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hello again, Taiwan!

Joanna

I am back in Taiwan! This beautiful island and its beautiful, precious people, especially the aboriginal kids, have stolen my heart. So I am back for a year. I didn’t think I was coming back, but God tugged on my heart and called me here for a year. So here I am, excited for all that God has already done in these two weeks and knowing that He has so much more in store for this year. He is so faithful!

These two weeks have not necessarily been easy. I have found myself leaning closer and closer into my Savior, as we are in the midst of spiritual warfare. Taiwan, yes, is beautiful, but also a country filled with temples and idol worship. Followers of Jesus are rare here. Evil is present and you can feel it. And yet, I know that Jesus is stronger and more powerful than the darkness here!

Sometimes He uses my students to show how good He is…

The other day I left the cafeteria early because I was feeling faint and needed something to eat. After lunch, a tough, naughty boy named Mike came up to me and tugged on my sleeve. His dark eyes searched mine.  He asked me in Chinese if my stomach hurt, because he saw me leave the cafe early.

Mike’s face was contorted in pain, as if he might have a heart attack if my stomach hurt. Instead of the toughness and brashness he usually portrayed to others, I saw a sweet little heart concerned for me.

I will always remember that.

And I know that in that moment, I caught a glimpse of God’s heart for me, too.

Precious.

according to them

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Things my students say to me…

“How much money your shoes?”

“You are no 100 old.”

“Teacher! You are so beautiful!” (whispered in my ear)

“Sooooooo yummy!”

“I like to eat pizza.”

“Teacher, your nose is so big and has freckles!”

“I am monkey.” (yes, you can climb like one!)

“It’s wonderful!”

“Your hair is brown, teacher!  And wavy!  I want to touch!” (and so many hands appear)

“I love you!”

Jimmy

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Oh Jimmy.  A white scar can be seen on the back of your head.  Did you get that from the man who is supposed to be your protector and hero?

And that day when you wanted our attention so bad that you purposely went out and cut yourself, then happily announced to the teachers that you were bleeding?  Oh how I hurt for you then.

You act all tough and rough, but God has shown me right into that little boy aching heart of yours.  It is bleeding for love, attention, care, someone reaching out with ready arms.  And it seems you will do anything to find that.

Where will you be in ten years?  I pray it’s not in a gang, not in the streets, not in an idol parade with the mafia.

I pray you are found in your Heavenly Father’s deep, deep love.  That you are secure in Him, because He is nothing like the earthly father who abuses you.  I may not have been able to say aloud the name  of Jesus in my classroom, but I pray that God will do what I cannot and draw you to Himself.  That He will take all those scars and turn them into marks that remind you of His crazy, amazing love.

I can’t do it for you.

But He can!

My Multitude Monday

Thank You, Lord, for these gifts…

1191. hearing “Come Thou Fount” in Mandarin

1192. beach day

1193. a student turning around, looking at me, and saying “Teacher Joanna!”.  And giving me the biggest smile.

1194. x-rays, so I know it is not fractured

1195. the ocean

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1196. charades

1197. bicycles

1198. getting the thumbs up after asking students how their soccer game went

1199. friends coming to visit for the weekend and laughing a lot

1200. communion at my Taiwanese church

she was Jenny

Her expression scared and unsure, she glanced around the classroom.  I stood off to the side, watching her for a minute.  We were told that Jenny has a severe phobia of people and we would need to make sure she was doing okay.  During the week, I made it my special goal to pray for her and encourage her however I could.  On breaktimes I would go talk to Jenny and try to get her to open up but to no avail.

One day I handed her a jump rope and encouraged her to use it – only to have her stand there expressionless for minutes and then put it away.  But I kept at it.  I gave her high fives, smiled big, said her name, made eye contact, encouraged her, patted her shoulder, and prayed.

As each day passed, I saw no outward signs that anything I was doing or saying was having an impact at all.  She would not say more than one word to me at a time, nor ever smile.

Friday came and I patted her shoulder and told her goodbye.  Later that afternoon, I opened up the mailbox to find a note from Jenny!

Shocked, I asked one of my Taiwanese friends to translate it for me:  “Teacher Joanna, thank you for teaching me English.”  I was thrilled.  A girl with a severe phobia like Jenny’s has a very hard time connecting with other  people and would never write them a note.  It was truly a miracle!

Then one of my teachers excitedly handed me another note…from Jenny!  I was super excited.  I opened it up and read:

“Teacher Joanna, I love you!”

I marveled.  I had thought nothing was happening.  Most people would call Jenny a hopeless case.  But God had put her on my heart and so I followed His leading.  The fact that she wrote not only one note, but two is proof – God is pulling her out of her shell and helping her connect with others.  How thrilled I am to see that He was working so beautifully in little Jenny’s life!

God is good!

My Multitude Monday

More gifts God gives me each day…

1176. adventure

1177. getting my kids’ autographs

1178. a day at the fisherman’s wharf

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1179. kiddo hugs

1180. hearing laughter from little folks

1181. trying new foods…and not knowing what I am eating half of the time

1182. skype dates with family and friends…even when the connection cuts out every two minutes

1183. being immersed in another culture

1184. a taste of home – pizza!

1185. visiting historic places with a sweet friend

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1186. my students experiencing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the first time

1187. fresh watermelon juice

1188. singing a song in Mandarin

1189. my student whispering in my ear “Teacher, you are so beautiful.”

1190. seeing God work