Friday, March 2, 2018

Hard Times: Blessings in Disguise

Learning to rest + trust

One of the biggest lessons God has been teaching me recently is to rest and trust Him.  There are many circumstances right now where it seems I can do little to change them for the better.  He's been showing me to slow down and lean into Him, casting my burdens on Him.  Then when I pick them back up, He's quick to remind me that I really can't do it but He can.  Not only can but - He will.

Dealing with daily health issues

I'd like to be able to say that I am completely healthy each day and feel great.  That's not the case right now but - I am so, so much better than I was earlier in 2017.  Being off many of my favorite foods has been extremely hard.  I choose that, though, over being as sick as I have these past 3.5 years.  It's a relief to only feel sick a little each day or somewhat worse every few days.  So am I all better now?  Not yet.  Am I getting there?  I hope so!

Praying and praying and praying

Another big theme in my life lately has been prayer.  Each day God brings something to mind or causes something to happen where I need to pray about it (this is always true but seems more prominent recently).  Sometimes it's just a quick prayer.  Sometimes I've had to pray and pray about it and I still don't know what He's doing.  I'm learning that's okay and to keep praying.  My favorite spot is heading to the nearby ocean where I can sit and speak with my Savior about what's up.  

Embracing His goodness to me

2017 was a very tough year in many ways.  I've come face to face with a lot of sorrow, loss and even trauma.  I've suffered from nightmares on and off for 11 months.  I won't sugarcoat it and say it's all okay, because it's not.  But I smile in spite of all that because 2017 brought Jesus' presence even closer to me.  I've come to see His goodness in a deeper, more beautiful way through all the hard times.  I'm still in the midst of it all.  I still see how He paints the sky for me.  I still see how He sends me the naughtiest kid to come sit in my lap and hug me.  I still see how He sends friends my way to point me back to Him.  He's so good.

Praising Him because He's sovereign, He's near and He's here.


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.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Serving Smiles of Taiwan

Lost in Douliu

Sunday, September 3, 2017. It was just my second week in Taiwan since my arrival, and my second Sunday in Douliu City. Guess where I was and what I was doing that morning from 8 a.m. to 12:30! If you think I might probably be attending the Sunday service, you are wrong! I was in the street. I wasn’t supposed to be exploring Douliu City that Sunday morning biking around, and drawing people’s eyes and attention on me. Yet, that was what I did. That was where I was: in the streets of my new home away from home spending my Sunday morning biking around. What happened? I just couldn’t find my way back to my location after trying to see if I could quickly find a nearby church to join for Sunday morning service. Welcome to Taiwan!  Ha ha ha!

Eyes and smiles of grace

I can’t share my first impression as foreigner in Taiwan without mentioning how I felt whenever I go outside: There are always some eyes somewhere staring at me somehow, with curiosity, amazement or with a big beautiful smile. What about my first eye contact with kids outside? A deep time of love and grace sharing! And I could feel my heart whispering to me words such as: “Surely, your ministry here in Taiwan starts right here. With those street’s unusual eyes and smiles, because each instant of joy and amazement your presence brings to those kids and those eyes staring at you is worth it”.

Chinese tea culture show

How exciting it was to experience this exceptional Chinese tea culture show! Although the show cost me nothing but my Saturday morning rest, it was well worth it. And how great was my surprise in the evening when I started to receive messages on the Line app from my CEI coworkers! They were eager to inform me that I was in the news. That experience made me realize one more time how good and marvelous God has been to me since I came to Taiwan. I believe He has always led me to the right place at the right time and at His right time for His right and good purpose. I’m definitely and infinitely so grateful for that.

Sowing a seed of love in hearts

I remember that my greatest fear before my first camp week was rejection from kids. I was afraid they might be afraid of me and run away from me or be distant, since they are not used to having foreign teachers like me (I mean “Colored skin”). I was wondering how they will respond to my willingness to share with them Christ’s amazing love, care and attention, that love I carried such a long way (from Togo to Douliu) just for them. But I was positively amazed by their love response and by their attention in return. No one can make such gracious, passionate, lovely links possible in no time, except God who is by definition Love. So, I’m so grateful to Him for giving me the tremendous honor and opportunity to represent Him and his affection before all those lovely kids.

Smiles beautiful like sunset

At the end of most camps, nothing is more rewarding than seeing some of the kids waving at you, sadly saying short English sentences such as: “Bye bye Teacher Yar. I love you.” That’s the very time your call here in Taiwan makes deeper sense to you: You have sowed a seed of love in hearts and the fruit is just obvious: Smiles beautiful like sunset. I remember the last camp we had before the New Year.  At the end of the camp, the kids were all so eager to say goodbye to me that they almost ignored all my coworkers (Chinese teachers). In fact, I think that wasn’t so kind of them! One thing I learnt from all the kids I taught and shared my love with so far: when they feel really loved and cared for, they respond with love and happiness showing up in their eyes and their cute smiles.


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. And 5 years ago, he responded to God’s call upon his life, quit teaching and moved to Switzerland for a three year Bible college program. He is a professional graduate with a Bachelor of Theology since June 2016 and is willing to pursue his postgraduate studies for a Th. M. (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 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. 

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.


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.