July 21, 2009
Dear Friends and Family,
It has been a whirlwind summer so far, and the excitement is just beginning. I am less than a week away from hopping on a plane to Taiwan and heading to my new home. My departure date is July 27, and though I have what seems to be an immeasurable list of things to do between now and then, I feel quite ready to go.
I guess this is sort of a catch-all email before I find myself with limited internet access and even more limited time during the first few weeks of this transcontinental move.
First, let me give a little update of what life has been like since the first email I sent announcing the news of my move. In April, I accepted a position teaching ELL (English Language Learners) at Morrison Academy in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. With bittersweet sentiments, I finished out the school year at Lexington Christian Academy, watched the senior class (whom I had taught for two years) graduate, passed on my favorite yellow chair to adorn the dorm room of two of my male students (I’ll never want to see that again!), and packaged up my room for the next British Literature teacher. Then came the work of packing up my house and closing out the Lexington chapter of my life. I will spare you most of the details of the move, except to say thank you to those who donated moving boxes, helped me pack, made me relax, ran my yard sale, cleaned the house with me, provided food for and helped organize my open house, traded vehicles with me when the large moving boxes would not fit in my little car, helped me purchase items to be shipped overseas and drove all over the country to put my stuff in various places (thanks Mom and Dad), and prayed for me throughout it all. I was blessed to be able to send much of what I will need in Taiwan in a shipment that left from Indiana at the beginning of July. That shipment should arrive two to four weeks after I do (Lord willing!), and I think receiving and unpacking it will feel like an early Christmas. My grandmother in Virginia offered to let me store anything I wanted to keep but not take to Taiwan at her house, so that is where the rest of my keepsakes are. I was also blessed to spend quality time with and say goodbye to those I love in Kentucky. All in all, I felt a healthy sense of closure as I drove away from Lexington towards my next stop: training in Houghton, NY.
Our training, entitled Third Culture Kids Pre-Field Orientation (PFO), was organized by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) for a group of over a hundred of us leaving within the next year to teach or work (as dorm parents or in various other capacities) in Christian schools around the world. The training lasted for two weeks, and we learned about how to transition well, how to work with third culture kids (kids who have lived the majority of their lives in a place other than their passport country), what to expect to feel and experience in living cross-culturally, and many other practical issues related to moving overseas. One of the best aspects of the training for me was simply the fact that I spent two weeks with a whole group of like-minded people who were preparing to embark on exactly the same kind of journey as I am.
After PFO, I drove home to New Jersey. I was there for just a couple days, during which Sara (my sister) and I had an opportunity to share about our mission experiences in the church of a pastor friend of ours, and as an entire extended family we celebrated the marriage of my aunt. It was then on to Richmond, VA where I visited my dad’s side of the family, staying at Nannie’s house, going to work one day with Ashleigh at the Southern Baptist International Mission Board headquarters where she is interning for the summer, and celebrating Nannie’s birthday together with family. After that, my parents, sisters, and I were blessed to spend at week at a friend’s condo in Palm Coast, FL where we visited St. Augustine, spent lazy afternoons reading and napping, played games in the evenings together, and even swam with the dolphins in the ocean. After a great vacation and a lot of hours in the car, I am now back in New Jersey for the last week before I leave for Taiwan, scrambling to get things in order. That has been my whirlwind summer so far.
Next let me give you a little information about communicating with me while I am in Taiwan. I will be using my parents’ address as my U.S. mailing address. You can mail things to Christel Hatcher, 3 Glenway Drive, Flemington, NJ 08822. I will have a physical address in Taiwan as well, but I do not know what that is yet. My email address will remain the same (firstname.lastname@example.org), and of course, I will continue to update Facebook with pictures and information. I will also use Skype for communicating with people back home, and my Skype name is christeljayne. If you do not know about Skype, it is a free downloadable program that allows you to audio or video chat for no cost with anyone else that has Skype. I will be getting a phone and cell phone in Taiwan, so I will let you know those numbers as soon as I have them. Finally, I want to answer a question that I assume some of you have. The question is whether it is safe to write about “Christian” things in email or snail mail or to talk about those kinds of things with me. Taiwan is a democratic nation and it has immense religious freedom, so you do not need to worry about communicating spiritually sensitive information through writing or speech. Please keep in touch while I am in Taiwan, and I will do my best to do the same.
Finally, I would like to share with you my needs. As always, the most significant need I have is prayer support. Especially as I go through the most drastic part of transitioning, I ask that you would lift me up in prayer. Please pray that I will have a sense of God’s guidance and provision in all the details of the move, that I will not be lonely, and that I will have clear opportunities for ministry from the very beginning of my time in Taiwan. I have enclosed a prayer card that you can use as a reminder to pray for me. Of course, prayer goes both ways, so please continue to communicate your prayer needs to me so I can be praying for you.
The other need I have is a physical one. As you know, I am directly hired by the school, so that means that I will have a salary to support me living in Taiwan, and I praise the Lord for that! But my one physical need is for a car. Unfortunately, campus housing for Morrison is full, so my apartment is about a ten-minute drive up a mountain away from the school. Because of this and several other factors, I have decided that a car is the best option for me. I have actually already found and bought an old (but safe!) car for myself, but I am still in need of funds to pay for the car. I believe the total price including car taxes, etc. will be around $2,500. If you feel that God is leading you to give monetarily to help further his ministry through me in Taiwan, please consider contributing to this car. All tax-deductable donations can be sent to Victory Baptist Church, 2261 Armstrong Mill Road, Lexington, KY 40515. Please make checks out to “Victory Baptist Church” and indicate “For Christel Hatcher” in the memo section. Thank you for prayerfully considering my need.
Let me end with the encouragement that God is so good, and I have experienced his faithfulness in so many ways during the past several months. I am excited to be a part of his vision for reaching the Taiwanese people starting with the children at Morrison Academy. Thank you so much for your prayers and support.