Friday, January 19, 2018

A Season of Change


I've said goodbye to the days where I’m constantly covered in sweat and chalk dust!  My everyday craving for a cold, iced drink is being replaced with hot, ginger tea. My classroom is filled with kiddos wearing their poofy winter coats.  Each day I wake up wondering if it’s going to be 29C/85F, warm and sunny or 13C/55F, cold and windy.

The weather isn't the only thing on this island that's in the changing-seasons stage. Moving to Taitung City a few months ago began a new season of experiences & opportunities for me. Change always brings about its share of challenges, but when you're in the center of God's will, the blessings always outweigh the hard times!

Recently I've been learning how to balance my work at the Character & English Institute with trying to become involved in my local community, keep up with my online college courses, & take part in outside ministry opportunities... all while getting enough rest to stay healthy. I can't say that I've learned exactly how yet, considering I'm in the process of getting over my third cold this semester. However, within this learning process, I am learning to not put ministry in a box!

Back when I lived in Hualien, I was involved in a lot of stereotypical "ministries", such as volunteering at a Buddhist orphanage, working with juvenile delinquent boys, or going to visit students in a rural village as "ministry". This year in Taitung, however, I don't have the resources (such as a car), the people (such as a fellow teammate), or the time (since I am now working on college classes) to become involved in those types of ministries.

At first, I felt guilty that I wasn't doing enough "ministry" here and even wondered if I was being selfish with my time, even though I believed God called me to continue college classes while I teach this year.  That's when I realized that this is just a new season of ministry for me.  What I did previously in Hualien shouldn't compare to what I'm doing here.  Just because something is different doesn't mean one is better or more impactful than the other.  I'm learning that, as a Christian, there doesn't have to be a specific time for "ministry".  My interaction with others should always reflect Christ's love and light.  I'm learning to be intentional with my actions and see my entire life as ministry.

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Caroline Rodgers currently lives in Taitung City.  Her first encounter with Taiwan was over 10 years ago and it was during that trip that she felt God calling her to serve the Taiwanese people long term.  In order to follow this call, she is pursuing her degree in elementary education so she can continue to minister in Taiwan.  Caroline enjoys studying Chinese, visiting former students and connecting with the local people.  She also likes exploring new places and spending time with friends.  

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Knowing Carl


It’s impossible to describe Carl in just one word.  I tried but it just can’t be done.  Every Wednesday, this rambunctious, mischievous, fireball of a kid makes his grand entrance into class.  His bright eyes are full of life and laughter.  He never sits still for long and his arms and legs are always in motion.  I never know quite what to expect.  Every grand entrance is unique and always a surprise. 

Carl is in first grade and he lives at an orphanage I’ve volunteered at since 2014.  I don’t know his background or why he and his brother are at the orphanage.  All I know is that he’s been there for years.  All I know is that he needs attention and a lot of love.
 
Carl’s antics in class are always…exciting.  I really shouldn’t be surprised anymore by what this kid does.  The other week he got ahold of my reward stickers.  I turned around to find 20 stickers plastered across his stomach.  He proudly showed me and flexed his little muscles too.  Then there’s the time he took my game cards and put them in the toilet.  He was so pleased with himself when he pulled them, sopping wet, out of the toilet and placed them in my lap before I could protest.

Despite all the mischief Carl gets in and the bad attitude he often shows me, God has given me such a love for this little first grader.  I know it’s not my own doing!  I mean, he sometimes drives me crazy and even destroys my teaching materials.  So when I look at Carl, I know it’s not me.  It’s God’s love flowing through me to this orphan.

About three months ago, I started praying more specifically for Carl, his attitude and for him to feel God’s love through me.  Just around that same time, I started noticing a change in this energetic little guy.  Sure, he’s still quite wild and active and crazy at times.  That didn’t change.  I did notice his attitude changed though.  One day Carl marched into class, threw himself into my arms and shouted out that I was his “mama”. 

I paused.  The preciousness of that moment was not lost on me.  This little orphan boy had just called me “mama”.  I stopped and realized that I am probably the closest thing he has to a mom right now.  The impact of that realization is pretty staggering.  In that moment, God reminded me that He is working in this place, in this boy’s life and in mine.  He’s so good and faithful.  I can't wait to see what He does next week at the orphanage!

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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, orphans, 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.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The First Seventy Days


70 days. 70 Sunsets. It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Taiwan for over two months now! Sometimes the days are long (especially when I’m homesick), but as whole, it’s been a super fast 70 days. Here are a few beautiful things God has been teaching and reminding me of lately.

Peace is a Person.
When life hands you lemons you can make lemonade, but what do you make when life hands you rats and bedbugs? I’ve been discovering (more all the time) that dwelling in Christ makes dwelling in the awkward backbends of life 100% better. When I have confidence I’m where God wants me, there is an insane amount of restful peace in buckling up and facing the rodent problem square in the eyes. (And sometimes the rodents themselves square in the eyes.)
Maybe I was a little nervous about flying to Taiwan for this trip by myself. I had peace, but it was a shaky peace. When I was flying into Taipei, though, I woke up from a nap to realize we were making our descent and grabbed at the window, eager to get my first peek. In my very first glimpse of the country of Taiwan, there was a big rainbow hanging right above it! He who promised is faithful, and He gives peace in the form of Himself! So blessed!

Yes is a way of life.
Saying “yes” to God and being all-in to whatever He wants for you is… kinda scary. Because—news flash—you won’t be able to handle it all. When you’re really willing, He will open so many amazing doors for you and it’s going to feel chaotic and overwhelming and you might cry a lot or else eat Nutella a lot, but keep saying yes. Because when it’s from Him, He will fill in the cracks and spill out over the whole hectic schedule, perfecting every wrong. When you can’t do it all, He can. When you aren’t enough, He is.

Joy is a reality.
This past Sunday I was fully planning on sleeping in until the last possible moment that I needed to get up and get ready for church. (So much sleep deprivation is going on over here it isn’t even funny.) But when I heard all the half-marathon commotion starting up at 5am just outside the school gates, something—I have no idea what, but something—pushed me out of bed, got me dressed and out walking around with the runners, all before 6am. A few hours of cheering later, I was so hoarse and coughing, but I was having too much fun cheering on the runners across the finish line, I couldn’t just give up. I even had an entire cheering team by that point. Some race official guy came up to me and the first thing out of his mouth was, “you’re so happy!” And I couldn’t help but smile bigger. Because if the very solitary reason God nudged me out of bed at 5-whatever in the morning was to tell that man I’m happy because I’m a Christian and I have Jesus in my heart… it was so worth it. Some days life is not just happy, fun, and easy. But with Christ in me, it is always joyful. No matter exhaustion or confusion or discomfort.

It’s never just me.
A few weeks ago I was warm and tired and struggling to stay awake through a Chinese sermon. A mom a few seats away from me leaned over to her daughter who was playing a game on her phone and gestured to me and said, “she doesn’t even understand and she is listening.” I made sure I didn’t fall asleep then. Everyone is watching. I’m affecting lives all around. I am an example. You are an example. We really need to be good ones. When they look at us, because they will, let us show them Christ.







Kimberly Snyder is a 20-year-old English Teacher, passionate about the things of God, spending time with her family, eating good food, and watching sunsets as often as possible. She is enjoying getting to know her new home of Chiayi county, Taiwan, taking pictures of everything, and blogging about her adventures and the lessons God is teaching her on her personal blog, Peculiar on Purpose.