This trip was made possible by my dad (and beyond him all the people who sacrifice to keep us teaching Bible in Taiwan), who surprised me with a ticket to the States to go back and see my relatives whom I hadn't seen in 8 years.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010 (Day 2)
Uncle George came to pick me up in the darkness of the early morning, and I hugged him as soon as he got inside the chain link fence. In the car I read the directions aloud to him that he had printed out for getting back to the airport. We were going to pick up my neighbor (and sister in Christ) Joyce who was flying in from visiting her brother in San Francisco.
I met Joyce's mom probably about 2 years ago in Taiwan. She went to the same exercise class I attended and stayed quite a few times for the Bible class I held afterward. She brought her daughter Joyce over to meet me when she was home on vacation and Joyce came to worship with us the next week. She was Methodist at the time and of course I got my dad to explain to her that she wasn't a christian until she had been immersed into Christ. She went away mad and we didn't see her for a few weeks. I thought she had gone back to Taipei and wrote her a long e-mail with all the Bible verses on immersion and she wrote back and said she just wanted to talk about other stuff.
Actually, she was living a block away from us and she couldn't forget what we'd told her, at the same time thinking we looked so normal. "They don't act crazy," she thought.
So about a month later she started studying Bible with us, and to this day she has one of the most tenaciously energetic minds I am fortunate to get to see often. She's cute and adorable and likes her privacy, yet she will write that letter, send off that box, fix up that website, ask that question, and discuss the scriptures with yet another new friend she's made on facebook, she eats and drinks Bible studies, and she's studying to be lawyer.
She was immersed into Christ last year and being on facebook so much, was soon corresponding with my relatives far more than I did. (I used to be a very lazy letter writer.) She became good friends with my gramma and when her parents decided to fly her to her brother's wedding in California, she arranged to fly out to Georgia and see my gramma for 2 weeks.
And that's why I'm here, still taking a moment every day to realize I'm actually here with people I only thought about seeing for years. I guess my dad thought it was an appropriate time to send me back to see my gramma as well. I will never be able to scratch his head enough when I get back.
After picking Joyce up, I sat in the back seat with her and 2 hours later we were in the country by the little town of Dearing with a cat and a dog and pine trees all around and rolling grass by a lake:
Aunt Melissa looking up a recipe ...
... for the most fabulous creamy wild rice soup. She made it according to this recipe but changed it by cooking onion, 2 carrots chopped, 1 celery chopped, and 2 garlic cloves in olive oil, and using milk instead of heavy cream ...
... with pickled okra and cornbread and oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip cookies:
Uncle George explaining canning:
Then we all napped. Here's a pic of the gorgeous bedroom ...
I woke up after another 3-hour sleep cycle to look at pictures. Here's my Gramma when she was 15 or 16:
Leaving for Wednesday Night Bible Study:
Joyce with some of the sisters:
One thing Uncle George had mentioned to me that morning while we were still driving back to the airport, was how glad he was that their church had finally gotten elders. He had not realized the difference that following God's pattern and having elders would make in the health and growth of a church. After that he started noticing the difference wherever he looked in other congregations as well.
And I thought of all our struggling congregations in Taiwan, not one of which has an eldership because we don't even have enough men to choose from. So, to all my married brothers and sisters in Taiwan ... please raise your children to be elders:
1 It is a trustworthy statement : if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God ?), 6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:1-7)
And all you single ladies, there's a FREE Four Seas School of Preaching in Singapore, a great place to find a guy also interested in the Bible. If you don't find someone there, hey, there's a Florida School of Preaching, an East Tennessee School of Preaching, etc.
We're the only (New Testament) church in a huge city. We can barely serve the people in our district much less all the other districts in this city. People might be willing to study with me if they only have to drive 15 minutes, but 60 minutes is enough to discourage most for the casual Bible study. And what about the towns 3 hours south of us who have nobody?
So please, all you christians in the USA, please raise your children to go to a sound Bible school and come over here as missionaries. They don't have to come permanently but if they could spare a few years getting a self-operating church up as soon as possible, that could thrive when they leave, that would be fantastic. I really do think the Chinese themselves make some of the most wonderful preachers in their own culture, but they need, all those without Christ need, someone to get them started.
On a more general topic: I could never understand people leaving the church because they felt there weren't enough members or a big enough youth group. If they were just switching between congregations, fine, but to stop attending? Doesn't that make it even worse for the ones who are left? "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country." (JFK) Isn't that the whole point of being a missionary? To go where there is no church and start one?
OK, off my soapbox. Next post: seeing my grandmother who I hadn't seen in 8 years!
2010.10.25 Update: I rewrote the part about Joyce because she had not actually gone back to Taipei like I thought. See her comment.
Other posts in this series:
You are here: Day 2
I am presently in the States. If you would like me to share with a ladies' class or a girls' class, pictures of what we do in Taiwan, and show how some of the Chinese characters are related to the ancient Bible stories, attesting to the historicity of the first 11 chapters of Genesis, and showing that the God of the ancient Chinese was the God of the Bible ... call 1-912-388-1952
If you would like to help me make future trips back to the States for reporting and visiting my relatives, you may send a check made out to CHINA MISSION FUND (and earmarked "For Natasha's Travel & Working Fund").
CHINA MISSION FUND
Church of Christ
P.O. Box 7341
Paducah, KY 42002-7341
Or if you would like to contribute to my father's work, which is far more important because it keeps us all teaching Bible in Taiwan, just omit the earmarking.
I do not get a salary. I live with my parents and teach Bible to 15 people a week. Sharing the Bible is my life. I would be doing this regardless of whether I was a missionary or not and I expect that I'll be startling some Bible students by popping off in the middle of a Bible discussion at the age of 90. But I have been very blessed to have my father, mother, brothers, and sister with me in Taiwan all these years. So contributing to my father's work ultimately helps me teach Bible as well.
Brother Jim Phillips is the preacher at the church that maintains the China Mission Fund for us. If you would like to call him, you may do so at 1-270-527-7580.
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