"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."
~ Isaiah 40: 11

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

Hope everyone had a great Christmas. I can say that this Christmas was very different and memorable than most holidays. Christmas is not celebrated in Taiwan so it was like any other day. I went to church with the Lyle's and Lori up to Yanmingshan to a small stone chapel. It was a beautiful service and then we mingled with the Taiwan International Church members and ate good food. I actually tried eating a kiwi with its skin on for the first time (I know this sounds gross but it was quite tasty!)

Even though I celebreated Christmas thousands of miles away from home it did not affect the meaning of Christmas. Preparing devotions every week about Christmas and talking with students about Jesus has actually helped prepare my heart for worshipping and thanking Jesus for what He did that lowly night. I was reminded in the homily on Christmas eve that when Jesus came to earth God was on earth in flesh. As John 1:14 says "No one has ever seen God but God the one and only who was at the Father's side has made Him known." That verse is one of my favorites because it sums up the Gospel and the incredible mystery and awe of our faith. Thinking about Christ's birth and the way it happened and who He was sends my mind and soul up to the "clouds of mystery" so fast I just have to rest in the faith that the Holy Spirit provides. This love that God has for us is overpowering and incredible. Right now during this holiday season I just want to rest and relax in these truths - I am loved no matter how much I fail. I am valued, sung over, and a part of the kingdom of God. Wow!

I got to see my entire family on the webcam and we opened presents. I miss them so much but it was good to see their faces and hear their voices. I got so many great gifts and cards from so many people this year. Thank you all for your love and support. The students also got into making cards and giving gifts. I received a cake, many cards, and pictures from students expressing their love and thanks. I am really beginning to become attached to some of these students. God is answering my prayer which is that I would begin to love them as He loves them.

Here are some pictures of Christmas dinner at the Lyle's (MTW missionaries) the church, and the fellowship afterwards.

Well, right now I am at Taroko Gorge spending some time enjoying Taiwan's incredible mountains and gorges. The Gorge is on the North Eastern part of Taiwan so we took a four hour train ride and a one hour bus ride to get to the gorge. We saw the Pacific ocean on our way and then incredible mountain ranges. Taiwan's landscape is so diverse. We arrived yesterday and are staying until Friday. Lori and I went on a walk through the gorge today. It is soooo beautiful and the pictures do not capture the magnitude of the landscape. Here are a few pictures.

So right now I am listening to the water fall outside my window in a very nice hotel in the middle of nature. This has been a good time of refreshment after a very busy few weeks. I hope everyone has a relaxing New Years and until next time...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Goings

Well, the last few weeks have been busy but fun. There have been a lot of Christmas activities going on at the school. Even though Taiwan does not officially celebrate Christmas the festivities are in the air. Since Christ's College is a Christian school Christmas is celebrated. We did many things for the students. Also I experienced a very unique type of Christmas caroling here: Many of the guys (students) sang carols outside of the teacher's apartment building (where I live on the 5th floor) and the teachers threw candy and other things at them. They had umbrellas turned upside down to catch the candy! Only in Taiwan!

For the month of December during Monday Devotions for the English Dorm we have been introducing the meaning of advent and the advent wreath. This past Monday I introduced the Christ candle and gave an invitation to become a Christian. I tried to simply and biblically share the Gospel story and then I invited any of the girls that wanted to, to pray silently after me to accept Jesus. I also prayed for us who are Christians for stronger faith and dependence on Him. Please pray that if any of the girls did become Christians that they would talk to a mature Christian about their decision and I ask you all to pray that God would plant seeds in the hearts of the these girls and soften their hearts in order to see their need for a relationship with Him.

Here are some pictures of the students Christmas Caroling, the English Dorm Christmas Party, Christmas Chapel, and other pictures of Christmas.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!
Until Next Time...

It's a small world...

I have had two experiences recently that truly make this world feel small. One day I was shopping for clothes at a import/export store and found a jacket made by "Augusta Sportswear." I did a double take. It couldn't be, how did a jacket from the small clothing manufactuar in Augusta, GA (where my dad used to work many years ago) end up on an island literally across the world! And out of all the clothes in the store I saw it (and the store was huge!) Pretty cool experience.

Then just a couple of days ago a student named Veronica, Lori, and I were on the metro and we were talking. A guy came up to me - and I immediately knew he was an American - and asked where I got my Geogia Southern sweatshirt from. I told him that one of my sisters was an alum and another still there studying. He had grown up in Statesboro and was an alum and his father teaches physics at the university. If anyone knows anything about Statesboro it's a fairly small town and Southern isn't a huge school compared to other state schools. We were both pretty blown away by the situation. I was so surprised and couldn't wait to tell my sisters.

Although, I do feel far away from home I experience situations like these that remind me that we do live in a small world and who knows who or what I will encounter here! For example, I have met at least two Taiwanese that have visited and spent time in Aiken, South Carolina and in Augusta, Georgia (where and close to where I grew up). Pretty neat considered Taiwan's population is 23 million people.

Well, until next time...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas is Coming... Even in Taiwan!

Even though it is a mild 70 degrees here and no chance of snow the Christmas season is in the air. This week I invited some girls to help decorate my apartment. It turned into a Christmas song singing, laughing, and fun time. I taught them how to cut pieces of red and green paper and staple them together in rings and then we put them all over the walls. We also put up lights and a small Christmas tree. Which now thanks to my great parents has a few wrapped presents under it.
I had a lot of fun just sitting back and watching the girls soak themselves up into the activities. They loved it. Of course when I turned off the lights and turned on the Christmas lights everyone oooed and awed. I told them that this is how we get ready for celebrating the coming of Jesus. He is that important to us. I have been thinking about the meaning of Christmas a lot this week. And I think that I am realizing that one of the reasons to celebrate Christmas is to remember and look forward to God's promise that Jesus will return again in his full glory.

Here are some funny pictures of our little "decorating Amanda's apartment party"

I hope all of you have a Blessed Advent Season as we all prepare to celebrate Christmas.

Until next time...