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Saturday, July 14 We left LAX with a big crowd of parents and friends seeing us off and changed planes in Dubai. We have arrived in Taiwan after a very pleasant 12-1/2 hour flight. The plane was relatively empty so some of us could stretch out and sleep flat on three passenger seats. We arrived half an hour early and were met by Josh Yeh who came to Taiwan a couple of days early. Charmaine and Tania flew to Hong Kong with their mom a day before we left and were suppose to arrive a half hour before us but their plane was delayed an hour and their immigration line was long (they arrived in a Terminal 1 and we in Terminal 2) so we sat on the rented bus waiting. But they finally joined us at 10:20 PM and we drove almost an hour to our “hotel”. We were greeted by Dr. Albert Chang, a retired medical doctor/professor who has worked among students for decades and who will be our host for week 1. The place we stayed is a seven story building owned by a Christian who rents the place for pastors, missionaries, and retreats. We pay US $10 a person a night to stay here (we occupied the sixth and seventh floors). Sheets, pillows, A/C, but no towels (no toilet paper either), but thank God, it is reasonably comfortable sleeping on mats (like tatami). We turned in around midnight.

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Sunday, July 15
We ate a quick breakfast of Chinese egg burger and soy milk and headed off at 8 AM to Agape Church, Albert’s church, for service where are to sing for 30 minutes. Josh shared his testimony (in Mandarin) and we listened to Elder Albert give the message, based on John 10, “listening to the Shepherd’s voice”. What an amazing “coincidence” for that is also our theme this year, but with our sovereign Lord, nothing is a coincidence. For those of us who understands Mandarin, we were blessed and challenged. We were treated to a delicious lunch at a restaurant located one floor above the church, and left at 1:30. We were joined by Elder Albert and a young lady, Yi Pei and 7 young boys and 1 girl (ages about 8 to 12) who were also going with us Hsinchu, (surprise, apparently they were going to have their own sports camp), so in addition to us, the ten students, Tracy (our SGV missionary who was in Taiwan to train some local teams for the Taichung English teaching) and Tracy also brought Joleen with her from the US, we were to find ourselves bursting at the seams to fit everyone (18 girls plus one little girl, 5 guys and 7 boys, Elder Albert, Mei and Marshall) into the space at the Zhutong Church, 4 large A/C rooms to put rubber mats for sleeping, several toilets scattered, fewer showers stalls, but the local pastor and his wife and four children would open his floor (they lived in the floor between the dorm floor and the sanctuary floor) to give access to more showers). Fortunately, another pastor who lived across the street from the church is on a missions trip and opened his home so it was decided Marshall and Mei would live in their apertment, so they are living in relative luxury compared to everyone else.

We arrived in Zhutong about 3 PM, took a long time to sort out where everyone would sleep, ands was joined by 9 of the 10 students at 3:30. Tracy and Joleen joined us about 7:30, and the tenth student (Mickey, a girl) about 9:30. We spent about half an hour listening to their voice range and testing their vocal memory, and ended up with 2 sopranos, 4 altos, 2 tenors and one bass (Mickey arrived late so we did not test her but we put her with the sopranos). We did some vocal warm ups, the basics of posture and breathing, and learned the Valentine song we are going to teach tomorrow at the trade school, “You Are My Sunshine”, with modified Vision lyrics because the original verses are depressing and a little of the “Shine on Us”. We then did our evening devotions ending before 9 PM and tried to catch up some sleep.

Pray for us, it is difficult not to become irritated with so many people, lack of sleep and facility, and many different opinions and ministry focus, but as in past Vision trips, God is a surprising God. We do praise Him for these ten students who we view as precious ripe fruit we try not to bruise and the love of the local church (who are cooking both breakfast and dinner for all of us and served us a delicious, healthful dinner - not much meat but lots of veggies, fruit and tofu).


Monday, July 16
- We had a simple breakfast of bread rolls and Ovaltine after not sleeping so well due to the thin mats and hard floors, but we are excited about going to Tongtex Secondary High School, less than 10 minutes away by car. This campus is located on 5 acres of lush green trees, a private school which emphasizes vocational studies, and in fact just returned a team from Chicago participating in a culinary competition last week (my Chinese was not good enough to figure how they did). Their principal greeted us as we met for assembly with our 45 students in a nice A/C room (in fact, all their classrooms have A/C). Our schedule at the school is similar to our schedule next week, apparently Taiwan schools all do this: 8:30-9:15 - assembly; 10 minute break; 9:25-10:10 - session 1; break; 10-20-11:05 - session 2; break; 11:15-12:00 - session 3. Tracy led the assembly time during which Vision sang “Peace Like a River” and “Majesty and Glory”. During the English lesson time (we divided the 45 students into 3 subgroups and assigned 7-8 of us as teachers per class), Mei and Marshall had time to share with one of the teachers from the school. She was very open, expressed her like for Christians due to several friends she met while in College, and we were able to challenge her to read the Gospel of John (she actually owns a New Testament), so remember her in prayer. We ate lunch on campus, paying NTD 50, or about $1.67 per person. We debriefed for a few minutes after lunch on the teaching, how the teaching went and received some tips on how to improve. After lunch, we returned to the church to rehearse with the ten students. In about 4 hours, we learned to sing “Lamb of God (in Chinese)”, “Sing and Rejoice”, I’ll Soar Like and Eagle (in Chinese), “He’s Calling My Name”, “In His Time”, and reviewed “Shine on Us”, an incredible accomplishment which showed the talent and eagerness of these ten Taiwan students. They are just a joy to be with, and we could see connections and comraderie developing between Vision members and these students. After dinner, we had our group devotions, split up into the Taiwan group and US groups to debrief the day and pray for one another.

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Tuesday, July 17 - We had a delicious “American” breakfast of fried eggs and (maybe Costco) ham on toast and departed for Tongtex, our team one person stronger with the addition of Jonathan, another veteran teacher with the SGV team, who flew in last night. During assembly, we sang “He’s Calling My Name”, joined by our ten music students who learned (but not memorized) the song yesterday. Elder Albert spoke to the students for 15 minutes about the miracle of life, citing among other things, the amazing properties of our DNA which makes us unique. We then divided into the three classes. Today, besides learning about Thanksgiving, each class got to play the “crossing the lava flow” game. The objective being to get the entire class of 15 across a wide space using only a limited (like 4) safety step pads. The catch is anytime a safety pad is not occupied, the lave flow will whisk it away. One class cleverly accomplished this dauntless task by sending the class in groups of 4, and having one person return using two pads and holding the spare pads, repeating until the entire group safely crossed. Our teachers felt better connected with the students, the lava game being an important barrier breaker, also an answer to prayer the previous night.

After lunch, we visited a music school run by a Christian musician. The school was located on the third and fourth floors of a regular school, but it was not A/C, and we all felt drained by the experience, partly because of the heat. After spending an hour there, we went to a veteran’s retirement home. Because the residents were housed on three different floors of a fairly nice facility, we had to split ourselves into 3 groups, which meant the male sections were all sung by a single tenor or bass, three of whom only learned the music yesterday. Needless to say, our singing fell far short of perfection, but the smiles on the faces of these men and (a few) women made the experience exhilarating as we shook hands or gave some a shoulder message. We then returned to our nicely air conditioned home to resume our practice and correct some of the more obvious errors. But surprise! During the middle of rehearsal, the wiring of all the A/C units in the church fused, apparently due to it being the hottest day of the year and all the A/C in the church was turned on to the fullest. So we finished rehearsal using only the ceiling fans and ate (best meal at the church so far, main dish was fatty pork cooked with pickled Chinese vegetables and great pineapple and mango for dessert) with rapidly increasing heat and humidity. As we did our devotions, we were warned all the electricity would be turned off so the wiring could be replaced so we read the passage about Jesus calling Mary early Easter morning before the lights were turned off and shared and debriefed in the dark, lighted only by the glow of smart phones and tablets and a couple of candles. Thank God power (and A/C) was restored before we were done, so we could wrap up, prepare for tomorrow’s lessons, and at least sleep in relative comfort tonight.

 
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Wednesday, July 18 - Fewer of us are getting to breakfast this morning when it starts, an indication we are getting tired and running less of adrenaline but also less jet lagged. Praise God no one has gotten sick (yet). After a breakfast of fried eggs on Chun-Yu-Ping, Chinese tortillas, we arrived to begin our third day of teaching on American holidays - today’s lesson being on Christmas. During assembly, our combined team sang “Do Lord” and Charmaine shared her testimony on how she found the living God by seeing her grandmother rejoicing though suffering with nasal cancer and still living though the doctors said she should have died six years ago. Elder Albert continued his message on “life is a miracle”, reminding the kids that the fact they ask “why”, that sense of curiosity, is a miracle and makes us human above the rest of the animals. We then dispersed to teach the three sessions on Christmas, including doing a gift exchange (the children all had to bring a small gift to exchange). One teacher observing the class said it looked like so much fun she wanted to join in too. During our debriefing, we all noted that the students are connecting much better and responding well and on the other hand, we are learning what works well with the particular group of students we have (such as more physical activities with one class or breaking the class size into even smaller cells instead of lecturing to 15 kids at once). We also noted who among us are more naturally gifted as teachers and who are not, a valuable lesson which can help them choose future careers.

After lunch, we returned to our cool church to change out of our Vision T-(for teacher)-shirts and spent an hour and half preparing for tomorrow’s vital lesson on Easter and the way of salvation. The hour of decision (to borrow Billy Graham’s famous program title) will be around 8 PM PDT Wednesday, so pray especially for this. We then went to a Haka tea shop to understand where this custom came from and drink the tea we personally freshly grounded. After this, we went to the cool springs recreation area, where we spent about an hour beside a waterfall stream wading among the water and rocks. The cool spring wasn’t particularly cold, more like tepid 80 degree F temperature. We were then treated by Elder Albert to a multi course authentic Haka dinner at a nearby restaurant, many of us tasting dishes we never tried before. We returned to the church around 7:30 to do our group devotions (on God calling Ananias in Acts 9) and debrief the day, quiting earlier so hopefully we can have a longer time to rest for tomorrow is a kairos moment day.

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Thursday, July 19 - More of us were on time for breakfast today and we headed out to Tongtex starting assembly right on time. The joint team sang the Vivaldi “Sing and Rejoice” and also the German Chorale “Lamb of God”, a song both the Taiwan team and Vision learned only after we arrived. Bethany then shared her personal testimony about losing her mother to cancer when she was six years old and Elder Albert continued his message on life is a miracle. Bethany’s testimony really affected several of the music students, opening the door for one girl who just lost her mother a month ago to finally grieve over her loss and another to share how she was abandoned by her mother when she was four years old and the hurt that put in her life. We then continued with the English lesson, today being the story of Easter, and the way to salvation through the making of the colored beads bracelet. In each class, a personal testimony was shared by a Vision member, Gabbie, Rachel and Tania and Hannah (both shared at their class) before an invitation was given for the students to indicate their desire to receive this gift. Of course, these testimonies and salvation message was translated by three of the ten music students, so the music students also heard the message too. Praise the Lord, about half of the 7th grade students raised their hand, but most of the kids repeated the prayer. However, we only have photographic evidence of 12 students raising their hand, but numbers do not matter, because only God knows who really committed their lives to Him and we are so grateful for all your prayers coming together for this to happen.

After lunch, we left to make a 2 PM appointment at the Zhutong hospital. We first met at the hospice ward where the head nurse, herself a believer, explained about hospice care and their goal to bring to the dying a sense of peace and serenity. We sang “Lamb of God”, “In His Time”, and “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”. We then went to a different section of the hospital, the elderly ward which has more active patients, but only three were not in wheelchairs, so we sang several more lively songs which they enjoyed clapping the rhythm as we sang. We then spent several minutes greeting the residents. The head nurse of this section even sang with us as we sang “In His Time” as an encore. Finally, we went to the veterans section of the hospital. This area has even more active patients who enthusiastically greeted us. Charmaine shared her testimony and we sang three songs, but they kept asking for an encore, so we kept singing, two (or maybe three) more songs. We saw one elderly man weeping as we sang. We later learned he is a believer who was weeping tears of joy. Then the head doctor, a friend of Elder Albert, came (this doctor is also a believer and an elder in his church) so we had to sing yet another song, this time “Majesty and Glory”. By now, it was past 4 PM, and we were tired but so blessed by the experience. We returned home and spent a few minutes to polish some of the songs and ate an early dinner at 5 PM.

Tracy came to lead tonight’s devotion after dinner. The passage is from John 10 about Jesus being the Good Shepherd. Tracy then led the ten Taiwan students to discuss this passage while we did the same led by Joleen. We then got together and each Vision member talked to a Taiwan member and spent about 15 minutes praying for them. The person Marshall prayed for was completely ready to pray the sinner’s prayer which he did enthusiastically. Meiring prayed for a girl who also wanted to follow Christ but was concerned about her family’s opposition. The details of the responses of the other students will have to be reported later because all the young people wanted to go spend a few minutes at the local night market. Nevertheless, it was clear that the week these students spent with us had a profound influence on their lives. Each is so much more open to following Jesus even if they have not yet stepped through the door and deep friendships were developed. Today was a good, good day. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you for your prayers.

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Friday, July 20
- It turns out the other nine singers were not quite ready to commit to become Jesus’ disciples yet, but are very open and have a much better understanding of Christianity. Though we are slightly disappointed that not more accepted the gift of salvation, even for one, heaven rejoices! If becoming a Christian is a process involving several exposures, then we feel privileged to have been part of their process. A couple of them had no idea who Christ is before joining us but are excited to learn more. Several are struggling with family loyalty and their filial duties, while others just need a little more time.

Last night at the night market, Tania accidentally touched the hot exhaust of a motorcycle and suffered blisters on her calf. It was not until later she realized her injury as it started hurting on the ride home. Gabbie prayed for her and the pain dropped from a 10 to a 7 to a 4 and to no pain after Gabbie prayed a third time. Jennifer applied first aid and a gauze bandage this morning after we found out what happened and Tania appears to be healing well. We arrived at Tongtex, had assembly, Elder Albert finished his message on life is a miracle, and each class rehearsed their showcase number. We then had the children showcase what they had learned to their regular teachers. The principal and the school board chairman and his wife came to pose for some group pictures and address the seventh grade class officially (since this is the start of their school year). After lunch, we returned home to spend about 2-1/2 hours debriefing the ten Taiwan students and also Jennifer who is returning to the US tomorrow. Everyone of the students was happy to have spent the week at Music camp and many specifically shared how much they learned about following Jesus. Two of us then prayed for each student after sharing. During debriefing we shared how Jennifer was such a wonderful “mom” to the team, we are really going to miss her. She showed us what being a servant is like, as she washed many loads of clothes, carrying them to the roof one floor above to hang them up to dry, cleaned the bathrooms, swept the floors, all without drawing attention to herself. We then did our last devotion together, from Romans 8 to remind each other about living a Spirit-led life and not a self-effort life. We then rehearsed for a few minutes the two skits we are going to perform later this evening.

After an early dinner, we got ready for our concert. About eleven of the 45 students said they would come and bring their parents and at least one of the teacher from the school came. Several of the parents of the children who attended the sports camp also came so we had a decent sized audience. Terry and Gabbie shared very relevant life experiences about how Jesus came to meet their needs and Elder Albert gave a short message about Jesus being the way, truth and life. Our host church provided very nice refreshments afterwards so we could interact with the guests. Tomorrow, we will be dropping off the ten students at the train station and busing south to Taichung to begin our week of ministry with the SGV team, so we need to pack up and clean up the church. Our week stay was very economical, cost for the food for breakfast and dinner (lunch was provided free by Tongtex school) was about $3.50 per person per day. The different cooks who volunteered were quite poor so even including love gifts we gave to them, the love gift we gave to the church for hosting us free, and the extra love gift to partially pay for the repair of the electric wiring, our 6 nights stay here totaled only about $2000 (60,000 NTD).


 
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Saturday, July 21
- We packed and cleaned up, prayed for our host pastor and his wife and their ministry, and left at 9 AM. But just before we left, a thirteen year old boy rode up on his bicycle just to tell Tania how much he appreciated her teaching and that she was the best teacher he had ever had. You can imagine what an encouraging word this was! On the drive south, we took a slight detour to drop off the remaining students at Ta Chia train station and proceeded to the Huei Ming (blind) school in Taichung which will be our home for this next week. During the two and a half hour bus ride, our team had a wonderful time bonding with the Taiwan members, so that we had a hard time holding back tears when they left the bus at the train station. In fact, we continued to message each other throughout the afternoon and evening when we were not in session or training. At Huei Ming, we joined over 40 other team members living here. The rest of the teaching team are in two different sites, one north of here in a campground owned by Canaan Church of Taipei (where Vision will be ministering next Saturday and Sunday before we depart Taiwan) and at a Baptist seminary south of here. The room arrangement here is as follows: Joshua and Terry share a room with a third roommate in a building behind the main building; Marshall and Mei are in a room with a private bath down the hall on the sixth floor; and six Vision girls are all together in one large room with seven beds but have to share a communal bathroom with the other girls living on the fifth floor. We ate lunch all together and had a two hour orientation conducted 95% in Mandarin. Senior Pastor Joshua Chang of FEC SGV then gave a talk on spiritual warfare before the members of the other two campsites departed on rental buses. It was toward the end of his talk that Charmaine received a text that her ailing grandmother’s (in Hong Kong) cancer had spread to her brain. Some of us left the meeting to pray and cry with Charmaine, and later with Tania - Pastor Joshua spending close to an hour just praying and sharing and consoling. Fortunately, their grandmother is a strong believer who has greatly encouraged both Charmaine and Tania with her joy while battling cancer these past 5 to 6 years. Dinner was a much quieter affair since about 2/3 of the people are gone. Food is quite good here, lots of fresh veggies (very healthy), and especially the fresh fruits - ripe juicy white peaches at lunch and sweet red cherries the size of loquat. After the evening training, we met as Vision to debrief the day, thanking God for all His blessings.

 
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Sunday, July 22 - One thing I have not mentioned is the weather. The first week has been quite warm and rained only once - when we were visiting the hospital - the ground was wet when we left the hospital. Then it rained a bit on Saturday when we bused down to Taichung, so it has been relatively cool and comfortable here at the Huei Ming school. That is until today. In the afternoon, the skies turned dark and it started to thunderstorm as rain came down in buckets but we are all indoors preparing for the lessons starting tomorrow. No rain has made it much easier to get around.

Roy, Jennifer’s husband sent us this note so we know she has returned safely. “Jennifer had a wonderful trip. She could not stop talking about her time there on her way back in the car. She talked about Bethany's testimony and how it helped comfort the other girl that just lost her mom. And how Terry had been so helpful to her. She also was amused seeing how the girls interact with local boys. Thank God that one gave his life to Jesus. And I am sure the rest must have felt also the goodness of our God.”

Today is a fairly relaxed day. We got to sleep in late and ate breakfast at 9. Then we worshipped together as Pastor Joshua brought us a message on “Why Missions?” Josh joined a girl named Tiffany as the media team so he is busy taking pictures of all the activities at all three camps. The remaining 7 members of Vision has been divided up into 2 or 3 person teams with a bilingual teacher and a primary Chinese speaking member from Taiwan (where available) and spent the afternoon prepping for the teaching lessons and we are grateful we don’t have to be outside in the rain. We have been assigned to teach at Ta-An school in the mornings, 7 of the ten classes. Similarly, in the afternoons, we teach at Sha-Lu school. After dinner, we had time to debrief in small groups (Vision is our small group), pray for each other as we face different problems of working with our teaching teams, and then worked on specifics of the teaching plans for tomorrow.

Here is a photo of the orientation meeting on Saturday afternoon at the school chapel. Marshall is the non-conformist with the blue shirt sitting at the back left. Most of Vision is sitting in the middle of the right most aisle.


   
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Monday, July 23
– We woke up before 6 AM so we could meet for small group devotions from 6:10 to 6:40. Pastor Joshua then led us in the armor of God prayer and we all left for the bus to go to our respective schools at 6:50. We ate breakfast on the bus. Our group arrived at the Da An school at about 7:45, but we were 10 minutes late starting assembly at 8. David Lin, a retired engineer who attended FEC Arcadia and was the Mandarin member of their Local Missions Committee, but now attends MBCLA is the main speaker for assembly on our team, David will speak for 3 assembly sessions and Vision will sing for one session. The fifth session will be the students presentation or showcase on Friday. After 45 minutes, we dispersed to the 10 junior high grades (three 7th grade, three 8th grade, and four 9th grade) with a total of 181 students, we are to teach. We were pleasantly surprised that 5 of our music students from last week joined us in the teaching classes. They live fairly close and couldn’t wait to see us again, which is an indication of the impact we had on their lives. What was funny in the classes was Tania, who is 14 years old, is teaching 9th grade and some of her students are older than her, but the students guessed her age as 18, 23 or even older. Meanwhile, Pastor Joshua and the other older non-teachers met with the principal and after tea, were given a VIP tour of the school. This principal, even though not a believer, welcomed us warmly, and explained his goal for the school. Surprisingly, he does not emphasize for his students to get good grades, but to develop good character and life skills in his students. We were able to pray for this man and his school.

We then drove for about 45 minutes to go to the school at Sha-Lu. We then quickly ate a box lunch at the school and started the assembly at 1 PM. The afternoon program is much like the morning except there are ten 7th grade classes instead of having 8th or 9th grade students. Charmaine stomach felt queasy in the afternoon so she sat out part of the teaching time by resting in the nursing station at the school, but she is fine and ate a lot during dinner. Health-wise, we are in pretty good shape: besides Charmaine’s stomach and Tania’s burn (recovering well, no infection, etc.), Gabbie has a sore throat but she said it is not from a cold but dryness. After dinner, we had a few minutes to worship together and prayed for those not feeling or sleeping well. We then had “family spiritual time”, a half hour for each church group or in our case, Vision, to talk and pray together. Then each school had about an hour to debrief the teaching, discuss problems and issues that came up and work through them. Then the remaining time before 10 AM (clean up and bedtime) was used to fine tune tomorrow’s program. Tomorrow afternoon, Vision will be singing and Hannah sharing her testimony at Sha-Lu for 20 minutes during assembly time. We will have at least 4 of the music students joining us to sing, a bass, two altos and a soprano, and maybe a tenor. Pray for this and that God will continue to draw these students to Him.

Here is a photo of the start of assembly at Da-An school.


 
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Tuesday, July 24
- Since our schedule is basically the same as Monday’s schedule for the rest of the week, only variations or surprises will be reported. This morning, we found out besides Gabbie’s sore throat (which she says is getting better), Charmaine and Bethany also have sore throats and Charmaine lost her voice. We prayed and by the time we got to Da-An school and finished assembly, Charmaine was back teaching (loudly) even though her throat still hurts. After finishing up our teaching, we arrived at Sha-Lu at 12 noon. While the rest of the teams ate, we (Vision) warmed up with 5 of the local singers from last week coming to augment our numbers: 3 altos, one tenor and one bass. But praise God, even though it was hot, cooled only by several fans (which added to the ambient noise), lack of piano or keyboard, we were still able to sing and be heard without the use of microphones. In fact, except for a handful among the 200 kids, the rest of the children listened with rapt attention to both our singing and testimony. We sang “Sing to the Lord”, “They Shall Soar Like Eagles” (which turned out to be the theme of David’s second message), “Lamb of God”, “In His Time”, and “He’s Calling My Name” with Hannah’s powerful testimony sandwiched between Lamb of God and In His Time. Thank you for praying, even Charmaine was able to sing. Truly, as Paul said in Phil. 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. When we are doing what God calls us to do, He will provide the resources to get it done. While the young people were teaching their classes, several of the older non-teachers (including David, Marshall, Meiring) sipped tea with the school Director of Student Affairs. They also did that yesterday. Today, this man brought a friend with him, also Director of Student Affairs at another Jr. High in Taichung. This second man was thrilled to hear about our English and Character classes and almost begged us to include his school in next year’s program. Pray for the SGV leadership team to discern what to do next year as these invitations increase and our resources stretch thin. During our debriefing time, we learned that several members of our team (non-Chinese speakers) are having communications issues with the non-English speakers on their teaching team. While this not unexpected, pray for patience for both sides and wisdom how to work together. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17). Certainly, there is a valuable lesson the Lord wants to teach us through these problems. Tomorrow morning, Vision will be singing at the Da-An school (around 5 PM LA time Tuesday afternoon) so pray we will be even more effective to the glory of God.

 
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Wednesday, July 25
- I forgot to mention that 4 of the music students, Rita, Lily, Cindy, and Terry have not only been singing with us, but coming everyday to help teach the English classes and have been invaluable in helping with the translation. Adam took time off from work to come just to sing with us yesterday afternoon. By teaching with us last week at Tongtex, they have a good grasp of the material and experience in leading the games. Pray that each exposure will bring them a step closer to following Jesus instead of building up immunity to the Good News. They are such precious people we have come to love.

Charmaine is running a low grade fever this morning so she is staying back all day at the blind school. Bethany and Gabbie joined us even though they are both quite exhausted (almost everyone is exhausted here, not only Vision) and are nursing sore throats. Vision sang at Da-An school for assembly this morning, our depleted ranks reinforced by our 4 local music students. Because we started on time, we also sang “Do Lord” and Rachel shared her testimony. Again, the students listened very attentively throughout our presentation. When we were at Sha-Lu, after David’s talk, a teacher from the school came and spoke to him. He belongs to a Church nearby and offered to follow up with the new believers at the school. We thank God for these “chance” meetings and connections, so pray that we will do our due diligence as we make these contacts. Our teaching has improved considerably as we learn to work with one another and take full advantage of each other’s gifting. Thank you for your prayers. Charmaine has recovered from her fever and was peppy and upbeat when we returned back home. Continue to pray for our health and rest as we battle fatigue. Tomorrow (Thursday) is the day we present the good news to these students, share personal testimonies, and give the altar call in the classes. Between the three camps and about ten schools this first week, we (the Taiwan Short Term Mission Teams) have been teaching about 2000 students. Pray for Spirit prepared hearts and receptivity and a great harvest of souls.

 
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Thursday, July 26
- Not much has been said about the food here at Huei Ming School except the great fruitm. The food is well balanced, lots of different kinds of fresh vegetables and enough protein from the meat and tofu. But... the blind school cooks for the handicapped children who eat before us, so everything we eat is lukewarm (or lukecold), all the dishes - rice, meat, veggie, even soup. If there is anything I miss, it is a bowl of rice still steaming from the cook pot, or hot soup, or anything freshly cooked - but this is also part of a missions trip, giving up food we prefer and being thankful we have food to eat, and nutritious food at that.

Everyone from Vision is at the school today, even though Gabbie is achy (but no fever) with a sore throat and Bethany still has a bad sore throat and Charmaine has some throat soreness and has quite a bit of mucous. Assembly took a bit longer because five team members performed a very effective mime skit (not unlike previous Vision skits about God creating man, man falling into sin, and Jesus sacrificing Himself to redeem man). In the classes, various members of the teaching team shared their personal testimonies, the good news was presented using the multi-colored bracelet or beads and an invitation was given. Since many of the eighth and ninth grade class students at Da-An had received Christ in previous years, there were not many responses. Among the seventh grade class, one accepted the Lord in one class, two or three in the second class and twelve of the sixteen students in the third class raised their hand as shown in the photo. New Testaments were given to all the students who requested one and we encouraged them to start reading a bit everyday. As we drove to Sha-Lu, where the last three days we ate lunch in stifling heat and humidity, someone came up with the brilliant suggestion to bring our box lunches and eat in the air conditioned comfort of the bus! So that’s what we did, and refreshed, we started our afternoon program. We received very mixed results when the invitation was given; some classes responded with everyone raising their hands while some other classes, only 1 or 2 or even none responded, but we give thanks for each of these decisions. We are only the vehicles, the messengers, and the Holy Spirit is the one to convict and draw people to Him. To Him be the glory!

At worship tonight, Gabbie, Bethany, Rachel and Charmaine led worship after dinner and Vision sang Majesty and Glory. The principal of a school the Taiwan team will be teaching in next week joined us and he and his wife blessed us with 3 songs. During debriefing tonight, we heard an exciting story about Terry, one of the music students from last week who had not yet received the Lord. When Marshall asked him this morning why he has not accepted the Lord, he said he would except for his family. Marshall just challenged him to consider what is true, his parent’s religion or the claims of Christ. He helps out in the class Charmaine teaches and later that morning, he voluntarily shared with the students in his class the Vision devotion from John 20 about Jesus calling Mary. Later, in the afternoon class, he said he himself is not a Christian but challenged the students by saying accepting Jesus is a decision you have to make yourself, not blindly accepting your parents religion. It is incredible that God would use a non-believer to preach his Word to cause several kids to receive the Lord. Our wonderful God works in mysterious ways. Pray that we will have the joy of seeing Terry accept the Lord before we leave Saturday morning for Taipei.



Charmaine’s team’s class at Da-An responding to invitation (Terry is standing next to Charmaine’s co-leader)

Gabbie’s team teaching at Sha-Lu
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Friday, July 27
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Today is the last day at our respective schools, so the schedule is quite different. We are starting out by having each meet in their respective classrooms to do last minute “cramming” because at 10 AM (3 PM in the afternoon sessions), we will have “Showcase” time. This is where each class will individually perform a special song/dance number they have been learning in their class in front of all the other classes and school officials. They will be judged on English usage in the song, their dancing, and the effort they showed. The top three groups based on the total scores will be awarded prizes. Shillane, from FEC DB and our camp’s school coordinator, David our main speaker, Adam a freshman college student who was with us last week, Meiring and Marshall are the five supposedly impartial judges. Marshall made it be known he is open to bribes, and most showed their integrity, with only one class failing the test and offered him a bribe (candy). The Showcase went very well. Most groups danced with precision but some groups failed to sing any words in English and so lost points. We could see how enthusiastic the children were as they competed and cheered each other on. Regardless of who won or lost, a good time was had by all. At Sha-Lu, we ate lunch in the teacher’s rest area rather than the bus because clean-up in the bus was difficult. We then repeated this morning’s activity. After we returned home, most of the team then went to the night market, including all of Vision (except Mei and Marshall) and 6 of the music students, the 4 who have been teaching/translating plus Adam and Tina. It turns out last week was Adam’s first exposure to Christianity, but both he and Tina said they are processing all they learned and “well on the way”. We urged them to find Christian groups on their respective college campuses to join. Cindy also said she would have raised her hand if someone asked her if she would accept Christ but we did not have time to continue the conversation. Perhaps at the night market.

Many evaluation forms were received from the students. Most of the comments were appreciation of how they enjoyed the English camp. But here is one freely translated from Chinese: “I can’t believe I learned so much in just one week. Terrance (we call him that to distinguish him from the local music student Terry) is so much fun. Cindy (one of our music students) was such a good translator it motivated me to study English harder.”

 
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Saturday, July 28 - We left this morning at 9 AM on the bus to take us back to Taipei. It is been a very busy week for all the teachers, not just the Vision members. Looking back, we can see how God used everything to bring Him glory. For example, it has not rained anytime we were doing ministry during the two weeks we were here, it only poured last Sunday (and 2 minutes before boarding the bus to leave the night market last evening). In fact, it looked like rain at the night market and Adam was the one who said we should pray and it did not rain until 2 minutes before we left. We made such a strong connection with the ten Taiwan music students the six who were able joined us for several meetings, including four who acted as capable translators all week. It was awesome and inspiring to see so many young people so on fire for the Lord, from all over LA and Taiwan and Southeast Asia. It was hard to leave the blind school this morning, we got along so well after the initial adjustment. Our hearts are full of gratitude and praise to God.

Terry came on his scooter to see us off from the blind school just before we left. On the bus, we continued to IM several of the music students. We stopped at the airport to drop off two team members before proceeding to Canaan Church, who is hosting Vision tonight, arriving just before noon. A scrumptious lunch was provided for us and we started debriefing at 1:15 PM. Elder Albert joined us at 4 PM so we could debrief about the first week. We realized we had failed to include the Zhutong church pastor in connecting to the seventh grade students at Tongtex school who accepted Christ so he could follow them up. We will try to remedy that situation. After dinner with many of the Canaan church members, we sang and Tania and Bethany shared their testimonies and we performed our friendship skit and heart skit. Edward and Betty Hsieh and their son Brian joined us before the service and we had a few minutes to catch up. At the end of our program, the presiding chairman asked each of us to share what we learned most in our last two weeks in Taiwan. We then went back to our rooms to sleep.

 
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Sunday, July 29
– We sang at the Canaan Church morning service (see photo), then left at noon for the airport and our flight home. Charmaine and Tania are staying one more night at the church and leaving Monday for Hong Kong where they will meet their mother and visit their beloved grandmother (now home from the hospital). But the highlight of this morning was a message from a visiting pastor who has a tremendous ministry rehabilitating juveniles with a ministry called BIG change. The pastor himself came from a broken home and he shared his life story. He brought with him 5 young men one of whom shared his own story of brokenness and restoration. These young men then played and sang, having formed a rock band, which is now quite famous in Taiwan. The drive to the airport was surprisingly quick, less than 40 minutes, We checked in with no problems and were surprised to see Mickey, one of girls from the Music camp last week. She had been busy taking entrance exams and was not able to join us teaching in Taichung so she made the extra effort to come to the airport to see us off. After hugs and goodbyes, we went through security and went to the food court to eat a late lunch. As we wait to board, I am sending our last report from Taiwan.

Here are some comments from yesterday’s debriefing:

  • Was able to see many miracles. There is nothing too small to pray to God about.
  • God is always good no matter what, there is always a purpose, when I got sick, I didn’t understand why since I kept praying and didn’t get better, but ended up being able to interact better by being sick even with language barrier.
  • During one night where the Taiwanese team did worship, I saw something different since I haven’t seen worship like that in a long time (it was very fun). God is telling me that maybe I need to find a church that has something like that, brought back some thoughts that I had in the past of finding a church.
  • Used to be insecure about my talents but this trip has opened up the doors to being someone like Tracy
  • Used to be “lost”, couldn’t find something that really interested me that I could turn into a job
  • Didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life but this trip helped me to find something interesting I can do


One final funny story. One person shared about being constipated the first few days of the trip. Although they tried to go, nothing was moving. Finally, they prayed, and behold, everything came out really nicely (not diarrhea). This momentous event was shared to a second person. This person also prayed with the same wonderful result. Indeed our God answers big prayers but nothing is too small to ask God.



 
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