Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What Really Matters...

  I'm pretty sure I'm not the only Christian young lady in the world who has ever wondered about "that special one" God has for her.
  'Does He have one for me? What will he be like?'
  Many questions have crossed my mind, but the one that has seemed to bother me the most over the years is, 'How tall will he be?'
  I have had quite a few good friends who were guys and they were shorter than me. It has worried me a lot- the thought of falling in love with a short guy.
  I always wanted to marry someone much taller and at least a little bigger than me; someone who, as one of my friends put it, 'I could hide behind.' Someone I could look up to, in both senses of that phrase.
  I know-you're probably thinking that is something very silly to worry about. But it was a real concern of mine.
  I've prayed about it quite a bit. 'Lord, please let him be taller than me...'
  A few days ago though, I was thinking along these lines once again, when, very clearly I heard God speak to my heart.
  "Haley. I see the end from the beginning. I know what is best for you. You are worrying for nothing. Do you trust Me? Does it really matter how tall he is? What about his character? Isn't that what is really important? If you trust me to lead you, I will. I won't fail you. I know who you are. I know who he is. In My timing, I will lead you to him. You will be happiest with the one I choose. When you are in love, his height won't matter. His character, his love for Me and you-that is that will matter. Just trust Me. Surrender. Don't worry. I love you and want what is best for you."
  And suddenly, I got it. For the first time, I realized that something that had bothered me for years didn't have to anymore. God wanted me to trust Him with everything-my wants, my needs, my worries, my fears. All of it I gave to Him once more.
  Whether short or tall, big or small-I don't care anymore. If he is the one God has for me, I will be content. I will trust my God to do what is best for me.
  And that's what really matters... Learning to trust God with all that you have.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Memories to Cherish... Lessons to Remember...

  To be a missionary. It's not always easy. I would actually say, most of the time it isn't easy. But in the end, you realize that it's always worth it.

  For instance, those times when you see a smile and hear, "Good evening, Tharamu!"

 Those times when a student comes in to class late with a big grin and a "Sorry, Tharamu," then proceeds to his desk where he bows his head before he begins typing. Once finished talking to His Friend, he returns his hat to his head, adjusting it to stick up a few inches off his head, and leaving a smile on the face of his teacher.

  Those times when you hear, "Teacher Eh G' Lu Paw!" and turn to see a cute little face looking up at you. You smile and say, "What?" only to receive a huge grin and a giggle in response.
  Those times when you are leaving the chapel or walking somewhere and feel a hand grasp yours. Looking down, you see the beaming face of a dark-haired girl.

  Those times when a student offers to pray before class without being asked.

  Those times when a girl asks, "Teacher, what color you like?" Me: "Yellow and blue." Girl: "Your skin white, you like yellow, very good. My skin dark, I like yellow, no good." You just have to laugh... 

  It's true; all these make missionary work worth while. But it's not just these- not just the happy memories that brighten the days. There are times to grow... Times to be stretched. Times to step out of your comfort zone and serve the Lord in a new way. These make it worth while too.

  Like those times when you are asked to give a Truth for Youth talk for chapel, that will continue through 2 or 3 days. You don't want to do it, but you hear a still small voice speaking, and you say yes, despite your discomfort and fears. After the first day, you realize it wasn't that bad after all. The night before you are to give the last part of the talk, you find out Mr. Steck won't be there in the morning to set up the projector and computer. Panic threatens to set in as you think of not remembering instructions and messing something up. After Mr. Steck has shown you how it works though, you realize once again, it won't be that hard.

  Those times when you're on your way to worship, and an older girl asks you, "Teacher, are you happy?"I reply, "Yes, I am happy." She says, "I look at you and you not smile. I think you not happy." I smile and say, "I am happy." Then she replies, "Always smile, Teacher."  Ok, Lord, I hear You... Please help me to 'always smile.'

  Those times when you are writing a song very familiar to you on the blackboard and suddenly feel a silent call to your heart to not just sing those words, but to make them the prayer of your heart- to decide for now and always to follow Jesus, with no turning back. A smile remains on your face, a song in your heart, for the rest of class.

  Those times when you are sitting in class and your eyes are directed to the back of a boy's shirt. There, you read the words, "Life is too short not to love." Ok, Lord, I hear you again... Please help me love unconditionally... All your children... 

  Oh, the growing you do when you are right where God wants you to be! It may not always feel good... It may hurt. You may want to protest. But when you feel that way, just remember... God knows the end from the beginning. He sees what is best for you. He is much wiser than you could ever hope to be. Trust Him. Try Him. You'll see that in the end, His way is perfect.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Teacher? Were You Talking to Me??

Here is the second post about what it is I'm doing here and about various happenings.

  My first week, as I said, was pretty hard for me. Adjusting took a while. From he very first, I had to remember that when someone called, "Teacher!" there was a chance they were talking to me. Pretty much all the white people around here are called "teacher" or "thara, tharamu" (Karen for male and female teachers) by all the students. It was kind of weird to be called "teacher" when I didn't feel like one at all.
  I went to class I think it was the second day I was here. All I did was sit there and watch and listen as dark-haired children speaking a strange language learned some words of my native tongue. I felt awkward and uncomfortable as they frequently turned on their benches to stare at the new gullawah (a white person in Karen). I inwardly sighed and wondered if I would ever adjust... If I would ever really enjoy being here. I certainly didn't feel like it right then. 
  My duty here is to kind of co-teach grades KGA, 1st, and 2nd grade, which is equal to U.S. 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade, and also supervise a typing class. The kids in KGA, 1, and 2 are anywhere from 6-15 years old I believe. For this part of my day, I sit in the back and let Naw Suh Pweh do most of the teaching. She asks me to do various things, such as teaching the kids a song, teaching them phonics (a says__, b says__, etc.), draw pictures on the blackboard for vocab words, how to pronounce a certain word, what time it is, etc. For typing class, I give the students their papers where they keep track of their progress, then wait until the 40 minutes is over and collect their papers. This is fun because I get to interact with some older students. They are quite amusing sometimes. :-)
  I also am the recipient of many flowers. I frequently go from class to class with a handful, a hairful, or a flower or two behind my ear(s). The kids are so sweet. They have warmed my heart more than once with their affection and smiles. I think I have smiled more times in the last three and a half weeks of being here than I have in a couple months combined. Some return your smiles with a shy smile and then look away, others flash a grin as big as they can. The mischievous grins just make you shake your head and smile right back.   
  Where I once regretted coming here, wishing with all my heart to go back home where I am in my comfort zone, I now thank God for providing the way for me to come. Those moments when a small hand slips into yours and the dark eyes look at you so happily, those times when two thin arms wrap around your legs and a grinning face beams up at you, those days when you walk back to your hut with a handful of flowers; those are the times that make it all worth it. The dirt, the geckos, the rats, the bugs, the ants, the long nights and weary days suddenly don't matter any more. You learn to be content, even happy, where you are; where God has put you. You remember why you came in the first place; not for you, but for these precious children of God. To make a difference in the life of perhaps just one. No matter how many you help to lead to Christ, it doesn't matter. It is worth it all for even just one.
 This is what I do Monday-Friday. On Sabbath we have church and Sabbath School, in that order, and then relax in the afternoon. Sunday we do various things, like going into town or washing laundry. One Sunday we went on a hike up to a pagoda. That was a _very_ steep walk! I thought I might not make it all the way. God sustained me though, and it was fun, despite getting soaked from rain and slipping numerous times on the way down.
  So, this is my life here. I am liking it more and more as the days go by. By God's grace I will make it through, and I know I will grow so much.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Jesus Does Love Me... This I Know.

  I have been in Thailand for nearly 3 weeks.... I can hardly believe how quickly time seems to fly! I would like to tell you about my trip to Sunshine Orchard, Thailand. I will post later about what I have been doing here. :-)  

  September 17, 2014 was a day unlike any other I have experienced. As I bustled around, making sure I had everything I needed and was not forgetting anything, I found it hard to imagine not being home for nearly 6 months.... The familiar roads, the well-liked house and property surrounding... Not to mention my dearly-loved family and friends who I would not see. Everything about leaving felt very strange and almost lonely.
  While we were in the car on our way to the airport, I looked sadly at the familiar countryside passing by. I knew that when I returned, I would be coming back, not to my beloved home in Toledo, WA, but to a strange place miles away: Walla Walla, WA. It was very hard realize this.
  At the airport. Already? Where did the time go? I'm not ready to leave yet. But we were indeed there, and there was no turning back now. Walking up to security, I suddenly was overwhelmed with emotion. I was leaving my family for 6 months. I was going to somehow find the right airplane and get on it by myself. I would fly for probably 11 hours or so by myself, wouldn't I? What had I been thinking? Why was I here? I tried very hard to hold back the tears. My feeble attempts were not good enough though. I gave each one a hug then stood, reluctant to leave. Finally, I slowly turned and walked away to fall in line with the other people waiting. Once through, I turned to wave and catch a glimpse of the dear faces one more time before tearfully walking away to find my gate.
  This is all so strange! Lord, why do I feel so alone? Please help me to be strong. Be with me. Help me. Please.... 
  While on the train to my gate, I began to cry again. I felt miserable and lonely. Looking up, I noticed a small key-chain on the purse. On it were these words. "Jesus Loves You." When I read them, tears came afresh as I realized that Jesus was indeed with me and He loved me. I would be ok. Still I was sad, but this did a great deal to encourage me.
  By God's grace, I found my gate without any mishap. I sorrowfully sat down on the floor and talked to my family on Skype for a while. When I got up to find the restroom, it disconnected. I was slowly walking, trying to see a sign for the bathrooms, when I heard something that I had never expected to hear at that moment. "Haley," a mysteriously familiar voice called. What? That was my name! I turned around and there, before my astonished eyes was a familiar face. Standing there in front of me was Sarah Van Hee (forgive me if I spelled it wrong). Talk about being surprised! We discovered we were on the same flight to Seoul, Korea, where I was planning to meet Gayle Haberkam, who would be with me until I reached Sunshine Orchard. Not only were we on the same flight, but we were in the same row too, only a couple seats apart from each other. Relief filled me as I stood in line with her to board the plane. Gratitude to God welled up inside, and I thanked Him for showing His love and care once again.
  When we sat down on the plane, we found out we were actually only one person and an aisle away from each other. The lady sitting beside me noticed Sarah say something to me and asked the stewardess if she could switch seats with Sarah so we could sit beside each other. Permission granted, Sarah moved over beside me. Probably my greatest worry had been sitting all that way on a plane beside someone I didn't know and trust. One more time my heart sang for the Providence of God. I knew after so many things that He was really watching over me; it was His will for me to go to Thailand.
  We arrived in Seoul without mishap, and I was able to meet up with Gayle. On the flight from there to Chiang Mai, the stewardess let me move up to an empty row across from Gayle and Tucker (a guy who recently finished nursing at Southern Adventist College and will be staying with Gayle for a year). I was able to lay down across the three seats and sleep for a few hours, praise the Lord!
  It was around 10:30 p.m. in Chiang Mai when we touched down. We found a motel and retired for the night. As I drifted off to sleep, silent tears slipped down my cheeks, thinking of loved ones far away and me in this strange, new place.
                                                                   The Market...

                                                          Walking down the street...
  The next few days were pleasantly spent recuperating and walking around Chiang Mai. we went to the Chiang Mai SDA Church on Sabbath and had Sabbath School in English! (Something you come to appreciate in a foreign country.)
  On Monday, we left Chiang Mai headed for Sunshine Orchard. I watched the scenery float by and tried to catch a few winks of sleep.
  At about 6:40 p.m. we arrived at Sunshine Orchard. Everyone was in worship, so I quietly slipped in and sat down for the last few minutes. When worship was over, I quickly got up and headed outside to avoid being trampled by the stampede of children pouring out of the building (this is the way it always is after worships here) :-).    
  That night was the worst of all nights I had had so far. I lay on my bed (a mat on the bamboo floor) and sobbed silently. Oh, how I wished I could just go home! Why did I come? What was I going to do? Why was I so afraid? I just knew everyone would be disappointed because I thought I wasn't as good as Heidi, who they all knew was my sister. On and on went the list, and I cried until it hurt too much to continue. Finally, I drifted off to sleep, exhausted.
  The new morning brought a slightly better outlook, but still I felt out of place and awkward. That day ended with me not feeling much better.
  The next week was very hard. Tears came very easily, and it seemed I often couldn't control them. It got easier though. I fell into place, got used to the schedule, and felt much better by the second week.
  Now? I am very happy to be here. I know God has called me here to grow me and use me. I am looking forward to what He will do in the next months that I have the privilege to be here.
  Thank you all so much for your prayers and support to help get me here and keep me alive and well while here. I greatly appreciate it, and I am praying you will each be blessed richly by our Saviour.
  I'm sorry this got a little long. Just so much to say. :-)  In the next post, you will get to visit me as I go to class, attend worships, and hike a mountain.