Sunday, March 22, 2009


One of my favorite Bible verses is John 10:10, where Jesus says, "I have come to give you life, and life in abundance." I believe that when we're aligned with God's purposes, we can walk in his fullness.

In so many ways, I've felt fully alive in the past month of being in Asia.

On the Work Front
In the past four weeks of being here, I have been blessed with amazing jobs (one as a substitute teacher at the Taipei American School ( from K-12. That means any of the 3 schools within TAS (lower, middle or high) can call me on a given morning and ask me to come and be a substitute. My work permit* is being processed right now, and I should have it by Spring Break. But then I go to China for three weeks (more about that later), so technically I can only start subbing in May. Nevertheless, it's an amazing opportunity for several reasons: It's a job that will provide me with a work permit and a good income (if they call me often, which I am trusting and believing they will). But it will also place me in a unique position to see the challenges that teachers face. Once I'm doing Theology of Work/Business as Mission training, I'll have a bit better understanding of the educational world again. It's been a while since I was a high-school teacher.

I've also been given a part-time job with a British baby-goods distribution company. (They also have an office in Taipei and one in China.) Doing PR/marketing writing is a new field for me, but a fun one. My responsibilities include writing all the text for their products, writing text for and setting the overall direction for their multiple Web sites, and more. For example, I got to write the PR for the new Samsonite folding feeding chair, the new Samsonite pop-up cribs (or cots, as the British say) and more. This is a fun job, and I'm curious to see where God will take this... I could do this job from anywhere in the world as a a part-time job. When I'm in China next month, I'll spend time at our office there. They also have an office in London.

I'm also teaching 2 private students some of the evenings. (One on Monday nights, one on Wednesday and Saturday nights. The one on Mondays can speak VERY LITTLE English, while the other one simply needs more confidence to speak. Her English is quite good.) In May, I'll also start tutoring a 10- and 8-year-old brother and sister. I love the conversations I get to have with these students about life!

Regarding Housing
I was blessed to find a room for rent right next to TAS! My bedroom literally looks out over the school. So it's a very short walk to work. I'm also using the school libraries as my office for writing and studying. Sweet deal! My roommates are both Christian, American ladies. It's quite an adjustment to be sharing a space again, but I save a lot by doing so!

Get Me Some Culture
I've jumped on the opportunity to join the Taipei Philharmonic Choir again, which has been an amazing and fun challenge, to say the least. (We sing in English and other languages, but everything else is in Chinese. I'm the only one in the 140-voice choir who can't understand all of what's going on... There are 2 other foreigners, but they are fluent in Chinese.)

We're performing Mendelssohn's Elijah in the National Concert Hall on April 7. We perform with the Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, and Jahja Ling (San Diego Symphony) is coming to conduct. What's even more amazing about this experience is that Mr. Ling is a passionate Christian, so when you work with him on Elijah, he really gets the message across about who this God is that we're singing about! (We sung this same piece under him 9 about years ago.)

We had the chance to go and perform the oratorio in Nantou yesterday. Nantou is a town in the center of the island. We loaded up 3 tourbusses full of choir members in the morning and left the city. We got home way after midnight. Though it was only about a 2-and-a-half-hour drive back to the city, the drive down took far longer. Traffic can be pretty crazy when you live in a city, and when you're on a congested island, it's worse. But the drive was made fun by us making 3 stops: One to have traditional Hakka food in Miaoli.

Next, we stopped at a cultural center somewhere in Nantou, where we watched how artisans make a sundry of crafts from bamboo. There was also a craft market outside.

Last stop, a visit to the Nantou wine brewery. I wouldn't exactly call it a cellar. It had a brewery feel to it. I bought some great mochi. (My favorite type has peanut paste stuffed inside the glutinous rice ball.)

And then, off to the concert hall where we did a last run-through, got ready, and sang our hearts out! I found it so like God to orchestrate that a choir made up of mostly non-believers would sing, in English, to a crowd of about 700 people, most of whom would know very little English, so that we needed a narrator to tell the story after every 3 or 4 songs. I had prayed that the narrator would be someone who himself believes the events, and sure enough, it was a teacher who is not only a gifted storyteller, but who was clearly convinced of the truth of the showdown between the prophets of Baal and Elijah, prophet of God.

In fact, the narrator gave a very clear explanation of the Gospel. And as I stood there, listening to his narration, it struck me that the crowd here would have a far better appreciation of the story. They know about taking offers to idols. Perhaps far better than a Western audience can, they could relate to the tension of whether or not the gods will find the offers acceptable... Amazing.

I also really appreciated the opportunity to connect with some of the individuals in the choir. When we all hurry into rehearsal and rush out to catch trains 3 hours later, there's no time to get to know people. So a day-long road trip gave me the chance to get to know some of the choir members better. They're very patient with my limited Chinese, for which I'm very thankful. Some of the older ladies decided to start teaching me Taiwanese, too, but I just don't think my brain can handle a whole lot more at this stage.

About Church
Insofar as church goes, I've decided to connect at a bilingual church in my neighborhood, Oasis. Though I was very involved with youth ministry at Taipei International Church when I lived here before, I enjoy the fact that worship at Oasis is very lively, and the congregation is very young. In fact, I may be one of the 15 or so oldest people at the church. I love the opportunity this gives me to share life with some of the younger people. In fact, a group of girls had invited me to join their Bible study group on Sunday nights, and it's been a blast to talk about life with them! They're so full of passion, and have a can-do, positive look on life. I love that.

I've written a book of an update. My apologies. I should've written an update earlier in the week. Alas, for those of you who've been asking for an update on life here, bottom line, it is good. It's good to be back. I truly feel at home, and am convinced that this is where I need to be for this season.

For that, I give God the glory!

* On a side note, my work permit in Kenya took 3 years to get, and it cost me about US$4,500 in total. My Taiwanese work permit will take 10 days to process. It cost me $29.

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