Nestled on Taiwan’s east coast is lovely Hualien City. Facing the Pacific Ocean on the east and the Central Mountain Range on the west, Hualien is considered by many to be one of the most scenic areas of Taiwan. The area is also well known for its aboriginal culture, friendly locals, and plentiful outdoor activities. Famous spots in Hualien include Taroko Gorge, Seven Stars Beach, and Liyu Lake. In addition to its laid back vibe and tropical beauty, downtown Hualien also boasts a lively city atmosphere.
The Hualien team volunteers with one school, Hualien Character and English Institute. Every week, 72 fourth-grade students from around the county come to stay at our school for a five-day, four-night camp. Each year, over two thousand students visit our school. Our Taiwanese co-workers teach classes aimed at teaching good character such as honesty and gratefulness, while the English teachers strive to model good character and teach in a way that shows that learning English can be fun!
Our schedule is sometimes tiring, but always rewarding. Many of our students come from broken homes and are in great need of love. Outside of teaching, we also serve with a few other Christians who formerly taught with VOICE but now do ministry full time in Hualien. Together with these ministry partners, we have weekly opportunities to visit students, plan outreaches in local villages, and mentor youth at two local boys’ homes. We also attend a small church with lots of friends and English translation. Truly it can be said that the harvest in Hualien is plentiful.
“His name is Mike, we bonded the first day of camp, I knew I was going to cry when I said goodbye on Friday. On the last day of camp I slipped a small shooting star into his hand, and tell him “This is a shooting star, you may see a shooting star only once, but the memory of the shooting star will stay with you forever,” he smiles as he understands my meaning. Though we have only had this brief time of a mere five days, four nights with these precious children, I will remember them forever, and I hope that they too will remember this week like a shooting star in their life.”
Yunlin County is located on the west coast of Taiwan. Because of its large agricultural community, Yunlin is known as the breadbasket of Taiwan. However, Yunlin is also one of the poorest counties in Taiwan. The Yunlin team is located in Douliu City and most of the city’s locations are within easy biking distance. To visit the other teams or for those who want to explore Taiwan, Douliu City is one of the stops for Taiwan’s express trains, making travel much easier.
The Yunlin team volunteers at the Character and English Institute (CEI), sponsored by the HTC Foundation. Fourth-graders from all over Yunlin County come here to learn about good character and English. Our responsibilities at CEI include teaching English classes, playing with the students, helping out when needed in the character classes, and providing an example of good character. The Yunlin CEI is housed on the second, third and fourth floors of the local elementary school’s English Village. Although we do not have a very large campus, some weeks we can have up to 60 students at our camp.
“Coming to Taiwan I honestly had no idea what to expect, but now that I have been in Taiwan for awhile I can honestly say that I am in love with it. The people, food, and land have captured my heart. Each child that I meet teaches me about love, kindness, happiness, and how to have lots of patience. The friendships that I have made with the Taiwanese people and my teammates are relationships that will definitely be long lasting. When I go back to America, I absolutely will be leaving part of my heart in Taiwan.”
Chiayi County is located on the west side of Taiwan, and is mostly made up of rural communities. Family, traditions, and activities at the many local temples are an integral part of the culture. Chiayi County has everything from mountains to fields to ocean. This means there is a wide variety of goods that are made or harvested here, from the towns which grow tea on the mountains to farmers or fishing towns by the coast. Alishan is the one of the more famous mountain areas, and attracts many hikers and tourists. There are not many foreigners in Chiayi, and the population of Christians is very low.
The Chiayi team volunteers at the Chiayi Character and English Institute (CEI). We use games, skits, videos, and chalkboard drawings to teach and reinforce the vocabulary in a fun and memorable way.
The Chiayi team is located next to a river and a tourist area of an old sugar factory and a biking trail. Most of the surrounding area is made up of farms, it is about 3km from the Chiayi High Speed Rail train station, and you can take various buses into the town of Putzi or farther into Chiayi City for shopping and groceries from there. A few other things that are nearby are the Chang Gun hospital, the Chiayi County government, and a small church that is called The Grace Place. This church provides English translation for their service, as well as other opportunities to get involved with the community.
“The opportunity that God has given me through VOICE Missions is something I don't regret. At first I was terrified of meeting the new people that I was called to minister to. Whether it be the children, the staff, or my roommate. But when I got here God showed me that He didn't bring me to Taiwan so He could forsake me. He brought me to Taiwan so He could show me His ultimate support. I've thoroughly enjoyed the many easy and hard times in my work here in Taiwan. Many friendships I can take with me to heaven to enjoy in the future to come. I continue to enjoy my ministry to my Taiwanese staff, and roommate.”
The Taitung team volunteers at the Taitung Character and English Institute (CEI), sponsored by the HTC Foundation. Like the other CEI schools, Taitung's campus is taught in a camp style with students staying five days and four nights. The school is a five minute bike ride away from the ocean and a twenty minute bus ride away from the gorgeous Shanyuan Beach. Situated on the edge of town, the team has easy access to the Taitung Forest Park where biking trails, ponds and lakes, and sports competitions are common. When Sunday nights roll around, our street is busy with a fun night market. Around the corner is Taitung City's main temple where many celebrations, fireworks, and parades take place. The people of the city are very religious and often involved in temple rituals.
Settled on the east coast of Taiwan, Taitung City is known as "the garden of Taiwan" with its natural, often untouched beauty. The city is popular with nature lovers, and sports enthusiasts alike. Since Taitung City has more of a small town feel than Taipei or Hualien, many people are curious about foreigners and will call out to you as you pass by.
Near Taitung City is the natural hot springs of Jhiben, said to be one of the best in the country. Green Island, another popular and beautiful tourist spot is also nearby. If you love hiking and exploring God's creation, the Jhiben National Forest is also a great spot. Sanxiantai's famous dragon bridge is also a fun adventure around an hour's drive away, with a hike, a small cave, and a lovely view of the area.
“As every day passes I am learning more and more about what it means to embrace what I have in front of me. Time passes away and if you don't learn to live in the now and value the time you have with people now it will seem like you wasted your time. Every day as I teach and spend time with my students, I try to remember that I only have so much time with them - one week to be exact. How is what I'm doing now going to impact them in the future? Making every moment count, because those moment are not relivable. Enjoy what's in front of you and think to how you can make a difference in the future. Only one week to show these students I care and love them. Only one week to make a difference for eternity.”
Located in the center of Taiwan, Nantou County is Taiwan’s only landlocked county. A very mountainous region, this area is home to many aboriginal people from the Atayal, Bunun, and Saisiyat tribes.
While VOICE Missions has served in Nantou since 2001, this year has brought major changes to the team here. Starting in September 2017 the Nantou team will start working in the newly opened Nantou Character and English Institute.