What I Thought Would Be Hard

Imagining our life in Taiwan was, at minimum, a daily occurrence while we were preparing to move from the States. My constant wonderings probably drove Josh nuts, but I couldn’t help it! By the time we got on the plane I’d thought through every scenario I could predict regarding our lives in Taiwan- not out of fear, just out of excitement. In the long list of ideas I had about our new life, there were definitely some things I expected to be challenging for us. Four months in, it’s been intriguing to see which expectations have been met and which ones were way off. Here are some of the things I expected to be hard, and the reality.

Learning Mandarin

I had already studied Mandarin for a couple years prior to graduating from college, so I knew I wouldn’t have as difficult a start as someone coming with no background in Chinese language or history. That said, I have heard for as long as I can remember that Chinese is hard, foreigners can’t be fluent no matter how hard they try, etc. I am delighted to say that learning Mandarin continues to be a joy, and both Josh and I are making unprecedented progress through the curriculum (faster than Josh’s dad, who grew up here, which I think Josh is quite proud of).

Missing Family

Do I miss my family? Of course! But I think we talk more regularly now than we did when we lived just 6 hours away in Kentucky. And living overseas, continuing to have their support from the other side of the world, and getting to share our struggles and celebrations with them throughout the week, has made me so thankful for their constancy. Not everyone has family that they can laugh with, cry with, and call just for fun. Though the distance is hard, it has made me more grateful than ever for family.

Not Having Chick-fil-A

Yep, I was pretty much spot-on with this one. If you weren’t aware, Chick-fil-A is basically Jesus’ favorite restaurant, so it’s a real bummer that we are totally deprived over here. There are times in your life when you just need waffle fries or a cookies-and-cream milkshake. I guess this is where the “fasting” part of prayer and fasting comes in? (Mostly joking, guys… mostly…). If you are looking for a sign that your calling in life is to open a Chick-fil-A franchise in Taiwan, this is it.


As Josh describes it, the road system in Taiwan is like a river- the cars are the big fish and the scooters are the minnows. As long as you go with the flow, it doesn’t really matter where you swim; the others will move around you. Since that is totally his personality and not mine, I thought driving here was going to be really stressful for me. But actually it’s very freeing to realize that the driving rules are more like thoughtful guidelines which people around you may or may not follow, and nobody has a problem with it. Now I just have to get my scooter license so I can really test my skills!

What I Didn’t Know Would Be Hard

As soon as we got to Taiwan I started getting more and more familiar with the many things I don’t know. It’s an impressively long list, and growing every day. And there were so many aspects of life here which I just had no way of predicting, including a lot of things that are sometimes downright hard.

I didn’t know that the sounds of the baby toys we brought from the States would jolt me into memories of cozy winter days spent with Hosanna and her buddy Josiah playing in our living room.

I didn’t know that when I glanced at our cheap IKEA porch rug I would feel a pang of sadness missing the many friends we enjoyed so many evenings with sitting on our porch on Kenyon Avenue.

I didn’t know that living in a country surrounded by native Chinese speakers, it would still be a challenge to find opportunities to practice speaking and listening in Chinese. (I am excluding conversations which involve someone saying to me, “Your baby is so cute” more than three times.)

I didn’t know how much I would miss worshiping surrounded by people who sing in my heart language. (I now tear up watching hipster worship videos on Youtube.)

I didn’t know how much I relied on my passion for and calling to ministry to fulfill me- I am relearning again how to rely on Jesus alone for my joy.

This past month hasn’t been super easy. Don’t get me wrong, nothing bad has happened, and from a logistical standpoint things couldn’t be better. But it can be hard to accept that things (and places and people) we loved in the States are out of reach now. To those of you who have emailed, messaged, Skyped, and snail-mailed, thank you. To those of you who continue to faithfully support us financially every month, thank you. To those of you who pray for us without us even knowing your names, thank you. As we grieve the things we’ve left behind (poor Josh is still struggling to come to terms with the lack of a Lowe’s or Home Depot around here), it is SO encouraging to be reminded of your love for us, and your love for our Lord who is at work in all things and all places!


7 thoughts on “What I Thought Would Be Hard

  1. Hi Jessica…..nice to know your thoughts. When I first got here, to Slovakia, another missionary told me that after a few years it will all even out, that things in the states may seem “different” and I will gradually come to feel at home in Slovakia also. It turned out to be true, so I would say just allow yourself the time to adjust…..it does take time. Now after 21 years, I also tell other people to role up their car windows so they don’t get a sore throat and for girls not to sit on cold concrete. 😉 Blessings to you and your family. Laura


  2. What a wonderful letter. Thank you. I will Hinkle of you when I get some waffle fries and go to Home Depot on Harrodsburg Rd! And….your baby is so cute!


  3. Great e-mail. Know that I pray for all three of you by name every day.

    Cara Lin, my daughter, has moved from Hualien to Taichung near the Tung-hai campus.

    Grace and peace,

    Stewart and the Taiwanese Church in Louisville.


  4. Hi, Josh and Jessica.

    You are prayed for every night when the Lord and I take a “walk around the world.”

    My heart goes out to you, Josh, as Lowes is my home-away-from-home, and I usually look for a similar store just to compare. This has happened in Athens, Fukuoka, Seoul, Ulaanbaatar, Bregenz, and Chang Chun. I love comparing the prices and construction practices in other countries. Try the link below and see if this helps at all. 😉

    love and daily prayers,



    “Love in practice is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.” The Brothers Karamazov




  5. You guys are amazing! I absolutely love reading your blogs as I can relate to almost everything y’all are going through.

    I miss worshipping in my heart language, too. I have been working at the children’s home for almost 2 months, and I finally think I found a church with the Jesus culture I have been looking for. Then I read back what I just wrote and remember how blessed I am that I get to be an open Christian! Haha. It is still difficult with the language though.

    Love love love you guys! Hugs and kisses to y’all and especially Hosanna! Thank you for being obedient to what God has asked of you!

    Love, Tara



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