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12 November 2019

Diary: Visiting a temple

Our four short term workers (Serve Asia Workers – SAW) have worked with us for almost two weeks. As part of cultural learning, we are bringing them to a temple visit.

2:30pm

Our SAW team arrives to the Temple of the Jaded World. Six groups of people are already here in the open front court, similar to the waiting room of a clinic. Many of them are around 40 years old. SAW member Nancy noted, “In Taiwan, temple worshiping is not just for older people.”

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2:44pm

The temple bells are ringing. Those who are waiting all stand up and face the entrance. No clear instructions are given, but everyone uniformly close their hands and pray towards the entrance. This goes on for about one minute.

SAW member Rebecca asks a lady, “What is everyone doing? Who are you praying to?” Giggling with embarrassment, the lady says that she does not know. Soon, her attention is interrupted by a string of temple staff, dressed in yellow, walking in to the court.

By this time, people who are waiting has increased to 30. People begin to head towards the register counter and get a number. SAW member Daniel finds out that people need to register on the phone beforehand, providing their name and address. For a fee, people can ask the temple priestess about anything (most ask about career, relationships, and health issues).

3:10pm

The temple priestess sits inside the main hall, in front of statues of different ancient characters. She prepares herself by chanting with her eyes closed. (Her eyes will remain closed for the rest of our time here.)

In a loose queue, people take turns to seek counsel from the priestess. There are no compartments in the main hall, so most people in the queue would be able to hear the dialogue between the priestess and the believer. To one person, she says, “Do not worry too much.” To another, she says, “Remember to care for each other.” Each dialogue goes for a few minutes.

SAW member Noel notices that, after seeking counsel, believers receive a pink slip with special writing. However, everyone burns the pink slip in a furnace before leaving. She wonders, “Do all the slips have the same advice on it?”

 

– Hiwin, Church Planter

(Puxin Township, Changhua County, Central Taiwan)