The Host

I can’t imagine what a trip to Taiwan would be like without a host.  Many of the people there speak English, but it would still be much more difficult without a host that was interested in making our trip better.  My son met Tanya and Phil through the Taiwanese family that ran the restaurant where he worked during college.  When he visited during the summer of his Senior year, Tanya and Phil hosted him and gave him a place to work and eventually helped him find a permanent teaching job.  So, when I went to visit, Tanya volunteered to take care of me and that is what she did.

Tanya graduated from college in the states, so she speaks English very well.  Her family owns a medical clinic where they have developed an ointment that they are somewhat famous for.  That came in handy when I had the scooter accident.  They patched me up and gave me supplies to take care of the wounds.  It is almost like you have to be careful what you say.  When I said my back was a little sore, the next thing I know we pull up in front of the chiropractor, Dr. Happy.  Dr. Happy was named after his dog, Happy.  I don’t know how that works.  The family also owns an American style restaurant.  That comes in handy, although they have taken me to several “special” places every time I have been there.

As I said before, some of the experiences we had wouldn’t have been possible without Tanya.  When we mentioned we needed a Tea Pot at 10:00 p.m., she was able to take us directly to a shop and introduce us to the owner.  Earlier in the trip, she took us to a famous fish restaurant where we had lunch with the owner of the restaurant.  We ate with some Korean tourists whom she was also hosting.  It’s just so unusual for a person who runs two businesses to spend their waking moments planning and organizing events to make other people happy.  We were a little stressed out at one point during the trip.  Tanya noticed this and arranged for us to have a foot massage and simply pulled into the business and ordered us inside.  She’s one of those people you just don’t argue with.  When you are riding in the car with her, you don’t really ask questions, you just hang on tight and wait with anticipation until you pull up to the restaurant or shop or wherever she has determined we are going next.  The good news is that it was always exciting and usually surprising when you get there.  By the way, a Taiwan foot massage is not the washing your feet Jesus talked about–it’s actually better!

I learned my lesson about trying to pay her back.  They tell me that Asian people don’t like to be indebted to anyone.  When I was out shopping on my first trip, I got her a gift to thank her for hosting me.  When she saw it, she kind of hung her head because she felt like she owned me something now.  She kind of lightly scolded me since that was her job as host to do things for me.  I didn’t owe her anything.  There is a lesson in there somewhere.  The way she paid me back was to buy me some pineapple cakes.  They are a traditional Taiwanese treat.  She didn’t, however give them to me right away, she gave me a whole case of them and she gave them to me a few hours before I left to come home.  She was going to make sure that she would not be indebted to me.

As I reflect on the Tea Shop experience, every aspect of it was due to Tanya making things happen.  First, she got us there in record time.  Did I mention that it is terrifying to ride with her?  Next, everything she did was designed to help us succeed.  She negotiated a good price for the tea pots we bought.  She also encouraged us to slow down and take the time to visit with the owner instead of rushing through it like we would usually be inclined.  She is the one who took pictures to preserve the moment.  She was just intensely interested in us getting the absolute most out of every experience.

I found out how serious the Wu family takes hosting when we went to a birthday party for her three triplet children.  First, let me say, this was a party!  There were costumes, lots of food, magicians and tons of people.  When the party was forming, I tried to help set up chairs and was quickly instructed not to help because I was the guest.  So, I sat back and enjoyed the party, but when they started cleaning up, I started to pick up plates to throw them away.  Tanya’s mother would have nothing of it and seized my hand and very sternly said, “no, no!”  I got the message.  I was the guest and I was to relax.

To be honest, my two trips to Taiwan have both been like a whirlwind.  Tanya always has a plan, but no one knows what it is.  Her one and only purpose, like the Tea Shop owner, is to make us happy.  She scurries about planning and scheming and organizing on the fly to squeeze the most fun, food and adventure into our trip.  I am so thankful that we know her.  Other than my son, she is probably the main reason that I love Taiwan.

So, what’s the point?  I’m just wondering what would happen if I lived my life more in this way.  What if I could be more like Tanya and look for ways to make people happy?  What if, when I have some extra money, if I would find someone that I could do something for?  What if I didn’t announce it to everybody when I did something nice?  What if I did it just to see the smile on their face?  I desperately want to learn how to do this.  I think it’s what Jesus had in mind when he said, “love your neighbor.”  I think it’s what he demonstrated when he washed the disciple’s feet.  I hope when I start my new job that I can not only look for ways to make money, but maybe I can look for ways to serve others.  Maybe those two things can compliment each other.  Something about giving and receiving?  Sowing and reaping?  I don’t know.

Here’s to Tanya!  Hope to see you again soon!


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