a fire deep within

I just got back literally an hour ago from a conference that wasn’t even for me, but I was deeply touched and God began to tug and pull strings on my heart during this time.

So, here’s a little bit about how all this came together.  Darin Pust is a friend from the old days of the Simpson University Music Department, and we were in choir and other various things together.  Anyway, he contacted me maybe in October and let me know that he and a team of people would be coming to Thailand for a conference; he was leading worship and the rest of the team would be doing child care.  He later let me know that he was trying to talk Becky Levy, another good friend  from Simpson, into coming to help lead worship as well.

Time quickly passed, and before I knew it, they were here, and it was time to go!  I met up with them on Saturday to do some sightseeing with them around Bangkok (it was refreshing.. I haven’t ever been a tourist in my own city!).  As things came together, and it came time to leave on Sunday, I FINALLY understood what kind of retreat this was.  For some reason I had thought it was for Christian Chinese leaders in China, but rather, it was a forum for all the CAMA (Christian and Missionary Alliance) leaders in China.  Obviously since the only tie I have to CAMA is Simpson, I did feel quite out of the “circle” as you might say, but from the beginning I felt that I was getting just a small picture of this intricate network of people and I felt so blessed to be apart of their ministry, and to get to feel like I was stepping into their shoes for just a few days.

This retreat happens once a year, and always outside of China, since it is still against their government to have large gatherings of believers.  The entire time, I just was struck with the truth that these people rarely get a chance to really worship like this, and hear encouragement from God’s word.  I was just struck.

Last night, all the women attended a nice banquet.  I wasn’t totally looking forward to it, since sometimes these gatherings tend to be unnecessarily tear-filled and super emotional.  Not to my surprise, there were tears, but I found myself crying and just being struck with conviction and just looking at these women and being filled with such awe and respect.  

I guess my idea of a “missionary” were families who came to churches and dressed really weird and spoke.  That’s all I really knew of them.  Then, when I began attending Simpson University, my eyes were open to the needs in the mission field around the world.  I was struck with the concept of learning about other cultures, and learning that other cultures didn’t have the same values that we had.  My idea of being a “missionary” was totally turned upside-down.

Now, yes I’m in Thailand right now, but sometimes I don’t consider myself a “missionary”, but I realized during this conference that I really am a missionary, and it just looks different for everyone.  

The other thing that really struck me was the strength that these women have.  There were all ages in this room, and many of them aren’t much older than I am, and have families of 3 or 4 children.  I was struck with the deep, reverent faith they all had.  Sure, it had been a year of trials for them, but still, their deep faith that God is their provider and the one who will care for all their needs completely blew me away.

Faith has been a huge theme of my life, especially this last year, but when I looked into the eyes of these people and heard about their ministries in China, it made some of the trials I have experienced here in Thailand just fade away.  I get to go home in two months, and some of these families still have years before they will get to be on home assignment again.  Wow.

There’s so much more I could say, but I feel a fire burning deep within that won’t go out.  I know that I’m supposed to be exactly where I am right now. I know I need to finish this degree with Liberty; teaching will really bring so many options for me in the future.  I’m not saying anything definitely right now, but after this conference, I realized: 1) how much I will really miss Thailand, 2) how much I will miss being overseas, 3) what an adjustment it will be for me to go back, and 4) that I’m willing and open to go literally wherever God wants me to go.

I would like to say so much more now, but this is all I have time for!  Homework and lesson plans need to be done!

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so much

There’s so much I could say.

I survived my first week of EDUC 500: Educational Psychology, and I’m just going to keep on going.  It’s honestly really difficult to take classes while working full time, but I can’t imagine it working with any other job.  Everything I’ve been learning directly fits in with what I’m doing during the day, so it’s very helpful.

So the countdown:
Educational Psychology last day (with a 15 page paper and reading over 400 pages of studies on Educational Psychology with annotated bibliography): Friday, March 6 (PLUS I have an extra 12 hours on everyone in my class).

Last day of school at GES: March 27; last teacher work day: March 31 

Arrival at home: around April 6th (yet to be confirmed)

Pear Blossom Run: April 11, 8:30 AM (call me crazy, I KNOW I am already!)

Second class: EDUC 518 Educational Research: Begins March 16, and last day: May 8 (extending into my time back in the States).

Anyway, life is crazy right now.  I can’t even tell you.  Luckily we had Friday off for “Teacher’s Day”, and got to lay on the beach for a few days so we don’t lose our tans ;).  This weekend will be insane.  I have lots of familiar faces I will see, which will really be nice!  I’m also leaving on Sunday to help lead worship with a team from Roseburg Alliance who are serving at a “retreat” I guess you could call it, but it’s Christian leaders from China who will be conferencing here in Thailand.  I’ll be taking 3 days off next week, so I have SO MUCH to do to prepare for subs, get caught up on lesson planning, and on top of that finish with my weekly stuff for my class.  It’ll be crazy, but I think that’s part of what makes me feel alive these days.

There’s a song I just haven’t been able to get out of my head.  Brooke Fraser is an amazing songwriter, singer and worship leader with Hillsong, and her song “Shadowfeet” really describes my thoughts as I think about the future, going home, and finishing up my time here in Thailand.  Here are lyrics, and I’ll put the music video up for you to check out!  I just love how it says, “I am changing: less and less asleep”, because how many times do we live life like we’re asleep?  Like it’s not really real?  Or we’re waiting until… we’re waiting for something to happen to us that will cause us to feel like we’ve really begun life, but the truth is: THIS IS LIFE.

And the other truth is: HE MAKES ALL THINGS NEW.  I feel like I’ll be leaving Thailand a different person, but made new.  I’m changing, I’m less and less asleep.  I’m walking, stumbling.

HE makes all things new, and when the world seems to fall apart, I’ll be found in him, and that’s a truth that cannot be taken from me.

“SHADOWFEET” by Brooke Fraser

Walking,stumbling on these shadowfeet
toward home, a land that I’ve never seen
I am changing: less and less asleep
made of different stuff than when I began
and I have sensed it all along
fast approaching is the day

[CHORUS]
When the world has fallen out from under me
I’ll be found in you, still standing
When the sky rolls up and mountains fall on their knees
When time and space are through
I’ll be found in you

Theres distraction buzzing in my head
saying: in the shadows it’s easier to stay
But I’ve heard rumours of true reality
whispers of a well-lit way

[CHORUS]

You make all things new

[CHORUS]

[CHORUS 2]
When the world has fallen out from under me
I’ll be found in you, still standing
Every fear and accusation under my feet
when time and space are through
I’ll be found in you