The last six months our church has read through the Old Testament together. I’ve taken note of how often God reminds the Israelites of what He’s done for them and recently I’ve been encouraged to take a look at how God has blessed me and my family. God’s past faithfulness motivates my hope for the future. Thank the Lord for Jesus. In order to look back I want to count the blessings I’ve seen in our Aroma community the last eight months!
Since we returned to Taiwan in January we opened a new cafe. Aroma Dongyuan is doing well and they’re growing into their new community. It’s great to see and work with them to fulfill the felt needs of south Wanhua’s people.
February was the start of my first real attempt at language learning. Everything up until that point had been sporadic and unorganized. My studies at the Mandarin training center were intense. Fifteen hours of class a week plus lots and lots of homework.
March led to a chunk of my molar falling out. It freaked me out, but the local dentist did a stellar job. Brittany started a part time job teaching English at a kindergarten and Kennedy went back to school as well.
April marked the official beginning of our journey with the Christian & Missionary Alliance as we were interviewed and conditionally accredited to work on a pastoral apprenticeship under Aroma’s founder, Chris O’Dell.
May was full of new life as two couples we’d mentored were married and a young believer in our community was baptized.
June began a crazy summer where Brittany and I were made responsible for the Aroma Ximen cafe since several leaders would be State-side for the summer. We jumped in as two staff members were leaving, of which the manager was one and two more were planning to leave later that summer.
July had a couple trips to do video work for both the Taiwanese Alliance Church Union and the Chinese Alliance World Fellowship. One happened in Taiwan and the other in Thailand. Both were filled with encouraging experiences seeing how God is using our brothers and sisters around the world.
August meant the end of our summer cafe experiment. As we reflected on the past three months we started to really take note of how we saw God working in our employees lives. We started writing these stories down. Then September hit.
Throughout that cafe experiment I mentioned, Brittany and I quickly realized that the business wasn’t where it needed to be. The cafe has been in Ximen for six years and in many ways we hadn’t fully matured into what we could be. We proposed an internal review to evaluate our problems and procedures and prayerfully find solutions that would further our ministry’s vision of helping others smell, become, and spread the Aroma of Christ.
This year Envision has sent seven short term teams who have been a part of our ministry. We’ve gained two new interns. We’ve baptized three individuals that I can think of off the top of my head. We’ve successfully read through the entire Old Testament with our church and Chris, myself, and others have preached through it as well. But we’ve also experienced some downs. Two of our good friends and colleagues moved back to the US early and rather unexpectedly. Our vision wasn’t communicated as clearly as it could have been and our Ximen manager left with little noticed which prompted the sink or swim situation for Brittany and I in the cafe. Our church remains in a community that is fairly transient. Two of our Taiwanese staff also moved on to new opportunities. Now in the last month I’ve found out that my grandmother has developed acute leukemia and my 80 year old grandfather has gone through emergency surgery to remove a gallstone that had eroded part of his gallbladder. It’s easy to feel like things are crashing down right now.
And yet… Jesus. His death and resurrection give us hope. Christian hope is a choice. It’s not based on some fluctuating facts. To quote my friends at the Bible Project, “Hope is based on us waiting for our God to bring a future that’s about as radical as a dead man coming back to life.”
We’ll continue to report back on what’s happening. On how the Aroma ministry is moving forward and how my family is doing as well. Until then though, we put our hope in Christ.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 1 Peter 1:3