Friday, November 10, 2017

The First Seventy Days

70 days. 70 Sunsets. It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Taiwan for over two months now! Sometimes the days are long (especially when I’m homesick), but as whole, it’s been a super fast 70 days. Here are a few beautiful things God has been teaching and reminding me of lately.

Peace is a Person.
When life hands you lemons you can make lemonade, but what do you make when life hands you rats and bedbugs? I’ve been discovering (more all the time) that dwelling in Christ makes dwelling in the awkward backbends of life 100% better. When I have confidence I’m where God wants me, there is an insane amount of restful peace in buckling up and facing the rodent problem square in the eyes. (And sometimes the rodents themselves square in the eyes.)
Maybe I was a little nervous about flying to Taiwan for this trip by myself. I had peace, but it was a shaky peace. When I was flying into Taipei, though, I woke up from a nap to realize we were making our descent and grabbed at the window, eager to get my first peek. In my very first glimpse of the country of Taiwan, there was a big rainbow hanging right above it! He who promised is faithful, and He gives peace in the form of Himself! So blessed!

Yes is a way of life.
Saying “yes” to God and being all-in to whatever He wants for you is… kinda scary. Because—news flash—you won’t be able to handle it all. When you’re really willing, He will open so many amazing doors for you and it’s going to feel chaotic and overwhelming and you might cry a lot or else eat Nutella a lot, but keep saying yes. Because when it’s from Him, He will fill in the cracks and spill out over the whole hectic schedule, perfecting every wrong. When you can’t do it all, He can. When you aren’t enough, He is.

Joy is a reality.
This past Sunday I was fully planning on sleeping in until the last possible moment that I needed to get up and get ready for church. (So much sleep deprivation is going on over here it isn’t even funny.) But when I heard all the half-marathon commotion starting up at 5am just outside the school gates, something—I have no idea what, but something—pushed me out of bed, got me dressed and out walking around with the runners, all before 6am. A few hours of cheering later, I was so hoarse and coughing, but I was having too much fun cheering on the runners across the finish line, I couldn’t just give up. I even had an entire cheering team by that point. Some race official guy came up to me and the first thing out of his mouth was, “you’re so happy!” And I couldn’t help but smile bigger. Because if the very solitary reason God nudged me out of bed at 5-whatever in the morning was to tell that man I’m happy because I’m a Christian and I have Jesus in my heart… it was so worth it. Some days life is not just happy, fun, and easy. But with Christ in me, it is always joyful. No matter exhaustion or confusion or discomfort.

It’s never just me.
A few weeks ago I was warm and tired and struggling to stay awake through a Chinese sermon. A mom a few seats away from me leaned over to her daughter who was playing a game on her phone and gestured to me and said, “she doesn’t even understand and she is listening.” I made sure I didn’t fall asleep then. Everyone is watching. I’m affecting lives all around. I am an example. You are an example. We really need to be good ones. When they look at us, because they will, let us show them Christ.

Kimberly Snyder is a 20-year-old English Teacher, passionate about the things of God, spending time with her family, eating good food, and watching sunsets as often as possible. She is enjoying getting to know her new home of Chiayi county, Taiwan, taking pictures of everything, and blogging about her adventures and the lessons God is teaching her on her personal blog, Peculiar on Purpose.

Friday, October 27, 2017

How a Journey of 8,000 Miles Changed Me, Part 2

Make sure to check out part 1 here!

Want to make friends in a new country?  Be prepared.  This isn't always easy.  Sometimes you meet someone on the train and instantly, you're buddies.  Sometimes you try and try and nothing happens.  Many things factor in - you're a foreigner, you're different, your first language isn't the same as everyone else around you.  Not only all that but your perspective, worldview, and beliefs are almost guaranteed to be different.   Then there's the fact that you've been shaped by your own culture all these years, so yeah, cultural differences are big as well.

All this...and I still live abroad.  Better yet, I choose this life!  Sure, there's been plenty of disappointments, confusions, misunderstandings, letdowns, frustrations and bad days.  But Jesus uses all of those - and more - to mold me more like Himself.  It's in that day getting lost all morning or those 60 minutes spent trying to communicate with the clerk about what's inside your package that often teaches you the most.  These are the lessons of a girl living across the ocean, on the other side of where she grew up, and honestly, they are some of her favorites now.  Not because they were necessarily fun but because in all these, something amazing happens - Jesus shows up.

And when Jesus shows up, friends, that when I need to step back and let Him do what He does best - creating miracles.

So yes, in a way, I choose the tears, the extra difficulties, the challenges.  I choose to do hard things because I know that God is working and active in them.

But wait - I also choose the little dirty hands gripping mine, the look on the teen's face when I say I'll help, the opportunity to focus on the Gospel each day and live it out in a place where many still have not heard.  I choose to live like I need Jesus, because deep down I've acted like I don't and that's never worked and there's never been peace as there is now.  So on those days when it seems like everything is harder, takes longer and is more frustrating than if I simply still lived in my hometown in the US, I look up and let Jesus reel my focus in to where it's supposed to be - squarely and lovingly on Him.

After all, it's all about Him.


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, orphans, 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, October 20, 2017

How a Journey of 8,000 Miles Changed Me

Living in another country changes you.  Not only does it change your perspective, but it also changes what you value, what you spend your time on and what you're willing to do (believe me, I've done so many things here that I never planned on or ever dreamed of!).  It tests your faith to see if it's really strong.  It teaches you humility in ways you've never experienced or expected.  It gives you a glimpse of yourself that you had hoped isn't true...but it is.  It forces you to rely on Jesus in ways you never expected.

It gives you a taste of loneliness like nothing you've ever been through before.  Something like homesickness that didn't exist in your vocabulary now becomes something you struggle through every once in awhile.  Because sometimes you just want to hug mama, tease dad, kiss your sister and beat your brothers at that board game.  Things you swore you'd never miss - like that meal you always detested or that drive to work and back, you find yourself confused and surprised...because you miss those!  What is happening to the person you know you were?

And patience?  Oh yes, that's a big one.  It stretches your patience in a million small ways and forces you to stop and say, "God, You do what You want, when You want it.  I'll wait."  Then when you think you can't wait anymore, you say it all again.  And again.  And again.

Things that you considered normal, everyday kind of routines are different, new or even non-existent.   Gonna mail that package?  Carve out at least an hour of your time.  Going out for a cup of your favorite coffee?  Prepare to sit there for fifteen minutes as you use an app to try to decipher the menu.  Get lost in a new city, that could definitely happen.   Several hours later, walk into a bakery and pray that the owner speaks English or at least has a map since you didn't have data on your phone.

Then there's that thing called your comfort zone.  Suddenly as you're living abroad, your comfort zone is given notice and kicked out the door.  Now there's no such thing!  Everything that you were comfortable and okay with just went out the door too.  Now it's you and Jesus and many new (and sometimes scary) experiences waiting...

Part two coming soon!


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, orphans, 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.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Unexpected Experience

The impact that my year with VOICE Missions in Taiwan had on my life and still has is huge.   For the first time in my life, I got to know what it truly means to be a volunteer. The year was filled with laughing, learning, teaching, exploring, growing, loving God with others and loving others as well. 

It truly did impact me and open my eyes to the world. I feel truly changed from the experience and touched by all the wonderful people I was able to meet. I've been brainstorming about things I can still do to help the people and my friends here. I feel so helpless being back here but I've been sharing all my stories and people seem to love to hear about it. 

At a place where you think things cannot get any worse…you see something remarkable.  You see the pride on kids faces as they open their hearts to you and have fun in learning English and talking to you in Chinese or with body language . And for that short moment, you don’t notice that you really don't understand anything but you're able to hear their hearts.  What a precious moment!  You notice the love, strength and hope that all of these individuals have.

When I saw these kids filled with joy with the little they have, I realized that they have the strongest thing of all — faith in Jesus.  Because of them, my life is forever changed.

Sometimes doing the right thing is not always easy, but it's so worth it! If we continue doing it, He promises that He will stay with us wherever we go. Here in Taiwan is when the words on the pages of the Bible came to life in a really powerful way.

I'll always be so grateful for the opportunity I had with VOICE Missions in this beautiful island.  I feel really honored to be used by the Lord and be part of His movement in Taiwan.  I saw so many lives transformed by the power of His grace, sweet smiles every day. I had thousands of hugs like never before! I was able to see friends giving their lives and receiving His love and His grace transforming my heart and renewing my mind. 

I'll definitely encourage anyone to do this next year!  It will really change your life. Thank you, Formosa, for adopting me and with your sweetness and kindness, healing my heart. You'll always be in my heart. 

Lorena Lopez is of Mexican nationality, and majored in international relations and political studies from Nuevo León State University in Mexico. She has been serving in various countries throughout the Americas and Asia. She enjoys literature, nature, learning about other cultures, adventures, and a good coffee. Her vision is to contribute towards a new perspective for this world.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Races Are About Running

Three breaths in, two breaths out; each one to the drumming of my sneakered feet on the pavement. “Okay” I thought to myself, “What should I think about next?” I was running my first 10k and I’m one of those runners who doesn’t like to drown out what my body is trying to say to me with loud music, so I think instead. “Well, I have to write that blog post...” I continued “Ha! I know, I will write what I learn from running this race.” So here are three things I observed while running that have a real life parallel.

Stronger than I think

I’ll be honest - I did not train as I should have for this race. I probably trained seriously for two weeks and then “got too busy”. So I ran virtually cold turkey, or as the Taiwanese like to say “burnt vegetables”. Even though I wasn’t ready and might fail, I had two goals: finish the race and no walking. I thought I would, to exaggerate, die, but I found as I went along how much I was enjoying myself. As I finished the race, having kept the pace, I realized, “Wow. I can do so much more than I know.” And then a second thought, “If I can do more than I know in this race, how much more can God use me wherever I am.”

Run better together

“See that person ahead of you? You’re going to pass them.” I told myself this over and over again and I did many times. This race reminded me how much I need community to keep me going strong. I can run alone, but I do so much better when I’m being challenged and encouraged onwards by either staring at the backs of those who have gone before or those alongside me who refuse to give up.

Stay focused

As I was trotting along, I passed many fellow runners who were stopping in their tracks to take a picture of the countryside or snap a selfie. It struck me as the most ridiculous thing. Yes, Chishang is gorgeous and yes, who is going to believe you actually ran unless you take selfies. But isn’t the point of the race to look to the finish line and with all that we are, stay focused and get to it? Paul seemed to think so. He said to lay aside every weight and just get to that finish line, i.e. Jesus. There’s plenty of time to take a picture afterwards anyway.

Carmen came to Taiwan because she heard from God that he would help her love every student she come in contact with. She has found that he has enough overflowing love for all of them. Little did Carmen know that she would be given so much more than she gave. Carmen loves Taiwan and its people, they have seized her heart! Therefore, she must come back to be where her heart is. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Blooming Where He Plants Me

"Teacher Liv, it's raining outside." I just stared at him with a grin as water filled my eyes. This child had been teased by students, mocked for how he didn't know English, and he never spoke to me, until now and what he said touched my heart so much. Here is the story of my student that encouraged me with these simple words. 

We had been teaching for three weeks straight and it seemed like every week the students were more and more challenging.  I felt like everything I taught would go in one ear and out the other. Enough said, I was at the bottom and felt very dry from teaching. 

So then the questions came to my head and out of my mouth were the words, "I came to Taiwan because you called me here, God. Do I even have a purpose in Taiwan?  The students don't understand anything I say, so why am I even here?  My teaching is pointless." 

I went on with the week teaching and nothing seemed to change. I had one student in my class that was always being teased and he never spoke to me. Whenever I tried to talk to him, he always ran away from me. He would say hi but that was it. Still, he was pretty adorable! 

So Tuesday came where I teach a class on weather and in that lesson, I teach the students about the seasons and what happens in those seasons. So for spring the sentence pattern is "It is raining!" Most of the time, the students will remember a little something from the lesson, but this week they seemed to forget everything. The lesson ended and I was having those questions popping to my head again. 

As I was wiping down the chalkboard and feeling so frustrated with myself, I heard this small, soft voice behind me. I turned around and no one was there. So I kept on cleaning, and I heard it again. I turned around to see this little boy standing there with his big black eyes staring at me. It was the one student in my class that didn't know any English and was teased a lot. My heart melted as I asked him what he said and out of his mouth came "It is raining outside." I had just gotten done teaching these students that sentence pattern. Joy filled my heart.  As heard him speak, I glanced outside and saw it was really raining!

Those words he said may not have been much English but it was enough to realize that he understood what I was teaching. So many times I have these expectations of how teaching should be - where all your students remember what you teach, so then when that doesn't happen it's like right away my thoughts are "It's pointless!" 

Needless to say, God opened my eyes to show me that, I may not see the purpose of my teaching right away but there is a need and always a purpose to wherever God calls you. Sometimes, actually a lot of times, things in life don't go the way that we've planned them or they aren't as we expected them to be, but God always has a purpose! 

I came to Taiwan with the mindset that Taiwan needed me, but little did I know that I needed Taiwan so much. God has taken a dry seed and planted it into my heart for Taiwan where He has provided my students to be the water that helps me bloom where He's planted me. Needless to say, I love my students and I am ever so grateful for them all, for God has used them to change my heart in many ways.

enjoys every moment in Taiwan - everything from teaching to being able to travel on weekends. Olivia loves traveling with her co-workers and teammate. She enjoys trying new coffee in Taiwan as along with eating not too crazy new foods.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Redeem the Time

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17, KJV)

While in Taiwan, we are often given the freedom to make our own choices about how we will spend our time. For a lot of people, this is their first time to be outside the confines of school, a structured job or the expectations of their parents. It’s easy to look at all the time we have here in Taiwan and spend it pursuing things that make us happy, but don’t necessarily have any tangible or eternal value.

During my first year in Taiwan, I didn’t have any obligations outside of the Character and English Institute (CEI) work, so I spent a lot of time getting used to being in Taiwan and taking care of myself so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. I definitely appreciated having such a relaxed schedule, but towards the end of the year I began to get restless. I took account of what I was spending my time on, and realized that I could be a lot more productive with my time if I decided to come back a second year.

Just to clarify, I’m not saying that everyone who spends time on personal things is being lazy or wasteful; I’m just saying that for me, I saw that I could still have plenty of time to enjoy my own things while also being purposeful about pursuing things that had lasting value.

For me, that took the form of starting work on my college degree at the beginning of my second year. This was greatly helped by the fact that my sponsor offers an educational scholarship to returning teachers who wish to pursue their degree while volunteering. While I would have still started school without the scholarship, I greatly appreciated the fact that my sponsor supported my efforts to make good use of my time while in Taiwan.

It hasn’t been the easiest road, but when I compare my situation to what it would be if I were at home and holding down a full-time job, I feel very blessed. Not only do I get to live in the beautiful country of Taiwan and serve the Lord by assisting CEI with their Character and English Institute, but I’m also able to work on finishing my degree efficiently and in a financially wise manner. It’s definitely a very cool perk for those serving in Taiwan if they have a desire to work on improving their education.

And just as a final note, I think using your time wisely can mean a lot of different things, and not just college studies! I know many teachers who redeem their time by pouring lots of love, care and attention into the people around them, or by studying Chinese, or by simply taking advantage of the time to gain a deeper relationship with God. All of these are awesome ways of using your time wisely, and I hope that my story can encourage others to pursue pleasing God with their time in Taiwan, no matter what that looks like.

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.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

To Go or Not Go?

Should I go or not?  It was getting later in the day and I was running behind schedule.  By the time I would arrive at the village, I’d have an hour or less to spend with the kids.  I weighed my options.  Should I put it off until another week?  Then I remembered the muffins I had baked.  They wouldn’t stay fresh until next week.  So I quickly packed my bags and, praying, set off for the village. 

As I came to one house where five of my kids live, I called out hello and heard happy voices screaming my name coming from inside the house.  Smiling, I was glad I had come, no matter how brief this visit might be.

This time I didn’t have a Bible story or craft picked out.  I had run out of time, so I only had some small games, a frisbee and blueberry muffins.  On the way over, I prayed that God would continue His work in the hearts of my kiddos here.  I wasn’t sure what that would look like but I know God can do amazing things.

We started out playing Uno.  Two new little boys crept closer and closer until they were sitting right next to me.  I was probably the first white girl they had ever seen in their aboriginal village.  After they got comfortable with me, they joined the game, smiling happily. 

As we were playing, I paused.  The sight before me isn’t something that’s always been common in this village.  I first visited back in Easter 2013 and I’ve seen God do so much in the lives of the kids here.  Seven village boys, ages 4 to 15, sat in a circle with me.  Instead of the fighting that is quite common here, they were smiling and helping each other learn how to play the game.  As I handed out the snack, they smiled and said thank you in English.  We went on to play another game before a fourth grader announced he needed to get home.  As I took them home, one of my seventh graders looked over at me and with a smile, asked me if I believed in Jesus.  I grinned and said “Yes!”

After saying goodbye to all the kids, I headed home, my heart full.  I may not preach a sermon to the village kids but God’s Spirit can reveal truth and work on hearts.  The seeds that past and current VOICE volunteers have been planting in the village are starting to take root and grow.  God is on the move in Taiwan!

Joanna Suich has been serving with VOICE Missions since February 2013.  She has a heart for all things involving missions, orphans, aboriginal kids and adventures.  Joanna first served on the Taitung team and now has been serving on the Hualien team the past three years.  God has placed Hualien in her heart and it's home now.  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.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Wait, you're spending 11 months where?

"Wait, you're spending 11 months where?"

Last summer, I got this reaction a lot when I would try to explain what I was going to do with the next eleven months of my life. Traveling almost eight thousand miles to a place I had never even heard of to teach English. Yes, it does sound insane even to this adventure addict knucklehead. 

When I got off the plane, I felt like I had walked into another dimension. Everything was so different, so beautiful, and so scary. I didn't know the language or customs, so I walked around like a rigid board, terrified I was going to say or do something offensive to the Taiwanese. However, a couple of days later, I knew for real that taking this gap year would be one of the most rewarding and incredible experiences of my life. 

The tropical rainforests, delicious food, and warm, friendly people have made Taiwan seem like a second home. Every other week it seems like I’m being invited to someone’s home to share a meal or participate in a new holiday. However, the thing that has definitely made this year the best is the children I get to work with. When I enter the schools each morning, I am bombarded by their smiles, hugs, and high-fives. Even the shy ones will dash up to yell “good morning” as they rush off to breakfast. They bring that joy to class with an attitude pumped for English games and the time passes so fast I can hardly believe the week has flown by, let alone another day. 

Outside of class time, we match up for races, basketball and cards. Over all the action, they always attempt to teach me a rainbow of words. Since we cannot really speak each other's language, we communicate using broken English, lyrical Chinese, lots of hand gestures and body movement. Half the time, we don’t quite get the point across, but that is where the universal language of silly smiles and laughter comes into good use. They've taught me many lessons - the most important is that the zone outside your comfort zone is the most fun place to be. Hopefully, we'll both learn more from each other in the remaining months!

Reese Austin is from North Carolina. The oldest of seven, an aspiring teacher, and a southern belle at heart, she loves children of all ages. In her spare time, she enjoys water-sports, photography, hiking, and ENOing. Her vision for the future is to help bring an end to global human trafficking and continue to spread the message of God's love.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Overlooked Ministry

"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." Galatians 6:10

When I came to Taiwan my aim of ministry was leaving a Christ-like impression on the children.  But now I look back on it, I see so many wonderful things I have overlooked.

My time here teaching the kids and playing with them aren't the only ways I can minister. God has graciously opened my eyes to all the different and fun ways I could invest in fellow co-workers, teammate, and peers. You may not think much of it, but when I go out with a friend for a coffee date to sit down, relax, and talk about life, it's a good way of ministering/discipleship.  Going out into the field to preach the gospel to lost people, and hearing out the hardship of a family member of Christ in a coffee shop are both good. Neither one is better than the other. 

I used to think that the only way to minister is to go out into the boonies, where people use leaves and flowers as clothing, where the sun never rises, and you never know if you will be martyred. But that's not true, it's not the only way. If you're like me, please stop beating yourself up. God sends us fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to disciple and minister too. Your spiritual needs are extremely important to God!  He has been teaching me not to neglect my brothers/sisters in Christ..."for His sake." 

Next time you feel guilty for going out with a friend instead of doing intensive field laboring for Jesus. don't.  Jesus also spent time with His disciples alone, even when there was a crowd of people mobbing for His attention and affection. "...especially unto them who are of the household of faith." 

Rebecca Thornton is currently serving in Chiayi under VOICE Missions. She enjoys drawing anime, manga, cosplaying, and chasing after animals.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Good Ol' Joy

For winter vacation I was able to go home back to Jamestown, North Carolina. Those two weeks that I spent there were so refreshing and very much needed. I felt as though I was able to come back and invest in each person more that He has placed in my life here in Taiwan.

As my teammate and I were sharing some goals that we had set for ourselves this new semester, I realized that most all of mine had to do with joy - something that has always seemed so easy but was so hard for me to do.  This semester I wanted to find absolute joy in all things, even though some may be difficult or challenging.  I wanted to find the joy that Paul talks about in Romans 15:13 Not that I just wanted to, but I also needed to find that joy.  

While I have been searching and asking God to give me absolute joy, I have been noticing that having more joy has giving me such peace and such a better attitude towards life. When getting up in the morning, I don’t find myself checking to see how much time there is before I can go back to sleep, but rather excited to teach and to spend time with my co-workers. Teaching recently has been hard for me, because I felt as though I was stuck with doing the same thing over and over, but now I realize that it’s the way I’ve been looking at it.
God has given me such a new joy for teaching. I had always thought that I would be a teacher when I was younger, but as I grew up I realized that I didn’t want to do that. Now being here in Taiwan, I have such a love for these children - they are each so precious in their own ways. Though I’m not planning to become a teacher when I go home, I still have a joy when I’m teaching even when it’s hard.
Even when traveling, I find myself more eager to meet people, which is way out of the normal for me. Just everything in my daily life seems to be changing for the good! I’m so thankful for this time here in Taiwan as I am able grow so much and to help others realize that they can also have this joy if they to follow God.
I’m excited for the next five months here in Taiwan to grow more and to share God’s love and joy with the people that I am surrounded by.  God has already worked so much in Taiwan and I am so excited that I get to be His messenger to bring the Good News to the people here.

Florentina Parra is 19 and is the middle child in a family of 12. She likes to play volleyball and basketball, drink coffee, and try new foods. Flora loves to travel and explore. She enjoys trying to learn Chinese. She has always loved missions and sharing God's Word with others so coming Taiwan is a perfect opportunity! 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Begin Again

Hello, I am Yanna Wertz and this is my second year serving with VOICE Missions. I have been teaching in Taitung, Taiwan for a year and a half. 

Through teaching and serving in Taiwan I have learned not to depend on your comfort zone. Things will change and we have to learn how to embrace it and be open minded. Coming back for my second year of teaching was not as easy as I had expected it to be. Last year I had developed friendships with the local university students and had enjoyed teaching them English as well as them teaching me Chinese. Little was I aware of what awaited me as I returned to what I thought was "comfortable". 

The friends I had spent a lot of time with last year graduated from university and moved back to their hometown, or got jobs in other counties around the island. I felt very disappointed and frustrated because I had spent a lot of time building trust and friendships with them, especially  since I was from a different culture and language and building trust took a while. 

When I returned I thought,"Now what am I gonna do, this city is small and less then 1% could even speak, much less understand, English!"  Little did I know of God's plan. About a few weeks into getting settled back into my location and teaching, my teammate and I ran into, what we found out, were exchange students who were living in our city. We exchanged a few words and I thought the chances of meeting them again were very small. However, about a few weeks after that I happened to run into them at the mall. I started to get to know them better and found myself spending time with them, as they were new to Taiwan. I began teaching them more of the Taiwanese culture as well as the language. 

All of us were all quite diverse, from our ages to our background to our culture. Two were from Mexico, one from Brazil, one from France and then one from America (the one I could relate to the most). Talk about diversity! We were quite the crazy group of foreigners. I have always enjoyed meeting people from different cultures and here was a good opportunity to not only be a witness to them but also get to better understand people from different parts of the world. 

It is amazing how when we feel like there is nothing, God just proves how much He cares for His children. He doesn't disappoint, rather wants us to not be comfortable and have flexibility and a learning attitude. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to meet these exchange students and through them I was able to meet more people. I thank God for His grace and mercy toward us even when we complain or feel like there is nothing hopeful in our future. 

~Yanna Wertz

Yanna is serving with VOICE Missions in Taitung County. She is from Maryland and loves to play basketball, make new friends and dance.  One thing that God has taught her during her time in Taiwan is that God never gives up and always gives us second chances.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Spreading His Love in Taiwan

Ephesians 2:10 "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them".

It was an ordinary day at the office, my boss's agenda couldn't be any better as I sat at a desk as an assistant to one of the best marketing directors in one of the best Mexican companies.

I knew the time of the day when my director would ask me for the newspaper so I had to browse it beforehand to be informed of national and international matters.

As I was browsing it, I read "massive typhoon hits Taiwan, many people affected". This shook my heart as I immediately thought of the year and a half (2014-2015) that I served there. These kind people were always showing their support and love, so I began to pray for this nation that God may send missionaries to this nation to share the knowledge of His love and His word.
It was then, at the beginning of 2016, that I began to feel God's calling to go back to Taiwan, I knew there was a chapter unfinished and that my heart was still devoted to this island.

Certainly, my initial weeks in Taiwan were truly a challenge and very difficult as it was very different to my previous experience in Taiwan.

In the last 10 years I had been serving orphan children but I was not really challenged because I was in my comfort zone, with all the facilities and skills to do it. However my desire was to do my best for the Lord (time and effort). It was then that I decided to come to Taiwan to serve in a foreign country, out of my comfort zone, far from friends and family. This is where I came to know the reality of ministry which is sharing and sowing God's love for those in need.  No matter if I was qualified or not, my heart was available to serve.

During those years in the past, I always wondered what was the secret of a volunteer/missionary to become more effective in ministry. Lately, God has been showing me that ministry is about  "sowing and reaping" and not about fix-and-solve.

The purpose of missions is not just to fix or save, the purpose is to use the new lives we have received in Christ Jesus to help others diligently, guided by wisdom and love with Jesus as the Savior and not us.

Working as a teacher in Taiwan has taught me that God's love has no nationality, language, religion or race. It is all based on God's gift of salvation available to anyone who believes. Romans 10:17 "So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God".

Furthermore, regardless of your occupation or profession, your goal should be about glorying God and encouraging and influencing other people.

My vision for this year in Taiwan is to share about God's love to this nation and glorify Jesus Christ. 
Psalms 67:4 "O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations of upon earth. Selah."

It's that simple,

And at the same time, it's that complicated,

But it's so worth it if we learn to do it right.

~Lorena Lopez

Lorena Lopez is 29, of Mexican nationality, and majored in international relations and political studies from Nuevo León State University in Mexico. She has been serving in various countries throughout the Americas and Asia. She enjoys literature, nature, learning about other cultures, adventures, and a good coffee. Her vision is to contribute towards a new perspective for this world.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Death to Dignity: Journey to Joy

If you want to work with kids, you can’t be uppity and dignified. If you jump into teaching, to death with dignity! But with that sacrifice comes great joy and freedom. This is my story.

It started way-back-when, I was a legalistic little kid; always doing the right thing, not for Jesus, but for myself. I grew out of play quickly because you can’t be silly and dignified at the same time. I loved having people guess my age because they always guessed me several years older than I actually was and that made me feel good. Like being mature in other people’s eyes was the bomb dot com.

Because I shed my childhood in an, I think, unnatural way, I lost what grown ups shouldn’t lose when they age: joy and freedom. My freedom because I was bound to act in a specific way to ensure others thought of me that way. And my joy because I don’t think fear of man allows for joy, love, and 
childlike wonder. So I gave up all of that to pursue dignity.

 Fast forward to early 2016. Coincidentally(I believe now in preparation for the latter half of the year), I read a few books that got me thinking about joy and my lack of it. One character in particular, Innocent Smith from Chesterton’s Manalive. Here was a chap who came to the conclusion that joy, childlike wonder, and enjoyment of life were worth their weight in gold and pursued them with gumption. I wanted that. This was about the same time I was considering Taiwan.

Coming to Taiwan, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t really even like kids that much. The children’s camps I had taught were exhausting and difficult experienc-es. With some of my only teaching interactions being not-great memories, I prayed long and hard before I got the go ahead from the Lord to come to Taiwan.

So I came in August. And what the Lord began to teach me about joy early in the year, I have seen come to bloom. Yes, I lost my dignity and that was a little difficult at first, but I also learned something amazing. Kids. don’t. care. So, I decided not to either.

I didn’t expect to, but everyday I choose to lose what people think and begin to throw myself into every activity, use exaggerated gestures, and silly faces, I have so much fun and I don’t know where the time goes. Sometimes I think I even have more fun and laugh harder than any kid in the classroom.

If you come down with the particular malady of caring too much, I prescribe a large dose of kids. Death to put-on dignity and aspire to just be one of them. You might be surprised by joy.

~Carmen Copu

Carmen can be fairly well summed up in the acronym, “R.A.T.”. She is relational and loves doing things with friends, anything from long boarding to amazing conversations to a good ol’ game of two-on-two volleyball. Adventurous, both in activity and getting lost in the world of literature. And finally, a thinker in that she pursues knowledge with as much gumption as she loves food.