31天之尋找智慧 (31 Days of Wisdom): Day 4 & 5

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Proverbs 箴言 4:23

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

你要保守你心,勝過保守一切因為一生的果效,是由心發出。

To me, most things that happen in life are a matter of the heart. Call it what you will, psychological well-being, emotional wellness, peace of the soul, but it always boils down to the human heart. Everything we feel, think, and do; it comes from our heart. And whatever we let into our heart, comes out in our actions.

對我來說,人類生活的發生都歸於我們的心。我們的心包含心裡健康,情緒健康,心裡平靜,生活的事都從此些啟發,感覺,思想,行為,皆歸於我們的心。什麼事進去我們的心,什麼事在生活中生出來。

Proverbs 箴言 5:5-6

Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not.

他腳下入死地,她腳步踏住陰間,以致她不著生命平坦的道。他的路變遷不定,自己還不知道

The “she” in these verses refer to an adulteress. Why an adulteress? Well, in order to commit adultery, people generally end up being dishonest, lie to people who love them, and, ultimately, are unfaithful. Why? To get what they want. I think this might be the opposite of the “she” in the previous chapters, the opposite of wisdom. But the scary part about not having wisdom, is that you literally don’t realize how you’re ruining your life. It makes me think about all those times I’ve only gone after what I wanted, not even realizing how much I was damaging my own life.

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31天之尋找智慧 (31 Days of Wisdom): Day 3

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箴言 Proverbs 3:19-20

19 耶 和 華 以 智 慧 立 地 , 以 聰 明 定 天 ,

20 以 知 識 使 深 淵 裂 開 , 使 天 空 滴 下 甘 露 。

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
    by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
    and the clouds let drop the dew.

神的智慧不光是某種哲學或抽象的思維;天地的大自然出現神的智慧,神的智慧可以被我們體會的,我們可以摸到,看到,感到它。神賜給我們的智慧,也是祂以此來創造天地祂的智慧正在圍繞著我們,但我們還需要尋找它,而用全心仰賴神。

God’s wisdom is not simply a philosophy or some abstract system of thought; it can be found in creation. God’s wisdom is TANGIBLE. We can touch it, see it, sense it. The wisdom God gives us is the very wisdom he used when he created the heavens and the earth. His wisdom is literally all around us, but we still must seek it and trust in the Lord.

回去看 31天之尋找智慧 (31 Days of Wisdom): Day 2

回去看 31天之尋找智慧 (31 Days of Wisdom): Day 1

31天之尋找智慧 (31 Days of Wisdom): Day 2

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Proverbs 箴言 2:3-4

呼 求 明 哲 , 揚 聲 求 聰 明 ,

尋 找 他 , 如 尋 找 銀 子 , 搜 求 他 , 如 搜 求 隱 藏 的 珍 寶

“…indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure…”

有沒有尋找過隱藏的珍寶?真的要去尋找的人很辛苦吧!但是,找到珍寶的剎那,興奮得不得了!像尋找神的智慧一樣,我們必須 呼求明哲,尋找他,如尋找銀子,搜球隱藏的珍寶。不可以對尋找智慧馬馬虎虎,不可以隨便找一找,靠好運達到,神的智慧跟好運根本沒有關係。

我們必須特地去尋找智慧,而且找到的後果很大,看箴言第二章就知道智慧的後果。

所以呢?今天要開始隱藏的珍寶尋找,我們一起出發!

Have you ever found hidden treasure? Hunting for treasure is actually hard work! But the instant the treasure is found, excitement is an understatement – you’re ecstatic! This is what it’s like to search for God’s wisdom; we must call out for insight, seek it like one seeks out silver or searches for hidden treasure. We can’t approach seeking for wisdom carelessly or think we’ll just randomly find it by chance. God’s wisdom has nothing to do with luck.

We need to go out of our way to search for it, and the reward is great; just read Proverbs 2 to know the rewards of finding God’s wisdom.

So now what? Today, let the treasure hunt begin. Let’s go!

回去看 31天之尋找智慧 (31 Days of Wisdom): Day 1

31天之尋找智慧 (31 Days of Wisdom): Day 1

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Following the suggestion of a pastor that his church take the next 31 days and focus on seeking God’s wisdom, I, along with other department leaders here at the Aroma are reading a chapter of Proverbs each day and sharing with each other what sticks out to us. I decided to share my gleanings here.

由於某個牧師呼籲他的教會藉由聖經的箴言特地尋找神的智慧,因此在我教會的部門領導將趁31天一天讀一章的箴言書地尋找神的智慧,而要彼此分享。我會利用我的部落格來分享我從箴言學到什麼。

Proverbs 箴言 1:20-21

Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
    she raises her voice in the public square;
on top of the wall[d] she cries out,
    at the city gate she makes her speech:

20 智 慧 在 街 市 上 呼 喊 , 在 寬 闊 處 發 聲 ,

21 在 熱 鬧 街 頭 喊 叫 , 在 城 門 口 , 在 城 中 發 出 言 語 。。。

在我教會這兩個禮拜講道者強調的主題是 讀聖經,怎麼讀聖經呢?他教大家如何用 歸納法 來讀聖經。歸納法有三個腳步:觀察(看看看!),釋義(為什麼為什麼為什麼?),應用(做做做)

畢竟誰都可以自己讀聖經:先不要想太多,就要看,觀察地方,名字,語氣,發生什麼事,然後要提問為什麼某事發生在那裡,為什麼這位說這句話,之類的問題,最後要思考怎麼把讀到的東西在你的生活做出來。應用就是讀聖經的目的。

我讀箴言第一章第20至21節的時候,我先觀察到智慧像一個人在外面叫大家向他注意,然後我來提問為什麼智慧需要這樣做,在寬闊處發出言語?最後,決定如果智慧正在這樣做,在外面發言語給大家聽的話,我必聽。

我讀到的看起來這麼簡單,不過,對我來說,這就是踏出我尋找神的智慧的第一步:

The speaker at church these last two weeks has been teaching on how to study the Bible. How do you study the Bible? He taught on the deductive method of Bible study. The deductive method has three basic steps: observation (look, look, look!), interpretation (why, why, why?), and application (do, do, do!).

Basically anyone can study the Bible. First, just read it, and observe things like places, names, mood, events. Then ask the question “Why?”; why did such and such happen in such and such place, why did so and so say such and such words – these types of questions. Finally, consider how you can live out what you studied in your own life. Application is the goal of all Bible study.

So when I read verses 20-21 of Proverbs chapter 1, I observed that wisdom is like a person, standing outside, trying to get people’s attention. I asked why would wisdom need to do this, stand outside in the public square to make a speech? And then I decided that if this is what wisdom is doing, I need to listen.

This sounds so simple; but for me, this is my first step in seeking God’s wisdom. Listen.

April, the month – not the girl. (An April Update)

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April. It started out with a 4-day weekend, during which a high school friend from back home visited. It middled with a baptism service. And then it ended in the middle of the week, which was a little awkward, but we all figured it out.

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I was refreshed and had a super fun time showing my friend Anthony around Taipei City and beyond (he’s part of the crew I went to school with from 8th grade to graduation who I see everytime I go back to good ‘ole Marysville, Washington). That was an action packed 4-day weekend, and just give you an idea of how international networking is such a natural part of my life these days, let me tell you about Tim, the guy who tagged along on the adventure I had already planned for Anthony. I met him at this restaurant called 365, where I was having lunch with my friend Jamie. He approached us after finishing his meal and directly called us out on our American English accents. Why? He had spent the last 6 months in Australia; they don’t speak with  American accents there. As a result of his bold introduction and the fact that he visiting Taiwan for 2 weeks, I invited him to join the tour I was already taking Anthony on. It was a fun weekend, and Anthony officially became my first friend from back home to visit me out here. (I LOVE visitors, hint-hint!)

Then, after a shorter week of school due to the 4-day weekend, we had a baptism service for our friend and sister Angela.

But before I tell you about the baptism service, I’m going to back up and explain some of the cultural significance of a Taiwanese holiday that often lines up with Easter Sunday, this day is called Tomb Sweeping Day. Tomb Sweeping Day is a day when families return to the tombs of deceased family members and pay their respects through 拜拜 (pronounced “bye-bye”), which is basically praying to their ancestors. This includes other practices, such as burning and incense and setting up a table with food. It’s a challenging day for first generation Taiwanese Christians to face, as they don’t want to dishonor their parents, but they also want to honor the God of the Living. And it just so happens, that this last Tomb Sweeping Day coincided with Easter Sunday. On a day people were remembering and praying to the dead, people were also celebrating the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God, the God of the living, not of the dead. This is such a powerful example of the battle in the spiritual realm here in Taiwan. (Tomb-sweeping pictured below.)

tomb sweeping

ANGELA. Angela has been working as a part-time worker at the Aroma Coffee Shop for the last year or so. When she came, she was already a young-seeker Christian; she has been exposed to the Gospel and to church in the past, and felt that working at coffee shop church would help her keep growing in this faith she found! The last year, she has really been growing in her relationship with God and decided to get baptized! So she was baptized on April 12th. The service was dedicated to her and her testimony of Christian growth. It was beautiful.

We actually held the service at a sister CMA church in another part of city. The pastor of that church participated in the service with us as well.

From the left: Pastor of the Sister Church, Angela, Chris & Cloud, the pastoral staff at the Aroma

From the left: Pastor of the Sister Church, Angela, Chris & Cloud, the pastoral staff at the Aroma

Angela sharing her testimony with Pastor Chris of Aroma translating

Angela sharing her testimony with Pastor Chris of Aroma translating

We also said goodbye to Blair, one of the interns who had been serving here for 3-months. Just like all the interns who have been coming through, her energy and enthusiasm to serve and be a blessing to people made an impact on the friends she made while she was here, and she touched people in every ministry she was involved in. A lamb-themed farewell party was thrown in her honor, as Lamb is actually the last name of her fiance who she will be getting married to this summer.

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And then, April, like I mentioned earlier, ended in the middle of the week. And I found myself at the beginning of another month. I reflected on some of my feelings about this in a blog post called Responsibility.  I also expressed a recent struggle in Love & Hate, Heaven & Hell.

Thank you everyone for your support, near and far.

THANK YOU FOR READING THIS UPDATE! 謝謝你!

Now that I am no longer an English teacher and have officially started full-time Chinese study, I am officially living off of support. I plan to live mainly on support from now to the end of 2016, two years of focused ministry and study here in Taiwan, with 3 months in America this summer.

  • If you would like to make either a one-time contribution or start supporting me with a monthly gift, follow these simple instructions on how to send me a financial gift:  
    Write a check payable to “C&MA-Envision, Victoria Crowley” and send to:
    The Christian & Missionary Alliance-Envision Office
    8595 Explorer Drive
    Colorado Springs, CO 80920
    OR
    1. Click on https://secure.cmalliance.org/give/ and scroll down to “International Workers and Special Projects.” (I am considered an international worker.)
    2. Designate the amt of your gift, and then right below it type “ENV – Victoria Crowley” and hit the red GIVE NOW button that appears. My name will appear separately below with the amt you designated.
    3. Below is a checkbox labeled “Make this a recurring gift” if you would like your contribution to be monthly. Follow the prompts to fill out your contact and billing info and submit!
  • If you have any questions about my ministry and what I am doing out here, please free feel to email me at crowleyvictoria@gmail.com. I would love to connect with you!

 

And then I MARCHed right to APRIL (Mar Update w/an Apr preview)

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Self-portrait I did in March.

Self-portrait I did in March.

I had a meeting with my pastor this afternoon. He shared with me the “3 P’s of negativity that literally cause our brains to shut down any hope of productivity or progress: it’s PERSONAL, it’s PERVASIVE, it’s PERMANENT. By looking at our mistakes and problems through the lens of the 3 P’s, we never get past them. 

He shared this with me because I said I needed encouragement and accountablity in my fundraising. Some of you already know that I no longer teach English and will be living off support during the years 2015 & 2016 while I continue in ministry and go back to school here in Taiwan. When I heard those 3 P’s, it was like looking in a mirror. I knew what my problem was. So I’ve forgotten things, have fallen behind in things, messed some things up in this transition I’ve been going through, but I CAN stop pouting about it, I DON’T need to make the same mistakes, and things WILL change! This kind of optimism alone will begin pulling me forward again.With that said, here is an update about all of the things that happened this last month, and all of the exciting things coming up for this month! 

Showing off all my "new student" gear

Showing off all my “new student” gear

I started school! It’s official: I’m a full-time student again. Registration was at the end of February, orientation was at the beginning of March, and March 5 was the first day of class! I plan on studying Chinese full-time for at least 3 or 4 semesters to get my Mandarin where it needs to be in order to pass high-level tests and get into grad school. The goal is to start at the Graduate Institute of Translation and Interpretation at National Taiwan Normal University (I’m currently attending Chinese classes at the university’s Mandarin Training Center) in  September of 2016.

The first week of school was actually a little rocky; my class got shut down due to students dropping like flies for various reasons and as a completely new student to the school, I had no idea what was going on. Fortunately, it all worked out and my tuition dollars transferred me into a wild and rambunctious classroom with a fast-paced teacher, where I immediately felt both challenged and at home.

I now spend 4-6 hours a day, Mon-Fri, studying Chinese. I take a Level B (Level C being the highest) proficiency exam on May 5. If I pass, I will be taking Level C in November. I’m excited about moving my Mandarin skills in the direction of an actual career. My days of teaching English are over (for now anyway)!

 

The winning JEOPARDY team with the gift certificates for the Aroma Coffee Shop.

The winning JEOPARDY team with their gift certificates for the Aroma Coffee Shop.

 

It was my turn to lead Coffee Talk on March 6, and since we always try to do something extra fun on the first Friday of every month, I hosted a JEOPARDY NIGHT! (Coffee Talk is Aroma’s Friday Night English Corner Activity, and it’s our biggest non-church activity that has been connecting people to the Aroma’s community for the last 3 years now.) I’ve actually done 2 other quiz nights in the past, as I love putting together the event, coming up with the trivia questions, and emceeing the night. Quiz Nights have been a big hit, so I decided to introduce a Western TV game show this round, and it was super successful. There was a big turn out and everyone got into the habit of answering with a question: “What is the sun?”

Another unique part of this particular Coffee Talk night is that a missions team from Riverside Community Church in Monticello, Minnesota, was with us. This church has decided to partner with the Aroma through prayer and financial support and sending teams of people out here who can train us in outreach, effective church administration, and even coffee shop skills. They got to join in the JEOPARDY fun and connect with people, even inviting them to come to church on Sunday.

On the field.

On the field.

ULTIMATE!!! Due to the fact I will be in the States this summer from June 7 to August 24 (!!!-That’s right, mark your calendars!!!), I will be missing Dragon Boat Festival for the first time EVER here in Taiwan, so I won’t be a part of the team and the competition this year like I have the past THREE. Fortunately, competition and physical training always ends up in my life somehow; this spring it will be in the form of ULTIMATE FRISBEE.

"Good game!"

“Good game!”

The Kaohsiung Hammerheads, the team I played on.

The Kaohsiung Hammerheads, the team I played on.

At the beginning of March, a couple of friends and I had the chance to join an Ultimate Tournament in the south of Taiwan in a city called Pingtung (屏東). All three of us played on different teams, and it was an awesome experience to be able to play Ultimate on a whole other level. The group of us that play every Monday night are planning on forming a team and playing in another tournament at the end of May.

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We play in the rain, too.

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The guy in the front is obviously taking this group-selfie.

The Monday night frisbee crew has actually been an extension of the Aroma community for over 2 years and has been a cool way for all of us to connect with each other and new friends through athletic interests. Our “captain” (that’s pretty much what he is, though he might beg to differ) has led us in a tradition of circling up and saying a quick prayer before the night of playing begins. We then usually play a pretty intense 2 or 3 games of Ultimate. We pray against injury, because people do get injured!

While we’re still on the topic of athletic things, I go to the gym every Wednesday morning now! What started out as a way to push myself to build up my upper-body strength has turned into a super cool opportunity to build a friendship with my trainer! Her name is Tanya, and we’re going to start “exchanging” English for fitness. I help her with English, she helps me with fitness! She initiated the idea. Tanya even lives in Ximen, not too far from me, so it’s an even more perfect friendship opportunity in the direction of connecting with Taiwanese people in my own neighborhood.

Me and Africa-bound Sweetie.

Me and Africa-bound Sweetie.

Send offs: At the Aroma, we value the “in and out” pattern of the Kingdom. As people come IN, we want to build them up and equip them to be ready for when God might sent them OUT. Our faithful friend Sweetie, who has known the Aroma and the group of foreign missionaries here from the very beginning, followed God’s call to Uganda at the beginning of March. I’ll try to post more information on what she’s doing there in future updates and here on my website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also at the very end of February, the Aroma participated in the Christian & Missionary Alliance’s annual Sports Day. It was a fun and long day under the sun and in the gym, competing against other churches in basketball, pingpong, dodgeball, and then finally a relay. We participated last year, and hope to keep this up as we want to cultivate our connections with the other local CMA churches here in Taiwan.

The 1st and 2nd place winners of the girls basketball tournament. (We took second.)

The 1st and 2nd place winners of the girls basketball tournament. (We took second.)

Me and the girls basketball team making friends.

Me and the girls basketball team making friends.

Lots of sports! And lots of school! What’s in store for April?

Well, the month actually started out with a 4-day weekend (more about that later!!!) and Easter Sunday! We’re planning on a new semester of what we’re calling MICRO GROUPS (no more small groups, since they were literally getting too big!) starting up AND a baptism service on the 12th! There will be plenty of pictures and stories to share soon enough, so stay tuned!

THANK YOU FOR READING THIS UPDATE! 謝謝你!

Now that I am no longer an English teacher and have officially started full-time Chinese study, I am officially living off of support. I plan to live mainly on support from now to the end of 2016, two years of focused ministry and study here in Taiwan, with 3 months in America this summer.

  • If you would like to make either a one-time contribution or start supporting me with a monthly gift, follow these simple instructions on how to send me a financial gift:  
    Write a check payable to “C&MA-Envision, Victoria Crowley” and send to:
    The Christian & Missionary Alliance-Envision Office
    8595 Explorer Drive
    Colorado Springs, CO 80920
    OR
    1. Click on https://secure.cmalliance.org/give/ and scroll down to “International Workers and Special Projects.” (I am considered an international worker.)
    2. Designate the amt of your gift, and then right below it type “ENV – Victoria Crowley” and hit the red GIVE NOW button that appears. My name will appear separately below with the amt you designated.
    3. Below is a checkbox labeled “Make this a recurring gift” if you would like your contribution to be monthly. Follow the prompts to fill out your contact and billing info and submit!
  • If you have any questions about my ministry and what I am doing out here, please free feel to email me at crowleyvictoria@gmail.com. I would love to connect with you!

 

羊年行大運: February Update, Lunar New Year-style

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CNY 2015 - Goat Year of the Goat

 

February 19 has brought the Eastern world into the new lunar year, this year’s fate being domineered by the luck of the goat. 羊眉吐氣 (yang mei tu qi [“qi” is pronounced chee in the Roman Pinyin system]) means that if you have been plagued you with bad luck in the past, this is the year things turn around. On the evening of February 18, families gathered around a new year feast, gave each other red envelopes, and stayed up to welcome in the Year of the Goat. I celebrated the new year with my friend Afra and her family in a city outside of Taipei called Yilan.

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Afra picked me up from the bus station on her scooter.

Chinese New Year is a wonderful time because it means VACATION. For many foreigners working here, this can be an ideal time to travel outside of Taiwan and explore other parts of Asia. I’ve done that in the past. But as I was sitting around the Lazy Susan with a Taiwanese family enjoying a traditional and extremely chill meal of all kinds of foods and then watching Afra and her brother scratch away at lottery tickets and exchanging a mix of Mandarin and Taiwanese words with the grandmother, I realized how FOREIGN so much of my experience here has been. And I was suddenly aware of how wide my knowledge gap of the local culture is. This gap is something I something I want to actively and intentionally narrow in years to come. Language is truly only the first layer, the door to a culture, but a door that you must open. 

And now for a visual update of the recent growth and happenings in my personal, missional, and communal world here in Taiwan!

a personal update

Below is a “videopis” of highlights from my year and a half at TPS, the English cram school I moved to after teaching at another cram school called BigByte for four years. 

A rather significant 5 1/2-year-chapter in my life here in Taiwan has just come to a close: being an English teacher. Coming to Taiwan, most of us Westerners on the team here initially taught English for the purposes of obtaining work visas and earning money. In addition to those practicalities, however, teaching English also became another sphere of ministry, a sphere where the world of ESL ends up teaching the inexperienced classroom teacher more about themselves than English teaching methods. For someone like me who loves kids and has the gift of teaching, I had the experience I had dreamed of since I was a little girl: teaching English in another country.

After my last day of teaching ended, I found myself in a puddle of unexpected emotions; I cried. Suddenly everything that ever annoyed me about my students was beautiful. I’m going to miss teaching them so much.

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a missional update

Aroma did corporate 21-day fast as a church. Pastor Chris challenged everyone to fast from something for 3 weeks, whether it be food, TV, wearing make up, the internet. We wanted to empty ourselves so we could be filled with more of God. Sometimes, we don’t realize how much the other stuff gets in the way until we get rid of it. During those three weeks, AROMA’S VERY FIRST KOREAN CHURCH EXPERIENCE happened.

Coordinating a missions trip of Koreans is not the same as coordinating a group coming through from a church in the States. It was a learning experience for all of us involved, but at the end of the day the gospel was shared and presented in a way that we couldn’t have done ourselves. For me personally, I learned firsthand what it means to put aside communication differences, mistakes, frustration, and misinformed planning for the sake of the Gospel. As you can see from the video, these people came with love and passion in their hearts to see the Kingdom spread in Ximen. Many were blessed because of them.

The Aroma Church Community broke our fast together on Feb 15th with a meal, just in time for the Chinese New Year festivities (which include a lot of food!) that started that week. The regular church service was replaced with eating, testimony-sharing, and singing songs.

Aroma breakfast

a communal update

Team Max, my dragon boat team of the last 3 years, is like my second family here in Taiwan. I found them after I had already been here for a couple years and was absolutely dying to get on a dragon boat team after faithfully watching the boat races every time Dragon Boat Festival rolled around.

This year, since I’m no longer teaching English, I will actually be in the States for Dragon Boat Festival (which happens every June) as I want to take advantage of a FULL SUMMER (June, July and August) home. This means I won’t be able to compete with Team Max this year, but I’m still going to practices as I love rowing and still want to refine my skills though I won’t be competing in June. I am truly thankful for the connection I have with such a diverse group of people connected in so many different ways here in Taipei.

40k bike ride

It seriously benefits all parts of my life when I keep myself physically active; plus so much of the physical activity is done in community. Pictured above are the friends I biked 40km (about 25 miles) with on Saturday. 

THANK YOU FOR READING THIS UPDATE!

Now that I am no longer an English teacher and will be starting full-time Chinese study in March, I am officially living off of support. I plan to live mainly on support from now to the end of 2016, two years of focused ministry and study here in Taiwan, with 3 months in America this summer.

  • If you would like to make either a one-time contribution or start supporting me with a monthly gift, follow these simple instructions on how to send me a financial gift:  
    Write a check payable to “C&MA-Envision, Victoria Crowley” and send to:
    The Christian & Missionary Alliance-Envision Office
    8595 Explorer Drive
    Colorado Springs, CO 80920
    OR
    1. Click on https://secure.cmalliance.org/give/ and scroll down to “International Workers and Special Projects.” (I am considered an international worker.)
    2. Designate the amt of your gift, and then right below it type “ENV – Victoria Crowley” and hit the red GIVE NOW button that appears. My name will appear separately below with the amt you designated.
    3. Below is a checkbox labeled “Make this a recurring gift” if you would like your contribution to be monthly. Follow the prompts to fill out your contact and billing info and submit!
  • If you have any questions about my ministry and what I am doing out here, please free feel to email me at crowleyvictoria@gmail.com. I would love to connect with you!

Happy New Year! 新年快樂!

CHARGE! into 2015 (Dec/Jan Update)

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The holidays have come and gone, book marking the end of yet another year. 2015 is officially upon us.

I’m keeping my New Year’s Resolutions simple this year, since I want to actually accomplish them: learn how to drive a stick and donate my hair to Locks of Love. It’s going to happen – and will happen in America! Stay tuned for details about my next visit home THIS SUMMER! (You can read more of my thoughts on 2014 in my blog post “2014 in 365 words.”)

Meanwhile, here’s a verbal and illustrated update about recent happenings these past several weeks. It’s been simultaneously both tumultuous and rewarding. 

super short chapter one: unconventional housewarming methods

I thoroughly warmed my house during the holidays. Due to the size of my new place, I decided against a house warming bash and hosted smaller group events instead.

SMALLER GROUP EVENT #1: The final small group of the church semester was a Christmas scavenger hunt through Ximen that ended at my house with hot tea and Christmas pancakes!

SMALLER GROUP EVENT #1: The final small group meeting of the church semester was a Christmas scavenger hunt through Ximen that ended at my house with hot tea and Christmas pancakes!

Then, in the spirit of the season, I hosted a festive “book club” gathering; a group of us had read the book Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, so I killed two birds with one stone by making our discussion a holiday-themed gathering. (Can you tell it was an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party?) This was SMALLER GROUP EVENT #2.

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SMALLER GROUP EVENT #3 happened on Christmas morning. I invited all my former roommates who happened to be in Taiwan (no joke, lol) over for breakfast. I woke up at 6am and started preparing our feast. It was a wonderful and fantastic reunion as we “pretended” to be living together again.

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Those were the holidays gatherings at my house! It’s been officially warmed.

super short chapter two: a christmas education and other christmas festivities

Since I didn’t go home for the holidays this year, I was actually around to teach my little kindergarteners a Christmas song & dance for the Christmas show! I did the song “Here Comes Santa” with my T2 class. They ROCKED it.

My friend Eli also invited me to the ORTV Christmas Show. (ORTV is the biggest Christian broadcasting company here in Taiwan. They do radio, TV, magazines, and a plethora of other activities and events that have literally been teaching the people of Taiwan English and spreading the Gospel in this country since 1960.) It was quite the production, this being my first time to see their Christmas show (I actually have a quite a few friends who work for ORTV, which stands for Overseas Radio & Television). I was impressed how Santa Claus and his Reindeer were not mentioned even ONCE and how directly they tied in the Gospel to every part of the performance. This is significant because of how unchurched Taiwan is; nobody walked away from that show without the impression that Jesus is a part of the meaning of Christmas. 

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Me & Eli. Eli got us the tickets for the show!

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And of course we did our Aroma Christmas Service at church. I designed the fliers for them, and took care of some other details like a Christmas video and special Christmas contact cards.

Christmas Service

It was a beautiful gathering with quite a few other people who are part of the Aroma community but don’t normally attend church on Sunday. The children even did a story-telling and prayed a Christmas blessing for everyone. They were adorable. The service ended with the traditional candle-lit singing of “Holy Night.”

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super short chapter three: ushering in 2015

I had to work on Christmas Day for the first time ever in my English-teaching career here in Taiwan. (The school I previously worked at gave teachers Christmas day off.)  I completely compensated for this fact by

  • baking Christmas cookies and feeding them to my students and co-teachers, 
  • bringing in Christmas coloring sheets,
  • dancing and singing all the Christmas music that was the school’s Christmas CD,
  • telling my students the Christmas story through an advent calendar.

And there were some surprises for me as well. A student’s mom grows her own ginger and brought in a HUGE bag of it for the teachers. I came away with quite the supply of fresh ginger! Another student’s mom bought Japanese-style cheesecakes for all the teachers. Wow! Thank YOU! It was a Merry Christmas at school!

I had the day after christmas off. So, feeling inspired by various events and recent happenings during the Holiday season, I wrote this: “Twas the Day After Christmas.” Ironically, due to Taiwan’s Special Work Days, I had to go into work the next day, a Saturday.

All of Taiwan got a 4 day weekend for New Year’s since New Year’s Day fell on a Thursday. That’s why I went in to work on Saturday: to pay for my Friday off. I celebrated New Year’s with a small group of friends for a change; the 6 of us had dinner and drinks and watched the Taipei 101 fireworks from a field near their house.

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And then, on the first day of 2015, I went hiking with a big group of people.

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 On the second of 2015 (the day off I had paid for by working on the previous Saturday), I soaked in the hot springs and swam in the river of Wulai, one of my favorite places here in Taiwan and enjoyed the scenery with my friend Lauren, my Hump Day (Wednesdays) lunch date.

On the 3rd day of 2015, I went on another hike.

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The next day was Sunday, which for me is church day, not a play day. But that was fine; I had just played for 3 straight days to celebrate the opening of 2015! It was a fantastic start.

super short chapter four: the current situation

In between all of this playing, which is really fun to share with all of you, there have been other developments as well. I will briefly summarize them below in 3 bullet points.

  •  The Mission. (1) A new semester of small groups of started at the Aroma, and I am no longer a leader! This is exciting because I have felt for a very long time that it was time for me to step down and watch Taiwanese people become drivers of the spiritual growth of the community. I still attend the Wednesday night small group and help translate. (2) The Children’s Church Ministry is officially using Teach Us the Bible curriculum, and it’s very exciting for both students and teachers! (3) The Junior High Program has only one class left this month, and then won’t start up again until March. After a meeting with my pastor and our supporting local teachers, the class we do is going to undergo some exciting changes that will continue to advance the Kingdom in this public junior high school!
  • The Community. At the very beginning of my time here, it was the natural thing to do to make friends with all the Taiwanese people I met; we had no choice but to reach out since our community was still in the growing stages. Over time, it’s been easier to not reach out and make friends, especially when the community feels like it keeps growing on its own more and more everyday. Recently, however, I’ve been blessed with new friends and a reunion with one I have known for 5 years: my very first language exchange partner Dulcie. I spent an afternoon with her and Jessica catching up and sharing new experiences.
  • The Person. I have officially made some new goals for myself that will take me the next few years to accomplish. I feel called to continue doing ministry here for the time being, but I know longer feel called to a life of work and ministry, but to a life of school and ministry. This means that as I am serving at the Aroma, I will be pursuing serious study in Chinese and then my Master’s degree here in Taiwan. BIG CHANGE! I know! This is why I am moving into a more support-sustained lifestyle. I trust God will provide all I need!  If you are interested in supporting, below is all the information you need to know how. Also, feel free to contact me directly via email: crowleyvictoria@gmail.com

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THANK YOU FOR READING THIS UPDATE! 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving! (a November update)

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“The test of all happiness is gratitude.”

-G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

“Give thanks in all circumstances.”

The Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians

It’s been quite the month…many things have gone as planned, many things have not. Overall, it would be a lie to say that there is shortage of things to be thankful; and as I recount for you all of you the highlights of the last month, I am forever grateful for all the experiences, good & bad, that keep drawing us farther along in this thing called life. I’ve learned that even learning to be grateful for the BAD is key. 

I’m gonna break this update down in 3 fun, visual pieces: missional, personal, communal.

the missional piece. 

You just had a look at one of Aroma’s newer ministries that I’ve been leading this year. We just had our first successful month of classes this school year! Thanks to some incredible Christian teachers in the public junior high schools, we’ve been given an opportunity to go in and do English classes for the students, and at the same time hang out with and reach out to a group of kids who would otherwise have no time outside of class and homework to interact with foreigners. It’s also been a unique bridging opportunity between the local church and the students.

the personal piece.

I moved! And I didn’t just move; I officially have my own apartment. It’s small, but it fits both me and whoever I feel like having over. Living by myself feels different than I thought it would, but I definitely think it was time to finally get my own place, especially after almost 10 years of both negative and positive roommate experiences. Having my own place has seemed to usher me into the next step of adulthood. And not to mention financial responsibility.

I also switched schools. Long story short, there were some good times at Chinese Culture University, but at the end of the day (more specifically the end of a rather non-academically stimulating semester) their Chinese program was not for me and my language goals, so I won’t be continuing my studies at that specific Language Center. I’ll be researching my other options and making a decision at the end of the year. Meanwhile, I will keep studying on my own.

However, it was definitely an experience being in the classroom as a STUDENT again. (Quite a humbling one after being the teacher for 5 years, I might add!) Good times were still had. In the pictures below you can see that I got to enjoy quite the diverse set of classmates; students in my class were from Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey, and Germany.

Experiencing the culture of Moon Festival

Experiencing the culture of Moon Festival

Last day of Class

Last day of Class

the communal piece. 

I had 3 different Thanksgiving dinners this year! One was with a smaller group of friends in our lovely neighborhood of Ximending on Thursday night, one was a special event for our regular Friday night Coffee Talk crew, and the other was hosted by a friend who does a big turkey day meal every year.

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Thursday night with some of the Ximen/Aroma Family

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Thanksgiving with our Friday Night Coffee Talk crew! This was a cool cultural experience for so many Taiwanese friends!

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I’ve known Cory since I first moved to this country and met his (now) wife Rachel not long after she got to Taiwan. Rachel’s been hosting a Turkey Day Potluck every year, and this year was #3!

We also said goodbye to a friend who succeeded in getting an immigration visa back to the States. Tai has been a part of our Aroma community for a while. A small group of us also took trip to a railroad town called Shifen to hang out with him one last time.

There you have it, another brief and visual monthly update!  There’s a lot of be thankful for; alas, there’s always a lot to be thankful for. For more information on ways to support me, send me an email at crowleyvictoria@gmail.com. In the meantime, keep reading my blog! 

 

 

FINALLY! (an October update)

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Finally! The humidity level has dropped significantly here in Taipei and… I’M A PERMANENT ALIEN!!!

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My two goals for 2014 were to BECOME A FULL TIME MANDARIN STUDENT and GET MY PERMANENT ALIEN RESIDENT CERTIFICATE. Both have finally happened! After 5 years, I’m finally moving into a new season: a new daily routine of attending class and doing homework, a new residential status, and a new… APARTMENT! That’s right, I’m moving! This month (October) is my last month at this apartment I’ve been living in for 4 years. I will be moving into my own place on Nov 1, and am very excited about a completely new living situation. Things are changing, and it’s exciting.

Another friend who is currently going for her Taiwan citizenship through her parents, also got her ARC that frees her up from having to work in Taiwan. We had a celebratory dinner at the Aroma with friends to celebrate.

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Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

            Matthew 19:14 (NIV)

Some pretty cool things have happened in October. I officially assumed the position as the Children’s Church Director at the Aroma. I enjoy putting together schedules, lessons, all that planning and administration. And I love kids! It’s so refreshing to be working with them again in the church context, because I have not done that since college. The reason we have a children’s church program now is because a family with 3 kids has started attending on Sunday nights. This was a great reason to start something, not only for them, but for all the future children that start becoming a part of the Aroma!

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October 10 is Double 10-Day here in Taiwan, because it’s this country’s birthday! 雙十節! The Double Ten Festival. The holiday fell on a Friday this year, so all the government workers, office workers, bank employees and teachers got a 3-day weekend. A group of us from the Aroma went on a retreat, setting aside time over the 3 days to intentionally focus on connecting with God and with each other. During the retreat, we travelled by bus to the city of Taizhong (台中) and spent the day at a water park! It was a super fun time away from everything and with each other.

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(That smudge in the lower right hand corner represents the presence of the very nice man who was willing to take this photograph for us.)

Some of you may or may not care about this, but another exciting thing that has happened this month was the season 5 premier of The Walking Dead! There are definitely a group of us in our community here who gather every Tuesday night to watch the latest episode together. For October, I have assumed the position as host of these parties, preparing zombie-related victuals and snacks for my guests. I say this really to emphasize the significance of these words that were spoken over a me a couple years ago:

“Your hospitable. No matter what you have, host as much as you can. A tent, with not much in it, but full of people you are hosting.”

I love hosting people and having parties and watching my guests have a good time. This was a significant factor as I was looking for a new place. I needed to have space for hosting people. 

commentary workshop

Lastly, this has been a cool month for the Bible Study Training Small Group I lead on Wednesday nights. Above is a picture of me sitting on the floor of Aroma’s prayer room surrounded by commentaries and other such books in both English and Chinese, showing the group how these books can be used as a tool and resource for studying the Bible. I’ve really enjoyed passing on the things that I learned from going to a Bible college, but what’s even more rewarding is watching people take it and run with it. After a few weeks of these “workshop” style sessions, everyone was assigned a passage and the rotation of everyone taking turns leading has begun. It’s amazing to finally sit back and watch other people, who originally didn’t think they were capable, share from God’s word. Everyone is a theologian!

There you have it: the recent happenings of my personal, community, and ministry life in a nutshell. For more information on ways to support me, send me an email at crowleyvictoria@gmail.com. In the meantime, keep reading my blog!