reflections on taking chances

I was 23.
April 2008.
Nearly a year of wonderings and wanderings after graduating from college.
I was ready.
Ready to spread my wings and fly,
ready to take a chance.

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In 2007 I graduated with a degree in music.  In my young, naivete I thought I would immediately be hired in full-time music ministry and that church job offers would simply flood in as soon as I walked across the stage with my diploma.

(I was wrong, by the way).

That summer I travelled to India for a two-month long mission trip.  In many ways, that trip changed my life.  My first time overseas, my first time fully immersed in an eastern culture, and the first time I really caught a glimpse of life abroad serving a God who isn’t American.  A God of all nations.

I returned home more sick than I’ve ever been in my life, and still had no job and no direction for my life.

The difficult months that followed shook me to my core: extreme culture shock, depression, meandering and wanderings…  but then in April of 2008, everything changed.  You see, when I returned from India, my team spent several days in Bangkok, Thailand debriefing.  I had a distant feeling in my heart, a feeling that I would return to Thailand one day.

Ten years ago, in April 2008, I interviewed for a Music Teacher position in Bangkok, Thailand.  A few weeks later, I boarded a small airplane with 2 large suitcases (and a very heavy carry on) and moved to the other side of the world.

I didn’t know a single soul.

But that decision – that chance.  It changed my life forever.

The friendships forged during that year forever changed me, the students I taught showed me what compassion looked like with hands and feet, and living in another culture taught me how to be empathetic.

That chapter of my life opened up doors for me to later serve in full-time Worship ministry, and the relationships there inspired me to pursue seminary.  Many of the co-teachers I taught with are still my friends today.

The thing about taking chances is this: when the Holy Spirit of God prompts us to take steps of faith, or “chances” in our human thinking, the greater chance to take is to ignore that prompting and taking the wider, easier path.

I’m so glad I took that chance.

S6300051India, June 2007

S6300243.jpgKolkata, India, July 2007

IMG_1493_7Thailand, October 2008

IMG_5313Our street, Nonthaburi, Bangkok, Thailand

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Summer, and updates

Hello new and old readers!

I just wanted to take a moment and update everyone on summer, and my upcoming trip to Nicaragua.

School.     Summer is well underway here in Dallas, with the temperatures to prove it!  I’ve been done with the Spring semester for nearly three weeks, but the summer session began as soon as the spring semester ended!  I’m taking just one class over the summer, The Gospels, online and so far I’ve been quite busy with it!  My work schedule has stayed the same so far, with our summer session of lessons beginning in two weeks.

Nicaragua.     Though my plane ticket has not been purchased yet, I plan to leave Friday, June 28 for Nicaragua, and to return July 6 or 7.  There are a few details to be ironed out still, and I’m in need of $600-700 more to be completely funded for the trip.  If you have more questions about my mission trip, please visit the Nicaragua tab here on my blog, and feel free to contact me by email if you have further questions, or would like to help support me financially to help with Vacation Bible School at El Padul in Nicaragua!

THANK YOU.     Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me for this trip to Nicaragua, and just through the past year as I’ve jumped into the deep end of my seminary studies.  God is so good, and I’m so grateful.  Thank you to everyone who has given financially so far, enabling me to go once again back to Nicaragua.  Words cannot say enough.

 

Meridith

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!