A Love Story That Began Abroad

Keokuk County, Iowa- 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.