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Saturday, September 22, 2012

When you run out of words

As I write this blog, I'm trying my best to block out the sounds of Thai karaoke that echoes only two blocks away from the Thai church. Mind you, singing and praising to the Lord is great. All for it. Just not at a level so amplified the whole soi can hear you. Seriously, they can go on for hours...well after the sun has set. So, forgive me for any incoherent rambling as my thoughts are having to compete with loud music.

I love developments, don't you? They add spice to your life so it doesn't stay boring. In all honesty, some developments we love and some we hate, but that's what life needs to move forward--developments. This past week, I was bed-ridden because of the flu. I was out of work for four days and in the bed for three. The last time I had the flu was junior year of high school, but man the coughing, sore throat, fever and aches were all too familiar sensations that my body did not want to welcome back. I've pretty much returned to normal, with the exception of some slight coughing and mucus membranes that want out of my body.

The mission held a farewell/welcome party this past Thursday. There was lots of food and yummy pumpkin pie. Yum yum yum. All the admin was there and everyone who worked for the language school was invited to attend. They welcomed me and gave a tribute to the secretary of the mission who had worked here for 26 years. I say "the secretary" to denote the fact that she was the secretary of the mission president, so I guess the main one. Because there is an executive secretary, a.k.a. the vice president, who also has a secretary of his own.

I was in awe of her service and dedication. She gave a speech. She started getting teary-eyed and everyone took pictures. I didn't know her, but I'm sure her absence will be felt. The moment was a little bittersweet for me because, although I appreciated the mission's efforts to welcome me and I myself appreciated the secretary, I felt like I was in a place where I didn't belong. It's like, yes, I am here and will be here for a while. At the same time though, this is not my home. I don't fit in with this group of people. I felt like an alien, and it's not a great feeling to have. Oh my, the ups and downs of being a missionary. During our AVS orientation, one of our main speakers was talking about the "ouches" you'll experience going back home, things like how you can't quite connect to your friends the same way you used to and just how life in general will move on without you. I'm kind of experiencing that here. Life does indeed go on without you, and sometimes you want it to stop and wait for you to get on. Recently, I've been hit with news and friends and family members who are facing dire health problems, some who have died. That's a big ouch. For your loved ones to go through such pain and you're thousands upon thousands of miles away.

In other recent developments, I had been contemplating whether I should return home after I finish out my contract or if I should stay here another year. There was much internal debate going on, a lot of weighing of pros and cons. But when it got down to the nitty-gritty, I had to listen to the voice of God. And the voice of God was saying He wanted me to go back home. Would you miss me if I stayed another year? ;) I kept thinking to myself, "Why do I have to go back? It would feel like taking a step backwards instead of moving forward." But then, I really had to ask myself, are you wanting to stay here because you're running away from something, or is it because you truly want to do the Lord's work? And if you do want to do the Lord's work, is this where He's wanting you to be? I truly want to serve God, but it turns out that He has more plans for me still in the U.S. of A. Oh, just walk with God. Walk with God. Keep your eyes focused on Him. Remember, the mission field is not a haven. You can't run away from your problems. You have to face them because they will always be there...waiting for you. That's all for this week. Check out the links below. The first one is a blog written by another SM in Thailand. I was really impressed with his first entry. God has truly been using and transforming him. The second link is a vlog created by an SM friend in the Philippines.

Peace to all and much love.

Sawadee ka!


Aaron's blog

Melissa's vlog

Friday, September 14, 2012

Accepting the call

 A year ago, I found myself at the beginning stages of applying to serve as a student missionary in Thailand for ten months. Fast forward one year, I am no longer in the beginning stages of anything. I feel like I'm past the initial transitioning process and am set on the journey ahead. I am truly in the thick of things; matters of life are appearing to be more complicated and clear black and white lines I once thought were distinct are blurring together. But no fear, dear readers. It is all part of the learning process.

Last week, I attended my official orientation training. Somewhat delayed I know, but nonetheless I left those sessions with much gained. I learned quite a bit from our speakers and I have made a new family in Thailand, our little AVS family. Something I wished I had grasped back home is the fact that we really can't do it alone. We need the support of fellow believers. That mindset, that thinking, has been something I am trying to apply to my daily life. I hope that you can also understand this idea and take it to heart.

I was touched by a blog entry that a fellow sm in Thailand wrote just this week. He's really learned a lot since starting his mission, and it sounds like he also took so much from the orientation meetings. I felt so inspired by his honesty and the way God is using him here in this country that is so in need of God. I guess I share some of the feelings he's expressed, and some of his thoughts really struck a chord with me. He said he wasn't the same person he was before he left. Granted, once you're out on the mission field you do change, but it's something you have to experience; it's not just brain knowledge.

Dear readers, I am changing, and that is a good thing. I don't want to go back to the life I knew before. He is truly changing my heart, and I am so grateful for that. There is another sm I met during orientation and she recently renewed her AVS contract for another year. She truly wants to do the Lord's work, and that's where I want to be--serving the Lord. I've been thinking about my options after finishing this work in Thailand. I'm in a unique position in that I have a degree, so I don't have to go back to school and have more time to serve, if I wanted. Naturally, because of the nature of being an sm, most student missionaries are unable to do that. I'm not sure where I'll be come May 2013. Only God knows. I just need to have faith...and patience. As it says in the Word: "Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And he shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!" (Psalm 27:14).

I hope you are well and happy. Many blessings to you all and have a blessed Sabbath. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

How vulnerable are you allowing yourself to be?

Hello all! Thanks for taking the time to read this blog. I know many of you have very busy lives, so I'm grateful for the few minutes or so you take to read these words. I'm writing early because I'll be having a four-day orientation starting Wednesday afternoon. The following three days will be all day, so I won't have the time to blog on Friday. It's actually quite funny, because when I saw the email regarding our orientation schedule I thought, orientation for what? Um yeah, I got here in July and they're just now scheduling orientation for all the SMs and AVS people. Oh well. At least I'll get to see what the other SMs are up to. It'll be nice to catch up with them.

It would be nice to catch up with you guys too. If you're on Skype or FaceTime, message me your contact info and maybe we can schedule a date. ;)

In regards to this week's title, I don't feel like I've truly been opening myself up to God, completely. You would think that missionary prototypes have it all figured out, that they're already spiritual warriors and are in tune with God. At least, that's what I thought of missionaries when I was younger. I always thought that their faith didn't waiver. The truth is, being a missionary just means that you're in that much "higher" of a position. People in your mission field (and more importantly God) expect a whole lot more from you. You can't just go out and do whatever you want. That might sound contradictory to what being a missionary is all about, but you'd be surprised at the number of people who lose sight of their mission and start living comfortably. But for most missionaries, we still struggle. At the end of the day, we don't have it all figured out. I am all too human and have my own weaknesses and vices that I have to surrender to God. There are times when I feel so broken and I can't do anything on my own anymore. But that's what God likes. He doesn't want us to do it on our own. At times when I get too caught up in myself I hear God's still, yet powerful voice saying to me, "Shekaina, it's not about you. So get over yourself." We need to get over ourselves and stop living in our little heads. God can't work miracles in and through us if we're worrying about how a situation is going to affect us. I guess I'm learning that even when the scary/uncertain parts come my way, I have to be willing to fall and let God carry me through.

I was listening to a familiar song this morning, and I was moved. I first heard this song back home through a local radio station and it is that much more meaningful to me because I believe that God uses radio as one of His ministries. I mean, do you not believe that God can reach someone millions of miles away using only a radio? It's amazing. The song's lyrics chronicled a girl's journey with God, how He was always with her despite the tough times. You hear people talk about God's love for us, but it hit me hard and resonated with me in such a way that you can only experience when God is personally calling out to you. We have a God who is desperately in love with us, relentlessly pursuing us. And we don't even deserve it. If you think about Jesus' story it's pretty incredible-- that he took on human flesh and was crucified to save us. Our human minds cannot even fathom what all of that means. It's too great and wonderful. My hope for you is that you won't be afraid to let God in, completely in. I'll probably have a few moments during this week where I forget that, but there's always hope. I'll be praying for you.

Much love,