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Dear friends & family,

It’s been a little over 3 months in Taiwan so I wanted to give you an update on our life in Taichung.

Language after 3 months

There are 5 books that we have to go through our first year in Taiwan and we are done with the 1st book.  We will be taking the final exam in the early part of this week.  We would truly appreciate your prayers.  The test has 2 parts:  written & oral.  Our lessons focus mainly on listening & speaking.  Therefore we spend a lot of time on grammar/sentence structure, vocabulary & conversation although we are also learning Chinese characters.  As of now Jeanette & I can somewhat stumble through routine situations like going to the market, post office, gas station, etc., but also situations that require asking some questions.  That doesn’t mean that we understand everything. Trying to communicate in Mandarin is still mentally & physically draining. But we are able to get things done using speech rather than body gestures which was what we mostly used even 2 months ago.  Last Saturday, our landlord came over to fix another plumbing issue and it was quite encouraging for me to be able to converse with him.  We are very grateful that we attend a wonderful language school with good patient teachers and that OMF is investing a lot of time & funds on us to learn the language.

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Missions Progress

We hear this quite often from our supervisors & other missionaries that “Learning language is missions work!” Still we can’t wait to be able to do more missions work than language study.  Jeanette & I joined a small group of our Taiwanese church.  It is comprised of 8 core members including us that meets every Friday evening to reach out & invite non-believers to the meeting.  These members really seem to understand that our main task as a church is to reach out to the lost.  Jeanette & I also have weekly prayer meeting with our OMF colleagues every Thursday that lasts for 2-1/2 hours, and on Sundays we are part of a local Taiwanese church.  Although small, this church has been a tremendous source of encouragement to us.

In addition to language study, we are endeavoring to build relationships with the Taiwanese. Apart from connecting with people in our building & neighborhood, Jeanette has been baking & sharing baked goods with ladies & young adults.  She didn’t think that she’d be baking here since there are no ovens in Taiwanese homes, but we were able to borrow a small electric oven.  We believe baking will be a great outreach tool.

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As for me (Calvin), I’ve been praying that I will be able to connect with Taiwanese men, but felt that there has to be some commonality that can bridge the gap between us since men tend to be less conversational than women & prefer to DO things together. We’ve come to learn that there are a lot of Taiwanese who are into running, which was my hobby back in the U.S.  So I have connected with a couple of runners and signed up for 2 runs, a 10K & a half marathon.  The cost of running races is very inexpensive in Taiwan.  Registration costs were only $15 & $29 respectively.  It’s my hope & prayer that running will connect me to a larger group of Taiwanese men through this common interest.

Daily Life in Taichung

Our children have been adjusting pretty well to new culture & school. Being young, our girls take life as it comes despite the fact that life here is very different from what they had back home in the U.S.  All 3 of our children attend an American-based Christian school.  The campus holds K-12th grade and we are so glad that all 3 can be at the same school.  It’s the first time ever and the girls get very excited to see their big brother around at school.  We are quite happy with the school.  Our oldest has been busy looking into and applying for college.  Last year, Ethan was nominated for National Merit Award back in the States, but we forgot about it when we came to Taiwan.  To our surprise, we were notified that he is one of the semi-finalists.  We were reminded that God takes care of us even when we are not fully aware.  Whether he wins or not, we were both grateful to the Lord for His grace and proud of Ethan who gave up his final year of the International Baccalaureate program to join us here in Taiwan.  There are colleges that he wants to attend, but much of it comes down to finance so we are in prayers.  Wherever he ends up, we are confident that God will work for the good of Ethan for His glory.  One thing about our life that hasn’t changed from living in U.S. is that raising 3 kids keeps us quite busy every day.

Accepting Unfamiliarity

To share some things that we are still getting used to, one of them is unfamiliar sounds from outside. Presently in Taichung it’s election time which means that there are large election signs everywhere & trucks with campaign messages spoken through loud speakers.  It is also very common to see & hear fireworks for many different occasions.  One cute sound we are getting used to is the garbage trucks that play ice cream truck sound version of Beethoven’s Fur Elise in their speakers as they drive by to let people know that they are coming.

Of course driving will probably take longer for us to get used to. There definitely seems to be a system in place that the locals are familiar with, but from our perspective it seems like many people are taking unnecessary risks.  We’re still amazed how people strategically place their small children (we’ve seen babies in a stroller) or dogs on their scooters without falling.  By the way, Taiwanese love dogs!

We are also still getting used to the flavors of Taiwanese food. It’s very different from the Chinese food we knew in the U.S. and there are certain smells and taste we can’t figure out.  A traditional dish called beef noodle soup smells herbal and it took a few times for me to like it.  Nevertheless, we make it a point to use the small local food vendors/carts so that we may get to know the working class, not to mention it’s very inexpensive to eat at these places as opposed to a nice sit down restaurant.  We found a good lunch place where 2 people can eat for just over $3 and a wonton noodle shop where our whole family can eat for around $9.

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Final Thoughts 

In closing let me say that missions in any setting involves 2 things. One is to become like the people we are reaching out to.  At the minimum, we must speak their language, eat their food, live amongst them & know their struggles.  Second is that we must share Christ through words & deed.  We must share the love of Christ because He had first loved us.  But we have to admit that doing missions is a slow process & a lonely one.  At the end of the day, I am inevitably reminded that all you have is Christ and that I am doing it for Him & that I can only do it by His grace & power.

One thing that keeps us here & motivates us is the fact that Christ has led us here.

We are truly grateful to you as well for accepting Christ’s calling to be our partners in missions. Your prayers & support are the means that God is using to keep us here.  Thank you!