Stories from 2016

Providence:  MSCE Camp

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. Always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy.” – Philippians 1:3-4

I ask the Lord that I may remember to pray for the students daily, that they may one day come to know Him. What plans man has in mind, God can change, as Scripture says in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” This verse has resonated with me over these past two weeks as I experienced God’s goodness and faithfulness in empowering His children. Before deciding to apply to become a TA for the MSCE program, I initially planned to take extra classes over summer to lighten my load for school. As my freshman year went on, however, I developed an increasing desire to share the Gospel and His love to others around me. As I was interested in both ministering to others and in possibly pursuing a healthcare career, I felt God convicting me to go to the country I loved, Taiwan, to share the good news. I am so blessed to have had so much prayer and financial support from my family, friends, and home and college church. Even before this trip, God has shown me how to trust more in His providence.

Before the program started, our team visited the Mackay Museum to learn about the life of this faithful Canadian missionary in Taiwan. Dr. George Mackay arrived in Taiwan in his late 20’s and stayed for the rest of his life, ministering and serving the locals. I was inspired by his determination to extract thousands of teeth due to oral diseases in return for learning Taiwanese phrases, so that he could preach to the people there. One line he said that I cannot forget was, “Oh Lord, the honor does not belong to us but you.”

Having been excited and anxious to meet the Taiwanese medical students at MSCE, I was not sure what to expect at all. It was a time of many firsts: my first mission in Taiwan, my first time at a college campus there, and my first Taiwanese friends. At right is our team photo on the very first day of the program (Go Team Muumi!); although we initially had only six of our eight students, the rest arrived a day later from another camp, and the Lord sustained the already made bonds and quickly fastened the new into the unity of our team.

Deborah reflection, pic1

Although I was energetically drained every day, I enjoyed talking with them about the differences between American and Taiwanese culture, such as lifestyle, health schools, and food. Not only that, but I loved being able to relate with people who were around my age and in the same chapter of life. Both sides struggled to speak the languages they wanted to learn, but praise God that He allowed us to communicate on deeper level than I expected. He spoke through me as I prayed, and I saw His work being done throughout the week.

My personal Morning Manna sharing and cultural presentation were both on the first day, and I was anxious to see if the students would be able to understand my topics, especially about religion and culture. In the morning, I shared about my walk with Christ after my first year in college, and how I’ve been convicted to be aware of my sinful nature instead of taking His love for granted. Overall, I was so touched by the sharing of the other TA’s as well. We had only met when we arrived, which was a couple of days before the camp began, but God blessed all our relationships to grow quickly in Him. Although all of us came from different parts of the United States, I was extremely excited to meet more brothers and sisters in Christ, all of whom I look up to.

Despite not yet becoming Believers, many of the students seemed open to hearing about the Gospel and experiencing, also, many firsts: worship, praying before meals, Bible study, and sermons. Throughout the week, I truly realized the courage for a Believer without parental influence to accept Christ and to trust in Him. I learned that growing up in a Christian household often affected my perception of God and thus, I often took Him for granted. However, throughout my attempts to minister during the week, I myself was ministered as well.

Deborah reflection, pic2

On second to last day of the program, we led a short Bible study in replacement of our daily Morning Manna sharings. My co-TA and I split ourselves into two smaller groups within our team, so that the students could listen better and have more chances to participate. This was my first time leading a Bible study, and I found myself initially struggling to keep the discussion going. However, I was glad to find that the students asked questions and incorporated their own thoughts about the passage we were reading, which was about the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). I decided to explain and ask questions verse by verse, and I felt God’s guidance as we went through the passage. After we finished, they mentioned that they enjoyed learning about the Scripture.

A couple of memorable moments would be our field trip to Yangmingshan and Shilin Night Market, the cooking contest, and game nights. Amidst all the fun and bonding we had with the students, we still saw God’s amazing grace during Praise Night and Sunday service. One of the students on my team teared up after each service, and I felt the burden on my heart to pray for him. He and another student agreed to read a short passage or verse weekly to keep in touch and learn more about Christianity. The friendships we formed in just six days were not only culturally unique but rooted with Christ-like influence. Lord, thank you for Your grace and providence for this past week; thank you for Your faithfulness.

Faithfulness: Pu-Li Internship

The second week in Taiwan further showed me God’s faithfulness in spreading the Gospel. My first time visiting and observing the aboriginal villages helped me see the right lifestyles of both physician and patient. Upon our arrival on the first day, we were lovingly greeted by the staff at Puli Christian Hospital. We were blessed by their kind hearts to serve and be with us on our rocky trip to the mountains. I treasured this week, as the opportunity to find transportation to the villages and the chance to observe another side of Taiwan was rare. Although we split up into three groups to visit different villages, all of our teams enjoyed observing various areas and interacting with the people there. Our group observed various clinics and daycare centers for the elderly around the village of Fazhi. I noticed the sacrifices of the physicians who practiced rural medicine and their love and care for the patients. Dr. Lai, the physician we followed, drove for an hour to the clinics daily, spent a good amount of time away from family, and faced challenges isolated from the city. His heart to service God inspired me to further do so as well, not in a necessarily comfortable way, but in a Christ-like way.

Deborah reflection, pic3
Deborah reflection, pic4

During our second week, we also visited two key churches. The first was the village church, where when we first arrived, we saw numerous youth holding a small night market event. The pastor explained the history and happenings of the church, and again, I saw the hearts of the people to serve during various events throughout the week. The community was tight-knit and strong, and we continually pray that the church is rooted deeper in the Word. The other church we visited was Salvation Army; the leading couple was also passionate in serving the local community, but in a different way. They and the staff worked tirelessly to mentor the students and youth in rough patches of life. We then participated in the Sunday School program with the children, where they played games, learned dances, and listened to a short message. I talked with a 10 year old boy who was always paying attention to the teacher and diligent in participating in the activities. Our conversation was brief, but he was very friendly and kept saying goodbye and offering fruit snacks. I hope that he will know Christ one day and that I have the chance to meet him and the other children again, Lord-willing.

Sunday (7/24) was our last day in Puli, and our team had the opportunity to share about ourselves with the Youth after the regular worship service. I was extremely nervous by the time it was my turn, because I wasn’t sure whether I knew enough Christian vocabulary in Mandarin to express myself accurately. Yet, I felt God again putting the words and my mouth through the Spirit as I mentioned my life story, my mother’s condition, and my walk with Christ.

What God has shown me over these past two weeks was His glory and power in the unique yet uniform diversity of His character. I experienced another culture, but always the same Christ, as said in His Word, “Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).”

-Deborah Chang

MSCE 2016 was a great experience. It has been amazing getting to meet new friends, enjoy Taiwanese cuisine, and visit different areas of Taiwan. It’s hard to condense everything into words, but here I wanted to talk about three big takeaways I had from this camp.

Boldness. Sharing the Gospel takes boldness. MSCE 2016 is a cultural exchange camp, so most of the discussions in the camp were centered on life in America and Taiwan. We would talk about topics such as how American and Taiwanese medical systems differ, or quirky clubs in American universities such as the “Good Cheese and Bad Movies” club and underwater basket weaving. As a result, I often would be afraid to broach the topic of faith to the Taiwanese students. I was not sure how the Taiwanese students would react—perhaps they might think it was weird that I suddenly just wanted to talk about religion, or they might just not be interested at all. However, I think it was during the times that I decided to take a risk and bring it up, even during times when it felt random, that made a big difference and opened up conversation.

One moment that really exemplifies this to me was a conversation I had with a few students on Day 6. Day 6 was the last full day of two of the members in my group. They had expressed interest in hearing my testimony, but I would be giving my testimony on Day 8, after they would have left. I really wanted to be able to share my testimony with them, but was not sure how much they actually wanted to hear my “Story.” With all these doubts running in my mind, during the cooking event, I asked one of the two students to sit down and asked if he was interested in hearing my “Story.” I remember being really nervous at the time because technically we were supposed to be cooking. Additionally, I was not sure how he would react to me asking him, essentially, “do you want to listen to me tell you about myself?” To my surprise, he said yes—and brought two other students to come listen as well. We had a great conversation afterwards, and the students actually expressed to me gratitude for taking the time to share my “Story” with them. It was amazing to see how a moment of boldness opened up a great opportunity to share about God with the students and to hear their perspectives as well.

Cooking up some pumpkin gnocchi!

Openness. One aspect that really stood out to me about my conversations with the Taiwanese students is how open they were to hearing about life in America and God. Some of the events in the camp included a Bible study, praise night, and morning service. It was many of the students’ first exposure to a “Christian” event and the Bible, but they were very intrigued by these events and actually seemed to be very eager to learn more as well. I remember during a Bible study on the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10), the students asked many good questions, such as “why are the two most important things to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves?” (referencing Luke 10:27). This kind of openness was really cool to see and something I found very admirable in the Taiwanese students.

Praise Night

Pressing into God. I think one of the biggest things I learned from this experience is how important it is to spend time with God. Often during the camp it was tempting to sleep in or skip devos in the morning. There were some nights when I would stay up late finishing presentations or talking with others, and the next day I would be really tired. However, looking back, I can see that the more tired I was, the more I needed to spend time with God and just rely on Him. Taking time out of the day or waking up early to pray made a huge difference—it reminded me of why I was at the camp, that the camp is not about me, but that I was there for God and the students. These times of prayer were crucial in realigning my center and preparing myself for the coming day. God is the true source of life and strength (John 1:4), and I think the camp has really shown me this. Another side note is that the students would watch what we did as TAs, and that made it all the more important that each day we were aligned with God and seeking Him.

Team 6 Watermelons!

Looking back, this camp has been of extraordinary growth, amazing memories, and a lot of fun! I thank God for the opportunity to participate in this camp– and hope that God will continue working in the Taiwanese students through it!

– Eugene Tang 

As I leave Taiwan with a heavy heart and a yearning already to return, I look back on this past two weeks and a half since MSCE 2016 and am amazed at how much I have grown. My faith has been challenged, enduring friendships made, lives changed, and resolutions made.

I first heard about MSCE in 2015 and I quickly became enthralled with going back to Taiwan to continue reconnecting with my roots. And it was just as I expected and more. Such a unique opportunity to minister to Taiwanese future healthcare professionals as well as network and build lasting friendships. But little did I expect even more this year.

Team5 pose, V Pan
Team 5 strikes a pose at Yang Ming National Park

In MSCE 2016, there were students from 3 different medical schools: Mackay Medical College, National Defense Medical Center, and National Taiwan University. Not only was it another great experience, but this time also allowed for a deeper connection with the students. It was filled with moments of joy, serious conversations, cultural exchange, and most importantly, personal growing. Although the lectures and presentations were all very informative and engaging, the biggest impact and meaningful aspect of my experience this year was the personal connections with the few students I really opened up with. I was able to directly touch multiple Taiwanese students’ hearts and I am extremely glad that I was able to delve past those barriers this year.

The morning mannas where we shared our testimonies and just our life stories in general about how our lives have been molded by the Lord were extremely touching and helped the students open up to us.

During the second week service internship, I learned a lot about the integrated healthcare delivery system in Taiwan, helping to address the rural issues especially in the mountainous areas where many Native (indigenous) Taiwanese are located. There was also a great balance of seeing the beautiful scenery of Taiwan and the amazing work God has been doing in Nantou county of Taiwan.

One of the more memorable days was when we set out early in the morning to go to different villages and check out a lot of clinics in their integrated delivery system. This is where they have a physician and two nurses come a certain day of the week to these villages in the hills. Then we went to a restaurant where I ate a ghost pepper and saw my eyes flash before my eyes. So much pain and capsaicin there. From there, we split into different groups. One went to 力行,one went to 翠華, and we went to 法治. We visited a church at night and watched a great video about how they are working in the community. They engage the youth, host volleyball game days–even volleyball tournaments, renew wedding vows to counter the rising rates of divorce within the aboriginal community, and also do home visitations for those elderly who cannot make it to church. They sing and pray for their fellow church members. They also host events to keep the residents busy: alcoholism is unfortunately a prevalent problem. Lastly, to top off the night, I saw a family physician engage uniquely with patients in a humorous way to keep them entertained but also put them on their toes about their unhealthy lifestyles by poking fun and asking them how much a pack of cigarettes or a bottle of alcohol is now. By  appealing to the monetary conscience of those Taiwanese individuals, he was approaching the improvement of their health from another angle.

This year, I continued to receive more than I gave and God continues to bless me in so many ways. Praise God. *mic drop*

 -Vincent Pan

When I think about the 18 days that I was in Taiwan, and reflect upon my experiences there, I am filled with so much gratitude to God. Through MSCE summer camp, I met people who have continued to be friends and I learned so much about Taiwan that has placed this country permanently in my heart.

Before I went, I knew very little about Taiwan and I was scared and nervous to go somewhere new and foreign to me where I did not speak the language. I was the only American TA who was non-Asian. This naturally often brought the attention to me and I received many questions of why I was there. Admittedly, there were times over the two weeks that I struggled a lot with feeling like I could not connect with the Taiwanese people at the same level as my fellow TAs, and with feeling like a burden to the other TAs who often had to translate for me.  But those moments were rare and the majority of the time the students that I met felt like family to me and so kindly welcomed me into their culture and allowed me to share my own culture. I especially felt this love from my team, Team 7.

Ariana story-1

The students at MSCE were open to hearing the other TAs and I share about our Christian beliefs and our personal testimonies. Throughout the week every TA shared their testimony during breakfast at what we called, “Morning Manna.”  One morning, we led a Bible study on the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), on Saturday night we had a praise night, and on Sunday Pastor Tim Wang from a church in Taichung, Taiwan shared a sermon.  MSCE faculty Timothy Ko also shared his testimony and talked about God’s provision in his father’s declining health and eventual passing away.  The most significant moment of the whole trip was after Pastor Tim Wang gave his message.  After worship time I went to talk to one of the students in my team and after some questions he decided that he wanted to ask God into his heart. I was given the blessing of praying with him and welcoming him into God’s family.

At another time during the week, I was able to talk with another student from my group for over an hour about our beliefs.  I really valued how much each person showed interest in one another.  The students showed genuine interest in my life as all of the TA s did in the students’ lives.  While we were sharing our cultures and traditions, we were ultimately sharing ourselves with one another and building friendships.

This opportunity that I was given in going to Taiwan was beyond anything that I have experienced and has touched my life in so many ways.  My intention in going was to love these students and share God’s love with them, but I came away with having received so much as well.  While I was in Taiwan God taught me how to further rely on him, how to communicate beyond words, and how to open myself up to new people. He showed me that everyone is a potential friend, and a potential brother and sister in Christ if we will take the time to be intentional.

-Ariana Gruber

Ariana story-2

MSCE was a great experience for me as not only was I able to share my testimony and have great conversations with Taiwanese medical students across cultural differences though with a slight language barrier, but I personally was greatly impacted by the lectures that the students held. From topics such as movies and TV series to holidays, I became more knowledgeable about the culture that my parents are from. However, if I were to name one lecture as the most important for me personally, it would be the one on Taiwanese history.

Growing up, I proudly proclaimed myself as Taiwanese American but never understood the depth as to what this represents besides a land of amazing food and people. Other than the story of how the Kuomingtang Party fleeing to Taiwan for safety from the Communist Regime led by Mao Zhedong, I did not have any other background knowledge of the motherland. Upon learning the endless struggles for Taiwan by several countries such as Japan and Netherlands and the oppressive systems such as martial law and the moving of aboriginals to different locations, I could not help  but be amazed that even though the background of Taiwan is tragic, it has since grown into a country with one of the strongest economies in Asia. Delving deeper into the lecture, the speakers even asked questions to each group about changing the course of Taiwan if we were the emperor/generals or aboriginals at the time of each major event. This provided a lot of insight and thought into the lecture so that it was not only informative but also very engaging.

All in all, I was really touched by the Taiwanese students in their willingness to inform us American students of Taiwanese culture and history in such a thoughtful manner as well as help out in clarification in case one or two points were misunderstood.  Even when we were talking about religion during the Bible study on Good Samaritan and testimonial sharings, the Taiwanese medical students really demonstrated God’s love even though they weren’t necessarily Christian. When asking the question of “Who is our neighbor and how can we love them?” during the Bible study, one of the students in my group quickly pointed out elderly people and how she wanted to become a geriatric doctor to help them. This was really encouraging to hear because most American students do not usually pick geriatrics as their first choice. Though we were strangers at first and the heavy topics were awkward to approach, they were really adamant about asking questions and voicing their opinion on the subject. I will greatly miss all the wonderful people I have met and really hope to see them in the future.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

-Tony Ying

Tony reflection-1

As a current medical student, I appreciated being in the presence of future health care professionals at the camp. MSCE was a very valuable experience because it was a platform for students to dialogue about health systems. One interesting conversation that I had with my students was about Taiwan’s incredible single-payer health care system. It’s simply amazing that the majority of the population have insurance and access to affordable health care. We contrasted this to America’s system in which the cost of health care is often times a barrier to treatment for patients and a lot of those funds go to ineffective care. However, we were also able to note a limitation of Taiwan’s affordable and accessible health care: entitlement. Since health care was so accessible to the population, many citizens feel entitled to health care services and often times get angry with doctors for non-immediate care or hoard medical supplies. I believe that it is essential for health professionals from different countries to be able to analyze these things and I was very grateful for this kind of forum. Even the students would come up to me and tell me that they learned so much from these conversations.

Healthcare conversations weren’t the only substantial conversations I had during the exchange program. Jesus really showed up because his fame was made known throughout the week. He appeared in small group conversations, in late-night roommate talks, lunch chats, and praise nights. I loved being able to display the love of the God of the universe to the sweet students who kept asking questions. Their curiosity gently reminded me how precious Jesus is to me, and how much I really longed for them to receive this invaluable gift too.

It was crazy how educational and sweet one week can be. It definitely made a huge impact on me and I know it did on many students as well.

-Ashley Chen