Ever since I was little, I've had an interest in mission work. It probably all started when I would listen, spellbound, to my mom read stories to us of great missionaries (such as Bruchko, Singer on the Sand, Taught by a Tiger, Hudson Taylor, Gladys Aylward, Jim Elliot, Eric B. Hare stories, and more) who worked with savages and all sorts of people, leading them to Jesus. It thrilled me to hear how they each made an eternal impact on the lives of the dear people they ministered to. Also many of my family members and friends have served some time as overseas missionaries. These inspiring stories and firsthand mission reports worked together to spark a longing in my heart that someday, I too, could be a missionary in a far-off country for more than just a few weeks. (I have had the privilege of going on shorter mission trips to Honduras, Serbia, & Cuba for a few weeks at a time).
Now my dreams are becoming a reality. Recently, the Lord has opened the way for my college friend Raquel and I to spend a few months in Thailand at a learning center and children's home (orphanage) right on the border of Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. It's the same area where Eric B. Hare worked! I had applied to volunteer at Sunshine Orchards quite a few months ago after getting some recommendations from others and I had not received a response from the school for quite some time. I began to wonder if God had a different plan for the next school year. My parents and I decided that I should spend a week specifically praying about possible mission opportunities and seek further direction from God. The very next day, when I opened my email, there was an acceptance email from the principal at Sunshine Orchards in my inbox. Right away I thought, "Lord, is this a sign that I'm supposed to pursue this option..." After praying and talking with people who have spent some time there, I decided that the Lord did seem to be opening that door. There's nothing better than to see God open doors and lead you to the place He has for you.
Another blessing was to have my friend, Raquel, agree to join me in this adventure. My parents had expressed that one of the prerequisites for me to go as a student missionary, was to find a girlfriend who could come with me. Raquel had written in her journal of an interest to travel overseas as a missionary, and had prayed that God would lead someone else to have that same desire. God's ways are truly higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts.
So it's official now! Our plane tickets have been purchased and we will soon be applying for our visas. We are planning to leave the US on August 19, which is less than a month away. I'm planning to stay there for around seven months and come back in March after their school graduation. Raquel and I will be primarily teaching English to the upper grades there at the school. Thankfully they know some English, so there isn't as much of a language barrier. I imagine we will be helping with many other thing as well like working with the students in their vocational work & helping with some medical mission work. Part of the reason I wanted to take this break from school is so that I can gain experience in different areas (education, medical work etc.) which will hopefully give me clearer vision of what kind of education I should pursue.
It doesn't seem real yet, but one thing I know -- it's a great to see God's plan unfold before my eyes. I know it won't always be easy being separated from family and friends and trials will come. But, I can rest assured that my Redeemer lives and will see me through whatever arises. I like this definition of a missionary:
Just recently, I copied a song entitled "A Passion for Thee" in my journal, because it really resonated with a cord in my heart. I want this to be my motto as I embark on this mission venture.
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Father, fill with Thy Spirit, and fit me for service,
Let love for Christ every motive inspire;
Teach me to follow in self-less submission,
Be Thou my joy and my soul's one desire.
A passion for Thee;
O Lord set a fire in my soul, and a thirst for my God.
Hear Thou my prayer, Lord, Thy power impart--
Not just to serve, but to love Thee with all of my heart.
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