Friday, January 30, 2015

Relying on His Strength

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song I will praise Him." ~ Psalm 28:7

Growing up, I'd attended CI every year from the time I was 6 until I was 12. I've taught a handful of CI's in the States. I know all about the lessons and how they're supposed to go - at least that's what I'd thought last year. This is my second time teaching with CI in Taiwan. I was really excited to be able to participate this year, but I was also a bit nervous as my experience with CI last year was not exactly smooth sailing. Not only did I have a few uncooperative students, but I also had a heart attitude of "I know what I'm doing" when really, I didn't. Sure I knew all the stories, character qualities, definitions and everything, but I lacked a heart that was listening for what God would have me share. I was nervous that this year would be the same as last year - and I didn't want it to be. Needless to say, I have spent a lot of time these past few weeks praying for this year's CI.

Yesterday was our first day of CI. I was both excited and apprehensive! During teacher meetings, we discussed what our idea of a "10" was. (At the end of the day, if you rate the day and 1 is really bad and 10 is really amazing, what would be a 10?) I feel I have an "invisible 10" and a "visible 10." My invisible 10 is if God is able to reach the kids in a way that sticks with them, then that is a 10. We may not necessarily see the fruit of it, it might be years from now, but if God uses something from the night to change a life, then I feel that is a 10. My visible 10 is if everything is on time, the children are well behaved, and there are no major issues by the end of the day. As I prepared to teach the first lesson, I realized I didn't know how I should present the material. I prayed for several minutes and God brought to mind examples and stories to use. The children arrived and were all quiet during the lessons. None of them seemed like the type to rebel or cause major distractions. The lesson went well, and the crafts were all done on time. My night was a 10.

At the end of the day, I sat down at the computer as it is my turn to write the blog post. I prayed "God, I don't know what to write! My team doesn't have any problem children that need extra prayers. There weren't any funny incidents that can give the folks back home a chuckle. It was just an ordinary, smooth evening." and He replied, "Then that's what you write about. You write about how when you did things in your own strength it didn't turn out so well as when you relied on Me for strength." God is my strength. When my heart trusts Him and listens for His leading, He helps me. Therefore, I am filled with joy and will praise Him. Praise the Lord for being faithful to help us accomplish that which He calls us to do. The road may not always be as easy as today, but He is always there to help me along the way. Please keep all the teachers and students in your prayers. Pray for God to open the hearts and minds of the children to hear what He would have them to hear. Pray that we would have the energy to teach and would maintain good health.                                                                                                                                                            
Gem Martin

Monday, February 3, 2014


Having a blast at the night market!

Although the trip has been busy and stressful for me, it's also been a huge blessing! I'm so happy that God has been able to work through me and influence the lives of so many kids. One of my favorite memories occurred during the Taipei seminar. There was a boy on my team who always kept quiet and didn't like to participate much. So I was constantly praying that he would be getting something out of the lessons. As the days went on, he slowly started to open up. It was awesome to find out that he spoke English really well! After that, bonding with him became so much easier. It's amazing knowing that God's truth affects even the little ones. The evident change in his life was a huge encouragement to me! It's always incredible to see God work right before my own eyes! So I ask that you pray for him, that he might continue his spiritual growth in the Lord :)

Also, God has been teaching me so much on this trip! One of the biggest things I've been learning is to submit to Him in everything. Which honestly, has been very hard recently. Proverbs 3:5-6 says,

"Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."

This reminds me I have to have confidence and faith that he knows exactly what he's doing, even though I can't see how things are going to end up. Blind faith is a difficult thing for me, but God promises blessings to those who remain steadfast under trial (James 1:12).

Although the last few weeks have been hard, I've been trying to take every opportunity to submit to Christ, even in the hardest areas. Please pray for all the teachers and interpreters, that we would continue to submit our will and our desires to Christ.

Anna Hodges

Sunday, February 2, 2014

He is Good

It doesn't come with a boom or a bang but in the quiet stillness, there it is - an overwhelming sense of the Lord's goodness. I love coming back to Taiwan for this reason. When I hear the children's beautiful voices singing The Blessing at parent presentation, when we have worship times together as a team, when I stand on a black sand beach and look out on the pacific ocean, I can't really explain the special feeling of God's faithfulness that comes over me!

Taiwan is truly an amazing country. Not surprisingly, there are many things that make it unique but what I love the most is the children here! At our last seminar in Kaohsiung, the children would peek into the staff room and try to coax us to come out to play with them during dinner breaks. When I started an impromptu game of red light, green light with about 20 of them, they were so enthusiastic that I got knocked over and the chair I was sitting on broke! I can't think of anywhere else where the children are more innocent, more curious about us, and more eager to learn. They have a special place in my heart!

Six sets of sisters on the beach in Hualien

This year, we have had a pretty tight schedule with few days of rest. It has been such a blessing to see everyone still cheerful and willing to serve despite that. Another challenge has been having a smaller team of teachers and on top of that having teachers become sick! Everyone has been doing double duty. We are so thankful, though, that most have since gotten better.

Tomorrow, we'll be flying to Hong Kong! It's going to be exciting to be in a new country that most of us have not visited before. We will be working with a different culture and kids from a different background. The schedule for the Children's Institute here will also be longer than usual. Pray for stamina for the teachers, pray that communication barriers will be broken down and pray that we would be focused on giving God glory in everything!

Jolynn Tan

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Final Stretch

Well it's just about time to board another plane heading across the water to Hong Kong!! The past 3 CIs have been full and fabulous! God has shed His blessings upon this trip. I have very much enjoyed my time working with the amazing team of teachers and teaching the adorable children. The kids have been full of energy and excitement which fueled our creative juices in teaching. :) During this trip I have been learning to see and appreciate all the little blessings God brings my way daily. Last week in Kaohsiung I had a few rather energetic children on my team; I found so much joy in spending some one-on-one time with them during sessions. One little girl in particular had a short attention span which provided lots of one-on-one time between me and her. She knew very little English, and I seriously lack in the Chinese department; however, we had many laughs learning new English and Chinese words.

After the Kaohsiung seminar we spent a few days in the mountains of Hualien. We visited the Faith Hope Love Boys Home. It was such a blessing to be able to spend some time playing games with the boys and enjoying celebrating Chinese New Year with them eating hot pot! The last day in Hualin we were able to go to the beach. The Pacific Ocean was incredibly beautiful surrounded by the mountains. I was in awe of the beauty of God's creation! The ride back to Taipei was long and winding, but we managed to pass the time with some bus fun. :) The break has been refreshing and rejuvenating. Now our bags are packed and we're ready to finish strong in Hong Kong! ;)

A few prayer points for this week:
~Safety in travels
~Continued health and strength
~Energy to finish strong
~Open hearts and minds for the children and for each of us as well

Abbi Bergeron

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Father's Love

On the last day of the Kaoshiung CI, I asked God to show me His love. I wanted to see His love in a new way. I wanted to feel theoverwhelming joy of His love. I knew if I asked Him to show me He would. I was excited to see the way in which He desired to love me that day. After my prayer, I went about my day nearly forgetting about my request. As the end of the day drew near, I felt the prompting of God to share my journey to freedom with my kids. I didn't want to. I thought sharing the story of Christ would be more powerful than the story of my life, but I decided to obey His voice.

Who should I take a picture of?

As I began to share, I felt Christ use my mouth to speak to the children. When I finished sharing, all the children were wide eyed. A few of them were even in tears. A handful of them prayed to receive Christ as their Lord. Once I was finished, my assistant took the children to the next event and I stayed back to talk to one girl. This little girl looked petrified. She told me she was afraid she was sinking into a pit without God. I shared with her the hope and freedom Christ gives. I then asked her if she wanted this freedom. She eagerly said yes and we then prayed. As soon as we finished, the fear vanished from her eyes and a laugh escaped her mouth. The girl was free! I have never seen that dramatic of a transformation. It was the most beautiful thing.

At the end of the night, God reminded me of my prayer. Tears whelmed in my eyes as I realized God had used little me to bring freedom to multiple people in on night. It was at that moment that I felt the power if His love. The answer to my simple prayer has left my heart full of joy. Please be in prayer for the team as we rest in beautiful Haulian and celebrate Chinese New Year tomorrow. Also, please pray for my children who received Christ. Taiwan is a very dark country, and they can easily be led away from their new relationship with Christ.

Grace Lukachick

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

God Is Faithful

Today we finished the Kaohsiung CI! I just joined the CI team this week, and because I had little time to prepare, today was filled with last-minute prayers of desperation, because I didn't know what to teach, and God's ever-faithful, always incredible provision. For example, I was cutting out crafts up until the very last minute before lunch, and I still had no idea how to teach the very first small group lesson on Ownership. On the way to lunch, an idea popped into my head and I could hardly eat fast enough! A wordless book, stenciled on the back so that I could cut out the shape of a person as my translator and I crammed the story of creation, the fall, Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and our salvation into a few simple sentences while cutting out the man and turning the pages. The kids listened, spellbound, and I was hardly less amazed at the lesson that God was literally giving to me as fast as we could teach it.

Parent Presentation for the Kaohsiung seminar

Throughout the day, my team kept losing people. We started children three short due to families beginning early Chinese New Year celebrations. Another child was moved to a different team, and then my assistant was needed on yet another team to replace a teacher who became sick at the last minute. As I watched the team dwindle, my first response was to ask "God, is this my fault? Are you taking people away because I'm not right with you or something?" But as we continued to teach our kids God gave me a peace that He was putting each person where they needed to be, to hear what He wanted them to hear. Even when my translator or I were called away and the team was left with only one adult to work with ten kids, every circumstance continued to work perfectly with the timing and the lessons. God can work with anything and anyone, never doubt it!

My great mosquito hunters!

After the kids finished the presentation for the parents of what they had learned, I had my team back in our station, and the children were all going absolutely crazy. It was the last small group lesson, and I had been trying to prepare for it all day, but could not come up with any ideas. The topic was "success," the craft was a jewel, and I was clueless. So, (praying continually!) we called the team to order and I said the first thing that came into my head. "Who was the most successful man in the Bible?" Without any preparation beforehand, I found myself telling the story of Job from a perspective that I had never before considered, and tying it in with the truth from Jeremiah: "let the one who glories, glory in this: that he understands and knows Me, the living God." The kids listened. They really listened. And once again I stand in awe at God's perfect, timely provision for even the simplest requests. Please pray for the team, that we will stay at Jesus' feet and remember to wait on our God for every word, every thought, and every need. We praise Him, because He is faithful. Thank you Jesus!

Kelli Davis

Sunday, January 26, 2014

From Student To Teacher

Parent Presentation for the Taipei Children's Institute

When I was a little boy I participated in Children's Institute and really enjoyed it. As I got older, I didn't really know why I enjoyed CI so much. I couldn't figure it out. But having been able to work with CI again this year, for the first time in many years, I have finally realized why I enjoyed it so much. It's because here the atmosphere is full of love.

Innocent children come here to learn. The teachers have a great responsibility, and always do their very best to help the kids understand the principles that are taught. But so many things are not in our control. One second, a child will be smiling at you, the next time you look, they are in tears. It's always hard working with children, because there are so many problem we as teachers and leaders have to deal with. But thank God, He is always there to help us understand and give us wisdom to solve each issue that arises. Through working with the CI team this year, I learned once again how important it is to be resilient and flexible.

I thank God that he put such a cute group of kids on my team this last week. Please keep them in your prayers, that the seeds that were planted in their hearts while here at CI will continue to grow. Also, we had some amazing testimonies of at least 6 kids giving their lives to Jesus at the seminar in Taipei, so please pray for them as well, that they will begin to learn more what it means to be like Jesus. Finally, Kaohsiung's seminar is beginning tomorrow, and will be a whirlwind seminar, so please for the the teachers and assistants, that God will give them enough strength, wisdom, and creativity to make it another successful week.

Tony Huang

Friday, January 24, 2014

Are You Thankful?

What a special privilege it is to spend a month focusing on the blessings of God! The stories, songs, and lessons we are teaching are all centered around this life changing truth: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…" ~Ephesians 1:3

Some of the blessings in my life

As I have prepared to teach each lesson, I have been personally challenged to be more mindful and aware of the blessings of God in my life. In the day-to-day busyness of life and in the confusion of discouragement, I am often quick to lose sight of my Father's countless blessings. The time I have spent here in Taiwan has opened my eyes to see God's blessings all around me. It is incredibly special to no longer notice good things, but rather to notice blessings for which I can say "Thank you, Father!"

Don't we all just love skits?

In addition to recognizing physical blessings like the children at each conference, the 2014 CI ministry team, the beautiful weather, and the new adventures and opportunities, I have a renewed joy in recognizing spiritual blessings. The Bible is full of truth that reveals God's blessings. One that I have been meditating on this week is Psalm 91:14-16 "Because I hold fast to the Lord in love, He will deliver me; He will protect me, because I know His name. When I call to Him, He will answer me; He will be with me in trouble; He will rescue me and honor me. With long life He will satisfy me and show me His salvation."

Thank you for your continued prayer support for our team. Today, if you can pray that we will each grow in our relationship with Christ as we learn to see His blessings and to thank Him for them. May our lives be testimonies of His love and truth.

Bethany Bergeron

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Personal Perspective

Dear everyone,

Our amazing Taipei CI team

I just want to take a few minutes to tell you about how things are going for me here. This is my first time teaching in a Children's Institute.
When I heard about the opportunity to teach this week, I was so excited. I have been teaching English here in Taiwan for almost two and a half years, and this was one of my vacation weeks, so I was happy I could take the time to live for God instead of myself. I didn’t know what exactly went on during a CI, but I had a vague idea after listening to a friend who taught in Taichung last week. He said it was challenging but definitely a rewarding experience. I do best when I am given clear and concise instruction, and when I am shown step-by-step what exactly to do in every particular situation. I didn’t know what to expect as far as teaching, but I thought that they might have me helping out with a few crafts or doing a skit to entertain the kids.

Tim and Yvonne acting

When I arrived they told me that I was the lead teacher, that I would be working with a couple of translators that I had never met before, and I had an hour or two to prepare my first lesson.
In my mind I knew this was an opportunity to respond in a Christ-like manner and show the character quality of flexibility, but in my heart I just wanted to give up and go home. I am known for not working well with people when I am stressed. I didn't want to hurt others with a bad attitude or by giving up so I decided to give it a try, at least for the first night. However, I was already feeling my stress levels rising as I tried to imagine how I would teach the two principles for the first night, faith and design. I didn't know how many children I would be teaching and I didn't know how old they would be, so I began to worry that whatever I did plan was going to flop. But I decided to try and do my best, and with God’s help that is what I did.

Now, about two days later, I am looking back and thinking about how silly I was for stressing out with these thoughts. The first night went fine, thanks in no small part to my two wonderful interpreters. The Lord blessed our class with eight children and even though there was a big age gap between the kids, they all seemed to grasp what I was teaching. I felt the excitement of teaching and sharing with little kids come back to me once again as the first night flew by. The second night was much of the same, although we actually had time to get most of our crafts finished!
I know that there are still some challenges ahead as we will have less time to prepare and more to do, but I want you all to know that I am really enjoying working here to teach good character to these children and I am so glad to be a part of this group of Christians who are taking their free time to serve God this year at the Taiwan Children’s Institute.

Please continue to keep in prayer health for the whole team. There are several people who are feeling somewhat under the weather, and although no one is seriously sick, we would all appreciate prayers that everything stays that way, and no one gets any worse.

Tim Piotrowciz

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Potter And The Clay

A fun night at the market!

Since this is the first time I have ever worked with CI, I have really enjoyed getting to interact with so many children from various corners in Taiwan. Not only that, but I have also gotten to meet many interpreters and teachers from various corners of the world! Indeed, last Thursday while teaching at the CI in Taichung, I had one of the best experiences of my entire life.

I was acting in a story/skit about a broken pot, in which I was the potter. The story talks about how a lump of clay dreamed of being transforming into a beautiful vase. After the potter found the lump of clay by a stream one day, he made the lump of clay into just a plain flowerpot. This made the clay very sad, because it would never be admired by everyone for it's beauty. The clay felt so rejected, because it was passed over by everyone who came to buy from the potter. One day, however, the bible character Gideon came and bought the pot. He used that pot to cover his torch on the night he attacked the Midianites, and ultimately brought victory for Israel. That night, the clay learned an important lesson about suffering.

Skits with Tim are never boring:-)

Sometimes God will take us through many struggles and trials in our life, but there is a specific purpose God has for each of us. There are no mistakes with God, and the least significant things or people are usually the ones who are willing to be used for the greatest victory. Even though my acting was imperfect and kind of embarrassing at times, God showed me through this skit that he has reason for all the suffering that we go through in our lives.

Thank you all for your prayers as we continue this journey. It has been a life changing trip for many of us so far, and there is still so much left! As we look forward in the rest of the trip, please join with us now in prayer for the Hong Kong seminars and Children's Institute. Even though it is still several weeks away, it is a special conference because we will be reaching a new audience that has not attended the seminars before. So we are praying that God will begin even now to prepare our hearts and the hearts of those coming so that God can change peoples lives drastically for the better!

Cher Zhao

Monday, January 20, 2014

Why Me?

“I have taken you from the end of the earth and called You from its most distant place. I said to you, ‘You are my servant. I’ve chosen you; I haven’t rejected you. Don’t be afraid, because I am with you. Don’t be intimidated; I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will support you with my victorious right hand. ...Don’t be afraid; I will help you’.”

~Isaiah 41:9-10, 13b

When I was first asked to come back to Taiwan to help teach in the CI's this year, I was so excited. I saw God provide all the finances and open all the doors for me to come! I was so excited!!! I know I already said that, but I wanted to emphasize it a little bit more :-) Unfortunately, I got sick before I even arrived, and was sick for the entire first conference, which wasn't what I had planned at all. I came to Taiwan to help serve and teach… then I ended up having to stay in bed for a couple of days feeling miserable. (The jet lag didn't help at all) I felt like such a failure, a burden, and a let down. I was at a loss as to why I was here. I still don't know why the Lord let it happen. Perhaps it was just a lesson for me to let people take care of me for awhile, and that is hard for me to do. To say the least, it was quite humbling. While I was resting and trying to get better I received A TON of texts/messages, emails, and videos from my family and friends encouraging me and pointing my heart back to God and the bigger picture! His plan. This has definitely been another point in my life where I am learning to surrender all to His will and plan.

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  ~Isaiah 40: 30,31

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here and I am looking forward to seeing how God will use this trip to work in the lives of people here in Taiwan, on this team and in my own life! Praise the Lord I am on the mend from being so sick, and as I continue to get better, please pray that God keeps everyone else on the trip in good health. Also, please continue to pray for wisdom and creativity while teaching and sharing Christ's love with the children this week while we are teaching in Taipei.

Lillie Elliott

Sunday, January 19, 2014

To Plan Or Not To Plan...

Having completed the CI here in Taichung, it is fascinating to look back over the last few days and see the things that God has done. It has been a stressful conference for me this past week, because I am a person who likes to prepare everything in advance. Unfortunately, with this being the first conference for the year, everything was a bit crazy, so there were many things that were initially overlooked. We had crafts that weren't prepared, lesson plans that weren't perfected, and some kids who weren't exactly angels:)

However, through all these struggles, God taught me a major lesson this week. It is the lesson of trust. In each moment when I didn't feel prepared or was frustrated with the way things were going, God was preparing my heart to understand His plan better. There were many times when I felt like everything was going wrong, and I didn't know how I would keep going. But then I read this verse in Isaiah 40:29, "He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength." This verse gave me hope that God is always by my side. He knows me better than I know myself, and he is powerful enough to solve any problems that come my way.

Now that we have one week under our belt, please be praying for each of us teachers, that God will take the lessons that we have learned this week and continue to build on them in the coming weeks. We are excited about the upcoming weeks, but we need God's grace to continue.

Joyce Hsu