Note: I just caught up on my journaling and now, for all of you, I will, once again, be one day behind.
When I said that I would not be posting biweekly… I may have to change that because so much happens everyday that I may have to change it to weekly. However, I cannot be expected to keep my word because of the many things I am up to every day, but I will try my best.
So much has happened over the last 12 days I feel like I have barely been able to catch my breath. Which all of this is catching up with me now as over the past two days I have come back ‘home’ and can barely stay awake after language class. Which I will get to later. Many of you have been waiting for me to update you on my trip, and I am so sorry for abandoning that promise. I am sure, and can only hope, that you understand how busy the first two weeks of settling into another country can be!
As I am here in Bangkok I cannot believe the support and the friendship I have been blessed with back home, and here. I hope to get around to doing an interview type thing with the families I have been set up with, so that you can all get to know them and meet the people who I now consider family. The families who keep me grounded while and are helping me make Thailand my home away from home are the Wylie’s and the Price’s. Megan and Zach Wylie have 2 kids, and Amber and Matthew Price also have 2 kids, all between the ages of 2 and 5. They are so amazing. I have had the pleasure of babysitting them on more than one occasion and would do it for a week if I was asked. Which is not surprising for me I guess. But each of them, through conversation, have helped find my way to what my ultimate end goal of this trip is.
And to remain in the moment, I have a pretty gnarly heat rash exclusively on my hands that only shows up when I am inside and it is so disgusting and really distracting especially since I am on my phone writing this.
Some of my absolute favourite conversations have happened in the short time I have been here. It blows my mind at how caring, kind, compassionate and loving these families are. Especially towards someone they have known for less than two weeks. To which I have learnt the answer. And the conversation ranks second out of my top three favourite conversations had in Thailand. And since it fits so well I will tell you all about it.
To be honest I have had deeper, more meaningful conversations with people I have only known for less than two weeks, than with people I have known , and been friends with most of my life. Through these conversations, not only are they learning more about me, but I am learning more about myself through the questions they ask.
Megan, Zach’s wife, had a hole in one of her shirts and she had asked me how to fix it a few days ago. Since I was at her place I asked her if I could just do t now since it seemed to make sense for me and I could do it well the first time rather than trying to explain to her how to sew it. She brought it to me and I told her how I could cover up the slight mess that would be left over from seeing it just because of how the hole unraveled. To try and describe it would not be worth it because I doubt you would know what I am talking about. When I mentioned I could sew and fix her shirt Zach asked ‘is it gift, or passion?’ To which Megan replied ‘it’s actually both!’ I was a little confused by what they were talking about and this is what came out of the conversation:
A lot of people, who they found especially in ministry, but of course not exclusively, but a popular thing found is that people will say ‘I have such passion for photography, or passions for kids’ which the follow up question is ‘do you have any experience with photography, or with kids?’ And more often than not they found that the answer is ‘no.’ People have a whole lot of passion, but either they do not pursue it and make something out of it, or their skill set does not level up to what is required or being asked for. Then both Zach and Matt went on to saying how valuable and refreshing it is to find someone who has passion, but also gifting, and is ready to make something of it because both can be used to great extent in missions. Mentioning that gifts and passion are beneficial for a missionary to have, Matt went on to tell my that he had seen so many people come and go through missions and has never seen them come back because nothing was tying them to the ministry. I really admire their honesty and being completely open and straight forward when they told me that had they not seen my history and saw that I had no experience with kids or on the field that they personally would have had nothing to do with me. It sounds super harsh and cut throat but it is totally valid and respectable. They said that they, personally, would have felt like they were wasting their time so I was not worth it. It sounds savage and incredibly rude if that is what you are thinking, but they are 110% correct in how they think.
And please, disagree with me, but missions is not the time or place to ‘try out’ your passion and interests. It is the time and place to build off of your gifts and passions that work together, or go hand in hand. This does not mean God cannot use you with what you do not have, or that He cannot use your passions, but this is not the place to test out what you do not have. It may sound awful, but everything in ministry is a matter of life or death which I think is easily forgotten when we are around the life all the time, and is by passed or forgotten about when we are around ‘death.’ There is a time and a place for everything. It is like what I have heard said so many times and have repeated about youth ministry, youth is to be focussed on the youth not about seeing your friends who are leaders and taking to them exclusively, or how worship is not about showcasing your talents but using them to glorify God. The same goes for missions. It is about the relationships you build, the people you are there to serve, and utilizing your gifts with passion, and not to be seen or used for an excuse or reason to travel. Which is almost where this leads into my next favourite conversation.
Random note: the Thai language has no tenses; past, or future, only present. Example: ‘today I go to the store’ is ‘tomorrow I go to the store’ and ‘yesterday, I go to the store.’
It was time to leave the Wylie’s and head upstairs to the Price’s home because Zach’s daughter was having a play date with a girl from school. So I went up to the Price’s to hangout with them for a while. We were all sitting watching a show that I am convinced is a spin off from Zoboomafoo, The Amazing Kratts, and Matt asked if I wanted to keep watching the show because he had a few questions to my brain. I hate the question he asked solely because it was so broad and I had no clue how to answer and as he watched me struggle to answer he changed his question.
He asked, ‘coming out of this trip, what would success look like.’ And then after struggling to formulate an answer I could understand he changed it to, ‘why come? Why here?’
I still struggled to find the answer, and after working to answer it the summary is that I want to create my story.
What I mean by this is that I have grown up in the church and have been apart of it my entire life and I have found that a good portion of what I believe is comes from agreeing with what I believe. To elaborate on that, yes, I have had incredible encounters with God, personal ones, and witnessing others encounter him and have a relationship with him, but the thing is that this is no longer enough for me. I love sitting in church and listening to sermons, I love worship more than anything in the world, even babies, but it has never been enough, which I found out not too long ago. I want to be apart of an encounter that is not apart of my home routine. I crave to see God out in the world, in a place where he is known, but on such a smaller scale than in the western world. Where His face has yet to seen, and his love to be shared in a new light. Being in a public school system the ratio of Christian friends to non looked something like 1:13. I was always approached with questions or placed in situations where I did not have personal answers that came from personal experiences or a rooted personal belief. I had a response. But it was quoted from something I heard a pastor speak about, or something my parents had told me, or a friend, all from people who were spiritually mature, more than I was at that point. It would always come to a point where I was backed into a corner and ran out of things to say and had become clear that the responses I was giving weren’t personal so I had no answers for them. Saying that, I have encountered God on more than one occasion, but I cannot say that my relationship being personal has outweighed my relationship being more of understanding and agreeing.
I came to the conclusion that success would be if I walked away from this experience having made my own story. Making my relationship with God far more personal than what it is now. After I was telling Matt about friends, family, and just people in general who do not agree with what I believe or fully understand it. He said something along the lines of, ‘people can’t argue your story because it’s yours. You’ve lived it. You’ve had your experiences. That’s why antestimony is so powerful because it’s yours and no one else’s.’ And he is right. My encounters with God and my experiences living alongside him cannot be argued against. It is not an essay topic because I have lived it and I have experienced it and you cannot say that I have not because it is personal. It would be like hearing someone’s story about why they are in a wheel chair and cannot walk because of what happened, then arguing with them that they can walk and to continue and demand that they get up and walk. A person’s story cannot be argued. Reason for my faith cannot be argued. Discussed? Sure, but not argued.
After the conversation of what success would look like, he followed up with the opposite, ‘what would complete and utter failure look like?’
I never want to say “I lived in Thailand for 5 months.” Even 5 years from now would be so disappointing. I have never been a quitter, or even one to easily give up and put something down. Aside from something I have started making and went sideways, but that is not the point. In saying that, I would consider failure as giving up and stopping something because I could not find a way to make it work or to get it done, whatever it may be. As I finished explaining Matthew started describing it as a ‘hero’ complex. Where he related this back to himself as everything he start needs to be finished, or if you need something he the person you can come to because he will get it done efficiently, under budget, but add things on that you did not even think of and more. This holds truth. However I do it in a way that I feel like I have to prove to myself that I can get it done. I have to test my limits and push myself because I can always do better, but I also have to keep my word as to not let others down which has taken its toll on my as I will write in my next post. But it got me thinking a lot about what I need to work on and also how God will stretch me in this while I am here in Thailand. I really do not like disappointing people and it always feels different from people you know where it is personal, and from people you have not met yet and it leaves an impression.
I am so thankful for this conversation and the many more I have had considering it has been 2 weeks since these conversations… But they have helped me gain clearer direction in where I want this trip to go and what I want to get out of it. Coming to Thailand I had the attitude of ‘when it happens it happens and when it comes it comes’ which I have been told is the mindset that will get me further- another conversation since- but I had it to remain present and focus on taking things step by step. I am still going to do this one step at a time to remain present, but it will be intentional, and working towards this goal of creating my story and asking God what it will look like in terms of getting there.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
With much love and thanks,