Our New Normal

Moving to the other side of the world and planting yourself in foreign soil means that each day is packed with new sights, sounds, faces, customs, and surprises. It’s a lot to take in, and even harder to describe. So this blog will be just over 10,000 words… assuming that each picture is worth 1,000. 😉

Enjoy these small snapshots of what our new normal looks like!

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This is the city where we live! Our house is (quite literally) across the street from a small mountain which we hike each morning (more or less…). Our city, Hualien, is notorious around Taiwan for being one of the most beautiful places on the island. All we have to do is look out our window and see the mountains to be reminded of God’s majesty.

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Taiwan’s streets are packed with cars, scooters, attempts at bilingual storefront signs, and street vendors offering anything from sausage on a stick to fried dumplings to “stinky tofu” which you can often smell from a block away. If you enjoy running outdoors, be prepared for high heat and humidity, plus a generous supply of barking dogs to keep you on your toes. On the bright side, you can make someone’s day when they realize they can practice a little English with you by calling out “good morning!” as you pass by.

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Speaking of Taiwan driving, we got our licenses this month! Most drivers here have to pass a difficult test in order to get a license. However, Taiwan has a reciprocal license agreement with only a few U.S. states… and one of them happens to be Kentucky. So we got to skip the test and instead just walked up to the counter to have our brand new licenses printed off! The OMS field purchases a car for missionaries when they arrive on the field, so here we are looking at cars with our lovely new friend, Ms. Chen. Please pray that wherever we travel we will shine Jesus’ light and love in the lives of those we encounter.

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In addition to getting around the city, we’ve also been working to make our apartment feel like home while we wait for our furniture to arrive on our container. That means potting some plants, spreading our few books across every shelf in the house to make it look like we really live here, and best of all, new paint! Hosanna is a great helper when it comes to spreading things around the house, and she’s also not too bad at painting, as you can see.

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Language study is off to a great start! Our tutor, Achilles, is hardworking, creative, and a good friend to us. We are making quick progress, and in addition to the daily language study Achilles often gives us conversations to get out and practice. It’s kind of intimidating to strike up a conversation when you know you’ll probably run out of Chinese vocabulary after only a few sentences, but we’ve gotten to meet some wonderful people we might not otherwise have spoken to! This month we celebrated Achilles birthday with the other missionaries. Achilles feels the Lord leading him to one day serve as a cross-cultural missionary, so please pray for him as he follows the Lord in that calling. Please also pray that God will give us favor as we learn Chinese, and that every phrase we learn and pronunciation we perfect will be used for His glory.

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Thank you for your prayers over Hosanna’s therapy situation! We are blessed to have Teacher Yang coming to our home each week to work with Hosanna on a wide variety of skills. She is a great fit for Hosanna because she uses music for most of her activities, which Hosanna loves! Please continue to ask the Lord to provide a way for Hosanna to receive speech and physical therapy, and pray that she will not be overwhelmed while trying to figure out new skills taught with a combination of English, Chinese, and sign language.

Early this month we were able to take a day trip to Taroko Gorge, one of the most famous places in Hualien. At the top of the mountain lies a large temple overlooking a beautiful valley. In the picture above (left), a Buddhist nun is preparing an offering to an idol. Temples here often combine Taoism (which has many gods that impact your daily life and well-being), ancestral worship (which involves the dead blessing or cursing the living, depending on how well you treat them) and Buddhism (which is technically atheist, but often in practice is not atheist at all). Views on religion here are very different from the West- we even had a Pakistani Muslim thank us for coming to Taiwan as Christian missionaries! Please pray for our Father to be known as the one true God in Taiwanese families and communities.

Another answered prayer is that we’ve begun to make some dear friends here already! This past weekend we went to a river with our new friends Wenwei and Miao, and their son Yulong, who is close to Hosanna’s age. The little ones loved the water and we loved having a chance to just hang out with friends our age. Please pray that the Lord will bless their family greatly!

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And finally, a picture of Hosanna playing in her new ball pit, because this much joy just has to be shared!

This weekend we will travel to Taichung on the other side of the island for the Taiwan Missionary Fellowship conference, which brings together Christian workers from all denominations and mission organizations to retreat together. When we aren’t in sessions, I will be volunteering in the nursery and Josh will be helping out moving furniture at the new One Mission Society office building in Taichung. Please pray for the Lord’s name to be glorified in every city to which these missionaries will return home at the end of next week!