Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May 2010 The Journey Continues - Peter Taiwan Update

May 2010 Taiwan Newsletter Text

What Do We Do With The Role/Gifts/Abilities God Has Given Us?

(1 Corinthians 11-15; Romans 12-13; 1 Peter 2 & 4; and Ephesians 3-4)

Do you know what these passages are about? Some of you might know. I do not want to get into all the controversies that can be connected to these passages or how sometimes these passages are used. Some people see spiritual gifts, some see God empowered abilities, and some see God given roles and careers. I do not want to enter that debate, but I do want to talk about these passages. Some of my research on church planting brought me back to these passages several times this month. When I took the time to read and pray through these Scriptures, I made a few observations that will apply no matter which interpretation you take on the whole. First, whatever these “things” are, it is according to faith, it is according to the grace given to you, and it’s function is for the benefit of people other than you. It is amazing how all of these “things” do something amazing no matter which way you look at it. You, “individually” have been given “something” from God which is to be used for “communal” benefit (1 Corinthians 12:7; Romans 12:6; 1 Peter 4:10; Ephesians 4:12-13). It stood out to me that these passages at the same time emphasized who you are as an individual, and at the same time emphasized who you are defined within community. Second, God purposely made me the way I am. I do not mean sinful habits and sinful desires. I am referring to the part of yourself that makes you who you are and gives you a place within community. If this is true of my strengths, this may well be true of my weaknesses as it was for Paul (2 Corinthians 11-12). I am not referring to sinful things as weaknesses; I am referring to things that I would personally have looked at myself and thought of as a weaknesses. For instance, my dyslexia and A.D.H.D. (I am merely reflecting my perception of my experience, this is not judgement on others who have dyslexia or A.D.H.D.). You could equally pick anything about oneself as long as it is truly a part of oneself. My point is to say that God made us the way He did for a purpose. We may not know or understand the what, or why, however we do know He lovingly made us on purpose. Third, these passages also show me that we are made for each other and intends for us to be built up by each other. I think; just as God the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and God Jesus the Messiah are one and a community to themselves. I think He/They enjoy Himself/Themself/Themselves, and He intends for us to to be community like He is community. Also, of course, for us to be community with Him. These “things” He has given us are for taking part in making that idea reality for us and as us, rather than just individuals.

Here are a few observations from that study of the above Scriptures.

Spiritual Gifts

Purpose of the Spiritual Gifts According to Context of the Passage:

“To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all” (1 Corinthians 12:7).

“we have different gifts according to the grace given to us” (Romans 12:6).

“For the culmination of all things is near” (1 Peter 4:7). “Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).

“to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature” (Ephesians 4:12-13).

Key Roles/Spiritual Gifts/Abilities in each Passage

1 Corinthians 12 - message of wisdom, message of knowledge, faith, healing, performing miracles, prophecy, and interpretation of tongues.

Romans 12 - Prophecy, faith, service, teaching, exhortation, contributing, leadership, and mercy.

1 Peter 4 - love for one another, hospitality, serve, good stewards, and speaking with God’s words.

Ephesians 4 - Pastor, teacher, prophet, apostle, and evangelists. The Journey Continues Inside And Out

(1 Corinthians 11-15; Romans 12-13; 1 Peter 2 & 4; and Ephesians 3-4)

My Journey Continues: Eight Months and Counting: One Small Step For Jesus One Great Leap For Peter

Physically: This month I have continued to exercise as much as I have free time to exercise. I probablyam progressing, but at this point I am hopeful but cannot really tell if I am progressing. The fact that I am exercising with a timeframe of six months to one year changes my perspective a lot. I feel good but pretty dizzy all the time. My hearing seems to be about the same.

Emotionally/Spiritually: This month I continued to trudge along physically, but I made a huge leapforward emotionally or spiritually or psychologically depending on your perspective. I think God was at work in me this month as I was studying the passages I referenced above, reading the book of Job, reading an article on “calling” by Dan Allender, spending time in silence and solitude, and listening to some of the lectures from two courses on lay counseling. I am hesitant to say something like, “God spoke to me” because I am frankly not sure. I definitely think God is guiding me and teaching me, but do not ask me to put my finger on exactly what God is doing/saying. I always cautiously take the advice of Proverbs 3:5-6 in these situations and acknowledge God as I proceed and put my hope in God’s willingness to correct me rather than putting my hope on my understanding as being faultless. That said, let me share with you what has been on my mind and heart, and what has come out of all this, this month. Reflecting on my findings in the Scriptures, I began to think about a few things I have struggled with since I was an elementary school student. I was angry with myself as I struggled to learn to read and was overly critical of myself. I thought to myself, “Why am I stupid and everyone else is so much smarter than me” (as I struggled with dyslexia and A.D.H.D which I got excellent help with from my school and my mother). I thought, “Everyone else reads so much faster than me.” Later in Junior and Senior High School that self rejection developed into self hatred and self condemnation. I still remember feeling like, “this life is so miserable, the sooner I die, the better.” That statement characterizes my thoughts and feelings as I transitioned from High School to college. Some people meet Jesus on a mountain top experience. I was in the cave underneath the lowest point in the valley where there is no light and no hope. It was that darkest of places where I never knew the light could shine that I found Jesus. Or, more accurately Jesus found me, I finally realized He was there all along. His Word told me He loved me and that I had value. “I have value!” I wept, fell on my knees, and began to follow King Jesus. I was so empty and hurt that when I had only experienced a little of Jesus; grace and love, I thought I was healed! I was like someone dying of dehydration thinking that first sip of water was all that was needed. I was like someone who had forgotten what it was to drink water. When I was in college, I remember fasting, spending times in silence and solitude, and pursuing Jesus with all my heart, with a single question in mind, “Is it really possible that you love me? Aren’t I just like all those pharisees that you rebuked?” Either His Word is true and I am loved, or have I just been believing a lie. I held onto the Word of God and was affirmed in holding onto the truth. A few years later I could finally hear Jesus leading me back to where I found Him. I thought I was already healed, but He showed me that my journey was far from over. It took moving to the other side of the world (Taiwan), going through culture shock, struggling to learn Mandarin Chinese, and struggling to build relationships with the Taiwanese people I had come to love; to bring to the surface remaining wounds buried as far out of sight as possible. God provided me with some amazing community, and provided some wonderful journey mates through grace groups to bring me another critical step forward on my journey. Now, I am beginning another step on that same journey. It began this month as the Scriptures and what I was learning was digested in my mind. I do not know where this will end up, but it will be good. That has meant re-entering the pain and re-entering that cave I left so long ago. The time I had in grace groups helped me re-enter that cave and look at that elementary school experience and say “I don’t, I won’t hate you.” I worked with lots of help from my brothers and sisters in Christ; worked to be able to love and accept that little child. Now, I re-enter the cave again with mixed feelings. But this time I bring wonderful news that enables me to love that little child in a whole new way. Before I strived to loved that child despite all his shortcomings and all the things that he/I is/am not but wish I could be. Now, I got to re-enter the cave to love that boy wholly, because I am a child of the King and because He made me this way on purpose. Because He loved first, I loved Him (Jesus). Because of Jesus’ love, I can love the person I hated more than anyone else in the world, myself. He gave me value and significance that even I had to acknowledge. I am talking about healing, not narcissism. My life is a story, Jesus is writing that story. That story fits within Jesus’ story. For the first time in my life I can see my weaknesses; the parts I hated so much, as an important part of the story. They are not merely things to be overcome or triumph, in spite of. These weaknesses are ways for me and for others, to see Him at work. I really believe in what He said to Paul, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). For the first time I can accept myself, even though I am not the person I once had dreamed I could be if God just enabled me. I have let go of that dream, and have taken hold of who I really am. Now, I can celebrate my weaknesses, and I can see my weaknesses differently. It will be exciting not to see how God works in spite of my weaknesses, but how God will work through my weaknesses. How my weaknesses could embolden others to catch a glimpse of just how great the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob really is. How great is the God revealed in Jesus the Messiah. How great is God who fills me with His Holy Spirit and ordains me as one of Jesus’, fellow priests. I rejoice to be a part of a kingdom of priests in Jesus‘ priesthood (1 Peter 2). I finally see I am both an individual and I have a special place in God’s community. I am not useless (as I used to secretly tell myself)!!!! The lies no longer have power over me! I show you my shame so you can see God’s glory. Please keep that in mind as you think about what you just read. I am being vulnerable with you so you can see just how great our God is.

Month of May in Review

- Ting, from Craig’s N.T.U.T. Bible study was baptized in Xin Dian. Praise the LORD!

- I had a great time in Bible study and a birthday dinner with N.T.U.T. students.

- My Birthday, I’m twenty-nine years old. Had another great date with Jesus on a night hike in Taipei. Also got to spend time with my friends.

- Talked to a buddhist that tried to convert me to buddhism at Long Shan temple. So there is such a thing as evangelical buddhists. It was very informative. Good chance to understand better what people actually think. Buddhists use special Chinese vocabulary (like Christianese) that was difficult to understand.

- Listening to the Bible in Chinese. I am trying to have God write His Word on my heart. This month I continued to focus on the Gospel of John; which I am teaching through in my English Bible study at N.T.U.T. I also began focusing on getting through the Sermon On The Mount in Chinese. So far I have only made my way through the Beatitudes. I haven’t been learning very quickly, but what I learn I had to listen to fifty to a one hundred times. So even if I cannot get the Word accessible to my conscious mind; it definitely is in my subconscious.

- Re-wrote my personal ministry plan corresponding to my teams field ministry plan. We update these every year. Also, I thought this time was special because language school is no longer my primary focus. My path is lengthening!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

April 2010 Update

April 2010 Taiwan Update from Peter

The journey continues: 7 Months Out

The visit to the doctor last month was good for me. I did not receive the news I had hoped. However, it did give me a picture of the coming year; and of my future. With a longer view of recovery in mind, I have spent a lot of time this month mentally/emotionally adjusting to the idea of being constantly dizzy for at least the next six months to a year, drawing near to Jesus, and expressing my trust in God (the God who designed my body) by spending time exercising (my body). I have been climbing a lot of stairs, running by the riverside, doing squats to strengthen my knees, abdomen exercises to strengthen my core, training my sense of balance, and hiking. This month when I went night hiking near Jian Tian M.R.T. station I had a bit of an epiphany. It has changed the way I try to improve my balance, and has made me think about my journey with Jesus a little differently. I went hiking at about five in the afternoon. It was still light out when I went up the mountain. However, while I was on the top of the mountain the sun went down and the darkness came out. Hiking is difficult enough; climbing stairs and maneuvering around objects while experiencing vertigo. When the sun went down I discovered something important about my balance. (Just want to make a disclaimer, I am not a doctor and the following is merely my hypothesis to explain what I was experiencing). As my vision became impaired by the darkness I noticed my sense of balance went a little crazy. It gave me the sense of being drawn in this direction and that; seemingly for no reason. I think, when I can see clearly; I experience my sense of balance differently. Normally the fluid in one’s ears (functions like a level: carpenter’s tool) primarily provides a sense of balance. Mine is still broken. As I explained in the past. I have been trying to use my sense of vision to help me have a more accurate sense of balance. When my ability to use my vision became impaired I discovered just how much it had been making a difference. On the mountain, in the dark, I found myself depending on my sense of touch for nearby objects to help make up the difference. The part that was most difficult as I did this was thinking counterintuitively. My sense of balance was telling me I need to do one thing and I had to do the opposite based on my sense of touch. Just like I have become accustomed do doing with my vision. It actually worked! I made it down the mountain safely and learned an important lesson. Until my sense of balance recovers I will need to be able to use and trust my other senses to help me think counterintuitively at times in order to balance properly. So now, I am trying to train my balance with that in mind. For example: I do an exercise with my eyes closed so that I can retrain how I interpret my sense of balance when I cannot depend on my vision to override the information my ears provide my brain. I hypothesize my brain is probably making new interconnections to accomplish the same task in a different way. God did an amazing job designing the brain. These brain retraining and balance exercises have helped my balance to improve this month. I also began using a jump rope this month.

I think our spiritual life can be similar, it also requires counterintuitive thinking. I think we interpret our experiences through a lens (interpretive term: like when you wear glasses you see through the lenses) made up of our thought life, beliefs, and experiences. I think that the sins we have committed as we grow up plays a part in that lens. This makes following and trusting Jesus very challenging at times. I think this is similar to the way I experience balance in light of my vertigo. My ears tell me one thing, my eyes tell me another thing, and my sense of touch tells me something else. My ears, sense of balance is the least dependable of these three. Sometimes I have to think counterintuitively in the sense of what my ears are telling me and my experiences sinning are telling me. I have to decide to trust something other than my ears and experience with sin in order to move forward. This feels awkward at times because I have to go against what feels right and natural at times in order to do what is actually right and natural. I call it counterintuitive because my body and mind are not accurately interpreting reality and I have to go against those senses at times. I have to choose to trust something else. For my balance, that may be touch and vision. For my life, that would be trusting Jesus. He is not idealistic or unrealistic; we are! He actually understands how reality operates. Sometimes we just have to go against our own senses and assumptions to follow Jesus. This is one place faith plays an important role for both my body’s balance issues and for my spiritual life. Sometimes you cannot understand until you trust and obey. Faith is not a blind leap. Faith helps us to understand

knowledge. Through faith, we come to know Christ. Through faith I realize my balance is wrong and my vision or touch is right. This is not ridiculous nor is it without a basis. Through trusting that Jesus actually knows what He is talking about and obeying Him you come to find out He really does know what He is talking about. As I train my brain and my mind, and as I train my body, I am training myself to reinterpret how I understand the information my senses are giving me about how I experience balance. I am also learning how to interpret my experience of reality through Jesus‘ teachings. This is critical because sometimes balance and my sense of how the world operates is dead wrong. I must and will learn how to retrain the way I think; so that I can retrain my brain; so that I can change my life. So that one day I can balance, dance, ride a bicycle, and do others things once again. That has been the journey that has begun this month as I continue on my journey to recover. Still realistic, practical, and hopeful. Determined to never give up.

Church Planting & Discipleship: A View of Learning For The Future

As I excitedly and prayerfully continue down this path in the direction of discipleship and church planting Ican already see I will need to learn and grow as much as possible. Since I hope to plant churches that will not be lead by a seminary trained pastor, I have to make some adjustments. I also hope the people that make up these churches will be diverse in age and stage of life. That means the churches will be lead by regular people with regular day jobs and families. With that in mind, I imagine the role I want to grow into is that of the skilled teacher and facilitator. I want the end result to be an indigenous church that is self governing, self supporting, reproducing, self sustaining, and a church that grows into not needing me (Ephesians 4:11-16). Facilitating disciples that make disciples, and planting churches that plant churches. The most challenging part of that job is possibly also the most important part of the job. I need to train, teach, and facilitate the growth of regular people for the “work of ministry” (loving people well) with the top quality training I can provide without sending people off to school, and without people realizing I am giving them such sophisticated training and resources. I think this second part is a real concern because a lot of working class people might not feel comfortable with attending or leading in standard structures of traditional churches. Education is essential for upward mobility in Taiwanese society and many working class people have very little education. Thus, they are trapped. Thus, they feel unqualified for work of ministry. Please understand when I use the phrase, “work of ministry” I am envisioning a very very broad interpretation of what that means. I think God intends for us all to be His priests, and this His end goal is to restore the world to holiness (Gen. 1-2; Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:5). People will need to learn how great Jesus is; He does not need them to be great; they just need to serve the great God. I think God has especially prepared me in this way. Until I realized Jesus is great than I imagined. He does not need my skills and abilities. He wants my heart to be willing to obey and trust to Him enough for me to follow Him. This change was a paradigm shift for me and it probably will also be for many regular people here in Taiwan. For this job, I need to be able to teach people starting from wherever people are; guiding them towards maturity and towards following Jesus. That is why becoming a great teacher matters. Jesus was the best teacher to ever walk the earth. It seems to me that He had an amazing way of meeting people where they were at. His teaching was based out of knowing God personally and being very familiar with His Word. My teaching won’t be a uniform system, but instead, teaching according to the type of learner each person is and where they are on their journey. Thus meeting people where they are at. Jesus is this the master and disciple-maker. I am not the one who says, “follow me” I am not the LORD. I too am a disciple; just a little further ahead than those who are not His disciples. I see all that I do as being done inpartnership with Jesus, His Holy Spirit, and the Father. It is critical that I am facilitating and teaching in harmony with Him. I need to be competent in working with people other than those who are my peers and those younger than me. I must grow into being able to work with people older than me, people with husbands and wives, people with children, and grandfather and grandmother. I think that the most strategic person I could reach for Christ in the family would be grandpa. He will heavily influence his children and grandchildren even after he passes away.

Grandpa and grandma are too important for me to wait until I am sixty or seventy years old before figuring out how to connect with them. So I need to grow in knowledge, wisdom, maturity, understanding, closeness to Jesus, into Jesus’ character, and as a teacher/facilitator. Does that sound a little overwhelming? It does to me too. I need your prayers. I have confidence Jesus will help me grow and give me plenty of opportunities to connect with a diversity of people here. So I want to lay out for you how I will use my free-time to grow in the following areas over the next year or so: counseling (Dan Allender, Siang-Yang Tan, Larry Crabb), spiritual formation/discipleship (Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, Richard Foster, Marva Dawn), chinese/Taiwanese history, church planting (Wolfgang Simson), and first century Judaism (Apocrypha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, Tacitus, Philo). I have included all these focuses and authors so you can see what will be influencing me. I would love your input if any of you have input you would like to give me. I think focusing on these areas will provide me with the tools I need, and these tools should enable me to grow into being much more diverse than my experience/age would normally allow. If this looks idealistic that is not my intention. This is not research for a master’s degree. These are tools for real life. This strategy for learning and growing has come from the needs I see in front of me. This way I can live out life like Jesus, and I can teach by intentionally modeling instead of just explaining. The people I am reaching out to need to see how to love like Jesus more than understand the theory behind loving like Jesus. That is why the research is necessary for me; I must strive to have mastery of understanding and behavior in these kinds of areas. I want to shift discussion towards: how do we obey Jesus such as: how to love wives, husbands, kids, parents, and grandparents. The fact that I am not old enough, and my life experience in not enough, is not an excuse I can afford to rely on. I pray the churches I plant will be discussing and living how do I love my enemy, not why I should or should not love my enemy. So they can be able to disciple other Taiwanese people. So they can plant churches able to teach people how to love their enemies and teaching them how to bless those who curse them. Churches with people that will be able to and willing to teach others how to obey everything Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). Please pray with your imagination. Imagine what the people in these churches will look like before knowing Jesus, and magine what they might look like in maturity. Let’s pray these churches into being, that Jesus Kingdom may come and His will may be done on earth and in each of us as it is done in heaven. Let’s pray, act, and watch as God brings justice to the world (make things right).

Month in Fast Forward

This month I studied chinese a lot. Finally finished my last text book on Christian vocabulary. I will now have a lot more time to focus on building relationships and working towards planting churches. I did a lot of exercising. Having the students take turns teaching the English Bible study has been great. We read and discussed through John chapters two, three, and four. Spent time building relationships and drinking tea. I have also spent a good amount of time in prayer and thinking. I got to meet with two missionaries who have been reaching out to working class people in Taiwan for more that fifteen years each. It was great! I accompanied them and saw what they do, we prayer walked, we sat and prayed together, and we talked. It was a blessing of an opportunity for a new missionary to get to learn from two veterans.

Other Prayer Requests

-Please pray for opportunities to build relationships with working class Taiwanese.

-For my ability to speak Chinese and Taiwanese to improve.

-For churches to be planted and for disciples to be made.

-Wisdom in conveying complex and Biblical concepts very simply and accurately in Chinese.

-For my dreams and hopes for what a church plant might look like be dashed to pieces so that I don’t hold onto my

ideas too strongly and so that Jesus’ dreams and hopes for the Taiwanese may rise out of those ashes.

I really enjoy reading your responses to the newsletter, thoughts, suggestions, and any questions you have about my

ministry or the culture here please feel free to email me. You have no idea how God will use your email. Thanks

for reading.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Update #29 on Peter

We are in the midst of a 48-hour prayer room activity and at the moment, I’m hosting and Peter just entered the prayer room. When he exits in an hour, he’ll take over the hosting from me and I’ll get some sleep.

I’ve been meaning to make a final entry on this blog for a long time and it seems that the time has come to do it. I’d like to finish while he is in the room.

I feel like this blog served as a “connecting point” for many people and it seems fitting that I’d connect with you one more time before I hand it all over to Peter to do with as he sees fit. This blog was never anything except a place to tell Peter’s story…

Thank you for your support of Peter and thank you for your kind words about me and the blog entries. I didn’t intend to be the only one posting on the blog, but it turned out that way. I didn’t ever mind posting updates about Peter, but I hope the content of the posts made it clear that Peter’s recovery and care was the result of a Holy Spirit led coordination of many people with all of the spiritual gifts (as a group) necessary to meet many needs. I should probably recap these people and their giftings/contributions here but I’d accidentally leave people out and I’d like to post this before Peter exits the prayer room.

After soccer practice today, Peter was eating lunch at our house and talk turned to his accident. He asked me how it affected me to think back on it now. It was thoughtful of him to ask and I think it shows great understanding on his part. I told him that I wish it had never happened… but since it *did* happen and since there were many decisions to make and plans to coordinate… it was a blessing to serve Peter, his family, and the Lord together with the other missionaries here and the Taiwanese brothers and sisters. All of our lives are changed because of what we all experienced together. It was one of the great examples in my own personal experience of what “the body of Christ” or, the Church, is supposed to look like.

Which brings me to you… the readers… the praying people.

Your prayer and other support for Peter was (and is) a key part of the healing process. We experienced many miracles because of you. Your prayer helped us think more clearly and be less tired while trying to care for Peter. Prayer is not a last option… but is the best option. Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer.

Peter’s recovery has slowed… but he’s still getting better. He’s still wobbly… but he helps at soccer and is now running and doing other exercise. His hearing is still very poor in one ear, but nearly normal in the other. He struggles with the speed of recovery… but then remembers that he has almost no business being alive… and his perspective sharpens again. He is fully aware of how serious his accident and injuries were and how loved he is by all of his friends around the world. He is still a picky eater… but he is passionate about ministry… is pained by injustice in the world… is an avid reader… and is as joyful as ever.

If you aren’t already friends with Peter on Facebook… you can find him there and check out some of the videos and other items that he has posted regarding his accident and re-birth.

I’m thankful to know you even in this “virtual” way. I’m thankful that we were able to serve together during a tough time for all of us.

I’m thankful for Peter and his family.

I’m thankful that God has seen fit to reveal to us some of the ways he has been glorified through this tragedy… we aren’t guaranteed that opportunity and though we often demand it… we have no right to it. But for whatever reason… God has given us glimpses of his glory… and we rejoice.

Bless you all.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Update #28 on Peter (from Peter himself!)

Peter sent me the following update to post on the blog. I’ve known for a while that this day would come… when Peter could write/type to you with his own hands and share his own thoughts. A suggestion if I may… grab some tissues before reading on…



On Oct. 14th I got out of the hospital after a 4 week stay. I then went to stay with my parents at Chad and Alicia Edwards’ apartment. Five days a week I have been going back to the hospital in Yong He (the hospital where I was taken in an ambulance and received care). I am slowly continuing to recover from the accident. I have been spending 2 hours a day in the Rehabilitation department receiving both Occupational therapy such as working on regaining the coordination skills in my left hand such as putting pegs in holes with chopsticks, and working on printing in both English and Chinese. I have also been receiving Physical therapy which focuses on training my central nervous system to override what my inner ear is not capable of doing right now which is to balance. They began re-teaching me to walk with a walker, then to walk without one after a week or two, and then began creating obstacle courses made up of stepping up and stepping down as I moved across a ten foot space with bars and then without. I am coming close to not requiring continuation of Rehab as I can almost walk a straight line which was their objective and now am able to write with my left hand (still rough looking as mine always have been). I have been told by my mom that I still do look a little like Jackie Chan in the “Drunken Master,” (movie) because of my periodic staggering as I walk. But I am maneuvering (with some assistance) the streets of Taipei City, which is at least as busy and crazy as downtown Manhattan. As you know I don’t drink but this helps my mom to lighten up these moments for herself (I think).

I feel a little like Rip Van Winkle. From the moment I was hit crossing the street to about 14 days after that, I don’t remember much of anything. Because of this, I have been spending a good part of the last 4 weeks healing, doing rehab, and trying to catch up on what took place during this time. I have been reading the blog Scott so generously created, notes of encouragement in the log book that Jennifer Reynolds, my team partner started the day of my accident, email letters, Facebook messages, photos and videos of me during this time. All of these sources have been such a blessing in putting these two weeks back together for me. In a way, I am grateful for the loss of memory in regards to remembering the pain of being hit as well as the emergency care and brain surgeries (one to put the brain monitor in and the other to reduce pressure in my brain by removing a blood clot and excessive bleeding).

A very special letter from a 9 year old little girl, Eden Udell, arrived at the hospital from Missouri which drove home the seriousness of my injuries. It had been written the first week of my accident. She said “I hope you get better or if God wants, you can go home with him. You are in God’s hands”. This was especially moving and loving because she comes from a family whose second oldest daughter, Mirium (at only 15 years old), was killed in a car accident in which she had fatal head injuries. They weren’t able to relieve the pressure in her brain in time to save her. The Udell family loves me (Peter) very much, so this hit very close to home and brought up memories & pain of the loss of Mirium, and the discussion within their family of “What do we pray for, Mommy, when someone might die?” What do you pray for when a loved one is in critical condition that might give you peace? I think Eden said it best! Miriam died before Eden could know her but Eden knew and loved Peter, so it was scary for even her.

Eden is one of 5 children of Jack & Trish Udell’s. Jack is an ER doctor and Trish an English professor. During my 4 years in college they became my adopted family in Joplin, Missouri spending Thanksgiving, Easter, and they saw me through getting shingles during my 6 month internship at College Heights 18 months ago.

Thank you all so much for your prayers, visits, letters, and encouragement. These efforts have meant so much to me and made such a difference for me. Going through this experience has caused me to ask a lot of questions, come up with few answers, and ponder many things. So many people have been so good to me in so many ways through this experience that it has caused me to think God has been at work in many people’s heart’s in many ways and people have responded in amazing ways. I have been so completely impressed by how people have prayed for me, encouraged me, and worked together to help me. It has made me ask myself the question, “Am I worth all this love, kindness, and trouble people are going through for me?” Everyone has helped me so much it became a fairly difficult question for me to answer. Maybe I have been thinking the wrong way, thinking of myself like some sort of asset that needs to have enough value to be worth all this effort and work and kindness done on my behalf? Maybe God does not weigh and value the same way that I do. When think of what has happened since the accident I am overcome by thankfulness because no matter what my worth, God has poured out so much love and grace through so many people it is amazing to me. This experience has also reminded me that my life is not my own, each day of life is given to me from God. I think that through many of you God has poured out His love, kindness, mercy, and help - on me.

We saw my neurosurgeon Dr. Zheng last week at Yonghe hospital and he told us that I am making great progress and he doesn't anticipate any further medical difficulties (as far as brain neurosurgery is concerned) unless I felt some unexpected pain come up. He also told us that I would be able to fly to California from his perspective in regards to brain pressure but recommends we check with the ENT doctor. I went to the ENT doctor next. Dr. Liou did a review of CT scans, and did an exam of my ears and eyes. He said that I could fly but not to pop his ears or fall asleep during taking off or landing due to trying to avoid further ear pressure. I was also informed by the ENT that I need to stop doing anything that causes pressure by straining my body such as when you do pushups on the parallel bars, or holding an L on them [like I did last week]. This is because he explained my ears are fractured which has caused a hole in the vestibular area [a para- lymphatic fistula] which causes fluid to escape, causing vertigo. My vertigo will improve as the hole closes. My right ear is significantly worse than my left.

We went to NTU (National Taiwan University) 2 weeks ago for cognitive testing with a psychiatrist (5 weeks after the accident) in an effort to create a baseline assessment. Today, the Rehab brain trauma specialist Dr. Lu, and the psychiatrist Dr. Shu, stated that I performed cognitively in the normal range for a non- injured patient. This was good news! Some of the subtests indicated a need to work on short term memory skills. The doctors said this was very typical for patients with similar brain injuries to mine. The recommendation was to provide me with 6 weeks of intervention sessions to work with me on short term retrieval. I had my first session today and it was great! My first assignment is to use a daily log, monthly planner, and to notice what I find particularly challenging for me this week in regards to short term memory. The doctors explained that short term memory for example is remembering what you did that day or what took place in a telephone conversation. They expect that I will make very good progress.

Each year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, all of my teammates and team leaders of Team Expansion go to Lao Dong, an hour and a half east of here. This is where, for 40 years, Ted & Bev Skiles started and have run an orphanage for babies and the placement of them. Ted & Bev are referred to as the grandpa & grandma of all the missionaries. My dad and I will be joining them this year. This will be a very special time of celebration for my dad and I as all of my friends/coworkers have been through every step of the trauma of my accident and recovery with me. I am looking forward to seeing joy on their faces after such a difficult ordeal for all of us. My mom is flying home this Saturday so that she can get back to work. My dad will stay with me until I can fly back for a short visit during the Christmas holidays. I am getting more and more independent but it will be nice to have my dad move me back to my place in Banchiao before he leaves Taiwan permanently. Then, hopefully, after talking to my elders at College Heights, Shepherd of the Hills, and getting my Visa set up for my second year, as planned prior to my accident, I can fly home with my dad for a Christmas visit.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Update #27 on Peter

I have a few updates about Peter and some pictures below the updates…

I’m going to share these updates with bullet points instead of taking time to organize it all into paragraphs. I’d rather get the info out there to you sooner…

  • The physical therapist at National Taiwan University Hospital remarked that Peter’s long-term damage should be fairly minimal since he woke up from his coma fairly soon.
  • Peter can continue his therapy at the Gengxin Hospital (where he has been since the accident). They are doing a good job.
  • It is expected that people suffering brain trauma like Peter have experienced will have some problems even 6 months to 1 year in the future, even if they were never in a coma. So, the progress may be slow, but looks good for Peter looking a year into the future.
  • The therapist gave Peter 3 words – black, happy, bicycle – and periodically asked him to recall them… he immediately remembers, but forgot them after a few minutes. This does mesh with what most of us have already known. Peter does have some short-term memory issues. We don’t yet know when and if this will improve… time will tell.
  • On November 4th, Peter will have a psych evaluation focusing on memory and cognitive functions. There will be a follow up appointment on November 12. It will be good to have some standardized and quantitative testing and results to measure Peter’s progress. The test on November 4 will serve as a baseline.
  • Peter got a big laugh out of this test… the therapist wanted him to do “jazz hands”. His right hand was pretty jazzy… but his left hand’s jazz factor = zero. But that was a week ago… maybe his hands are more jazzy now.
  • The other day, Peter was with friends at a food court and he tried walking with his tray of food. Although we all appreciate Peter’s willingness to *try*… his friends were a bit worried… and so was Peter. His balance and walking just isn’t up to that yet. Still improving though!
  • Peter’s balance problems stem from fractures of 2 bones in his skull (occipital and temporal) and problems in his ears (possibly including fractures of the tiny bones in the ear). Here are pictures of the skull bones and the ear for your reference. Click for a larger image.


  • The doctor he saw at NTUH and Dr. Zeng agree that Peter’s chance of full restoration of hearing and balance is about 90%. No time frame can be given for this… but it is great news.
  • His therapists have started making Peter step over objects placed in front of him. This requires him to stand on his own on one foot for a few moments and transfer his weight differently than just walking.
  • Peter and Claudia and Rick all attended the church in Yonghe last Sunday AM.
  • Claudia has been sick for about 10 days. She is feeling better now, but is thankful that Peter and Rick and others have been able to help her through this. She’s also grateful to Dr. Lin, our local doctor, for his care and concern for her.
  • Peter joined Craig and Jennifer for a team meeting this week. I’m not sure any of us would have guessed he’d be doing that less than 40 days after his accident.

Here’s the pictures I mentioned…

Peter riding the subway to his appointment at NTUH. The noise of the subway bothered his ears.

the noise on the subway bothered Peter's ears


Peter working the bar at therapy. This is his first time working with the 2kg weight added… moving up from 1.5kg.

Peter working with the 2kg weight attached


Peter is getting tired of playing with the blocks, but you wouldn’t know it by this picture. He is so full of joy.

Peter playing with blocks at therapy


Working with the therapist lifting some weights. Notice he is strapped in since he can’t stand up and work with the weight at the same time.

working with the therapist


Peter is learning to walk again.

re-learning how to walk


Peter with his friend Roming. Roming came to the hospital for a few hours every morning after the accident. Thanks to his employer and family for allowing him to come serve Peter and his family during this time.

 Peter and Roming


Peter putting round pegs in round holes… and yes, I think that is a giraffe in his left hand.

round pegs on a square board with a giraffe based tweezing device


Peter with his team leader, Craig Thompson. Although many people have been involved in many ways with Peter’s recovery, the heaviest burden was borne by Craig and his wife Karen. This was taken on the day Peter left the hospital.

Peter and his team leader, Craig Thompson

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Update #26 on Peter

What do the following pictures have in common with Cardinal Tien Hospital in Yonghe, Taipei County, Taiwan?




He did his PT this AM and is already checked out of the hospital… He moved to the Edwards’ apartment and recovery continues.

Tomorrow morning he has a very early appointment with a physical therapist who specializes in head trauma patients so it will be interesting to see what she thinks.

Thank you all for your ongoing role in Peter’s life.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thoughts Over the Last Four Weeks

I’m posting this at the precise minute of Peter’s accident 4 weeks ago.

Those present will probably remember it as the longest day of their lives. Sometime during the day… afternoon(?)… Jennifer Reynolds purchased a spiral notebook which could serve as a journal and record of Peter’s accident and recovery. We invited all visitors to write something themselves… either to Peter or his parents or perhaps a prayer.

As we celebrate Peter’s amazing recovery over these past 4 weeks, I thought it would be appropriate to share some selections from the notebook.

Here’s page 1.


And here is a later page. People have written in Chinese and English and many draw pictures.



“Peter, this will change you. This has changed us. It does not change our God’s love and redemption of the The Terrible…”

“We thank you for your help in leading the bible study…”

“God will help you to pass this mission… Don’t give up…”

“With all this positive loving energy I am so happy I’m able to be here with you.”

“I beseech You, O Lord God of Heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of Peter…”

“You talked! You said, ‘thanks’…”

“Peter, you are the most popular patient in the hospital…”

“Perhaps you’re with God and visiting heaven during this time. Hey! Do remember what God tells you as you could share with us.”

“Peter, we still have a couple of movies to watch together.”

“Peter, I just came from Bethany school. Everyone there seemed to know about your situation and had been praying.”

“Dear Brother Peter, Maybe I didn’t know you before, but as we are all family of God…”

“The ICU nurses said you were singing to them last night.”

“Your mom and Jen stayed with you the first night out of the ICU.”

“I told Rick and Claudia that you’ll teach me how to dance. So I’ll wait for it.”

“I’m so pleased to witness God’s healing power on you.”

“Peter: You are talking a lot.”

“You look great today.”

“… told Peter in a very special way that at no point during any of his care was he ever anything but respectful, kind, and loving. He never embarrassed our Lord, his parents, his family, or himself.”

“Peter has studied the Bible for the past 5 nights like a man drinking water after being thirsty. He was up until 1AM reading/studying.”

“Peter, I am honored to have met you. I lost my sister to a car accident 1.5 years ago. God is gracious in all ways. We must always honor God with the time we have.”

“Peter, I know you know this but God has big plans for you.”

“We came to see you and were surprised to find an empty room! So glad you were able to be out for a while!”

“You are back to your old self…”

“… we can ride bikes together soon.”

“Peter’s back ministering!”

Claudia to the ER doctor that received Peter: “Thank you for saving my son’s life.” The doctor’s reply was, “It was God not me.”

“The ICU nurses were thrilled to see how well Pete was doing. They brought him into the ICU and showed him his bed and what took place here.”

Back in the mid and late 1990’s, I watched my father-in-law put up a fierce fight against cancer. During the most difficult times of that battle, he would choose a verse or a passage of scripture to focus on and meditate on and draw strength from. One of those verses was Psalm 77:14. From the time of Peter’s accident until now, God has led me to Psalm 77 over and over again… to drink and drink from the living water of His Word.

If I had to pick 3 words to describe God’s grace to humanity, I might choose the words of Psalm 30:11…

“mourning into dancing…”

But if I could choose an entire Psalm to expound on those 3 words, I think it would be Psalm 77.

1 I cry out to God without holding back. Oh, that God would listen to me!

2 When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I pray, with hands lifted toward heaven, pleading. There can be no joy for me until he acts.

3 I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help.

4 You don't let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray!

5 I think of the good old days, long since ended,

6 when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and think about the difference now.

7 Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again show me favor?

8 Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed?

9 Has God forgotten to be kind? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?

10 And I said, "This is my fate, that the blessings of the Most High have changed to hatred."

11 I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.

12 They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about them.

13 O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you?

14 You are the God of miracles and wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.

15 You have redeemed your people by your strength, the descendants of Jacob and of Joseph by your might.

16 When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled! The sea quaked to its very depths.

17 The clouds poured down their rain; the thunder rolled and crackled in the sky. Your arrows of lightning flashed.

18 Your thunder roared from the whirlwind; the lightning lit up the world! The earth trembled and shook.

19 Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters – a pathway no one knew was there!

20 You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.

(New Living Translation)