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Balancing Work and Family

A letter from Emily Seitz serving in Taiwan

September 2015

Write to Jonathan Seitz
Write to Emily Seitz

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).

Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Dear Friends,

Our eldest, Samuel, has just started second grade, and Jonathan has begun teaching for the fall semester at Taiwan Theological Seminary. Jonathan is teaching two larger survey classes this semester and two tutorials and in addition is serving as Acting Library Director at Taiwan Seminary. The fall always seems to take off with an explosion of activities and then it takes a little while to put the pieces back together.

As we begin our fall schedule I have been thinking a great deal about balance in life. Often I find myself praying for guidance in finding this elusive “balance.” How do we balance work and family life? How do we honor our commitments to the seminary, the local church, and PC(USA) congregations? When is work too much? When is school too much? How can we get enough rest and play? When does well-rounded become over-scheduled?

Taiwan is a hard-driving society, with long work and school hours, and English cram schools on every block. (In Taiwanese the expression “American time” means a more relaxed pace.) My Taiwanese friends who are parents worry that there is too much pressure put on young children, but they are concerned that if their children do not study English or improve in subjects they are having trouble with, their chances for getting into the best universities (or even studying in the U.S. or Canada) will be less. In talking with other parents, we meet kids who do eight-hour school days and then several hours of cram school, even in elementary school. They add extra classes in mental math, piano, foreign languages, or sports. Parents make a massive investment in their children. In the U.S. we have soccer moms and helicopter parents; here there are tiger moms and strawberry children (kids who are raised to be so delicate that they bruise easily).

Samuel is in second grade at a bilingual school (Chinese/English), and the schedule and homework are heavy, especially for non-native speakers. Even though Sam has grown up mostly in Taiwan, we struggle with the expectations of school. In Taiwan the study of traditional Chinese characters requires constant repetition and practice. In order to be a literate person, you need to be able to read about 10,000 characters. Sam is able to write characters at a level nearly on par with his Taiwanese classmates, and we are mostly happy with our decision for him to study in a school in which he learns the discipline of writing Chinese characters. However, we are also concerned that the school day is too long and the homework too much of a burden. The type of work is also different: there’s little in the way of free reading and history dioramas or science projects and a lot more worksheets. It’s a lot of writing, writing, writing.

More of my work here is family-based. Part of my job is to keep our children on track in school, to handle medical appointments, visa renewals, letter-writing, and communication with teachers. At church and in our neighborhood, I try to relate to other families.  In itself, it has been an education. And so as we begin the new academic year here we ask for your prayers for balance both for us and for the Taiwanese students and families we serve. Please pray for Taiwan Seminary students and families as they begin school, pray for moms and dads studying to be ministers and caring for children, pray for little kids with big backpacks starting second grade, and pray for all manner of families as they seek to live out their faith in busy jobs with intense schedules. We also ask that if you aren’t already financially supporting our work in Taiwan, please consider supporting us. Thank you!

平安!Emily (and Jonathan, Sam, Eva, and Eli)

The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 253

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