Friday, July 24, 2015

An (almost) Twenty-something's Thoughts on Taiwan

Before you ask, this definitely isn't your typical 'come on a mission trip' sort of article. Message. Post. Something like that. Anyway, when I was asked to write about my year in Taiwan, I groaned. Then did the whole 'dance of rage' thing in my mind that you do when you're asked to come up front for show and tell­­ and you forgot to bring something that morning. Because I 'forgot to bring something'.

This past year wasn't all sparkly and amazing like I thought it was going to be, but then, that's jus what happens when one tries to be perfect at something when they've just learned how to do it. (I actually can't believe I forgot that, because my violin teacher told me every week­­ for all twelve years of lessons­­ that perfection isn't instant, and we won't ever stop making mistakes.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, being perfect. Or in this instance, learning that I can't. First of all, let me give you a bit of my background, or this might all be just really weird. (This is all really weird, who am I kidding Haha.)

Soooo....I'm from a pretty traditional family. I grew up reading and memorizing the Bible, (which was awesome, by the way) and my social life consisted of church, and Monday night orchestra practice. I'm home schooled, and have never set foot in a public school when classes are in session.

In a word, I have been sheltered from the world, and while I'm grateful for that sometimes...there are moments when I wish I was just a 'normal' teen­almost­twenty­something kid. At least then I'd have learned that we aren't born with social skills. (Haha!) And that's where I come from. Small town girl, with small town friends, and a very small town sort of social life.

At any rate, back to my topic here.

Last night, I was in the car with my (very loud) summer camp team, and my supervisor. It was pretty late, and I'd just spent the whole evening with the guy's team in Chiayi city. The car was too small for the decibel of sound emitting from the back seat, and it was too hot outside to open the windows. Over all the noise, my supervisor, Doris, asked me what the purpose of VOICE Missions is. I had to sit and think for a while about that, because I wasn't sure I knew what the purpose of VOICE is:

VOICE Mission's mission statement is: 'God is real. Live like it.' I sorta stopped for a moment when I remembered that, and realized there is a lot more behind those two simple phrases than I first thought. God calls each of us to something, somewhere. And not one of us is called to do the same thing in the same place at the same time. Therefore, when I came to Taiwan a year ago, I didn't come, called to do the same thing that my team leader was called to do here.

Some teachers here teach the classes during the week, and on the weekends, work in a local ministry. Others tutor children after­hours, and that is their specific work for God. Others hold weekly Bible studies for their team and their Taiwanese friends. Then, there's me.

I...haven't really been to church a lot here, simply because no matter what church I've gone to, I haven't really felt at home anywhere. I also haven't been part of any local ministries, and at first, I wondered why I never felt like God wanted me to. For most of the year, actually, I wondered what was wrong with me. When Doris asked me what purpose our coming to Taiwan was, it all started to fall into place.

Those that come to this little island are all at different stages of their relationship with God. Some come here, and they know how to communicate God's love to others­­that is their calling. Others come here called to reach out to the local community by serving in His name. Some, like me, come here, and...we're dumb, and think ourselves smart. We're inexperienced, and think we've seen the world from our little backyards. We're untried, and think we're strong enough to lead a battle.

If I could sum up this year, it would be that I discovered that I am very small, and He is pretty darn big. To become a worthy servant of God, being tried by fire ­­no matter how small a fire­­ is necessary. Once we walk into that fire, we always have a choice of what we can do. And so far as I know, there's only two choices in reality, but it often seems like there are many more.

Sort of like what John Bunyan said in Pilgrim's Progress, there's a place in our lives where there's a fork in the road we're traveling on, and we have to choose between the two. They both look straight when you first glance at them, and if you are in too much of a hurry, you stand the risk of starting down the wrong path. Because one path is always a little crooked. The purpose of my part within VOICE Missions is the following: My ministry has been teaching the kids each week, and outside of that, I've been working on my personal relationship with God. I can't say I was the star of my team­­ I was far from it ­­but, as I said before, perfection really shouldn't ever be our goal in life.

I've learned a lot of things this year. Some of them were not pleasant, and some of the things I've experienced seemed downright impossible. In the end though, I believe God has used this year to teach me to stand up for what I believe, to have empathy for others, and how to build a relationship with Him.

~Marissa Haley

I'm weird, I'm wacky. I love my God, and have been serving Him in Taiwan as an fourth grade English teacher this year. I'm obsessed with fashion, fall, film, food, and books. If you want to hear more of my ramblings, visit my blog .

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