Why “Teacher Ruth”?

   Posted by: Teacher Ruth   in Uncategorized

In order to protect anonymity in case God leads me to a closed country in the future, I have decided to adopt the moniker “Teacher Ruth” to identify myself on this site. If you leave a comment on a post, I ask that you please respect this. =)



   Posted by: Teacher Ruth   in Missions Stories, News Updates, Personal Updates, Prayer Requests

Dearest friends! Welcome back to Taiwan’s Teahouse! All I have to offer right now is some Southern Sweet Tea. 😉

Many years have gone by and a lot of change has occurred. The blog was suffering from a huge deluge of spam (and no small amount of inattention from me). I have been in a rough place emotionally and took time off to grow and heal. In that time, I completed teaching Polar Bear’s second year of ESL, started a new evening class called the Salmon class, took over a second grade class called the Sparrow class, and have visited my parents in the States. It would take too long to recount all the amazing journeys that have happened, but I wanted to share a few highlights with you.

Sparrow Class:

  • Robert – At the beginning of the year, he despised Bible story class and essentially any conversation that centered on God. He would roll his eyes or put his head on the table and tune out. One day we went to the Science Museum and had a good discussion about Creation vs. Evolution. He was very strongly in favor of evolution as he had had it clearly explained to him before and told it was truth. Yet, when I was able to bring up science to support creation, he grew very contemplative and listened deeply. Since that conversation, Robert has been attentive during Bible story class and has asked good questions about God, His powers, and how the timeline of creation fits into his understanding. Praise God!
  • Ray – In the beginning of the year, he was a stubborn, recalcitrant and completely disrespectful teacher. If you asked him to pick up his pencil, he threw it at a classmate. If you asked him to walk nicely five times as a punishment, he pranced and danced while laughing in your face. The administration was considering asking him to leave the school. My co-teacher and I decided to try one more thing and came up with a list of good behaviors we would like for him to achieve. Every day he had to come downstairs and talk to me about whether or not he accomplished that behavior and to what degree (on a scale from 1-5). If he got all 3s or above, he could go to the backyard to play instead of doing homework. If he scored lower than that, he had to stay in and do his homework. This was a big punishment for him as he loves to play basketball with his friends! At first, he joked and laughed it off, perhaps thinking it wouldn’t matter. When I asked him what he thought he scored for a particular category, he would flippantly say, “5”. After many months of coaxing and teasing out deeper answers, something clicked within him. He began to really think about his answers and to care whether he got a high enough amount. He would come downstairs eager for us to go over the paper and then tell me some interesting tidbit from his life. Ray started coming to me during break time, wanting to show me his newest treasure or to update me on his collections. Ray actively began bringing his work up to me and asking, “Teacher, can you help me check?” What an amazing transformation God helped this little boy through, this year. To start with having no inkling of responsibility to completely taking charge of all his actions. Amazing!
  • Beryl – Beryl loves God and loves to learn and write about God! She recently wrote her testimony of how she first heard the Bible and learned about God and how that led her to confessing her faith in Christ. She is a sweet and kind-hearted child and wants everyone to hear about the saving power of Jesus.

Salmon Class:

  • Abel – Abel has Asperger. This didn’t come out until nearly 8 months into the class and many explosions of temper. He is a warm, fun-loving boy who loves to share his treasures with me, tell me stories with all the English words he knows, and loves to make others laugh. With his strong desire to follow the rules, he struggled with his temper. This led him to use the worst words he knew in English (i.e – curse words) and then struggle with the guilt because he knew it hurt those around him. Through loving and patient guidance and discipline, he has been controlling his temper more and more, able to convey his frustration and hurt while obeying and respecting authority. Abel loves to learn about Jesus and happily answers questions with a huge grin and the words, “God!” or “Jesus!”
  • I have two other students in Salmon Class with learning disabilities and/or emotional disabilities. We have had challenges together, but have learned how to be a cohesive family, supporting each other and loving one another. My boss mentioned that he enjoys watching me with my students with disabilities as he “can see the love [I] have for them” and “the light in [my] face when [I] talk about them”. It’s so fun to be able to work with God’s children!


This summer in America has been a wonderful opportunity to see my parents, friends, and all the green growing things I desire! As I am preparing to go back to Taiwan, I am praying for a few things.


  • I am starting a new year one class in August called the Shepherd Class. Please be praying for them as they are transitioning into an English environment and learning how to be students. They are coming from kindergartens in which they never had to learn how to sit in a chair for longer than a few minutes. Also please be praying for me as I make the adjustment from being a year two teacher to a year one teacher, as well as changing names being used in the school.
  • Please pray for Salmon Class to continue to grow and learn in the way of the Lord. Pray that they will come to understand the importance of what they are learning, and how to vocalize it.
  • I moved house a few weeks before I left for the States, so I still have a lot of adjustment to do. 1. Adjusting to living with a roommate, the first in three years. 2. Organizing and getting everything settled and unpacked. 3. Adjusting to the longer commute and also finding all the new locations of stores and things!
  • Please pray for safe travel back to Taiwan on July 25th.

How may I be praying for you?

May the Lord bless you and keep you,
Teacher Ruth


Growth Spurts, Spiritual Growth, and Character Spotlights

   Posted by: Teacher Ruth   in News Updates

Hello dear ones! I’ve got some green tea brewing on the counter. Pour yourself a cup and come join me at the kitchen table.

Life, as I am sure you know, has a way of running full steam without slowing, often leaving us behind on our endeavors to catch up with and maintain relationships with others. Since the Polar Bears started second grade back in August, I decided that I was no longer going to give them ‘easy English’. What is ‘easy English’, you ask? It is bare bones English without connecting words, often just using the topic of the sentence to get ideas across. An example would be instead of saying, “Do you know why I asked you to stand here?” one would say, “You stand here why?” These are the kinds of sentences beginning ESL students make with their limited vocabulary. It is easy to fall into the habit of talking like them, just to make sure they understand what is being said.

However, by the end of their first year, I was getting frustrated with this for a number of reason. The main reason is that my English was suffering and deteriorating quickly. I had trouble finding simple words to describe topics I normally would have used in daily conversations. As a result of most of my conversations being primarily with my students, I was quickly losing anything that wasn’t used in the classroom. The second reason was that I felt my students could understand much more than for which I was giving them credit. If they could remember words like “exercise” and “healthy” when learning about what makes for strong bodies, then they could handle having real sentence structures and complex vocabulary.

I am pleased to share with you that this endeavor of speaking like a native in my classroom was a success. For all the ESL teachers reading this I am sure you are rolling your eyes at me right now. Honestly, I had no idea how to teach ESL when I first came to Taiwan. Sure I had taught ESL learners while in the States, but most of them had been there for a while and had a fairly good grasp of the language. The Badger class was a huge learning curve for me and at the end of the year, I still wasn’t convinced they could absorb vocabulary. I have since come to understand that each class is different and can absorb more or less than another class. Badgers had a singular knack for forgetting vocab but could absorb and adapt games like no ones business. The Polar Bears, on the other hand, grasp concepts, ideas, and vocabulary like sponges. Since my co-teacher and I made the conscious decision to speak to them like native speakers with the idea that if a student does not know a word or doesn’t understand they can ask for clarification (again, a huge eye roll here, I know!), the Polar Bears have accelerated their learning pace. They often surprise me with their retention and application. For instance, merely by using “correct” or “incorrect” to answer guessing games, my students have picked up on what those words mean and even have started applying it to their workbook. I remember the first time a student did this and completely blew me away. He came up to me one day and asked, “Teacher, the book wrote incorrect and we need to write correct?” That was the first time I became truly aware of how quickly my students were adding to their vocabulary.

Since that eye-opening moment, my students have added words like, “exoskeleton (and skeleton), calcium, organ, endangered, hunter, death (die, dead, and dying), shepherd, frozen (freezing), nervous, apartment, address, Internet, Facebook, television, spammer, and many many more words to their active vocabulary. I have also sped up my speaking pace to that of a native, no longer slowly and clearly saying words or repeating them until I see comprehension on the students’ faces. We have a policy in my class of, “If I don’t understand, ask.” They know that I am there to help them ~ not to judge them.

That being said, it brings me to the first Student Spotlight.

Student Spotlight #1

Student: Leo
Age: ~8
Previous Behavior: temper tantrums inclusive of falling on the floor and crying, complaining, bullying others, disrupting class to get attention

Our Change: Knowing that he is the youngest child in his family and often not given much positive attention, we rewarded him with kind words, attention, and coupons whenever he showed a positive behavior (even if it only lasted for a split second). When he was in need of discipline, we did it privately and assured him of his value in God’s eyes as well as our eyes and reminded him we still loved him. I took this a step further and would hug him while I talked with him.

His Change: His tendency for temper tantrums severely diminished until by the end of the first grade, they were completely eliminated. He no longer complains and instead will share his concerns. When he feels they are adequately addressed, he says, “Thank you” and begins his work. Leo is no longer outright bullying to get his way. He is still learning the difference between persuasion with the intent of being a friend and bullying to put others down. Leo no longer disrupts class to get attention, instead choosing to participate in class to get positive attention.

Leo’s behavior has completely changed since coming to us in first grade. This year he continues to grow into his new role of a good student and has made several more friends. He can be friendly and encouraging to all his classmates and has even learned how to apologize or accept an apology when he is feeling angry, sad, or hurt. Leo was also invited to go to church with “Joe” and several other friends. His mother did not let him go because she had had a bad experience with a church. After Joe’s mother started to make friends with her and invite her to go to church as well, Leo and his mother and sister have attended church several times with Joe and his family. May God be praised and glorified! What a difference He is making in our class ~ reaching out to those who are lost and need Him and using those lost to reach their families!

Student Spotlight #2

Student: Ginny
Age: 8
Previous Behavior: sweetheart with a thirst for vengeance, avid liar, and ability to shrug off any emotional responsibility

The Fulcrum: She passed a note saying nasty words about a classmate who had wronged her. This note included encouraging her classmates to no longer be friends with the said classmate as well as saying she “needed to die”.

Our Change: Knowing that this student believes in God, enjoys her “good girl” status, and always wants to please others, we addressed this as a sin issue. We talked about what the Bible teaches about words: the tongue is a small muscle but it can do the greatest harm. We can speak life, or we can speak death. In a mock up of what God’s judgement after death would be, we used her as a seemingly random example, saying the exact words she had used about her classmate. Then, “looking” at the Book of Life, it was noted that her name was not listed and so she was not accepted into heaven. A classmate who has similar behavior was chosen as the next example. He was said to have used the same words Ginny had used, yet his name was “found” in the Book of Life. He had accepted Christ as his Savior and asked Jesus to grow him. He was forgiven and accepted to heaven. We then reminded the class of Jesus’ sacrifice and how our behaviors, words, and thoughts don’t have to condemn us to hell. That we can be saved, even now that we have done these nasty things. We then prayed with them for forgiveness and to accept Christ.

Her Change: Ginny was deeply affected by this. Her mother asked us to talk with her some more. After talking with her, we learned that she had prayed with us to accept Christ and be forgiven. Although she still struggles with telling the truth as she wants to be viewed as the good girl, she can now be encouraged to tell the truth. She struggles deeply with her desire to win and her desire for God to see her as a cleansed heart. For me, this struggle is amazing to witness in someone so young. God is doing wonderful things in this girl’s life and I know He has an amazing plan for her. Let’s be praying for her as she is starting out on her walk with God!


Many more things have happened in the months since my last posting. This post is already quite long so I will save them for a future post. This year so far has been a blessing and a joy to me. I have seen the Cubby class grow in so many ways, encourage their friends and families, and truly become a family in and of themselves. There simply are no words for me to convey how blessed I am to have this class to grow with, learn from, and praise God together. God is a great and loving Father who has our every need in mind when He gifts us things, whether those things are situations, people, or classes. May you be blessed deeply, my friend. May He bring wonderful situations to your life where you can grow to know Him and love Him more. May He bring people into your life who will speak truth, who will show you Him, and will guide you back to His Word.

May He bless you and keep you,
Teacher Ruth


Christmas and Chinese New Year Shenanigans – My parents came to visit for CNY!


A First Grade Ending

   Posted by: Teacher Ruth   in News Updates

**Due to issues getting pictures to upload and assimilate into the blogging program that I am using, this update from August 2016 has been -extremely- delayed. Please enjoy some pictures from the summer as I write an update post with more current pictures and news.**

Hey there, friend! Welcome back to a new school year! A friend just dropped off some iced green tea. Won’t you join me for a cup and a chat?

As I look over previous blog entries, I feel embarrassed that it has taken me so long to sit down and write this one. There were many nights when I was coming home from class and thinking about accomplishments my students made or cute comments that were said and I thought, “I need to write tonight! I want everyone to hear about this!” Inevitably I would get home, grab a quick dinner, and go to bed. For this lack of discipline on my part, I apologize. Due to this laziness, I have not let you share in the beautiful journey I have been privy to in my classroom. 🙁

To summarize the last few months in a handful of words –
– busy – sweet – full of growth – love – fruits of the Spirit – gifting of Bibles (for most this was their first Bible!) – learning about healthy eating, fruits, veggies, energy, etc. – learning to be respectful, how to be a good friend, sharing, and being more like Jesus.

Of course there were hundreds more things that went on, were learned, and were discovered by all. One thing that I would like to share with you is one of those things I thought about on my drive home from work but never got around to writing. The dynamic of our class is quite unique as each student is fairly close to all the members of the class. Although they squabble and argue, they encourage, play, and support one another. I think that a large contribution to this friendly attitude is that the natural born leader of our class is a strong developing Christian. His parents spend a lot of time instilling Biblical knowledge, love for others, and the importance of sharing Jesus with others. “Joe”, the leader, is giving, kind, inclusive, and cheerful. As the other students look up to him, our class as a whole exhibits these characteristics. During the last PTA (parent teacher meeting) we discovered that the Cubby leader had shared with his parents a desire to pray for and to invite his friend “Art” to church. Art comes from a broken family and has a deep disdain for most male figures in his life. My co-teacher learned that this extended to God (whom this child could sometimes be heard scoffing and rejecting). My co-teacher, Joe’s parents, and myself were shocked and excited to hear of Joe’s desire to bring his friend to church! We prayed right then and expressed our excitement to see what would happen. Not a week after this meeting, I learned that this brave Cubby invited Art to church…and he went! These two Cubbies are close friends and sometimes go to church together now. We will continue to pray for these two Cubbies – for the leader to continue to grow in his relationship with Christ, to continue to live his faith boldly and wholeheartedly and for the friend to keep attending church, to grow to know and love Jesus, and to accept Him. Please keep them in your prayers!

When I neglect this blog for a long time, I have loads of pictures that pile up on my phone. As such, I will share some snippets into the past four months with pictures!

Our first grade classroom:

Our writing and drawing talents are becoming clearer:


Flexing those phonics muscles to sound out, “May I play?”











Our playful behaviors are still intact during field trips!

We’ve learned about the fruits of the Spirit and enjoy singing about them!


This, my friends, is the last post about the Polar Bear class’ first year as ESL students! The next post will bring you up to date on their continuing adventures in second grade.

May God bless you and keep you,
Teacher Ruth


To Whom Do You Turn?

   Posted by: Teacher Ruth   in News Updates

Hey friend. Just a quick note about some things I have been struggling with ~~ I hope it can be of some help to you. To know that others struggle with fear and trust ~ that God is in control ~ that you are not alone.

The things I battle most with are anxiety and fear. God is teaching me that fear has no place in the life of a Christian. It is a very hard thing to completely trust that things will turn out ~ I worry. I am GOOD at worrying. But God tells me to fear nothing because I am His child; I am in His hands and He is in complete control of EVERYTHING. Yes, everything. Even those things that I think He doesn’t see or might not care about. When our prayers feel desperate and like they might be falling on deaf ears, He hears and He listens. God is ultimate. He is greater than we will ever begin to comprehend. We, who can only see to the end of our noses and see what immediate hurdle is coming up, cannot begin to fathom a being who sees all events simultaneously and is in all places at all times with no beginning and no end. No matter how much we study or try to wrap our minds around this concept, we will only ever begin to scratch the surface of the depth and magnitude of our awesome Creator. When I realize that I am fearful and not trusting God, I stop and think about who God truly is, what He has already done, what He is doing, and what He has promised to do. In the face of the power of God, how can I fear for tomorrow?

I’ll have a regular update up next week. For now,

May God bless you and keep you.
Teacher Ruth


Happy Chinese New Year!

   Posted by: Teacher Ruth   in News Updates, Personal Updates, Prayer Requests

Hey friend! 新年快樂!Come on in and get settled in. I have some rooibos tea ready and some banana bread in the oven. It is good to see you again!

It is that time of year. As you may remember from last year, 新年快樂 (xīn nián kuài lè) means, “Happy New Year”.  New Year’s eve was last night with the first day of the holiday being today. People have been going to the temples, lighting incense, praying, singing, and banging gongs. There have been delicious smells wafting through the air and sounds of children’s delighted screams of laughter. Most of the shops and restaurants are closed – the celebration is in full swing!

This month started off with a fun class period of playing with the Scrabble Cheez-Its that my mother bought for the Cubby class. Now that they are well versed in the alphabet, we were able to play fun games while reinforcing the phonetical sounds of the letters. The Cubbies fully enjoyed the activity and were thrilled to try a snack from America. I had forgotten to warn them that the crackers were cheese flavored and there were many shocked (and confused) looks when they first popped the squares into their mouths. How I wish I had already had my camera out by then! However, the general consensus by the end of the period was that Cheez-Its are yummy. Thank you, mom!

The following weekend I attended the wedding of my friend (who happens to be my wonderful Cubby co-teacher!) It was a fun celebration of two people making vows before their friends and families to love and to cherish one another, to point each other back to God, and to use their marriage to better glorify God. Two of my co-workers got up and sang a song for them. ^_^


As the Chinese schools have been on Winter Break this month, most of our students came to J5 for a full day. The Cubbies came in the morning, watched a movie, played games, made a craft, had lunch, napped, and then had class. Every Wednesday we went on a field trip. One day was an all day field trip on which we went to Miaoli (north of Taichung). While there we took a hike and saw tunnels from WWII that had indentations from where fighter jets had fired down, made salty eggs, a DIY project, learned about pollution and how to care for the earth. Our city kids also got a chance to meet some animals including but not limited to chickens, goats, donkeys, and llamas. Several were terrified and preferred to hide behind Teacher and watch from a safe distance.

Last week we went to the local bookstore. While there we looked at different English books to find one we wanted to take home. The Cubbies’ love for books makes my heart so happy!


Unfortunately all these field trips and busy days have left a massive pile of corrections on my table.


Last weekend was my birthday. Some friends and I went to a local Indian restaurant and had a lovely dinner. I made some yellow cupcakes with a peanut butter “butter”cream frosting. One of my students gave me a gift – on the inside of her homemade envelope was an iron-on duck. She told me, “Teacher, you can just put on clothes.” 🙂 A Badger student went to Japan with her family for a week long vacation. Upon her return, she gifted me a key chain of the Tokyo Sky Tree and a folder with a scene from my favorite film, Howl’s Moving Castle. ^_^ A happy teacher.

These two Cubbies are thick as thieves and love to incite shenanigans outside of the classroom.


This past Saturday I went to the girl on the left’s home to have a dinner with her and her older sister who is in Badger class. The girl on the right came for dinner, too, as did her older sister (who is another J5 student). We had a good time playing card games, playing dolls, and watching t.v. The dinner was pretty great, too!

It has been a busy month! I am looking forward to this next week off from work. Could you please keep praying for J5, the Cubbies, the Badgers, and myself? God is doing great things in our school and we want to continually seek God’s guidance in all things. Please also keep my mother in your prayers; her heart is having issues again.
How may I be praying for you, friends?

May God bless you and keep you,
Tr. Ruth


Christmas Cheer

   Posted by: Teacher Ruth   in Missions Stories, News Updates, Personal Updates

Hey friends! Merry Christmas and happy new year from Taiwan! I’ve got some hot cocoa and mint chocolate cookies on the table for you. Grab some and let’s settle in by the Christmas tree. =)


This year I caved and bought a few things that I have been desiring ~ one of this was a large Christmas tree. My apartment is feeling Christmas-y and homey! I also bought a 5′ tree for my classroom which the Cubbies decorated with handmade ornaments. A Bible story craft about God’s Good Rules turned into a cute little decoration. (Remember ~ you can click on the pictures to enlarge them!)

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As Christmas was on a Friday, the Polar Bear class got to celebrate Christmas together. The first class was a music class in which we sang Christmas and praise songs. Our second class was story time where we learned about the birth of Christ. The final class was our gift exchange. I am very proud of these kiddos! They exchanged gifts with maturity beyond their years. They showed a thankful face to their friends, even when they got a gift they weren’t happy with. They helped clean up and took delight in their friend’s gifts. Even when a gift went missing, everyone jumped in to help find it.

My Christmas gifts this year were homemade. Here in Taiwan, bakeries make something called “snack boxes”. They are boxes filled with  little goodies ~ cookies, cakes, scones, little bread loaves, etc. As these are fun to receive and I love to bake, I thought it would be an interesting opportunity for me to give it a try. These boxes were filled with mini pumpkin pies, chocolate pumpkin muffins, sugar cookies, “Thin Mints”, handmade chocolates, and snickerdoodles.

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As we were decorating our classroom for Christmas, I realized that I have never shared with you what the classroom looks like. As such, I welcome you to the Polar Bear classroom!


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On Saturday I was invited to a local friend’s house for a Christmas dinner hosted by her Taiwanese parents. There was lots of Taiwanese food (including my favorite egg and radish dish!), lots of Taiwanese people (my co-worker and I were the only foreigners), and lots of laughter. I got to practice my Chinese and celebrate with friends. My friend’s mom wanted to make sure my co-worker and I had something American to eat for Christmas, so she made us a turkey. Which we ate with chopsticks. =) On Sunday I was invited to a Christmas dinner hosted by an American family. There were mostly foreigners at this dinner with one Taiwanese friend. We ate a massive dinner, played games, and exchanged gifts. It was fantastic!

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It is hard to believe that it was only five months ago that the Polar Bears first came to JacksonFive. These children are fully verbal, expressing their thoughts, desires, frustrations, and learning at an avid rate. Each day there is an encouraging conversation, sweet moment, funny joke, or a cause for amazement. One of these amazing moments came yesterday when I was doing corrections at my desk during lunchtime. A student took her assignment to write a letter to a friend, “Dear friend. (draw a picture). Love, _____” and turned it into a masterpiece. Please keep in mind that this child is a first grader who’s native language is Chinese. I showed this letter to another teacher (who has been teaching for 9 years) and the response was, “This is as good as or better than something my year three’s would write.” I am staggered at this little girl’s grasp of the English language, her writing skills, and her detail oriented nature. Her picture is essentially a comic strip that she has detailed as 1.) swim 2.) run 3.) talk 4.) jump and 5.) God. The first picture is of a girl saying she can sing and swim. The second is of a running race with one person encouraging another by saying, “Go, go, go!”. The third is a detailed picture of a conversation while the fourth seems to be merged with the fifth. It appears to take place at a church with one person talking in front of lots of (detailed) people.

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What an amazing letter!

New Years Eve was spent in bed while New Years Day was spent baking and celebrating with friends. While out with friends, I came across this striking sight.



I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and have enjoyed ushering in the new year. May 2016 be a year of growth, a dependency on God, and full of love and laughter.

Please let me know how I can pray for you! May God bless you and keep you,
Tr. Ruth



Leaps and Bounds

   Posted by: Teacher Ruth   in Life in Taiwan, Missions Stories, News Updates

Hi there, friend.  I’ve got some green tea and a few chocolate pumpkin muffins ready for you. Come sit on the balcony and enjoy the breeze. =)

Wow ~ it has been a while since I last posted. I apologize! My last post may have left you with a slightly sour taste with children acting like monkeys in class, a stressed out teacher asking God what the heck she was doing trying to be an English teacher to first year students, and God answering prayer by showing this teacher patience, encouragement, and a love for her students. I am pleased to report that the Cubbies are no longer unable to sit in their seats, speaking during class, or jumping up and running around the room whenever they feel so inclined. My classroom now feels like… a classroom. Yes! It is so nice to walk into my classroom and hear, “Hello, Tr. Ruth!”; a relief to be able to start and finish class feeling like I had a run in the park rather than tried to climb Mount Everest. After six weeks of class, my students were switched over to “No Chinese” while at school. The first few weeks were a struggle for some students while others were like fish in water. Now, if you heard the Cubby class, you would never know that 3 months ago they were unable to communicate in English or that they didn’t even know the basics of the English language!

For example, I have a student who came to my class having never heard English, seen the ABCs, or met a foreigner. This student (let’s call him Vinny) is in first grade and had never had an English name before. He had no idea that he was being called, was totally clueless in every single class, and loved to jabber in Chinese. The week we switched to “No Chinese” he struggled. He lost all of his points for speaking Chinese and became very quiet as he could not communicate. Six weeks later, he is chatting with his friends during break time, telling teacher about students’ poor behavior, answering teacher’s questions, and making jokes for the class. He can tell you all the phonics sounds of the ABCs and can identify most of the individual letters. He enjoys telling small stories, reading stories, and playing with teacher. All in English. If you, my friend, came into my classroom, I can guarantee you would not be able to tell which students had no English when they walked in the door that first day. Of this, I am amazed. God has designed such an amazing and adaptable organism in what we call the brain. What stunning adaptations! What brilliant and beautiful intellect!

The Cubbies have begun to practice their Christmas songs for the Christmas show on December 13th. I created a dance that I thought would be a little challenging but also visually appealing while also allowing each parent to view their child unhindered. After a few weeks of practice, I am beginning to think that I made the choreography a bit too difficult. The Cubbies are incredibly intelligent and have a wonderful memory as well as a cheerful disposition. We are working on listening to teacher’s directions and following them without playing or adding on to them. Catch up with me in a few weeks to find out how our practices end up going. In the meantime, please pray for us! My co-teacher is a new teacher this year and has never done the Christmas show. Please pray for her wisdom in knowing how much practice is appropriate, and how she can best help the Cubbies prepare. Hmm. Now that I think of it, please pray those same things for me! 😀

The Nemos have been going through some growth spurts lately. In the past few months, we have lost some key members of our class (students who had been in Nemo class from the beginning or were strong personalities that supported the rest of the class) and have gained new students. This has created a bit of a changed class dynamic and we have been working to find our new balance. The Nemos were really struggling with speaking English while at school. As you might know, speaking English at our school is encouraged and enforced with the use of a coupon system (kind of like our school’s own currency). To this system involved paying coupons for some things (i.e. borrowing a pencil or eraser, going to the restroom during class time, speaking Chinese, etc.) As speaking Chinese is not allowed, if someone speaks Chinese, they owe teacher 10 coupons. This is a lot of coupons! After taking many coupons from students, I felt so bad and began to look for a new way to get the Nemos to speak English. After conferring with my co-workers, I realized that I had gradually stopped having a time when the class could get together and talk about things (known as ‘circle time’). I had done this like clockwork the first six months of Nemo class, but with the added classwork, I fell out of the habit. Two weeks ago, I tried running circle time again. I expected the experience to be like pulling teeth – or in this case, pulling words from students. Surprise! The Nemos were ready to talk. It was like they had just been looking for the opportunity to express themselves. We began learning new words to express what we wanted to say about our weekends and school lives. The last two weeks we have not had any issues with Chinese being spoken in the classroom. Score!

So much has happened in the last few months. I apologize for not reporting to you sooner on this. On a side note, the air pollution has been pretty terrible here in Taichung the last few weeks. If you check this website, you can see the daily and hourly levels. The pollution has aggravated my asthma quite a bit. I invested in an air purifier and have seen some great results. A friend also thoughtfully gifted me an early Christmas present in the form of an air purifying mask known as a Vogmask.


For those of you who love cockroaches, I took a picture with my inhaler (palm sized) so you may see their growth here.


And now for a few photos from the past few weeks.

The last day of one of the Badgers. We got together for a goodbye photo and cuddle.

The last day of one of the Badgers. We got together for a goodbye photo and cuddle.

The Badger student left unexpectedly without time for me to buy her her own Bible. So I gifted her my personal bilingual Bible. This was her thank you note.

The Badger student left unexpectedly without time for me to buy her her own Bible. So I gifted her my personal bilingual Bible. This was her thank you note.goodbye1


I love peanut butter. And now there is a rice milk drink that taste like liquid peanut butter! ^_^

I love peanut butter. And now there is a rice milk drink that taste like liquid peanut butter! ^_^


I was able to meet up with a close friend in Taipei!

I was able to meet up with a close friend in Taipei!


My Nemo shadows. They make the night more cheerful!

My Nemo shadows. They make the night more cheerful! They like to braid my hair and call me “Tr. Elsa!” (referencing Elsa from the movie Frozen).


Air pollution makes for gray skies. Can you see the buildings and mountains?

Air pollution makes for gray skies. Can you see the buildings and mountains?


Until the next post (I will do my best to make it next month and not three!), may God bless you and keep you. Please let me know what I can be praying about for you. 🙂

Tr. Ruth


Field Trip Shenanigans

   Posted by: Teacher Ruth   in Missions Stories, News Updates

Hey friend! Want to see some cute pictures of Cubby Adventures?

During the month of August, the Cubbies go on a field trip every Wednesday. The first week we went to a fun place where the owner is passionate about organic foods and educating people on where their food comes from. At this place, our kids made cookies. =) Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of this as I was too busy organizing kids.

Week 2

The second week we went to the Art Museum where we made a mask of a face and got to play with different aspects of art. Here are some of the pictures from this week.

Listening to instructions.

Listening to instructions.








“Look, Teacher! It’s my dad!”


Industriously working away…




Week 3

The third week we went to a historical farming village in Hsinchu where the people have gone back to their historical roots and farm like their grandparents did. We were taught the history of the area, shown an old Japanese bunker/arsenal supply that was built to shoot down American ships during WWII, rode a train that was build before WWII (and renovated after), made rice noodles by hand (which were then a part of our afternoon snack), and got to take a turn at husking rice. Here are some of the pictures from this week.


Listening to uncle’s history lesson.


De-husking rice!


Train ride through rice fields.





Rice noodle making is sticky work!





Crazy photo bomber. =)


Cubby cuteness!



Intricately painted mural wall.


Painted mural walls throughout the village.

Week 4

This last week of the summer program we went to a bakery where they specialize in making suncakes.


Suncakes are a Taiwanese sweet snack that originated in Taichung. At this bakery, the students were taught how to make their own suncakes.



Suncakes consists of two types of dough: one with lots of oil and one with a ‘regular’ amount of oil. This helps create the light and flaky crust that is so signature of suncakes. The filling of the cake is a patty of malt sugar.


After the cakes were formed, the kids were given flavored and colored dough to decorate their cake.




The shop had a few pre-made and decorated cakes to give inspiration. Aren’t they cute?


While the cakes were baking, the kids were shown a video on a Chinese legend.



It’s been a fun month of summer program! The Cubbies are picking up English phrases at an incredible rate and those with more English have started to translate for those students who don’t know how to express their thoughts. They are sweet, love giving hugs and high fives, and their faces light up when they see me outside of class. It has been a month full of challenges, depending on God, small accomplishments, and seeing these little Chinese speakers become comfortable in an English environment. Praise God for His work!


May God bless you and keep you,
Tr. Ruth




Catch Up

   Posted by: Teacher Ruth   in News Updates, Personal Updates, Prayer Requests

Hey friend! It has been a while since I have chatted with you. I’ve got some green tea ice cream ready for you as we sit and catch up. =)

My first year teaching in Taiwan came to a close at the end of June. What an incredible experience it has been! The Lord grew me, changed me, and challenged me in ways I would never have expected. In some ways, He grew me in areas that I have been grown before, but this time it was almost as if He was fine tuning the things I had learned before. I learned to seek the Lord even during prolonged good times (something that I had never really had to do before as my life had been a fast roller coaster ride since I accepted Christ), to dedicate my work daily to Him and His care, and to seek out conversations and relationships that drew me closer to God. During the last month of teaching, I struggled with feelings of possessiveness and sadness as I prepared to let go of my Honey Badger class. A new teacher would be teaching them come August. While I worried about that, I was also excited that a new teacher would get to experience the love and joy that is the Honey class.

In July I went back to the States for two weeks to visit my parents and friends. It was a busy two weeks full of laughter, love, friendship, hugs and cuddles, and yummy food. Being surrounded by so many people that I love was fulfilling and replenished my “I am loved” meter. Saying ‘goodbye’ was harder this time for a myriad of reasons, primary of which was I didn’t know when I would see them again. I am looking forward to having teleportation technology available to us to ease the loneliness. The loneliness is something that I have also learned to give to God.

Three weeks ago I began teaching a new year one class called the Polar Bear class. I have affectionately nicknamed them the “Cubbies”. ^_^ A year one class is comprised of grade 1 students, typically six or seven years old. I witnessed a friend struggle with teaching a year one class last year and had been warned, “They don’t know how to sit.” Although I logically knew that, after my first day of teaching a squirming, jumping-out-of-their-seats-whenever-they-get-interested/excited, always chatting in Chinese, don’t know how/when to be quiet, don’t know their own name class, I was exhausted and questioned my abilities as a teacher. I went home, cried, and asked God, “What am I doing here?!” The following week was just as exhausting. The second week, I asked God to open my eyes, to see my students as He does, to love them through their misbehavior, and for God to use me to shine Christ to them, no matter how awful I felt or discouraged I felt. That week was loads better than the first. Each week is getting progressively better. My prayer is always that God will displace Tr. Ruth’s personality, weakness, and frustrations in the classroom and that God would take over. Would you please be praying this, too?

Some of the Honeys still come up to me, hug me, tell me about their days, or give me random gifts. I still play with them after class and try to include the Cubbies as much as possible, too. Many of the Cubbies now stop by my desk in the teacher’s area to “talk” or to ‘play’ with me by poking me and then running away laughing. The cubbies have so much they want to say but don’t know how to say it in English so usually our “talk” goes like this:

Student 1: Tr. Ruth!

Tr. Ruth: Hello Student 1!

Student 1: ……. (smile) ……. (open mouth) ……. (close mouth and look sheepish)

Tr. Ruth: How are you?

Student 1: ………

Tr. Ruth: Are you good?

Student 1: (nods head)

Tr. Ruth: Great! Are you go backyard play?

Student 1: (eyes get big) ………… (stare at Tr. Ruth)

Student 2: Tr. Ruth!!!!

Tr. Ruth: Hi Student 2!

Student 1 and 2: ……(smile)…..

Tr. Ruth: Are you go backyard play?

Student 2: Yes! (runs away)

Student 1: (nods head)…. (runs away)


Teaching a year one class comes with lots of repetition, singing songs you only ever dreamed of singing to your own children, frustrating moments, and so many smiles, laughter, little hugs and high fives, and sweet moments with little children. I am learning that students whose behavior seems disrespectful often comes from totally unrelated triggers and they respond to a hug, smile, touch, or kind word just as much as a student who is always focused on the teacher.

Would you please pray for these things?

  • Patience. Although I am normally a very patient person, I have found that my patience gets used up quickly in year one classes. Please pray that I am equally patient to each child, that I can look past my own frustrations and prejudices and see the student as the person God created.
  • Kind words. Please pray that I would automatically have kind words to say to each child, no matter how frustrated I am with them. I do not want to accidentally tear a child down from my own thoughtless words.

There are so many more things I could ask you to pray for, but it all comes down to this: that I would be obedient to God and listen to His direction. Please, would you keep me and the Cubbies in your prayers?


How may I be praying for you? I would love to pray for you!
May the Lord bless you and keep you,
Tr. Ruth


God, You Are Faithful

   Posted by: Teacher Ruth   in Personal Updates, Spiritual Reflection

Hey, friend! How does iced plum green tea sound for today’s chat? I picked it up on my way here, so it should still be cold. ^_^

Something that I have been thinking a lot about lately is faithfulness. Specifically, God’s faithfulness. Four years ago I sat in Da’an Park in Taipei and begged God with all my heart not to send me back to the US. It felt right to be in Taiwan; I felt at home. Although I could not understand why God sent me back to the States, I obeyed. Last weekend I sat on the same bench I made my desperate pleadings and I reflected on where God has met me, brought me from, and brought me to. Through this reflection, I realized that I am no longer the person that I once was. Over the last 4 years, God has drastically and faithfully changed me, challenged me, comforted me, and grown me. I have worked 3 jobs, fallen ill with a life-changing chronic illness, returned to school, graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, made a number of close friends from all backgrounds, and moved across the world to live on my own as an English teacher…in Taiwan. There were joyously beautiful and wonderful moments in these past 4 years. There have also been some incredibly hard moments. Through these moments, though, God was faithful. When I could not see the answer to a seemingly impossible problem, God did and He reassured me that what I saw was not the end but merely a dark part of the path. Tonight as I am thinking over the waiting, changing, growing, and challenging God did in me these years, I cannot help but think back to one day in a worship service in chapel at CIU. It was an evening worship service during my first year as a transfer. My group of newly acquired friends and I were standing in the front, singing and worshiping. A song I had never heard started, and I closed my eyes and just listened to the words. As I listened, I felt a deep affinity stir my heart and tears fell from my eyes. The song? Never Once, by Matt Redman.

On that day of worship three years ago, I had heard news of a crisis in my family. The hurt, pain, fear, despair, and hopelessness had been eating away at me the whole day. On top of this, I had a CFS flare and was weak. At that moment, I stopped and I thought about all the things God had done in my life since I accepted that Christ is God’s son and made the decision to follow Him. Through all the bad things, the hopeless and dark moments, God was there. He was my Rock, my loving Daddy, and a guiding Shepherd.

The past 4 years have been filled with joy always tempered with some despair, dark place, or heart-crushing pressure. Today, I look around my life and I wonder. Where are the strengthening and stretching trials? Where is the pain and despair? The nights of tears and desperate prayers, of running towards the comforting hugs of friends? God is now showing Himself to be faithful in different ways. Yes, He is there for the hard, dark, and painful times. However, He is also here for the joy of the day-to-day. Simply put, God is faithful in every way and in every situation.

While Skyping a close friend the other day, we realized that I have been a Christian for 6 years. When that realization was voiced, my jaw dropped. Although I recognize that I have indeed become a new person and have learned more of the basics of my faith than I started with, I still feel like a toddler. And that…is a good thing. In this life, and even beyond, we will never know the fullness that is God. We will never fully understand His actions and reasons. If I ever get to a point where I feel I know everything and assume to know God, please, please, PLEASE, point me back to God. To who God is. To what God has brought me from. To who I was before God saved me. To God’s amazing power to create, how He knew how and when I would end up in Taiwan, how He knew how I would afford school and even which school I would go to… Please point me back to God.

God’s faithfulness is infinite. Boundless. Amazing. Comforting. As the song says, “Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.” To that I cling, even when it seems all the storms have left me to luxuriate on my not-so-deserted sub-tropic island!