Friday, July 31, 2009

turning point

Today my heart grew closer to the kids. I woke up and did devotions with the girls. God lead me to speak about love. The Holy Spirit revealed that all the children really needed was love and hugs. I couldn't think of anything else but the Kim Walker YouTube video "How He Loves." It's an amazing song declaring God's love for us. Eric and Scott started to feel sick to their stomaches that morning. Eric started first with vomiting and went to the school feeling extremely weak. Scott started vomiting at school and looked like death. They concluded that it was food poisoning from some hamburger the night before. They both recovered within about 16 hours but it was nasty while they had it.

Charity is a Taiwanese woman that interprets and helps out with most everything that is needed while we are out here. During our devotional she explained that in the chinese culture little kids stop receiving outward affection after about the age of 3. They are rarely told "I love you." It became our mission that day to let these kids know that we loved them and God loves them. At school that day I couldn't help but hug everyone. Most of them remained limp for the first couple of times I hugged them. It seemed so unfamiliar to not have a kid reciprocate the affection given. After a while you could see the smiles when they figured it out and you felt that little squeeze from them around your waist. It was our second to last day with them and I was just getting to know them. My heart was swelling.

When we got home for the afternoon we had some quiet time and played some scrabble. Scott and Eric slept off their sickness. It was pretty low key until we got ready for the night market. I was bummed that Scott couldn't go because he still was recovering from the food poisoning. Wendy and I took her scooter and not too far into the trip she asked if I wanted to drive. Of course I did! I jumped on and took over the road. It was rocky at times when I had to stop and go but overall, not a bad trip. The night market was packed with people. We seperated into groups of 3 or 4 and did some exploring. There was plenty to see, almost too much for the time that we had. I picked up a couple of things but nothing exciting. I probably enjoyed driving the scooter home the most.

Wednesday, I reflected on the time that had already gone by so fast. I thought about going back home and I have some reservations about it. How do I go back to going and going and do do do? I am going to be open to how God wants me to be change there. It seems that I can not be the same.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

melt down

scott was playing some top game. the kid in the back was "the man"

Yesterday was our first day teaching at the elementary. In the morning I could feel my emotions in my throat. I was nervous, overwhelmed, hot, and desperately trying to grab on to some sort of control. Every day, as a group, we bring things places, clean, eat, sleep, pick up, tear down, drive here, drive there. With all the different personalities and cultural differences it gets crowded physically and mentally. As an introvert I get my energy from alone time so a melt down was bound to happen sooner than later. It was my day.

We get to the school just in time for all the kids to be there before most of us. It was a late start. I had no clue of what I was getting into. I stood in front of these adorable kids and lost my mind. Absolutely lost it! I have never spoke through a translator, I had never spoke to a class full of third graders since I was a third grader. Long story short, everything I had prepared myself for and the group I was leading, went out the window in about 20 minutes. I excused myself to the bathroom, and stood in there trying to hold it together. The Lord broke me. I was in tears for the next 45 minutes unable to go to class. Completely out of my comfort zone I asked God to lead again. Four of the team members prayed for me and it blessed me so much. I ate my pride and embarrassement and walked into the classroom and watched my teammates take over in a beautiful way. I learned so much from them over the next couple of hours. I guess God just wanted me to love that day. My main gifts and talents that He blessed me with were not necessary. He called me to serve and love.

We finished our teaching with a game at the end of the day. I began to fall in love with these kids when I saw that they don't me to be anything but me. This culture appreciates everything so much. They recycle, they say thank you for teaching them an english word, they take their shoes off before they come in the house, they don't put their feet on tables, they don't sit on tables, they get up at 4am to work, go to school, then come to help us with whatever we may need. It is unbelievable! I hope I take home a fraction of that appreciation for what God has given me.

After all that we got to see a Taiwan cultural arts center. They had so many different shops with authentic Taiwanese souveniers. Scott and Eric picked up paper hats and I dressed up with the girls in traditional chinese dresses. We sampled so much food, good and bad. People love to take pictures with americans. A lot of dhinese people say I look famous because I have blond hair. Even with my sweaty face and fuzzy hair! It was a priviledge to be there to see all the different things.
Later on we got to go to a seafood buffet called Noah's Ark. It was absolutely amazing! I mean AMAZING! The best sushi I have ever had. It melted in your mouth. For those of you that love sushi, you would just die, for those of you that don't, you probably would like it. On the way there, we lost a couple of vehicles with leaders and kids in them. It was chaotic for a bit but God knew where they were and I knew he would bring them back to us. He did!

God is stretching me so much right now and I am holding onto whatever I can. All this stretching is really opening my heart. I can't complain!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

set up tear down

Sunday was a beautiful day. We had a really hard rain the night before so it cooled down the morning. The sun shined bright through the window and woke me up around 5:30 am just like it did for me today. Scott and I walked to Thomas' house where Eric is staying and woke him up. He took us to the market where we picked out some beautiful fruit. As we were searching out a coffee shop we ran into a man that came to the Yilan Alive the night before. He showed us around town and took us to breakfast at "Beautiful and Breakfast." Our new friend, Roger, picked out some tasty breakfast items for us to all try. While waiting for our food we had an encounter with a HUGE spider. I couldn't even look at it directly in the eyes, I was terrified! The restaraunt owner came over and killed it for me. UGG!

Eric led devotions for all of us after we got back home. It was a refreshing time with the Lord in his word and in prayer. After that we headed back to the cultural center to set things up outside. I have never felt so busy in my life but I really feel the Holy Spirit on me because my energy level is sky high. Praise God! We set up the face painting, balloon animals, registration for highschool camp next week, skits, and music for outside. It was a success! We had so many come join us for all of our activities and we talked to them about their lives and gave them things to take home about "the base" (the church) and about how being a good person is not going to truelly bring you eternal joy and life. The people were very responsive and even got involved in some of our worship songs that we had dance moves to and participated in our skits.

The worship time humbled me so much last night when we did church service in the park. If Iowa could have church in the park every sunday I think it would be a beautiful thing. You lift your eyes and see His creation and His onlooking people. I couldn't stop smiling in worship because God has brought us to Taiwan! It's beyond a priviledge to be here. After church we had fellowship with whoever wanted to join us. After that we tore down all our equipment and headed back home about 10pm. Another successful day with the Lord's help!

Today, we finally get to start our teaching. I am too excited for it! These kids that we have met are absolutely the most precious kids I have ever met. I hope that they love the camp as much as we do!

Lord, I pray for patience today as we go to the school to teach kids about the Bible and english at the same time. I pray you make our class time productive and our activities fun. I pray for the hearts of the children to be open and that your Holy Spirit would fall on them and make yourself known to them.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shine your light

We found a place to stay that has air conditioning! Praise God! This morning we finally had the pleasure of meeting our Taiwan team. They are amazing people. We headed over to the cultural center to set things up for "Yilan Alive". Setting up consisted of bringing in tables and chairs and moving a lot of other things around to accomadate whoever came in. Scott and I didn't get to see much of eachother during this time because we both had different jobs. Our leader, Thomas, got heat stroke by early afternoon. It was scorching out and we couldn't get enough water. It kept sweating out faster then we could drink it. Everyone is extremely helpful and responsible on the team. It is exciting to see such awesome teens really work hard.

After things were all set up we socialized. We invited everyone we found to come in a play games, get their face painted, and listen to music. They played "Have You Ever" to really break the ice and get our guests feeling at ease. Then, we split up into smaller groups and had more conversation. At that time I felt so blessed to be here that I cried. I slipped out of sight to hide my tears. I couldn't even look out at the events happening for about 10 minutes because I was completely filled with emotion. Scott prayed for me and we praised God for it. After I emerged from my hiding place I went back to meeting people. I can tell that I have made some great friends already!

The Taiwanese love to learn English. A woman and her son that came into the cultural center stayed to speak with us and listen to the music. She asked me english questions for 30 minutes. I hope that she comes back tomorrow! It's hard to do any direct speaking about the Lord but I have handed out a lot of salvation booklets that are written in chinese.

Face painting was hilarious! There weren't a lot of kids that participated but the ones who did were absolutely precious. They loved to say thank you in english. The american team was covered in face paint. One of our guys, Tony, doesn't get to do a whole lot because of a knee problem right now but I made sure he had a pretty pink hearts painted on each side of his face. It was a great way to make all the taiwanese kids comfortable getting it done. We even let some of them paint our faces.

The worship team sounds excellent! Scott is really pumped about using his talents here but I think he's fatigued. He's sleeping very sound next to me right now.

Today was incredible. I don't know if I have ever been filled with this much joy in such uncomfortable weather. The Holy Spirit has filled me up with comfort, energy, and laughter. The Lord has been providing us an abundance of laughter. It is one thing that both of our cultures have in common.

Lord, thank you for this gorgeous day! I pray for Thomas to be healed. I pray that you would fill everyone up with your Holy Spirit for guidance in conversation as we go into our VBS week. I ask that you would prepare the hearts of everyone involved in the events of tomorrow and the rest of the week. Thanks you for all that you have done to make this go as well as it has. Thank you for the energy and a cool place to stay.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Here and there

We left Minneapolis at 11:45 on Wednesday. I'm so confused on what day it is but it was just confirmed it is friday here. Taiwan is 12 hours ahead of Iowa. Although we were up about 30 hours we got a good night sleep at our host house. The neighborhood is really interesting. They are all five story condos with scooters parked outside. We were greeted with big smiles from our Taiwan team. It was a wonderful feeling to not feel like strangers in a different country.

Scott and I sleep in a room that has no air conditioning. It feels a bit like sleeping in a sauna with a fan blowing warm air around. When we woke up we cooled off in a cold shower. The first two floors don't have hot water but the cold water feels refreshing so I am not complaining.

After breakfast we headed out to the beach to swim and paraglide. First, we had to drive up a mountain that overlooked the ocean. Then, we had to run and jump off that mountain attached to an instructor and a parachute. All the way down I was praising the Lord for the experience and the scenery.

There are 96 children signed up for the VBS next week. What a huge blessing!

Pictures will be posted later!

Monday, July 20, 2009


Charger for electronics-check

Here we go! The pups have been sent to the grandparents where they met their new cousin, a miniature horse. The house has been cleaned. Tomorrow I finish work for 15 days. My nerves are starting to kick in now. It's real. I know that things will be great but it's the unknown that I am shy about meeting. People always say, "You'll be fine, it will be great." Bless them for their optimism and ease but we are leaping out of a comfort zone that has been too familiar for probably too long. Suddenly I'm sensitive to every sound, touch, and smell. It's surreal.
I am clinging to work, my house, my car and I realize that I am holding onto things that can disappear in a 10 minute tornado. Already I feel the Lord working on my heart. Construction is being done. A demolition first then new construction. Thank God that my foundation is solid though. That is what I know I will always have. He may break me and mold me but it is always him I stand on. I can not be conformed to this world, I won't. When I pray "Lord, break me" or "Lord, make me a stronger witness for you" he commits to that prayer and begins to go to work.
Thank you Lord for the work you have begun in the hearts of the highschoolers that are coming to Taiwan. Their hearts for you are inspiring. Being a teenager is tough, especially in these times of easy access to everything wrong in this world. They are taking a narrow road reaching towards a goal of winning hearts for Your kingdom! Their treasures are being stored and I pray that you bless their lives and change them forever!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Security

Remember this...Since Scott and I met we have known that we are opposites when it comes to money. Money is security to me and it is freedom to him.

We are in the final stages of fundraising and the team was a little short on the funds we budgeted for. Our families and friends have been praying hard for God to provide, even if it's at the last minute. Bless them!

Yesterday, Scott and I were at a bbq with some friends that are with the Navigators. Earlier that morning we had discussed helping them out with their fundraising. We agreed on giving $100. One thing that we both learned as kids was that you can't out give God. $100 seemed like a safe number to me and Scott just loves giving money away so that was where it settled. I left the bbq a little early and Scott grabbed the check book to write out the donation.

This morning, he informs me that he wrote out a check to them for $500. "WHAT??!! I thought we agreed on $100!" My first reaction...there goes my security and why do we even talk about this stuff and $500, why not $200, that would be a little safer? Scott was sure though that is how much we were suppose to give. Even with the initial shock I still was leaning on the Lord believing that we can't out give Him.

A few hours after Scott told me about the donation I had a visitor (we'll just keep this person a secret) stop by at my work. She asked if she could talk to me in private about something important. Once we got in a quiet room she handed me an envelope that read, "I hope this blesses you, this trip will change your heart forever." I opened it and pulled out 5 $100 bills. $500!!!! To my amazement she told me that God put that amount on her heart and she didn't know how or why but she knew that she was suppose to give it to us.

This miracle stopped me dead in my tracks today. God opened my eyes to see that He is always my security and He is commited to us. He will provide for us over in Taiwan and I believe He will bless the church we are working with. I know that He performs miracles everywhere and this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Thank you Jesus for revealing yourself to your children! This is an awesome testimony of your love and provision!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Love You from the inside out

We are an extension of God and how can people be reached unless we let Him use us? I fully understand that I will only be a servant over there and that I am not the one that will change their hearts. Thank God for that! Agape Love is not human nature but it is God's nature. I can not pretend that I am some super spiritual person that is righteous enough to say that I am 100% ready for this. I have had fears and some tears as the day gets closer. This is a far cry from my comfort zone. The truth is though, Scott and I were called, as we are (spoiled, selfish, and sometimes ungrateful for our salvation) to meet God's children of all ages right where they are in a different country that speaks a different language. What do I hope to get out of this the most? The obvious answer is that absolute truth would be revealed to the people that don't know God. I need to go deeper and say, I want these kids to experience the everlasting love of Jesus, His grace, His correction, a true intense relationship with God our Father. I do believe that they will see Jesus. I do believe their lives will be transformed. The catch is that I have a hard time speaking absolute truth in my own town and in my own language. I'm being honest. So, if it seems that at this point in preparation I seem selfish, it's because I am. I can't imagine why God would give us, a couple with no desire to be around children for an extended amount of time, a strong yearning to be surrounded with children in a different country for 15 days.

Starting this blog, I led myself to believe that it would only be informative but now as a I write and cry, listening to Scott play worship, I feel broken. I still feel unprepared and nervous. At the same time I am consumed with God's love and I keep praising Him for the unknown. I keep praising Him for the opportunity to be broken. I believe the more broken I am, the less of me that will be seen and the more of Him will be seen! He is so awesome and He deserves the praise of every nation and tongue!

Thank you God for the church and leaders that are preparing for us to come to Taiwan. Thank You for the American team that is willing to go and be His hands and feet. Thank You for the children you are bring to VBS. Thank you for preparing the hearts to be transformed. Thank You for bringing in the funds to get us there and provide things for the church we are serving at. Thank you for teens that are standing for what they believe in and speaking it out loud. Thank you for the leaders that we have coming with us. Praise Praise Praise!

1 John 3:18 Let us not love with word or tongue but with actions and in Truth

Monday, July 13, 2009

10 days left

Here we are 10 days before our trip. Scott has been practicing the worship songs and I have been writing letters to our supporters. A lot of thoughts go through my head as we prepare for the lessons and the flight. I'm nervous for the long flight. Flying always seems to make me a bit queezy but it's nothing I can't get over with some crackers and a smoothie. Scott handles everything like a champ so no worries there. He will be cool and collected. I will have my check list all checked off three days before we leave and he will pack at 2am the night before we leave. It just seems to work that way but the main thing is that it works and both of us remember our passports.

Our dogs will be with their grandparents and "cousins" while we are gone. They love it there because they can run free through the country side and get spoiled with love.

Our lesson planning is important but I also know that the Holy Spirit will be involved in opening the kids' hearts. I am already marveling at the work that God is going to do over there. I remember being told about Jesus when I was little and how real He was to me. I knew that I wanted to follow Him at a young age and I hope that we can have the same impact on the kids that we do Vacation Bible School with.