Last Wednesday I set foot back in California after having spent almost eleven months in Khon Kaen, Thailand.

I will admit – my final weeks in Thailand were filled with difficult goodbyes, anxiety of the unknown, and grief. Only by grace were those days also filled with gratitude, joy for the memories, peace despite the anxiety, and strength to move on. Now that I’m home, I’m so thankful to be with my family again, to relax and breathe, to meet up with old friends, and to enjoy the sights/sounds/foods I missed while away.

Leaving Thailand was difficult, but I am at peace knowing that the time has come for this season to end. I left with the sense that I had completed what God called me there to accomplish. I was teacher to the students, a friend to the people, a sister to the youth, and I gave my all for all. It was an amazing year of beautiful memories. Now a new season has begun. Now, it’s time to entrust these people back into the hands of God and the hands of the other ambassadors He has sent. The time has come for me to move on.

I plan to begin attending university this fall. I don’t know what God has in store for me there, and to be perfectly honest, adjusting back to American life all while trying to make new friends and figure out college sounds really scary. But God has taught me not to be afraid of hard things, ‘cause hard things are what make us grow. Everything I’ve learned last year will only help me in the transition this year. And all the pain and love I’ve experienced will enable me to relate with and create community for the people God should bring into my life now. The mission He’s placed in my heart now is to connect with those who feel alone – whether culturally, emotionally, mentally, or socially – and to help them realize that they are NOT alone, that there’s love and healing and support and community OUT THERE. Just like how others provided the same for me during my struggles last year 😊 Through the hard things of yesterday and the hard things of tomorrow, God is going to make me into someone stronger and more beautiful who can help others conquer the same.

I want to thank you one more time for your prayers, love, and support. Whoever and wherever you may be, may God bless you and use you in amazing ways in whatever He takes you next in life.

~ Zoe Shiu

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