Monday, March 19, 2007

All the Difference in the World

They came. They left. How much of a difference can one week make in the life of a child? How much of a difference can one month make in the life of a teacher? How much of a difference did these last ten years make in my life?

All the difference in the world. I would not be who I am today if it were not for the people God sent for this season of my life. This post is a tribute to all of you who have come...and left...and made a lasting impression.

First... the answers to my Taiwan CI Trivia (Tenth Anniversary Edition):

1. List the five Team Directors.

The leader sets the tone for the staff... for the team... for the seminar... for the trip... for the ministry. I was blessed to work with seven outstanding leaders, who adapted not only to the culture but also to me and to this ministry. Each one of the guys brought a unique combination of personality, strengths, perspective, and style; but they had one thing in common: a heart for God and for His work.

2. Who was the first Teacher Trainer?

The first year of CI training (for both the team and interpreters) was conducted completely in English by Sandi. My sole responsibility was Song Leading-- and believe me, memorizing the songs and verses in Chinese was enough to keep me busy. Sandi coached me through that first year ("Next time, you might want to give Ryan more than five minutes to tell the story...") and challenged me to honor God's Word in Large Group by teaching Scripture first. Kristi, Starla, and Kristi also played a huge part in walking me through each set of seminars and laying down their lives time and again for me as their friend, and more importantly, for Christ and His kingdom.

3. Name Taipei's two most notorious Wisdom Walk Frequent Flyers.

The Legend of FBI & ET

In 2000, two brothers showed up and wasted no time in tearing up the place. The staff chased them all over the church. When they finally grabbed a hold of them, Nate asked, "What's your name?" "FBI!" the older brother shot back. "ET!" yelled the younger. Then they were off again, racing around Grace Baptist and beating up on each other. It was frustrating, to say the least. Nate, however, took a personal interest in the boys. He talked to them when they were in trouble, but also made a point to say hello when they were not disturbing the peace.

One night, after Large Group, he pulled FBI aside. "Hey listen," he said, "see how messy this room looks? I'm responsible for cleaning it up. I was wondering if you would be my special agent and help me clean up after Large Group." FBI's face brightened. He immediately joined my friend and went to work, channeling all that extra energy into doing something good.

Two years later, FBI showed up at one of our seminars, dressed in a baggy suit and tie (his father's), ready to help us out.

4. Which family has sent the most children to teach in Taiwan?

The Martin family!

Honorable Mention:
The Cooks: Kristi ('02, '04-'07), Tim ('02, '06), Josh ('04), Bethany ('04), Aaron ('07)
The Gillsons: Rowan ('99-'00, '02-'06), Kirsten ('03), Micale ('03), Kennan ('04-'07)
The Browns: Sarah ('03, '05-'06), Jimmy ('03, '05-'06), Tim ('05-'06), Zach ('05, '06)

5. Which five countries have been represented by CI teachers?

6. Which CI song originated in Taiwan?

"Love Never Fails" (taught only in Taiwan, 2005)

7. Who told the most "romantic" rendition of the Eagle Story?

Due to the sensitivities of my readership, I cannot post a photo of that unforgettable story (that and the fact that I can't seem to find a photo on file). Those who remember can relish the memories (and the peals of laughter). The rest of you can just enjoy this photo I found of the storyteller and his interpreter...

Luke Johnson and Timothy Tan (hmmm... how people change with time.)

8. Who has played the piano for the most number of CI's?

Kristi Cook (2004-2007) Nice boots...

Honorable Mention:
Sandi Weldon (1998)
Luke Johnson (1999-2000)
Rachel Moran (2001)
Rowan Gillson (2002)
Tim Chen (2003)

9. What's the age limit for CI assistants?

15-30 years old

Ten years ago, when nothing in Taiwan was defined and I was just learning how to set up a Children's Institute, I made a seemingly small decision that later changed my life. We were trying to figure out what kind of people to recruit as teaching assistants-- we had to nail down our prerequisites for their spiritual maturity, their interpreting abilities, and their age. Salvation was a must; I soon discovered that I couldn't be picky about interpreting skills; and to avoid an influx of over-qualified mothers and teachers, I decided the assistants should be between the ages of 15-30.

At the end of 2005, it was that last prerequisite that led me to pray about my future involvement with the CI. I never planned to stay in Taiwan, much less expected to last for the entire first decade of CI's. But as 30 loomed on the horizon, I knew I had to decide whether I was going to be the exception to the rule or if I would submit to a policy I had established for others years ago.

It did not take long for the Lord to point out how He had been behind that original decision and that, for the good of the ministry, it was time for me to pass the baton. And so I began to pray, to recruit new staff, to map out training, to figure out a feasible transition plan.

God's timing is impeccable. The crucial day of transition took place the day after my 31st birthday. After I introduced Hannah as the new Teacher Trainer, I sat down and, for the first time, took notes as someone else trained the assistants. When Large Group began that night, instead of taking my place on stage, I found myself at the back of the room, blinking back tears as the children called up someone other than "Jia An Jie."

Painful? YES. But I knew it was right. So many times throughout the trip, I asked the Lord why I couldn't have given up a ministry I didn't love so much. And He'd remind me of a divine encounter I had with Elisabeth Elliot years ago when she told me, "It is the things you love most that is substance for sacrifice."

It is in the surrender of my affections-- even that which is good, that which He gave me in the first place-- that I declare Christ as First, Foremost, Only, All.

10. Name four CI veterans who have returned to teach in Asia for a year or more.

All glory to Him who made the biggest difference of all.

Soli Deo Gloria.


Unknown said...

"All the difference in the world" is correct! I'm forever changed because of the ministry of the CI. To HIM be all the glory! Great post Kar! Thanks for sharing your heart with CI these 10 years. I don't think you'll ever know how many people are different because of the work God has done through you. You truly are AMAZING!

Carne Family said...

found this post in my old email inbox (So glad I did). I think of you and your family and Taiwan so often. Your faithfulness has made a difference to me - and I bet you have no idea to how many countless others.