Monday, August 30, 2004

Check this out

I was looking around on the internet today and found two really informative sites (with pictures too!) of the city I'll be living in!
Includes information about animal and plant life, attractions, scenic spots, industry etc.
The best site I've seen yet!
The official town site.

Still waiting for my visa....

Friday, August 27, 2004

News Flash!

I received an email today with a lot of information in it! It appears there may be a few bugs to work out with the flights and stuff, maybe I'll be seeing more of the United States sooner than I thought....
- At this moment, we know that your visa process can be completed by as early as 9/5.
- We need the visa permit in order to start booking your airplane ticket.
- Once we have the permit for your visa, we can then send it to one of the consulate offices or trade offices where you can then apply for a working visa.
- Usually, we have our permits sent to the Taiwan trade office in Los Angeles (since our North American office is in Los Angles and our staff there would be able to help out in case there is a problem), so most of our foreign staff fly out of Los Angeles to get to Taiwan.
- However, there is also a trade office in Seattle and we're looking to see if Vancouver might be another option. It's just that we don't have any staff members there who could assist you in case there is an unforeseen problem.

- Right now, we're planning on sending you to the town of Yuli (which is southwest of the city of Hualien on the east coast of Taiwan; on the map below, about 1/2cm southwest of Hualien)
- Population of Yuli: 24,000.
- The churches in Yuli are primarily Taiwanese Presbyterian (in terms of denomination).
- However, unlike many other Presbyterian churches across Taiwan, the churches in Yuli have experienced great spiritual revival.
- The main church that you're most likely going to work with has about 160 members.

The students:
- The students you will be teaching are beginners.
- They should know their English alphabet (and for some, that might be all that they know.)
- Some of them can read but they aren't strong readers.
- We're hoping that through a local Christian children's ministry organization, you can have access into the local schools and assist in their after school programs (similar to after school study halls).

Pray for:

a. HEART--
(1) Start praying for the students that you're going to come into contact with.
(2) Pray also for the local staff members that you'll be working with. Pray for love and understanding.
b. MIND--
(1) Quick ability to learn and adapt to the local culture (I've seen many foreigner workers who just couldn't adapt and wind-up complaining about their life in Taiwan simply because they refuse to try a different way of doing things and insist on doing things the same way as they did "back home").
(2) Attitude of Flexibility. Things happen very fast in Asia. Although, on one hand, things might see "laid back" in the country side, but because there are constantly new projects being done, people are constantly trying to figure-out what is the most efficient or effective way to get things done, so things do change. For those who thrive in changes, this is nothing. But for most westerners, this could be a bit nervy because this flying-by-the-seat-of-the-pants could really push one out of their comfort zone.
(3) Wisdom. How can the lessons be taught in the most effective way for the students?
c. STRENGTH--Pray for sound health. It's easy to get sick when living in a new environment. Sometimes, the spirit is oh-so-willing to do God's work, but the body is weak due to some sickness.
d. SPIRIT-- An overseas experience can be a huge test to one's spiritual development. Pray that you will always be open to hear God's bidding and remain firm in your faith in Him. The Evil One will find many ways to discourage you spiritually.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Waiting and Packing

Well, Summer is almost over, and my friends are slowly trickling off to school, it is strange for me, because I am usually the first one to leave, not the one left behind...
In some ways, I know already that I will miss Briercrest, yet it is nice to know I have a reprieve from writing papers and exams (granted I'll be marking assignments and tests now).
So here I am waiting... has patience ever been my strong suit? I am still waiting to hear about my visa, my flight dates, and the details of my situation.

Packing is going to be a challenge. What do you bring with you for a while year when:
1. You won't be returning home to pick up the things you forgot about
2. You're in another country
3. You're only allowed 2 suitcases and 2 carry-on

So far I have begun to pack cd's (meaning I went through my collection and chose less than half to come with me), artwork (as strange as it sounds, I can't stand empty walls, and it doesn't take up too much space, I hope it will help combat any homesickness), Tesol books (heavy but so useful, plus with all the money I invested in them, it would be a shame to let them collect dust), and other random teaching materials.
hmmm, well when I write it down like that, it really doesn't seem like much at all!

It kind of reminds me of that age old philosophical question:
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have three things with you, what would they be?

Friday, August 13, 2004

Here's the deal

Here is a basic summary of my trip:

On roughly September 15, I will commence orientation in Taipei, which includes some language training, and familiarization with the curriculm. I am going with a missions organization based in Taipei. They do a lot of radio, media and drama ministry in Asia. There is a business in Taiwan that wants to support a program to bring teachers into rural areas for aboriginal children who wouldn't be able to afford English instruction otherwise. This means that while I will be working with a church (likely with an after school type program) my expenses are covered. They are providing a plane ticket, and my housing and utilities are covered. In addition, I will receive $1200 US per month salary! This is less than I would make if I took a secular teaching job in say Korea or Japan, but that doesn't matter to me, because God has provided more than enough for me to cover my student loan payments. It is really an unbelievable opportunity! So, after approximately two weeks of language training, I will be heading to my teaching location, which is not certain yet.

With only about a month left until I go, I must admit, I am starting to get a little restless. Sharing teaching ideas with some of my friends in the last few weeks has made me anxious to start teaching again. I never wanted to join a "missions" organization, I have seen that often westerners can do more harm than good when they go into a foreign country with their own ideas and culture and just assume that their ministry will be the most effective. I would hesitate to do any kind of missions work where I was not partnering with a local church. It is the members of the local church who know best how to present the gospel in their cultural context. I think it is important to join in with what God is already doing in the world. I feel like I am doing God's work by helping those who do not have the same opportunities because of their social or economic position.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Here we go again!

In just over a month, I will be embarking on my newest adventure.... a trip to Taiwan! Due to the brilliance of some friends, I have decided to start this record of my journeys so that anyone who wants to can share in my experiences.
Since when am I adventurous? I'm not sure! But anyways, this will be the most adventurous thing I have done yet....