Editors Note: Please be sure to read this blog post through to the end. We promise it will make more sense that way.
Our time in Thailand is rapidly coming to a close. I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I’ve been able to experience during our two month trip. There have been many new sights, smells, sounds, and tastes since we first stepped off the plane in Bangkok. There are so many things that I’ve learned here that it is hard to recount all of them. But I can definitely think of some things that I WON’T miss about my journey here.
Note: It appears to me that there is a new fad on the Internet where people create obscure lists that reveal ‘secrets’ (but usually not actual worthwhile information) about our generation. I’ve seen titles like “14 Things You Didn’t Know About [insert movie here]” or “8 Things Every 20-Something Should Do Before [insert arbitrary date]… Number 3 is Insane!” on a daily basis on Facebook. So, since I’m so up to date with the latest fads and trends of my generation I have decided to make my own ‘list blog’.
So here it goes. 6 Things I WON’T Miss About My Short Term Mission Trip:
1. Asking God what He would have me do each day.
Since coming to Chiang Mai, our day looks like this. Eat breakfast at 9 am, have a quiet time, meet at 10:15, and get started with ministry around 11. During our quiet time, we can do whatever we want. Usually people read the Bible, journal, listen to music, play guitar, or even sleep (yes, sometimes sleep, and that’s ok). This time is given for us to seek God and ask Him which ministry He would want for us to do. Sometimes, this is challenging, because we may want to do something, but God may want us to do something different that day. This has been challenging for someone like me, because I tend to like to have a schedule and prepare myself for the day in advanced. So as I head into a corporate job back in Texas, I won’t miss this.
2. Asking God for His heart in every situation.
Since coming on this trip, I have seen and experienced things that have confused or even angered me. Some of these things include: ‘Christian’ Schools where they don’t teach the gospel (or severely twist it for their own agenda), getting different answers from different monks about Buddhism depending on the day or the monk you happen to be talking to, and witnessing 70 year old men out at the bars trying to buy girls that are young enough to be their granddaughters. In many of these instances, my emotions begin to try to get the best of me, but I’ve constantly had to give them to God. I’ve had to ask God the hard questions like, “God, where are you in this situation?!” or “God, how can this be redeemed?!” while metaphorically shaking my fist at Him. And the crazy thing is, He’s never left me wondering. Whether it’s like a small drop of rain or a roaring flood, His goodness has endured and been revealed even in the toughest situations. Definitely won’t miss this.
3. Being intentional about every relationship I’ve made, whether I’m going to see that person again or not.
I have met so many people here, seeing many new faces every single day. Whether it’s a 5 year old kid at an English camp we are holding, a 50 year old man in the red light district, or a 22 year old monk in a temple, God has reminded me to be intentional in every relationship. Many times I’ve thought, “I can take today off, it’s not like I’m ever going to see these people again,” and God has brought someone in my path that has had a profound impact on me. The thing I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter if I’m ever going to talk to that person again or not. I am God’s chosen instrument (and if you’re a believer, so are you!) to reveal His light to the darkness of this world, so I am always reflecting a part of God’s character to everyone I meet. Whether it’s a smile as I’m walking past a stranger to remind them God loves them, or I’m acting like a fool and inadvertently revealing God’s grace for His children, it all matters. Every relationship matters? Won’t miss this.
4. Going to God first when something is bothering or frustrating me.
Back at home, many of the friends I hang out with are pretty identical to me. My ‘community’ consists of guys that come from similar backgrounds or are in similar stages of life as I am. But I haven’t had that here in Thailand, or even since coming to DTS back in April. I’ve been surrounded by people that are in some ways extremely different than me. This has forced me to rely on God when I’ve grown frustrated in a situation or ‘need to vent’. Back home, I always have guys to go to that understand my point of view because they usually agree with me. Here, I haven’t had the same type of close connection with the guys that I’m used to, so I’ve had to go to God and God alone. It seems really simple, but this practice of going straight to God when I get angry, frustrated, lonely, sad, mad, or anything else has been profound in my relationship with Him. I won’t miss this as I head back home to my friends.
5. Resting in God and not thinking I always have to be doing something.
Our western culture tends to celebrate people described as ‘driven’ or ‘motivated’. Being described this way is not inherently a bad thing. The problem is, these words are sometimes used to mask words like ‘pushy’ or ‘ego-centric’ which give a more accurate description of many people in our culture. I have fallen into the trap of always having to have something to do. I think that the way I show that I’m devoted to God is by continuously pushing myself to the limit and ‘sacrificing’ all of my other desires ‘for His Kingdom’. Here, I’ve had time to rest. I’ve had time to think about the ways God loves me, for who I am and what He’s done for me, not for what I’ve done/am doing. This is definitely something that I won’t miss.
6. Being pushed out of my comfort zone and loving people I wouldn’t normally gravitate towards.
God loves everyone, more than we can describe or imagine. Because of this, He has called us to love everyone, even if it’s uncomfortable. I have met many people here that I would never even approach in my daily life back in America. Some of these people have very different lifestyles than what I’m used to and view life in a completely different way than me. But I believe God has brought me to them to push me to love them the way He loves them. And let me tell you, sometimes it’s been a huge challenge. But God’s love goes deeper than sexual orientations, lifestyle choices, political stances, and nationalities. This is something that He has taught me throughout this journey, and I won’t miss it at all.
I won’t miss any of these things, because with God’s help, these things will become a part of my everyday life with Christ.
Here’s the kicker to all of the things on this list. The reason why I won’t miss any of these things is because these are all things that I should be doing in my daily walk with Christ, whether I’m on a mission trip or back at home, or anywhere. Relying on God in all situations? Yep. Being intentional with every relationship, no matter how big or small? You betcha. Loving people different than me, even when it’s uncomfortable? Of course. I won’t miss any of these things, because with God’s help, these things will become a part of my everyday life with Christ.
Thanks for reading! God has blessed us so stinking much! Prayers for our travels and our return to America would be greatly appreciated! Also, that I can find an apartment and a roommate in Houston before I start my job 2 weeks after DTS is over!