10 years ago, on this December 3rd day, i landed here on Ihla Formosa, unaware of the life that God had in store for for the years to come. now, 10 years later, i think back at who i was at that time – and who i am today – and i am ever so thankful that God led me here.
i still recall the tears that fell from my eyes when i left on that airplane from houston, texas – the only home i’d ever known, the only circle of friends and family i’d ever been comfortable with. those tears stained my first journal entry, with the teardrops dried and ink blotted from where they fell. little did i know that those tears would be a constant throughout my next ten years – some tears of joy, others tears of frustration, tears that fell when i knew that there was no one who would know me, care for me, extend grace to me, and love me as much as God would, and lastly – and most commonly – tears that fell when He repeatedly broke me and renewed me, refining and humbling me. those tears were the worst (and yet also the best), and i can probably remember every instance in which they happened, though they were many.
brokenness was a big part of these ten years, and was very much necessary. my first newsletter involved telling the story of a fellow new missionary – someone who had long desired to be a missionary, was finally on their way, and yet obstacle after obstacle appeared. and here was i – not really sure what i was doing, so NOT ready for the field, and thinking very short-term – here i was, getting ready to go out, too.
who was i, that God would choose to use me? nobody. what talents did i have that God could use? i thought i had a lot. then i got here and realised i had none. this train of thought popped into my mind each time i faced a difficult situation or person. in addition to adjusting to living in a new culture (taiwanese), i also was learning how to deal with other “western” cultures (europeans, aussies, etc.) – people i thought i wouldn’t have issues dealing with because hey, we’re all here to serve God! boy, was i wrong. truth is, missions feels messy because we humans are messy – but thank God He is not, otherwise we’d have no Gospel story of hope to share with the very people we are living amongst, or even ourselves! and that is what it’s all about, isn’t it?
when i was a kid, i really wanted to be indiana jones – whip, fedora, and all. in fact, i even took a picture with him at disney….though i later found out it was only a stunt man in the indiana jones stunt show. 😦 now i realise that my desire for adventure is exactly what God is letting me live out, albeit in a slightly different way. i love that my last ten years has been one surprising day after the other. sure, some days are surprisingly mundane, but still surprising in that i-can’t-believe-i-serve-God-in-taiwan-and-have-been-for-this-many-years type of thing.
the adventures in my life now are not about going places; rather they are about people. seeing people i know and have contact with come to faith, or even just express some interest in knowing more. seeing people become interested in missions, and follow-through with steps to be involved with it. seeing the faces of kids – who come from unhealthy families – light up because we kept a promise to visit them. of course, there are also the actual little adventures of just living in a different place – dodging crazy traffic, experiencing the spirit world personally (not something i’d like to ever experience again though it happened 3 times!), and voting in taiwan for the first time! these are the adventures that God blesses me with now, and i have no regrets (though i would still like to make some archaeological find one day ha!) i should also tack on here that seminary definitely was an adventure, too, and studying church history with a lecturer who loved archaeology helped give me a dose of indiana jones that made learning fun!
if you’d asked me 20 years ago if i could imagine living on an island (taiwan), and then living on another bigger island (australia), and then back to the smaller island, i would’ve thought you were off your rockers. and yet…that was my life the past 10 years. and today, ten years later, many significant changes have and are taking place in my life, some of the bigger ones just this year.
whenever people in taiwan used to ask me how old i was, my instant response was always “26,” even though i was not (well, not after that first year). but it kept coming up each year, even after i passed into my 30s. they would laugh about it and ask why it was so hard to remember my age. in fact, i only recently just had this conversation again with a taiwanese. when prompted again, my reply was still the same: because that’s when i followed God to taiwan. that’s when i feel like my life really began; when God showed me purpose in life.
so when i think of where home is now, it is here in taiwan, too. my circle of family and friends have been extended – now it’s not just my immediate family in texas, but also my OMF family here in taiwan (and of course, the husband now, too haha). friends now consist of people from all over the world – something i never imagined when i was in texas. i am so thankful for the many new people God put into my life the past 10 years, people whose stories i’ve had the privilege of hearing, people who have spoken truth and encouragement in my life, and people who have journeyed with me down this long (yet short) road.
i am ever so thankful that even though the past ten years have been all over the place (both geographically, physically, mentally & spiritually!), one thing remains constant, and that is God. no matter what happens the next ten years, or the ten years after that, God is good. God is good. God is good.