scooter. Sara and Christina were on another scooter (also coming home), and for a while we were basically traveling together. Then we hit this one intersection, and Nica and I sped ahead of Sara and Christina. Eventually, Sara and Christina must have taken a different turn, because suddenly they were no where in site; and, oh yeah. The scooter Nica and I were riding died basically in the middle of an intersection, but we had enough momentum left to get us through the intersection and over to the side of the road. Sara and Christina did not pass us. Ever.
So we sat there, Nica repeatedly trying to get the scooter to turn on.
It didn't turn on.
It still didn't turn on.
I noticed a gas station on the next street corner, so we got off the scooter and started pushing it towards the gas station. The attendants there saw us coming and one of them came running over to us (at this point we were just across the way), thinking we needed more gas.
You know, despite English being a required course in schools here, it surprises me how many young people don't know a single word. They make up for their lack of knowledge in kindness, though, and it's not like I can really speak their language, either, so I can't complain.
Well, the kid tried getting our scooter to turn on. Wouldn't. He noticed that the gas meter said we still had about half a tank of gas left, so then he helped us push our scooter the rest of the way to the gas station. Then ALL the attendants came over and tried to help us. Finally, after a lot of discussion in Chinese and Nica and I just staring dumbly at the scooter not knowing what was going on, the female attended pointed to the scooter, to herself, and then to the street. "Follow you?" I asked, hoping they would understand. "Ah!! Follow you!" said a male attendant (I think the one that had first tried to help us). So she starts pushing the scooter down the street, and Nica and I trot after her for a ways. We arrived at what I am assuming is a scooter repair shop, and this short little man came and took a look at our scooter. He started unscrewing things, trying a few times to get the engine to turn over... Then he took out a part and replaced it (cost: $80NT) and tried to get the engine to turn over again. Still wouldn't work. Then he got the bright idea to actually look in the gas tank and, oh. Guess what? No gas! The male gas attendant that had first tried to help us arrived on his scooter, words were exchanged in Chinese, he left, then came back with $20NT worth of gas in a water bottle. The engine turned over, the scooter turned on, it was glorious! A neighbor to the repair guy came over to us and was able to tell Nica and I what the trouble was. "The oil meter is not sensitive. You should get it replaced. For now, though, it is OK, only no gas." We said our thanks, then followed the gas attendants back to the gas station and had our scooter filled with gas. I told the female 谢谢 (xie xie: thank you) and she said, "Ah?" and then garbled off some Chinese to me, sounding really excited. I stared at her rather dumbly and then said,, in the most-used Chinese that I know, "Dui bu qi. Ting bu dong." (I'm sorry, I don't understand." "Ah. Ting bu dong," and she smiled, and Nica and I proceeded to follow the attendants back to the gas station. They filled our tank the rest of the way with gas, we expressed our sincere thanks once again, and made our merry way home without any more trouble.
Thing I learned from this experience:
Always be prepared with phone numbers (check). By some stroke of genius that I can in no way attribute to myself, I had written down a bunch of Important Phone Numbers on my Berhan business card that I carry around with me at all times. Even though we didn't end up needing to call anyone, it brought me some comfort to know that we could if it became necessary.
Never travel alone on a scooter. Or anywhere.
People in Taiwan are basically good and will go out of their way to assist a Mei Guo Ren (an American) (this has actually been affirmed to me several times now, but never quite so obviously as with this experience).
Prayer is powerful. Even though the miracle didn't happen in the way I expected, it still happened.
God is great.
You should always go to church and do everything in your power to remain worthy of the blessings that you seek after and/or ask for.
On that note, let's talk about Friday. If you haven't heard or gathered by now, I have been suffering from extremely severe insomnia for the last two months (give or take a week or two). Like, it's been really bad. I've averaged 4 hours of sleep a night (sometimes only 3 hours) and have been unable to even fall asleep for a nap. I haven't been able to get myself to fall asleep at night, and when I have fallen asleep, I've woken up to Every Little Sounds. It's ridiculous. I've never slept so poorly in my life. Recently it reached the point where I would burst into tears randomly at least once a day simply because I was so tired. My anxiety has shot through the roof, and I've had a fairly severe migraine almost every day due to lack of sleep. P.S. I have even been taking the Ambien that I brought with me, but it has done me little to no good.
Well, last week I mentioned my sleeping problem to Fenny when I was at her house. She, being the wonderful person that she is, offered to help me find a doctor and to take me to said doctor. This past Friday we were finally able to go. The doctor is a specialist, and actually a psychiatrist. He's also located right next-door to one of the supermarkets that I shop at. His English? Impeccable. Much better than Dr. Wong's (the ENT doctor that I saw back in September). We chatted for a while, Fenny occasionally clarifying somethings for him in Chinese that weren't coming across real well in English, and I came away with a week's supply of medications (Xanax, to help with the anxiety, a higher dosage of Zolpidem, and... something else that is also supposed to help me to sleep, but I don't remember the name of it right now). Fenny is going to take me back this coming Friday for an evaluation, but let me tell you. Wow. It has been so nice to sleep again! I've even taken naps the past few days and still have been able to fall asleep at night. Also, it only cost me $150NT for the visit, drugs included. For those of you not in the know with the conversion rate, that comes to about $4.97 USD.
I don't care what people say about national health care. Here in Taiwan? It works, and I have no complaints about it.
And... there are only 6 weeks of the semester left. That's only 24 more days of AK, 18 more days of Elementary, 6 more days of my writing class, and 5 more days of tutoring. In just 54 days, I will be home enjoying my parent's company, my mother's cooking, delicious restaurants that don't make me sick from all the MSG and onions, a room (and house) all to myself, and having my preciously adorable kitty cat following me around.
(What? Don't pretend like you didn't know a picture of my cat was coming.)
I anticipate, however, that I'll also be pining over lost friendships (or friendships with people that, really, who knows if I'll ever see them again?), never seeing my little kindergarten devils, and the kindness and generosity of people in Taiwan.
I love this country. I love the people. I love the children (most of them). Good-byes are always hard, but at least I do have 54 more days to prolong the inevitable.
Also, hey. Fun fact: today Sara and I discovered that we had the same First Grade teacher, just two years apart. Awesome? I think yes. Note to self: when you get home, find your third grade yearbook and try to find Sara's picture.