That was fast!

It’s always that way, isn’t it? The anticipation is slow, and then before you know it, it’s over. I knew this would happen so I tried to take one day at a time and savor each moment. Even then, it was too fast to take it all in!

None of us were ready to come home! That’s a good sign that we were enjoying the ministry. In fact, I was not missing home at all, not even In N Out (that was our first meal on American soil).

In summary – God gave us plenty of grace and answered prayers – nothing bad happened, it was all good. Here are my reflections:

  • I felt useful. This is important to me because I don’t want to go all the way there and not make a difference. I don’t want to waste time with doing only one thing a day. So in fact, we did multiple things a day i.e. evangelism, lead Bible Study, English corner – in one day.
  • I am strong enough. This is important to me because I think I’m physically weak. I am afraid I am not a good traveler, that I would get sick or can’t keep up. I don’t want to be a hinderance if someone has to take care of me. But God answered  and gave me strength as needed. I am also afraid that my physical weakness will keep me from going on mission trips again. But God affirmed that I can go again – either short or longer term. We taught the kids Isaiah 40:31; it was the verse for me, with the tune that will be stuck in my head forever!
  • God has prepared everyone with a life story and experiences that will be used by him to bless others. Each member was able to use their skills and gifts in different ways. While 4 of us do not speak Chinese, we contributed in different ways. We took different parts and gave different ideas. We also have different weaknesses where we had to be patient with each other. I am still learning that.
  • I had fun. There was joy, laughter, and rest at appropriate times. This is important to me because ministry should be joyful even when it’s hard. And it was. Admittedly half the team is my family, so that definitely made it much more fun for me. I’ve always wanted to go on a mission trip with my family. The downside is that I may have treated everyone like they were family, with my filters down. This is both good and not good. Formal courtesies that you normally don’t use with family were put aside. So the other team members who are not used to me like that may have been offended. I don’t know, I am just guessing, so I watched myself to not be “too comfortable”.
  • We did not go as experts. As team leader and church staff, and I was introduced as “Pastor Katy”, at first I felt I had to be a “professional”.  But as I said above, God prepares us with life experiences to share, not knowledge to teach. We did prepare Bible studies, etc. but since we really didn’t know what to expect and who we would be speaking to, we depended on God to give us wisdom along the way. And he gets the glory.
  • I think we did well. In the various ministry opportunities from panel discussions to Bible Study to games to sharing the Gospel to total strangers to giving an altar call to hundreds, we did not embarrass God. We had good things to share that blessed the audience. We were a shining light through our good works so people can glorify God in heaven.

I am praying for God to show us what’s next. God willing, I want to go again.


stored in: Taiwan

Leaving tomorrow night for Taiwan!

I’ve been wanting to do this for about the last 10 years and now the time has come.

What I’ve learned so far:

God indeed is sufficient if I look for him. My tendency is to look for answers anywhere but God. When I ask him to help, he can be found.

I have a lot of biases that I need to overcome. Expectations of people and circumstances need to be relaxed

I need to lighten and laugh more overall. I’ve gotten too serious lately.

That’s it for now! Godspeed!

A week away from leaving for Taiwan! I am feeling much better – I asked many people to pray for me and the team, and I know God is answering.

I feel I have more grasp of the lessons and teachings that I am prepping for.

Psalm 77 has been an encouragement to me recently.

The psalmist cries out to God and God doesn’t seem to be answering. No matter how hard he tries and how long he cries, God seems afar off. Have you ever felt that way? I have.

Then instead of dwelling on his current circumstances, the psalmist turns his thoughts to the past. When he recalls the miracles that God did in the history of Israel, he affirms that God is indeed an awesome and mighty God.

We don’t need God to do a miracle everyday for us to trust him. We can think of what he’s done in the past, and know that he is the same God. His love hasn’t changed. His power hasn’t changed.

I can trust God even if I don’t see him today, because I remember the miracles he’s done for me in the past. The miracle of sending Jesus to die and raise again to save me from judgement is enough.

To quote Nabeel Qureshi when he was diagnosed with advance stage stomach cancer -

“In the past few days my spirits have soared and sank as I pursue the Lord’s will and consider what the future might look like, but never once have I doubted this: that Jesus is Lord, His blood has paid my ransom, and by His wounds I am healed,” he wrote. “I have firm faith that my soul is saved by the grace and mercy of the Triune God, and not by any accomplishment or merit of my own. I am so thankful that I am a child of the Father, redeemed by the Son, and sealed in the Spirit. No, in the midst of the storm, I do not have to worry about my salvation, and for that I praise you, God.”
stored in: Taiwan

In Taiwan I will be giving 2 evangelistic messages, in addition to some other teaching opportunities and talking to people. Those 2 messages are by far the most challenging and stressing me out.

But this week, God answered all my concerns. I am not feeling the anxiety that I felt the last few weeks. I have made great strides in my preparations and have most of my message done.

Pastor H reminded me that God has prepared me for this, He prepared me with my life story. So share my testimony and my life. That’s what I am going to do. I am not coming as a pastor to preach. My life intersecting with Jesus and the Good News is what God gave me.

Thank you God for giving me this opportunity above and beyond what I could’ve imagined. I put my confidence in you alone to speak through me, leaving the results to you.

stored in: Taiwan

I said I am the Team Leader of this Taiwan STM. Technically I’m not. I’m the Mission Mentor. Semantics matter.

I’m reviewing my training book today:

“Your primary responsibility is not just to “lead a team” but to mentor those on it (and potentially those who are not) through missions discipleship.”

“Mentoring is a relational experience in which one person empowers or helps another by sharing God-given resources. You will empower your mentees by focusing on two key mentoring concepts: investing and influencing.”

I feel relieved that I am not expected to lead the team to perform in some way. I would much rather be relational.

Here are some things that the book lists as investing and influencing:

  • identify skills, develop giftedness in others
  • affirm skills and develop confidence in others
  • see potential others – vision casting
  • tolerate mistakes or brashness
  • understand that development takes time
  • give encouraging and timely advice
  • serve as a bridge to important resources
  • model leadership
  • take others with them in life
  • release others into ministry

“Your investment can be as simple as encouraging your mentees in their pursuit of God by talking through questions and struggles, sharing in joys and praying together. If a mentee grows in their relationship with God, they are much more likely to discover God’s greater purpose for their lives. Mentoring is simply caring about someone’s life: his heart, his beliefs, his passions, his hopes, his fears and ultimately his knowledge of Jesus Christ. You are interceding on his behalf and listening to his heart.”

Based on this, I haven’t been a very good Mission Mentor. I’ve only been a Team Leader. I’ve been focusing on all the stuff we have to prepare for. Last year for Thailand STM we didn’t have to prepare anything, so it was more natural that our meetings were more relational. In retrospect, we should’ve started meeting sooner so we can have more time to share life instead of just going through details. Now we are only 1.5 weeks away from departure. I am going to talk about this at our next and final official meeting so we can be on the same page about expectations as quoted above.

stored in: Taiwan

(Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4 in case you are interested)

I never used to worry. But as I get older, I am more prone to anxiety now.

The thought of going to Taiwan is giving me anxiety. I want to go, I’m excited about going, I just want to get there now. I hate the anticipation. It’s like the night before Disneyland when I was little, so excited I couldn’t sleep. But now that excitement is coupled with responsibility. I have to be ready to “perform.” We are taking care of children, so I have to be ready with crafts and lessons. I will be giving an evangelistic message at a crusade, and I feel so inadequate.

I would like to feel a little more “ready” so I can be more “in control”. You can tell that control has been a theme for me. I want make sure everything “goes well”, and being the team leader of this trip makes me feel that it’s up to me that things go well. Of course the fallacy there is that we are never in control of life. And the outcome is not up to me. In fact, no one expects that of me except me. I am not looking at life with the right lens. God is in control. The logical thing to do there is to hang on to him.

God, I need you with me to help me in my preparations so I can be ready. I need you with me all the time, to be with me every step of the way. Help me to let go of wanting to be control and let you take control. I am leaning on you.

stored in: Taiwan

(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 in case you are interested)

God reminded me again that He provides for all we need.

Our Taiwan short term mission team do not have musicians – no song leader, no guitar player who can lead in worship.

One of our assignments for 4 days is to run the program for children at a missionary’s retreat. We need worship and singing!

Today, God provided with teens who will be there to lead the children with singing. And not only that, they are willing to lead games and do skits. That takes a load off of us!

This provision, though seemingly small, gives me much comfort as I’ve been anxious about this trip. It reminds me that God is in control. He has all the resources beyond what I can imagine. He calls the Body of Christ internationally to work together.

I need to pray and trust that all will be well. I am not in control and I don’t need to be. He is in control. This is a continuing lesson is my life, in the life of every Christian. We think we can take care of things. But Jesus says “blessed are the poor in spirit”. If I come to God empty, He will fill me. If I come full of myself, He cannot show me what He can do.

Thank you, God for taking charge and showing me your glory.

I received this book in my package to prepare for my upcoming short term mission trip.

I finished this book within a week; I couldn’t put it down. I would’ve finished it faster but Henri Nouwen’s books require a lot reflection and soul searching. This book is so good I am reading it again.

“In the Name of Jesus” is Nouwen’s reflections on the type of Christian leadership that is needed in the 21st century. It hit on things that I am struggling with.

What people expect of church leaders is what they expect of leaders of a company. People look to successful leaders in the world and want their pastors to be like them. That is totally understandable. I was like that too as a typical congregant. We don’t know any better. Nouwen says, “The world in which we live – a world of efficiency and control – has no models to offer to those who want to be shepherds in the way Jesus was a shepherd.” (p 62)

Some takeaways for me:

People’s greatest need is not a competent leader. I expect myself to be a “professional” and do things with “excellence”. But according to Nouwen, “while efficiency and control are the great aspirations of our society, the loneliness, isolation, lack of friendship and intimacy, broken relationships, boredom, feelings of emptiness and depression, and a deep sense of uselessness fill the hearts of millions of people in our success-oriented world…the leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows them to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitters of success, and to bring the light of Jesus there.” (p 33,35)

What I need to be is a Christian leader who truly know the heart of God as it has become flesh in Jesus. Knowing God’s heart means consistently and radically reveal that God is love. And  every time fear or isolation begins to invade the human soul, this is not something that comes from God. My job is to show them God’s love. “This sounds very simple and maybe even try to, and people know that they are loved without any conditions or limits.” (p 38)

Nouwen reflected my feelings when he said Christian leaders today think that we have to do things on our own. While we know that we can’t do it all, “most of us still feel that, ideally, we should have been able to do it all and do it successfully.” (p 56) “What discipline is required for the future leader to overcome the temptation of individual heroism? I would like to propose the discipline of confession and forgiveness… Willing to confess their own brokenness and asked for forgiveness from those to whom they minister.”(p 64) I am pretty sure our church do not expect our leaders to do that.

This book reminds me that I need to fight against my self-imposed expectations to be a leader modeled by the world. Instead I need to focus on Jesus and how He wants me to lead in a way that meets people’s real needs.

I just read this that expresses more on this topic. Very helpful to me.



I couldn’t keep to my resolution that I would read one book at a time. I love to read books but I’m a slow and impatient reader, so I read several books at one time in order to get a taste of each book.

I made an effort to read through “Am I Called?” because it’s a small book, and it would be bad not to even finish a small book. The reason I read this book is to help others discern their calling into the pastorate. The author said it’s written for men since he believes only men can be pastors. I am not offended by this view because it’s a perfectly legitimate view from Scripture. However, I do believe women can be “called” by God as well. Anyway, that’s not the topic of this book, and it didn’t keep me from agreeing with the rest of the content of the book.

I learned a lot about what a pastor is supposed to do! We generally think of a pastor as a person with a particular skill set, as well as having good character, etc. However it is much more than that. It has much less to do with skills then with aligning yourself with God’s purpose for you.

I like the quote by Mark Dever in the book: (p.150)

I generally know, when someone goes into the ministry because they like to work only with Christians and to do church things, that this person probably isn’t called. The person who is usually best is the person who is quite good in a non-Christian work environment but who is willing, for the sake of the kingdom, to be called back “behind the lines” as it were, to spend his life supplying those who are on the front lines of ministry.

I do recommend this book for anyone to read but particularly for those who would like to know more about the pastoral ministry.

In the office devotion time this week, WT shared from Ephesians 3:20

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

This is exactly how I think as I prepare for TW STM. We prepare lessons, messages, testimonies, games. We have a theme, we have a skit with that theme. The only thing we don’t have are songs because no one on our team is musically inclined.

We go prepared, but at the same time, we are unprepared. We don’t know who we will be meeting and talking to, and we don’t know how people will respond.

I am looking to God to accomplish immeasurably more than we ask or even imagine could happen. If not for his power on it, we are merely performing a few good deeds, making little difference in people’s lives.

I am also looking to God to grow our team on the inside. We go as selfish people, impatient and critical – that’s me. He can change us more than we can ask or imagine, so that we will be more like Jesus, to the praise of his glory.

(Start with Part 1)

(I don’t know how many parts there will be in this series as I prepare for Taiwan Short Term Missions, from here on TW STM.)

Since I’ve always wanted to be a missionary, my greatest fear of the upcoming TW STM is that I won’t like it, or I can’t handle it physically, or I have no love for the people, and have to face the truth that my desire to be a missionary was all based on a fanciful dream. If that’s the case, then what do I do with my life?? I don’t want to go on cruises and “live out my retirement” on the proverbial golf course.

Yes, I know I can be useful for God anywhere. But I want an adventure. I’ve lived a safe life – and that’s all good. But I want just a little adventure in God’s Kingdom.

At the same time, I am ambivalent – why do I want to work so hard? Why don’t I just take it easy instead of taking on challenges?? I can easily stay within my comfort zone, stay in America and I will be happy serving at my church for many more years. And perhaps that’s where God wants me.

So after all the analysis, I am content either way. I would like to live out my dream to be a missionary in a foreign country, but I am fine staying put. There’s plenty to do here that is a challenge to me.

“I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1Cor 9:22

I always thought, if I were to be a missionary somewhere overseas, I would want to go to Taiwan.

When I was there for vacation about 6-7 years ago, the impression I had was that it was a place I can possibly adjust to living there long term. Of course I was only there as a tourist and perhaps it was all based on a fantasy that I have of wanting to be a missionary. Or perhaps it was just the practical aspect of living in Taiwan cheaply and enjoying the food. Or maybe it’s by a process of elimination that I decided on Taiwan – anywhere in Europe is too expensive, other countries in Asia is too “third world” to adjust to at my age, too many cultural unknowns for me in the Latin countries and African countries, and China requires too much “creativity” as a “creative access country”. To be honest, and I can say this because I’m Chinese – I don’t love China. I love Japan but it’s too expensive and too many cultural nuances. You can tell I’m picky!

So in a totally unexpected way, through conversations with SL at church, SL presented a short term mission trip for me to go to Taiwan this fall.

WAIT…did I really mean what I said that I’d want to be a missionary in Taiwan? I wasn’t really serious, was I?

Now there’s no turning back. I have a chance to experience Taiwan as a short term missionary! And indeed this is something I’ve always wanted, since 30 years ago actually!

So I am preparing to go to Taiwan with a team of 5 others – one of them is my husband, and one of them is my son – which is another totally unexpected blessing!

You may think it’s all coincidence, but I think not. Since the beginning even before I was born, God knew. He took me on a journey and guided my steps to today. I didn’t know it then, nor did I always acknowledge his loving presence. In hindsight, I see it, and He is amazing!


Consistent prayer is a challenge for me. Here are more quotes from A Praying Life by Paul Miller.

You don’t create intimacy; you make room for it…In short, you can’t get to know God on the fly. (p. 47)

Time in prayer makes you even more dependent on God because you don’t have as much time to get things done. Every minute spent in prayer is one less minute where you can be doing something “productive.” So the act of praying means that you have to rely more on God. (p. 49)

If we think we can do life on our own, we will not take prayer seriously. Our failure to pray will always feel like something else – a lack of discipline or too many obligations. But when something is important to us, we make room for it. Prayer is simply not important to many Christians because Jesus is already an add-on. (p. 59)

I’ve been reading this book on and off, and have pretty much read the whole book. But I’m reading it again from the beginning because it encourages me so much and I’ve forgotten so much. As I reread it, I will jot down some good points that I want to remember. This will be an ongoing post.

Our natural desire to pray comes from Creation. We are made in the image of God. Our inability to pray comes from the Fall. Evil has marred the image. We want to talk to God but can’t.The friction of our desire to pray, combined with a badly damaged prayer antennae, leads to constant frustration. (p 15)

One of the subtlest hindrances to prayer is probably the most pervasive. In the broader culture and in our churches, we prize intellect, competency, and wealth. Because we can do life without God, praying seems nice but unnecessary. Money can do what prayer does, and it is quicker and less time-consuming. Our trust in ourselves and our talents makes us structurally independent of God. (p 16)

A praying life feels like our family mealtimes because prayer is all about relationship. It’s intimate and hints at eternity. We don’t think about communication or words but about whom we are talking with. Prayer is simply the medium through which we experience and connect to God…Consequently, prayer is not the center of this book. Getting to know a person, God, is the center. (p 20)

Since a praying life is interconnected with every part of our lives, learning to pray is almost identical to maturing over a lifetime. What does it feel like to grow up? It is a thousand feelings on a thousand different days. That is what learning to pray feels like.

So don’t hunt for a feeling in prayer. Deep in our psyches we want an experience with God or an experience in prayer. Once that we make that our quest, we lose God. You don’t experience God; you get to know him. You submit to him. You enjoy him. He is, after all, a person. (p 21)

Jesus lived today, his cell phone would be ringing constantly…Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer busyness we can develop an inner quiet. (23)




Read another mystery, but after this I will go back to nonfiction.

The motivation for the murder was not very believable. Side stories were also a bit on the ridiculous side.

No more of Ruth Rendell for me, at least for now unless I get desperate.

I don’t watch TV (except HGTV on Netflix) and I don’t like movies (except Disney Pixar and other clean movies). The book is always better.

In this book by Patricia Wentworth, the build up and character development was pretty good, I was quite drawn in. But the mystery was solved in the last few pages by one person’s testimony who happened to overhear a conversation. That was too easy and definitely not creative. I think the author got tired of weaving the story and just want to end it quickly. For that reason, I give it 2.5 stars.

I needed to take a break from serious reading and do some mindless entertainment. An old-fashion whodunnit mystery novel is always my first choice of fun reading.

When I googled “authors like Agatha Christie”, Charlotte MacLeod came up. I checked out this Professor Peter Shandy murder mystery. The murder and resolution was somewhat satisfying, sort of a 2.5 stars. The characters were not developed deeply enough to make the murderer plausible. The motive for the murders was rather weak as well.

So again, no one is like Agatha Christie!




The Old Testament is full of rules and rituals that the Israelites are to follow. It seems like a religion of works but it really isn’t.

As finite beings, how can we know an infinite God? God makes himself known by giving us these means or “tools” to know him. The end goal of all that is to know God, and if we know Him, we will love Him. And when we love him, we will do what he wants and it turns out that what he wants is the best thing for us.

This clarifies it for me.

When all is said and done, our hope is not to be a skilled Bible-reader, practiced pray-er, faithful churchman, or visibly mature Christian, but to be the one who “understands and knows me, that I am the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:24).

I can be a very good “faithful churchman” and “visibly mature Christian” quite easily. But that’s not “spiritual growth.” That isn’t the abundant life nor salvation that God offers. Knowing and loving God is the end.

So even though the Christian life is often seen as a list of do’s and don’t’s but it really isn’t like that. Those are only ways through which a sinful, finite person can even hope to know a great and loving God, even just a little.


Pastor H said in his sermon on Sunday that people shouldn’t be surprised when they find out you go to church. It’s not a good thing if they say, “Oh, I couldn’t tell you’re a Christian!”

I like what Aaron says here about having a consistent lifestyle as a church leader. Actually all who call themselves Christians should live in a way that reflects Christ, in a manner worthy of the calling (Ephesians 4). My church life as a leader is not separate from my life at home, or when I’m on vacation, or when I’m at the market, or when I’m driving alone.

I am usually impatient in line, especially if the cashier is inefficient and particularly slow. My facial expressions reflect my disgust. One time at the market when I was in a big hurry and the cashier [it seemed to me] extremely slow, my daughter rebuked me and told me I shouldn’t be angry. She reminded me that it’s part of life and it’s not a big deal to wait. She was right of course! A 2 minute longer wait in line is not a life and death situation and it is not worthy of my life in Christ to be angry.

From Ephesians 4, I am to live with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…

I was given this book from my church (chosen by Aaron Lee) to align ourselves in proper worship of God. The beginning few chapters are foundations which were necessary but a bit redundant for me. But my interested peaked at Chapter 6 on. Here are a few points I found insightful.

Some Christians have been taught to repress their emotions as they sing. They have been told to fear feeling anything too strongly, and that maturity means holding back. But what we want to avoid is emotionalism, not emotions. Emotionalism pursues feelings as an end in themselves. It’s wanting to feel something with no regard for how that feeling is produced or its ultimate purpose. In contrast, the emotions that singing is meant to express are a response to who God is and what he’s done. Vibrant singing enables us to combine truth about God seamlessly with passion for God. Doctrine and devotion. Mind and heart. Suppressing or ignoring your feelings when you sing contradicts what singing is designed to do. Passionless singing is an oxymoron. (p.108)

The story on Page 114-115. Sorry it’s too long to type it all out. The bottom line is -

I tell you that story to knowledge that congregational singing isn’t always easy. If it were, I wouldn’t need to spend two chapters on it. We’d just do it. But the reality is, many Christians have a less-than-stellar experience every Sunday. The reasons are many. It could be poor leadership, weak doctrine, inexperienced musicians, emotionalism, and more. But in every circumstance, a true worshiper worships God. That’s the priority. (p.115)

This quote reminds me that worship is every moment of our lives in how we choose to live -

If we fully understand what’s at stake when we talk about worship, we’ll have a hard time treating it casually. We are given only two choices in life – to worship God or idols. There are no other options. And to worship anything but God is rebellion against his rule and a rejection of his sovereign love. Life on earth is not meaningless. Our decisions reflect our worship. Every person is constantly making choices for God or against him. (p.152)

This is a small book that can be read through fair quickly. But I am a slow reader because I like to think through each concept. I wish I can read faster because there are so many books I want to read.