But first, I would like to share about our trip to Canada. After my last letter in October, in November Immigration Canada sent us notification that both my wife and I needed to be in Hamilton, ON on Nov 10 for Sharon's final interview for Canadian Residency （PR Card). Due to concerns for child care, we flew independently – myself staying for 1 week to spend time with my mother, and Sharon for 3 days – 2 nights. Thank God for quite cheap air tickets – available on the exact days in which we needed to travel! When tried to rent a car at Toronto Airport, the internet connection from Taiwan broke down – frustrating. When I got online the next day the prices had dropped and I got a car with a better company! God's mercy.
At the airport in Taiwan, melancholy set in: reflecting back and thinking forward. Time passing.... It seems the clouds are darkening -- just as in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings." Whether from either a science or religious perspective. On a personal level, this past week 3 friends/mentors died: Jing Yu, Jim McDougall, Laura MacKay. Today was also the memorial service for Prof Fann who I had witnessed to and worked closely with for many years. I ate a whopper at the Burger King in Taiwan's airport. Asia has changed since I first flew from here 26 years ago and the only shop at the airport was Burger King. When I first came back to Canada from Asia trips, my father and mother would greet me at the Airport. Then it was my mother and Uncle Frank, then only my mother. Then she would wait for me at home and I would take the shuttle bus. This time it was my daughter Aien who waits to meet me in Oakville. Time passing and what have I done? Mother always expected us to move back to serve Chinese -- maybe it will just be delayed. In marriage, both people need to be ready and willing.
In Canada, I had a wonderful time first with my mother – she was remarkably alert – and then together with my wife (away from the children) walking in the woods with the beautiful fall colors and a light snow falling. So many blessings.
Want to share one experience: One day I left house keys at St. Joes Villa so need to ask at our neighbor's house to borrow the spare. Found out that his daughter had just died. Visitation on Sunday at 11am. God plan all well in advance: the missing keys allowed me to minister to Dave, my 2pm Sunday plane ticket allowed me to attend visitation and then catch my plane. God's timing is perfect!
In the middle of December, I was prayed for at the church by brother Geo Tia. The contents as follows: A God's Love is a fire in your heart. It is your heart not just words will attract people; B God will take you into a new area; C In the past you have been running alone, in the future your wife will support you. Your whole family will serve with two cultures;. D You will face much difficulties and sadness but God will help you; E You will serve people outside of church to do God's work; F Others will come to help, so don't worry about this; G Most people don't or won't understand what you are doing; H You need to prepare yourself for changes;
My children and I flew back to Canada on January 22 to stay until March 1st. As my wife had not received her PR Card in the mail, we prayed diligently about this as she could not go to Canada without it. The PR Card arrived on time. Praise God! However, my wife delayed her flight to Feb 2 in order to spend time with her family. However, at this time the Taiwan church start revival meetings so Sharon stayed at the church and did not visit her family. During this time she met Teacher Yang (a prophetess) who had great influence on her. On Feb 2 she called to say she would delay coming to Canada until Feb 16 to continue to participate in church events. During my last week in Canada I got quite sick and spent about 3-4 days in bed – exhausted from caring for family.
Praise about my mother. My mother was much better than in the summer! She was walking and her head was raised up (Psalm 3:3 But you, Yahweh, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.) She also recognized me and for the first time in 4 years called my son by his name! God is good!
Shortly after returning to Taiwan, my wife took Leon with her to Nepal (with a number of members of the breast cancer survivors society) for 2 weeks of trekking. She was OK on the trek but for about a month after her return she was quite sick. Thank God she has now recovered.
It is great to have Aien (Charity) back with our family staring May 2 – she decided to come to Taiwan to spend time here as she has not been back in 3.5 years. Johann is becoming more responsible for his homework. Leon is growing and doing well – still delighting in getting my wife angry. Ruth continues to grow. Everyone seems to enjoy music and playing different instruments.
My wife's father was praying one night to Jesus asking Him to show himself. We were excited and went to Nantou a few days later with a pastor. Unfortunately when the pastor came he was unclear and in a state that he just talked about his war experiences not stop. After the pastor left, in the afternoon, it seems he was clear again. So my wife and me were very sad. We had hoped this would be a reakthrough in her family with her father accepting Jesus. Need to keep praying.
Positive things coming out of the last months has been a much closer relationship with my wife. Indeed I have been prioritizing this so that she will no longer feel that my order of priorities are children, students, mother, and last of all, my wife. It has now been almost 2 years since I made a specific decision to put my wife at the top of my list (after repentance and praise) for my quiet time – rather than as an add-on item near the end, to be missed if I ran out of time! She is now serving together with me in caring for a small group of students at Yuan Ze University who are interested in the Bible. (These students are taking a Bible course taught by Prof Huang and myself)
I made one circle but felt God wanted me to do 7 times. Feeling down, depressed and hopeless about situation at Yuan Ze University – both spiritually and academically. But on the beginning of 6th walk a beautiful white bird landed on YZU pond – and my sadness for many weeks turn to joy. On the last circuit a large turtle was sitting on my path. I have never seen either this bird or a turtle on path before. I ended the walk with great joy. I feel new hope for our campus, which seems to be dominated by a spirit of lack of unity and death – first among Christian faculty and then at the university as a whole.
During this time, I have had a number of images/dreams/visions – some of them repeated twice or even three times. During this time I have been frequently feeling depressed and sad seemingly under the attack of Satan. In one image: (1st time) I was in mountains with no vegetation. I was standing beside a trail with a narrow gate. This trail was going almost straight up. I saw one person go through the gate. Looking down there was a wide road and a wide gate. Just after the gate the road ended in a cliff – like water had washed out the road. The road was jammed with people who only realized there was was a cliff after passing through the gate and got pushed over the edge by the crowd. (2nd time, same but There was a man beside the narrow gate with rough clothes and a staff – somehow I knew it was Jesus. I saw him and wanted to be with him but he pointed to the many people on the broad road below -- he was going there. I think I should go there too. (3rd time 18.06.17 Sunday during worship) An interpretation: 2 gates are death. The trail leads to heaven and the broad one leads to hell. God giving me a choice: Go through the narrow gate now or go to help with those entering the broad gate and live on earth longer. I choose to seek to serve longer.
In mid June when a visiting pastor came preaching he prayed over me: - "You are confused and don't understand what is happening. God is pleased with you." This was encouraging.
Recently seeing some understanding of what is happening and why spiritual warfare seems so strong.
(1) Yuan Ze University, after years of saying NO NO NO is close to approving a for credit course, in English, in which we will discuss the contents and impact on Western Society of the Jewish Scriptures and the teaching of Jesus. This seems to be happening with me just doing as God asked – there is no striving just God acting as we obey.
(2)It is 21 years since Sharon had breast cancer (she was 28 and it was 3rd stage, also into lymph nodes). It is also 21 years since the surgeon who operated on her founded the Taiwan Breast Cancer Foundation. Last year they should have had a 20th anniversary celebration, but they were unable to organize it. A few weeks ago, they had the celebration: Sharon and myself spoke for a few minutes expressing our appreciation to Dr./Prof Zhang and Taiwan's medical system. Amazing, afterwards a number of radio hosts approached Sharon and myself about sharing about our life on radio! So in the last month, we have been able to share God's goodness to us on 3 radio stations, including one run by the Taiwan military. One station told my wife that 2,100,000 people listened around the (either on radio or internet) to her testimony. God is amazing! Especially when we think that this anniversary celebration should have been held last year (20th anniversary) when we were in Canada.