To all our distinguished guests who are here tonight,
The esteemed leaders of different corporate agencies and organizations, the Pastors of churches and their members,
the Board of Directors of the Taiwan Love and Hope International Charity and
The amazing Love and Hope Team,
and all the wonderful people who are here tonight:
Ta Jia Hao!
As we begin tonight’s exciting event, I think it is important that I tell everyone about the Jan and Anny love story. It is quite an unusual love story.
This is my version of the story. So before my wife gets angry at me later, note that she has her own version of our love story but our versions do not always match.
Anny and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary last May 24.
It has been 20 wonderful years with an amazing and talented Taiwanese woman. I have been blessed with 3 beautiful and talented daughters of my own, and because of special circumstances, 2 more daughters in the past 3 years.
Truth is, I am actually their servant, the Lao Bebe in the Tiangco family girl’s dormitory in Fengshan.
As I look back 20 years ago, I need to bring everyone’s attention to the fact that this love story I am sharing with you is not just about Jan and Anny.
I would not have been here in Taiwan had it not been for the loving acceptance of my father-in-law, Principal Teng, Chin-Po and mother-in-law, Lin, Ching-Yun.
You see Principal Teng sent his daughter to study her Masters in the Philippines. When Anny came back to Taiwan after around 2 years, there was no masters degree yet but instead the news that she was going to marry a man she only dated for 1 month.
Yes, I must admit we only dated for 1 month and then got married.
Everything was so fast because of Anny. I repeat this is my version. You can all ask Anny for her version of our love story.
If my daughters, Natasha or Anika (where are you Natasha and Anika?). If they were to study abroad and then come back to Taiwan with a man instead of a degree, and tell me that they want to marry someone who is a stranger to us, I will most likely say “No.” So girls, listen carefully. My answer is no.
Just imagine how big are the hearts of my in-laws, including my uncles and aunties in both father and mother side who all welcomed me, a stranger from the Philippines who delayed the studies of Anny.
They welcomed me with open arms. 20 years ago that was my first experience of both Love and Acceptance here in Taiwan and in becoming part of a Taiwanese family. A Taiwanese home.
Had they said “No,” I will not be here standing in front of you tonight.
Mama, papa, ai ni. To my uncles and aunties, xie xie. Wo ai ni.
Home is where the heart is. Taiwan has since then been my home.
And so, when I met this fragile baby girl back in 2017, not only was the abuse that led to the severity of her disability heartbreaking, I had a difficult time understanding why her special needs were not properly understood and addressed at the orphanage where she first stayed.
After being repeatedly rejected, she ended up as a 2 year old baby with severe disability institutionalized in an elderly nursing home.
The one important lesson I learned from my family here in Taiwan was the power of love and acceptance. Do that and you create hope for a good future.
Anny and I had to bring Yuchen to our home. It was the very least that we could do after all the goodness that we have received from everyone.
Last April, a social worker contacted Anny and asked whether we can handle taking care of either a 6 month old baby girl who was again a victim of physical abuse and was suffering from brain damage, or a 7 year old girl with severe disability who had stayed at a nursing home for 5 years. We were being asked to make a decision between 2 lives.
My wife wanted to help the 6 month old baby girl who was still in the hospital knowing that like Yuchen, early intervention could make a big difference in improving her condition.
I told Anny that we had to help the 7 year old girl. 5 years in the nursing home must be like a 5 year prison sentence.
We visited the 7 year old girl at the nursing home with the social workers and what we saw was enough proof that children like them, who are invisible to many, live a desperate and neglected life.
In the past 3 years, we have come to know that there are, in fact, many more children whose story is similar to Yuchen and Mei.
They are institutionalized in nursing homes. Their families will no longer check on them. They are the forgotten and invisible children of Taiwan.
I came to Taiwan because of love.
But you see, it was when Yuchen came into our lives that my family truly learned the extraordinary challenge in loving another person. True love is sacrifice.
My in-laws and family here in Taiwan have made so many different sacrifices as well so that Anny and I and our children can all have a good life.
Only God is the divine healer and we have faith in God’s plan for Yuchen and Mei.
This much I know after all the time we have spent in taking care of the 2 children.
They do not desire to be healed.
Like many of us here. They simply want to be loved.
It is this experience of being loved that makes them burst into laughter as if life at that moment felt like heaven.
I stand before all of you with an urgent plea.
Let us all work together in bringing heaven closer to the neglected children with disabilities who are institutionalized in uncaring and unloving organizations.
The Taiwan Love and Hope International Charity cannot do it alone. We need all of you.
I promise all of you that I will use the best of my talents and the talents of specialists in different fields, so that the neglected children that we can help together can truly once again experience, love.
Despite their imperfections, only together can we make them feel loved and precious.
Only as One Family can we make heaven very real to these children.
I hope you all enjoy the food and activities prepared by the team.
Xie Xie Ta Jia! Xie Xie!