I never thought I would be in the clouds, blowing a shofar with aborigines on the top of a mountain. I never thought I’d be living in a cockroach-infested house, falling asleep to ants crawling on my bed, and fixing a squatting toilet. I never thought I’d become a human jungle gym and feel famous as people asked to take pictures of me and touched my Caucasian protruding nose. Or leading worship for several pastors of different tribes; admitting to them I’ve never sang for people before. Or learning a hip hop Christian dance in a tiny Taiwanese church. Or hiking to see Taiwan’s largest tree and drinking fresh water from the stream. Or joining these native people in an amazing mountain top experience with the glory of God. These are just a few of the moments of the past five days that made me stop and wonder…what in the world am I doing!
We took a six-hour bus Sunday to Taoyuen in the center of Taiwan. It was interesting to pass by the many rice fields between heavily populated areas. The reality of how crazy this trip was started when we scrambled in the city to find the aborigines that had come to pick us up. We frantically jumped in the church van in a busy traffic area and started our two hour journey up the mountain. It quickly became dark and we kept making random stops to pick up and drop off people. This experience would have been almost frightening if it wasn’t so obvious through these people’s love that they are my brothers and sisters.
When I woke up the first morning after fighting the cockroaches, a chorus of snoring, and a variety of handy man fix ups in the house we were given to live in, I screamed when I walked out the door and saw where we were. We had climbed the winding mountain at night and I really had no idea what the place was like. Twelve feet out our front door and you would be off a cliff. It is honestly one of the most amazing scenes I’ve ever experienced. The mountains truly take your breath away. I don’t know how to describe them without sounding cliché. You couldn’t see anything beyond the mountains. The clouds were hovering at the top. You could see tiny villages and farming areas on some of the mountains across the way.
You couldn’t help but worship as you looked out at God’s creation:
“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
Your justice like the great deep.” –Psalm 36
It’s really rare to get an experience to work with the Aborigines. A traveling pastor that Priscilla had ministered with around Europe with had put together this conference and invited us to help. For five days we had several meetings a day at two of the Taiya tribes churches. Pastor Alvin would do a few sessions mixed with breaks. We were always organizing our sessions on the fly. Basically our whole trip we had no idea where we would be or what we would be doing the next minute. We were asked to lead worship for the pastors one afternoon. Priscilla plays piano well, and Adriana had the drums. Ai-Hua sings in Chinese, but she couldn’t really hold the melody. I was left to try to lead the tune of the song, MC and figure out with Priscilla frantically what to do next after a song ended. I started by explaining I had never done this before. They were really great and I think they we blessed by our time of worship and prayer.
Everything is different when you have to work with a translator. I would say about half of a sentence and then pause while it was translated. Everything literally took twice as long. Talking that slowly often made me lose track of what I was saying. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for Priscilla. She basically had to translate everything. We would sit really close to her during a service while she repeated everything.
Some of the youth groups we worked with were really amazing. Western culture and worship music has traveled all the way to these Taiwanese mountains. The group would sing songs and dance. Like usual, going into a service we had no idea what would do. We would introduce ourselves one by one and then sing: “Jesus Loves the Little Children…all the children of the world…[picture it]…Red (Adriana) and Yellow (Priscilla) Black (Brian) and White (me) they are precious in his sight…Jesus loves the little children of the world. After a few games we would randomly chose one of us to give a testimony or talk. You had to be prepared at all times to speak…Priscilla is ruthless! She is a great leader!
It was really fun to eat with the people and experience their culture. It feels like everywhere I go and meet with fellow believers is like a family reunion. We have a lot to talk about and a lot of laughter. It’s amazing how complete strangers from literally the other side of the world can feel so comfortable with each other. Some of us stayed up just talking and laughing under the stars. I made some stupid comments that made for quick inside jokes that I don’t think I’ll ever live down.
The conference was really amazing. It was great to bring together aborigines from different tribes and see people changed. It was a miraculous time unlike I’ve been a part of before. God’s presence really met us. It was made clear that we were to enter the kingdom like little children. We danced and jumped around and the kids prayed for the adults.
The last day we drove to the Lalashan Forest Reserve and then hiked to see Taiwan’s largest tree. It’s over 2,000 years old, has been struck by lightning and is still going strong. The water coming from the mountain stream was so refreshing. I never thought I would drink water from a fountain in Asia let alone straight from the source, but it was the most delicious water I’ve ever tasted.
We then met people from various aborigine churches at the peak of another mountain for a special 08.08.08 ceremony. I cannot believe this van stuffed with 16 people could make it up the side of this mountain. Seriously inches away from a cliff. When we first made it to the top you couldn’t see much, because the clouds were surrounding. We spent most of the time praying for Israel. We danced and sang and blew the shofar for victory!
This was one of the weirdest things I’ve done in my life; God’s really taken me on an adventure. Amidst everything, I still just take things step by step. I told God, ‘where you go I’ll go,’ and I wouldn’t take it back for anything.