Taiwan Short-Term Missions 2014
[2014 Taiwan Missions Update: Pingtung Camp Day 2]
I am writing this at 11pm on the eve of our last day of Pingtung camp.
This morning, another STMer was feeling sick and had to see the doctor. After a few hours of rest, she is feeling much better! It was harder this week because most classes have only one STMer and two classes had ill STMers today. Thankfully, the SGLs took charge by leading games and skit practice during their absences. Praise that both STMers were back by lunch time.
Today was our water war!!! I have to say, these water balloons were pretty painful, but overall it was a safe water war and no one got hurt. It has been extremely hot (abnormal even for Southern Taiwan) because of an upcoming typhoon.
In tonight’s evening worship, the kids memorized and recited John 3:16. Grace spoke about her story and specifically about her hardship as a seamstress. She acknowledged these hardships as the source of her growth in strength and faith in God. Grace said everyone is the protagonist of their own life story, and that Jesus could be the hero, if we let Him lead our way. After, she asked everyone to share in their groups, stories of their own hardships. Several brave souls volunteered to share their stories on stage in front of everyone. Unlike the last camp in Nantou, this camp is funded by donations and is free for the kids to attend. Many of these kids come from homes of domestic violence and alcoholism. Almost every child began their sharing by, “This is my story… I come from a hurt family.” One girl shared about her broken family and how yesterday she came to camp and it was her first time finding out there is a God who loves her. Another SGL shared about his parents fighting and how last year he was allowed to attend camp at the last minute by God’s grace. Many of the kids in the audience began to weep and one of my kids (who I know does not attend church regularly) confided in me her family’s circumstances. Grace asked everyone to pray a repeat-after-me prayer and also for the kids to raise their hands if they wished to invite Jesus to be the savior of their “life stories” or their Heavenly Father (since many of these kids have absent fathers). All the staff prayed with the weeping kids and it was a very touching moment.
Although it’s only the second day, it seems the kids have been here for many days already. I can’t believe tomorrow is already the last day. We have our barbecue and final performance tomorrownight.
Please pray for:
-The health of the STMers, especially those who were sick today
-The seeds planted in the kids’ hearts these past two days to continue to grow -STMer skit: we are doing the same skit from last week (link below!), but we had to rearrange a few roles and we haven’t found much time to practice
-A strong finish!
*Some videos from last week’s AEF camp!
STMer Salvation Skit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3sju3gOKAA
“Happy” video of AEF staff by the TMs: http://youtu.be/6bEOy84JClk
Search “AEF2004GOD” to see more videos from AEF 2014!
[2014 Taiwan Missions Update: Nantou Camp Day 1]
Yesterday was the first day of AEF!
The night before during our last team worship, everyone joined hands in a circle and sang “How Great Is Our God.” It was just amazing seeing all the different people that God has brought together to do His work during this week in Nantou.
The first day was pretty typical, we have students with all personalities: rowdy, quiet, enthusiastic, more reserved. I pray that our team’s energy and enthusiasm will remain high every day so we can lead our kids by example. Although the small conflicts that happened in the first day are “normal,” (less enthusiasm, homesick kids, hyper kids, restless kids…) they will only remain normal if we are effective in dealing with the small issues.
I was touched when my special needs child, known as “royal prince” in this camp, was embraced by my class. He played several icebreakers with my class and during the camp-wide game time I was helping a game station. When my class went to my station, there were other kids from my class who were guiding him during games. I saw the interactions between the students and the royal prince/princess of other groups as well and recognized God’s work in this ministry of working with these children.
Towards the end of our night, many kids and also many of the staff were tired. It’s only the first day and we have three and a half days of camp upon us! I hope we will all get much rest and depend on God to give us strength.
-Please pray for our salvation skit! We have begun practicing and are making good progress. I pray this skit will reach out to the kids as well as their parents on the performance night Thursday.
-Pray for enough rest!!! Now that camp is underway we must wake up earlier.
*Attached is a photo of the STM/TM team in the morning before the kids arrived!
"For His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." Psalm 30:4-5
[2014 Taiwan Missions Update: Pingtung Camp Day 1]
Today was the first of three camp days! We met our kids in our classrooms and began with some icebreakers in combined classrooms. Everyone went to the auditorium to officially meet all the staff and different teams of the camp. The STMers and SGLs performed the bboy version of Give It Away as well as all the group dances.
In the afternoon we had our first class and since everything is packed into three days, class time seems much shorter and more productive. There is the class cheer to learn, introduction games, a English skit to prepare, and English lessons to be learned during our classtime.
After big game time in the auditorium, the STMers and head SGLs met for debrief. Almost every class reported their kids being shy, but for the first day this is pretty normal. I thought the opposite, actually. My kids were pretty involved and interactive within the first class. This is many of the STMer’s first times teaching junior high kids, but I predict that tomorrow and Thursday the kids will be much more lively, and very quickly. A praise within most of the classes is that the kids are generally pretty diligent in class, however, a camp leader, Liya reported that many of these kids are not especially good at English in school and thus aren’t excited about learning English during this camp. Because we want the kids to have fun while learning English, we will work on teaching English with other methods. At the leaders’ meeting, we thought it might be a good idea to teach American culture, which I have noticed many people here are interested in because they aspire to someday visit the United States.
Tonights’ worship was pretty amazing! All the kids walked the short distance from the high school to the church. The worship leaders invited everyone to the front of the room to jump up and down and dance during worship. Many of the kids probably have never seen worship like this before, but most of them danced with the rest of us. Afterward, they watched the SGLs perform a skit about being a one-of-a-kind individual and as a class memorized Psalm 139:13. The youth leader, Grace, shared her story about accepting individuality and uniqueness in God. After, we formed circles with our groups and all shared something that set us apart from others. My group shared mostly talents; I have a lot of dancers, singers, and piano players in my class! At the end of the night, the church presented the entire camp with bowls of shaved ice! It is extremely hot in Pingtung and we have limited air conditioning at the school. This act of hospitality really touched me.
We have another busy day ahead of us tomorrow!
I pray that:
-STMers remain focused and finish strong!!! Although this week may be “easier” because of smaller class sizes and more involved students, we still need to pray like we would pray if camp was difficult. Through the bad times and the good, we need God!
-The STMers participate more in all the activities!
-We find a way to make learning English and American culture fun for the kids
-We remain healthy! One STMer had to go to the doctor today because he had not only a heatstroke but also a throat infection. Pray for him to get better so he can go back to class and also for the rest of the team since we all stay in close quarters.
*Attached are pictures from tonight's worship ("You Are Good," skits, and shaved ice time!) The kids' phones are taken away and SGLs are not allowed to use their phones during camp. Since phone use is discouraged, it's harder for me to take pictures, but once the photographer uploads pictures online, I will share those as well!
[2014 Taiwan Missions Update: Camp Day 2 & 3]
Sorry! The internet was down yesterday morning so I was not able to send out an update. But now I have consolidated Tuesday andWednesday (Day 2 & 3 of camp!).
On Tuesday, the STMers/TMers were much less tired and showed way more energy and enthusiasm. We began a new debrief strategy as well! Instead of going around a huge circle and broadly going around a circle to share about groups 1 through 10, TJ (AEF founder) advised us to split the team into two groups. Cindy leads classes 4-8 in debrief and I have classes 1-3 and 9-10. Elder Mingyuan noted more smiling faces as we discussed our classes with more purpose and direction (we all share praise, improvements, and problems). Overall the classes participate more and are well-behaved, but some small fights and disputes did occur during the game time on Tuesday.
Also, Wednesday concluded our English Corner: AEF edition! English Corner is basically an English simulation for the kids to learn English in situations such as a grocery store, airplane, McDonalds, clothing store, and movie theater. This year was the first year AEF did English Corner and I would say it was a big success that I hope AEF continues to do every year.
We had been praying for the weather because in Taiwan it tends to rain summer afternoons. After lightly raining Monday and Tuesdayafternoon, Wednesday afternoon proved sunny and hot- perfect for the annual Water War!!! (see attached photos)
Our theme for AEF this year is “Father’s World.” Basically this year’s vision is to bring the kingdom of heaven down to AEF through love. Last night the testimonies had a common theme of returning to God’s love or relationships with parents. One Nantou team member shared about his strained relationship with his father and many of the kids who come from broken families were touched and there were many teary eyes. Afterward, Joshua told the kids about a Father in Heaven who loved them unconditionally though their earthly parents may fall short.
I pray that these next two days (Thursday and Friday), our team will finish strong. Tonight is Performance Night where each class will perform their assigned camp song in front of everyone, including their parent.s We have prepared so much during pre-camp and the first few days of camp. I hope the kids have opened their hearts to the gospel and also come home to their Heavenly Father.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2
More pictures and videos can be found on Facebook! Go like American E Friend to see what our TMers post daily :)
[2014 Taiwan Missions Update: Camp Day 4-5]
Thursday and Friday have been very packed days and I did not find much free time to write, but it is now Saturday afternoon and our Pingtung team has just left Wu-Yu High School. Last week, we had 16 STMers but this week we have 10.
Thursday morning, a serious issue occurred which resulted in spiritual warfare. The morning class session was difficult because kids were getting rowdier and hard to control. Thankfully, by the afternoon class this warfare had ceased and every class was able to learn and perfect their class song.
Our performance night included a song from every class, our STM skit, the worship team skit, and the TMs surprised the kids with a Happy video: AEF edition! Many parents came to see their kids perform. After hours practicing the salvation skit, the STMers pulled off a very touching and excellent performance which we hoped conveyed Jesus’ love and sacrifice to the kids and their parents. I’m still trying to find someone who filmed the skit so I can send it to you all.
After the performance night, all the kids, staff, and parents came outside to dance to all ten songs again and just celebrate a successful five days in Nantou. Some church friends set off fireworks and I have never seen fireworks so close.
AEF saw a new beginning. This was the tenth year and it has really evolved in the last decade. In 2004, Pastor Angela spoke at sermons, college aged STMers led dances, and the church moms were the SGLs. It is now 2014 and almost everything is carried out by the youth- from stage leading, leading worship, teaching, taking care of the kids. Everything is still overseen by TJ, Pastor Angela, Reverend Joshua, and Yvonne but the execution is all done by young people.
As camp came to a close, all the teachers and kids got the opportunity to say a few words to each other on stage. After, everyone said their goodbyes and parents came to pick up their kids. Fridayand Saturday we had to say goodbye to the Nantou team and also the TMs. We have all gotten to know each other so well and sometimes saying goodbye is hard.
-Pingtung is a completely different camp. I pray that we will be prepared for anything!
-Energy and enthusiasm! The Pingtung church has a IHOP worship style and they are very pumped up all the time. They expect us STMers to participate and be enthusiastic as well.
-New challenges: At this camp, all the kids are in junior high and most of the STMers are teaching their own class.
-Bonding with a new team: we are going to meet new SGLs and this time we won’t have TMs, so some of us may struggle with the language barrier; however, many of the SGLs have good English and with God language will not be a problem!
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous. Isaiah 41:10
[2014 Taiwan Missions Update: Pingtung Pre-Camp 2]
All the SGLs slept on the first floor of the church and we ate breakfast together in the morning. Afterward, everyone went to Laiyi High School to prepare the classrooms and clean the auditorium.
Pingtung is much more relaxed and loose with their schedule compared to the Nantou camp which is very schedule-driven. This has been good because it has allowed us to get more rest before camp begins and also allow us to spend time bonding but the youth leader, (and last year’s camp director) Grace, had to step in late this afternoon to instruct the church leaders on finalizing certain important details. Everything after was very productive as we practiced our opening dance and each class has a cute number (separate from the class cheer) to introduce each group’s staff to the kids.
Ethan, an STMer, would like to share his praises for his prayers being answered last week and this week! Before missions started, he was not feeling well mentally and physically, but once he started the trip, he found peace in God without distractions. On Tuesday last week, one of his most enthusiastic kids (He had class 10- oldest kids) started crying and was abnormally quiet. Before worship time, Ethan felt powerless because the most energetic kid was now silent. He prayed to God alone and lifted the kid up to God and shortly after, he saw this kid worshipping as normal. Upon speaking with the student later, Ethan found out that a leader had given the kid a Bible. Now this week, although he does not get much sleep, he still feels very energized every day. Another thing he would like to share is he really feels the presence of God since we are living in the church.
At the end of the night before the SGLs moved into their dorms, everyone gathered together to pray: first for ourselves, then for the camp, and for our groups. With a week’s experience of Nantou behind us, I feel we are prepared for this next camp.
Please continue to pray for:
-Energy of the team!
-cultural differences: The language barriers have been mostly overcome, but some habits of both sides are new to each other. I pray that STMers will be more considerate of the more conservative habits of the Pingtung church.
-The kids who we will be teaching! Please pray for their hearts to be open to the gospel and God's love
*Attached is a photo of the sunset from the roof of the church!
Jesus told him, ‘Don't be afraid; just believe.’ - Mark 5:36b
[2014 Taiwan Missions Update: Pingtung Pre-Camp 1]
Our team arrived at the Laiyi township in Pingtung County yesterday (Saturday) afternoon! Upon arriving at the beautiful church in the Aboriginal village, we were greeted by our SGLs who were preparing materials for this week’s camp. This camp is a 3-day, 24 hour camp for junior high students. We will be serving about 80 kids and the theme for this week’s camp is One of a Kind (one of a kind God, love, us).
Dr. Yang and Dr. Huang, Mike and Andy’s parents, treated us to a chicken restaurant in the village where we explored different chicken parts in a hot chicken broth and ate chicken heart, lungs, and eyes.
Afterwards, some of us attended the church’s youth fellowship and it was great fellowshipping with many familiar faces from two years ago and also new faces. The church serves not only the nearby Laiyi township but also youth from all around the area and many non-Aboriginals. AlthoughSaturday was pretty lax for us in comparison to the busy week we had, many of us were tired. Once again I was awed by the Kulow church’s hospitality. The food is all cooked by the youth leader, Grace and all of the team, including Elder Wu and two older uncles from the US are staying at the church.
On Sunday, everyone attended morning service where the pastor spoke about having faith in God through hard times and desperation (Jesus calms the storm). Then, we went with our SGLs to the Laiyi High School to play icebreakers in the school multipurpose room where we will have many camp activities. We got acquainted with our groups and prepared for another English corner. Oh! We had been told the previous night that we would only be learning one camp song but it was re-choreographed, and the dance was more sophisticated and complex then we could ever imagine! The SGLs here are very talented at dancing and singing, so the new dance was very advanced, but us STMers were able to learn it in an hour! Now we can go home and show our friends our new bboying skills haha. Their enthusiasm for God and this camp is amazing.
-energy: I feel like I ask this in every email, but it is extremely important because even though pre-camp here is more relaxed, many of us are still tired from last week. I pray everyone receives adequate rest.
-language barriers: we have no TMs (international, bilingual students) and most of the STMers struggle with communicating with SGLs or listening to what the camp directors say. Despite this, they are still able to bond with SGLs and some of the able STMers have stepped up to translate whenever needed.
-Pray for the kids! Unlike last week, this camp is free for the students and thus is sort of an outreach for underprivileged kids from the area. Pray for their hearts to be open to the gospel we will be presenting to them.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well. - Psalm 139:13-14