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Finishing Our School Year, Heading to the U.S.

A Letter from Emily and Jonathan Seitz, serving in Taiwan

June 2018

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As I write this newsletter, our family is working through logistics relating to our return to the U.S. for our interpretation assignment, and when you read this letter we will probably already be in the U.S. We pray that God will guide us through our travels in the coming months, and help us with a smooth transition to Princeton, New Jersey, where we will be based during the school year. Princeton is familiar to us, as it was our home for 8 years (10, for Jonathan) before we came to Taiwan, and our eldest, Samuel, was born in Princeton. We hope that the year will be a good opportunity to reconnect with churches and to make new connections, to spend time with family, and to do required PC(USA) trainings as well as research and writing.

We are nearing the end of school, but the children have some tests left and Jonathan has grading to finish. Our first-grade twins, who are in a public elementary school, have worked really hard on their Chinese literacy this year, and we are proud of their accomplishments. During our time in Princeton, we will find a tutor for all three kids to help them work on Chinese. When I told our younger son’s teacher that we are returning to the U.S. for one year, I was so touched when she offered to give me the second-grade textbooks to take back with us. She has been a wonderful teacher for Eli this year, and we are grateful for her patience and encouragement in working with him. We are also looking for an all-English school for our eldest now, as he will be entering sixth grade when we return. We ask for your prayers in finding a suitable school for him.

Emily serves as a jury member for the Annual Mackay Memorial Project Awards at Aletheia University in Tamsui, Taiwan.

In the past two months, in addition to my work at Aletheia University (a Presbyterian institution) and the Mackay Memorial Museum (the former home of George Leslie Mackay, the Canadian Presbyterian missionary to Taiwan who first arrived in late 1871) and volunteering at the twins’ school, I have been helping one of Jonathan’s former students with her Master of Arts in English thesis, the focus of which is teaching and learning English as a second language. Her thesis gave me a whole education on ESL and many insights into my own and my children’s study of Chinese. Like me, she is the mother of twins, so I was more than happy to help her in finishing her studies!

In my work at Aletheia, I give tours to schools and other groups, occasionally help with English editing for faculty, and work with student volunteers. In May, I was also a jury member for an annual design competition held by the Mackay historical center at the university. The design projects — including postcards, brochures, T-shirts, and calendars — all related to Mackay, and many were quite impressive!

Emily shares a story with students at Renai Elementary School in Taipei, Taiwan. (June 2018)

At the end of May, I was also able to teach a class for my friend Lillian Lai, a professor in the Department of Information and Library Science at Tamkang University. I usually guest-teach once per year or once per semester for her, and I teach two sections of the same class. Her daughter is in the same grade as my older son at the same bilingual school, so when we have lunch in between the classes, we have a good time sharing and chatting, as moms and also as Christians since Lillian is a Christian.

For Jonathan, the end of the semester is always busy, so we are not leaving for the U.S. until everything is finished and grades are submitted. Jonathan’s seniors at Taiwan Seminary are graduating in June. This year one of his classes was half seniors, and he is especially sad to see them go. This past semester, he has been teaching a class on Jonah, which includes a section on call and the challenges of persistence in ministry. It is always moving to see students finish their studies and “draw straws” to determine the first church where they’ll serve (a process administered by the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan General Assembly). This year Jonathan was also blessed to work with a growing percentage of students from East and Southeast Asia who come to Taiwan for Chinese-language studies.

As always, thank you for your support of our work in Taiwan — both your financial support and your prayers. If you have not yet contributed this year, please consider doing so, as our work in Taiwan would be impossible without this support. We will see many of you during our return trip to the U.S. and are looking forward to sharing with you about our experiences in Taiwan!

Emily and Jonathan

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