Fri, Aug 14, 2015 - Page 5 News List

Animated short tells story of US missionary

Staff writer, with CNA

Lin Yu-chang, president of the Changhua Joyce McMillan Nursing Home in Changhua, admires a bronze bust of the home’s founder in the facility’s garden in 2011.

Photo: Liu Hsiao-hsin, Taipei Times

Dozens of people from around Taiwan gathered in Taipei on Tuesday morning to celebrate the work of the woman who had helped them to their feet and brought light to their world.

They were attending the premiere of The Story of Joyce McMillan (喜樂阿嬤), a short animated film that brings to life the dedicated efforts of “Grandma Joyce,” a US medical missionary who worked with people with tuberculosis and polio in Taiwan for almost 50 years.

“If it were not for her, I would still be crawling on the floor like a child,” Tseng Chun-yen said.

Tseng, 53, who is now married and has two children, tearfully recalled how McMillan would carry young polio patients on her back to her car and drive them to a hospital to see a doctor, even during a typhoon.

Commissioned by the Joyce McMillan Social Welfare Foundation, the film tells of McMillan’s journey to Taiwan, her efforts to raise money to build a nursing home, her selfless care of people with polio at a time when many Taiwanese were discriminating against them, her faith in God and her friendship with Taiwanese.

Born in 1914 to a poor, but devout family in Washington state, McMillan later moved to San Francisco and trained as a nurse.

McMillan married, but was widowed in her mid-30s.

In 1954, McMillan met Taiwanese doctor and pastor Hsieh Wei (謝緯) at a Presbyterian church gathering in San Francisco. Hsieh told her about the poor medical conditions in Taiwan and his plans to preach and set up a medical center in Nantou County to treat tuberculosis patients.

Moved by his passion, the 45-year-old McMillan sold her possessions in 1959 and moved to Taiwan the following year to assist Hsieh.

Initially, she worked as a nurse and English teacher in Puli Township (埔里), Nantou County, and later established a nursing home to care for children with polio in Erlin Township (二林), Changhua County.

Over the next 48 years, McMillan provided care to 400 children with polio and hundreds of other disabled patients at her Erlin Happy Christian Home, founded in 1965.

“Every night, Grandma Joyce would patrol all six buildings [at the home] to see if anyone was ill. She went to sleep only after she was sure that all the children were okay,” said Tsai Shih-kun, 53.

Alongside McMillan’s gentle caring nature was a firm commitment to teaching the children how to survive on their own.

Today, the nursing home, which was once funded entirely by donations from the US, houses more than 200 patients with various types of disabilities.

McMillian, who learned to speak fluent Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), was the first US citizen to receive a Good Samaritan Award in Taiwan. She also received of the Presidential Cultural Award.

McMillan died on April 26, 2007, in Erlin at the age of 93. Then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) spoke at her funeral and presented her family with a citation commended her devotion to the nation’s disadvantaged children.

Her ashes were buried at the Joyce McMillan Memorial Park behind one the buildings of the Erlin Happy Christian Home.

The Joyce McMillan Social Welfare Foundation was established in 2011 to provide services to more than 2,000 people with disabilities.

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