Thursday, August 13, 2009

child-like faith

I'm updating a little late but better late than never huh?

The last week in Taiwan we had a highschool english camp. Similar to the first english camp with elementary kids our first day was rough. However, the highschoolers were much more reserved about using their english around us unlike the elementary kids. Suddenly those little kids that were shouting out english words with candy as their only reward turn into teens and incentives are futile. I tried to remember my teen years. For a moment I forgot about that feeling of worrying about looking cool or feeling stupid around your peers if you did something bizarre that didn't seem to fit in an imaginary box of whats acceptable. After some thought it all came back to me. I remember the drama, the act, the desire to fit in somewhere. Where does our confidence go? Where do the days of resilient bodies and minds go? At what point in our youth do we decide to internalize our carefree being and result to fear that binds us? I don't remember when that happened to me but I do recall that at some point in my adolescence I became afraid to express things that really mattered like my faith, my values, and pure sillyness. In my youth I abandoned God and chose to follow a path of my own ways for a period in my life. After I had made all the mistakes I wanted to make I once again had the true desire to follow Him whole heartedly. I came back to that strong faith and pure joy that allowed me to have child-like faith and have life in abundance as He promises.
A group of us wrote a skit for the kids the first day but it actually flopped because the kids couldn't figure out what was going on. It's kind of funny to think about how crazy they thought we were because they had no clue what was going on. The next day we came back with another skit that got our point across without confusion. It was an opener for Wendy to talk about Jesus and what he did for us on the cross. After some conversation with them we discovered that they were teens just like most of the american team and like Scott and I once were. The american girls taught the Taiwanese girls how to make bracelets while role playing conversations. The guys did an all english field trip down the street. Scott and some other americans shared their testimony through a translator. By the end of our second day we all had quickly grown attached to eachother.
The last day the americans were feeling completely ready to head back to home. Personally, I loved being there but that last day I had to ask the Holy Spirit to fill me with energy and joy. I didn't feel well and my mind kept going to Iowa and what I had to do when I got back to work. We ended the day with watching the "Lifehouse" skit. It is an incredibly moving skit and everyone in the room was touched by it. We ended the week on a high note. We passed out Bibles and english cd's. We took a lot pictures and exchanged contact information.

One of the girls that I became close with was Ivory. She gave me a book and wrote an amazing note in it that expressed what good friends we were. It was the last time I would see these kids for a while and I was really emotional about it. It was surreal. We were really leaving this place now. The impact that we made on these kids we may never truelly know but the impact they made on me change my heart forever.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

today, God's creation

I skipped over what we did saturday so remember the last blog was sunday.

Saturday started off with coffee shop ministry. We set up at a local coffee shop called 85 degrees. They have excellent iced coffee (according to Scott because I'm not a coffee drinker) and yummy smoothies. The shop is located in a busy area downtown Yilan so we were ready to hand out english CD's, tracts, and chat with folks. We recruited a few more highschool students for our english church camp. A few of us decided to walk down the block to extend our ministry. Soon into the walk I discovered a hair salon. We all went in and before I knew it Emily and I were getting our hair cut! It was actually a great experience and all we had to do was show them a picture. Neither of our hair stylists spoke a bit of english but I figure "it's just hair." Towards the end an interpreter came in and I got to ask her some questions about my stylist's career and tell her why we were in Taiwan. In order to become a hair stylist in Taiwan you must do an apprenticeship first that can start as early as 16 years old. They start out shampooing then after a they graduate highschool they can take an exam to get licensed to cut hair. It's not like in the states where we have to go to an actual hair school and get a certain amount of hours to graduate. After the Americans bombarded the salon and tried to communicate the best we could I ended up getting an awesome Taiwanese haircut and Emily lost about 5 inches of hair and got layers. Plus our interpreter got to talk to the highschool apprentices about our english church camp. It was a success!
After the haircuts we picked up some lunch and had some free time to explore downtown or go back to the house. Scott and I decided to shop for straw hats. We found them but we needed to get some more cash. Scott ran down the block to the 7/11 and I stayed there. While there I asked the store owner if there was a bathroom I could use. She didn't understand what I was asking her at all. It was the moment when your mind realizes there isn't a place to go to the bathroom so then your body for some reason decides it has to go even more. There was nothing I could say to this woman to make her understand I needed to use the restroom. I even drew a picture! So, I stayed there for what seemed like forever until Scott came back. Once he was back my panic subsided and I suddenly didn't have to go so bad. It was so frustrating not knowing how to say a simple thing like "restroom" in chinese. It then became my mission when we got back home to learn how to say some key words just in case that situation came up again.
Behind The Base is the community center. God has really blessed the ministry that the Linde family has in Yilan. He has shown favor to them in so many ways but The Base was provided by the community rent free and utility free and is in a great location. That evening behind The Base, the community center set up a music show of bamboo instrument players. There were several different instruments made of bamboo and the musicians that played them were defenitely talented. The community center also had beautiful landscaping that I couldn't take enough pictures of. That night God revealed himself through his creation. I was in complete awe walking around seeing plants and trees I had never seen before. One of the things I love most about my husband is his love and appreciation of nature. I can't imagine being with anyone else that didn't love nature and see God's hand in it. Thank you God for your vision and the ability to see it, hear it, and smell it.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Did you feel the oceans roar?

Sunday morning we went to the orphanage that Eric and Mandi adopted their kids from. We had a church service there and then we had sunday school classes for the kids. There tiny babies up to young adults at the orphanage. The kids that really pulled at my heart were the older ones. They were the ones with a story, usually a sad one. A few siblings that lived there are going to be there for a while until their dad gives up parental rights. I can't imagine having to share your space, love, and childhood with up to 50 other children but it's an amazing orphanage that teaches them about the love of God. I held a couple babies, they were so sweet. One little baby girl spit up quite a bit on my shirt. I didn't have an extra shirt so I smelled like spit up the rest of the day. It was really nice when a humid wind wafted that up in my face through throughout the day.

Later we went to the beach to set up our music and pass out tracts. People are so kind in Taiwan, they don't mind taking them from us and they actually read them. The band played some music and our dance team entertained. I think the most challenging part for me was not knowing the language. It made it hard to really get to know people but we did our best. If we really needed help we would grab an interpreter. Our interpreters worked incredibly hard while we were there. I'm surprised that no one's head exploded! Charity is amazing at sharing the Lord with people. I looked over and she had her heart wide open and sharing it with a young girl. She was an inspiration to me.

After we got everything loaded up to take back to the base we were able to get some time to get into the ocean. It was an ideal day for swimming. The waves were perfect to play in and Turtle Island was beaming. We jumped in and let the ocean do all the work for us. Steph and Meredith were sitting up on shore where the ocean washed up and suddenly were stung by a jelly fish unbeknownst to them. They both thought at first that something bit them but soon after felt the sting. They went to the life guard station and got some ointment to put on their stings. I swam out with the rest of the crew swimming and there were some tough waves that day. Even though we didn't go outside the swimming bouy the waves began crashing hard. I quickly got back into more shallow waters after getting slammed a few times and gulping too much sea water. My belly was fully after that and I didn't feel well the rest of the day. During one of those big waves Scott was folded in half backwards and scraped up on shore. Hello Chiropractor! After our ocean adventures we piled into the VW van like a bunch of Jesus loving hippies. We shared a lot of joy on this trip and for some reason the VW van was our playing ground. Praise God for our protection whenever we drove anywhere!

When we got home we immediately went to the Base for evening church service. Thomas gave an amazing spirit filled sermon. He is a passionate man that loves the Lord and people with with all his heart. Quite a few people came to the service and afterwards we had fellowship and some prayer time. It was an awesome night for staying up and talking about how great God is.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tears and toilets

I'm so behind on my blog! I am about five days behind. So, friday we went to Taipei to visit ROTV. It is a station that broadcasts shows on the television and radio to teach english. The woman that started the company is in her 70's now and she also holds church services there. They donated us a bunch of CD's to hand out to our students and for our street evangelism. While we were there we got to meet the staff and interns and the music group. They had a full band and the singers were amazing. There was an old man on the saxophone that reminded me of my grandpa because he played the sax. Everytime this man would solo on the sax I started to sob. I couldn't even look at him because I couldn't hold back my tears. It has been 4 years since my grandpa died but God gave me a little blessing that day by reminding me of how great of a sax player my gramps was. After my eyes cleared Eric got up and spoke about why we were here and how he was led to Taiwan in the first place. He did a great job. After he spoke he handed the microphone over to me and told me to tell them why I came to Taiwan and how it has affected me. Again, the tears started flowing. I have been an emotional mess here but it's a beautiful mess of tears from God.

Next, we headed over to a shop of beautiful things made in Taiwan. There were four floors of items that were beautiful, I wanted them all! We picked up a few things but then headed to our next destination. We ended up at a huge garden that had so much history it was hard to keep all the information in my head. It was another scorching day so that made it hard to walk around. The tour guide was only 16 and had been doing tours there since she was 11. She taught herself english so she could do english tours. The people here are amazing at picking up english and so determined to perfect it.

After the garden we headed to a restaurant. It's no easy task hauling around over 20 people in four different cars. I think at some point a couple of cars got lost but God is good and he directed us all back together. Scott is an amazing driver here. The people drive like maniacs and the scooters are like mosquitos, they buzz in and out of lanes in on coming traffic and inbetween cars. Scott somehow handles the pressure like a champ and gets us everywhere safely and quickly. Once we got parked we walked to this restaurant called the Modern Toilet. Everything is bathroom oriented. We ate out of mini toilets and drank out of urinals. How missional huh? It was a great memory though.

The last event of the night was a church service downtown Taipei. We again got lost so we were late getting in there but better late than never. It was an awesome service and a lot of people came to know Christ that night. In America it seems there are churchs everywhere and somewhere along the lines most people have experienced church at some point. Here though, people don't really claim much for religion even though they may say their family is Buddist or Tao. They are very curious and usually easy to talk to about God.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Last day

Thursday was our last day at the elementary school. The kids were unusually rowdy and it was 102 degrees out with about 80% humidity. We were dragging but I kept praying for the Holy Spirit to fill me with energy. We taught them how to sing "Jesus loves me" with the actions, "The BIBLE", and "Head and shoulders." It was hiliarious to see them sing the songs faster and faster. We spoke about treasures in heaven and did a skit. Our translator is amazing but it is still hard to communicate with them. That was the only frustrating part about it the teaching experience. The kids made sure they got a lot of pictures with us. I can only pray that God really shined through us those four days because I am sure that I won't see most of them ever again. I didn't want to let go of hugging them. It was an emotional good bye for me.

After the goodbyes we dropped by a near by mall and did some browsing. I don't feel like shopping much here though. At times I do but I remember shortly after why we are here.

Later on we came took a scooter ride up to the mountains. I didn't bring my camera because it was a rather sponteneous trip. We went up to the university and it was gorgeous up there. God's creation.