Monday, June 13, 2016

Another Goodbye...

Some people might think that since I move so much, it should be easy by now, right? No, it's not. I remember how much I didn't want to move from our home in Washington. I was happy! I didn't want to leave. I'd lived there the longest I have lived anywhere, 5 years. I also remember just trusting God that He knew what was best. Sure enough, He was right as always. I love Taiwan! In fact, after only being here a week, I almost felt guilty about enjoying my new home so much already. Haha!

Since the very beginning of living here I have fell in with Taiwan - it's people, culture, food, and beautiful land. I don't know if it's because of my stage in life or what, but since moving here I really feel like a part of Taiwan and all the people I have met here (Taiwanese and other nationalities). They will always be a part of me and in my heart. I'm going to miss everyone here terribly! At the same time, I'm excited to go back to the States and see my family and friends. But.... I don't want to leave! As you can see, I'm having conflicted emotions. Haha!
When I'm tempted to worry though, I remember these two verses:

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

"Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15

I especially like the last one since it promises that He will bring me back to this land ;)
I know I can trust my God, I trusted Him before and He brought me here! His plans are always Plan A and I don't want to interfere with them. I'll just have to see what the next adventure He has planned for me.

But to all my friends in Taiwan; I'm going to miss you so much! But I will see you again, if not on this earth then in the next. <3

Monday, May 30, 2016

Racing up the 101

I gingerly opened my eyes as my dark room was suddenly illuminated by my light.
"Oh! The race is today!" I practically jumped out of my bed in anticipation. We were going to run up Taipei 101 with it's 91 floors, and 2,046 stairs! The problem was, I was still kind of sick with a flu/ cold...
Well, God was going to have to help me. I knew we had to take a health check-up too and that made me a little nervous.
All of us runners; my dad, my mom, Inah, Benjamin, and myself, met at the MRT (metro). My dad noticed that Benjamin didn't have his tag on his shoe.
"Do you have it? You can't run without it." my dad commented.
"Yeah, it's in my bag right... right...Where is it?" He said, rummaging through his bag. Apparently, he left it at home! Luckily he rode his scooter and was able to zoom up the mountain, find it, and meet us again in time.
We just milled around in the drizzling rain for about an hour until we could line up. They had separated us all into groups because of the amount of people and how narrow the staircase was.
I remember looking up at the 101 as far as my neck could tilt. It was slightly intimidating yet exciting at the same time.
 Soon, my parents got in line with the rest of us not too far behind for the health check up. I was starting to get nervous. I wasn't sure want to expect. Soon enough, I could see they were taking people's temperatures.
"Uh oh. I've had had a fever the last week. It had gone away, but it still makes me nervous."
Benjamin was in front of me and when he finished, he kind of paused to see what would happen with me. As the guy put his instrument over my forehead, I prayed and tried to prepare myself for the likely disappointing of not being able to run. Those three seconds seemed so much longer! He looked at it and said, "Okay, good" and waved me in. I couldn't believe it! I was so excited, I was in! I high-fived Benjamin and Inah and went to find my parents.
I ended up being in the same group as my dad. We waited and slowly winded our way in line into the building. As we got closer, we saw that they sent people one at a time with a few seconds in between to space them out. Being next in line, the guard looked at his watch, said 'go', and I was off!
I knew that there was no way anyone (at least no normal person) could run all the way to the top, but I was excited and decided I would run at least a little and then maybe at the end. Well, after 12 stories (so 24 sets of stairs), I had run all I could. My lungs started hurting really bad but I kept going; 24th floor, 30th, 35th, 49th, 52nd ... man was I getting tired! It wasn't so much that I was tired, but that my lungs felt like they were going to collapse! I started stopping more often for water, but every time I stopped, I would start coughing like crazy.  I wanted to be done by the 60th (something) floor.
"Maybe I shouldn't have passed that health check." I thought ruefully. "Okay, think positive, Enjoli" I told myself. "I can do this! I'm running/walking up Taipei 101! How cool is that?"
Each floor seemed farther and longer apart though. I was just trying to survive, I decided. 84th floor, 85th, 88th, and finally 90th! Just one more! I was able to somehow run up the last floor only to walk the few steps to the finish line.
"Yes!" I pumped my hands into the air. I survived!
 I saw my mom and her video camera as I passed the finish line, but I was feeling really faint and just wanted to sit down, "and maybe get some water." I thought as I made my way over the the water stand. I grabbed a cup and sat down at the closest, open place. It was so hard to breathe, I felt faint and a little nauseated, but I was done! After a while, my mom found me. My dad had come just a few minutes after me. Somehow, I made it to the elevator and back to the bottom of the building. By then I was feeling a lot better and felt like a could function again, haha! Once there, we got our medals, bag of goodies, and our certificate. I had made it in 30 min, 7 seconds.

 Wow, God is good! I don't know how I did that; only with God's help! Afterwards when people asked how the race was, I responded; "Honestly, it was awful while running up, but so exciting and rewarding when I finished. But some advice; never run up the 101 while you are sick!"

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Jesus Wins!

 I always look forward to our annual ECR; English Church Retreat. It's always uplifting, reviving, and also a lot of fun. This year's speaker was Elizabeth Talbot from Jesus 101. She was awesome. She just had this way about making everything easy to understand, fascinating, sometimes funny, yet always profound. I enjoyed it so much, I would like to share with all of you some of the things she talked about that I found interesting.

During the first meeting, Elizabeth Talbot talked about Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End..."
Okay, so most of us know this short, simple verse. If you dig a little deeper, you'll realize something beautiful. God says He's the Alpha and Omega. What does that really mean? Well, it's the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet. So, in other words Jesus is our A to Z. This is the cool part! We all have problems, right? I can guarantee you that your problem starts with a letter between A-Z. That's what's awesome!  He will always be there and He can help you overcome any problem you are having.
The verse also says He is the Beginning and the End. Meaning, God has been with and knows your past, He is here now, and He will continue to be with you in the future. We don't need to worry and ponder too much on the past because Jesus is the past! We don't need to worry about now because Jesus is the present. And we don't have to worry about what will happen in the future, because that's what Jesus is. It's amazing how powerful and beautiful this simple verse is. 

She also talked about how Jesus is our Goel. It's a Hebrew word which means 'kinsman redeemer.' The translation of this word is used many times in the Bible. For example, Boaz was Ruth and Naomi's goel. He was their nearest kinsman or kinsman redeemer.  In Bible times, the goel of the family had four roles: 
1.) Redeem a relative who had sold himself into slavery
2.) Redeem property that was given up by a poor relative.
3.) To avenge the blood of a murdered relative.
4.) To appear in a lawsuit as a helper for a relative to make sure that justice was down. 
We have someone who has done all that for us; Jesus. We are slaves to sin, but Jesus died on the cross that we might be redeemed. He has a place in Heaven ready for us because he avenged His own blood for us. I love this image of Jesus and am so glad He is our Goel! 

Something else the speaker said was very applicable to my life. We were all born with a purpose which means God has a plan for each and every one of our lives. Elizabeth Talbot is a pastor and she told us a story about how even when she was young, she loved to line up her dolls and preach to them. As soon as she said that, I remembered that I used to do something very similar! I would line up all my dolls (and Emily, my sister. Haha!) and teach them. I always loved to play teacher and read to my little sister. Since I was two years old, I told everyone I wanted to be a teacher.  I realized how many teaching opportunities God has provided for me in the last few years. I've taught in Tanzania, Summer school here in Taiwan, I help at Outdoor School with the upper grades and Adventures Club with the lower grades currently, and I’ve taught kids in lots of other small ways. When I heard her say that, it was like the Holy Spirit nudged me and said, "See? I have a plan for you too, Enjoli." 

I want to mention one other thing before I close. She talked about the Woman at the Well and the differences between her water and Jesus' water. I love how the Bible describes what she did when she ran to tell the town that she had met Jesus. John 4:28, "The woman then left her water pot, and went her way into the city..." This is also a symbol. She finally accepted Jesus' living water, left the past behind, and then shared Him with others. You know, the gospel is like a gift exchange. We bring death and exchange it for Jesus' gift which is eternal life. Jesus dies, and we walk away with the Water of Life (like the woman at the well). It costs us nothing, yet it costed Him everything. What an awesome God we serve! Satan has lost and Jesus wins!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Crazy Run

"Ugh" I moaned as the light in my room turned on at 4 am.
"Make sure you're up" my dad said, "We leave in a half hour."
I stumbled to the bathroom, splashed cold water in my face, and then threw on some warm running clothes.
I glanced out the window. Yep, the forecast was correct; extremely cold and lots of rain. In fact, rumors said it might even reach 2 degrees Celsius (35 F)  in the city!
"Well, this should definitely be an interesting day" I thought, not knowing how interesting it would be...

At about 4:45, we were all in the van.  Marcy, my mom, Shin, Benjamin, Joel and I were doing the 1/2 marathon, my dad, Danielle and Jean-Raymond were doing the 10k, and Emily, Melissa, Patrice and Tracy were doing a fun run (3k). I was just shivering with excitement ... and probably the cold, haha! Fumbling in the dark, we tried to pin our numbers on our shirts, and tie the scanner on our shoes. We all jumped out of the van and joined half of Taiwan (so it seemed) ... there were SO many people. Literally thousands of people all lined up behind a giant starting line. We quickly joined the mass crowd of runners decked out in plastic raincoats.  Before we knew it, the countdown finished and we were off! Well, we then started tiptoeing/jogging in place until we got to the starting line with thousands of others.
Benjamin was close behind me as I tried to run to the side and pass the massive crowd. We ended up staying together the whole race.
"This is like an obstacle course!" He commented once. "Haha! Your right!" I said while a I jumped over a puddle, dodged a few people, ran around a thrown raincoat, and tried to avoid running into anyone. We continued running in the dark and rain for a while, just trying to get ahead of the multitude. After a few kilometers, it cleared up a little and we could run our pace a little easier and not have to worry as much about running into people. In the beginning, my nose and fingers were just connected icicles to my body, but soon enough the running warmed us up a bit. The plastic raincoats everyone were wearing littered the side of the road.
"Oh! There's the Grand Hotel." I pointed. "I wonder how long we've been running. I haven't seen any signs yet."
Just a few minutes later, we saw the poster which read "6k."
"So, we run 6 kilometers in a little less than a half hour."
We continued to run as the sun slowly peeped behind the shadowed mountains. It was also really cool to see the city below as we ran over an overpass.
We continued just running and running and only 'stopped' to grab a cup of water or energy drink, swallow, toss the cup to the side, and continue running.

"Oh, look up there." Benjamin motioned to me. "Looks like we have to run up that big hill."
"Ugh." I hate running uphill. The uphill run was the last 1/2 marathon I had run. This one was supposed to be flat. :/
It wasn't too bad, but was very tiring. After about 13k, I was starting to lose my energy and get a bit tired, but we ran on. At one point we saw Marcy and my mom running as we were headed in the opposite direction (there was a turn).
"Hi!" we waved to them.
"Oh great."
"What?" Benjamin turned to me.
"Oh, just one of the pins holding my number just came unclasped."
I spent the next few minutes trying pin it back without jabbing it into me.
It started to get colder as we ran in the opposite direction with the wind on our wet faces.
I was very grateful for the water stop when we had only 3 more kilometers to go. I quickly downed the refreshing drink. I noticed there was a symphony playing for us.
"Wow that's nice."
I didn't think about it too much because by then, I was just trying to keep myself going.
"I'm... so...tired!" I panted.
"Me... too." Benjamin answered.
"Just keep running. Just keep running. I'm almost there. Just 2 more kilometers!" I told myself.
We were planning on picking up our pace at the last kilometer, but when we got there we only had enough energy to just keep going.
"It's so close... but so... far." I gasped between breaths. What seemed an eternity later, we rounded the last bend and we could see the giant finish line.
"We can do this!" we said as we picked up our speed (I don't know how we did. The only reason I think I did was because whenever I see the finish I get a spurt of energy so I can just be done, haha!)
"Let's finish together" he suggested, so I grabbed his hand, lifted them up and then, YES!!! We finished!
Then out loud, "We did it! We did it!"

I stumbled forward and collected my medal and towel. I dropped down on the wet grass and then laid down. It was too bad no one was there at the end for us, but just a few minutes later my dad and Danielle came over. They had finished the 10 a little earlier and had come to see us.
"Good job! You did it." My dad congratulated. "There serving some hot ginger tea over there if you want some."
"That sounds good. I'm not cold yet, but I know I will be. Ugh, but you'll have to help me off the ground."
He did, and Benjamin and I went to get some tea.
"Let's go to the finish line a look for the others!"
I agreed and we walked to the sidelines for them.
"Is that them?"
"Oh, never mind."
(A little later...)
"There they are! Right there!"
We shouted and Benjamin waved his towel in the air to my mom and Marcy as they came into sight.
"Jia yo! You're almost there!" I encouraged. Soon they crossed the finish line. We decided to a wait a little to see if one of our other runners would come. Soon, we gave up and went to join the others. We stood around for about an hour after finishing and I was absolutely freezing! I couldn't stop shivering and chattering. My shoes to my knees were soaked as well as most of the rest of my body. As we started looking for the others, I could hardly walk. It was incredibly painful. I was walking like a penguin for two days afterwards, lol!
The walk to the van seemed an eternity away, but finally we jumped (well, more like slowly eased ourselves inside) the warm van.
We joked that our next run would probably be in a Typhoon, because each run is crazy. The first one was straight up a mountain, this was in record coldness, so the next one might as well be in a typhoon!

A little later, we found out that I had won 5th place in my age group! I was super excited. I would have even won some money, but apparently there weren't enough people in my age group. Out of those thousands of people, I would think that would be more than enough, but that's okay. :p  I was elated that we had made our goal as well! We were under two hours; 1 hr, 57 sec. to be exact.

As we were waiting in the van to pickup the 3k runners, Danielle was talking on the phone with her sister who was still on the mountain.
She hung up the phone and squealed, "It's SNOWING on the mountain!!!"
We all immediately looked out the window and sure enough, you could see the mountain dusted with snow.
Yes, you heard me right. It actually snowed on the tropical island of Taiwan. I know.  Wow. It was the coldest it had been in over a decade.

The Taiwanese were hilarious. After we were all cleaned up from our race, we drove up the mountain to celebrate with hot soup and hot chocolate. On the way, we saw tons of cars who had purposely piled snow on their cars and put little snowmen on their wind shields! It was pretty funny. There was a lot of traffic too. It seemed like everyone in Taipei wanted to see the snow and take picture.  Can't blame them.  We did too!
(On a sad note, we heard a couple days later that over 80 people had died from the 'extreme' cold weather. It was mostly because their bodies weren't used to the cold, and just didn't wear enough. Probably a lot of homes don't have heaters either. Anyways, I've been keeping their families in prayer)
So, pretty crazy day, don't you think? :) 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Miracle at a Talent Show

Miracles happen all the time and I would like to share one I experienced recently...

After finishing my personal devotion on Sabbath morning, I rolled out of my bed, blew my nose, and walked out of my room.
"Good morning" my dad greeted me.
"" I croaked. "Where is my voice?!" I thought. Clearing my throat a few more times, I tried again, but it still sounded pretty awful. "Oh no. Not today!" I inwardly moaned.
You see, that night was the church's Christmas Talent Show. I was planning on singing "O Holy Night" (by Point of Grace) with my mom. This was really important to me for a couple of reasons. First, my mom hates singing up front. I've been trying to convince her to sing it with me for four years! I love singing with my mom; I think she sings well and that our voices really blend, regardless of the excuses she gives. Also, I just love that song and how well it's done and really wanted to sing it. Finally, my mom agreed to sing it with me this year. I was so happy! Finally, haha! We practiced many times and figured it all out. And then... I had no voice. Great. Just great.
Running to the kitchen, I started cookin' up all sort of concoctions. I drank some nasty tea, took cold medicine, tons of cough and throat drops, used throat spray, gargled salt water (Ugh! That was nasty), and anything else I could think. (Did I forget to mention I was supposed to sing a special music for church too?)
Soon, I had most of my voice back, but I still sounded congested and I knew it would be next to impossible to sing the really high notes that I was planning to sing that night. The song is a little difficult to sing because it starts low and then I have to go ultra high at the end. It's a lot harder to sing when you have a cold too!  (I had caught the cold the last day we were in Japan and had it for a little over three weeks!)
"Ok, God. I guess it's up to You if you want me to sing. You know I really want to sing this song but I want to sing for Your glory, so, Your will be done."

As we were getting ready to head over to set up for the talent show that evening, I asked my mom if we could practice.
"Sure." she said.
She pushed play and we went through the song once.
"That was horrible!" I exclaimed. "My voice basically left me at that highest note and my voice kept cracking. Are you sure we should do this?"
"I think you can do it. It' already in the program. Just don't practice anymore or you'll strain you voice. Suck on your couph/throat drops until we sing, that might help."
"okay..." I said, not completely convinced.

The talent show was really going great. There were beautiful songs sang, funny skits done, cute stories told, and a lot of laughing and clapping. But I was coming up on the program quick. Problem was, I was feeling even worse! I kept coughing, my nose was plugged, and I just did not feel good. (In fact, I actually ran up a few of the stairs in the building to clear my nose, but it only lasted a minute.) Soon, I was the next one up.
I turned to my friend, "I'm so nervous! I don't know if I can do it!'
"Let's pray then."
"Thanks, Gracie." I said.
 She finished at the same time the group ahead of me did and it was time for me to go up.
My mom called me up and it was time. "Please, God? Send me a miracle so I can just sing this song." I prayed silently and started the song.
After I hesitantly sang the first line I realized something. "My nose is clear! I can breath! And my voice isn't strained or cracking at all. I'm not even scared in front of everybody!" 
Coming to the end of the song, I took a deep breath right before I sang the highest notes. Then, the song was over. Just like that!
After the song, I distinctly remember just keep saying in my head, "I did it! I did it! Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, God!"
I then made my way to my seat. As soon as I sat down, I nose became really congested and I started coughing again. That's when I realized that God had indeed answered my prayer and had given me a miracle! I was just ecstatic with joy that He would do that for me. He cared about me wanting to sing a song. It wasn't important, but it was to me. That's why it was important to Him. This incident reminded me of how God gave me my voice in Tanzania when I needed as well. (Look at my blog entitled, "Miracle in the Classrom."
Wow. God is so good; isn't He?

Monday, December 14, 2015

To Tokyo We Go

"So, let me see, Japan will have been the ... one. two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.. yep! This will be the 10th country I've been in." I counted to myself as I gazed out the airplane window. The sky was full of billowing white clouds. I looked around me and noticed my family and our friends who came with us were all sleeping. Being a light sleeper, I knew I wasn't going to fall asleep so I let my mind wander to all the exiting things we did in Tokyo, Japan.
My mom decided that during Thanksgiving break we were going to go to Japan. And why not? So, Wednesday night we arrived. Our trip turned out to be exciting right from the start.
 After we landed in Tokyo, we  had to walk all the way to the other side of the airport to catch the Metro. We had to hurry so we wouldn't be late. Problem was, Melissa, a teacher at TAAS who joined us, was currently on crunches. It was a little bit difficult and painful to go at such a fast rate, but it looked like we could still make it.
My dad rushed ahead to buy our metro passes but we were close behind. After much confusion of paying at the wrong station, going to the wrong exit, and so forth, we realized we had just missed our train. Thankfully, someone helped us decide which alternative to take. We all took a deep breath as we sat down in the right train. Then, my mom sat back up.
"We still have to figure out which train to transfer to and where we get off."
 I was glad that we hadn't passed our stop before they figured it out about fifteen minutes later.
As I looked at the map of all the metros I was amazed.
"That is SO complicated. Taipei's metro system is way easier!"
Eventually we arrived and found our hotel with no other mishaps.
I remember seeing a haze of orange in he sky behind a tall building and commenting, "Why is the sky orange over there?!"

I found out right after we finished checking in. It was the Tokyo Tower! It was really close to our hotel so we walked over and took some pictures. It's like Japan's version of the Eiffel Tower. We went up to the observatory. They had this kind of majestic music playing and it matched the amazing scene out the glass walls. We could look down on the huge city of Tokyo. You couldn't really see how big it was, but you could see hundreds and thousands of lights twinkling all over the place. It was beautiful. Afterwards, we hurried to the hotel because it was freezing outside! I think I almost forgot what winter felt like! lol!
The next morning, we joined a tour to see Mt. Fuji (or Fujisan). The group we were with was pretty small so we had a lot of room in the tour bus. I remember being so surprised as I looked out the window in the beginning of the ride. The reason was, for a split second I forgot that they drive on the ride side of the car there. So, I see a car drive right next to us and all I see in the 'driver's seat is a box!
"How is the car driving!? There's only a box! Oh..." haha! I realized my mistake before I had even finished my thought, but it was pretty funny.
As we left the city, the scenery was just beautiful. There were rolling hills and mountains covered with dense forest. I could almost smell the fresh greenery in the cool air. We weren't able to see the peak of Mt. Fuji though (until later) as it was covered with thick, dark clouds.
We road over the only 'singing road' in the world too. There's a certain part of the road as you approach the Mt. Fuji that you hear singing coming from the road as you drive over it.
When our leader first told us we were going to drive over ad singing road I was like, "a what?!" But it's true! It sang! Apparently, they strategically place little bumps and lines on the road so that when you drive over it, and you listen carefully, you can hear a song. I didn't know the Japanese song, but it was really cool to hear!
When we reached the highest point you could drive to, we took some pictures (even though we couldn't see the top) and turned around. After lunch, we drove away from the mountain to go on a gondola ride. As we turned away from the mountain, the tour guide shouted, "Oh look behind us! Mt. Fuji is coming out!" All heads immediately turned and we were able to see the peak of the tallest mountain in Japan.
"That is a rare treat." the tour guide explained. "Mt. Fuji is usually very shy."
We got a great view from the gondola, and after that we took a ferry ride on one of lakes surrounding Mt. Fuji. The water was so graceful and peaceful. It was a nice, relaxing ride.

By the time we arrived back in Tokyo, it was dark and we were starving! We decided to go and try to find an Indian restaurant. One of the ladies on our tour decided to join us for dinner as well. The only problem was, we couldn't find it! People kept giving us different directions and we ended up walking a big circle. It took us a while, but we finally found it and the food was amazing. :)
On Friday, we met up with the Smiths (friends we had previously met on their visit to Taipei) and went to the Sky Tree. It is a super tall tower and the has the highest look-out in the world! It has only been there three years. The view was absolutely spectacular! There was great weather and you see the entire city. Its so big, it's beyond words in my opinion.
"Wow," I said to myself, "And I thought Taipei was huge..." It just went on forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and... okay, I think you get my point.
On our way back to the hotel, we took the wrong train three times. See, that just shows how complicated the Tokyo metro is. Even the locals get lost! There was like a sea of people, too. I haven't seen very many places so packed with people. At rush hour, they have what they call 'train pushers.' They will literally shove and push the people so tight into the cars so they can all fit when the doors close. Thankfully we didn't have to experience that.
Anyways, we finally got on the right train. We had fun trying all the drinks in the vending machines though. Japan is actually known for their vending machines. They have very unique ones and their absolutely everywhere. You can get cold or hot drinks, hot soup, ramen, some have ice-cream, french fries, and all sorts of stuff! They have really good Japanese drinks too.
The next day was sabbath and we went to a church there. It was nice. The potluck was a little different. They had us sit down, and then they served us the food! We took a walk in the park afterwards and saw some fall colored trees.
That night we went to Shibuya Crossing. Probably one of the busiest crosswalks in the world. It's kind of like New York's Time Square or something. After we crossed the road my mom asked me what I thought.
"I felt like I was swimming in a sea of people! Haha!"
We did some souvenir shopping, grabbed a bite to eat and then quickly went to our hotel. We had to take a taxi for a short distance but it was absolutely ridiculously expensive! I have never seen a taxi ride cost so much, and it wasn't a very long a drive at all!
Anyways, before even the crack of dawn, we had to jump out of our cozy beds and rush to the airport.
In summary, we had a great, fun-filled, exciting trip and I have now been to 10 countries! I wonder which one will be next... :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

God's Race

"...Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1
I just ran my first half-marathon a couple days ago. You wouldn’t believe I used to hate running, but I did! Back when we lived in the States, my mom had to practically drag me to go running with her. She didn’t always take me, but when she did, I would always complain, “But I have too much homework!” or “I’m tired,” and “Do I have to go?”
When we moved here to Taiwan, my mom recruited some people from church and formed a running group. Soon, they dubbed themselves the New Life International SDA Runners. They ran every Sunday and Thursday evening along-side the river.
One Sabbath (Saturday) evening, my mom told us that we had to go running with them the next morning. I was reluctant, but I went. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it! It was actually fun! Probably because we usually stop for tea on the way back. Sometimes, we jokingly call ourselves the “tea runners.” Lol.  After that, I would run with them periodically.
This year, I officially became part of the running club and got my own T-shirt. My goal was to run a half marathon. I had a difficult time though because I wasn’t allowed to run like half of the time! As I mentioned in the previous post, due to my allergies, my mom wouldn’t let me run unless I was a certain weight because she was worried about me losing weight (which was completely understandable but I still didn’t like it). Thankfully, every time I was allowed to run, I ran just fine.

Soon, the day of the ½ marathon arrived. Some of us were nervous, some excited, and I was a little of both. I was super excited, but we had heard that it was uphill. Turns out it was uphill, right up a mountain!
The starting (and ending point) was at a track. As we jumped out of the van, we could feel the excitement in the air. Tons of people were milling around and stretching.
To our great amusement, someone on the stage started leading some excerices moves, but it was more of a dance then an exercise. It was hilarious to watch.
 Soon it was time for the race to begin. Everyone assembled on the track and the countdown began!
 "...Shi, Jio, Ba, Qi, Liu, Wu, Si, San, Er, Yi!" The alarm went off and we started our race. 
"Yeah! We're doing it! We're running!" My mom shouted gleefully as we rounded the bend and started running up. We ran up hill after hill, right up the mountain. 
Panting, I asked my mom, "Are you sure this results in good health? Not in broken legs and collapsed lungs?"
"Well, I guess it's a good things health care is so cheap here." She smirked.
"Oh, thanks a lot." I laughed. 
We continued trudging upward. It was treacherous! During all our training, we only ran on flat roads. We were not prepared to run straight up a mountain!" 
"Jia yo! Jia yo!" People would shout and encourage us as they passed out sports drinks and water at the stations along the way.
At one point, we saw our fastest runner, Benjamin, on his way back. 
"You're almost there! (to the half way point)" he encouraged us as we cheered him. Finally, we forced our legs up the last hill and made it to the half-way point where they gave us a scrunchy to prove we made it. Then, we headed back.
"At least all those uphills will be downhills on the way back." I gasped between breaths.
Those down hills were straight down, though, and it started to bother some of our groups' knees, especially, Inah. We were getting close to the end and us girls wanted to finish together so we were were determined to stick together. 
"I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die!" Danielle complained.
"We got this! We can do it!" my mom encouraged. 
"O, God, help us finish." someone else said muttered. 
"Oh, I don't think I can run anymore, my knees really hurt." cried Inah.
 "Come on, Inah! You can do it! Just a little longer! We're almost there! "I encouraged as I grabbed her hand.Yes, we were almost there. Almost! Soon we saw friends cheering us on as we the finish line came into sight. We ran, hand in hand, and stopped together over the finish line. 
"We did it!" I shouted. I walked over and received my medal and proudly put it around my neck. 
Benjamin had already made with Marcy a little behind. Soon, the two remaining boys brought up the rear, including my dad. 

Next of course was picture time! After taking pictures we slowly lowered ourselves onto the ground and drank lots of water and rested our weary limbs. 
The were some people talking loudly in Chinese on the microphones on the stage but I was concentrated on resting my tired legs. 
All of a sudden, Shin looked up and told me, "That's your name!" 
Then I heard them announce my friend's name. (Apparently they mispronounced my name so bad that I didn't even recognize it, haha!) 
Bewildered, we walked over to the stage area. They kind of lined us up, me in front of Danielle, and they asked where we were from and how to pronounce our names. We had absolutely no clue what was happening as they said something in microphone and read our running numbers. Finally, Shin translated: We were the third and fourth fastest runners in our category! We couldn't believe it! 
Before we had really processed this information, they ushered us on the platform and announced our name to every one (along with a bunch of Chinese). Then, two guys came and shook our hands, gave us a plaque (!!!) and a gift. I was thrilled! My first marathon I had placed third fastest in my category, received a plaque (even if it is in Chinese), got a running shirt, and medal to boot! I thanked God for how He had blessed me. 

The fact that all of us made it without any major injuries was a miracle. God was really working. My mom, just the day before could hardly walk! She had injured her food and it hurt so bad she didn't come to church. God healed her thought and she was able to run a half marathon the next morning without any difficulties. Inah also has a really hard time with running uphill, but she made it! Benjamin had brand-new running shoes that he was worried about blistering and hurting his feet, but they didn't. My dad and Danielle were really nervous about it as well, and they did just fine! God was definitely running with us. 

During the race, God brought a verse to mind: Acts 20:24, "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace."

I finished my physical race, the half marathon, but I still have another race to run and task to complete: to tell everyone of God's amazing love and grace. Will you join me in this race?