Praise the Lord! We finally got our Alien Resident Cards today which meant that we could apply for a variety of essential services like phone, internet & bank. With the help of our new members coordinator we got it done. It took approximately 8 hours. Our new members coordinator helped us with such understanding, patience & selflessness to get settled in Taiwan and she continues to care for us like family. I don’t know what we would do without her. After she ran around all day helping us, she had to ride her scooter home in the rain, which is about 40-45 minutes away. There is much that we learn from her.
It’s funny when we go around together. People see Jeanette and my Asian face and start speaking to US in Mandarin. We smile and give them blank stares then our Western colleague steps in and speaks on our behalf. It’s neat to see a Westerner speaking Mandarin so well. She’s here far away from home to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only in Christ is this possible. If you think about it, it’s quite touching.
*Our language school in Taichung
Today (Monday) was also a very special day since we started our language school! It’s a 2 year program that focuses on everyday conversation the 1st year, and biblical dialogue the second year. People may ask, “Why do we need to learn the language for 2 years? Wouldn’t that limit our missions work?” It is true that missionaries can do missions work without learning the native language or with limited language. I’ve seen church buildings go up, mission centers built, humanitarian help given and programs run without the language & with translators. But the reason why learning language is so essential in missions is because although we may be able to run programs & provide needs, we will never be able to connect heart to heart with the people we are ministering to. Unless missionaries speak the heart language of the people, they will remain as outsiders no matter how helpful they may be. Isn’t this why Jesus Himself spoke Aramaic, to speak & touch the heart of His people?
I know that learning a new language will be a slow process, and even frustrating at times, but it’s a step that cannot be rushed or overlooked if we are serious about sowing the seed of the gospel in any culture. This may be one of the reasons why in many places in the world, churches are losing young people because they are not speaking their language. And they don’t speak it because they don’t want to take the time to learn the language or the culture that they don’t understand.
Jeanette & I’ve been reviewing & practicing the pronunciation of the consonants and vowels for the past 3 hours & we’re still not done. There are sounds that we’ve never made so it’s challenging & humbling to train our tongue & mouth to sound them out. But still there’s joy in making each sound because there’s a purpose behind it. It’s something that I haven’t thought about before because normally I waste a lot of words, that is to say that I use words wastefully or with selfish motives. In many occasions, I have used words to boast about myself or to be critical of someone or something, but as we are learning Mandarin, I’m glad that we will not have that luxury.
This is my prayer that words that come out of my mouth whether in Mandarin, Korean, or English be pleasing to the One who humbled Himself & enter the lowliest place to be where we are.
By the way, the name of our language school is TLC. How fitting!