Thursday, June 14, 2018

Tears of Love

CEI teachers saying goodbye to students

Goodbye time tears

Nine months have passed already, since I’m here in Taiwan sharing Christ's love with kids from various schools and townships of Yunlin County. So many cute faces have been surely stocked in a corner of my brain. So many good memories have found a hiding place somewhere in my heart. But what’s my favorite camp week enjoyable moment? Friday morning goodbye time. Not because I’m glad that at last, the naughty kids are leaving the CEI campus but because of how most of them purely and naturally express their gratitude toward us for being there for them after all, teaching and supporting them, playing games with them during English classes and break times, loving them throughout the week no matter how good or bad their behaviors might be sometimes.

I like to see tears in their innocent eyes, of course, when those tears are tears of love. What I’m trying to say is that I’m usually happy to see how what they really are deep inside their hearts, can suddenly explode into those tender tears in their eyes: they are nothing but little lovers that long to be loved. And when they seem to have barely found that love from the CEI teachers they meet for the first time and for a short time, they realize that Friday has already come and that they will have to say goodbye so soon. What is more natural from kids in such a situation than shedding tears of love?

Most of the time when the kids are in tears during the closing ceremony, it’s neither because they are homesick (as some of them are the first days of the camp) nor because they are so happy to leave CEI and return to their hometown, school or family that they burst into tears of joy. For those of them who have such a feeling of joy do not cry; instead, they have their faces lightened by a big smile, synonym of the great joy in their heart: the joy of going back home…

I remember George, a kid from last week’s camp, a very intelligent and lively boy. He was so happy to go back home (because he was homesick, of course!), while his twin sister, Jessica was in tears just like almost half of the kids in the auditorium. That was as usual, just when we started singing the goodbye song with them.

The tears in the eyes of those kids are deep expressions of their unspoken gratitude toward the CEI teachers. Their touching emotions expressed through silent crying is nothing but a message: we are grateful, we love you, and we will definitely miss you! What expression of love and gratefulness more beautiful than this do we need to have from them to realize how much love we have sown in their hearts within only five days?

Toy, my joy of last camp

Toy is my “Coup de Coeur” of this whole semester so far. Not because he was the best student of last camp or of all the previous camps. Not because he has a good English level, nor because he likes me. The reason why he touched my heart so deeply is the contrary of all the above; he was far from being a good student, his English level is very low, he has serious learning disabilities, he has a sad family background; but over all those weaknesses he has, I found, in him a real ray of sunshine.

His enthusiasm, his determination, his willingness and his cute smile, have taken over his weaknesses and led him to a successful camp completion. How touching it was to see him during the traditional “Love sharing time” standing in front of us, eager to share his impressions with others! How touching his emotive voice was, hearing him sharing one thing he learned during the camp, one character improvement he noticed from a home school classmate, and one character he would like to put into practice when he will go back home! Toy was so touching that his home school teacher couldn’t hold back her tears after his sharing.

Beyond the big smile he offered me each time he saw me, beyond the fact that he kept waving at me constantly with an innocent and cheerful face, the best gift Toy gave me the last day during lunch time, was to invite me to come with my plate and join him at his table: “Teacher Yar, Teacher Yar, come, sit…” he said to me showing me the empty seat next to him. Which loving teacher could turn down such a loving invitation from his student? His invitation was irresistible. And what was my surprise and joy when I heard Toy trying his best to communicate with me as I effectively joined him with my meal. And guess how? Surprisingly, more than fifty percent of the words he spoke to me were in English, using most of the English vocabularies we taught them throughout the week! How happy I felt hearing him trying his best to have a conversation with me in English!
              
I will rejoice in the Lord

I’m grateful to God for the miracle he keeps operating behind the scenes, in the life of Taiwan children through VOICE Missions’ ministry. And like Habakkuk said in his last prayer:

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

This is to say that though we cannot officially share the Gospel with the kids we teach here in Taiwan, though we might not see flourishing now the fruit of Christ love we sow in their life through the time we spend with them teaching them and playing with them, yet we will rejoice in the Lord for using us as vessels to spread his blessing over their lives.

Yes, I will take joy in the God of my salvation, for He is the only one who can water the seeds we sow in their hearts; He is the only one capable of working the best for the salvation of Taiwan’s unreached people. All be to His glory!

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Yarmonth Drissou (Yar) is 34 and is from Togo, a small French speaking country located on the West African coast.  In his hometown, Yar used to be a French and English as Second Language teacher in both elementary and junior high school for 5 years.  After 5 years, he resonded to God's call upon his life, quit teaching and moved to Switzerland for a three year Bible college program.  He is a professioal graduate with a Bachelor of Theology since June 2016 and is hoping to pursue his postgraduate studies for a Master of Theology.  He is a pastor and Bible teacher and also a writer fond of poetry and philosophy. “Eurêka” and “Le procès de Tromal” are his published books so far.  After his Bachelor degree in Switzerland, Yar was waiting for the 2017 fall semester to make it to Dallas Theological Seminary when God opened VOICE Missions' door for him in Taiwan, where he has been serving since September 2017.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Finding God's Purpose in the Ordinary


"The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me, your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever." Psalm 138:8a

The simple pleasures of serving Taiwan has been beautiful in its own way.  One of the memories that stands out is the first day meeting the other teachers. It reminds me that small actions can make big waves - cooking a good meal with everyone can make a room full of strangers into friends. It creates a bond that connects all races, nationalities and backgrounds. Seeing the smiles on everyone's face as the meal begins causes a thankfulness that everyone shares. 

Unspoken connections is part of the daily life here, things that would usually go unnoticed and ignored in America are quite the opposite in Taiwan.  You would get invited for dinner for just smiling and waving while biking by locals who are BBQing.      


Let your light shine

"This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine."

It's interesting teaching little light to the kids, with big eyes they listen to a song they never heard before. Soon they sing along and the whole class is filled with music. Little do they know that the simple song has a deeper meaning to it. The next day they find out the meaning. A skit is acted out about not giving up when the going gets tough. Let your light shine even when it's hard.

I once read that "Smiles don't need translations". So much can be said with just body language and a smile, so much love can shine though.

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:16
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Hannah Eng is currently serving with VOICE Missions on the Chiayi team.  Born and raised in Florida, she went to culinary school.  Her hobbies include dancing, hiking, cooking and spending time with friends and family.





Friday, May 11, 2018

An Answer to Our Prayers


"Teacher, I feel it at that time."  

This was a former student's response when I told him how my friend Caroline and I always prayed for our students.  We would pray that they would know Jesus and feel His love during their week with us at school.  A lot of the time, we have no way of knowing how God answered those prayers but when I ran into Gavin recently at the night market, God gave me a glimpse of one answer.

Gavin came to my school four years ago.  Caroline and I went to visit him and his classmates in their village afterwards.  We kept in touch over the years and continued to pray for him.  Then one day a couple years back, we noticed that there had been big changes in Gavin's attitude and actions.  When we asked why, he said that God had changed his life. 


Fast forward to the other week when I ran into this 8th grader.  He began spilling over with joy, sharing what grace and love Jesus had shown him and how he wanted to share that same Love with others.  

As this eighth grader thanked me for praying and sharing with him, I realized - God had been using our prayers for years now.  In fact, He has shown His love and truth to Gavin and is now using Gavin to reach others.

God uses you and He uses me.  As Mother Teresa said, "I'm a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world."  Keep on believing that He is writing that love letter through you wherever you are!




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Joanna Suich has been serving with VOICE Missions since February 2013.  As a child, she attempted to dig her way to China, but only made it two feet in before her mom called her to dinner.  Although Joanna never made it to China, God did bring her nearby to the island of Taiwan.  She has a heart for all things involving missions, juvenile delinquents and adventures.  God has placed Hualien in her heart and it's home now.  She currently is doing college online as she volunteers, majoring in social work.  If you're looking for Joanna, check the local village or orphanage and you'll probably find her there - playing, tutoring and sharing Christ's love and truth.