I didn’t forget about this! Sorry I’m so late… combination of jet lag + laziness + processing time But I came back home a little over a week ago! It’s been nice to take some time to relax and reflect by myself and with the missions org (which is still ongoing, there’s some debriefing and financial things to finish up). This is probably going to be my last update, so it’s kind of a long one, even for me… whoops
The Last Week of the Trip
I think the last update I sent was about the second week of the trip. The third week ended up being very different from the first two. A small short-term missions team from a church in the States (it’s called Westover Church in North Carolina) flew in for our last week to run an ESL camp for some students from a Christian school for refugees. They basically absorbed Laura Beth and I into their team for our last week; we helped them run their camp and got to tag along for their tourist activities too.
The camp itself was very different from teaching classes at the other school. Our team, the students, and their teachers were all living in the same building, and there was a lot of time to get to know the students through small group English lessons and other activities. The students were aged 18-27, with most of them hovering around 18-21, so the young people on our team were able to connect with most of the students as friends. A few were more closed off, but most of them were pretty willing to answer questions about where they had come from. Most them didn’t have families or were missing family members. As a team we talked about how getting to know these students and their fun, kind, genuine personalities broke our hearts for them and their nation. But there was a lot of hope in knowing that some of them were Christians, and in seeing how their teachers and principal continue to show God’s love to them.
One of my main focuses during the week was the small group of students I was assigned to teach. There were 5 of them, and it seemed to me like they were the only students at the camp who really did not want to engage. They were polite and showed up for lessons, but they made it clear that they weren’t enjoying themselves like everybody else was. A couple of nights in, when I was out of ideas and wanted to give up, I found that God really came through for me just in time. That night, He put an idea in my head that ended up working really well on the last day of lessons, which helped the students laugh and bond a little bit with me, which then put me in a position to mention Jesus in some notes I wrote them on the last day. God also gave me a lot of patience and unconditional love for them when I felt like I didn’t have the energy to try again. It was really cool to experience God keeping his promises in a more obvious way than I’m used to at home.
Overall Stuff God Has Taught Me
This whole thing is already too long so this is the shortened version of things that God taught me through this whole process. If you’re curious, ask me about it!
- Prayer makes a difference. A lot of times, I don’t bother with prayer because I’m pretty sure things aren’t going to change anyways. But even if things don’t change, prayer is time for God to reset my brain and remind me that I’m not doing this alone and that I’m not in charge, thank goodness. And I’ve gained more experiences where God has answered prayers and come through right on time – so that can happen even when I think it won’t.
- I can persevere because I know that God is faithful in his own time. A lot of my fundraising support came in either right before my deadline, or after. So now, instead of being right at my goal, I’ve surpassed it, which is not something I could have imagined in May and June. On the trip, there were so many times that God worked in ways that I didn’t expect or think were possible. And that’s not even mentioning the impact that I won’t ever know about. Having this more realistic view of God’s abilities helps me to persevere through other circumstances and tasks.
- God calls me to be bold in the way I live for Him, and when I am more bold I see more of His faithfulness. I was more motivated to be bold with the students (i.e. talking to them, smiling at them, acts of kindness, sharing about Jesus) because I knew that I had such a short time with them. But that’s still true when I’m here at home. The more risks I took for God on this trip, the more I saw His power, faithfulness, and calling for my life. I want more of that here, too.
- Super thankful that we all got home safe and for everything that God did during the trip!
- That my life would change based on the lessons that God has taught me
- That all the Christian workers I’ve met, in North America and Asia, would be safe, healthy and have the strength to persevere in their ministries
- That more of the refugee students would find healing and new life in Christ
- I’m still in contact with a few of the refugee students that I hit it off with, so pray for them too (I think almost all of them are Christians), and that God would work through me to support them if He wants to. If people are interested in updated prayer requests from them and their schoolmates, maybe we can make something happen…
Click here for some pictures! You can also click on each picture to read a short caption I wrote (let me know if they don’t show up). I only chose pictures that wouldn’t give away my location, since I already committed to not giving that away in these updates. I can show you all my other pictures (and there are a LOT more) in person sometime!
As I mentioned before, I ended up having extra money in my fundraising account, so I’m going to be donating that money to TEAM, the organization I went with.
I’m hoping to have it go directly to my supervisor, who is a long term missionary and has done some amazing work. Your money will definitely still be used to glorify God. Let me know if you have any questions or problems with this!
And finally, we did it! Thank you for everything! None of this would have happened without your time, donations, prayers, and encouragements. Together, we’ve repped Jesus to people that need Him on the other side of the world. I’ve also gotten to know so many of you a little better too. I’d love to keep that going by talking more about my experiences and hearing about yours. Food’s on me, and you can hold me to that! Hope to see you soon!