What does it look like to be transplanted cross culturally, and how does God move in our lives when things are changed up?
As you know I have been in Thailand for quite awhile now, and I have expressed some struggles with culture shock already. Even though I have been struggling so long, I am so overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness to report that throughout the last month God has answered my prayers. I have been praying for God to come and give me a better perspective, and he did! Sure, things are still probably going to get harder, but I have hope again that God is doing a good thing in my life.
I don't want to expect struggles in a hopeless sense, but I want to be very realistic about the season I am in, and the promises given to a follower of Christ. I mean I still have a year and a half before I am out of the statistically hardest time for a missionary. (In the first two years on the field 80% of missionaries leave due to struggles.) I do know that no matter what comes it is going to be good. For the simple reason that God is good, and he gives good things to those who love him. In addition to his promise for good, we take joy in the time of struggle, becuase struggles produce perserverance; perserverance, character; and character, hope. (Rom. 5:3-4)
Psalm 27:13 "I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living."
I want to change direction just a bit, but it was important for me to note the victory God produced in my life. The last season of my life was incredibly difficult, I think moreso than any other. Other than the seasons without Jesus as my Lord, of course. The main reason it was so difficult was becuase I began a season of transition cross-culturally. Obviously, I said goodbye to many American comforts, but aside from that I said goodbye to many friends and my family. It was not a cost I counted lightly, but the one whom I counted it for was worthy. It didn't change that it led to grief, when I said goodbye to all but 16 of the people I love.
Recently, one of our good friends came by to visit and give us some encouragement. A farmer by trade, he began to give us an illustration to help us grasp more deeply the season we are in. He used the analogy of a newly transplanted tree. We have been transplanted into a new environment. This environment doesn't have all the same nutrients in the soil, the tempurature is different, the watering schedule may even be different. Often, older trees are not transplanted. The reason being, if an older tree is transplanted, much of its roots have to be cut in order to move the entire tree. When planted again, the nutrients it was used to it is no longer recieving in the same quantities. Additionally, if the weather is much hotter than the original location, it can add so much stress to the tree that it can wither quickly. A common understanding is that plants will push its roots to water if there is not water available. This is simply not true. If there is no water, a plant will die.
That being said, a goal of a newly transplanted tree is not to produce fruit right away. The goal is to grow roots and survive. In a few years when the tree has a deep root system that can handle the stress of heat or drought, it has the capability to produce fruit. If the tree is to survive, it needs a good farmer to tend to it while it's regrowing roots. To watch the amount of water given to the plant. To make sure the tree is sending new, fresh roots out, and old roots do not rot. To make sure heat and drought do not wither, and weeds do not choke out.
Now, as I said this analogy was about myself and the team. We have been transplated, and some of our roots have been cut off. Our friend gave us an idea of a few areas that we need to focus on regrowing our roots. We need to focus on our relationship with our friends, with God, how to live a healthy life, our recreational habits, and our ministry. We essentially have to start from scratch. Speaking for myself here, I knew how I connected with God in the states. That was where I learned how to listen to God in the first place. Now, I have to re-learn how to listen to God, how to connect with him and de-stress. God hasn't changed, he is still good, faithful, and communicative. My environment has changed, and with it my perspective of God needs to grow.
My recreation habits have changed. I don't know where to go to hang out with new people on a Thursday night. I don't yet understand the flow of the town. I need to learn how to get my emotional needs met, I don't know what foods I need to eat to get all my nutrients, I don't know how to have good small talk! All of these things are so new. My ministry is now language learning, and being faithful with this slow moving process. The season we are in is not one of making disciples or evangelizing. Of course, our team has not turned down the opportunities that God has given. We have seen two men get baptized, one a new believer entirely. Another man is going to do a DTS soon so he can join us on staff here. (He is currently support raising, so if you would like to help support him, get in contact with me and I can forward funds to him!)
The point I want to make in sharing this is to highlight to all of you what I am doing on a day to day basis. It is seemingly very mundane. There are many days I am so exhausted after learning language that I just take a nap. Or stay at home and read my bible. Or watch a few episodes of a tv show with friends. I am growing roots now, so in a few years God might do something great. I don't want to give you a false sense of what my days look like. I want you to be a part of this so you can pray alongside what my life looks like. It is a slow labor here, but I know that God wants to produce fruit in the lives of this team. He wants to see Thailand reached. He knows that means he needs to tend to us, hold us in his hands. For him to watch out for droughts and give us water. Just as a good gardener prunes, so he nutures and sustains.
As simple as it seems, our God is so good that he is building in us the foundations for a lifetime of ministry here. That is not an easy feat, but with God it is possible. I am confident that he is working with and through us now, and he is going to continue in the future. My job in this season is trusting God and placing roots where he guides. Your job, as my supporters, senders, friends, and beloved brothers and sisters in the faith, is to pray for me. To pray for Thailand. To pray for my team. This job is not lesser than. This work of prayer is crucial to our success. Great revivals come from closets filled with prayer. They are followed by willing and obedient hearts. While our team is growing roots and fruit is not seen, pray for deep roots for the flowers to bloom in seasons ahead.
Support and Practical Updates
I want to thank everyone involved with my birthday package! It means so much to get hot sauce packets, mac and cheese, cherry poptarts, mexican candy, and all the letters to encourage me to press on. Y'all know how to send a good box! Along with that, becuase I am now 20, I got my motorcycle! It has been so much fun to zip around, and explore my favorite city in Thailand. I haven't gotten all the accessories yet, but I am getting there soon!
As I mentioned previously, I am still trying to raise monthly support for conferences, travel expenses, and staff outreaches. I currently have $880 a month, and my goal is to get to $1,200. Please be praying that I would get to this goal soon!
Additionally, the guy I mentioned in this letter is looking to do a DTS, with the goal of joining our team. DTS was pivotal in my calling to missions. I would love to help him support raise, because it is even harder to raise finances in Thailand than it is in America. Please prayerfully consider helping support his DTS. Get in contact with me if you would like to send finances his way, and help to see Thai believers mobilized to the nations!
Lastly, if you have any feedback, topics you would like me to cover about my life, or want to recive monthly updates, please subscribe to my website or get in contact with me on the contact page. Thank you!
- Monthly financial support goal of $1,200 to be met.
- Our Thai friends DTS to be supported!!
- Prayers over culture shock, and that our roots would grow deep for the goal God wants to accomplish in Thailand.
- God to continue prepping the hearts of all the Thai people to recieve his glory.