Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Teacher's Care

Teacher, teacher take my hand,
Welcome to my beautiful land.
I will try to learn your English,
But to me it sounds like gibberish.
I want to talk to you, and know.
From where does all the love flow?
I will try, and will you, to know me as I you?
There are so few that come, cross the ocean blue
To tell me of the love that I feel,
In your smile and in your eyes, is real.
Student, dear student, take my hand.
I am falling in love with your beautiful land.
I am trying but I know so little of your language
Together, somehow we manage,
But little student it is my prayer.
That you will put your soul in the greatest Teacher’s care.
That you will take His hand...
That someday, we will meet in a His heavenly land.

Jessica loves the opportunity she gets to spend with “her kids,” a.k.a. students every week.  She is currently serving her first year in Taiwan, in the beautiful county of Nantou.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Hualien Aboriginal Village Ministry

My weekly trips to one particular aboriginal village were always exciting.  Again and again, God spoke to the children in ways I never imagined.  So many times I found out that He's working behind the scenes, in ways invisible to my human eyes.  Truly, He continues to show Himself strong and faithful and amazing!

Like one week when I shared the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and how they refused to
bow down to the statue that the king put up. My ten village boys crowded around me, intently listening to each word.  These boys grow up rough.  They often are neglected or have broken families.  They use cuss words, get into fights, and have bad manners.  Yet when I sit down on the cement on this particular day, they scoot closer as I share the Scripture.

I am praying.  I don't want these kids to leave saying this was an amusing story.  I don't want them to go home thinking this is just a kids' fairytale.  I want God Almighty to reach into their hearts and work on them.  I want His truth to shine through into their lives and change them, even in a little way.

I continue with the story and the boys are convinced that the three friends will give in to the king's
demands.  This is the first time they've heard this Sunday School classic.  When I tell them that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood firm in their faith and didn't bow down, these village kids simply stare at me in amazement.  This amazement continues to grow as they find out that when the king threw the three guys into the fiery furnace, God protected them and they lived, not even the smell of smoke on them!

When I finish, I ask them what they can learn from this account.  I'm not sure what I'm expecting they will say but it's definitely not what I hear. One boy speaks up.  His words pierce my heart and I know God is at work:  This Bible story means we shouldn't bow down to our Taiwanese idols.  It means we should instead only worship Jesus, the one true God like the three friends did.

I try to imagine a kid in America giving the same answer.  I draw a blank.  When I had prepared to share this particular story, I never imagined how God would use it in such a powerful way - because for kids in Taiwan, worshiping and bowing down to idols is a common practice here. Truly, God continues to awe me and make me realize how powerful and wise He is!

Joanna Suich is a 24-year-old who has a huge heart for missions, kiddos, orphans, and adventures.  Because of this, she's traveled down dirt roads in Romania, Panama, Mexico, and Taiwan, among others.  In July 2014, she came stateside after 1.5 years serving in Taiwan.  When not getting confused over which language to speak (English, Spanish, or Chinese?), she can be found getting swamped with hugs from little ones, volunteering at her church, or making others laugh.  Joanna delights in sharing what Christ has done in her life and seeks to live by a quote from William Borden: "No reserves, no retreats, no regrets."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Moon Festival

Just as we got settled here in Taiwan, the Church part of our group is attending, invited us all to their Moon Festival Barbecue. At first it felt a little awkward, simply because, of the language barrier, and not really knowing anyone but our small group. Corrie was fabulous and did some translating for us, and we had fun getting to know the people and putting the rinds of Pomelo fruit rinds on our heads.

As the barbecue got under way there was a little girl who started to hang around, her shining inquisitive eyes and bright smile said she was curious about the group of Americans’. It was great opportunity, and using my tablet, we made some great memories, and shared lots of giggles. It was a great start to getting to know the children here in Taiwan, and was a great open door to start fellowshipping with others, even though they had limited English and I had no Chinese.

~Jessica Mullen

This is Jessica’s first time serving in Taiwan. She enjoys teaching her students new words like sticker and Starburst candy, and more actual useful words. Jessica is currently serving on the Nantou team in central Taiwan.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

First Days!

A small school in the Taiwanese countryside
It was my first day of teaching English and I didn't know what to expect. At my first school I introduced myself and talked about my family and things I liked to do. Then I watched my co-teacher teach the rest of the class. The next day I was expecting to do the same thing but my co teacher for Wednesday didn't speak English very well and wanted me to teach from the book. So I had about an hour to come up with lesson plans for four grades. I was able to use some of the things I had watched my co teacher do the day before.

The next day I didn't know what to expect but at my first school all I did was my self introduction. But at my second school no one spoke English. It was eventually communicated to me that my classes are going to be taking swimming lessons for the next four weeks and so the school wants me to teach first grade until they are done with that. So I made up some English names for the kids and taught them some letters and simple words.

It was a crazy first week but looking back I can really see God's faithfulness. He gives us just enough light for the step I'm on.

~Crystal Collins

Having only been in Taiwan for about two weeks now, Crystal is one of VOICE Missions most recent volunteers! Crystal is currently serving on the Yuli Team in Hualian County, Taiwan.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Legacy of Love!

The students decided to give me a surprise farewell.  It was my last day of school and I noticed several students and staff scurrying around in a suspicious manner and no one would make eye contact with me. So, I packed my bag and prepared to leave.  Finally, one of the staff came and nonchalantly asked me to come outside. I heard the murmuring die down as I came up the stairs.  All of the students that I taught at that school, grades 4-6 were gathered and started clapping and singing as I walked down the middle section that they'd left open for me.  I tried to not cry, but I couldn't help it!  Many of the kids were crying too.  I'd been teaching at that school for 5 years, and during that time the students, staff and I had become very close. They had known me long enough to see that I had bad days as well as good days.

They'd seen me love on the kids, encourage them, participate in activities, (even tug-of-war...NOT my favorite game!). They all encouraged me as I began my journey of learning Chinese, and learning how to each energetic little kids.  Teachers gave me good feedback and critiqued my methods and ideas.  They also saw me on bad days when I would get annoyed at the 6th grade or when I was very tired or exhausted from the heat.   That school loved me, and I loved them, and they knew it.  I will miss them very much!

The question is, how does one leave a legacy of love?  I've seen quite a few teachers excel at this, and while everyone's methods and styles of teaching and interaction with students and schools are different, there are several underlying practices that are the same in each case.  1. As we love the Lord, His love for others fills us and overflows to them.  They see Jesus in us. 2. Praying for students and schools brings a close bond and gives us God’s perspective on challenging circumstances.  3. Purposing to be involved makes a difference!  The more time we spend with our schools and kids, the closer the relationship grows and the more opportunities there are to tell people about Jesus!

~Laura Weaver

Laura served with VOICE Missions in Taiwan for five years. Although she is now no longer in Taiwan she continues to support the Mission from her home in America.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The House of Joy

On Saturdays, my teammate and I would go to the nearby town of Da Kang Lang to help a local missionary family that was trying to start up a ministry for the local kids.
A group of excited children in front of The House of Joy

For several months, we didn't have a place of our own to meet with the kids, so we would hang out with them by the local temple in the center of town. One of our Taiwanese friends, Jill, took on the job of telling them a Bible story each week. It always seemed a bit ironic to me that we were telling the kids about Christ while sitting on the steps of the house of their local gods. After some months of prayer, the local Church has found an old house to rent and convert into a kid’s club. Their hope is to expand the ministry to reach out to all ages of the community there.

One Saturday during the Bible story time, Jill talked to the kids about prayer, and raised an unexpected flurry of questions.                                       

      “You mean that WE can pray to God too?” 

      “We can pray in the day time or the night time?”

      “We can pray any place?!”

      “Can I pray even if it is raining outside?”

Prayer was something that they had never really had taught them as a concept before, and their only understanding of it revolved around temple traditions. Our hope is that these precious kids can hear more about Jesus as someone who is very real, present, and alive!

~Fae Larson

Fae has served with VOICE Missions for over three years, and is currently serving on the Chiayi Team. Fae volunteers every Saturday at The House Of Joy, a ministry to the children of  Da Kang Lang in central Taiwan.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Love Changes the Hardest Heart!

My first year in Taiwan I was stationed on the Hualien Team, where the average camp is about 65 kids. We had a different group of fourth-graders every Monday. Every week was an adventure in prayer and watching God give strength and compassion beyond what we could ever have in ourselves. But one week in particular is burned in my memory.

We were told that two gangs were coming, and one of them had recently put a kid in the hospital. These are ten-year-old kids, already hardened to the point of going out and pounding victims senseless. Ten years old!!!

As soon as they got off the bus we could spot them, and we were already praying for them. All week, we focused on loving these 12 boys, praying for them, showing them patience even while we constantly pulled them back into line. But what kind of difference can you make in a week? In a language you don’t know?

Thursday night, we sing to the kids before they go to bed. The dorm has three floors, so they put the 12 boys on the third floor away from the other kids. Our co-teacher was too frustrated with the boys to even translate for us. So we sang ‘Amazing Grace’ and a lullaby that says ‘always remember that I love you’. Then Katie told the boys “We’re Christians; we love you and we’re praying for you.” Charissa translated the songs and the speech, but she started crying in the middle of it because we were so tired and wanting so badly for the boys to listen to us.

By the time she finished, the gang leader had his head down on the floor, sobbing. Then they all cried, and cried, and cried. Friday morning, we sang ‘Amazing Grace’ as our good-bye gift to the students, and our 12 boys lost it again and cried all the way through closing ceremony. They hugged us and didn’t want to let go. And there was no way we did that. God can reach the hearts of these kids even in a week. Even when we don’t know Chinese. We go to visit these boys sometimes, and they still have a softened attitude towards us. We don’t know the whole story. But we know that God’s love changes people in spite of every boundary!

~Kelli Davis

Kelli has served with VOICE Missions for three years, and is currently serving as the Taitung team leader.