Before I left for Taiwan short term ministry, I told my husband to don’t let me go again: Too much stress, I hate the plane ride and I am too old to do more work.

But at the end of the trip, I told my husband I want to go back next year!

Why?

1. The believers there need a boost. I can see that we encouraged the believers there, just to let them know they are not alone. The pastor we know there has a small church, and it was great to fellowship together.

2. The gospel is shared. Sure, local believers can share the gospel there, but having more people there, more seeds are planted. If our church had 8 extra people come for 2 weeks to do a special program to share the gospel, it would be great. Even for a church of 1000, a special outreach for 2 weeks will add to our ministry. How much more so if our team of 8 can help a church of 30?

3. People are open. I believe God is opening a door in Taiwan. I don’t hear many objections to the gospel. People may not receive it right away, but they do not object. That’s because we have the truth and Good News! People in America have baggage from the past that turned them off to the church and Christ, but Taiwanese do not have that baggage.

4. We can acclimate to Taiwan much easier than nonAsians. We already like the food, we don’t mind the traffic, we are used to crowds, we’ve vacationed there, we expect the heat and humidity, and we already know the culture and its sensitivities. While we do not have the “face credibility” of a white person to teach English, once they hear us speak English without an accent, we do have credibility. And for those on our team who speak perfect English and some Chinese, it’s a huge advantage to be able to have deeper conversations in Chinese, while also being able to teach English as a door to get in.

5. For those like me who do not speak Chinese, I was able to make connections with some of the locals just the same, just not as deep. If we work with college students, they all speak some English and are happy to try to talk to me. I was also useful in directing our team, helping them debrief and taking care of logistics while they handle the deeper conversations.

6. All team members grow in faith in God as we are out of our comfort zones. I don’t agree that STM is primarily for the growth of the team members. You can run a marathon to get out of your comfort zone and grow in faith. Team member’s growth is a side benefit, if they go with the right attitude. They cannot merely come back with “big bug stories”, but if they are focused on what God is doing, then spiritual growth is sure to occur.

I had many doubts about spending so much money on STM. Finally this year, I am more convinced that STM do serve a Kingdom purpose. I still have some reservations if people do not go with the right attitude and if the team leader – more accurately the mission mentor – is not equipped to lead the team. I am still learning, and trust that God will work despite our shortcomings.

Pastor W lend me this book as I prepare to go to Short Term Mission in a couple of weeks.

I learned a lot from this book. A few highlights:

p.71-76 The incident of servanthood

Chapter 5 Short terms with a long term view

p.150 Don’t make the focus of your trip eliminating or managing risk. What a boring trip. Don’t make it to focus when you return either. We’ve endured too many short term reports that focus entirely on how bad or dangerous are disgusting things were with no hint of God’s work.

 

 

I am getting ready to go to Taiwan for a Short-Term Mission trip! This will be my second time, helping the same missionary as last year.

My daughter is going to Japan for STM for the first time with Grace Community Church. She told me about this book and of course, since I love books, I had to get it. Clint was on staff at GCC. I wanted to read this before my trip in case there’s anything I can apply. After reading this book, I would like to read more written by him, mainly because he tells good stories.

Even though I believe in sending out STMs, I still have questions about it’s effectiveness, especially after articles like this. This book answers some of my questions, but not all. I suppose no book can answer all questions.

Just the title itself actually answers some of my concerns whether or not STMs are worth it.

In 1793 Andrew Fuller asked for volunteers to go to India, a gold mine for lost souls. William Carey famously said, “I will go down to the pit, but remember that you must hold the ropes.” There are many strands of that rope that keeps our long term missionaries on the field. One of them is a visit from home via STM.

This book is only 112 pages, but I think it could’ve been shorter because it was a bit repetitive. The last 2 chapters on travel and culture shock, and re-entry and follow-through seemed like it was a last minute add on.  If it’s meant to be a guide for STMs, it’s not comprehensive enough even though it had a few useful pointers. I had very good training from OMF that helped me understand the entry and re-entry process, so maybe I was expecting more.

I do recommend this book, it’s an easy read.

Whenever I hear or read something I like and want to refer to it later, I don’t know how to put it in a place where I can access it.

In the old days we use index cards. But it’s not very searchable; you’d have to look at every card to find what you’re looking for.  Or write it in my journal, but again, not searchable.

With technology now, what is the best way to dump things from my mind that I want to remember for future reference?

I started a new category – stuff to remember. And maybe I’ll be able to find it here on my site.

Stuff to remember from today:

https://blog.efca.org/blog/disciplemaking-compassion/truth-about-loving-our-neighbors   Every church should get this wake up call. I shared it with my senior pastor. He always says, “Would our neighbors miss us if we closed down?” At this point, I don’t think so.  I don’t think there are many churches that nonChristians would miss.

Heard Charles Stanley on the radio: His grandfather told him, “If God told you to run your head through a brick wall, you head to the wall and when you get there, God will make a hole for it.” The point is, Obey God and leave all the consequences to him. God assumes full responsibility for what happens to you when you obey him.

http://blog.mops.org/the-case-for-a-quiet-life/

Somewhere along the line, we’ve convinced ourselves that simply living our lives, caring for our people and doing what we can for those outside our circles is not enough. That following the command Jesus gave to love our neighbors has to mean something more elaborate than just loving our family or baking cupcakes for our actual neighbors. We forget that God gave us these people … that we are where we are for a reason, and we can change lives by the very act of reaching out to those in our lives.”

Loving your neighbor is no small thing. If everyone – everyone in the world – followed Jesus’ command to love our neighbor, it would change the world. Jesus is always right.

 

What! There’s more? (The story starts here.)

The health food and supplements industry continues to grow because it’s people like me who keeps them in business.

Manuka honey –  I think this was the first health thing I bought. I was reading about intestinal infections as it relates to acid reflux. The way it’s described, manuka honey could prevent cancer! It is a natural antibiotic with a host of good vitamins and minerals in it. It’s expensive so it must be good, right? Well, it tastes good at least! Did it work? I don’t know but it didn’t hurt…but after a teaspoon a day using up 250 grams and $40+, it didn’t solve my problem. And to be fair, I haven’t taken any of these supplements enough to make a difference. I mean I really shouldn’t expect to be cured after 1 month. Supplements are for restoring your health so your body can heal itself and use its natural defenses to fight germs. I should probably continue with manuka honey, but I can’t justify the spending. Maybe later I will take it again, especially if it’s on sale. A friend told me Costco sells it. I didn’t see it at our local Costco though.

Slippery elm bark powder, organic – never heard of it? Neither have I until now. I read in a forum that it coats and soothes the throat. People also said it’s slimy and tastes awful, you have to just chug it down. I don’t think it’s bad at all. It’s bland which I don’t mind, and yes it’s slimy, but maybe being Chinese has its benefits – I’m accustomed to strange foods. From everything I read, it won’t hurt you and you can’t overdose on it. I take about 1 teaspoon in half cup of water after a meal. It is very soothing, and I will continue with this for a while.

Omega-3 krill oil – I bought this for my husband a while back for his high blood pressure. I’ve forgotten to remind him to take it (unlike me the hypochondriac, he never thinks he’s sick and would not take supplement on his own volition). I’m taking it now, and telling the hubby to take it again too, because my friend told me 4 things helped her health – fiber, omega-3, digestive enzymes, and probiotics. I am pretty sure I am getting enough fiber with veggies and oatmeal. I take digestive enzymes occasionally if I am anticipating a big meal with meat. So I added the omega-3.

Now regarding probiotics, I was taking a capsule a day. However, I stopped because I read that the prebiotic in most probiotic capsules is counterproductive when I’m trying to cut down on carbs. The rationale is that probiotics need to feed on carbs to grow in your intestines. I’m not sure about all that, and I think I will add back probiotics soon. But for some reason that makes no sense to me…I just decided to take a break from it. That’s probably not the right approach to these supplements. There is something about consistency that is good for you. But I’m swallowing so many pills that I just want to stop probiotics due to conflicting info by health gurus.

Gaviscon – Not sure if this is considered a natural supplement, but it’s made with seaweed or something. My ENT told me to take this before bed to coat my esophagus and throat from acid reflux at night. I googled it (yeah, I don’t believe my doctor), and found that the Gaviscon sold in the U.S. contains antacid with aluminum. However, Gaviscon sold in the U.K. does not contain the antacid. It is just the seaweed stuff for coating. Well, it’s a good thing google was invented because I am against taking antacids, for now anyway. So I bought the U.K. Gaviscon on Amazon for like 3x the price of the U.S. brand. Has it helped? I do think so! I take about half a tablespoon before bed, and in the morning my throat feels good. I will continue with this for a while. But I do need to read more about the long term use.

Interesting observation – I just came back from our church’s women’s retreat where for 2 days I ate regular food and did not take any supplements except chewing on a bit of ginger that I brought with me and Gaviscon at night. In fact, I felt pretty good! I attribute that being distracted by the activities and the conversations that I was enjoying, leaving no time for me to think about myself or my symptoms. That was a good thing. I just need more distractions!

Two more things to document here because I end this series of supplements – I stopped eating 3 hours before sleeping at night. Every single website I’ve read says to do that, so it must be right :) Has it helped? It hasn’t hurt and it’s not much effort. It makes logical sense not to lie down after eating. I was eating a small protein snack before sleeping because I read that it helps with balancing your blood sugar. So I eating a bit of cheese before bed, I love cheese. I stopped doing that and maybe it’s helping.

I also raised the head of my bed with blocks by 5-6 inches. Using extra pillows to raise your head is counterproductive to acid reflux. You must raise the bed so your body is more “upright”. Has it helped? Every single website I’ve read says to do this, so must be right :) It hasn’t hurt and it doesn’t cost anything, so why not.

This is the end of my long list. If I add more, I’ll post again!

I hope this will help someone with LPR. And I hope I hear from people with LPR to give me more ideas of supplements I should take.

18
May
Continue from my list of supplements I’m taking -

I know it seems like I’m taking a lot of stuff, yet to me it just seems like 3-4 pills. But I guess you wouldn’t have to take even one pill if you are perfectly healthy. Nowadays though, it is not unusual to take some supplement – a probiotic, a vitamin, an antioxidant or omega-3 seems to be well-accepted. In modern living we want “quality of life” and possibly “extend our life” by the use of supplements to prop up our physical body. Sometimes I wonder if that’s really the best for us. I spend so much time and energy with health concerns recently that it’s been a big distraction. God is telling me to focus on him, not on solutions without him. To be a good steward of the body that God has given us, and to trust him no matter what is the proper balance of perspective.

With that said, here’s continuing with my list of supplements:

Turmeric – This is probably the superfood of the year. Every year there is a superfood that everyone takes. There was omega 3 fish oil, and green tea, and gingko nuts. I am jumping on the turmeric bandwagon. It’s an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the culprit of a lot of illnesses, they say.  My MIL said her friend’s got her high blood sugar under control when she took organic turmeric. I bought both the powder and the capsule. I tried “golden milk” with turmeric and coconut milk, but it didn’t seem to agree with me. So I make it with water like tea, and drink about a cup a day. I also take one capsule a few times a week. My friend takes 2 capsules a day for her arthritis. If I have any inflammation in my digestive system, including throat inflammation from LPR, I figured the turmeric would help. As with all natural supplements, you cannot expect to see immediate results. I was discouraged when I first started with these supplements. I thought it’d be like medicine, when you take a Tylenol, your headache immediately goes away. But natural supplements promotes a slow healing process. It’s not a lot of money to spend and I figured, it can’t hurt…and maybe in the long run, I’ll feel better.

Evamor alkaline water – I read that our modern diet tends to be acidic – fast food, red meat, fried foods, soda, etc. and we don’t eat enough alkaline food such as veggies. So drinking alkaline water will bring down the acidity in our body. Now, I have a B.S. degree in nutrition…and my diet is healthier than the average American. I never drank soda, alcohol, or coffee. I don’t eat out a lot, and I don’t even like fried foods that much. I hardly ever snack, and never buy chips for our home. I eat a good amount of veggies, especially leafy green chinese veggies. So is my body acidic? I don’t know, but since I have symptoms of acid reflux, it wouldn’t hurt to drink alkaline water. I also read that LPR is caused by pepsin (a stomach acid) refluxed in the throat that shouldn’t be there, thereby causing damage typical of LPR. While you can’t get rid of the pepsin, alkaline water can deactivate it.

To make this story long, I will go into the details of looking for alkaline water. With our pH kit to test our pool water, I tested the reverse osmosis filter water that we usually drink at home. It was about 7.4. Then I tested our tap water and it was a little over 8! But I read that Evamor is all natural, no added chemicals or ions to make it alkaline, it naturally has a pH of between 8.8-9.1. I searched Amazon for the cheapest seller, and it still comes out to .069 cents an ounce. If I drank that exclusively I’ll be spending about $5 a day for water. That’s too expensive to keep up. I drank it exclusively for 4 days to give it a chance to work on me. That’s already close to $20! Now I only drink Evamor in the morning and sometimes after meals. Mostly I am drinking boiled tap water now (boiling takes out some of the chlorine).

To be continued.

17
May

Continuing my list of supplements to help relieve LPR:

Calcium with Magnesium and Zinc – I read that calcium citrate can help heal the LES (lower esophageal sphincter), so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have some calcium anyway. It’s a huge pill, so I let it sit in my mouth with a little water and then just swallow after the pill is dissolved. It doesn’t taste like anything other than a little gritty, I don’t mind it. I read that the calcium citrate should touch the LES so dissolving it this way helps it come in direct contact better than if I swallowed the pill – that’s my theory. The blog post I read did say this is not proven, but it doesn’t hurt to try. This is the attitude I take on all these supplements. It won’t hurt and maybe it’ll help, even a little would be worth it. I also read that if you are acidic your body will draw calcium to balance the pH. In case if this is happening, the supplement will help. I only take 1 tablet instead of the 2 recommended a day. So it gives me 50% of the recommended daily value, so it won’t be anywhere near toxic levels. There isn’t much magnesium or zinc, but it’s there to help calcium absorption.

Magnesium – For a couple weeks I was experiencing heavy anxiety especially at night time. I read that magnesium helps you to sleep, so I had to try that. Stress draws magnesium from you, so I am taking a little extra just in case. I take 1 tablet instead of the recommended 2 a day, so I am getting 50% of the recommended daily value, and I won’t overdose on it. Including the amount of magnesium in the calcium supplement I’m probably getting about 70%. Like the calcium, it is a huge pill. It is so hard that I couldn’t even dissolve it in my mouth. So I soak it in a little water to dissolve it and it tastes yucky! Kind of like oyster fishy flavor! It’s the price I pay for taking it this way. Has it helped? Well, I am able to sleep a lot better now, and I only feel anxiety once in a while. However, I attribute the improvement to God’s help, that I am learning to deal with my emotions with prayer. God is my heavenly Father who cares for me, so I am putting my trust in Him, not on these supplements. It may be that He is using these supplements to help me, so I just do my part in using wisdom to take the supplements and see what God will do. It is the attitude I take with all health related issues. We do our part in taking the appropriate meds and caring for our body the way God intends, and we trust Him for the rest.

Ginger – I chew on a small piece of raw ginger after meals and whenever I feel any symptoms. This is probably the best thing I’ve done and really helps with minimizing symptoms. I read that it’s safe to chew up to 4-5 grams a day. I weighed it out to see how much that is, and it’s probably about an inch and a half. I don’t come near to chewing that much, so I’m safe to continue this. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory, so that’s another reason to eat ginger. It was very spicy when I first started on this, but I’ve gotten used to the taste. A friend bought me the dried ginger coated with sugar. That actually is more spicy because it’s concentrated when it’s dried. Plus I don’t want the extra sugar. I buy the organic ginger available at a farmer’s market near me and carry a little bit of it in my purse whenever I go out to eat.

One thing that has also noticeably helped is changing a habit of drinking liquid during a meal. I read that drinking liquid during a meal washes down all the stomach acids needed to digest the food. Since I stopped drinking during a meal, bloating and burping has definitely decreased. I drink about 15 minutes before and after eating. In the old days when I was young, I used to love drinking milk with my meals. Those days are gone…but I can still enjoy life without milk :)

To be continued.

15
May

UPDATE from my previous post – The biopsy came back benign – Thank you, God! Some minor irritation of gastritis in the stomachs is the official result.

In an effort to relieve my symptoms of LPR, I’ve been taking various natural supplements since April, but diligently since May 1, 2017. Now I will begin to track progress in my symptoms, if any. It’s so convenient to buy these from Amazon, with Prime I can get just about anything within 2 days! And if I don’t like it I can return it. I love Amazon!

Here we go:

Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) – this is suppose to be chewed 20-30 minutes before a meal to coat  and promote healing of the esophagus. I often forget to take it and end up chewing it 5 minutes before eating. I bought the no-frustose version, it doesn’t taste bad. I’ve gotten through 2 bottles of 100 tablets each. Has it helped? I don’t know, but I figured it won’t hurt. But I do not plan on buying anymore when the bottle is finished since my endoscopy did not show damage in my esophagus. I don’t want to take anything long term if I don’t need it.

B-complex – I’ve never taken vitamins regularly because I think I eat healthy enough to get enough nutrients for my body size. I generally don’t believe in taking in extra stuff into your body…however, as I get older and with stress, I figured my body may not be as efficient in absorption. And I’m not eating as much as I used to. I’ve also cut down on eating beef, which is a good source of all kinds of vitamins and minerals. In the past I’ve not been able to tolerate multi-vitamins, I get mouth sores as a result. This time I’m taking just B-complex without Vitamin C or other minerals. I’ve not had any reactions from this.

Stress tabs – I was at Kaiser the other day, and of course I had to browse the vitamins and minerals section. I picked up a bottle of stress tabs because it contains niacin (B-3) and I read that it’s good for me…It also has a lot of zinc which I read is good for me…I know, I’m a sucker and believe everything I read. The B-complex has niacin but I figured I can use more zinc. It also has vitamin C that the B-complex does not. So once a week I take the stress tab and not the B-complex to give myself a boost once a week. I don’t know if it actually works that way, but it seems reasonable to me.

Before I continue, I digress and let you know I’ve been using essential oils. My friend V got me onto this because she swears her family never gets sick, and if they do, a few drops of the right essential oils cures them in 1-2 days. Of course I have to give it a try, it won’t hurt. I am fairly certain that a large part of acid reflux is due to anxiety and stress. Everyone in the 21st century modern living has that, right? As I get older, I am not able to handle stress as well. I’ve never considered myself a nervous person. But again, with age, and changes in life stage and changes in hormones, things do get to me, and manifests itself in anxiety. I am mostly using lavender to help me relax. I rub it on before I sleep – V says the bottom of the foot is where it absorbs best. Recently I got myself an essential oil necklace so I sniff it all day. V says she has an essential oil diffuser in her car. I am not going to get that…yet. Has it helped? I don’t know, but I figured it won’t hurt…

To be continued.

 

These are the things I’m doing to alleviate my digestion symptoms of LPR:

Yesterday, I did an endoscopy. I want to rule out any serious damage that’s been done to my system since I think I’ve had LPR for some time without realizing it.

In February, I did a colonoscopy. I figured I better check both ends. An endoscopy is much easier than a colonoscopy. I only had to fast overnight, and the procedure was maybe 5-10 minutes. I was under “twilight” anesthesia so I really don’t know how long it was, but that’s what I was told.

The nurse told me afterwards that everything was fine. But I asked to talk to the doctor for further clarification. I am pretty good at asking questions. I’ve learned that over the years that you have to ask.

The doctor said:

1. He took out polyps for biopsy. Now here I forgot to ask – how many polyps? Is it common to have polyps? I was still a bit dizzy from the anesthesia so I wasn’t as good with questions under the circumstances. I was tempted afterwards to email him to ask more questions, but my husband told me, and God convicted me, to trust God and not get myself all worked up. I’ll just wait for the biopsy results. Can’t do anything about it anyway. If I have cancer, I’ll know soon enough. UPDATE: biopsy is benign! Praise God!

2. The esophagus looks normal, a little irritated but not bad.

3. I don’t have hiatal hernia (I asked him to specifically check).

4. My LES looks normal as far as he can tell. However, from what I’ve read, you can’t really evaluate the LES with an endoscopy. But I’ll let it go at that. At least there is no observable damage.

5. Irritation of the throat is caused by constant clearing the throat. My husband said the doctor did not say my throat was irritated, but I thought he said it was a little irritated. However, I did remember him saying there’s nothing bad.

Well, that gave me some peace of mind, and I’ll know for sure when I receive the biopsy report of the polyps. I feel a little happier knowing that my esophagus is not damaged and that maybe my LPR isn’t that bad.

In the meantime, I still have a cough that I hope is a separate issue from LPR. It’s going on 3 weeks that I’ve had a cough with a weak voice. But I know coughs can linger.

To be continued….

 

 

I don’t know if I’m feeling better or worst, or just that I’m more aware of my symptoms.

In December 2016 when I experienced pain in my stomach area, I went to see my doctor. She did blood work and ultrasound on my pancreas and everything was normal. I self-diagnosis that it was some digestion issues.

When I started googling about that, I realize many symptoms that I experience as “normal” were actually indications of LPR or Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease. I’ve probably had LPR for a long time and didn’t recognize it. It’s the silent reflux disease.

The most evident symptom is the feeling of lump in my throat that doesn’t go away. It doesn’t hinder my daily activities. It doesn’t obstruct swallowing. So I ignore it and it became “normal” to me. I used to try to gag myself to get it out, and of course it doesn’t work. Now I know it’s really bad to gag yourself. Now I know the constant feeling of a lump in my throat is a LPR symptom.

Another symptom is post nasal drip and sore throat. I thought post nasal drip is the normal effect of allergies or being in a dry climate area. In fact, I thought it was weird that my husband doesn’t have post nasal drip. I thought everyone has it. Now I know: along with the lump in throat feeling, the constant post nasal drip and sore throat are LPR symptoms.

These symptoms were brought to the forefront because since December I’ve had discomfort after eating – bloating, more apparent feeling of a lump in my throat, and indigestion. I’ve tried Prilosec both prescription and OTC. But I’ve never taken a full course because it makes me nauseous. After reading more about LPR, I am pretty convinced I don’t want to take any more meds.

I know, I know, a little information from forums and WebMD is a dangerous thing. Yet I am relieved to find that I’m not alone, that a lot, I mean A LOT of people have symptoms like mine. Now I don’t have to go to my doctor, go through my list of nebulous symptoms and have her think I’m crazy.

But of course, the more stuff I read, the more conflicting info I get. I totally understand that what worked for some people may not work on others or on me. But I can’t help but feel such hope when someone says on a forum, “My symptoms were gone within 3 months of taking this [insert the nonGMO, organic, free-range, superfood supplement].” And of course with one click on Amazon I buy that supplement hoping that my symptoms will too magically disappear. And of course that hasn’t happened.

I should expect it to be a slow progress to recovering. I heard an encouraging note on a podcast – your body is always trying to heal itself. Help it along with good food and the body will respond. That sounds pretty reasonable.

Next, I’ll record the ways I’m trying to be good to my body.

 

12
Apr

I inherited my mom’s very heavy down comforter. It weighs 14 pounds (yes, I weigh it).

I love that blanket. My elder daughter is in line to inherit it from me.

But that blanket is too hot to use, even in the winter, even without the heater on at night. But I love the way the blanket feels because it’s heavy. It feels like I’m being hugged. Maybe it’s a security thing, like I’m protected.

Apparently I’m not the only one who loves a heavy blanket. There is in fact a researched based explanation. “Deep pressure touch stimulation (or DPTS) is a type of therapy that almost anyone can benefit from. Similar to getting a massage, pressure exerted over the body has physical and psychological advantages.” Now there’s an official name for the reason why I love my mom’s heavy blanket!

For his birthday, my husband bought me a weighed blanket (yes, I got a present on his birthday. Awesome husband.) I’ve been using it for the last couple days and I do love it. It’s not fluffy like the down, but it does have that crushing feel that makes me feel secure.

I don’t know if it’s the blanket, or it’s coincidence, or it’s psychological, or the research is right, but I slept better the last couple of days since I got the blanket :)

P.S. I got a 10 lb blanket which is suppose to be suitable for a 90-100 lb person. I could’ve gotten a 12 lb blanket (the heavier the more expensive), but I went on the cheaper and safer side in case I can’t breathe under the weight.

I borrow this book from HL since I’m interested in the evolution of the Asian American church. I’ve read online articles by DJ Chuang and generally like to read his insights.

I skimmed through this book because I don’t really want or need the details. I have many other books I want to read. And since I am generally familiar with Chuang’s material, I didn’t need to read it in detail again.

The book is basically what I thought it would be. The insights are centered mostly around Asian American churches in California. I grew up in the generation when Asian Americans churches were emerging so I know most of the back stories of churches he talks about. It’s interesting to see what I experienced put on paper by someone else.

If you don’t know much about Asian American churches, this is a good one to read.

 

My son had been talking about living on a farm and recommended this book. After reading it, I want to live on a farm too!

I don’t have cable TV so I’ve not seen Fixer Upper. I love the book – read it in 3 days while other books are waiting in a stack. God worked in their lives in amazing ways. It encourages me that young couples like this put God and family as top values to live by. It also encourages me to go do something crazy – not sure what yet, but I definitely want to re-do my yard now.

The subtitle is “Leading change in the church”. I could’ve used this book when I was at my previous church. Though the results of failing to make the changes we tried to make would not have changed, it would’ve prepared me better. From what I learned from that experience, I did a better job at making changes at my current church.

There are many good principles as well as practical advice in this book. Some may seem obvious, but it’s good have it laid out on paper. There is more that can be said, but for a small readable book, this covers quite a lot.

A few take-aways:

5% eager for change

20% open to change

30% followers of the most convincing voices

25% resistant to change

20% highly resistant to change

The authors says the numbers are not precise, but the proportions are close.

I thought it was just Chinese churches that are resistant to change, but apparently not so.

I am of the 5% who like changes – “Change is not always better, but better always requires change.”

“How much should leaders communicate the vision and the change needed to fulfill the vision? As a rule of thumb, once leaders are sick and tired of hearing themselves say the same thing over and over again, that is the beginning point of effective communication.” – This I have not done!

“Many churches move from a dynamic Great Commission body to a religious country club…That’s the natural state of most churches in America today…change will not happen without intentional outward movement…” – My senior pastor sees this. He says the way to move together is to have an outward focus.

 

06
Feb

I am talking to a friend about where she plays tennis, I’d like to join her.

“What do you wear to play?” she asks.

“T-shirt and shorts, is that ok?” Why does she want to know what I wear??

Then I hear a vibrate noise and I check my phone – but it’s not my phone, no one is calling me.

My friend leaves, annoyed that I checked my phone while talking to her.

Where is that vibrating coming from?

I check my pager – yeah I know, I have a pager, in my pocket. It’s not buzzing.

I check other devices I have, no buzzing on any of them.

Next thing you know, I’m back home in bed and my husband says, “Check the massage bed control.” Nope, massage bed is not on. Wait, I have a massage bed?

Husband says, “Check your alarm.” Oh, my alarm is going off…I’m suppose to wake up…

Ah…time to wake up! LOL

Interesting how reality gets incorporated into a dream.

This book is under the J section of the library – for Juvenile. My friend used this historical fiction in homeschooling her sons. I read it to consider using the book to teach English in Taiwan.

The historical setting is in the days of Jesus. These are a few short conversations between the main characters and Jesus, and I think they are in line with what Jesus might have said. I wouldn’t say it’s heretical to put those words in Jesus’ mouth for the sake of a fictional story.

The story gave me some insight into the Jews’ experience of oppression under the Romans and the hatred they live with daily. I understand more about the Zealots. It even helped me understand more about the ministry of Jesus.

However, I don’t think I can use the book to teach English in Taiwan. It’s too hard to explain all the context with someone with zero background in Christianity and low level English.

 

 

The subtitle is “Hopeful reflections on the challenges of parenting children with special needs.”

Recently we’ve had a couple more families with autistic children come to our church. I am glad God find us worthy to care for His special children.

I read this book to better understand the families. The authors have two autistic children. Actually, the attitude adjustments in caring for special needs children is not much different than in caring for any children. But these parents have a heighten awareness of their need to examine themselves as parents whereas most other parents can easily add children to their list of other life priorities.

These are some insights that I relate to:

“There are days, even now, when it’s tempting to blow my own trumpet, whether by looking for recognition in the wrong places or by belittling the parenting trials that people around the face. In a room full of women bemoaning the fact that their children won’t try broccoli, it can be tempting to throw in a conversation bomb like “Yes, but does anyone have any strategies on stopping smearing?” The truth is, as a parent, you wield a certain amount of power to make people feel bad about their own challenges or to make them live in awe and admiration of yours… But the life sacrifices are ultimately for an audience of One.” (p 40)

“I love my kids most not by loving them the most but by first loving God. As soon as I take my eyes off him and my attitude falters and I begin to believe that I alone must push for them and control their destinies, the unbearable weight of playing God soon becomes apparent.” (p 43)

“in God’s global mission, the role of extraordinary people doing exceptional things is probably as far smaller than we imagine – and the role of ordinary people doing everyday things is certainly far greater than we imagine…Carl Trueman was right: “My special destiny as a believer is to be part of the church; and it is the church that is the big player in God’s wider plan, not me.”” (p 48)

“if I go into our conservatory and I can’t see Xindel, our giant-sized golden retriever, I can be virtually certain that he isn’t there. He’s so large that if he was there I would be able to see him. But if I go into a conservatory and I can’t see an amoeba, that doesn’t really tell me much… In the same way, the fact that I don’t know why suffering exists doesn’t really tell me much about whether there’s a reason for it. If God knows everything, and I don’t, the chances are that the reason for suffering might be more like an amoeba than a retriever.” (p79″)

At the end of the book there are recommended resources. Since I plan to give this book to one of the families with autistic children, I am going to put here the ones I want to check out later -

EllenStumbo.com

The Reason I Jump: One Boy’s Voice from the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic

Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother’s Heart and Hope edited by Tony Karalee Reinke (a compilation from various women)

 

 

Last Sunday, I wanted to go to evening service at Grace Community Church, an hour away from my house. It would kill 3 birds with one stone – take my daughter back to school, watch the baptism of her friend, and enjoy a time of worship since I was not able to attend the service at my church.

As it turned out, we were half an hour late, because it started at 6:00pm and we thought it was at 6:30pm!

I missed the singing that I was looking forward to. I missed the baptism that I was looking forward to.

I only made it in time for the offering and the sermon.

I was frustrated! “I didn’t drive an hour to listen to a sermon that I could hear online!” “I wanted to enjoy the music led by an awesome band and professional worship leader!” “I missed the whole worship!”

As I sat there grumbling, God asked me, “Why do you attend worship service? Why do you want to witness the baptism? What is it to you?”

The answer should be what every good Sunday School student knows – Jesus.

But my attitude showed that Jesus was not the heart of my worship. I was treating worship as a church service – there is a big difference between the two.

I was there that night expecting to sit and be happy, to be emotionally moved, to “feel God’s presence”. I want to see the baptism because it’s fun. That’s a church service to meet my needs. Is that worship?

I treated worship service like an event, similar to going to a concert. I wanted to get there on time so I don’t miss the previews. I drove an hour and I wanted to get my money’s worth. Is that worship?

God could’ve easily prompted one of us to check the time on the website so we wouldn’t be late. But he allowed us to be late so I can face my wrong attitude.

I don’t want to attend church service anymore. I want to worship. I want to honor God. He deserves and demands more than a church service.

02
Nov

There were many highlights from our Taiwan trip, here are just a few thoughts, not in any particular order:

First day we landed at 6am, typhoon Megi hit at around noon. So much for the vision trip to Hualien Mennonite hospital – all trains were cancelled!

We stored up with instant food from 7-11 conveniently next to our hotel in Taipei and holed up there all day. The highlight was watching the street from our 4th story window of trees bending low and occasional people getting on and off the bus. Yes, people were still out there. Stacy and I wanted to get the full experience, so we ventured out of the front door to get a feel of the wind and rain. Unlike what you see in the movies, it wasn’t strong enough to push us backwards. But then we were pretty protected between tall buildings.

The 3rd day when the all clear signal was given, the streets were packed with people – the typical sight of the Asia we know and love. Our hotel was across from the Main Train Station, so we were able to walk to food and shops. The underground network of trains and shops was amazing. We didn’t have to go above ground for anything if we didn’t want to (much like Tokyo).

Talked to Linda, a 38-year-old single missionary from Australia. She’s been in Taiwan for 6 years. I asked if she struggled with coming back to Taiwan after her home assignment 4 years ago. She said, “Of course, every day!” But she obeyed God and is happy that she did come back to Taiwan. Yes, missionaries struggle too.

Passing out flyers to invite students to our English conversation group, I had one more flyer to give out. I asked God to lead me to someone. Then I spotted a girl sitting by herself. Her name is Chia. She said she would come, but I wasn’t confident that she’d actually come. But she did come and stayed for quite a while. Then I saw her a week later at the Rachel Liang concert crusade. After I came home, I got a text from the 1-year missionaries that she’s been back to the cafe and they’ve been meeting up with her. Praying for her salvation!

Dora is a local church member who volunteers at National United University. She came to Christ as a college student. Due to her own struggle overcoming depression, she has a heart for students to know Christ. She has 2 young children, her daughter is only a few months old. A church members takes care of her children while she comes to the campus once a week to meet with students that she has befriended.

We happened to talked to one of the students at the cafe that Dora meets with. She accepted Christ when our team member shared with her. She texted Dora that she was excited that it’s the 4th time she’s met Christians! Dora was a sower and we get to be reapers!

After giving my first message and altar call on the night of the first crusade, I felt a bit discouraged because right after the altar call, the MC started a raffle drawing, the entire mood was changed and it seemed the gospel didn’t make much difference. As I talked in the back with the interpreter, he said, “It’s never a bad thing when the gospel goes out.” We prayed together and once again affirmed that it’s not our efforts, but God who works to change lives.

Prayer walking helped me to develop my heart to see the world as God sees. I should do more prayer walking here, not just on mission trips.

I decided I like Chinese food now. I used to say I’m ok with Chinese food, but now I’ll say I like it. But only the Chinese food in Taiwan!

We met several couples on campus where the girl is a Christian and the guy is not. Being that it’s rare to be a Christian, it is probably pretty hard to find a Christian guy. Pray that those who become Christians will be able to find Christian spouses.

 

 

18
Oct

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.