A Local Love Story that Began Abroad

Edwin and Eloise Jordan presented their talk, "The Adventures of Edwin and Eloise" at the North English History Center last Sunday.

Sometimes, love makes the world go ‘round, and sometimes, love goes ‘round the world. Both of these statements could be considered true for Pastor Edwin Jordan and his wife Eloise, of Pleasant Grove Grace Brethren Church, rural Millersburg. The couple now makes their home among us, but as those attending their presentation at the North English History Center on Sunday, September 23 learned, they actually met years ago, in the far-away land of Taiwan.

            During the presentation, Eloise spoke first, sharing stories of her years abroad as a teacher, principal, and counselor at a Missionary school in Taiwan from 1973-2007. She shared several slide photos of her life there, to show the contrast with rural America, specifically in population. One photo in particular brought the Chinese saying to life, “People Sea, People Mountain.” As Eloise said, although Taiwan is only half of the size of Iowa, there are eighty times as many people living there.          

            In addition to some teaching stories, Eloise shared what it was like to be in Taiwan in 1979, when relations were strained between the United States and Taiwan. Rather than being afraid during this time, Eloise was instead protected by her Taiwanese friends and associates. Even a taxi driver told her, “You are safe. It is you government, not you.”

            Another scary event came about in 2003 with the SARS scare. Almost 9,000 people became afflicted with the disease, and 799 of those died. China and Taiwan were both hit with the SARS epidemic, and Eloise spoke about having to take the temperature of students as they entered classes to screen for the illness.

            Besides national conflicts and illness, Eloise also survived some natural disasters. A typhoon in 1975 with winds as high as 190 miles an hour didn’t scare her away. Neither did the earthquake of 1999, which lasted 40 seconds and measured up to 7.2 on the rector scale before the machine broke. Eloise said there were over 800 aftershocks following this earthquake.

            Before retiring and returning to the States in 2007, Eloise visited over 34 different countries. Once she went to India for 10 days to help a group of dentists who were providing dental work to orphans. She also went to Kenya, Africa twice, once for a conference for “Third Culture Kids.” This is the term used to describe American children born of American parents but raised in another country. These conferences also took her to Ecuador and the Philippines.

            While in Taiwan, Eloise spent some of her spare time working with the Overseas Radio and TV Program, and this is where she met Edwin. Just ‘causal friends’ during their time in Taiwan, the couple did have one romantic date, including theater and dinner.

            “He put on his tails, and I wore a formal and we attended the theater at the school, and then dinner to follow.”

            Eloise then showed a slide of a Taiwanese McDonald’s, and shared how the couple even brought along a tablecloth and candelabra to fancy up the scene.

            Edwin grew up in North English, attended Pleasant Grove Grace Brethren Church as a child. There he became inspired by then missionary Estella Myers whose father was the first Pastor of Pleasant Grove Grace Brethren Church

            Edwin’s mother was a woman of intense faith, and had prayed for years saying, “Send my children anywhere you need them, except to China.” Ironically, both he and his sister Connie ended up in Asia, she on the continent in China, and he on the island of Taiwan.

 

To read the rest of this love story, check out the September 29th issue of The Keota Eagle.