A Praise Report

Like cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a distant land. Proverbs 25:25

While we continue to do ministry in an international city we are constantly reminded of the trials and challenges back in America. So when I read this verse a day ago I was reminded of this truth. With that said, we present to you some good news!

Taiwan has gone over fifty days without a local case of COVID-19! The local government has been fighting to inform and equip the country, but also the world! (Just check out this website! https://taiwancanhelp.us/ ) This has meant Kennedy has enjoyed unrestricted school and play. Brittany and Justin have been able to get away for some much needed coffee dates. (That is, with a little tag-along, albeit a cute one.) And The Aroma Church has been able to reopen their doors to in-person services. Praise the Lord!

Regarding that last bit, something that has been interesting is that while several church members have been slow to return, the Lord has brought new people in. David is a man who came to our English ministry, Coffee Talk through googling “English events in Taipei.” After we told him a church met in the upstairs of the cafe, he told us that he was a Christian but had not been able to find a community of believers and so he had quit attending church for some time. He’s been attending our community events for the last four weeks! Praise the Lord!

Additionally, the young man playing the guitar in the picture above, I met when we first moved to Taiwan five years ago. Frustrated with relationships and God, four years ago he left the church. However, our God is one of many chances! He didn’t stop working in this man’s heart. This young man has recently returned and it’s been encouraging to see the community embrace him again. Praise the Lord!

We hope this encourages you in a time when the world might look chaotic. Thank goodness we serve a God of peace! If you want to hear more about what’s happening or connect with us personally would you send us an email? We’d love to pray for you by name. Just send us a message to siemens at ChopsticksAndScooters dot com

Much love and many blessings,

The Siemens

Passions & Callings

My passion & calling

On November 2nd, 2016 I was able to attend a training seminar in which we were asked to think about and formulate the verbage to describe our specific calling God has placed on our lives. The idea there was that this unique calling was a mix between A) God’s ultimate mission for the world, B) our context and physical location, and C) Holy Spirit’s promptings on our life. 

At that point in my life creating digital media was still a large part of my ministry. However, I’ve long known and specifically loved the story-telling aspect of creating media. I know God loves people and working through them, it makes sense that their stories are something that can build and further the His Kingdom. 

As I thought through people groups, issues, gifts, and skills that are near to my heart I formulated the following sentence; I intend to empower young singles and married couples from a lost identity and a lack of purpose into a Kingdom purpose and their true identity through the means of storytelling.

It’s now 2020 and I’ve revisited this sentence multiple times. While I don’t often create media as part of my ministry, both Brittany and I are very involved with young people. I hope that can always be the case as fathering those younger than me has become something that brings me great joy. (3 John 1:4) Since 2016 I’ve taken a deeper dive into philosophy and theology during my pre-ordination apprenticeship. Additionally I’ve taken more Bible classes and read many books, however in midst of all this learning my favorite part has been being able to share my findings with those I’m leading…

…and I most enjoy leading through the use of stories. Stories help us encourage connection and help us engage. They appeal to all sorts of learners. They’re a low-risk learning method (as they often mask their challenge within the story itself) and they also greatly inspire motivation. It’s through stories from my own experiences, or even stories of others that I am privileged to tell, that I am able to share and invest in my spiritual children. 

Your passion & calling

I may have found an interest plot line to reveal my calling, but realistically it came to me in a pretty boring fashion. There was never a burning bush moment where I suddenly realized what I was made to do. So no matter what others experience, don’t fret. Know that God made you to do something specific. He made you in a wonderful fashion and with a unique purpose! (Psalm 139:14)

So, how do you figure out what it is you’re made to do? I recently re-read a book called Garden City that lays it out pretty well. Read this…

What we do should grow out of who we are.

What are you good at? Perhaps you need to embrace that potential a dig in a little more. Then look at your limitations. What are you not great at? Perhaps you should stop trying to do those things. God made us all to do something different (We see this when someone who is clearly cut out for studying is forced into manual labor, or when an extrovert is pushed into a cubicle.) and we must first realize we can’t do anything. We can only do what God created us to do.

Both our potential and our limitations are signs pointing forward to God’s calling on our life.

After that, ask yourself some simple questions.

  1. What do you love?
    Can you make a living at it. Have you tried?
  2. What are you good at?
    Celebrate the success you’ve had and then also re-evaluate the failures you’ve had. Both are stepping stones!
  3. What does your world need?
    Your country, your neighborhood, your generation. We were put on this earth to work together with God and when he came to earth as a man, Jesus rocked the culture through his radical servant leadership.
  4. Does it make the world a better place?
    Does it help humans flourish? Is it good for the earth? Good for you? Good for culture?
  5. What are the open doors in your life?
    Could God be simply calling you to step into an opportunity that is in front of you?
  6. What are people you know saying?
    Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory. Proverbs 11:14  
  7. What is the Holy Spirit stirring in your heart?
    Holy Spirit sometimes asks us to do something we don’t want to do. We often ignore what He stirs up. But if we try to do something we aren’t made to do, fighting these stirrings is pointless, perhaps even dangerous. Press in instead!

I’ll end this post with a quote from the book I’ve referenced above.

Whatever it is that you’re called to do it. If you don’t, you rob yourself of the life God’s called you to live…  But you also rob the rest of us. We need you to be you.

Garden City, John Mark Comer (Chapter 3)

Press into God’s calling for you!

Home’s aren’t built in a day.

messyhouse

But, a house can be rented out pretty quickly! Today we’re celebrating God’s providence because as you can see in the photo above… we’ve got a new home! It’s full of boxes… and after our adventure to IKEA last night it’s been filled with even more boxes. But, we’ll get there.

Our last house here in Taipei was an apartment that we lived in for four years. It was actually the longest Brittany and I had lived in one place since we got married eight years ago! To say it meant a lot to us might be an understatement. Not only was it half our marriage to date, but it also signified a huge blessing that God had given us since purchasing a new house was a dream we gave up when pursuing overseas missions.

However, since that dream has passed it seems appropriate that we in someways “downgraded” our home to something smaller, more affordable, and much more simple; 1 bathroom. We’re still not sure what we think of that last one… but we’re excited about the possibilities this small apartment contains and we’re counting our blessings because God provided! (And rather quickly, too!) God brings us into different seasons and from one house to another, but thankfully we take the home He’s created for us along on the journey. One neat add-on is that our landlords are Christians and live in the unit right above us. They had prayed that they would find renters for whom this apartment would be a blessing.

Speaking of homes and the people in them; our family is well. Praise the Lord.

That doesn’t mean life here hasn’t been crazy at times. Upon arrival in Taiwan we made it through quarantine, but Justin and Kennedy were required to stay home since they had both reported symptoms upon arrival in Taiwan. Justin’s test quickly came back negative, whereas Kennedy had to wait a full fifteen days. (Her results were negative, too.) Thank the Lord we made it through. We’re thankful to now be able to go about our ministries here in Taipei.

And speaking of ministries… like much of the world, our work has been turned upside down due to COVID-19. Taiwan has had to become more strict with their rules in keeping us safe. Indoor activities need to be 100 people or less and there must be enough space for everyone attending to maintain 1.5m distance from one another. If you’ve seen our cafe, you know that isn’t gonna’ happen. That’s meant online meetings and online church, like many of you are experiencing. Praise the Lord, Justin and his team were able to quickly put things together to launch the Aroma Church online! Who knew everyone would have to become TV producers! ( Check it out! thearoma.online.church )

All this to say, we have a house. Our family is well. Ministry is changing rapidly due to the pandemic at hand, but throughout it all God is good. He’s sovereign, too!

It will take some time to unpack, adjust, and build up new routines such as nap times and daily commutes. But, that’s all part of building our home here in Taipei. We’re excited for the journey God will take us on as we get there. We hope you are too! Thank you for your prayers. ❤️

A Sermon by Kennedy

How to Get Joy and How to Smell, Become, and Spread

First, we will be talking about how to find joy. Joy is not what you get right away. So, I know some of you will think, “Then how do you get joy?” Well, it is not easy to get it, but you should…

  1. Pray
  2. Tell God you want to help with something.
  3. Do it.

Then, you will be happy with what you have done.

Next, we will be talking about how to smell, become, and spread. It’s easy to do.

  1. Come to the Aroma.
  2. Tell us you want to know Jesus.
  3. Tell people about Jesus.

Thank you for listening guys. We love you guys.

A photo of Kennedy’s sermon notes. We love seeing her write!