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Christmas 2011 Newsletter

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各位弟兄姊妹平安:
                首先,祝賀你們聖誕快樂,新年蒙恩。
                自從八、九月依依不捨揮別弟兄姊妹和留在美國念大學的兒子從美國回台後,全家人就再次回到原本忙碌的生活軌道。敦興開始忙於神學院及海外的教導工作,如品開始忙於準備心理師的考試,Anna 和Praisye則繼續回到他們規律的學校生活。唯一不同的是,生活中少了Zephy,爸媽的心總覺得缺了甚麼,只能偶爾藉著Skype通話問好,但當然不是隨時找得到人,我想家有大學生的父母,應該都知道我們的心情。
敦興的近況
                敦興九月下旬從美國回來後,就意外發現十月中需要去中國教書。在同時準備本地這學期新課(基督教教育)的同時,敦興必須在準備好另一門新的課(基督教倫理)。這其中過程雖然辛苦,但敦興覺得他從這些課中學到不少。在知道要去中國不久之後,敦興接到美國移民局按手印的通知,但因為與大陸教書的行程撞期,所以經過詢問律師,申請延期一次。敦興原來擔心第二次的通知會和他去馬來西亞教書的行程衝突,但感謝主正好錯開。敦興接到第二次的按手印時間是11/2,而他去馬來西亞的時間正好是11/4 - 11/14。雖然時間非常緊湊,但還勉強安排的過來。經過思前想後,敦興最後是10/31到美國,當中一天並藉由視訊與台灣的學生上課,然後11/4路過台灣再飛馬來西亞,最後在馬來西亞的砂勞越停留了七天教書後返台。其實,在馬來西亞時,因轉機地點離敦興的老家不遠,他就藉著機會回家看看父母親。
                 
如品的近況
                如品這次暑假去美國時靠著神的恩典,順利通過博士論文答辯,於回台後正式拿到諮商博士學位。不久她就發現心理師考試考期已逼近,而報考還需要經過學位、課程和相關證件等的驗證,國外的學位和證件尤其麻煩,需要到美國駐外單位驗證並回台翻譯公證。目前如品還沒完全完成這些手續,必須在12月底前交出並通過審核。考試時間是在明年的二月,考試書單上有約二十本的書要念,多半是如品沒念過的中文書,看的如品頭昏腦脹,而且發現年紀大了,過目即忘,只有盡力而為,把結果交給神了。其實如品要考執照,也是經過許久的掙扎,覺得是神的心意,也許將來對服事會比較方便,並不是要拿來找工作或做賺錢的工具。至於如品前面服事的道路還不是很清楚,因為原來說好要去服事的教會有了一點變化,他們內部同工之間意見還沒達成協議,仍在討論籌劃是否要成立輔導中心。不過如品目前每週已被邀請固定帶領或幫忙四個聚會,並在台灣神學院和台北信友堂幫忙做個人的輔導工作,平均每週接五到七個個案,所以除了預備考試外,如品目前也相當忙碌。明年二月開始,如品會和牧師一起在華神教延伸部的課程。等考完執照的考試後,如品會更專心的尋求前面服事的方向,若主許可,希望能有一個全職的事奉。
 
孩子們的近況
                Zephy進了他自己夢寐以求的大學,好像如魚得水,每天過的不亦樂乎,就他的標準,他“過的很好”,但就爸媽的標準,大概不是那麼理想。除了三餐作息不太正常,學業也沒顧的很好,但爸媽除了為他迫切禱告,有時提醒一下(還不能太多)之外,天高皇帝遠,也不太能做甚麼。最重要的是,爸媽越來越看到,這是兒子自己的路和人生,他必須自己學神要他學的功課。他已成年,很多事必須自己去經歷,自己從失敗和碰撞中學會教訓,否則一輩子長不大。因此做父母的,有時必須忍痛讓孩子摔,但仍不放棄的在一旁為他禱告,同時陪他走這條成長之路。這對父母和孩子都是不容易的功課,我們現在也在憑信心走這條路,但因為有上帝的同在與應許,所以能看見前面的亮光,相信最後的結局是對孩子好的,同時也是能榮耀神的。
                                Anna還是很享受她的高中生活,雖然學校功課已經越來越忙,但她還是有一群很好的朋友圈子,假日時會一起逛街、出去玩、慶生、做點心等自娛,生活的忙碌又充實,也能顧好自己的生活和課業,讓我們很放心。她的人際關係很好,有時放假回家會帶女同學回來小住,很多是父母住在海外的宣教士子女,我們也很高興能做這樣的接待工作。想到我們因為來了台灣,孩子不能在身邊,但至少還能常常見面,但這些宣教士卻必須在孩子更小時就將孩子送出來,半年、一年才能見一次面,做父母心中的不捨和掛心,我們可以體會。所以能為他們做些甚麼,是我們的喜樂。Anna現在唯一煩惱的是,不知將來大學要念甚麼。她的興趣在畫畫藝術方面,但又想做助人的工作,所以還在尋求神的心意。她很清楚表示不在意自己以後的工作是否賺錢,除了能養活自己,最重要是要能過一個充實有意義的人生,能對人有幫助,自己也能享受人生。爸媽對他們的心願則是,他們一生能走在神的旨意裡,做個服事神的人。神若喜悅揀選他們做神全時間的僕人,那就更好,但不是照我們的意思,乃是願神的旨意成全。
so far so good,求主繼續引導。
                Praisye跟姊姊一樣,忙碌於功課、朋友社交、和學校活動之間,日子過的很充實也很有樂趣。假日時她常常比爸媽還忙,除了跟同學的活動外,她也參加很多學校的球類和團契活動。她除了繼續參加學校的幾個球類校隊,還在學校其中一個學生敬拜團裡擔任團長和司琴,同時與另一位同學在帶一個五年級女生的查經小組。其實爸媽很清楚,不是她的能力強,而是因為學校小,可以參與和服事的機會較多。但我們很感謝神藉著這個機會來訓練和裝備她,希望不但對她有益處,也能使她將來成為一個更合主使用的器皿。在這當中,我們發現不但Praisye自己的靈命成長,她也學習到更多如何與人同工、如何做領袖、如何調解人際衝突,和學習溝通等重要的功課。當然也藉此讓她看見自己的一些軟弱,和個性上需要調整的地方。我們在一旁除了為她禱告感恩,不時給些建議外,很多事也只能讓她自己去學習處理。感謝主
                其實在三個孩子慢慢長大的過程中,發現隨著孩子不同的個性和不同年齡層的需要,父母真是不好當,也因此更能感念自己父母的辛勞。但遺憾的是,雖然人回到了台灣,但由於諸般原因,能看望父母的時間還是很有限。眼看父母逐漸老邁,知道能陪伴他們的日子也越來越少,心裡也會焦急。今年聖誕節假期,我們一家會去馬來西亞與敦興的家人團聚,Zephy也會加入我們。馬來西亞回來後,則會帶Zephy去高雄看望如品的父母。農曆年時也會全家回高雄與他們共度。敦興的家人因為距離與機票,很遺憾能見面的機會就少多了,不過今年敦興藉著去東馬教書的機會,能與家人見面,實在是一意外的收穫。
 
                末了,除了要謝謝你們支持及代禱,也願神紀念你的愛心。以下是我們的代禱事項:
1.   為我們新的一年在服事上能更有效率,在忙碌中不忽略跟神的關係。
2.   為如品二月份的心理師執照考試能順利通過。
3.   為Zephy在大學的適應、學業,以及靈命。
4.   為Anna 和Praisye在學校的學習以及他們的靈命。
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
In August and September, we sadly said goodbye to our dear brothers and sisters in the US and to our son Zephy who stayed there for his college, we returned to Taiwan as well to as our busy and routine life. Toon was busy with his teaching job in the seminary and overseas. Pam began preparing for her license examination. Anna and Praisye went back to their school routine. However, we all missed Zephy. Without him, Mom and Dad felt something was missing. Although we talked to him through Skype at times, it was different. Moreover, it was not that easy to find him sometimes. I think most parents who have college kids understand what we are talking about.
Toon’s Update: 
As soon as Toon returned from the US in September, he discovered that in October he needed to go to China to teach a seminary class (Christian ethics) that he has never taught before. At the same time, he had to prepare for another new class (Christian education) in Taiwan. In other words, he needed to have these two new classes ready. Although it was a challenge and the preparation was tough, Toon felt that he learned a lot from these classes. Not long after he knew about his trip to China, Toon received a letter from the US Immigration Office and informed him to do his biometric. Due to the schedule conflict with his trip to China, Toon postponed the appointment after consulting with his lawyer. At first Toon worried that the second appointment might conflict with his trip to Malaysia in November. Fortunately, it did not. His second appointment was scheduled on 11/2 and the trip to Malaysia was from 11/4 to 11/14. Although the schedule was tight, it was manageable. Finally Toon flied to the US on 10/31, and 11/4 stopped by Taiwan and then flied directly to Sarawak, Malaysia. He taught in East Malaysia (Kuching) for seven days. During this trip, he also had an opportunity to visit his family in Malaysia.
Pam’s Update:
By God’s grace, Pam passed her doctoral dissertation defense when she went to America this summer and got her doctoral degree in counseling after she returned to Taiwan. Soon she found out that the exam date for the therapist’s license was near and she needed to do lots of paper work in order to register for the exam. First of all she needed to have her American diploma and transcript approved by the Taiwan’s governmental institute in the US and also notified by the legal office in Taiwan. The whole process was quite time and mind consuming. She needs to get everything ready and approved by the exam committee by the end of the December. The exam date will be in the February of next year. However, there are about 20 books to study and most of them are new to Pam. Pam felt quite overwhelmed when she looked at the pile of books. Moreover, she often found that she could not remember a thing after she read them. Nevertheless, all she could do was to try her best and gave the rest to God. Actually, Pam has been struggling with the decision of taking the exam. After praying about it, she felt it was God’s will for her to take the exam. She thought the license might give her more opportunities for ministry. She never intended to use the license as a tool to find a job or make money.       With regard to her future, Pam is still not very clear. The church that talked to Pam about the possibility of having Pam help them setting up a counseling center had not reached a consensus among themselves. Nonetheless, Pam has been invited to lead or help with four bible study or book study in several places. Pam was also helping with the Taiwan Theological Seminary and the Taipei Friendship Presbyterian Church by counseling their students and members.
Our Children’s Updates:
Zephy went to his dream school and really enjoyed his life in college. In his own standard and terms, he “is fine.” In our standard, however, his condition may not be very desirable. In addition to his unhealthy sleeping and eating habits, he is not doing a good job in taking care of his academic work. Yet, not much we can do except praying for him and reminding him sometimes (not too much) due to the long distance. Above all, we see more clearly that this is his life and he needs to learn the lesson that God wants him to learn. He is an adult now. He has to experience many things on his own. Sometimes he needs to learn many things through failures and painful experiences in order to reach maturity. We as parents have to allow them to fall, yet at the same time keep praying for them and walk this path of growth with them. This is not an easy lesson for both the parents and the child. We are still walking on this road of faith. With God’s presence and promise, we can see light waiting ahead and believe that the outcome will be both beneficial to our kid and bring glory to His name.
                Anna is still enjoying her high school life. Although her school work is getting busier, she can find time to go shopping, go outing, having birthday party, or making cookies with friends during weekend or holiday. Her life is very busy and fulfilling. At the same time, she can still take a good care of her own life and school work. We feel quite satisfied with her performance. She also has a very good interpersonal relationship at school. Sometimes when she comes home from school, with our permission and the school, she would take female classmates with her. Many of these kids are children of missionaries who are living overseas. We are glad that we have opportunities to have them in our home. Although we can’t live together with our children after we moved to Taiwan, we can still see them sometimes. These missionaries had to send their kids out at an even younger age, and would only see them once or twice a year. We can understand the parent’s worries and loss. So if we can help them in any way, it will be our pleasure.
                Anna still does not know what direction she is going to take for her college. She is interested in drawing and arts, but she also wants to be in the helping profession. She is seeking God’s guidance. She indicates that she does not care whether her future job can make lots of money or not. As long as she can provide for herself, the thing she care the most is to have a fulfilling and meaningful life. She can be helpful to others as well as enjoy her own life. Our wish for the kids is that they can walk in God’s will and serve Him. If God is pleased and chooses them to be His full-time ministers, that will be even better. Yet, it is not our will, but His will be done.
                Similar to Anna, Praisye is also busy with her academic work, friends, and school activities. Her life seems to be very fulfilling and enjoyable. During holidays, she sometimes has a busier schedule than Mom and Dad. In addition to activities with her friends, she also attends plenty of school activities such as sports and small groups. After the volley ball team, she is in school soft ball team now. She is also the team leader and pianist of the worship team for the grade school chapel. At the same time, she is leading a 5th-grade girl Bible study with her classmate. We know that she can have these opportunities to serve it is not because she is superior but because the school is small, and we are very thankful for these opportunities to train and equip her. We hope these experiences will not only benefit her but also prepare her to be a suitable vessel for future service. Through the process, we found Praisye’s spiritual life grew and she learned many important lessons, including how to work with others, how to be a leader, how to resolve conflict, and how to communicate effectively. Of course, she also became aware of some of her weaknesses and aspects in her personality that she needed to change. Besides praying for her and giving her advices from time to time, we have to let her handle many of these problems by herself. Thank God, so far so good. May the Lord continue to guide her.
Through the growth of our kids, we realized more and more that parenting is indeed a tough job. With different needs and different age stage of every child, parents are to face with different challenges. Therefore, we come to a deeper sense of appreciation for the labor of our own parents. Unfortunately, although we have returned to Taiwan, our time to spend with our parents is still very limited. When we see that our parents get older and our time with them gets shorter, we know we need to be hurried. This Christmas we’ll go back to Malaysia to visit Toon’s family, and Zephy will join us from the US. After the trip to Malaysia, we’ll bring Zephy to Kaohsiung to visit Pam’s parents. We’ll also celebrate the Chinese New Year with Pam’s parents.
Finally, we want to once again thank you for all your support and prayer. May the Lord remember your love. The following is our prayer requests:
1.        For our ministry in the new year can be more effective, and do not neglect our relationship with Him within our busy schedule.
2.        For Pam’s license exam in February.
3.        For Zephy’s adjustment in college, his school work, and his spiritual life.
4.        For Anna’s and Praisye’s school work and their spiritual life.
 
Sincerely,
主僕, 敦興, 如品Toon and Pam,
with Zephy, Anna & Praisye