Tales from Taiwan #3

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 Dear sisters,

There is something about being in another culture; about learning new ways of doing things; about trying to communicate in a land where almost everyone does not speak your language.  It's challenging.  It's stretching. It's rewarding sometimes, too, yes, but not always fun.  I have tried to tell someone what I needed.  I have tried in English and I have tried in my limited Mandarin and I have tried with charades, too.  And I have failed.  It's not my favorite thing to do!  But I keep trying and praying and trying some more.

Then there was the time I went out on my bike, intent on making it to church that morning.  At first I knew my way, but then I could not find the correct street.  I still thought I was okay...but I kept wandering around and could not find the church building.  Finally it sunk in - I was hopelessly lost.  I wasn't even sure if I was still in the same city that I started in!  Instead of fellowshipping with other believers and hearing God's Word preached, I was going up to people and asking them if they knew where my school was.  No one knew, no one could help.

Finally, I found an older lady in a bakery who spoke some English.  I told her where I wanted to go and she looked at me in astonishment.  "You are far away.  Very far.  How did you get here?  You must have had a hard time."  She gazed into my eyes sympathetically and patted my shoulder.  She handed me a scrap piece of paper which she had written the name of my school in Chinese.  That paper became a treasure to me that day.

That feeling, sisters, of being utterly lost, not speaking the language, and not knowing how to get back - it's a feeling unlike any other I have ever experienced. It was a crazy adventure that day, which involved a lot of biking and following people, hoping they were taking me to the right school (I think I went to every primary, elementary, high school, and university in the city - which is quite a few!).  I spent a lot of time praying as I rode- praying for God to bring me to someone who could take me to my school.

After visiting school after school and being disappointed, God brought me to someone who looked unlikely to be of any help at all - an elderly woman wearing a kerchief on her head and many wrinkles on her face.  I was disappointed.  Of course she wouldn't know where I needed to go!  Instead, God seemed to whisper in my ear to follow her.  She got on her moped and motioned for me to follow on my bike.  After she took me to two schools that weren't mine, I was pretty discouraged.  All I wanted to do was get back to my place!  I kept praying and following.  Then we rounded the curve and I saw a sight, that in my eyes, looked absolutely beautiful - my school!  That was definitely a time of rejoicing, let me tell you!

I have thought about this many times since.  You see, sometimes you can be lost and not really understand that you are indeed lost.  You might think you are okay, that everything is fine and happy - just like at first I thought I knew my way and was okay.  That might be how you were before the Holy Spirit showed you how lost in sin you really were.  Then that feeling of being utterly and completely lost - that's what it is like to realize, "Oh wow, I am such a sinner!  Who can help me?"  The key, sisters, is to realize you are lost and then realize that you are in need of a rescuer, just like I realized I was lost and needed someone to help me.  I couldn't do it on my own.

Like this quote from John Newton:  "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things - that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior."

So whatever I am doing here on this island, I know this: I might not be able to communicate with others.  I might get lost for hours.  It hurts sometimes, but I need to remember that God is using these times to grow me, to mold me more like Him.  I can't do it on my own.  That's okay, because I have Jesus!  And for that, I am truly grateful!

For Him in Taiwan,
Joanna

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