Friday, February 8, 2013

Luke 22:46

“And He said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”

I love how it is so easy to obey this command of Jesus’ this week here in Hualien. With the beach a mere 5 minutes away, it's a great incentive to get out of bed! So with my resolve finally getting the better of my laziness, I spent an enjoyable morning doing my devotions with waves crashing in the background and sea spray saltiness on my tongue.

When I heard that I was assigned to the boy’s home this week, I was skeptical of how things would go. Mostly, I wished it were possible for us to work with a girl's home instead. :) But things have been going better than I imagined. The boys have been most welcoming and approachable. In fact, most often, it is the boys who approach me to say hello and greet me by name. They are also quite the rabunctious bunch and love to tease the Americans knowing they can't understand Chinese. Needless to say, there is lots of fun and laughter when we are together!

What does a game of limbo, suicidal depression and bears have in common? As impossible as it sounds, they all had to do with our lesson on forgiveness today. Can you tell that we have been most creative with our teaching methods? In our small group discussion, we each named a person who had hurt us in the past. Joseph’s immediate answer was God. That was a shock to me and when he refused to elaborate on why that was so, my heart went out to this boy whose past I could only imagine. I listened as Link shared how he had to learn to forgive his father who had mistreated him. He ran away from home as a result of that, only to be literally dragged home with his head bleeding from something he struck along the way. While there is little we can do but listen to their stories of grief and heartache, it is comforting to know that God, our Jehovah Rapha, can grant healing in each of their lives!

As to what I have personally been learning this trip, there is much that comes to mind. Returning on this trip for a second time as a translator has had its challenges but God has been faithful. The biggest lesson for me has been to see each opportunity as a means to glorify God especially when it's in a way other than I expect. Truly, my most precious memories have been the little conversations with the kids.

It’s sad to be able to count the days before we leave on one hand. There is still much ahead for us though and we appreciate your prayers for the continued ministry and safety of the team. To God be the glory!

Jolynn Tan

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hualien CI - Day 2

The sound of waves muffled the whispers of two tired but chatty girls. No matter how draining the day, it seems that the tongue always finds a way to remain active when all other faculties fail. It began with questions about showering times, stories from back home, and a healthy dose of laughter. This conversation, however, was anything but ordinary. It quickly changed from small talk to God talk. By 2:00 in the morning, I stood with my roommate Jessica on the balcony, soaking in the sheer goodness of the Lord, reveling in His love, and giddy at the fact that He was my Beloved.

At the past three seminars, I have had the opportunity to teach the children about love. I have demonstrated through object lessons that if we are to show love to others, we must be first be filled with God's love. I taught these lessons with confidence, even with excitement. Yet, in the chaos of the every day, I've underestimated the importance of being filled with His love first. I've sought to give love when I've been running on empty. I've complained of mental and emotional exhaustion, forgetting that I had access to the restoring love of my El Shaddai, my All-Sufficient One, my Jesus. Today, however, I lacked physical rest but possessed a well-rested and love-filled spirit. As I taught my lesson this evening, I could feel His Spirit working in me. I found joy in the small things. Hearing the same CI songs and watching the same lessons, I didn't feel the effects of the monotony. The lethargy didn't settle in. Instead, I spent what should have been a tiring evening feeling renewed in purpose and joy.

When I came on this trip, I expected to minister. I planned to serve and pour myself out to the children of Taiwan; yet, what I have discovered is that I am my own mission field. Yes, I came on this trip to serve. Yes, I desire to make an impact on others. But, as I have been working to accomplish these ends, I've been ignorant of the fact that I am, in fact, being impacted. While I've been consumed with my feeble attempts at teaching, the great Teacher has been working in my heart. While I've sought to explain love, the Source and Manifestation of that love has been leading me to a greater understanding of the depths of His love for me.

As we finish this last seminar, as the last steps of this journey are taken, please be in prayer for our team. Pray that God will not allow us to return to our daily lives unchanged. May He continue to reveal Himself to us and, in turn, reveal Himself to those whom we serve.

Leah Heard

Monday, February 4, 2013

Hualien CI - Day 1

At the breakfast table this morning, we laughed as I recalled my current roommate talking in her sleep last night.  One thing that sprang involuntarily from her mouth was “xie xie,” which means “thank you,” proving that both the Taiwanese culture and gratefulness are permeating each of our hearts.  The beginning of the last week here in Taiwan is indeed bittersweet.

Preparation for the new seminar was the focus of the team this afternoon.  Seminar textbooks and Children’s Institute supplies were distributed to their proper places.  The half of our team that will be working with children this week began prepping truth-filled lessons, cutting ribbons, and discussing the intricacies of the “Thumbody Special” craft.  We’re grateful that this group is setting out on Round Four of C.I. just as enthusiastically as they began Round One.  Pray that they have the energy to persevere!

Those of us working on the youth program prayed about which principles and testimonies to include in our sessions.  There is much excitement surrounding this opportunity to work with a group of boys.  Pray that God would sharpen and clarify the messages that are being prepared.

Because a few of us aren’t working with the C.I. team in the evening, and our help wasn’t needed in any other area, we decided to embark on a witnessing adventure in the city. As Jolynn, Becca, Kayla, and I set out to procure popcorn for a C.I. skit, we prayed that God would give us opportunities to share the gospel.  Jolynn faithfully translated as we made connections with and handed tracts to several shopkeepers.

After a stop into 7-11 for the popcorn, we spotted a woman closing up shop at her scallion pancake stand.  We had a really good 15-minute conversation with her as she washed dishes and packed up.  She was talkative and very interested in the gospel, but ended by saying that she prefers to stick with what she knows—Buddhism.  Please pray that God would reveal Himself to her and bring her to a point of decision.

Other highlights of the day included a discussion led by Tim on “El Olam”—our God of the Ages, quiet time by the gorgeous Hualien beach, a dinner of fish and noodles prepared for us by the awesome TESOL teachers, celebration of Micah’s birthday, coffee lovingly delivered to the C.I. team by Becca and Nick, and the reminder that “those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.”

As the last week of our trip begins, we are echoing the prayer of Psalm 90:17.  “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.”  We realize today that we need Jesus just as much as the people we’re serving need Him.  Pray that our purpose for being here would remain at the front of our minds and that Christ would show His strength through our weakness.

Stephanie Hills

Travel Day

The day began with hurried last-minute packing before we all headed to the train station to travel from Taipei to Hualien. Throughout the 3 and a half hour train ride, I watched as the cities began to shrink. Tall buildings morphed into foggy mountains, and streets melted into rice fields. A very happy sight to see!

Once arriving in the city of Hualien, we took a bus to the Catholic retreat center in which we will be spending our nights. After some quiet time, during which several of us went to the beach, the delicious dinner of your choice of rice or pasta dishes was eagerly consumed by all. The Verity girls then struck out on our own to explore the city and celebrate Stephanie’s birthday. We went to a little cake shop called “CafĂ© 85”, where we enjoyed delicious cakes and bubble tea. After singing to Stephanie in Chinese and English, we set out for the night market!

And thus began the adventures of Hannah and Christine… After eating some pig ears, we decided to split off from the rest of the group to check out a few other streets. We experienced some sort of Chinese New Year preparation section of the night market, complete with several stands with Chinese food and an auction. We then moseyed down a couple other streets and got free samples of sweet potato (I think :P). Christine spotted a store with firecrackers, which we could not pass up, so bought some sort of balls that you throw on the ground so they will explode and make noise. We’re not sure what they’re called, but they are very fun!

We then realized that had taken one wrong turn and were going the wrong direction. We stopped at a gas station, where we met a young man who told Christine the general direction of the beach, which we arrived at nearly half an hour later. We were still quite a distance from our lodging, but once we found the beach, it was easy to find the lighthouse, which was located close to the Catholic retreat center. Christine and I finally arrived back. It was a very fun hour of being lost, and we can now navigate quite a bit of the city! The day ended with a time of prayer with the ’13 class girls.

Please be praying for the children and youth that the team will be ministering to this week. The number of children attending the CI is quite small, so there will be a large focus on the youth program. Please pray for smooth communication as well, as there will be two different sets of people working on different ministry opportunities throughout the week. Praising God for the gorgeous weather and the opportunity to spend Stephanie’s birthday with her in Hualien!

Hannah Lanier

Taipei CI - Day 5

Saturday has always been my favorite day of the week. But I think today might just have taken the cake as being one of the most exciting Saturdays I have ever had. No, I didn’t bungee jump from Taipei 101 (the third tallest building in the world), or try fried seahorse on a stick (an elusive delicacy I have yet been able to find), but instead, spent the day running errands around downtown Taipei.

As an “extra” this week, I was not directly involved with Children’s Institute, working more with the IBLP team handling the logistics of the seminars. Today, the last day of the seminars in Taipei, was a full day jam-packed with activity. Starting bright and early at 7:45 AM, preparation at the China Evangelical Seminary for the Advanced, Financial Freedom, and English Basic seminars commenced with setting out books on the display table and routine mosquito zapping with the racquet of death (a name I dubbed for a nifty contraption that would easily be a hit in the Southern states).

Halfway through the morning, Alice, one of the wonderful employees from the Taiwan IBLP office asked me to run to several convenience stores to exchange $8,000 NT into hundred dollar bills for her to distribute among the group for the evening’s trip to a local night market. Trekking around town with Samuel Roberts and loaded with cash, I managed to exchange several thousand dollars at various little stores as cashiers eyed both of us suspiciously (me, as I handed over thousand-dollar bills while mumbling in broken Chinese and Sam, the blue-eyed American, standing tall next to me at 6’2”). We ended our rounds at the train station where we fed our last few thousand-dollar bills into a machine that spit out the bills we needed. Once we got back to the seminary, Sam handed over the huge wad of cash. Even though they were in Taiwanese dollars, we still felt like wealthy thousanders (not quite millionaires) for the brief time we had been entrusted with the money.

Over lunch, I walked to the church where the Basic Seminar was being held, delivering a Pizza Hut pie to my fellow colleagues running the book table. The two pieces I had truly tasted like legitimate slices of American heaven (pun half-intended). After lunch, I ran back to the seminary to deliver some paperwork (almost getting lost on the way) and brought a few more things back and forth between the two seminar locations.

Around 2 PM, Janet, Sam, and I set out to order 40 cups of bubble milk tea for the CI and IBLP team. Meanwhile, the CI team leaders prepared to move all their kids to the church for the parents presentation. After delivering the drinks to the hard workers, the extras began tearing down equipment from the seminar as Advanced and Financial Freedom attendees headed to the church. We finished our night with a cool-down with the rest of our group and headed to the night market for another evening of cultural immersion.

God has brought us through three seminars so far and spirits are high. Please pray that our team would continue looking to Him for strength and hope as we trust Him to complete the good work He has begun in the hearts of the Taiwanese people. We cling and find hope in His name, Jehovah-Raah, as He is our Good Shepherd, and proclaim with zeal that He is Jehovah-Nissi, our Banner of Victory.

Christine Ku

Taipei CI - Day 4

Taipei 101
Today was a day of epic proportions, for more than one reason. Not only did we do an epic amount of walking, but we also climbed the tallest building in Taiwan, Taipei 101. The view was amazing, although there was fog covering the most of the mountains in the distance. It was a refreshing break to get out and get some exercise, and also get some more bubble tea!

This morning, David Lukachick led our group wisdom search with a study on Jehovah-rapha, our Healer. He talked about each aspect of healing our God provides, but specifically referenced bitterness and how it will affect our lives if we refuse to acknowledge it and surrender our hearts and will to His control.  Teaching from Exodus 15:22-27, he talked about how the bitterness that is in our lives can be turned to sweetness, just like the waters of Marah.

A random observation - I have been astonished by the price of the drinks over here in Taiwan. They all are much cheaper here than in America (except for Starbucks). The milk tea with boba that we all have fallen in love with usually maxes out at just over $1 American. So cheap! Needless to say, it becomes a nearly daily purchase. :)

Please pray that the teachers will have strength and that the children will be able to listen and remember what they are taught. Pray for the sleep we are able to get to be solid and rejuvenating, and pray that we would mutually encourage one another all day long!

Jia yo!

Samuel Roberts

Friday, February 1, 2013

Taipei CI - Day 4

This is story time with Alex.

Peter Chiang teaching on "Jehovah Shalom"
Light.  Terrible, terrible light.  I cracked my eyes open and looked at Stuart who lay on the next floor foamy over from me.  As customary, he informed me that the time was 8:40 and then proceeded to roll over and catch a few more minutes of that delicious resource known as sleep.  After preparing for the day in our storage room, Stuart and I sat down for a scrumptious morning meal of Dan Ping (egg pancakes).  At 10:00am, the whole C.I. group (interpreters, staffers, and students) headed for the Taiwan National University for our daily “Wisdom Search.” 

Peter Chiang delved into a discussion on Jehovah Shalom - "God is Peace," and it was a great reminder for me; just trusting in the Lord in all things, resting in His presence and not allowing the cares of this world to wear on me.   After the discussion on peace, the group walked to our lunch reservation.  We were served some dishes that seemed to be a blend between Indian and Asian food (which, if you didn’t know, is a potent mix).  Once finished with lunch, the group began preparing for that evening’s C.I.
Child listening to us sing during worship time

After we moved our materials from our first C.I. location to the replacement locale, we settled down for a small bit, and I unintentionally fell asleep on a wooden church pew. I realized, upon awaking to that terrible light…again, that the children were beginning to arrive and before too much longer I found myself teaching on El Roi, the "God Who Sees."  I felt like a parent at one point as I tried my best at discipline with a child who needs prayer for obedience and contented spirit. I was able to love on him but he would have none of it, and before I knew it his mother picked him up.  After the C.I., my roommates and I wound down by buying some instant noodles and a random assortment of crackers and truffles.  I finished off the day with some much needed prayer and wished the boys goodnight.

If you could pray for that small boy that I tried to talk to, that would be great.  Pray specifically that his parents would know exactly how to nurture in him a love for Jesus and that he would learn to respect the authorities placed in his life.   

Thank for reading!

Alex “Rothgaard” Roth     

Taipei CI - Day 3

The guys were able to sleep in this morning and we eventually trickled into breakfast at 9:00am.  We had accountability groups today which all met between 10 and 11 am.  I am a part of Kayla’s team, and we went to a small park where we had quiet time with the Lord. Afterward, we went to a nice Chinese restaurant where we discussed another name of God, Jehovah Nissi. We ate a great meal and I got involved in a very passionate discussion on the Battles of Gettysburg and Antietam with Alex Roth.  We also discussed the tendency of Southern soldiers to accidentally shoot their good generals while the North excelled at keeping incompetent generals in office. 

After lunch we went to the beautiful university where we were holding the Children’s Institute that day and had training with David Lukachick on teaching tips to use with the children on our teams.  Then we had a break during which Alex, Nick, and I went to a pond, which Nick had found on campus, and spent a few minutes enjoying the scenery while Alex softly played the guitar.  After break, we took a group photo of the entire team and then we had prep time and then dinner.
At 6 pm the kids started to arrive.  The principle for the day was Authority with lessons on the name of God Adonai, and on the character quality - Justice.   At the end of the evening we packed up all of our stuff for the C. I. and for the Basic seminar because we had to switch locations in the morning.  We took the bus back to the hostel and the IBLP Taiwan headquarters where we are staying.  When we got back to our rooms the guys did laundry and some of them (Alex) proceeded to complain about how hungry we (he) were (was).  After we did laundry and Alex had eaten everybody’s spare granola bars, we proceeded to go to sleep thus ending the day.

If you could please pray for Jessica Koehler’s family, her uncle passed away today rather suddenly. Pray that our team would be able to support her during this time, and that God would be her Comforter!

Stuart Morrow