Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Communication Through Actions

Wow, I don't even know where to begin! There's so much I could talk about. But I feel like the main thing I want to share is communication. 
Olivia and her teammate Flora

Teaching in Taiwan has changed my life forever. Before I came to Taiwan, I'll be honest, I was really scared to come. Afraid of the food, culture, teaching and everything else. I'm a young girl who was leaving her home for 11 months to teach in a foreign country and had no idea what I was doing, but I wanted to obey what God was telling me to do. Plus I didn't like at all. Little did I know that I would grow to love it so much. I absolutely love teaching! Sometimes I really think that the students are the ones that are actually teaching me instead of me being the teacher. They are a huge blessing in my life! 

One thing that has been pretty difficult while in Taiwan is the language barrier. I haven't been able to verbally communicate with my students much because they don't know much English  and my Chinese is not very good at all. I could tell you stories of me trying to communicate in Chinese, but we'll skip that part because there's too many.  But, who needs to be able to speak in a different language when Christ is the one who created all languages and Christ is in me? 

Sometimes, I believe, the most can be said by actions towards people. It doesn't always have to be by words. Even just a high five or a smile. That can speak more then any words. Last week, I had a student who just really needed to be loved.  During the week, I took time to play with him and encourage him. Seeing his eyes light up every time I smiled at him, or hearing his laugh when I would loose to a game - it was heart touching. By the end of the week, he gave me a huge hug goodbye and wouldn't let go then said he loved me. I didn't speak to him in Chinese, but I just loved him for who he was, and took time to play with him and even though I didn't understand what he was saying, let him talk. It's amazing to me to see how God uses the simplest things to show His love through you. Truly it's amazing. I really have learned that to communicate is so simple. By actions I can show how much I care and love those kids.

This doesn't only happen while teaching. This is happening to me with people outside of work. One of the many things I love about Taiwan is the people! Everyone is super nice and so sweet! There's this older lady who goes on walks everyday. I have no clue what she is saying, but I will stop and say hello to her and ask her how she is. She's adorable and will just laugh and talk and then we say goodbye. At first I thought to myself that it wasn't enough and I should be doing more, but I've come to realize that it is enough. We may not understand each other but from actions we do understand each other clearly.

I have loved every minute that I have been in beautiful Taiwan and I am super excited for what God has in store the rest of the year. Living in Taiwan for almost 5 months now has really made me grow also. A lot...and I have definitely learned how to talk slower and speak more clear and sometimes less. Coming to Taiwan has been an amazing experience for me. I am super blessed to be called here and am, like I said, excited for the remainder months in Taiwan.

~Olivia Stano

Olivia comes from a family of 10. She has always had a passion since she was seven to share with people about Jesus and show the Love of Christ. She doesn't enjoy anything more then being with her family and playing with her 5 nieces and nephews. Olivia likes coffee, sports, outdoors, music, traveling and meeting new people. At home, Olivia has a mini photography business and loves it! 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Brunches, Bonfires and Blessings

In mid-November, my team and I had the opportunity to host the VOICE Missions Fall Retreat here in Taitung. It's sort of been a pipe dream of mine for a while now, but not one that I thought would actually ever happen because of various logistical difficulties. But this year, things aligned perfectly and it was arranged that we would be hosting our retreat in Taitung for the first time in VOICE Missions history. That was quite exciting! But almost immediately, I began to realize how much work it was going to be in order to organize and coordinate everything. It was really easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged by the amount of work that needed to be done, and be afraid that I wouldn’t be able to host up to my own and others expectations.

God taught me a lot about resting and trusting in His provision, and how not to try and do everything in my own strength. It’s usually very difficult for me to ask other people for help, but I was blessed to be surrounded by a wonderful community of Christian families in Taitung who offered their support generously. Because of their willingness to help, I was able to feel comfortable enough to ask them for the support that I needed. I was really amazed and truly blessed by how much the body of Christ here in Taitung came together in order to bless me and VOICE Missions. I truly could not have hosted the retreat without them.

One awesome thing that happened because of the generosity of everyone, was that we were able to cook a complete traditional Thanksgiving brunch in a single morning. It took seven hours, six appliances and two kitchens, but we did it! It was delicious and a wonderful time of fellowship for all of us.

The most special part of the weekend was our Saturday night beach bonfire and worship. Ever since I started thinking about the possibility of hosting in Taitung, I really wanted to take everyone and have a bonfire on the beach. I really wished that we could take everyone to a much nicer beach 20 minutes away, but I didn’t think there was any way that we could manage that logistically. But our God is a good Father who gives good things to His children, and it was amazing to see how everything fell into place. A friend in town offered to lend us his van so we could drive everyone to the other beach, and we were able to rearrange our retreat schedule in order to accommodate for a longer evening time. And my dear friend who has a house on the beach offered to host us and help us facilitate everything. And just like that, my greatest wish became reality!

The evening was so beautiful. The weather was lovely, the fire was bright, and we were able to spend some time singing and praising God there there on the beach. We were able to sing “How Great is Our God” in four languages: English, Spanish, Chinese and Romanian, and it was really special to be able to praise God in our different languages. It may have sounded a little strange to us, but I know it sounded beautiful to God’s ears!

All in all, the retreat was a really special experience for me. It was a lot of work, but it was amazing to see God’s provision and blessing over the entire time. It was a wonderful reminder that my God loves me and gives me the desires of my heart. We didn’t need to have a great Thanksgiving or a beach bonfire in order to have a successful retreat, but we were able to have them anyway, and I’m so grateful to God for providing all the people and resources we needed for that.

~Elisabeth Corduan

Elisabeth is in her third 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. She is blessed to be surrounded by wonderful friends and to have been given the opportunity to make some amazing memories in her time here in Taiwan.