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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Office8595 Explorer DriveColorado Springs, CO 80920OR1. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to connect with you!