I served previously as a volunteer English teacher in Vientiane, Laos—just 3 or 4 hours away from Khon Kaen. Unfortunately, it took a while for me to be able to go over for a visit. But it finally happened two weeks ago!! I realized at the end of November that my Thai visa stay would expire on December 3. The plan had been to get an extension on my current visa until I had what I need to get a different type. But when we went to the immigration office, I could not get the extension. So a visa run to Laos suddenly became necessary! So my friends, this is the story of how a two-day visa run trip turned into a week-long vacation visiting friends.
As I write this, it is Friday after Thanksgiving. I hope you had a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, and good food, and that you had a chance to reflect on the blessings of God throughout this past year. I have much to praise God for over the past year. In fact, it was about 1 year ago (two days before Thanksgiving 2017) that I first became aware of the call for a cello teacher to Thailand. I am so thankful for how God has led over the past year, and I know that whatever uncertainties I am facing He will continue to lead. Last Sabbath, I had the opportunity to share a little of my story with our international church family by giving the sermon.
One thing that is often expected of the mission field is that you will see miracles and wonders on a daily basis. You want to see God working powerfully. But in answer to my naive hopefulness, God reminds me that He is sovereign. I can’t see what lies ahead of me this year. But I know that He has promised to be with me—He knows even better than I do that I can do nothing without Him. And He will show His glory, but maybe not always in the way I want.
Sunday morning I left the Adventist Frontier Missions summer training program where I have spent the past four weeks. There were a total of 19 student/short-term missionaries in training, plus several career missionaries and families. Here are some lessons I gained from this training experience.
All through training I’ve been wanting to share the lessons I am learning, yet struggling with how to even attempt to explain. The idea dawned on me a few days ago that the sticky notes I’ve been collecting are the perfect way to narrow it down to a few of the major concepts we’ve been learning.
There are stages of “realness” when embarking on a journey like this. Initially, it is so far off that it hardly seems like a reality that will ever happen. The first stage of realness for me was making the decision to pursue the call, and contacting AFM to start the application process. At this point, only my family and close friends knew of my plans, and it seemed very remote.
The next stage of realness was likely the hardest step to take…
It started with an email, which piqued my curiosity, which led me to see the call for a cello teacher, which I couldn’t get out of my mind. I wasn’t looking for a call, and yet I’ve seen one and I want to go. Is this You, Lord?