Update Letter of December 2009 of Jonathon White & family
Still in Taiwan. Still teaching at Yuan Ze University (YZU). Still seeking to follow the road God has set for me!
On November 21st, I booked tickets for Youen, Aien and myself to visit my mother in Canada (Lien and Xiuman will stay in Taiwan). Thus I am looking forward to being in North America from January 26 to February 13 (little longer than my last visit). Youen and Aien are both looking forward to the trip - in fact, so much so that the next morning Youen was up asking early asking what time we will leave! He has since composed 'go to Canada' song and is always asking when we will go.
Here's a quick family update. And here are some photographs (August to December, 2009)
All for now,
- Church Life: The church we attend (80~100 attendees) last spring purchased the 3rd floor of a building that has been shut for some 20 years for US$750,000 (very cheap, same cost as to purchase a building that seats 60 people). After about spending about US$750,000 to renovate the former bowling alley, it will fit 800 people. The church hopes to move in in February.
- Xiu-man (??) Her cancer check (she had missed being checked for 1.5 years due to the arrival of Lien) was fine. Recently she has been praying with the wife of the church's pastor as she seeks to work through issues dealing with her anger towards her family. She feels she has achieved some measure of victory in this area. Yesterday we visited her parents and she spent some time talking to her father (I try to make the trip on the 2nd weekend of each month with at least 2 children)
- Ai-en (10), although well liked, is an average student with marks in the lower 1/2 of the class due to her limited attention span. Her gifts seem to lie in the areas of music and drama. She has won a few prizes for her singing, a play she was the lead actress in at her school obtained first place in a local competition, and a short 5 minute film by Yuan Ze University students received an award in USA. Her music teacher says that if she applies herself more to the piano she will be very good. She is hoping to get baptized next year after the church moves into the new building.
- You-en (4), started kindergarten in September. While other children cried as they arrived at school the first day, You-en cried when it was time to leave! He has an excellent teacher who is sensitive to his uniqueness. Since starting school his personal behavior and communication skills have improved greatly. He is well liked by his classmates. I am happy to hear that he has shown concern to one little girl who has difficulty walking. He has a soft heart and enjoys music.
- Li-en (2) is very positive at all times. He seems always to be smiling and very interested in tools and trying to copy me. The other day I fixed an electrical socket in the house. The next thing I see is that Lien has the screwdrivers and is working on a socket (with the power on). We need to watch him! He is also very neat: he insists and reminds everyone to turn off lights when we leave a room.
- Jon (48) Last school year was one of endings. It has now been a year since Prof Fann's death (my key research collaborator since 1999). From his death last October to this past August it seems that I was under a cloud of sadness. On August 7th, I had a strange dream. Many of us were cleaning the laboratory out and Prof Fann dropped by. When he came to see me I hesitated to speak and then touched his shoulder and then said, 'I love you.' I then woke up. Since that dream, the cloud of sadness has not returned. Other endings: The English Investigative Bible Study I led in Wugu ended. It seemed it was finally time to end. Despite the travelling time, I did not want to end earlier as the 2 regular attendees have been quite faithful for almost 6 years with one man bringing his children (I believe the study was helpful for them). Unfortunately have not chosen to follow Christ so the church leadership has felt that this is not an activity that they wish to continue. The graduate students Bible study at Yuan Ze University also ended. A course I was asked to help offer, 'Introduction to Christianity' was closed due to lack of student interest.
- Jon (48) But also one of new beginnings. Under the leadership of local brothers and sisters, I am involved in a few activities:
I have also been trying to facilitate having YZU staff come together to pray for the university. I have enjoyed the times of prayer but am a little saddened as attendance is quite weak.
- Preparing a new course (New Testament Introduction) for YZU students (February start)
- English Language Culture and Bible Study at YZU. In fall studied Genesis. Now we are breaking for one month to offer a small group discussion on 'Announcing Christmas' which is supported by the university. We are looking at the Christmas story.
- Once-a-Month English Bible study for senior high-school students
- Future Plans:
- February - July 2010: Taiwan, YZU
- August 2010 ~ July 2011: Canada
- August 2011~ ?????
- Praise Items:
- Xiuman cancer check showed now signs of any problem.
- God provision of research collaboration opportunities. a. Dan Tsai, a Christian professor at a nearby university is now working together with me. b. Another Christian, Professor Yang, invited us to work under him in his project. c. An older but excellent professor, Prof S A Chen has also undertaken to give me guidance in research and allowing him to work under his umbrella.
- Lifting of the cloud of sadness after the death of Professor Fann.
- Prayer Items:
- Return to Canada for 1 year.. No change or update in plans. Still targeting the end of July. I am a little apprehensive (change, uncertainty). Xiuman is negative about any move and so has not applied for Canadian residency so it seems likely she will come on a visitor visa. Aien, Youen are excited. Please pray for wisdom in handling my family and what I will do in Canada.
- Outreach to students through Bible Studies, etc
- The course "Introduction to Christianity" at Yuan Ze University
- Reflection: In the past I was very excited about the strengths of tentmaking as a mission approach. Recently, I am seeing its weaknesses. Work (in cross cultural environment) + Wife + 3 children severely reduces the available time for Bible Studies
PS. Do check out our photographs: http://www.xiaotu.ca/whitejd/091213/index.htm