Taiwan Mission 8-10-2019 Report
Closing ceremony on Saturday went off without a hitch. We all had hoped and prayed for full attendance and God responded with 27 kids and their families, just the right number in light of God’s ever-present wisdom and grace. The tiny little church in which the ceremony was held was filled over-brimming to capacity as we watched all of the children on stage singing and dancing to the worship songs they had learned during the week. This was followed with our missionary team performing the Lifehouse skit entitled “Everything” which chronicles the creation of man in perfect harmony with God, the temptations and sins that separate us from God, and our desperate attempt to reconcile to God as He victoriously defeats sin. Later, Brother Andy and Pastor Chen each delivered a message to the congregation which was followed up with the distribution of pamphlets describing the Gospel Center and all of the activities that it has to offer. A few of the parents seemed to show interest and asked questions as Pastor Chen explained the various programs. It is our prayer that many of these families will connect with the local Gospel Center and be led by God to grow in their faith. The ceremony ended with each of the youth passing out letters to each of their kids with a personal message that described their fondest recollections of the past week along with words of encouragement to continue in learning about and following Christ. They also included their personal email address in the event the children had a desire to stay connected with their group leader. Many of the parents took the opportunity for a personal photo op of their child with their group leader and the “Kindness Cards,” the craft that was constructed by our missionary team on Friday, was handed out upon their leaving the church. It was a bittersweet moment, the culmination of a week of very hard work and relatively harsh working conditions, coupled with many moments of cherished memories and bouts of unexplainable joy.
We had all anticipated the nemesis of our mission would be the oppressive heat and mosquitos and, especially for the latter, we came armed and prepared with reinforcements, ways to ward off and heal the painful and unsightly bites. We were also aware of the real possibility of having operations shut down due to a looming typhoon. There were days in which, in our 2 classrooms with no air conditioning, with the humidity factor, we were working for 7 hours with 42 kids in 108 degrees heat. As it turns out, despite sweating profusely and feeling a bit more exhausted than normal, we did not slow down due to the heat, many of us did not get bit at all with a few who managed to escape with one or two bites, and the typhoon went past Taiwan and made its landfall in China. God in His mercy had provided us with His protection as we carried out His work.
As for the unexpected and unprepared, except for the earthquake that hit on Wednesday morning, all of these events resulted in learnings and growth as God imparted His lessons to us on a daily basis. Handing out the flyers in the park took many of us out of our comfort zone, especially for those who did not speak Mandarin, and many were over wrought with fear. But then in unexpected moments, God provided encouragement and comfort, like the time when one of the ladies who accepted the flyer, a Christian herself, started encouraging one of our sisters and praising her and our team for the VBS work that lied ahead. It was as if God had sent an angel.
Mandarin language proficiency was widely variable among our team of missionaries. We had expected that this might prove to be a difficult challenge but what we didn’t expect was how we would still have a rich experience despite this disparity in language skills. One of our group leaders who was fluent in Mandarin realized that many of the words and phrases he spoke to the kids were the very same ones that he would hear and continues to hear from his own parents and this created a special connection with his kids, a sense of surrogate parenthood and perhaps even a sentimental feeling of what his own parents must feel towards him, the same love and compassion that he felt towards these children. Another group leader who had a very limited grasp of Mandarin shared that he learned that language is not a barrier when sharing the gospel as he was still able to perform this feat when speaking English. With his kids, he was able to communicate with them coupling actions with his limited Chinese vocabulary. One of his most memorable recollections was the creation of a special handshake, a series of movements and touches, that helped to create a sense of camaraderie and uniqueness for his group.
For some, it was the unexpected realization that the need to be perfect in teaching God’s stories was unimportant when compared to the purpose of the teaching, of reaching out to touch lives and preach the gospel. In the lesson on the Tower of Babel, another teacher asked the class if anyone thought that the Tower was a reaction to people being afraid of another flood. He was ready with an elaborate answer prepared on a slide in response to this seemingly deep question and then a young student replied, “No, because God promised He would not destroy man like that anymore.” As this teacher later shared, the unexpected response of this simple yet concise answer convicted him to reflect on Jesus’ teaching, that we must approach the Kingdom with the faith of a child. We sometimes spin webs to bolster our faith when God just wants us to have pure and simple faith.
As we left Taiwan and headed towards home, we each wondered if what we had just done had any impact on these young lives and their families. We knew about the stories of children looking forward to coming to VBS each day, of the parents relaying their stories of seeing the enthusiasm and eagerness in their kids, we remembered the times when we saw how the painfully shy and the disdainfully outcasted were befriended towards the end of the program, we could recount the times when the children demonstrated their absorption of what was being taught in Bible Class, and we cherished the looks on their faces and squeals of delight when they participated in the various games and activities throughout the week. But would this be a lasting impact? Will they remember this week in the same way we did and would it be a start to something different in their lives? Would they elect to follow Jesus and seek to know Him? It was during closing ceremony when God seemed to say to us that He will unfold this story as part of His great plan in each of these precious lives. As the story goes, in a private moment with one of the teachers, a young middle schooler who had been a bit of a trouble-maker and rebel rouser for most of the week, during their exchange of good byes, was listening intently to the teacher encouraging him to keep growing in his faith to which the young one replied, “Yes I will. When I grow up, I want to be a pastor!”
It is true, as some of us shared, that most of the time it felt like God led and we just followed. Every day, God was present, we did what we knew to do, and then we had to let God do the rest. So we leave it all in God’s hands and are ever thankful to Him for giving us this valuable lesson. I pray we have all grown more spiritually mature from this, that this is the start of the Christian faith taking root in Taiwan, that the blessings we garnered from this trip stay with us forever, and that our relationships, with God and with each other, have grown deeper and stronger.
Taiwan Mission 8-9-2019 Report
School was closed today and the typhoon brought heavy rains to our area and we wondered if we would be able to find a window of time today when the rain would die down to go over to the school in order to clean up the 2 classrooms and put everything back the way we found it. By mid-morning, the rain appeared to subside a bit and so we made the decision to head on over. We used our time at the school to also finish constructing the “Kindness Cards” for the kids, the project that would have been their craft for the day had school not been cancelled, and to also practice the skit that would be performed at closing ceremony after worship tomorrow, at which time we would also hand out the Kindness Cards.
Our team also discussed the desire to leave the children and their parents a letter bidding them a fond farewell and expressing our hopes that they would continue on this journey by connecting with the Gospel Center to keep learning about who Jesus is and why we all need Him. This letter is in 2 parts with one part coming from their group leader and the other from the CCCTO VBS Team. Since so many kids and parents have asked if this VBS program will be offered again next year, the letter also contains a message that talks about our intention to return though the reality is it may not be within our power to do so. This letter will be distributed to each child through the Gospel Center on our behalf.
On a final note, Brother Andy visited again with Brother Young-Chih and his aunt, a non-believer who resides in Taiwan, and as he delivered the gospel message to her and shared his own mother’s testimony, Young-Chih’s aunt accepted Christ! Pray that she will be baptized soon and that she will eagerly start her new life in Christ.
Pray that all 42 kids and their parents show up for closing ceremony which will be held at a church about a half mile from here. Pray that the kids will connect with the Gospel Center and attend their activities, that seeds have been sown during this past week that will grow in their hearts that they may turn to Christ and be saved.
Taiwan Mission 8-8-2019 Report
Who needs an alarm when you can have an earthquake? If we weren’t already awake by then, we were certainly awake by 5:28 this morning when a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck Yilan County, about 37 miles from New Taipei City which is where we are staying. This was just a reminder of while we can track and predict typhoons with reasonable accuracy, earthquakes are just so unnerving because of their unpredictability. Praise God for his protection as we were all safe and sound.
We had already adjusted the schedule to move up the lesson on salvation from Thursday to Wednesday in response to schools being closed from the threat of the typhoon, and now, upon our arrival this morning, we were informed that now there was a strong possibility that school would be closed tomorrow instead. This meant that VBS shirts and pictures with the children would have to be moved up as well since Friday, being our last day, was when these activities were to take place. Our team scrambled again to adjust our daily schedule. We have been at the mercy of this typhoon the last couple of days but praise God that in spite of this, we have been able to make quick decisions and work cooperatively to achieve our goals.
At the Bible/English teaching session for the older children, Sister Ellie led the class in performing The Parable of the Good Samaritan. Using a real bible, the narrator would read the story out loud and allow for pauses in order for the actors to improvise and act out what they just heard. There was no prior explanation of the parable and so, if they were not familiar with this bible story, they had no idea of what to expect and had to pay close attention to see how the parable unfolded. Before the skit began, there was the task of electing 9 actors and the prevailing thought among the teachers was that, judging from the past days’ experiences, they would probably only be able to eke out 7 volunteers and that 2 of the teachers would need to help fill in but when they announced that volunteers were needed to act out the story, lo and behold, 9 little hands flew into the air, the exact number that was needed! Placards with the names of the characters that had been made out beforehand were passed out to the 9 volunteers randomly and as it turned out, the role of the victim on the road and the Good Samaritan were given to 2 of the children whom many of us teachers had observed tended to be outcasted from the majority or had some difficulties in fitting in. Did this observation escape the kids, we wondered, or in fact, did this irony also stand out to them? And if so, would that in fact make this parable even more real to them? Would they be able to relate and understand it just that much more? Might God’s message to them truly touch them and change their hearts? We all marveled at just how perfect God’s plan always is.
Today is also Father’s Day in Taiwan and during our de-brief last night we realized we did not have anything to give the kids in recognition of this day but as it turned out, since the craft for today included making stick figures, Sister Angela was able to turn that into a Father’s Day gift. Each child made a “person” representing their father and then wrote a message expressing what he means to them. It was also during this exercise that many of us learned which children did not have a father living with them at home. In their lesson today, they learned that despite our circumstances, we all have a Heavenly Father who loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. We pray that this message of God’s love for them reaches and comforts them.
During the late afternoon session, Brother Andy shared with the class that there would be a possibility that there would be no class on Friday and it elicited immediate moans of disappointment from the kids. Since the inception of VBS, parents have been sharing stories of how this is the first time their child has been excited to go to school, of how some of the children are nagging the parents to hurry and not be late instead of the other way around, and finally how some of the kids are actually packing their own backpacks in joyful anticipation of going to VBS. God is stirring their little hearts and even though it may seem like it is for reasons outside of wanting to learn about God and hearing about salvation, it is still part of His plan of bringing them to us so that we may reach them. Sister Fong Fong led them in a prayer to ask for another day of school and we all felt a sense of sadness knowing that today might be the last time we will see some of these kids before we all depart from Taiwan unless they are able to make it to the church on Saturday for closing ceremony. Please join us as we pray that all 42 kids and their parents will join us this Saturday. As always, we are so grateful for the words of encouragement sent our way via your emails and for your unceasing prayers.
All school classes are cancelled tomorrow in Taipei.
We won’t have VBS program tomorrow. But we thank God, we are able to finish the group picture and deliver the salvation message to the students.
Yes, it is sad we couldn’t do a full closure. Most of the students are more upset about the situation. Reading some parents’ comments, I’m emotional, I thank God the program is well received.
Up coming items.
* Tomorrow afternoon, we will go to school, clean up the decorations. Pray typhoon may have passed, so we can go out.
* There is a closing ceremony on Saturday, we invited students, parents, and friends. Through the ceremony we will deliver gospel message and share the testimonies. Please pray a good participation and the good news will be well received.
Taiwan Mission 8-7-2019 Report
Our team continues to start each day with breakfast together at the hotel at 7am followed by daily prayer and a short briefing of the day’s activities. I am grateful for this show of solidarity each morning and the ability for us to start the day in each others’ company reminiscing about the previous day and sharing how we spent our free time in the evening. It is through God’s grace and our church’s generosity that we have been blessed with such comfort and convenience and for that we are truly thankful.
Slowly we are starting to really know each of the children with each passing day and as the children start to get more comfortable with each other, not only have friendships formed but conflicts have also started to arise. The reality of God’s ministry is that not only are we to bring the gospel truth as missionaries but sometimes we are also called to minister to them in ways that reflect the love of Christ in the hopes that maybe something we say or do will touch them and have some sort of lasting impact in their lives. In one instance, 2 young boys, who in their anger started pushing and shoving each other, were pulled aside and taught the importance of apologizing and forgiving. Later, one young teenage girl was observed to be consistently behaving disdainfully towards a younger girl and one of the leaders from the gospel center whom she knew was asked to have a private conversation with her on the importance to treat others with respect and love. Throughout the day, from the worship songs to the crafts and games, the message of helping and loving one another was taught and reinforced.
The morning had started out very hot but by early afternoon, after a thunderstorm rolled in, temperatures started to cool down a bit. The intermittent downpours, while so commonplace in Taiwan, is such a novelty for those of us who live in Southern California and can feel both frightening and calming at the same time. It also brought to mind the impending typhoon forecasted for Thursday. Later that evening, we were told that our area was spared, we would not be a direct hit for the typhoon, praise the Lord! Many thanks for all of the prayers for mercy from the path of this typhoon.
At our de-brief, our gospel center leaders expressed a desire to continue with the worship songs used during VBS as they can see how much the kids really enjoy the dance moves that go along with the songs. Sister Esther and her team are so faithful and kind and we could not have done this without their help and guidance. Pray that they will have been blessed by our presence as well. Pray that the kids are learning and absorbing, that God continues to work in us to model what it means to be a loving Christian, and that we will continue to be kept safe from the typhoon and any other natural disaster that may befall us ( we just experienced an earthquake as I was typing this last paragraph!).
Taiwan Mission 8-6-2019 Report
Lord is faithful!
Lekima has slowed down and making a turn. Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau (CWB) originally had planned to issue a sea warning at 2:30 p.m. today, later as Lekima has slowed down in its track, the CWB estimates that it will issue a sea warning for the typhoon at 5:30 p.m. today.
Now it’s 7:00pm, no warning is issue. According to official announcement, tomorrow is on.
Please continue your prayer, the world may see it’s coincident, is folly, but we see it’s Lord’s power.
Praise the Lord!
Taiwan Mission 8-6-2019 Report
What a difference a day makes. No longer shy and afraid, kids were engaging with each other and their teachers. In the Bible Stories class, each time the teacher asked a question, multiple hands shot up in the air and even though it often took several wrong answers before one student gave the right one, it never phased the kids or changed the momentum of the class. The participation carried on and the students continued to earn stickers. One could clearly see that they had absorbed the teaching from yesterday which served to alleviate some of the doubts from our teachers. The students are in fact being attentive and absorbing God’s Word.
The kids are also enjoying themselves so much more today, enthusiasm and energy was high and the game room was filled with sounds of cheering, laughing, and squeals of excitement. Through games that require working with a partner, they have started to befriend one another and are more willing to work with each other. In our de-brief today, we discussed the importance of recognizing benevolent acts among the children and offering positive reinforcement in the way of praise and stickers. In light of Jesus’ commandment to love thy neighbor as yourself, this is the message we wish to convey.
Our team is holding up very well. Our energy level was also boosted today as we continue to rest and build back our strength each day. Spiritually we are also feeling uplifted and grateful as evidenced through our de-brief today where praises to God outnumbered ways to improve, 5 to 1. Through our Taiwan Gospel Center team and each other, God has provided us with fellowship and support. Each day when my tummy reminds me that it is lunch time, I am so grateful for my Gospel Center brothers and sisters as they provide us with a delicious lunch that always includes a sweet treat at the end. They are so willing to help, even when it comes to shopping for some last minute items that we discovered we needed for our craft time. Praise God for their grace and helping hands.
When our team had first arrived at the school in the morning a few minutes before 9am, one of the students, a young girl of about 10 years of age, was already there waiting to be checked in. As we conversed with her to pass some time, we noticed that her knapsack was imprinted with the words, “Jesus Saves 2018 VBS” and when asked about it she responded that she had in fact attended last year at a church. As kids were being dropped off and the team took some opportunity to speak with parents, one of the parents asked, “Will you be coming back next year?” Another remarked that it was a privilege to be able to send their child to our program. These are convicting words as God reveals the impact our missionaries can make to the people here. Please continue to pray that the seeds sown here each year through VBS and other missionary programs will grow into an abundant harvest for His kingdom.
All weather reports are predicting a typhoon to hit on Thursday, Fathers Day, in our area in which case the school will be closed. Please pray for God to mis-direct this typhoon so that our teaching on that day which happens to be the message of salvation will not be delayed. Pray for safety for all, especially these precious children and their families. Know that we are ever grateful for you, our home church, for your financial and spiritual support and thank God daily for you as well.
Taiwan Mission 8-4-2019 and 8-5-2019 Report
We thank God for a loving team. There are many incidents and challenges, but the team learned to cover each other. Because of the heat, we were so tired in the afternoon. Today will be hotter, please pray for us, the Lord will give us strength and energy to witness Him in full capacity.
Xinzhuang Elementary is a mere 4 blocks from our hotel and this morning, our entire team donned our purple VBS t-shirts and walked over to the school with back packs and suitcase in tow. One of our co-workers had said to me that where we are working is the hottest area in Taiwan during the hottest part of the year. Wearing cotton is not the coolest material under these circumstance but our team had debated and decided the night before that we needed to appear united and be easily identifiable to the children. This is just one example of the seemingly small yet significant sacrifices made throughout this trip. The high for the day turned out to be 107 degrees in the humidity.
Once we arrived at the school, our Taiwan counterparts were there to greet us. We proceeded to the classrooms and started prepping as we eagerly awaited the arrival of the kids. Check in was 9am and as parents dropped off their children, the look on their faces reflected joyful anticipation of what the week would bring. The pastor that we had consulted with as we were preparing our mission had mentioned to us that English-based programs in Taiwan are a huge draw and this seemed evident in both our enrollment experience, which was capped at the 42 children, and now during check in.
Then our VBS officially started! Group worship first, then various activities that transpired between our 2 adjacent classrooms, followed by English class and Bible Stories. Our Taiwan team graciously provided lunch and snacks throughout the day. Many of the children willingly participated and enjoyed the group activities such as worship and crafts but became very shy and withdrawn during icebreaker activities where the attention was more individually focused. But our group leaders and teachers, many having previous VBS and YSMP experience, skillfully navigated through the awkward moments and were an example of God’s patience, compassion and mercy. The realization of how gifted our team is makes me grateful for how abundantly God has graced us and how God has perfectly assembled us. It is truly amazing how the group leaders and teachers were able to stay energized throughout the day, battling the oppressive heat, and still remain ever patient and loving, as they stayed the path to form a bond with each child. As the day progressed, with the promise of prizes awarded to those with the most stickers for participation, each child, at their own pace, started to open up and bond with our team. Even those of us who were assisting more than leading ended up having individual conversations with them. One child even came up to me and, in English, asked if Americans liked Durian. “Oh yes,” I replied, “I know many people and relatives who love to eat Durian, but preparing it is the most difficult part because they don’t enjoy the smell.” Was it his mother that prepared the fruit I asked? “No, my grandmother,” he replied with a huge smile upon his face. Much later, I wondered, were we to be like his grandmother to prepare the delicious fruit for him to receive? Was God speaking to me that we would endure a worthy hardship to prepare something sweet for these children? Did we also need to be looked upon as a child looks upon his grandmother, someone who is loving and trustworthy? Through the voice of an innocent child I heard God’s calling.
Taiwan Mission 8-3-2019 Report
Our day started with a 7 am breakfast and a briefing of the day’s activities. Andy and Adolf were to meet with Pastor Tsai, General Manager of TIEF (Taiwan Industry Evangelical Fellowship) while the rest of the team, led by Angela and Fong Fong worked on preparations for VBS which included rehearsals of songs for worship time as well as packaging snacks, assembling name badges, and tending to all of the other minute details that go into a typical daily VBS program.
The ministry of TIEF is one of compassion for families where relationships are suffering due to cultural gaps brought on by intermarriage with another ethnic group, e.g. Vietnamese, Indonesian, etc. and where these same families may also face discrimination and become marginalized due to language and socio-economic differences. Commonly, these problems manifest in broken marriages and identity crises in their children. It is through this unified focus on children where CCCTO and TIEF can join forces in bringing VBS to Taiwan and it is our hope that this maiden mission can be the start of an ongoing annual VBS Mission to Taiwan to reach these families that are in need of God’s love and charity.
The local Gospel Center had planned to hand out flyers in the park in the afternoon promoting classes and other activities to take place on August 8th in celebration of Father’s Day in Taiwan. The flyer helps to explain that we also have a Heavenly Father who loves us who we can also look to as we remember and celebrate our own earthly fathers. Our CCCTO team was invited to join with the Taiwan Missionary team and so a group of 15 strong, team up 2-by-2, split in 3 directions, braved the crowds at the park to hand out the flyers and spread the gospel. For the majority of the CCCTO missionaries this was their first time doing something like this and so the fear of how people might react towards them weighed heavily on many minds but as a few of them shared, in the end, the Holy Spirit gave them the power to be bold and so they pushed on and finished strong. As Samuel later shared, it was the reminder that God’s purpose was so much greater than his own fear of rejection that eventually helped to fuel his fervor to press on. And so we are reminded of how feeble minded and weak we really are and yet God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, transforms each of us into a powerful machine which He ultimately uses for His purpose and His Kingdom.
As we continue to gear up for VBS, we ask for your prayers to strengthen us in our faith and trust, that God will orchestrate everything to perfection and that He will provide the energy, will, and stamina necessary to carry out His work. Our CCCTO team will also be worshipping tomorrow at a local church that is one of two local churches which provides an English service so please pray that God will speak to us through the sermon and that we will all be spiritually recharged. We thank you, our church family from home, for your love, support, and prayers.
The rest of our CCCTO team arrived today at our hotel just before 7:30 am as we were having breakfast. We had all travelled in different groups at different times to rendezvous with our sister Lillian in Taiwan for our VBS mission and now finally there was a sense of completeness as we assembled to finish our morning meal and start our daily briefing. The trip for Lillian to come each day to VBS is an hour each way via many transfer connections and many of us found her dedication to the Lord and willingness to serve so inspiring and touching. But God always provides and it turns out we will be able to provide overnight accommodations for her even though she was more than willing to make the daily trek. Praises to God for the travel mercies and swift feet that brought us all together finally.
Being that is was Sunday, our plan for the day was to attend English Worship Service at Bread of Life International, a multi-cultural church in Da’an District, Taipei City, located about 9.5 miles from where we were staying, about a 50 minute ride by subway. We made our way to the 10 am service and eagerly awaited the message that God would bring to us. After partaking in communion, their lead pastor introduced the guest speaker who was himself a missionary of 40 years! His message was to live with the end in mind. Revelations 21 describes to us what it will be like for Christians at the end, that the purpose is to be with God. Verse 3 tells us that “…Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. Verse 7 goes on to say that those who will not be with God will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, the second death.
To live with the end in mind is to follow Jesus and proclaim the gospel with urgency and boldness. In order to follow Jesus, our priorities must be clear, what are we living for? Are we waiting for more time? More money? A better opportunity? Today was tomorrow so why do we say we will do this tomorrow? And we may know Jesus but do we know Him well? Do we often not feel God’s presence? One needs to outpour and share God with others in order to be filled with God. As our team de-briefed later in the evening, these were the parts of the message that touched us all and encouraged and inspired us we began to think about this within the context of our mission here in Taiwan. Praises to God for filling us with His message!
The evening ended with the different teams breaking into groups to review and prepare the next day’s curriculum and activities. Please pray for a strong and energetic start of the program on Monday, that each group leader will be able to learn about and connect with each child in their group as they go through the day enjoying icebreaker and sharing time. Pray for our teachers that they will be able to touch the childrens’ hearts. And mostly, pray for boldness for each of us in sharing the gospel to the children, their families, and anyone else the Lord brings to us while on this trip.
Taiwan Mission 8-2-2019 Report
The flight was full, we have been assigned the last row of the airplane. We are thankful, still get some rest.
In the morning, it’s joyful to meet with Woo’s family who were here a week early. During the daily briefing, we review the logistic items and today’s agenda
* meeting with TIEF (Taiwan Industrial Evangelical Fellowship)
* prepare classroom for mission
TIEF received us gladly, an efficient meeting. In the afternoon, we classroom decoration is done.
There are challenges we experienced, but His grace is sufficient.
* School has a lot of restrictions, but praise the Lord we are able to master both classrooms’ buildin projector and speakers.
* We have make twice schedule changes in one single day, but praise the Lord all missionaries have patience to endure.
Pray for us.
* due to schedule change, we need to add a new program to the schedule, given limited resource, pray the Lord will give us wisdom to come us idea.
* Today we will do some unplanned works under His grace, pray Lord will prepare the way for us.
* There are still brothers/sisters on the way, please pray for their coming.