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.