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Category: Getting to Know Me

September – Back to Routine

September – Back to Routine

September is back to school and back to routine. September is a month of anniversaries — our wedding anniversary and the anniversary of meeting our son. The days are beginning to get shorter, the air is crisp, and it is time to get out quilts to wrap up in the evenings.

Miss K began a new school. She was excited. It was the school she wanted to go to. We were thankful that God worked out all the details. It was a bit last minute, the last week of school in July we learned she had a place at a local secondary school. The school put a great schedule together for her. Now four weeks in she has had a few wobbles as it is a big school, long days, and lots of new things. Tuesdays she goes to a city farm and works there. We hear about Sid the goat and Broccoli the pig as well as other animals and jobs she has done. God provided a place for her.

What else happened in September?

I finished 2 Corinthians Journal and Doodle Bible study. I did that in preparation for studying 2 Corinthians in small group this autumn. As I reflect a bit on that study, one of the truths that came from the study was understanding the two meanings of comfort. One is parakaleo meaning to call by the side and the other is parokiesis meaning strengthening and establishing faith. Both of these provide what today we term comfort.

My reading stack this month was a bit varied. Honestly, if you want the truth, that is most months. One theme this month was reading some books on disability and the Bible. If I were to recommend one of the books I read, it would be Disability and the Gospel. I found this book easy to read as it was not too academic but it was helpful in thinking through this topic.

I read some Christian fiction. That is light and easy to read while I am waiting for school pick-up.

I have been thinking and pondering a bit how to reach our neighbours after reading The Gospel Comes with a House Key. I was challenged to have margin in my day to be able to meet needs. I want to take steps to getting to know my neighbours more. I am looking for practical ways and also praying for my neighbours.

Have you ever heard of a Commonplace Book? I learned about that for the first time this month. I had been thinking about starting something like that but didn’t know it had a name. I wanted a place to just reflect and record quotes, information, things I learn. I wanted one place to keep it. I used a notebook that I have and just started writing some notes from a book I read, added some notes from a blog. I began my Commonplace Book.

On the Blog in September

I wrote a bit about Special Needs, Seeing Special Needs Around Us and Special Needs Parents.

I have begun work on another A-Z prayer guide. I wrote A-Z praying for missionaries the other year. Now I am thinking about A-Z prayer for teens.

Looking Forward

I will read some more books on my reading stack. I need to find some time to finish some unfinished projects. I want to take the principles from Journal and Doodle and read through Luke. Enjoy autumn which means candles, coffee, and a warm quilt.

What are you looking forward to in October? Tell me what you are working on in the comments.

Beth

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My Asia Journey – Part 4

My Asia Journey – Part 4

If you are beginning to read this now, go back and read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, it will give you the full story.

So in November 1996, just before Thanksgiving I returned to the US. I found an apartment, began my new position, and got involved at the church I had attended in the past. I was working as a project manager which was in the marketing department. I was working on a new product line and a current project line both of which were manufactured in Asia. I even made a trip to Asia. I was enjoying my new position. I was connecting with friends both people I knew and making new friends. Life was good.

Then in May, just six months after I returned from Asia while standing at a product review meeting the VP of International Manufacturing asked me if I would consider returning to Asia. Excuse me, I just came home. I just bought a brand new car. You told me it was a promotion to take this position and now you are asking me to return, is that a promotion? Some of that was just thoughts in my head. I said what I had always heard you say in those situations, “Give me an offer.”

Some things had changed since the last assignment. The company had been purchased and so instead of the benefits package being handled within our company but had to go to the corporate office. So I waited for an offer. During that time I spent quite a bit of time praying and seeking God’s will. Some days I was feeling, “no thanks, I am staying” and other days it was “I am going”. That went back and forth until the middle of July. I still didn’t have an offer but I clearly remember one evening as I was walking and praying that God said, “go”. A week later I received the offer. I was given the weekend to think about it but I already knew the answer.

So a few weeks later I packed up, putting some things in storage and shipping some things.  I sold my new car. I moved back to Asia. Yes, that was the fourth time that I moved to Asia. I was back in Taipei. Each time I was there the office had moved to a new location and each time I managed it so that they moved while I was living in the US.

I found an apartment not too far from the office. I could actually walk. I had a car and a parking space in the basement of my building. No more having to search for parking. I had a number of the same staff that I had worked with previously. I did have a few additional responsibilities. I was able to connect with my Chinese teacher and began lessons again.

I knew that God had sent me back to Asia and for more than just shipping orders on time. I began attending a different church. It was about a 45 minute bus ride. I began to look for ways to be involved there so I taught Sunday School, helped with the youth group. Then in June 1998 I met a new missionary that was looking for someone to help with a Bible study for returnees. I thought I can relate to returnees. I have lived overseas and then returned. So in September 1998 I began leading that Bible study at my church. I didn’t realise how much that would change my life.

I loved my job. I loved the traveling. I loved living in Asia. I had no plans to return to the US.

I was there until March 2001 when I was transferred back to the US office. I had looked at for a position to remain in Asia but that had not happened. I was praying about what was next. I knew I would have a position in the US for a short time. I felt that I wanted a skill that could be used overseas and so I decided to get an MA-TESOL which would give me credentials to teach ESL. I wanted to combine that with ministry. I was on the East Coast for a few months and then moved to the west coast to go to school and work for a mission organisation there.

As I look back on each of those moves, I see the way God worked in my life. He lead me there in a way that I felt safe and then began to stretch me and grow me. I learned to love the people there and realised the needs for the Gospel

That wraps up My Asia Journey. That was not my last move to Asia.

My Asia Journey – Part 3

My Asia Journey – Part 3

This time of the year often tends to be a time of reflection for me. Here is what I wrote when it was 22 years ago. It was in April that I first went to Taiwan. I wrote a bit about that here. I wrote the 2nd part here.

So this year as I reflect I will write Part 3.

I came home and went to work for a consulting firm. It was supposed to be a five year contract but 10 months later the contract ended. During those 10 months, I had bought a house, began attending a new church, and had adjusted to life back in the US.

Now I am out of a job. I need a job. I start looking and find out that the company where I used to work was hiring in the Marketing Department. I applied and was interviewed. I remember one of the questions in the interview was about how long I wanted to work there. I think they were trying to determine if I was just looking for a job until I could find something else or was I looking to get back into the industry. I wanted to get back into the industry. That was the end of 1993/beginning of 1994 that I began working there.

About a year later I was not challenged in the job and getting a bit bored. At that time the way things worked internally to move departments was that it went through the Vice Presidents. I wasn’t ready to say I wanted to move departments because I had told the VP that I was looking to stay there and so now a year later I want to stay but I want to go back to Asia.

I remember one evening driving home and feeling frustrated with my job. I pulled into the garage and prayed that God would work all of this out. I was beginning to have a desire to go back to Asia but felt that it was not something I could pursue at the time. I prayed and left it in God’s hands.

One morning at work a few weeks later, I received a phone call from the General Manager of the Asia office. He asked me if I would be interested in a position there. He had already gone to my VP and had permission to ask me. God had answered my prayer.

So in June 1995 I put my house on the market, packed my belongs to ship and some for storage. I moved to Asia again for the 3rd time. This time I had an apartment at the edge of town and a car, a little white Ford Fiesta. I learned to drive in the city, to use the car lift to get to the parking garage, began working my new job. I got involved with a small church there. I spent time with co-workers both local and ex-pat. I made my first trip to China and traveled to Thailand quite a bit as we had an office there.

I began Chinese lessons mainly because I wanted it for living. I do remember when I knew enough to know what the staff in the office were talking about. One day I heard the girls that worked for me talking about the laoban which means boss and so I asked in English which boss are you talking about. They realised that they had to be careful what they said.

I lived there for 18 months. I wan’t planning to move back to the US but was given a promotion and an opportunity to work as a product manager. I decided it was time to move back to the States. November 1996 I moved back to the US.

Looking back I see how God used that in my life. He answered the desire of my heart. He gave me learning experiences. I think each time I moved, I was learning more about the people and culture.

My Asia Journey – Part 2

My Asia Journey – Part 2

I know I began the story of the journey over a year ago and wrote Part 1. I was recently reminded that I didn’t finish writing those memories so I will write part 2.

My blue and white fruit bowl from Thailand

For some reason this part of the journey has been the hardest to write. It could be that this was a difficult assignment. It might be that this is one of those times in life that I wonder, “what would have happened if. . .” I do want to write this just to have it as part of the story.

So after 10 months in Taiwan I was back in the US and working there. I was living with my parents as that was an easy place to go. I was making plans to move into an apartment. Then in May or June I was  asked if I would go to Thailand. There was a factory there that the company I worked for was helping to manage. It was an interesting arrangement — American management, Chinese ownership, and Thai labor. That should give some clue to the challenges that were faced. I was asked to go and help with production management — get the product produced and shipped.

In early July I flew to Thailand. Back in those days I mainly flew Northwest and their Asia hub was Narita. It was late afternoon when I landed there and then it was still a 5-6 hour flight to Bangkok. The flight landed there close to midnight. I remember walking outside and realizing it was hot, very hot there. I read that Thailand has two seasons hot and very hot. The food is also hot or very hot.

My job was scheduling production so that orders were shipped on time. It was a much different work experience for me. Three languages were used in the office — Thai, Chinese, and English. You might have to look for a different translator depending who you wanted to talk to. Our offices were at the factory which was in a special area that was manufacturing to export. We had various checkpoints along the way.

I lived in a hotel now before you thing that was a glamorous life I should explain some things, the hotel was brand new which makes it sound wonderful but hot water didn’t really exist and there was one restaurant and not much in the area. I really didn’t spend much time there.

Our morning began with a planning meeting at 7:30. So in order to be there on time we had to leave at 6:30. There were two others working there and living in the hotel so we met for breakfast at 6:00. Don’t bother ordering pancakes, they were always “out” of them. A driver would take us to the office. I would grab the fax that came from the US office (we didn’t use email back in those days) and any others papers and head to the meeting. After the meeting, someone would take my lunch order — fried rice either chicken or shrimp. Then it was a day of work–answering questions from the U.S., working to make sure we had raw materials, checking to make sure production didn’t change what was scheduled, and numerous others things until we were all ready to leave around 6:00. Then the next question was where to eat dinner. We normally did that on the way home. There wasn’t much time in the evening after dinner because I knew the alarm would be going off early on the morning.

Everyday was pretty much the same as the previous day except the rugs on the lift changed to tell us the day of the week. Saturdays were the same except we came home early around 4:00. Every other week we had Saturday off. I don’t remember much of what we did. I remember one week we went and did all kinds of tourist things in Bangkok.

On Sundays we went downtown to an English speaking church. We rode with whoever had the van that week. We would often eat lunch and maybe do some shopping. We didn’t go downtown during the week. That was back in the days when traffic was horrible. One night we had a dinner meeting at Neil’s Steak House which was some of the best steak I have ever had. It took us four hours to get from the office to the restaurant and 20 minutes to get home.

Sometimes on our Saturday’s off we would go to the weekend market. It was fun to wander and look at the blue and white dishes, the silver jewellery, and the fruit.

I celebrated a birthday while I was there and we went to Charley Brown’s which is Mexican (interestedly I just googled and it is still there). Another favourite when we have lot of people was to go to the Seafood Market. I don’t think I have ever experienced anything like it. First you go in and pick your seafood, veggies and fruit. You pay for that and then you go to a table and tell them how you want your food cooked. The garlic bread had about a quarter of an inch of garlic on it. It was yummy. There were other places that we ate at like Hard Rock, and some Italian places.

There were a number of other Americans there. There were three families and then three or four other individuals. I am thankful that there were others there and I keep in touch with a number of them (mainly because I lived in Taiwan with some of them).

For me the challenge was my life was like a long business trip. It seemed to be all work which is fine for a week or two but after months it is difficult. My parents knew it was challenging. They were supportive and praying and I think they let a friend of theirs know that it was tough for me. After almost six months, I quit. That is where some of the “what if’s” come in. What if I hadn’t quit? What if I had stayed?

I returned to the States thinking that I would never be back in Asia and began a new job, scheduling for a consulting company. It sounds like a great job but honestly all I remember is copying lots of procedure manuals and checking time sheets. It was based on a contract which was supposed to be in place for five years but 10 months after I began work the contract was terminated. That is not good for your job. I was looking for a new job.

While it was a difficult experience there was good that came from it. I had a feel for Thailand and would later travel there regularly. I had some great co-workers and keep in touch with many of them today. I am thankful for that time in my life.

I wish I had more photos to share but the ones I have are in storage and that was back in the pre-digital days.

My Asia Journey – Part 1

My Asia Journey – Part 1

I am not sure how much I will write and how many parts this will be but I will start telling a bit of what I am calling, My Asia Journey.

Once upon a time there was a young girl who lived in a small town (I looked up the population and in 2000 the town where I lived had 117 people. Yes it really was a small town). That girl had graduated from university and was working in international purchasing/manufacturing for a company a few miles away. (Let’s not mention that she had said a few years earlier that she would not work at that company.) Then one day her life changed when she was asked if she be willing to go to Asia and help do some training. Why not. It sounds fun.

That girl was me. In 1991 I made my first overseas flight. I went on the sense of adventure and the first class ticket was a sweet bonus. I arrived in Taiwan in April and began working in an office with about 20 Taiwanese and 1 other American. We worked long hours and Saturdays were normal work hours. They spoke Chinese and some English. I spoke English with almost no Chinese.

I remember my first lunch there. I wrote in my journal, “I ate at a real Chinese restaurant.” I experienced quite a number of new foods and came to love Chinese food though I admit that there are some things I avoid. At that time the only salad dressing available was Thousand Islands. The pizza toppings included tuna and corn.

Most of the staff were young and single and they were eager to show me around. We went out to eat or toured the city on the weekends. I learned how young America really is when I went through the National Palace Museum and saw things from BC or AD 100.

I began to learn cultural differences. Standing in a nice neat line is not the way to do it. I stood crowded on a bus during rush hour. I was living in the middle of a busy city with more people in my apartment complex than the town I just moved from.

I visited a small Chinese church. I was surrounded by temples and superstitions. During Ghost month our office was broken into and a number of the staff were frightened that we had not done something to appease the ghosts.  People lived in fear of the ghosts.  I walked down the sidewalks and saw people burning paper money or saw the table of food they had set up for the ancestors. I realized the great need there for the Gospel. I prayed in new ways for missionaries.

The ten months that I stayed there changed my life. That was my first overseas experience but it was not the last.

In many ways Taiwan still has a special place in my heart maybe because that is where I met my husband and where my daughter was born which all happened years later and we will save that for another part of the story.

22 Years Ago

22 Years Ago

Once upon a time in April about 22 years ago (was it really that long ago) a very young (I had to be very young because I am still young) girl boarded a plane in the first class (I think that was the last time that I ever flew first class) for a long flight to Asia (I can’t count how many times I have been back and forth since that first flight). Let me back up and tell a bit more about that story and that memory.

After graduating from university and working for 3 1/2 years, I was asked if I would go to Asia and help do some training of the office staff. That was in December then international travel was halted for the company I was working for so I continued working in the US until April 1. It wasn’t an April Fool’s joke when I was asked if I could leave in two weeks. So in two weeks, I packed my apartment, stored my things in my parents’ basement, shopped for some luggage, packed two suitcases and set off on a journey that would change my life. That was my first trip to Asia.

That is in front of the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

It was all so new, living in a city and living in Asia. I remember for lunch the first day going to a Chinese restaurant down the alley from the office and that night I wrote in my journal that I ate at a “real Chinese restaurant.” I loved living in the city. My apartment was within walking distance to the office, I learned to ride the bus, take a taxi, order my meals all without speaking much Chinese.

That began my love affair with the Chinese people. Since then, I have lived in three different countries in Asia and traveled to numerous others. God used that experience 22 years ago to move me where he wanted me to be and to have me ready and willing to serve him. It was also in April about 7 years later when I was back in Asia that a certain young man moved there. We meet soon after he arrived but it took five years till we decided to get married.

So this week I am remembering just a bit of that first experience in Asia. My pictures from those early years are in storage. It would be fun to go back and remember the good times.