In recent posts, I mentioned about how our family has to leave Taichung to another city or town in Taiwan after first 2 years.  I am sure some of you may be wondering about the rationale for such a move because moving means that we have to start all over.  We are barely getting used to living in a new foreign city, not to mention we have to leave relationships that we have built up so far.  It sounds like a waste.  It’s something that I’ve questioned as well although now I have a better understanding of why.  This week I want to explain some important aspects of OMF Taiwan’s strategy in developing missionaries & helping them to achieve effectiveness.

I could begin by explaining that all new missionaries are brought to Taichung to start their ministry.  Here are just a few benefits we found as we transition here.  First, the weather in Taichung is comparably milder.  It is not as rainy, not as hot or experience as many typhoons and earthquakes as in other parts of Taiwan, which makes it a little bit easier for new missionaries to transition to Taiwan.  I also heard that pollution is less in Taichung.  The second reason is Taichung is a good place for language learning.  In Taipei more people can speak English which makes it convenient for English speakers, but at the same time, limits progress in learning Mandarin.  On the other hand, people in the south speak more Taiwanese.  This can be quite challenging to a new missionary who is learning Mandarin.  Mandarin is the official language and Taiwanese more traditional.  They sound very different.  Mandarin has 4 tones where Taiwanese has 8.  Learning the standard Mandarin in Taichung & being around people with whom we can practice is a wonderful blessing to build a good foundation.  I also personally think Taichung has the best language schools.  The third reason why it’s good to begin in Taichung is because this is where we find much needed support as new missionaries.  Meeting with our language coordinator, new workers coordinator & other leaders on a regular basis & being around other new missionaries certainly help a great deal in transitioning into a new culture.

There are also many reasons why we need to leave Taichung.  Again let me just go into a few.  First reason is although we are progressing in our language learning, the people around us may continue to treat us as though we are still at beginner’s level.  Therefore, they may continue to use simple words when talking to us rather than how they normally speak.  It is to help us, but it can also limit our progress.  Moving to a new place means that the people’s perception of us will be different.  Rather than seeing us as foreigners who are just starting to learn, we will be seen as foreigners who can speak Mandarin.  That will make a difference in building relationship with them.  Of course the move will affect us.  It won’t be easy, especially for our kids to have to adjust to a new home, school and friends all over again.  But we have to go where there is a great spiritual need, where God will use us.

I hope this week’s blog answers some questions that you have about our move a year from now.  Please keep us in your prayers as we prayerfully discern where God wants us to be.  Wherever we end up, it will be a major move not only for Jeanette & me, but for our children as well.