It was 11 o'clock at night in Hong Kong airport. Amy and I with the three kids were stuck in a plane, which was stuck at the gate, waiting for another plane stuck on the runway. Were we going to get to Taiwan?
At sunrise that morning we had left our home in Sydney. We arrived at Sydney airport only to find out that the plane was delayed. So when our plane landed in Hong Kong we had to run for our connecting flight to Taiwan.
I carried our one-year-old under my armpit like a rugby ball. Our two three-year-old twins shuffled along. They were probably singing. And my wife had all sorts of paraphernalia dangling off her shoulders.
We just made it onto the plane. But then, we were stuck in a plane, which was stuck at the gate, waiting.
That was six years ago.
Eventually we did make it to Taiwan. We spent one month on a short term mission trip to see if God wanted us to do this “overseas thing.”
Previous tries at short-term mission
Although it seemed like we would never get to Taiwan for this short trip, there were other short term mission trips that we didn't even make it to.
When I was in uni, I had applied to go on a soccer missions trip to Thailand. But my exams clashed that year so I thought I'd just go the next year.
The next year came. But my passport was about to expire. And because I held a foreign passport at the time, the passport office couldn't guarantee that I would get my new passport in time. So I didn't go.
Later on, after Amy and I got married, we wanted to go on a short term trip to see what cross-cultural gospel work was like. We applied to go on a trip to Thailand. But Amy got pregnant with our twin girls. So we didn't go.
Eventually, after we had our third child, we went on a short term trip to Taiwan. As a family.
You'd think that there would be less barriers going on a short term trip without kids. But the only short term trip we have ever been on was to Taiwan. With the kids. Heck, we still haven't been to Thailand.
The one month trip really helped us see how many things in our lives had been orchestrated by God to lead us to Taiwan.
I like to think of our journey to Taiwan as a divine coincidence.
As we were deciding about whether we should come to Taiwan long-term, I asked my mum what she thought.
She said, “Of course I want you close by, but if God wants you to go, what can we do?”
So we followed God's guidance in paving the way for us to come to Taiwan.
We're currently in Taiwan with the mission agency OMF International. We live in Southern Taiwan doing church planting among the working class. And we now have four kids.
Mission with kids?
Of course we had to consider the challenges our kids might face in moving countries. They had to learn a new culture, a new language and make new friends. They had to leave their grandparents, throw away toys and leave old friends.
But in many ways, Taiwan is an easy place to live in. Taiwan has a high standard of living, health care is very good and the education system is probably better than in Australia.
Our kids also gain a lot from coming to Taiwan, like being multilingual and having both an insider and outsider's view of the cultures they have lived in. Street food in Taiwan is also pretty alright.
I guess you could write an entire thesis on the advantages and disadvantages of moving your children overseas.
But if someone were to ask us, “Why did you become missionaries even though it would impact your kids?”
We would say, “Because God wants them here.”
And perhaps Amy and I wouldn't be missionaries at all if it weren't for the kids.