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 WEEK BACK IN TAIPEI – Psalm 73

Our family has been back for just over a week; nine days to be exact. Since returning life feels like it’s been flipped upside down. Here’s a list of things that weigh heavy on me (Justin).

  • Upon entry, Kennedy and I were tested for COVID-19 because we had coughs coming into the country. My test results returned negative two days later and I was allowed to leave the house. Nine days later we’re still waiting for Kennedy’s test results. That means that Kennedy’s been stuck at home. My father’s heart breaks each morning I leave for work and my extroverted daughter sadly waves as she realizes today will be another day she’s stuck at home.
  • Leaving for Taiwan many of you prayed we would find a great apartment to rent. I specifically remember praying and sensing God telling me that He has something great in store for us. I imagined and prayed that it would happen quickly, like, within days quickly. After visiting four different apartments we are struggling to find the right home for our family. We continue to pray for God’s providence, but the waiting has been difficult, especially considering Kennedy’s house arrest.
  • Social pressure is real. America and the COVID-19 virus blew up right after we left. Because of this and our just returning from the USA, remarks were made. Some friends have been scared into treating us differently, distancing themselves from us more than what would be normal in our situation. I’ll be completely honest; That hurts. A lot, actually.
  • Our work and ministry is being tossed around. Right now, a second wave of COVID-19 is spreading through Taiwan. Because of that the government is shutting it’s borders to foreigners and safety precautions are tightening. That means each day brings huge question marks when it comes whether or not our gatherings can be held. Are there too many people in one place? Do we require everyone to wear masks? How do we turn people away if they show up sick? There are even talks about the government quarantining everyone for a time, similar to what is happening in San Fransisco. In that case all of our planning is moot.

yet, despite these things… our Sovereign God remains our refuge. Our strength comes from Him alone and not our circumstances. I’m reminded of this by a song I recently came across on Spotify.

But for me, it is good to be near You
I have made the Sovereign God my refuge
I will tell of all that You’ve done for me
How you cleansed and set me free

As I dive deeper into Psalm 73, the passage this chorus is taken from, it feels like I could have written this entire chapter.

13Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. 14All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.

then…

23Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

and finally…

28But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. (NIV)

So what has God done for us in the last nine days? He’s provided a place to stay while we search for our new home. (And our friends who are hosting us clean up our room and made us feel extremely welcome!) The school I work part-time for has welcomed me back and their willingness to keep me on as a teacher has allowed us a smooth transition back into the country with little visa issues. While Kennedy can’t attend school right now, her teacher actively texts with Brittany telling her she can’t wait for her to return and that she is more than willing to help Kennedy catch up on anything she’s missed! (This feels huge to us as it’s not the norm for teachers here.) Finally, despite the Corona scare we are healthy. Our family is doing well and God even blessed us with a smooth and easy transition between timezones. I hear jet lag and babies don’t mix, but Hailee has been exception.

With all that said, I can complain. I can be angry. But I can not say that God has not been with us each step of this journey. And ya’ know what? That’s what brings on my smile, because for me, it is good to be near Him.

Pray for Asia! (Coronavirus)

If you haven’t heard of the coronavirus, then there’s some information for you from the CDC.

CDC is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (named “2019-nCoV”) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and which continues to expand. Chinese health officials have reported thousands of infections with 2019-nCoV in China, with the virus reportedly spreading from person-to-person in many parts of that country. … The United States reported the first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread with this virus on January 30, 2020.

Some of you may know some of this, but others might not… then there are some of you who may have forgotten that the epicenter of this virus is only a 2.5 hour flight away from where we do ministry in Taipei, Taiwan. While there’s a bit of ocean in between the two cities, Taipei has still been infected and affected. As of February 1st there are ten reported cases of the virus and many Taiwanese responding frantically. All over the city of Taipei there is a rush for surgical masks. Places like 7-11 which usually have plenty in stock now have lines out the doors and a limit of three per customer.

While scientists still don’t know how the transfers from person to person, and while it is just a flu and only has a 2% mortality rate, the fear it’s struck in Asia is somewhat alarming.

  • Please pray that the Lord would provide strength and wisdom to His people in Asia.
  • Pray Christians would reach out with boldness and proclaim the peace that comes when Christ Jesus is involved!
  • Pray that countries would band together in unity and not hoard resources.
  • Pray for the sick!

    In Jesus name, Amen.