All throughout preparations for the trip and through the VGM camps, I kept asking myself, “Why the heck am I here?” Why do I have to stress about getting these things done right now? Why am I dealing with these rowdy kids all day? And when we were asked to share why we were going on the trip multiple times, I gave a good ol’ Sunday School answer. I didn’t even know why I was going myself in the first place. ‘Oh, it’ll be a good experience.’ or ‘I’ll be spreading the love of God! WooOooOoOo!’ Both plausible answers at the time, and two things that I noticed to become reality by the end of the trip, but not exactly the entire truth behind my motives.
I guess I knew all along in the back of my mind why I came. Why I spent so much time and energy into this trip. I wanted it to take up my time – to keep me busy. Yeah, not the most glorious of answers. I realize this sounds horribly vague, but I’ll tell you all about the story behind it if you ask me. But anyway, that’s why I went on the trip.
And as the departure date was approaching, I prayed that I would find God in the process of it all. That somewhere in Taiwan, He would be there, and I would find Him. You see, sometime in February, I though He had thrown me into the fire and left me, but in reality, I had run away from Him. I began feeling more and more distant from God, and for some silly reason, I thought being closer to the church would mean being closer to God (not true btw). Anyway, so when the opportunity to sign up for missions came, I jumped at the chance. It was like a big, fat arrow with lights pointing to a possibility to be with Him again – To find that love and joy that kept me breathing.
(Mission trip happens.)
So by the end of the trip, God had answered my prayers. I found Him. And I realize that I would never want to let go again. He was pretty much standing in front of me the entire time, but you know how we stubborn and confused sheep are. You know, I’m really not entirely sure when I had found Him or came to that realization, but I could really care less as to when I did, because I know that I did in the end. -insert smiley here-
Reflection? [[Click to view entire post]] -
NOTE: I wrote this two days ago but then I didn’t finish it until today because halfway through writing it I got really annoyed and I stopped writing -_- ALSO, there are a lot of typos because I didn’t have my glasses on because they were in another room and I’m too lazy to fix them.
And so the HOC5 2011 VGM missions trip comes to an end today. We each depart for our own destinations in a few short hours, whether it be home, other places in Taipei or Cambodia. We carry with us new bonds formed through the love of Jesus Christ, memories, pictures, new friendships and the occasional souvenir.
Our lifelong mission is, however, just beginning. We who are servants of Jesus Christ die everyday to live for Him. By no means is this the End, but rather the end of another short chapter.
We thank you, our followers, for faithfully praying for us, reading our posts and keeping up with what we’ve been experiencing in Taiwan. We pray that you were encouraged, entertained or touched in some way by our posts and that our testimonies, the ones which we will bring back, will serve to further God’s glory.
Stay tuned for reflection posts, pictures and videos.
The other day as the final bell rang for the kids to be released I felt a wave of relief. I walked out of the classroom, frustrated and tired after an altogether bad day, but still had to keep a slightly happy look on my face because some of my kids were still running around. I stood in the hallway on the second floor, looking down at some kids on the first floor talking with each other. It was one of those moments where I really didn’t know WHAT I felt. I wanted to be there for the kids, but at the same time I wanted to run far far away from them. I had no idea how I was going to get through to these kids so that they would open up to me. In fact, I had no idea how I was even going to do to get them to even LISTEN to me to begin with. In that moment, I thought to myself “I really just need to pray.” But my mind was scattered that I had no idea exactly WHAT I was praying for. So I went with the only thing that was repeating loud and clear in my head. “Dear God. HELP. MEEEEE.” It wasn’t much, but I was hoping that it would somehow bring my patience back and help the frustration I felt at that moment go away. As I walked down towards the street, it began to rain. I looked around to see if anyone was ready to walk back to the church with me, but there was no one but students. I started off on my own, a little scared that I might SOMEHOW get attacked in broad daylight in the middle of the street (Yeah…these are the kinds of things I think about…). As I crossed the street, I somehow slowly began to forget everything that had happened that day. I began to completely focus on how pleasing my walk was. It was raining, but not too hard, and there was no one else, so I could take my time and really look around at my surroundings. I don’t know why, but by the time I got back to the church, I was in a really good mood, and all I could think about was how nice my walk was. It wasn’t a very long walk, and there isn’t anything particularly spectacular about the things surrounding the Guo Gou middle school and church, but somehow I managed to go about the rest of the day in a good mood. Yeah…just felt like sharing that…
Thank God for the little things.
God is good. God is great. And God is everywhere; His overwhelming presence blankets the world. He is the same, no matter where we go.
Today I went tan-fang-ing (visiting the homes of the kids) with my group. We walked with one of my students to her house, a mile or so away from the school. The walk was leisurely but the most outstanding aspect of the walk involved the environment. I’ll do my best to explain it.
As we walked away from more urban areas with colorful temples, we found ourselves in a place straight out of a pro-poverty magazine. Maybe not as impoverished, but just as picturesque. The fencing of brick surrounding the darkened, worn-down brick and splintering wooden houses were crumbling into mounds of reddish rubble. In more urban areas tall apartments of dirty concrete seemed as though they were patched together, painted with contrasting colors. Fruit trees and vegetable plants grew unchecked at each house. At one location, a flimsy-looking house stood at the embankment of a small lake surrounded by wind-blown wild grass. A miniature dock was created from trash and a single crate. Across from us, in the grass, an old woman squatted, fanning a fire. The smoke billowed to our right in the wind.
It was there, facing the wind, gazing at the endless sky that I could almost hear God whispering from the breeze, “I am here also.”
To hear Him, to feel Him in a place foreign in every possible aspect providedme with reassured confidence and boldness. Thank God for His faithfulness.
Today was our second to last day of camp. I also believe that it was the hardest for the majority of our team. The kids these week are completely different than last weeks. This week we’ve been having issues with kids hitting each other, shouting, and starting fights. And even though tomorrow is the last day, I still don’t think that I’ve found the right way to reach out to these kids. I spent most of the day being frustrated and confused and that obviously didn’t do much of anything. Please pray for our team and for these kids. Pray that God would reveal to us a way to break down the walls that some of these kids have put up and a way to get to know them on a deeper level. Pray that they would keep open hearts and that the love we have been given will show through our actions and that they would eventually understand where this love comes from.
Sorry this post is kind of jumbled. It’s hot and dark in this room :(
Just wanted to add some praise and prayer requests to Erin’s post!
God has been faithfully answering our prayers in the following areas:
1. One of my kids who has a background in temple worship and possibly spirit possession (in essence a background filled with darkness) was extremely disobedient yesterday. After much prayer, he showed a lot of signs of improvement today and even prayed for our meal. Praise God.
2. One of Kevin’s kids had a lot of trouble with getting into fights and God gave Kevin and his group the wisdom of how to deal with it over the course of two days. Praise God.
3. Almost all of the kids in the groups are opening up. Although they are pretty rambunctious and wild, they are happy and becoming more and more open to God’s love. Most groups have had gospel-related talks with their kids as well. Praise God.
4. God is keep most of us healthy and we have been getting more sleep these last few days. Praise God.
5. The weather has been cool and comfortable. Praise God.
Prayer requests (sorry if they are repeats of Erin’s):
1. That God will continue to heal those of us who may have sickness, such as Fisher who got pink eye today and Kevin who had a fever recently as well as various individuals who have sore throats.
2. That God will continue to reveal Himself and His love to the kids.
3. That God will give us energy and patience to deal with the rambunctiousness of the kids and control them.
4. That God will give us the wisdom to know how to deal with each and every situation.
Hey guys, as I’m now in Shanghai and unfortunately away from the rest of the missions team, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the trip.
God is so faithful. We were met with a good amount of setbacks. Whether regarding drama with other coworkers, the crazy heat, or just basic health needs, He was always there. He was always there to watch out for us, and to take care of our every need.
During VBS week, we met every day and practiced our skits and such, and finally decided to do the Everything skit on the last day of the camp. It turned out to be extremely hard for our team to focus on the skit and to ultimately make it as good as impacting as we hoped it to be. When we got to Taiwan, we were slammed with many different tasks and were just exhausted everyday to the point that we weren’t even able to practice the Everything skit at all. We finally got to practice on the day before we were to perform the skit, and everyone focused. God helped all of us realize how important this skit was going to be, and what kind of a role it was to play in the hearts of the coworkers but most importantly in the hearts of the kids.
Finally the time to perform the skit came. We all knelt down in a circle and prayed for the skit. That it would move the kids, and that it would really show how much our Lord and Savior really loves each and one of them. As our team went on to perform, I went back and stood in the back to watch. They really surpassed any expectation that I had. I sat in the back and could not help but cry tears of joy. I looked around and watched countless coworkers wiping their tears, and students doing the same. God really is faithful and helped make the Everything skit into something that He wanted it to be. I realized that I really had no control over the skit at all. Even though I was the one who messed around with the little details of the skit, those details don’t even matter. The ultimate meaning of the skit is to show everyone how much God really loves us. I mean, he is willing to stand in the face of all of the world’s temptations and sin just so that we don’t get hurt by it at all.
After the activities that were planned for the last day, all of the coworkers let loose. All of us danced with the Taiwanese coworkers just because we really had the joy of the Lord. It was a time that we let loose and just really enjoyed each other’s company. I have never in my life danced because I was just so joyful; this is a memory that I will cherish forever.
It’s been an amazing trip. We each met awesome Taiwanese coworkers, and leaving them was extremely tough. But leaving them was inevitable. I am now in Shanghai with my family, and the rest of the team is still in Taiwan at their second camp. I’m extremely sad that I’m not with them anymore, but I will continue to pray for them. I hope that you guys back at home will too. God is good, and has always and will always be faithful. This missions trip has been an awesome reminder of really how great our God is. Keep it up team!
Today I came to the realization on what I am on this missions trip. I was visiting one of my kid’s houses in my group, and it was in a ver rural area, with farms and small huts. It was hot, at around 95 degrees, I was sweating heavily, and flies were everywhere. I was also hungry, exhausted, dehydrated, weary, and many other unpleasant feelings. I was had the desire to go back home to America. As I chatted with my group’s family, I asked myself why I was there talking to them. I was in the middle of nowhere, on the other side of the earth, talking to a family I didn’t even know, while I was sweating like never before. It would almost not make sense for many people. I thought about how much fun my kids had that day, and then it hit me. I wasn’t in Taiwan for myself, but I was there solely for the kids. My personal comfort was pretty much at zero, but it didn’t matter. I came to serve others, not to give myself a leisurely vacation. I was there to serve the kids and make them happy and open doors by sharing the Good News with them. Nothing else about myself mattered. I had no reason to complain afterwards.
1 Peter 1:12