I Love Taiwan Mission Camp 2016: Robin Downie

On the 28 of June I set off for Taiwan on behalf of the Church of Scotland to work with the Taiwan Presbyterian church. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew it would be an experience to remember.

Before boarding my flight I was looking forward to meeting new people, being challenged as a Christian, being immersed in another culture, worshiping and celebrating God with others from all over the world. I always see travelling as a challenge through the experiences you go through and the cultures you experience which would hopefully develop and change me as a character.

The first thing that hit me as I walked out of the airport in Taiwan was the thick smell of pollution and the thick heat of the climate. Having being met by the several locals who were all around my own age we crammed into an old and small mini bus and headed into the centre of Taipei, the capital. After 30 minutes of driving we stopped for a traditional Taiwanese meal – McDonalds. Finally after over an hour of driving we arrived at the base of the ILT training camp situated on one of the hills of Taipei. As I entered the building and was greeted by around 200 others many faces turned and many mouths dropped not sure what was going on I soon found out that for many this was first time they had seen a white ginger boy before. Despite there being many people from other parts of the world – New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Korea etc nearly all of them spoke at least a little mandarin and had were in some way had a relation or connection already with Taiwan.

When morning arose I woke up ready to try some local cuisine. To my horror I found my breakfast was a large dead fish and a bowl of yummy rice. After spending a good 20 minutes unsuccessfully trying to eat my breakfast with a pair of chop sticks while everyone else watched in either sympathy or hummer. Fortunately the food rapidly improved after the fish which was a relief.

One of the highlights for sure was spending time worshiping with others and singing familiar songs but in different languages. Engaging and sharing Christian experiences with others is always an honour. One of the actives we were sent to do in groups was to go out into the streets of Taipei and hand out cards which would say ‘Jesus loves you’ or quote a small passage of scripture while holding a ‘free hugs’ sign. Whilst doing this we experienced some local cuisine some tasty and some more interesting foods.

After few more days of training we were deployed in groups of 5 to churches all over Taiwan I headed to the south/west of Taiwan where we worked with locals ;to run a summer camp. We enjoyed telling them about our home countries and sharing the good news of Christ with up to 150 children. We also enjoyed teaching them crafts and having a huge water fight. During our free time we experienced some of the delicious Taiwanese seafood and playing basketball against the locals.

After the summer camp we invited all children to the church service on Sunday. Out of the 150, 123 came to church, many for the first time. God’s power is amazing!

Overall I had an absolute incredible 2 weeks in Taiwan. It was an intense and challenging experience but one I thoroughly enjoyed. I have learnt many things about other cultures and experienced many different styles of worship. Since returning home I have and am still trying to show others the energetic style of worship that they have in Taiwan. I have also proceeded to use the leadership skills I learnt in Taiwan by doing talks about my trip. Since returning I have already done 5 presentations about my time in Taiwan and my other summer adventures. I’m looking forward to using the skills have learnt and developed at my local Holliday club and other Christian events and youth groups. One of the great experiences of the trip is the friendships you make and I am still in contact with many people who I met in Taiwan and hope to keep in contact and maybe meet up with some again in Scotland or someplace else.

The ILT mission trip is a great chance to be challenged and build yourself up as a Christian and I would thoroughly recommend this trip or getting involved in another mission trip to enjoy similar experiences and challenges that I have encountered.