Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Taipei CI - Day 1

The first day of each conference holds a special air of anticipation. While we set up the rooms and prepare the lessons, we wonder how many children will be on our teams and what they will be like. Anything is possible.

Starting off today, we dedicated this week of teaching to Christ. Knowing that not everything will go according to plan, but that God is in control and we are simply here to glorify HIM and not to reinforce our own self worth.

These past two weeks have shown me just how much this trip is about God and not about me… I have learned I have to be helpless. Actually, I should say, I have learned that I need to admit my helplessness. It seems that I can do nothing here on my own. Whether it be teaching the children, or handing out name tags, I need someone else’s help. In the same way, if I hope to convey God’s truth to the children I cannot do it without His wisdom and strength.

I have to be helpless in God’s hands in order for Him to help me.

As we continue on this week with this viewpoint, we would really appreciate your prayers for the young adult meeting being held on Thursday afternoon. I am really excited for this opportunity to impact these students at such an important time in their life, so wisdom and sensitivity to the Spirit will be greatly needed!


Jessica Koehler

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Taipei Excursion Day

There’s nothing quite like waking up to the sounds of the city right outside your open window… babies crying, people talking, car horns…life!! Today there was excitement in the air as we all prepared for our outing to explore the city of Taipei. For the first time since we’ve been in Taiwan, guys and girls would be separate for a whole day. After the girls enjoyed a lovely breakfast of pancakes—plain, strawberry, or m ‘n m options!—we gathered for a few minutes to search the Scriptures about Jesus, our Bridegroom and Beloved.

As I was praying about what to share this morning, Jesus brought to my mind the story of Hosea. God desires an intimate relationship with us, a closeness, a familiarity.  But before we loved Him, we walked a separate path, apart from Him. This is where the story of Hosea comes in. Despite our rejection of Him, He still passionately pursued. Hosea 2:19-20 says: “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice. In lovingkindness and in compassion. And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, then you will know the Lord.” This love amazes me. This pursuit is because He wants us and wants all of our hearts.

Speaking of hearts! We each got half a paper heart. Our “other half” was our Valentine sister for the day!! We got to know our Valentine sister and at some point during the day we bought them something!  My Valentine got me a cute Winnie-the-Pooh sticker which I plan on displaying on my computer!

After we talked for a bit, the girls enjoyed a day of pampering and relaxation. There was lots of time to talk and laugh and get to know each other better as we got our hair and nails done. An abundance of shopping, walking, Bubble tea, and night market roaming finished out our day. Rebecca Morgan had the chance to give a little boy a Chinese gospel tract. As she was walking away, he was entirely captivated by it and read the whole thing out loud! Such a cool testimony of the power of the gospel!

All in all, our day was such a blessing. It was so much fun to spend quality time with fellow sisters in Christ, sharing what He means to us and encouraging each other. Please pray for unity for us as we begin to minister in Taipei, which will be our busiest and largest conference!! Please also pray that we can move as the Holy Spirit directs and that we continue to serve with grateful and joyful hearts.

Janet Brookman

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kaohsiung CI - Day 3

“But our citizenship is in heaven…”  {Philippians 3:20a}

Today began with yet another stellar breakfast at the Han Hsien hotel in Kaohsiung. With buffet lines dedicated to traditional Chinese fare, typical Japanese dishes, the more unrecognizable native Taiwanese victuals, and more beverages than one can count, we have all been amply spoiled during our stay here. Doing the Lord’s work has many benefits!

After this delightful start to our day, the team gathered for a devotional time led by Dr. Castelino. The name of God we were exploring this morning was Jehovah-jireh – “The Lord Will Provide.” He particularly noted the word “provision,” a combination of the prefix “pro” meaning “before” and the word “vision,” “to see.” In His role as Jehovah-jireh, He sees what our needs will be before we even know that we have them, and He has already provided a solution that will work out for our good and His glory…what a God we serve!

Nick Samaha sharing with the youth

This afternoon, a few of us had the opportunity to meet with 19 young people for three hours, most of whom have been attending the Basic Seminar over the past few days. I was a little nervous about being able to significantly connect with each one, especially in light of the ever-present language barrier, but God provided overwhelming love and peace in the room. His joy was evident as we all played get-to-know-you games and sang in worship to our Savior, and His truth prevailed as four of us shared testimonies from our lives proclaiming His faithfulness. We also held a question and answer session where the youth could ask any question pertaining to life in America, our own personal interests, or clarification on more spiritually-charged queries. This time yielded much laughter as well as more serious conversation as we discussed both the (alleged) superiority of Apple products and how we can know God’s purpose and will for our lives. In the end, we all came away with new friendships and a greater sense of the Spirit’s presence on this trip. Each one of us in the room has our “citizenship in heaven,” and that bond transcends any obstacle, even language!

Trying to answer the youth's questions

We are all so grateful for your support on our journey. Please pray for wisdom for the leadership as scheduling details for the future seminars continue to come together. Pray that we will all be prepared mentally, physically, and spiritually for whatever lies ahead, and that we would have complete faith and trust in our Father as Jehovah-jireh. Xie xie ni!

Bethany Rowe

Kaohsiung CI - Day 1

I came as a messenger of Christ to Taiwan; but on my own I could not proclaim His message, because my hearers are Mandarin speaking children. I knew I would have a translator, but I never imagined that my translators would be so skilled and that speaking through a translator would actually be so helpful for my own thinking process. Most of the children in my team in HsinChu could speak English, but here in Kaohsiung the English comprehension is not as high. Relating to these children directly is a huge challenge, but seeing their eyes light up with understanding as a message is conveyed through our translators is a priceless treasure. The highlight of my day was seeing how quickly the children on my team understood the difficult concept of justice as my assistant, Nick, told them a creative story through Elisha, our fabulous translator.

The children learn five songs during the week, all of which are taught in Chinese; my favorite is entitled “The Banner of Your Name” in the song the children sing about the seven names of God we are teaching them. This song is my favorite because even though there is a major language barrier we are all joined together in the same tongue while we sing about the One who brought us together—our Elohim, our Adonai, our El Roi, our Jehovah Raah, our El Shaddai, and our Jehovah Tsidkenu. 

Pray for the children to be open and receptive this week - allowing the truths from the Scripture they're memorizing and songs they're learning to sink into their hearts and minds; and pray for each one of us to exemplify Christ through our words and actions, each moment of the day! Thank you!

Rebecca Morgan

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hsinchu CI - Day 2

Today was our first and longest full CI day of the entire trip. Things got going around 7:45 when we hopped on the bus to Northgate Holy Christian Church. After quickly eating a delicious breakfast of seaweed-wrapped rice, chicken, and vegetables, we reported to our respective team stations.

Children began arriving at 8:30. As in typical CI fashion, we alternated small group time and large group time until 6:00 pm with a lunch break at noon. Some of my favorite parts of the day included one-on-one interactions with the kids on my team. During one craft time, I was helping a young boy on my team when he started jabbering away in Chinese. When I only responded in a blank stare, another girl on the team quickly said to him, “Ta ting bu dong” (“She doesn’t understand”). When I nodded and voice the affirmative, “Wo ting bu dong” (“Yes, I don’t understand”), they erupted in laughter.

 One of the names of God we studied with the children today was El Roi, "the God who sees."  This characteristic of God doesn’t simply mean that God sees us when we sin, although that is true.  We learned that this name of God also means that God looks after and takes care of His children.  We studied the character quality of love, and what it means to truly love by giving to others without considering our own personal desires.  When I traded several hand-decorated “love stickers” with the kids on my team, I found myself praising Jesus that love transcends culture.

Thank you to all who are faithfully praying for us.  God has been answering by giving us supernatural energy, enthusiasm, and love for the Taiwanese people.  Please continue to pray for quick healing of a few members who are still battling colds.  Please also pray for us to be able to sense the spiritual needs of the children.  Regardless of the level of verbal communication I can have with the children on my team, He is still the only One Who is able to transform a heart.  While part of me desperately wishes I could speak Mandarin fluently tomorrow, I am learning that in this “weakness,” God is showing Himself strong.

Kayla Hills

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hsinchu CI - Day 1

“It was a dark and stormy night.” This is how stories are supposed to begin…or is it? That would be true if I changed “dark” to “windy”, “stormy” to “freezing”, and “night” to “afternoon”. At least this is how CI began for me this year, on a windy and freezing afternoon. To complement this auspicious start, I was sick, ruffled by the “zephyr”, and just short of being paralyzed by the cold. It will only go uphill and downhill simultaneously from here, with the former meaning things could only get better and the latter meaning the road would only become easier.

Tonight fitted these two predictions wonderfully. As a bridge for three ebullient teachers and eleven obedient children, I had never felt so content to be trampled on, not literally, of course. My team members were vigorous, not violent. Their enthusiasm was a great boost, supplanting my sore throat with boiling energy. “Story Time with Alex” is, and will be, a most memorable incident.

My team, efficient as they are, designated a section of the lessons to “Alex’s stories” even before I met them. It was an excellent attention-grabber, compelling the kids to listen closely to the messages that we try to convey. Today’s story – recounting a particular person’s unwise choice in downing a gallon of milk in one go – involved a lot of gurgling noises and pretended-puking by the storyteller, whom I made my best effort to imitate. It worked, well, well. We absorbed the children’s attention like sponges sucking up water; except we didn’t get drenched in the process and they weren’t exactly drained of anything, either. It actually felt nice to act crazy and see the kids thoroughly enjoy every minute.

There were other moments, just small captured moments, that I will not readily forget: the rows and rows of children bowing their heads, clasping their own hands in prayer; the teachers who cheerfully try to enunciate one of the most difficult and complex languages; a small, small boy intrigued yet frightened by the tall, scary foreigner; the wise advice teaching us how to make our socks un-slippery; the melodious songs. There were all beautiful, and I couldn’t help but forget my physical discomfort. God put CI in each of our lives to make us better, to answer our question, and much more. I look forward to tomorrow, and every day that comes after that.

If you have borne with me thus far, through my misery and happiness, please take a moment – even just a minute – to kneel before God and pray for us – that the seminars will not lose focus of God as the center of everything, the we continue to love the children without reserve, unaffected by the minutiae of work, knowing that they and we alike are all God’s design.

Peter Chen

Hsinchu CI Training Day

Hello! After such a long travel day, we all immediately began Children's Institute training. Tim challenged us this morning by focusing on the importance God puts on His own name and how it relates to us during our stay in Taiwan. The study of God's names has really struck me with the deeper realization of God's desire to be known on a very relational level.

After more training, and a coffee/boba tea stop, a train ride, and more training, we quieted down for some much-needed rest. Please continue to pray for the health of the team as those who have been sick are recovering.

- Jonathan Ingersoll

Friday, January 18, 2013

Taiwan Travel Day

Sleeping in the airport.
The day started early on Tuesday the 15th. After double-checking for our passports and having final prayer, we left Verity at 5:30am. The first flight was a blur for everyone; I don't think anyone stayed awake. I personally enjoyed this first rest. When we arrived at Detroit, we located our gate and prepared for the final few hours in the States. A number of students continued their sleeping on the floor, while others went to find coffee. I chose the sleeping route and napped on the floor beside Ray Ma.  Eventually it was time for our flight to depart.

We walked onto the plane and surveyed the landscape we would be surviving in over the next 12+ hours... the flight went well. We filled our time with good conversation, planning for our responsibilities in Taiwan, and consuming the food and beverages steadily provided by the Delta flight attendants! It was really pretty flying over Siberia, it was clear and there were lots of snow covered mountains.

We arrived in Tokyo, and found out we were in a whole different world. I have never been in this part of the world before. The next flight to Taipei was around 3 hours, and just about everyone slept soundly the entirety of this flight.
Customs in Taiwan went smoothly, and we were able to exchange money once we retrieved our luggage. Immediately following this, we quickly found Timothy Chen and the other Taiwan IBLP staff waiting to welcome us and headed for the bus. Angela Hsu's grandparents were also waiting at the airport and were able to visit with her before we left! We jumped on the bus and traveled about half an hour to a Presbyterian Bible Seminary in Hsinchu to settle into our living quarters for our first week... After 26 hours of traveling, we eventually got to bed after 1:oo am, Taiwan time.

The day went seamlessly, without issue, proving yet again God's blessing on this journey! Please pray for quick recovery from jetlag and open hearts to see what God would have us to learn over the next four weeks - it will be an adventure to remember!

Joseph Samaha