It’s probably been the craziest three days of my trip so far! I knew when I first sat down on the plane and the lady near me kindly welcomed me and chatted with me that I would like Taiwan. She and the guy next to me were so funny. They asked me questions about America and told me bits about Taiwan. I wish I could better describe how goofy they were!
I flew into Kaohsiung (in Southern Taiwan) and as usual Priscilla insisted that I didn’t need to worry about details, that she would just meet me at the airport. After going through a bit of a stressful customs I was so excited as I pictured Priscilla waiting for me with the crowd of onlookers shouting at me as I came through the door. Instead, my smile of anticipation quickly turned into a confused looking around and eventually a lady coming up to me that said, “are you Karen?” I waited around for a while then figured out how to use the pay phone to call the church. After two confusing phone calls with half English speakers, being cut off by the pay phone, and being denied to borrow a cell phone I felt kinda lost. All I could do was wait. I knew it would all work out, but I started to feel a little lonely as some of the shops in the waiting area closed and there was only about six people left. I then got the idea to try my computer and I called a number on Skype. I got a hold of them and directed them to me. It was a joyful reunion!
I jumped right into what the team had been doing. We went to one of the churches and had a meal, games, worship, some testimonies and prayer. It’s a lot of work to entertain and teach youth, but also really fun and rewarding. The team was at this church for four days.
The team was put together by Priscilla. Her aunt runs one of the churches that we are staying at here and her family has started several. Her mom is quite a character and causes us many laughs as she translates and bosses us around lovingly. There are ten of us from Ohio about half high school and half college. There was a team from Chicago here earlier from Pricsilla’s cousin’s church, but I just missed them. What is really special about our team is that we mix with some of the local youth to run the camps. There are about six college aged Taiwaiese that we’ve become good friends with. It is interesting working on a team with a language barrier.
Everything we do takes twice as long. Whenever there are instructions, teaching, or prayers they are said first by the speaker, then translated into the opposite, either English or Mandarin.
The first morning we got up and climbed Monkey Mountain to pass out tracks and worship outside. This team has truly been run down. They’ve been doing kids camps for three weeks and sometimes at two different schools a day! They were great sports about hiking and praying for people. About half way up our climb we ran into a big gang of monkeys! I was so blessed to see them in their natural habitat. We saw a mom and baby clinging on to her as she jumped. One guy was just chilling by us so I decided to see how close I could get to him for a picture. Bad idea. He hissed and showed his teeth at me; I was so scared!
It is sobering walking the streets here. There are temples and shrines everywhere. You see people putting incense in their food to sacrifice it to their gods. You can smell the burning of ‘hell money’ that must be purchased at a shrine for them to provide for the ancestors which they believe are in hell needing material wealth. Talking with Priscilla really opened my eyes to the fear they live in and how they are controlled by it.
It was fun going back to the church the other two nights to be with the kids. We played a game with them where they had to re-create the dance move David or I did. It was really funny when I did the worm and one guy tried to do it. The ministry time at the end of one night was really significant. We asked the kids if they wanted prayer they could come up. I was blessed that four of the teenaged girls I had been hanging out with stood in line. The mostly just asked for prayer about their school work, but I insisted that Pricilla (my translator) go a bit deeper. I don’t know what she said and asked but as I silently prayed and Pricilla talked, tears began to flow down two of the girls faces. One of them accepted Christ and said her mom was a believer and her dad wasn’t. I just prayed that everything her mom had prayed would be heard. We then had the chance to pray with her mom and encourage her.
Other than great times at the church, I enjoyed laughing with this team. Pricsilla, Adrianna and the rest have such full laughs that you can’t help but join in. We had some good meals and spent some of today at a fancy mall.
I don’t know what will come of the rest of our trip. We leave to work at a conference for Aborigine’s put on by a pastor Priscilla knows. This will probably be one of the wildest things I ever do. I’ll be with Priscilla, Adrianna, Brian, and a local, Ai-Hua. After that conference in the mountains, we’ll come back to Kaohsiung and eventually make it to Taipei for a bit.
I’m already learning a lot as I have had more alone time to be silent, think and pray. I hope that God reveals a lot to me during these next few weeks.