A lot has happened since I last had the time and presence of mind to write a blog post. These are some of the highlights (and lowlights?) of the last few months.
My middle sister (who lives in China) had an ectopic pregnancy that almost took her life because she was bleeding internally for 2-3 days before she realized there was a problem. God was gracious and gave her friends to get her to the hospital, a surgeon who was willing to perform a lifesaving operation on a foreigner without the necessary paperwork, a husband who took exceptional care of her in the hospital and as she convalesced at home, and a loving mom who traveled halfway around the world to care for her in the weeks after surgery.
A few weeks after the surgery, I went to Shanghai to be with my recovering sister, my mom, and my brother-in-law. While it was an unconventional visit, it was very good. It was a blessing to be with my family, and we grieved and praised and healed together.
It was also a bit of milestone for me since I made the trip by myself; a year before this, I could barely leave the house on my own. Recovering from anxiety and depression is a slow process, so it’s good to count every victory.
Around the time of my sister’s hospitalization, my husband, Charles, and I found out that his dad’s terminal cancer is progressing faster than any of us would like. At the news of my father-in-law’s health decline, Charles and I decided that nothing except finances was stopping us from visiting his parents at Christmas this year. We began praying and asking friends to pray that God would provide financially for us to make the trip. God has provided abundantly through friends and family around the world and through our church and community in Taiwan. Praise the Lord that our trip is paid for! We are so grateful for this upcoming time (three whole weeks!) that we get to spend with my in-laws in South Carolina. We leave a week from tomorrow.
While all these tumultuous events have been happening in the extended family, life here in Taiwan has continued on as normal. Whatever “normal” is! Ha. This year is my first full year not working even part-time as a teacher. I started the year off by subbing in the school library for about 2 1/2 weeks. It was tough work emotionally since I had to face a lot of anxiety, but it was a great experience. I still sub in the library every now and then, and I have made new relationships with the librarians whom I barely knew before my subbing stint.
I have also been tutoring a homeschooled student with learning needs. I’ve taken on the humanities (history and English) portions of his schooling, and I am really enjoying doing this little bit of work each week. His family cared for our dog, Emi, one summer for us, and they are really wonderful people. They are missionaries serving the people of Taiwan, and the little bit of work I do to teach their son frees up their time to serve the community more. After Christmas, I will be taking on a few more hours of tutoring for their daughter as well. I have been blessed by the relationship with this family and the sense of purpose tutoring gives me.
Another blessing in my life this year is a student whom I have been mentoring. I met this student during her 7th grade year when I taught her Bible class in Kaohsiung. She is now a 10th grader here in Taichung. She is a sweetheart with a passion for following Christ and learning from the Bible. This week as we spent time together, the conversation turned to her faith story. She told me that though she grew up in a Christian home, she actually prayed to follow Christ during my Bible class in 7th grade! I clearly remember the day that I offered students the opportunity to pray to receive Christ, and I told this sweet girl what a joy it is to hear that God worked in her life during that time. We talked about how we often never know the impact we make in others’ lives but that it is a joy when we get a taste of how God has used us for His glory.
This year was the first Thanksgiving in my life that I was not close enough to spend the holiday with extended family. Because of that and also because we wanted to fit in a trip to the beach before leaving Taiwan in June, Charles and I decided to head to Kenting (the southern tip of Taiwan) on Thanksgiving day and spend two nights in a little hotel with an ocean-front view. During our trip, we enjoyed walking on the beach, treating ourselves to a few special meals, and exploring the night market. It was Charles’ first trip to Kenting, and I’m glad I had a chance to introduce this special place to him before moving away from Taiwan.
My favorite part of the trip was on the way down when we stopped in Kaohsiung and spent time with our dear Taiwanese friends who own a restaurant there. Since my sisters no longer live in Kaohsiung, I haven’t had a compelling reason to go down this year, so this was the first time since last school year that I was able to connect with my friends. We stopped by for a late lunch which was good timing since the restaurant was nearly empty. We enjoyed playing with the kids (we brought American candy and learned that the little boy likes sweet candy and the little girl likes sour candy–good thing we had some of both) and talking with the parents. We took pictures and laughed and hugged. Though the language barrier still keeps us from knowing each other truly well, we have a special bond with this family. They are one of the most significant aspects of my life in Taiwan, and I will miss them dearly when Charles and I move back to the States.
Those are the big events that have happened in the last few months, and I’m sure there is much more to come before our time in Taiwan is done. As I mentioned, we’ll be spending three weeks in America for Christmas, and when we get back to Taiwan, it’ll be time to really get into moving mode. We’ll be selling most of our belongings and shipping a few things. I’m already feeling my anxiety rise with all the changes in store, so I would appreciate any prayers you’ll send up for me. Charles and I are both feeling the weight of all that we and our families have been going through and of what is yet to come. I know that it is God’s timing for us to move in June, but it’s still hard to close this chapter of our lives. I will attempt to write more (and shorter) posts over the coming months, but for now, we leave you with this parting picture message from our sweet Emi and us.