We Made it to Taiwan!!

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Father Francis with us at Jing Liao Church

Dear Friends and Family,

Hello, from Taiwan! Libby, Rebekah, and I landed safely here on Tuesday night (Jan 22nd) and were greeted by the bright city lights of Taipei, many smiles from the Henderson family, and our new friend Meng Xin. As we drove out of the city towards Wushulin, I was so grateful that the Lord has already provided us a new home, family, and friends here in Taiwan. As the days go by, I am continually moved by the hospitality and welcome we have had. Our home is beautiful. The convent and church grounds we live at had been abandoned for around 6 years, so there has been much preparation in getting ready our home.

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This is our amazing friend Meng Xin.

So far I’ve been using all the Chinese I know (hello and goodbye). Veronica talked with her friend at the language school, and we have reserved spots for next semester. I’m very excited to begin language school, so that I can talk to more people. Although, I have already learned how to order my already favorite tea and say that I am a Catholic Missionary.

Each day the Lord is softening my heart to this new place and the culture here that needs to hear about Jesus. Christianity is a simple and common concept in the United States, but here I am learning that is not so. We are learning about the Gods, and ancestors that a majority of the Taiwanese people worship. About the ideals of wealth, power, success, superstition, and education that govern the people’s lives. I know Jesus loves Taiwan and take great confidence in His desire for my brothers and sisters here. Jesus is our answer. He is salvation for all those who approach God through Him.

“Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, since He lives forever to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

This verse gives me confidence in the Lord, in Jesus, and how much He longs for His people to come home to His heart.

All in all, I am adjusting well to living in Taiwan, my new schedule, and family here. Veronica, Libby, Rebekah, and I are forming a “Triangle of Mercy” running team to practice training for a 5K. Yesterday on our run we were discussing serving the poor here in Taiwan when Veronica said, “The church is the poor in Taiwan.” This really resonated with my heart. The church is suffering in the form of not only a lack of resources, but also a lack of people. I’m so grateful the Lord sent us here to work alongside, Father Francis, Maria, Meng Xin, and the Henderson Family. I’m so grateful to see what He can and will do with our yes. Please please pray for the people of Taiwan. Pray for the salvation of their souls. That they may encounter and come to know Truth Himself.

Father wishes for this place to be a refuge of peace in Taiwan. A place where people can come to know Jesus Himself. Our wish is for Jesus’s little “Triangle of Mercy” here in Taiwan to be a place for “Pilgrims of Life” (those worn down by the world, outcasts, the lost and needy, especially those in need of hope, mercy, peace, love, and joy).
Jesus wants the nation of Taiwan, and so do we. We want it for Him!! Everything we do is for His Glory. Everything we do for love of our brothers and sisters here in Taiwan.

You are all in my prayers. Keep praying for this mission of love, for Jesus to be known in all our hearts, and for the nation of Taiwan!

Thank you Jesus for continually blessing me. Jesus You’re Beautiful.

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In His Abundant Mercy,
Madison Smith

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There’s No Fear in Love

Dear Friends and Family,

I have stuffed all my belongings into two pieces of luggage, and there are eight days till I move to Taiwan. Each time I say those words my stomach does a little somersault. I am so excited but at the same time nervous. Immediately , this quote comes to mind, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” I cannot deny that there is a certain amount of fear in moving across the country into this unfamiliar life of a missionary. This week I realized I need to embrace this fear. To accept it and recognize that this fear is my reminder of my need for Jesus; my reminder of my smallness, my humanness, and my reminder that I must cling more and more to Christ each day. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (John 4:18). His perfect love gives me peace amidst the chaos, light in the darkness, and strength in place of my weakness. It is His perfect love that has got me to this very moment. His perfect love that reminds me over and over again that Jesus is worth it. That this missionary cause is worth it, and that my life is worth and worthy of His cause.

In saying goodbye to my family and friends at home, and hello to my family and friends here in Louisiana I am reminded of all the blessings in my life. I am so moved by the love and support of my friends and family. In lieu of this all, the readings this week teach me what Christian living really is. It means to choose following Jesus above my own fallen nature and desires. It means accepting things for what they are and not what I’d prefer them to be. It means loving Christ first and foremost; Of listening for his voice and meditating on His word. To do the good, but sometimes hard things in life, like leaving behind loved ones and moving to Asia!!

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desires are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.” ( 1 John 2:15)

All this being said, I am ready to move to Taiwan. I’m ready to love, and serve, and bring the amazing gift of Jesus Christ to my brothers and sisters there. I am ready, knowing I have to die to self everyday. Knowing that above all I am being called to be radically in tune with the Holy Spirit. To listen to His prompting and His will. To choose CHRIST first; above everything else. No matter what the future holds, I’m confident in the love of Christ. I’m confident in His goodness. I’m confident that only with God as the center of my life is all this possible.

Jesus, You’re Beautiful!
I pray all of humanity draws nearer to the heart of Jesus in this new year. May we give Him our yes in the hard things. Above and before all; that is where our faith lies!!

In His Abundant Mercy,
Madison Smith

Thy Kingdom Come!!

¡Hola, mi familia y amigos! ¡Saludos desde Mexíco y paz en Jesús Christo!

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Playing with kids after bible study at Kilometer 64. Alison McConoughey is a current FMC missionary in General Cepeda, who has been ministering in this Rancho to help get the women out of prostitution.

I am finishing up my third week of training in Mexico, and wanted to share a quick update on how things are going.

As I begin to think about all I want to share with you, a verse from this weeks daily readings comes to mind that sums up what has been on my heart the last month, “for behold the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:21)

This is the truth the Father is revealing to my heart over and over again. The Kingdom of God is within me. He is within all of us. He dwells within us. He dwells inside my Mexican brothers and sisters. He dwells in the poor, the suffering, the oppressed. He is in those who don’t know Him; Those who reject Him. He is always with us, waiting for us to turn our thoughts to Him each day. What a consolation to know that Jesus in His almighty power and glory dwells within us?

St. Pope John Paul II said it best when He said that when we search for meaning, purpose, beauty, peace, and truth, we are really searching for Jesus.

“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”

When we search for these good things in life like happiness, beauty, greatness, and peace, I am again reminded that the Kingdom of God is in the midst of us. All we need to do is look within our own hearts for the love of Christ that dwells there. Peace Himself is in fact never more than an arms length away. So, I encourage you this week in the silence of your hearts to find the peace and “love that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:17). Look within and ask God to reveal Himself to you there. That is everlasting life. That is what St. Paul means when he says, “for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

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My letter telling me I’m being sent to Taiwan. I had to look up Taiwan on a map afterwards to see where it was. Haha!

Lastly, in other exciting news, while in Mexico, I found out that I am being sent to Taiwan on mission for the next couple years. I am very excited for this opportunity and challenge of sharing the Gospel with people who have never heard of Christ in Asia. As I know to be true though, the Lord lives and dwells even in those who don’t know of him. The task may seem daunting and impossible, but I trust in this truth,

“that through the workings of the spirit, there already exists in individuals and peoples an expectation, even if an unconscious one, of knowing the truth about God, about man, and about how we are to be set free from sin and death” (Mission of the Redeemer pg. 60).

It looks like my work is already cut out for me thanks to the Holy Spirit! But in all reality, I do take great courage knowing that I get to labor to fulfill the great commission and the Lord indeed wants to use me in my weakness to participate in the salvation of souls!

I am excited to soon be back in Kansas for the month of December, and then off to Taiwan in January!

Please pray for all of the missionaries getting ready to leave for their mission posts. You are all in my prayers.

Jesus, You’re beautiful.

All praise and glory to Christ our King!

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A sunset at a “Rachco” outside General Cepeda before our evening prayer service.

In His Abundant Mercy,                                                                                                             Madison Smith

Jesus Sanctified the Soil He Bled On!

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The Chapel here at Big Woods.

On Thursdays, everyone in training takes a day off from classes and chores to go into the Abbeville community to serve and minister to the people. It is quickly becoming one of the things I look most forward to. Each week, I am assigned to go to the Christian Service Center and volunteer during their weekly free Pregnancy Clinic. The Christian Service Center is run by the local Catholic church, and acts as a food pantry, free café, and bill assistance for the local community. On Thursdays though, they have begun a new program to help support pregnant mothers and their families.

Each Thursday, I am humbled and edified by the strength and resolve of these women we minister to. I get to talk with the mothers while they wait, play with their children, and most importantly pray with them. Many of them lack a support system, have no income, are living on food stamps, suffer from mental illness, are raising two other kids at home, are living in unsafe situations, and find themselves pregnant again. I know that I cannot begin to understand their situation, but I can allow their suffering and injustice to be mine. I can speak a message of hope and consolation to their hearts. I can share with them the one who is Healer of the brokenhearted, the sick, and the suffering. I know it is Jesus who can heal them. He can bring them courage, peace, safety, freedom, strength, and restore them to new life.

As for me, I get to be a friendly face, or smile that they don’t often get to see. I get to listen to them, to ask them questions and show them their dignity. I get to be compassion and understanding. Hope and support. I get to celebrate in their victories. I get to celebrate in the new life they are preparing to bring into the world. I get to congratulate them. To praise them. And most importantly, to love them.

These last couple weeks I have been keenly aware of the suffering around me both in the Abbeville community and in my fellow ‘missionaries in training’. While preparing for missions, I‘ve been praying that the Lord will increase the capacity of my heart to love and give me an insatiable zeal for souls. That He might give great compassion and a heart that breaks for my fellow man. Already now, I think He has began answering this prayer.

However, at the same time that my eyes are being opened and heart is growing, doubt has found a way of sneaking in. I found myself in prayer this week asking God why. Why do these woman suffer in this way? Why are my own new friends and family suffering and downtrodden? Why is following you so hard at times? Why does it hurt to love? Why is life so messy?

And as I sat in the chapel staring at the cross I got my answer.

Jesus’s crucifixion was messy. Jesus left a messy trail of blood and sweat all the way to Calvary…but death did not overcome Him, and He Sanctified the soil He bled on!

If He is our example, then we too are called to live this messy life with Him and for Him. We are called in blood, sweat, and tears to love so deeply and radically that the soil we walk on is sanctified. What a call! What a call for the whole Body of Christ.

Jesus Christ crucified is our hope, strength, and freedom. Let us cling tightly to His promise of everlasting life; to hope in the days where there will be no more pain and suffering. Let us carry our crosses all the way to heaven, not afraid of the mess, not afraid to let others see us, and not afraid to get dirty helping our fellow brothers and sisters out.

Jesus, you are beautiful.                                                                                                                  Life with you is a beautiful messy adventure!

 

In Abundant Mercy,

Madison Smith

 

Sponges, Barnacles, and Oven Mitts!

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This week I resigned myself to my most favorite state of being…“living in sponge-like eagerness ready to absorb any knowledge the Lord wants to send my way.”

Every day I have so much to learn. From the Lord, from the brothers and sisters who surround me, and from all the classes, teaching workshops, bible studies, book studies, and small groups we participate in each day. I am saturated in Truth Himself, in Love, and completely and utterly convicted of the necessity of missions.

The past three weeks has been a whirlwind of transitions, change, learning, and growing. Amidst all of this, it is easy for me to doubt that I am capable of the great task at hand. But the truth is, I’m not. I am far too weak, prideful, and full of fear. However, praise God, that in my inability I am better suited to open my heart to the grace and strength He will work through me. My neediness is His hope, grace, and strength come alive; a simple testament to His Almighty Goodness.

Thankfully, this week I have been reminded so many times of the importance and urgent need for evangelization. This realization turns my fearful, “I can’t do this” into a convicted “I MUST DO THIS!” In St. Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Mission of the Redeemer, the saint reminds us that our church is missionary in nature. When Jesus sent his apostles out and founded the church, He said, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation!” (Mark 16:15) Our response to encountering the Love of the Father and the Freedom and Hope found in the true person of Jesus Christ, should be to go and share this great news! How sad to think of the countless number of souls who are desperately longing for these things; belonging, love, hope, and freedom. And we have the answer. I have the answer, and He even has a name. Jesus is our answer, and I must share this!!!

One of my favorite memories from the week happened during a daily mass I was able to attend on Friday. The church Mary Magdalene in Abbeville, is so incredibly beautiful, and if I can find a ride who is willing to get up and go, The 6:30AM mass is my favorite way to start the day. This Friday, Father Michael gave a beautiful homily about the spiritual life and how there are always times of consolation and desolation, but in the end, as long as we are planted firmly in the Lord, we can weather the storms and struggles of life. As I thought about this, the Psalm we just read came to mind, “Blessed be the Lord, MY ROCK.” At this moment, a light bulb went off in my head…barnacles. That is what I want to be! A little barnacle holding fast to The Rock, who is our Lord and Jesus Christ. Maybe this isn’t the message the priest was trying to convey, but at 6:45AM this is what the Lord was inspiring in my heart, and I am so grateful that the Lord knows me so well, that He speaks to my heart in little simple analogies. I cannot wait to be a little missionary barnacle and pray that the surface of our Infinite Rock is abundantly filled and crowded with more barnacles, more souls, and more followers and believers seeking after His own heart!

Jesus loves me when I’m a sponge, He loves me when I want to be a barnacle, and He even loves me when I dance in the kitchen with oven mitts for hands (this tends to happen on occasion). He loves me when I doubt His goodness. He loves me when I struggle to accept His mercy. He loves me when I’m tired or grouchy. He loves me, not for the things I do, but for who I am. For the mere reason and fact that I exist. What more could I need? What more could I ask for?

The world often tells us to strive for perfection; that we need to be and act a certain way. But Jesus wants us to be the person he created us to be. In all our uniqueness and imperfections, He longs for us to come back to Him just as we are!!

May God remind you this week of your beautiful uniqueness and His passionate and reckless love for you!!

Jesus, you’re beautiful!

 

In His Abundant Mercy,

Madison Smith

 

Are You Thirsty?

Friends and Family,

Another week of Intake has come and gone, and once again I stand in awe at glory and goodness of God. As I’m writing this, the song “Wonder” has popped into my head.

“May we never lose our wonder,                                                                                                  wide-eyed and mystified,                                                                                                                may we be just like a child,                                                                                                          staring at the beauty of our King.”

It was a whirlwind of a week that was filled with confidence, doubt, laughter, tears, conviction, truth, mercy, beauty, brokenness, wonder, and so much joy! Jesus, truly you are beautiful!

_MG_7262.jpg(This is my friend and fellow missionary Libby embracing me in a warm hug. The community of women here is amazing, and I am so grateful for my sisters in Christ who challenge and call me higher each day!)

This week commenced with a three-day inner healing retreat. Under the guide and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we spent three days delving deep into our hearts. We discussed how so often our distorted and broken view of wordly love damages our view of God’s love and our relationship with Him. God’s unconditional “no matter what love” isn’t based on the things we do or do not do, but instead flows from our inherent dignity and worth as heirs and children of God. This is not always an easy concept to grasp, but after this week I am convinced that we owe it to ourselves to call out the lies we are believing and to claim His victory and love as our own.

In a society that is addicted to pain-killing and quick fixes, satan entices us to fill our innate human longings with ungodly things. The facts are there: depression rates, our obsession/addictions to drugs, sex, television, alcohol, porn, power and money show how our hedonistic cultural views promise false happiness that ultimately leaves us searching for more. We are thirsty for love, belonging, appreciation, safety, worth, and uniqueness. We are thirsty for these good things, and it is time we turn to Goodness Himself for the answers. Jesus is Freedom, Truth, Happiness, Purpose, the Way, and Life Himself. He is Love, Belonging, Safety, Worth, and Appreciation.

The question the Lord asked me at the end of the week was simple,

“Are you Thirsty?” Do you want my mercy and forgiveness? Do you want My Love over the love and pleasure of the world?

It seems like a pretty straight forward question, but I realized that in order to more fully embrace all that the Lord desires to give me, I have to swallow my own pride and admit that I can’t do things on my own. It was only then could I give a heartfelt cry, “Yes, Lord I am so thirsty for you. I want you. I surrender whatever control I believed myself to possess. I give you alone sovereign rule over my life!”

So I challenge you all to allow Him to ask you this same question too. Are You Thirsty? I encourage you to kneel before our Lord and Savior and beg for a drink of His life-giving water. You won’t regret it!

He already thirsts for you! I pray that each day your hearts thirst for Him more and more!

Please continue to keep all of us here in your prayers as we continue to learn, love, and grow together. Lord God, we praise you and glorify your name.

In His Abundant Mercy,

Madison Smith

When He Reigns, He Pours!

Friends and Family,

It has rained everyday since coming down here, but what has stuck with me more than any of the mosquito bites or humidity, is the incessant raining down of the Spirit upon the time we have already spent here.

Our days have been filled with talks, orientation, cooking, cleaning, singing praise and worship, prayer, getting to know everyone, and plenty of sleep. Here at Intake (training), there are 6 families (with a combined total of 31 children), 13 single women, and 4 single men. Through their beautiful witness of love and sacrifice I am learning to embrace the chaos and messiness of life.

_MG_7008(Our main meeting space in the Big House)

Out in the country you’ll find our diverse group living in a hodge-podge of trailers and houses. This community of love, messiness, and Jesus is called “Big Woods”, which I’m sure is no coincidence at all, to the “Big Hearts” that inhabit it. I have already experienced great southern hospitality by the families and teams living here, who have graciously welcomed us and are teaching us each day.

Amidst it all, there is no lack of leisure and fun. We have eaten alligator sauce picante, danced to live Cajun music, and even had a pool party in the rain.

I’m so excited to be here; to grow more and more each day, and to become a missionary after His own heart. Each day, I am being challenged to live intentionally in the love of God; to let His love be the foundation of my life, and the foundation of everything I do. It is easy for me to loose conviction in this truth and often, I am quick to forget of the Father’s great love for me. But I gaze up at Him in the Tabernacle, on the cross, and in the beauty of creation, and my heart melts. He utters His voice in scripture and the whole earth melts. (Psalm 46:6) The walls I put up. My pride and perfectionism. Any façade or strength I believe myself to possess melts away, and I sit content in my weakness, and His Glory, His Goodness, and His Love.

Just as the waters rain down upon us each day, God’s glory, mercy, and love reign down upon us all. Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, reigns in our hearts. He reigns in this place.

Thank you for all of your love, prayers, and support.  I love and miss you all. At the end of the day, stay close to the Heart of Jesus, for that is where I hope to be.

In His Abundant Mercy,

Madison Smith