A letter from Emily Seitz in the U.S., on Interpretation Assignment from Taiwan
Individuals: Give online to E200383 for Jonathan and Emily Seitz’ sending and support
Congregations: Give to D507519 for Jonathan and Emily Seitz’ sending and support
Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).
We have now been in the U.S. on our Interpretation Assignment for almost four months, and it seems as if it has been much longer. Our three children have responded in different ways to the move. Before this trip the twins had not been to the U.S. for two years. When my younger son woke up on one of our first mornings in Ohio in February and saw deer grazing in the freshly fallen snow in my parents’ backyard, he exclaimed excitedly, “Reindeer!” He and his twin sister frequently ask us about Taiwan and tell stories about their preschool there. Our eldest son transitioned seamlessly to life in the U.S. and to second grade in a U.S. school. He makes friends easily, likes having less homework compared to what he receives in Taiwan, and enjoyed spring soccer (even though he had never before played soccer). To ease the transitions of coming to the U.S. and then returning to Taiwan in August, I often remind my children that our family has many homes—our home in Taiwan, our church homes in the U.S. and in Taiwan, and their grandparents’ homes in the U.S.—and that the most important thing is that wherever we go, we are all together. In reading a story to my kids written by a Japanese immigrant to the U.S., I could identify with the author’s telling of how his grandfather, also an immigrant, said that as soon as he was in either of his two homes—California or Japan—he was almost immediately “homesick” for the other.
While worshipping a couple of months ago in the Presbyterian church in Cincinnati where my husband and I were married 15 years ago, and where my children will attend VBS in early June, I was blessed by the preaching of Brazilian immigrant Claudio Carvalhaes, a pastor, theologian, activist, and seminary professor, who was visiting that Sunday. Concluding a sermon on the story of the prodigal son, he spoke to a nearly all-white audience about how it is easier to be with, worship with, and do mission with people who are like you. However, in Jesus we have a model of someone who continually reached out to and connected with people who were different from him. Jesus asked the Samaritan woman drawing water from the well for a drink of water and then told her of the “living water” he could offer. Jesus, amazed at the faith of a Roman centurion, healed the centurion’s servant. As Jesus reached out, God also wants us to reach out. PC(USA) mission co-workers, by serving at the invitation of and in partnership with churches and organizations in countries around the globe, fulfill this calling to share Christ’s love with people who may not look like us, speak like us, or share the same worldview. In doing so we forge relationships that span centuries.
Through our work in Taiwan, Jonathan and I are honored to continue to nurture a relationship that began 150 years ago when the first Presbyterian missionaries, one from England and one from Canada, went to Taiwan. Today the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, our partner in mission, remains the largest Protestant denomination in Taiwan. The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan appreciates its ongoing friendship with the PC(USA), especially because of Taiwan’s ambiguous political status juxtaposed with its current reality as a thriving democracy.
As our family finishes up our Interpretation Assignment this summer, I am reflecting on our commitment to serve Christ in Taiwan and how we have been blessed with the opportunity to make our home there for the past seven years. We may not own a house or a car, and our original “home church” is Westminster Presbyterian in Trenton, N.J., but we have made a life in Taiwan. Our “home” is a growing network of my husband’s current and former students, connections with former and current mission co-workers, and connections made through the church. Moreover, as we move from the U.S. back to Taiwan and even to a new physical “home” in Taiwan (a different apartment), I remember that our true home is in the body of Christ. We are to be His hands and feet, reaching across barriers, international borders, and social boundaries.
In our presentations to churches during this Interpretation Assignment we tell the story of “Rose,” who graduated last year from Taiwan Theological Seminary, where my husband, Jonathan, teaches students preparing for pastoral ministry. Rose attended my husband’s classes, and I got to know Rose when I helped last summer with the VBS at the small urban church where she was an intern. My husband had learned that Rose was one of three sisters. Each time one of them was born, their father was disappointed he did not yet have a son. But as she grew up Rose began to see herself as loved by her creator God, even when her family and society traditionally would have valued a brother, if she had one, over her and her sisters. Eventually Rose and her older sister became Christians, and Rose felt the call to seminary. Jonathan told me that when Rose’s father became ill during her last year in seminary, she treated him as Christ would have, frequently visiting him in the hospital, while at the same time attending classes, completing assignments, and spending every weekend serving in the church. And one of her greatest joys was when her father finally accepted Christ.
Please pray for Rose as she begins her pastoral career and for other Taiwan Seminary students. Please pray also for the people of Taiwan, and for our partner in mission, the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, in its work toward peace and justice and expanding the body of Christ both in Taiwan and throughout the world. Keep in touch with us through our Mission Connections letters. We love to receive letters, cards, and e-mails from you, and they truly encourage us in our ministry. Join us also with your financial gifts, because without your direct gifts to World Mission, we could not be serving in Taiwan.
We are thankful that “home” is wherever you and we are together, working to build up the body of Christ in the world.
Emily (and Jonathan, Sam, Eva and Eli)
You may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.