Personal Update

A Season of Thanks

Dear Friends and Family,

It has been over two months since my last update, so lest you forget about me while I’m halfway around the world, I think it’s time I write again.  I think about and pray for you often, at the same time thanking God for your support of my ministry and His work here in Taiwan.  I have begun writing this newsletter several times, but because of the busyness of life and the exhaustion of mind and body, I haven’t been successful at completing it.  Hopefully this letter will finally come together, and I will be able to share with you all that God is doing in my life.

As I have just experienced my first Thanksgiving spent in another country, I cannot help but count the blessings God has lavished upon me and express all for which I have to be thankful.  In the big things and the little things, I can see so many evidences of God’s faithfulness in my life.

I love Taiwan!  From the freedom of driving on roads where traffic laws are more like strong suggestions, to the constant availability of delicious and cheap cuisine, to the pleasures of Taiwanese tea stands and hair wash massages, and to the kindness and friendliness of the Taiwanese people, I love the uniqueness and character of Taiwan.  At some point I plan to write a newsletter explaining some of these special things that make Taiwan what it is, but for now, I’ll just say that I’m so thankful that God has given me an appreciation for the new and different things here.

I am also appreciative of my sister and the new type of relationship we are building because of experiencing life overseas together.  Sara and I spend a good deal of time together in and out of school, and I am really enjoying getting to know her on a new level as a friend and not just a little sister.  She has helped me in so many ways to make this a smooth transition, and I can never thank her enough.  Sara is doing well, still trying to figure out where God wants her in the coming year since her two year contract is up and she has to decide if she wants to commit to another term at Morrison.  She actually has to make the decision by December 1 (Tuesday), so please be in prayer as she seeks God’s leading.

I also praise God for physical wellness.  As some of you know, I have struggled with my health and my weight for some time.  When I knew I was coming to Taiwan, I decided to be incredibly intentional about changing my eating and exercising habits upon arrival.  I knew that my whole life would be changing, so it would be a good time to make a lifestyle change in terms of my health.  Maybe it seems like a small thing to some, but this is an area in which I have felt defeated for years.  But praise the Lord because since being in Taiwan, I have already lost weight, I am eating better, and I am exercising a couple of days a week.  My problems with Acid Reflux have diminished, and I feel healthier in general.  I think I am beginning to understand what Paul meant when he exhorted the believers to “offer [their] bodies as living sacrfices” (Rom. 12:1).  Praise the Lord for his faithfulness in walking me through this season of change, and pray that He would continue to give me victory in this area of my life.

As well as physical changes, I believe God is changing me in the area of emotional health.  Those of you who know me well know that I generally live my life under a fair amount of self-imposed stress because of how much I like structure and schedules.  God has flipped my life upside-down here in Taiwan since it seems that no one plans in advance for anything, and if plans are made in advance, they are usually changed several times before the actual event.  The praise I have is that I’m okay with it all!  It is amazing how much peace I have felt since coming to Taiwan, and I believe this is clear evidence that I am exactly where God wants me.

To continue with the theme of peace and joy, I love my job!  Teaching in the setting of an international Christian school like Morrison Academy where there are many opportunities to share the Gospel with non-believing students and families is exactly the kind of ministry I love.  Beyond that, I think I have the best job in the whole school.  I love teaching my small groups of children because I get to know them and their educational and personal needs so well.  I feel like I can actually make a difference in their lives.  Praise the Lord for His goodness in providing me with a job that I enjoy every day.

Another great praise I have is that I have found a church home here.  JiaCheng Church is a mostly Taiwanese and Mandarin speaking congregation, and the whole Sunday service is in Taiwanese or Mandarin.  Though I understand very little of the sermon (unless friends translate), I am picking up a fair amount of Christian vocabulary from the music time.  There is also a group of English speakers that go to the church, so we meet after church during the Sunday school time to have an English Bible study.  We take turns teaching, and it is a quality time of Bible study and fellowship.  We have been studying the book of Acts, and what an encouragement it is to read about Paul’s missionary journeys while I am serving on my own mission field here; it really gives new perspective to the reading of the Word.  On Tuesday nights, I am involved in leading an English Bible study at the church for Taiwanese college students who are interested in learning English.  We teach them English through Bible stories and discussion, and it’s a great witness and ministry.  I praise the Lord that he has given me a way to reach out in ministry to the community beyond just serving at Morrison.

Speaking of community, I am also finding a network of new friends here that is supportive and loving.  I have made some great friends on the Morrison staff, some new friends from my church, and I am also meeting and building relationships with some local Taiwanese.  In a previous email, I mentioned the girls who live on the sixth floor of my building.  Their English names are Charity, Athena, and Laney, and I did finally connect with them to have them over to my home.  They’re very busy with their jobs, so I don’t see them often, but I think there is the potential for deeper relationships there.  They are not believers, so I continue to pray for opportunities to share the Good News with them.  Pray with me for that, and praise God for my relationship with these girls.  Even though I have so many new friends here, of course I still desperately miss friends and family back home.  Naturally, I have been concerned that as I approach the holiday season I will be very lonely and homesick.  But even as I have just come through the Thanksgiving holiday, I find myself praising God again and again that he has provided a new network of friends who are like family to fill the holidays with joy.  God is so good.

I wish that I had time to sit and talk with each one of you to share more details and to hear about all that God is doing in your lives.  Unfortunately, it will be summer before I am able to visit the U.S., so in the meantime, please email me to let me know how you are.  I miss you all!

I will leave you with a quick list of things that I would love for you to be praying for.  These are things I already mentioned in my letter, but I’d like to repeat them in a condensed version here:

  1. Pray that God will provide the companionship (through His Spirit and through friends) that I need in order to combat homesickness around the holidays.
  2. Pray for continued building of new relationships with both Christians friends and non-believing friends.
  3. Pray that God will bless the different ministries in which I am involved–especially teaching at Morrison and teaching the English Bible study–so that more people will come to know and treasure Jesus.
  4. Pray for Sara as she makes a decision about what to do next year and as she possibly begins to transition to something new.
  5. Pray for continued peace and health in my life, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Thank you again for your continued prayers and support.

Faithfully,
Christel

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