After two weeks of a break, I’ve spent a great deal of time reflecting on the last year, and my time since graduation as well. It’s almost been two years since I graduated from college! Hard to believe, really! Anyway, I was just thinking how at the beginning of 2008, I clearly remember sitting up one sleepless night writing out some hopes that I had for the next year, but never dreaming I’d end up in Thailand, that’s for sure! Though, I had this feeling that never left me last year, and that feeling was one of knowing there was something HUGE that would be coming.
Thailand has been such a great experience for me, and from the beginning, I knew there would come a time when I needed to make a decision whether I would come back for a second year here at GES. Since I arrived I’ve gone through the classic signs of culture shock, and I immediately fell in love with Thailand and everything around me. Then there came a dip around September, then things evened out, and now I’m just coming out of a huge pit of despair and feeling depressed. From here on out, according to the models of culture shock, I should be okay. All this to say, I feel I’ve come to a good decision in light of all the future events to come.
So much has changed in my own life since I’ve been here. I’ve learned so much about myself, and grown in ways that I never would have grown if I would have stayed in the States. Being overseas really challenges a different part of you. You’ve spent your entire life in enviorments that make sense to you and you can control, but when you remove yourselves from those people, experiences, memories and things, you are literally up-rooted from the ground, and planted in an enviorment that is completely foreign to you. Just like up-rooting a palm tree and planting it in Alaska. Could work… but not for long. Palm trees need sunlight and warm to survive.
Thailand is a place that desperately is in need of the gospel, and missionaries have been here for years sharing the gospel to one person at a time. The amazing thing about our jobs as teachers in a school like GES is that we can plant, plant, plant and continue to plant these seeds that we KNOW won’t grow for many years. Because of the Thai culture these kids don’t really understand anything else but Buddhism, BUT our prayer as their teachers and educators is that one day, when they are older and understand more of the world and things around them, that things will click and make sense, and they will know that Jesus Christ is their Savior and is the ONLY way to heaven. Maybe they will even recall a song I’ve taught them that will make sense… but only later in time. I feel my work here has been profitable, but the work is also something that you should feel called to do (for long term ministry), and have the emotional support to do, which are two things I do not have at this time. I feel honored that God chose me this year to work with these kids, and I know I will deeply miss each of them. (I know this because I miss them every time we’re gone on a two-week break!)
All that to say that yes, I will be returning to the States. I have spent a lot of time praying about this decision, and I feel such a peace about it. For those who do not know, I was offered a potential part-time worship leading position at our church here as well (for next year), which I was completely torn over for weeks and weeks. Worship is something I have a calling and passion for, but I know that the time isn’t right. The offer was humbling and I felt blessed to feel confirmation in my heart that this in fact is what God is calling me to in the future, but I know that Thailand is not the place for me at this time.
There are many changes not only in my own life, but also in the lives of many I know and love around me. I know it will be a difficult adjustment when I arrive back home, as it will alter many things that have always been. Two of my very close friends from high school will get married this coming summer, and I’m so happy I will get to share those memories with them. But also, my sister Lindsay has also just gotten engaged, and they will be married in October, so that’s a huge change for my family. All of these life-changes are things that have also lead me to decide to come back to the States.
You will notice I have not said “Medford” in any of my references to coming back home. Granted Medford will be a “launching pad” of sorts as I will be all up and down the West coast upon my return to the States. I plan to enter into a season of rest and refilling once I get back. I look forward to visiting with friends and family, and catching up on the past 10 months. I can’t wait. But as for where I will settle down after the excitement of all the weddings and reunions, of that I am still uncertain.
Another big change begins in just about a week for me. I will be a Graduate student, pursuing my Master of Arts in Teaching through Liberty University. It’s primarily an online degree, with the exception of 3 intensive courses I will take out in Virginia on campus, Lord willingly this coming summer. I will be taking 2 eight week courses over the next few months to kick things off, and then next fall take more units. I’m really excited about this, but definitely nervous also. I love kids and teaching, so I think this is the right direction for now, but God is in control so if things change down the road, I won’t be worried. I still would like to pursue a job in vocational ministry one day, or even recording also, but for now this seems like the best option for making money and paying the bills.
Anyway, there’s definitely a lot more I could say right now about our last vacation, and just the excitement of finishing up the school year, but I think this is enough for now. I pray blessings on you all and that the LORD will lead and guide you along the path he has for you.