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April 2014 Newsletter

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各位主內弟兄姊妹平安:

             

            復活節快樂! 基督的復活是我們的盼望,也是我們生活的動力。這是我們在波士頓的第一個復活節。時間在忙碌的生活中不知覺的流逝,突然發現這學期的課程已近尾聲,這裡神學院要畢業的同學們多半在忙著找服事的工場或尋求神下一步的帶領,我們知道這表示離我們要回台灣的時間也快到了。我們的心情?憂喜半摻。喜的是很快就可以回到原來的服事崗位,回到可愛的台灣,並與想念的家人和弟兄姊妹相聚;憂的是要離開老大和老二,以及這裡的弟兄姊妹和朋友們,進入空巢期的生活。

           

敦興這學期的功課比上學期要稍微輕鬆一些,因此比較能享受學習,也覺得自己學到很多,迫不及待要回台灣跟學生們分享,盼望能對神學院有更大的助益。這一年除了九月和一月回台灣兩次教課和開會,五月還會再回去一次。今年3/20 – 23敦興和如品應喬治亞州的美國獨立長老會 (Independent Presbyterian Church) 之邀,作他們教會宣教年會其中的講員,分享敦興、如品在東亞的事工,特別是台灣改革宗神學院的工作,因為這個教會是神學院的支持者之一。教會主任牧師(Rev. Dr. Terry Johnson)所寫的一本有關歸正敬拜的書,不但是敦興所教的一門課的教科書,而且教會最近計畫出資將那本書翻譯成中文,由改革宗翻譯社來幫忙翻譯出版。這不但對改革神學有很大的幫助,也對華人神學教育是一大貢獻。藉著敦興和如品在這次宣教年會中的分享,該教會的弟兄姊妹對東亞的事工和台灣改革宗神學院的工作都有了進一步的認識。

             

            經過一番思想和禱告,以及跟教授的討論,敦興決定寫篇論文,最後也得到校方開會通過。雖然寫論文可能會較辛苦及費時,但敦興從過去寫論文的經驗,覺得寫論文似乎可以學到更多,會對將來他的授課更有幫助。因此,敦興這學期的課業結束後,先回台灣及到中國,暑假他會繼續留在學校,一方面寫論文,一方面幫敬一轉學搬家,同時教敬一和Anna開車。敦興會在九月初幫孩子們安頓後回台灣,如品和頌一則因為頌一開學較早的緣故,會於八月初先回台灣。

             

            因為所教的網上課程最近休息,如品現在在幫忙這裡的神學院翻譯一些中文教牧博士課程的文件,這個神學院已經通過最近會成立中文部的教牧博士課程,完全用中文授課和學習,對很多不黯英語但有心學習的中國牧者來說無異是福音。除此之外,如品主要的時間還是花在照顧家人和關心一些神學院裡有需要的家庭,包括帶查經、教人英文、送月子餐、教人開車、帶人購物、和輔導調解夫妻關係等 (神學生也是人,也有需要和問題)。如品覺得雖然服事的方式和面向跟過去不太一樣,但心中還是覺得很喜樂,也覺得這樣的日子很充實。其實服事不限於地點和形式,只要有心服事,不論我們身處哪裡或甚麼樣的環境,我們都可以找到神要我們做的事來榮神益人。

             

            敬一 (Zephy) 已經順利通過轉學申請,將於暑假後轉到附近的一所州立大學,Framingham State University,讀書。很感謝神的是,他這兩個學期在本地社區大學修的課,以及過去在台灣自休的CLEP課程,都被學校承認接受,可以抵大約70個學分。因此如果順利的話,他只要再花一年半到兩年的時間就可以畢業。雖然他現在對自己留在美國念書,獨立處理學業和生活問題變得不太有自信,他還是很高興自己可以有這個機會獨立,再次回到學校(而不是住在家裡)。我們雖然也對他未來的表現有點擔心,但也只有把他交在神手中,以禱告支持,並隨時應變。相信他是神的羊,神自會帶領負責他的一生。

           

            祈一 (Anna) 雖然學校離我們住的地方只有十分鐘的車程,但她因為課業和活動的忙碌,平時很少回家住,但會不時跟我們見面。所以感覺跟她在台灣住校很像。不知是否以後我們回台灣後,我們和她也會因此比較容易適應。她很獨立,很少讓我們操心,自己的學業和生活也都處理得很好。她下學期會開始擔任學校國際學生團契的同工,服事學校裡的國際學生。她也同時在計畫這個暑假的時間,看是要修課還是打工。當然,她已打算在暑假結束前學會開車並拿到駕照,以後自己開車進出。雖然我們是打算將我們的舊車給她,還是得看她是否能通過考試,以及我們是否能負擔高額的保險。

頌一 (Praisye) 很高興她終於結束了這一年在美國的生活,可以回到台灣,和她所熟悉的學校和同學當中。雖然她在這裡也交了不少的朋友,特別一些神學院裡的孩子們,但她還是非常想念台灣的朋友們,也很想念台灣。她八月初和如品會先回到高雄,住在外公外婆家幾天,然後就要搬到學校宿舍開學了。雖然她有點捨不得離開家,也不知道自己是否會想家,但還是很興奮要跟朋友們見面了。爸媽也是很捨不得這麼早就要把最後一個孩子送出去,但至少還是可以偶爾見面 (他們開學後就變得很忙,很少回家,而頌一是三個孩子裡面活動參加最多的),不像跟老大老二,最多一年只能見一次面。

            說到空巢,敦興如品好像還沒預備好 (我想大概多半的父母都沒預備好就發生了),但想想也會有好處。例如以後服事就比較方便,特別是出遠門或晚上的服事;如品以後也可以比較多機會回高雄看望和陪伴父母。反正人生的每個階段,該來的就會來,跟著神一步步走下去,相信每個階段都可以經歷神的同在和恩典;我們跟神的關係以及自己的生命,也可以因此變得更成熟豐盛。敦興和如品都已進入中年,很多時候真是覺得歲月不饒人,因為身體和記憶力都在不斷提醒自己漸漸老化的事實。但就像聖經說的,「所以我們不喪膽,外體雖然毀壞,內心卻一天新似一天。」求神幫助我們,在餘生的歲月可以更多為主而活,心意更新。

代禱事項:

1.    為我們全家回台灣前暑假的計畫代禱。我們希望能探訪一些支持我們的教會。

2.    為敦興寫論文禱告。寫論文不是一件容易的工作,特別這個神學院的要求很高。求神賜給他智慧、自制、和力量。

3.    為我們回台灣後的重新適應禱告;也求神讓我們能找到一個合適的住處。

4.    為敬一的適應和自信禱告: 他將會轉到一個新學校,自己住在學校裡。       

主內

敦興 、如品

敬一、 祈一、 頌一

Dear brothers and Sisters in Christ:

 

            Happy Easter! The message of Easter is the hope and motivation of our lives. It is the first Easter in Boston. Time passes silently within our daily routines and business. We suddenly realized that it is almost the end of the semester. Those students who are going to graduate from this seminary (Gordon- Conwell Theological Seminary) this semester are busy with finding a place to serve or seeking God’s guidance for their next step. We are also reminded that it is about time for us to go back to Taiwan. How do we feel? Probably it is a mixture of both joy and sadness. We are happy that we will return to our original ministry soon, and that we will meet again with our beloved family members and friends there. However, we are also sad that we are going to leave our two older children and other brothers and sisters here. Moreover, we are going to enter the “empty nest” stage.  

Toon’s studies of this semester are less heavy and tense than those of last semester. Thus, he could really enjoy the learning, and he felt that he did learn a lot. He can’t wait to share what he has learned with his students in Taiwan, and hopes that he can bring more help to the seminary in this way. During the one year in the US, Toon has gone back to Taiwan three times for teaching and attending meetings, and he will go back one more time in this May. Last month, Toon and Pam were invited by the Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Georgia, to be two of the speakers to share in their annual mission conference and shared their ministry in the East Asia, especially the work done by the China Reformed Theological Seminary. This is church is one of the supporters of the CRTS. Reformed Worship, a book written by the senior pastor (Rev. Dr. Terry Johnson), was used by Toon as one of his textbooks in his class was funded by the church to translate into Chinese. This will be a big help not only to CRTS’s students but also to Chinese theological education, especially in the area of the reformed practical theology. Through the sharing of Toon and Pam in the mission conference, the church members became more familiar with the ministry in East Asia and the work done by the CRTS.

After some thoughts, prayers, and discussion with his professor, Toon decided to write a thesis regarding an issue that he has been interested for a while. This decision was accepted by the school after a meeting among the faculty. Although it will probably take some works and some time to write a thesis, from his past experience Toon feels that he can learn more through the entire process. Therefore, it will also help his teaching. He plans to use his whole summer to write his thesis. At the same time, he will also help Zephy move to his dorm and teach Zephy and Anna drive. After he helps them settle down, Toon will return to Taiwan in September. Pam and Praisye will go back to Taiwan in the beginning of August due to Praisye’s early school beginning. 

Because she was taking a break for her online teaching job, Pam is helping translate Chinese documents for the Chinese Doctor in Ministry Program. This seminary has decided to start a Chinese DMin program which will use Chinese to teach and learn. This will be a good news for many pastors who are not good in English but are eager to learn. In addition to this work, Pam spends most of her time taking care of the family and the needs of other seminary families who are in need, including teaching English, cooking meals for moms after delivery, teaching people to drive, taking people for shopping, and counseling married couples, etc. (Seminary students are humans. They also have needs and problems). Although the current ministry is different from what she has done before in certain way, Pam really enjoys what she is doing.  She feels that this kind of ministry is very meaningful. Actually, as long as we have the heart of service, we can find things that God wants us to do and do it in a way that honor Him regardless of where we are and what we do.

Zephy will be transferring to Framingham State University, which is about an hour from where we are now, after the summer. We are very thankful that the school gives credits to all of his classes done in the current community college and through the CLEP exams. So he has about 70 credit hours that he can transfer to the school. Therefore, he only needs one year and half to two years to complete his college if everything goes well. Although now he is not very confident about his ability to handle everything by himself, he is still excited that he can be independent and return to school (not live at home). We too are not very confident about his future. Yet, we can only put him in the hands of the Lord, support him with our prayers, and make changes when it’s necessary. We believe that he is God’s sheep and He will guide Zephy’s life. 

Although Anna’s school is only 10-miniute drive from where we live, she doesn’t come home every often due to her busy schedule. We meet with her from time to time when there is the chance. The situation is very similar to the one when she lived in boarding school. We figure that it might be easier for both her and us to adjust when we return to Taiwan. She is very independent and she seldom worries us for anything. She is quite capable of taking care of her academic and life tasks. She will serve as a leader for the International Student Fellowship starting from next semester. It’s her heart to serve the international students at school. For the summer, she plans to take summer classes or do a summer job. She also plans to learn to drive and get her driver’s license before the end of the summer. Although we are giving her our car, it will depend on whether she can get the license and whether we can afford paying the insurance.

Praisye is very excited that she can finally return to Taiwan and meet with her friends there again. Although she also made many friends here, especially those from the seminary, she missed Taiwan and friends there a lot. She will return to Taiwan with Pam in the beginning of August and stayed in the grandparents’ house in Kaohsiung for a few days before she moved to the dorm to start her school. Although she will miss home, we believe she is happy that she is going to be with her friends. Mom and Dad are sad that they are going to send away the last kid. Fortunately, they can at least see Praisye from time to time (we will become very busy after the school starts due to academic works and various activities, and Praisye is the one who gets involved in the most activities among the three kids). Unlike with Zephy and Anna, we can only see them once a year, if not less.

                        Regarding the issue of empty nest, Toon and Pam are not very ready for it. Nevertheless, I think most of the parents are not ready for it when it happens. Of course, it also has benefits. For example, we can have more freedom in our ministry, especially when we need to go to take long distance trips or work at night. Pam can also have more opportunities to visit her parents in Kaohsiung and spend more time with them. Like every stage in our life, it comes when it is time. If we follow God in every step, we can experience His presence and grace in every stage of our life, and our life will become more mature and abundant. We are now in the stage of middle age, and our physical condition and memory keep reminding us that we are going down of the slope. Yet, as the Scripture says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4: 16). May God help us to live for Him in the remaining of our days and being renewed inwardly day by day.     

 

 

Prayer Requests:

1.     For our family plan in the summer before we return to Taiwan; we hope that we can visit some supporting churches.

2.     For Toon- Writing a thesis is not an easy task, especially this seminary’s academic expectation is quite demanding. Pray that God will give him wisdom, discipline, and strengths.

3.     For readjustment when we return to Taiwan; pray that we can find a suitable location/ apartment.

4.     For Zephy’s adjustment and confidence-  he will transfer to a new college and stay by himself (at dorm).

 

Finally, we want to thank you for your support. Please remember us in your prayer, and please feel free to contact us 571-331-7128 or 571-331-9803.

 

Sincerely,

Toon and Pam

Zephy, Anna, and Praisye