Last Tuesday, I was in Alishan Mountain with some students from the seminary (Holy Light Theological Seminary) and a German OMF missionary friend. It was a two-day R&R since this is our Spring Break week. We hiked some of the trails of the mountain. It was about 50 degrees and cloudy. We did not get to see the famous sunrise and reputed kaleidescope of colors at the early morning mountain top panorama. Nonetheless, the walk through the gorgeous Maple and Oak forest, the famous Cherry Blossom garden, and the mountain side scenery made up for everything we missed.
At one point, we were hiking along the unused train tracks. (Last year's typhoon Morakot destroyed some portions of the railway. It is currently under repair.) One of the seminary students was walking on one side of the tracks and I on another. We were just sharing about life in general. In the middle of our conversation, he started singing a Chinese song. At that moment, I thought about this student's cultural experience. You see, he is a Korean and have come here in Taiwan two years ago to get his MDiv degree in our seminary. He is so deeply immersed into Taiwanese culture. I just listened to him in envy, admiration, and amazement. When will I ever get to this point of immersion? I do not feel like I am that deeply immersed into this culture. My lectures inside the classroom is a mix of English and Mandarin Chinese (mostly English). At the school cafeteria, when people are talking I missed most of the jokes and funny exchanges. Of course, it does not help that my German friend walking behind us from a distance is constantly talking in fluent Mandarin. She is even, currently, studying Taiwanese (Hokkien Chinese). I walked that train tracks with a heavy heart. I prayed to God for extra grace, for humility, and for perseverance as I continue serve Him here in Taiwan.
One thing that comforts me, in the midst of this humbling experience, is God's assurance and presence in my life. He continually reminds me that I am in His plan. He wants me to be here in Taiwan. He has called me to help these students (and other Taiwanese Christians) grow in their faith and in their journey as fellow missions worker in God's harvest here in Asia. The comfort I receive from God is that He is with me even to "the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20).