In my passport, I have a visa. It’s marked type “ED,” for “Education.” When I applied, what I planned to do in Thailand didn’t entirely fit the category, but it was the nearest fit – going with the short-term team from San Diego Christian College for 16 days of jungle-village work projects, an “internship” for ITDP in June (but not for credit or even with a syllabus), and in July getting my TESOL certification at a Cambridge CELTA school.
But my time here has turned into something that the visa approver at the Thai consulate, nor myself, ever expected “ED” would come to mean to my stay here – I am being educated in God’s school. God is teaching me many, many things in a practical, eclectic school He built all of His own.
Things are going well with this education, but not without challenges. For example:
- I’m learning how difficult cross-cultural missions really are, but also its rewards and worthiness of making it a career. I miss my good friends and family back in the states, deal with illness, fatigue, miscommunication, language barriers, bad smells, etc. But the eternal value and good of what does happen here is breathtaking. God must be honored for Who He is among people who do not know Him, and His love is shown to the lost through missions so they may believe in Him.
- How foolish worry and anxiety can be. Things I have worried about extensively while over here have come to nothing. Statistically, most of what people worry about never happens, but beyond that, for the Christian who is held in the hands of God, even what does happen should not cause anxiety, but a greater dependence on our God who is more than strong enough to take care of it.
- Leadership! I don’t think anyone truly knows how to lead unless they do it. Even the “born leaders” out there (of which I am certainly not), need to experience leading to know what it is like and how to do lead and understand your people better. I had a leadership role on the SDCC team, and it was a much more in-depth and demanding role than I had been in before. I knew how it is vital to put those your leading first and serve them rather than serving self. I got to experience how important this servant-leadershp is! Learned my strengths and weaknesses during this time.
- How real poverty is. The areas we have been in are poor. I have never seen poverty like some of the areas I have seen, especially when we were in the village of Mae Long Thai – Low or zero-income subsistence farming, illness, lack of clothing even. And God loves them and desires they be helped. “The Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor.” (Psalm 140.12).
I am learning many other things – about God, missions, myself (which is scary), Asia as a mission field, the hilltribes, agriculture… God is a good teacher. I hope, while I’m in Thailand and for all my life, to be a good learner, a disciple of Him. That’s the whole point anyway, isn’t it?