Thursday, December 31, 2015

Taiwan & America

Over the last three years I have been living abroad and what never ceases to amaze me are all of the differences I have grown accustomed to. I’m not just referring to the language, but also to the everyday mundane. However, while I have grown accustom to these things, they can still be fascinating for those who don’t live here. I will attempt to reveal to you some of those very differences as I begin to unfold my views on the differences between Taiwan and America.

At the starting gate is possibly the most obvious difference: language. Do not be deceived, I am not speaking of the obvious Chinese vs. English. Rather, I am speaking of the less obvious English vs. Simplified English. In Taiwan you are constantly at war with your native tongue. What I mean is that you are constantly having to “dumb down” your English in order to be understood. Therefore, in many situations you must shorten your sentences and use grammatically incorrect phrases. Often times you might find yourself using hand gestures or charades instead of actual words. But when words can be used, you usually will just end up saying the most important ones. For example, “Where is the bathroom?” turns into just “Bathroom!?”

Another difference that is common in Taiwanese culture is the fact that it is quite socially acceptable to talk about another person’s body weight at any given time. I distinctly remember one such occasion. I was seeing a Chinese teacher of mine after about a month and the first thing that she exclaimed as I walked through the door was, “Wow! It’s a long time! It seems like you have gained a little weight.” These are the moments where we end up being students of a culture so far removed from our own western mindset. A culture that is so fascinating on many levels.

Another interesting cultural difference in Taiwan is the infamous battle of cold vs. hot water. It turns out that, unlike our Western mind-set, Taiwanese people live by a well-known fact that warm or hot water are most suitable for a woman's body. So don't be alarmed when you are served boiling hot water in 100 degree weather in the middle of summer - it's all in the name of good health! 

Last but not least in coming to Taiwan, one thing you will quickly notice is your relationships with those around you is very key as to how far you can get with them. In other words: if I want to share about the most miraculous story of forgiveness and grace (the gospel) I must first establish a relationship with the person. I can stand on any street corner and declare that “God loves you!" but it will fall on deaf ears if I am not showing that love in my life and to those around me. Much of what we do in Taiwan is being observed by all of those around us, especially in areas where teams have been serving for 10 or more years. Consequently, our testimony and our message is the daily living out our faith. I have had many wonderful conversations about God with my friends, but it was after I had built trust with them and they were able to see that I care about them.
Pingtung Team
Taiwanese culture has many differences from American culture. No matter how inconvenient some of these differences may be, I know the Lord has taught me many things through them. In many ways, I believe it also opens up your worldview a bit and helps you to understand that God made each culture so unique and so special. Coming back to Taiwan a third year, I feel that we are the real students not the teachers. All of these cultural challenges do not come without their laughable moments. A well-seasoned Taiwan traveler will tell you to laugh at yourself. Otherwise you will continue to become frustrated without getting to know the people involved or their intentions.

Please continue to pray for God’s work in Taiwan, He is real and lives in us here. We hope to be a bright light in a dark world, sharing His message by learning and being willing to be wrong. I have seen that being in a foreign country is more of a culture shock to some than others, but the real key is to learn from our mistakes, and laugh at ourselves. Learning Chinese is no picnic, but God doesn't send those who are fully capable of doing His work, He sends those that He can work through and will live out His plan.

~Mary Corduan

Mary Corduan has lived in Taiwan for almost three years now. She previously served with VOICE Missions in Yuli on the east side of Island. A year and a half ago she took a short break in the States before coming back to Taiwan halfway through the year. At that time she was transferred to Pintung. This year she serves as a co-team leader for the Pingtung team, which is the most southern location we have in VOICE missions. Mary enjoys writing from time to time, as well as singing. She considers herself to be very blessed to serve with a team that also loves singing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

God's Love

Ni hao (hello)

My name is Paul Anderson. I live on the small island of Kinmen. I teach in two Elementary schools, He-pu and Jinsha and I love it.

Sometimes I wonder what qualifies me to teach in such a wonderful place to such wonderful children (mostly wonderful :-P) And thinking about it, I often feel I am not qualified, that they deserve better than what I can give, that surely someone out there who has perfect grammar and wonderful ideas is just waiting to come teach and I am in the way. This way of thinking kept me from coming when I first heard about this amazing opportunity.

What I want to say is this: Never doubt what God calls you to do. God called me here to this place, I am not a perfect teacher, I mess up more often than I would like to admit, but God called me here. He did not call me here so I can impart perfect grammar and pronunciation to first graders (but if I could, hey that’s awesome :), He called me here to love them and to show them His love. That is the best teaching you can do, to truly love.

So if you feel called to come, but doubt it, don’t: come and show God’s love.

~Paul Anderson

Paul Anderson, born in Pittsberg Texas, is the 8th of 10 children. He is 23 years old and has loved his time serving in Taiwan. Kinmen is the third location he has taught in, spending his first year in Yunlin, and then for another year in Taitung.

Friday, December 18, 2015


The word I chose to describe this moment of my life:

NUMINOUS (adj.) Describing an experience that makes you fearful yet fascinated, awed yet attracted- the powerful, personal experience of being overwhelmed and inspired.
I believe that - in some point of life - a decisive moment knocks on the door, the one where we can choose either to continue with whatever you are doing, or to take the adventure to “The Unknown Land”.

Today, I’m writing this blog from Kinmen, Taiwan while living the experience of a lifetime. My purpose in this country is the same as it is in my own: to love, to serve, to witness, to enjoy, to share, to give, to teach, to learn… in an effort to become a “Global Citizen” who can understand the world from a holistic perspective of what people call culture - and at the same time - trying to understand the cosmovision that God wants me to have about the world, people, and love. Maybe it’s too soon for me to make a statement about Taiwanese Culture, I have only been here for 3-4 months, but I will share some of my impressions:

I have a deep desire to understand the paradox of different perspectives of God in other cultures, there was a man who gave me a good example of how God’s love changed him:
“Before Jesus, I was living afraid of the ‘god’ that I was worshiping; I was living like this just to protect me from horrible situations/punishments.  Can you imagine how joyful I am now that I know that I worship a God that actually loves me and wants the best for me?  I would do everything for this God, I would do everything for Jesus” 
-A Christian Taiwanese citizen at the bus stop.    

I have a burden in my heart, I want people to live the freedom that Jesus gave us on the cross, that God’s love is unlimited and unconditional and living as a child of God is life-changing.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

Me as a Teacher in Public and Private Taiwanese Schools

Professional co-working with another culture is fascinating - you never know what to expect, but you have to be ready for everything - even if communication or cultural differences could sometimes be a barrier. The Taiwanese co-teachers are always willing and happy to have all types of cultural exchanges so we all can do our best for the kids.

They are crazy about having foreign teachers and I’m so glad that I have connected with my students in a way where language is not a barrier anymore. We have what they call, a “Quiz for you quiz for me” - we teach each other. I teach them English and they teach me something in Chinese and the following week we do a fun quiz to see who’s learning faster. This activity is fascinating as they have built a strong confidence where they know that every mistake is a chance to learn the right way. And of course they have laughed at my “weird Chinese.”

Connections are powerful, I can tell the difference when kids know they are loved no matter what they do. Paul is one of my 4th Grade students at Kaishiuan Elementary School. He has autism and reacts to everything with anger. I had the chance to talk to him and explain how loved he is, that he is smart and that he is such a good student. Then we all said loudly, “WE LOVE YOU PAUL”... that was the last time I saw him having an anger attack against other students.

There’s a word in Spanish called cotidianidad. Sometimes people can be so involved in their daily lives that maybe they don't realize extraordinary things happening in their lives. I believe God works in the middle of the ordinary so it can be extraordinary. In regular life activities, let’s be sensitive to his voice, and let’s let his light shine through us.I may have limited strength and limited days, but I have unlimited resources to enable me to carry out all that God has assigned me to do.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 1:18-19

~Zabdi Montiel

Zabdi Montiel Fuentes is 24 years old and from Veracruz, México. She attended UANL where she earned a Bachelor's Degree of Science in Communications. In Mexico, she is a Project Manager of Social Programs. Her time in Taiwan is giving her new cultural experience in education and lifestyle which is teaching her how this country conducts their public politics and legislation. This knowledge has led her to integrate new perspectives that can improve Social Projects in Mexico. She believes that having a cosmovision enriched by different cultures is the key to transform a society. She likes music and photography and enjoys having a cup of coffee with good friends.

Monday, December 7, 2015


A while back, I was talking to a childhood best friend and I was telling her about all of my struggles since being here in Taiwan. I was totally discouraged after a rough day and was fishing for someone to rectify my mood. Something she said to me has been stuck in my head since she said it. She told me that being in Taiwan is a selfless act. I began to look over my life and I realized I was always taking from people. All too often I let my selfish desires consume me. I’m finally getting to give back for the first time in my life. And what an incredible blessing it is to just try each day to be selfless. (EMPHASIS on the word ‘try’ because as humans you know how carnal we can be some days.) The fact is life doesn’t go how we plan. One day you might just get a crazy calling to go overseas and teach English. Which in my case, that’s exactly what happened. And knowing all too well I need to obey God’s call, I’m here in Taiwan.

Don’t get me wrong, I really love it. Quite honestly I have totally fallen in love with the people, the culture, and the country as a whole. But sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the difficulties and struggles. I get frustrated with the language barrier and get discouraged by limitations. But I remember that the God who created the whole universe with exact precision calls me His child. So here is what I’ve concluded: If He can create an entire universe that literally nobody can even half understand, and He did it in less than six days, I doubt He can be limited by something as silly as a language barrier, especially since He Himself created language diversity. Honestly, when I break it down in my head, it seems so goofy that I even doubt Him sometimes.

We are called of Christ to reach out and love a hurting world. Every single person reading this, this is our ultimate purpose in life. It doesn’t matter where you are, your age, your gender, your conditions – nobody gets a pass. As elementary as it is, somehow we keep missing it.

Hualian Team
We in Taiwan have an especially unique opportunity to do His will. Every week we get to be surrounded by children that are so hungry to feel loved. It’s the small things we do that make them perceive us in special ways. Playing games with the children, singing familiar English songs with them, telling them just how important they are. These are just small ways we can show love to them. And you know what? It’s those small things that make a great impact. Years from now they may not remember your name, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.

Being American is also an advantage we have. When we go out in public, most people are automatically prone to watching us. That’s why it’s so important that we are so careful how we portray ourselves in the community. I always have to ask myself if I’m portraying the love of God through how I act and what I wear and say. Because no matter what I do, my ultimate desire is to please God, not man, and it’s those things that speak volumes.

For those in Taiwan, I want to share something with you that a friend sent to me, and I want you to think about it and let it convict you, because it’s so true.
“You have so much love in your heart for the Children and people there, they really need you there more than you need to be there. Be a light! You have 8 more months and when it’s over you would have done something more daring and selfless than a lot of people will do in their lives. Be a blessing friend, the world needs you.”
I love you all, I feel so blessed that I get to do this journey with you all. I think you’re all awesome and I’m so encouraged when I’m reading your posts and blogs about what God is doing. I’ll pray for you, you pray for me, we’re all a part of God’s body. Let’s be the hands of Christ by reaching out and sharing His love and compassion to Taiwan. *Jia you!

~Hannah Rountree

Hannah Rountree is a 19 year old homeschool graduate from Rountree homeschool serving with VOICE Missions on the Hualien team. This is her first time traveling to Taiwan and she loves playing with the kids and learning more about the culture every day.

*Editor Note: Jia you (加油) is a Chinese word of encouragement. Literally meaning "Add Oil" it is the equivalent of saying 'all the best' or 'good luck'.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Live & Learn

Being in Taiwan has taught me many things. I’ve learned how to speak Chinese, I’ve learned how to teach English, I’ve learned how to cut dragon fruit and eat lychee, I’ve learned to be flexible when the computer is broken and I can’t use the PowerPoint I prepared, and I’ve learned many other things.But the best way for me to learn is hands on. I’m a kinesthetic learner, so when I actually do what I’m learning, I retain it longer and understand it better. I think this is why God often uses analogies with me. When you can’t do something, likening it to something you already understand is the second best thing.

When I first came to Taiwan, I was lonely. I missed my family, I missed my friends, and I missed my culture. Everything and everyone was new, I longed for news from home. People back home knew this new journey wouldn’t necessarily be easy and would write from time to time. As the years passed, I gained more friends here, deepened relationships with people here, and heard less and less from the people back home. I’d still get news from my family (so I knew what was going on) but news directly from the other people themselves was scarce.

Seeking to change this situation, I started writing emails to my closer friends, hoping I’d hear back from them. At first a few of them would reply, but as time wore on, I stopped hearing from them even when I was writing to them. I was in the middle of writing to my best friend one day, hoping against hope that she’d reply this time when I wondered if this is how God feels with us sometimes. We wake up, we read our Bible, we seek for His wisdom in decision making, but that’s about it. I know it’s very easy for me to slip into this pattern.

God loves His children. He seeks a relationship with us. And a relationship is two ways. I love and miss my friends back home, this is what drives me in continuing to communicate with them. But I also want to hear from them. Even though my family keeps me updated and I know what’s happening in my friend’s lives, I still want to hear from my friends themselves. God also wants to hear from His children. Yes, He knows everything about us, but He still wants a relationship with us. That doesn’t mean just us hearing from Him (though that is important). That means that it is okay to talk to Him about what’s going on in our lives. He wants us to talk to Him. 

Being in Taiwan has taught me many things. I’ve learned how to communicate more clearly, I’ve learned the importance of letting people know you’re thinking of them, I’ve learned that I need to be talking to God and not just hearing from Him, and I’m continuing to learn many other things.

~Gabrielle Martin

Originally from Chicago, Gabrielle Martin, is currently serving on the Taichung team in central Taiwan. She graduated from Thomas Edison State College with a B.A. in Liberal Studies, enjoys writing and photography and has a blog that can be found at This is her 4th year serving with VOICE Missions in Taiwan. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

When Words Fail

Three months ago I moved to Taiwan to become an English teacher. But as soon as I started teaching, all of my hopes for teaching were drastically changed. I promptly discovered that I would do very little actual teaching. This realization irritated my whole being. I wanted to teach and yet God wanted to teach me. 

There are days when I sit in the classroom and do nothing. There is a massive language barrier. When I try to speak Chinese, my tongue seems to be tied. In the practical sense, I have become useless. And I asked God, “why would You send me here? I do not teach and I cannot even speak to the people.” But even when I doubt, God is immensely faithful. Christ sent me back to 1 Corinthians 13. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” 

Often times, I have failed to truly notice the first two verses. Even if I could speak Chinese, if I did not love the people, I would be “a clanging cymbal”. And if I had the faith to move a mountain, but did not love, I would be absolutely nothing. I believe God has called me to Nantou Taiwan in order to learn to love. Although I teach very little and cannot speak in words to the people, I can love them. I can pour out everything I have to show that I care. Though words fail me, I have the unconditional love of Jesus Christ that will always remain consistent.

~Grace Lukachick

Grace Lukachick was born and raised in Louisiana. She is the forth born of ten children. Grace loves spending time in the kitchen and reading classic works of literature. In college, she studied English and received her Bachelor of Arts from Thomas Edison State College. Grace is currently living in Nantou Taiwan. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

12,967 Reasons

With an Irish name, Spanish last names, and now with a new Chinese name; I can’t say that I belong just to one nook of this Planet.

My name is Kevin and I was born in México.

The pride of my land runs fervently in my veins and I’m not just saying that, because I like to think that my country is where God overflowed His immense creativity, for all that my culture entails. But today is not the day for talking of the great Tenochtitlan; instead today is for expressing the feeling about my encounter with the old continent, Asia.

It was because of an immense grace and opportunity that I am here, 12,967 kilometers from home. A childhood dream come true, to know the old continent called “Asia”. To be more specific, living with a purpose on the Island of Formosa.

After three months living here, everything is upside-down. Like some cartoons talk about in a satirical form. Really, everything is different in a relative way, but very exciting at the same time. But nevertheless I’ve noticed that in the spiritual scope, people live under a “fear” regime. Their lives are based on making offerings to their gods because of the fear. Not by love and gratefulness.

This has broken many paradigms in my head with regard to how every human being doesn’t know that love (God) is the answer of everything, and also it is the question.
But what I have found truly beautiful here are people’s hearts. Despite their differences in belief and culture they are always disposed to help each other, to push themselves to succeed, and to transcend. I need to admit that this is something I envy and desire in my country.

Despite the difficulties of the language barrier that complicates the communication and despite my less-than-excellent English, I’ve found an amazing ease to know new people and build relationships, in unexpected ways and almost any place. But that’s not new for me, because I know that is a part of a grace with people that God has given me as a gift. What is new for me is the wit that I need to achieve for helping them to know Him in a suitable way, setting aside the spiritual shock, my earthling’s imperfections and human deficiencies; being that this is the principal objective.

The struggles day-by-day are difficult in the moment of missing everything, and when I talk of missing things, it’s real. The journey and the adventure continue, eight months left of anecdotes to count, lives to reach and places to conquer, connected every time with the eternal fountain.

Sometimes the time passes very slowly, sometimes very quickly, but it always passes avidly in the effort to move further.

I am twenty-four years old; I’m a marketer and publicist of profession, a singer and an artist from the heart (by passion). I do not know how long I will be breathing and I am not worried to know. What keeps me awake is the question, can I achieve the best expression of my existence in this Earth, to inspire others, to arrive at the end of my days knowing that I gave it all passionately and happy to get a smile from my Creator… or maybe two or three.

Now I’m here, with 12,967 reasons for being grateful, or maybe more. For being happy to be here at last achieving a long-awaited desire:
 “I will take You where they don’t sing to You, where they don’t listen to You, where they don’t see You, where they don’t feel You, where the crying is, where the shadows are… My Lord.” 

~K. Valencia

Kevin Abraham Valencia López is a  Marketer and Publisher from Monterrey, México. His passion is music and he plays the bass and sings in “Mas por Amor”, a Worship Band. His goal is make a change in the social consciousness for a better world, with God’s love as the flag. Now, he is teaching English in Taiwan for one year, living the dream in Asia.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Let the Children Come to Me

For the past two years, I have had the privilege of working in a small village on Saturdays.  I go to the village with a local missionary couple. We play with the kids and tell them Bible stories.  The story of this village ministry is quite amazing.  We have seen so many seemingly impossible things happen, such as not being able to find a building to rent no matter how hard we looked, but the week we needed it God suddenly provided the perfect place.

We started out just sitting on the temple steps, and playing with whatever kids came.  Some weeks there were only two or three kids, other weeks we could have up to ten.  After we had a building (which we named the “Joy House”), the number of kids that came increased to around fifteen.  For a while the number of kids stayed between ten and fifteen, except for special occasions (like Christmas). But then Jill, a Taiwanese Christian, started tutoring kids at two o’clock.  Suddenly we had at least twenty kids every week.

A few weeks ago, the 4th grade kids from the village came to the camp I teach in.  Some of them already went to Joy House, and were excited to have me as their teacher.  The following Saturday we had several new kids come to the Joy House because they had gone to camp.  It has definitely been God who has brought the children to the Joy House.  From five kids, to thirty-five.  It was something we, the few adults that go to the village, could never accomplish.  Only God could bring those kids. He loves them, and values them, so it is my duty to bring the children to Him, and it is your privilege to pray for the children He loves.

~Kristina Joy Dzimianski

Kristina Joy is teaching in Taiwan for her third year.  She is part of the Chiayi team, in the southwest part of Taiwan.  She teaches English in the Character English Institute (a five-day camp).

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Our Good Father

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)

Imagine, if you will, a child. This little girl clutches a torn, ragged teddy bear in her arms. Her father looks down on her with a loving smile. “Give me the bear, honey,” he says. “You found it in a pile of garbage; it’s so dirty and yucky. I have something much nicer for you instead”.  The little girl looks up at her daddy with eyes brimming with tears. “But I love it, Daddy!” she cries. “It’s mine! I want to keep it!”

She really is convinced that she loves and adores that dirty bear, you see. To her, this ragged toy is everything. In her tiny mind, she can’t possibly imagine anything that she’d like more.  Her daddy must be mistaken. She knows he loves her and he must really think he has something nicer, but HE doesn’t see how much she loves this toy and how she can’t live without it.

What she doesn’t know is that her daddy does see how much she loves that bear. He’d sighed when he saw her find it; his heart cringing when he saw it’s filthy condition. He knew that bear had bugs or fleas, or worse.  He also knows that his little girl has a soft heart and can easily become attached to material things. He knows what she doesn’t; that he can see her wants and needs and knows them so much better than she does. She may think she really wants that dirty toy, but it’s not a suitable toy for her and will bring a lot of frustration and trouble into her life.

He’d rushed to the store to pick out a beautiful, soft teddy bear that is just the kind she’d love; huggable and perfect. He has with him, just behind his back. He wants nothing more to give it to her; to see her face light up with joy and happiness at his gift. But first, she has to let go of the other toy. She has to trust that her daddy knows best, and would never break a promise or lie to her. He wants to give her good things. But right now, as she stands there clutching her poor little toy with her eyes full of tears, it’s clear that deep down, she doesn’t believe that he has something better in store for her.

Does any of this sound familiar? A little too much, right?

I’ve recently come to realize that my perception of God shapes my actions and my attitudes a lot more than I realize. Yes, I know that God is my Father. Yes, I know that He loves me. Yes, I know that He has a plan for me and wants the best for my life, and that He never makes a mistake. But deep down, do my actions reflect that? Sadly, no!

I can think of no example better than right before I came to Taiwan. I’d always been incredibly adamant that I’d never go to Taiwan and teach English; I wasn’t really interested in living in Asia and besides, I hated teaching. So when God started preparing my heart to move on from my comfort zone and make a big change, I was excited. I didn’t know what He had in store, but I figured it would be something cool, like, maybe a new job. Imagine my shock and surprise when I heard the Lord clearly calling me to do the impossible and be a teacher! In Taiwan!!!

It was the funniest thing. I knew this was what God wanted me to do. I didn’t doubt His leading and direction for one second; it was so obvious to me. But even as I packed up my life and prepared to leave everything I knew and move to a new country, I feared.

I feared about how I would react to the language and the culture. I’d never stepped foot outside of North America. I was, I admit, pretty adamantly pro-America. I liked our culture, our conveniences, our way of life. I was afraid that I’d be like a fish out of water. I might spend every waking moment being completely uncomfortable. I feared.

I feared my position as a team leader. I’d always disliked being in leadership positions; I’d always preferred to be a follower and let someone else handle the hard stuff. I accepted that God had led those in authority over me to put me in a position of responsibility in Taiwan, and I knew that with God by my side, I would never be alone. But still, I feared. I feared that that God’s way of teaching me leadership would be the hard way; that I would destroy relationships and make irreparable mistakes. I feared.

But most of all, I feared I would hate teaching. I fully accepted that this was the job that God had given me, and I was willing to accept it. But still, I was afraid that despite being within God’s will, I would be miserable. That every day would be a struggle. That following God’s plan was going to be possibly the hardest and most difficult experience of my life.

I feared.

Don’t you see? I claimed that God was my Father…that He was righteous, and had a plan for my life. But I didn’t believe that He was good. I “asked for bread”; accepting His call to come to Taiwan and trusting that it was His plan for me, I fully expected Him to give me a rock. While I believed that His will for me to come to Taiwan was “right”, I didn’t believe that it was good.

My whole life, I’ve let my perception of God as this stern, all-knowing King dictate how I respond to situations. People would say, “Fully surrender your life to Christ! He is SO worth it!”. But deep down, I didn’t believe that. I only had my twisted view of life, and what I thought I was capable of, and what I enjoyed, and thought that God couldn’t possibly have anything better and that fully surrendering myself to His will would result in a lot of sacrifice, discomfort and unhappiness.

Just like the little girl who didn't trust that her daddy had something better than the poor pitiful thing she loved, I didn’t initially think that God really knew what He was doing when He called me to Taiwan. But He did…He knew me and my wants and needs far, far better than I did, and I have been constantly amazed and astounded by His love and goodness every single day.

I had feared adjusting to a new culture in Taiwan…but God is GOOD. I ended up feeling almost immediately at home; something I could have never anticipated. Taiwan feels like the childhood state of California that I grew up in, and coming here felt so familiar and so RIGHT. I love the culture now… I’m so thankful to have been able to adapt quickly. And I even have a small knack for learning Chinese.

I’d feared the mantle of leadership… but God is GOOD. He provided me with teammates who were exactly His special gift to me. Being in the position of leader gave me the the opportunity to learn and grow as a person, and I discovered that I was capable of far more than I ever realized. My confidence has grown by leaps and bounds… when I went home last summer, people kept commenting on how self-assured and confident I looked. If you knew what a timid person I can be, you’d understand why that is a big deal.

And the thing I’d feared the most, teaching… God is SO GOOD! I’m not a bad teacher! I actually really enjoy my job, and how I can express my creativity by putting together lessons that delight and inspire. I get to love on and be loved by my students, and I feel so fulfilled in the work that I do. Every day is a fun, fun day.

I had worried and resisted and fought God’s leading to come to Taiwan for years, because my puny human brain couldn’t possibly comprehend that it was exactly what I needed. But God knew. My time here in Taiwan has been happy; so happy. I’ve been moved to tears multiple times as I stand in awe at the perfectness of God’s plan for me. I didn’t know that moving to Taiwan would be one of the best things that had ever happened to me. But God knew. He was faithful!

God doesn’t give snakes to His children. He delights in giving us things that are far, far better than our human understanding can comprehend. That doesn’t mean that things are always easy or that we always catch on right away. But even as we sit and cry and fret over the potential loss of our broken futures, hopes and dreams, I guarantee that God has something far better in store for us. He did for me. He will for you, too.

He’s our Good Father, after all!

I've seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we're all searching for answers only you provide 
Because you know just what we need before we say a word

You're a Good, Good Father
It's who you are, It's who you are,
It's who you are and I'm loved by you
It's who I am, It's who I am, It's who I am
Good, Good Father (Housefires)

~Elisabeth Corduan

Elisabeth Corduan is in her second year serving as a volunteer English teacher at the Character and English Institute in Taitung, Taiwan. She has been blessed to have been able to travel all over Taiwan, and is slowly but surely getting stamps from different Asian countries in her passport. Her favorite place to visit so far has been Tokyo, Japan. She loves traveling, singing and curling up with a good book!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Learning Gratitude for our Talents

A cartoon Fae copied and painted for a Taiwanese friend, Hui Ming, to use for a history lesson she was teaching at an after school program for disadvantaged children.

During my time teaching in Taiwan, one delightful aspect has been having the opportunity to use creativity and art to connect with my students. “A picture is worth a thousand  words” is a saying for a reason, and even when I lack common language to communicate with the Chinese and Taiwanese speakers around me colors, drawing, and pictures can do the talking for me.

As a young girl, I listened to stories of mission work in different countries, or of historically well-known figures such as Gladys Aylward. I wanted to go out and be part of something beyond my own country, but I had the impression that the only people who could really do this were people who had advanced degrees and skills, such as pastors, Doctors, translators, and so on. Coming to Taiwan has changed this perspective. Our volunteers come to Taiwan with a broad range of skills and interests, and I have seen God use those diverse skills and interests to help the volunteers connect with and love our students and Taiwanese friends. I have also experienced the benefits that having people with widely different talents and personalities together on our teams. Each teacher is able to bring their unique perspective and abilities to strengthen the team, and also help to cover and support each other in areas of weakness.

My old view of who God would or wouldn’t use in missions used to add to my sense of discontent with my own personality. I looked down on my creative talents as useless and stupid when compared to the intellectual and academic achievements that I struggled to find success in. Now, I am finding these lies fading away as I learn to be grateful for the daily opportunities I have to use art with the children. My “useless” talents – the ones I disregarded as impractical and worthless – are my strength and opportunity to give.

One of Fae’s lessons on the chalkboard after a class on prepositions.

Fae standing with Ken, a child who regularly comes to the Joy House Children’s ministry, by a mural I painted for their activity center. The leaves on the tree are made up of hand-prints from the children who have come to play games, do crafts, and hear Bible stories at Joy House each Saturday in Chiayi county.

Children from Joy House standing by pictures Fae drew while telling the Nativity story during Christmas last year.

~S. Fae Larson

Fae is from Minnesota. She has been with VOICE Missions in Taiwan since February, 2011, and has worked at both the Yunlin and Chiayi team locations. Some of her favorite places to visit in Taiwan are in the mountains, such as Alishan national park. She enjoys, hiking, drawing, and Studio Ghibli films.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Did I Not Tell You?"

“Then Jesus said: Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40
The context of this passage highlights the "confirmation of a promise" to Marta despite death having taken her brother (Lazarus). Jesus Christ is our resurrection: physically, emotionally and spiritually. In Him there are no limits, nor impossibilities, however our disbelief can limit us from seeing the glory of God in our lives.
Everything that God offers us is presented in the form of a promise: Salvation, the Holy Spirit and each blessing is a promise sent by Him in the specified time we need it. However, to receive His promises we must believe in Him, and believe far above logical circumstances.
If we consider the lives of Esther, Joseph and Daniel, each one of them was taken to an unknown place against their own will, depriving them of their freedom, making them into slaves to a certain degree, being under various trials, even putting their lives at risk of death. Nevertheless, despite every unfavorable situation for them, through it all they decided to believe with all their hearts that they would see the glory of God; and so it was.
Sometimes we might tend to think that stories as relevant as the ones we read in the Bible no longer exist, but the fact is that the same God of the Bible from back in the day still remains faithful to His promises. Fulfilling His word as a true Gentleman, willing to guide our destiny. But what do we need in order to see the transcendental glory of God in our lives?
Personally, I could think that my calling to Asia does not compare to the impact that George Muller or Elisabeth Elliot and other heroes of faith had in their times. You see, it’s easy to compare and accept the term "impossible" by believing that we don’t have much to offer. However, our view of God is what matters and according to Romans 12: 6 each one was called “according to the grace given to each of us” That measure of faith placed in each one of us, according to our identity and purpose in Him. This does not mean that God has favoritism. He is righteous. The question that I have been asking myself lately is: how am I using that measure of faith? The truth is that the responsibility for activating the measure of faith is mine as much as it is yours, giving steps of action on a daily basis.

When I heard about VOICE in 2009, I knew it was an opportunity worth considering. I saw great eternal value in it. Since that day it was there planted in my mind, but I had responsibilities in Mexico and USA making it impossible for me to apply. Finally this year it was confirmed that the time had come to undertake this great journey.

It’s challenging to summarize everything I have seen over the past two months. However, I want to emphasize a very important point, which is and will be my goal during my year of service here in Taiwan.

The degree of influence and impact that we can be for our authorities

Because of how consistent and courageous Daniel, Esther and Joseph’s faith was, they were crowned of glory by God, giving them the wisdom to become people of great influence before their authorities. In obedience to their living God they transformed perspectives & customs of an entire government entity, leaving a transcendental legacy for their generations. It only took one willing vessel and one great God to performed miracles; being more challenged by this truth, I strive for the same goal. It is my greatest desire to be God’s delight and through Him generate an eternal impact in this beautiful culture, making God and my authorities successful with the performance of my job. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I recognize that through my weaknesses I can give honor to my God. 
From the first day that I stood before my school (Sian An), the entire team of staff welcomed me as if I had known them my entire life! To my surprise, in my first talk with Director Chen Wei-Shin, he was already offering me to stay for three years as a teacher and even cover my expenses if I wanted to get higher education courses. While trying to process everything I was hearing in my talk with him and other teachers, I thought to myself: is this normal in Taiwan? Not even knowing the performance of my work, they are offering me all this? For a moment I thought it was all a dream!
I'm currently about to start my third month of work and the staffs’ willingness to listen to any suggestion of mine captivates me greatly! They have practically given me the freedom to teach my students what I want; I can’t find logic or common sense as to how it can be possible that in such a short time there is such a great level of confidence towards me in a government school. And there, once again, in the middle of my internal dialogue Jesus reminds me, “Leslie, did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
I myself am convinced that this is not about what I can achieve in my own strength; I recognize that only by His grace have I been crowned with His favors and mercy. Therefore "the more that is given, more is demanded."
When God’s power stands in the gap, the opposition from the enemy is inevitable. Honestly it does not surprise me no matter what struggle that might emerge. I understand the perspective and the goal of spiritual struggle. Just like an airplane needs headwind to take off and fly, believers need to go through several trials to mature in faith and develop unbreakable confidence, knowing that the God of the impossible is in control of everything.
Growing in understanding of the Taiwanese culture and creating relationships with the local people is essential and it is valuable to me. I believe all those lives that God has placed in my life, especially the ones of my students, are worth more than any opposition that arises. My heart is willing to see His glory in any circumstance, even if things "do not seem favorable.” Nothing happens without having been designed by Him with an eternal purpose. As I rest on this promise, this has helped me to stay focused on the goal and also removed stress, because certainly in the midst of every trial the motivations of the heart are purified. My God transforms my heart to the heart of a servant, a servant who is available to whatever His master asks of him.
Being a teacher in Sian An has been an intimate experience with the Spirit of God. He’s my absolute counselor and while I look for creative ways to use wisely the position of influence that He is entrusting me (in a culture that I still do not know much about), my God gives me constant examples as to how I should be a teacher. I’m in the process of identifying the needs and strengths of each student.

Inside the classroom it’s my goal to create a safe environment for them, knowing that it is okay to make mistakes in class. I am the first to have imperfections. English is not my first language; I make and confront my mistakes in front of them. This has been the key to decreasing the timidity of many of my students, making the learning process more meaningful and fun as we all grow together in knowledge.  

It is my greatest hope for their leadership to increase as autonomous individuals and grow by asking questions when they do not know or understand something. I have been told that in their culture they find it difficult to express their doubts due to fear or shyness.

Every day with my little ones is very unique; I have discovered slowly when they are not in the mood to cooperate in class or when they are emotionally sensitive. I have only one year to be at their side, loving them, and guiding them. Every smile, hug, angry face, sad face or even rude attitude, is worth it because I rest on the promise that any challenge and effort will yield abundant fruit in the hearts of these children. Perhaps I might not get to see the fruit take place, and although uncertainty sometimes comes to my heart, I feel His Spirit challenging me when He whispers, “Did I not tell you Leslie? ....”

...They deserve the best of me and beyond just being their teacher; I pray that my life is a reflection of the glory of God in their lives. 

My Co-teachers: Grace, Ling & Jimmy have been the key for me to adjust to the education system in Taiwan, equipping me to be efficient according to school needs, and also assisting me how to communicate with my colleagues at the school. The homeroom teachers have also been helping me to get more connected with my students. I am so blessed to have people like them, that are so passionate about contributing to the education of the children of the Sian An School.
I’m fascinated by the fact that God brought me here for this specific time in history. I couldn’t be more grateful to be laboring alongside such an incredible team and to belong in such a loving and caring local Church that God has made me part here in Kinmen.
Above all, I honor Jesus for making me part of His heart for Taiwan, and to my Family I am deeply grateful for His unconditional love & support. 

This quote from Elisabeth Elliot has been my inspiration and confirmation to what I'm doing here.
"This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering may I make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, May I learn God's way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness. "
During this season of my life, “Who Shall I fear?” By Chris Tomlin has become my theme song. 

Leslie Quijano Yepez  (萊思禮)  is from Monterrey, Mexico. Currently Kinmen, Taiwan is her new home. Being a Youth Worker throughout the years, Leslie has loved every culture Jesus has made her part of, working alongside the educational department and sharing the Gospel.  For this school year, her main purpose is to cultivate transcendental relationships with her precious students from 3 Kindergarten to 6 grade, as well as to serve with her local Church. She specializes in Holistic wellness and immensely enjoys music. Learning to sing in Chinese has become a good resource for her to understand the language better.    

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Change in Plans

L O V E is the secret of life that only God can give you (1 John 4:16). Before coming to Taiwan, I was studying Architecture at the university and working as an English Teacher at a preschool in Mexico.  Everything was “perfect” for me during that year just learning new things that I enjoy doing in the University, teaching amazing kids, serving God in Church with my boyfriend, helping in ministries with my parents and enjoying everything that I had. 

But after a year, the preschool payment was 4 months delayed and I needed to pay my tuition so I had to drop out of school because I couldn’t pay what I owed to the university. At first I did not understand why God allowed for me to stop studying because it’s very important to have a career support yourself in your daily life. After praying and asking God for his perfect plans and what He wanted me to do during this time that I would not be studying, He filled my heart with love and a joyfulness to keep serving Him and sharing his love with others. Now I had more time to be more involved in ministries at church and with my family. God was teaching me how to serve Him not just because I had to but out of L O V E that He has given to each one of us. And I understood that I was spending more time with things that are “necessary” in this world and will not last than in things that will last in the kingdom of God. 

Three months later, one midnight I just couldn’t sleep and I had a verse from  Matthew 19:29 in my mind: 
"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life."
I didn’t understand why I was thinking about this verse. While meditating on this verse, I got my phone to check the time because it was really late, and when I turned it on I saw a message from Cristina Guerra inviting me to teach English in Taiwan. 

At first I couldn’t believe that I was invited to teach in Taiwan because it had been one of my prayer requests that I had been praying about for two years. I was still meditating and talking to God about this invitation when my mom came into my room and told me that she had the “Oceans” Hillsong in her mind and felt that God was calling me out to the oceans. And that’s when I knew that God was calling me to come and teach in Taiwan, so I applied with a lot of faith, trusting in God’s perfect plan for me. I didn’t sign a one year contract at the Preschool, even when I wasn’t a 100% sure that I was coming to Taiwan.  

God had everything under control even when I thought that everything was wrong He showed me how GREAT is His unconditional L O V E for me. And now that I am serving God in Taiwan through God’s PERFECT L O V E I can share His L O V E to the students and people around me.  

~Maria Mojica

Maria Fernanda Mojica Reyes, is 20 years old, from Texas and Mexico, her father is American and mother is Mexican. She loves the LORD with all of her heart, soul, mind and strength, loves children, enjoys teaching, loves her family, and loves making new friends. This is her first year in Taiwan and she has really enjoyed working for King Car on the Yuli team in Hualien Township. She has also really enjoyed teaching all her lovely students.