Week One: It’s only the Beginning

Chomreab suah! This first week of training has been intense, but so enlightening and blessed. After a long day of air travel, I arrived! The summer assistant beamed at us, and dropped me and my two new compatriots I had met 30 minutes ago off with these crazy ladies who proceeded to jabber away at me in Indonesian, Khmer, Thai, but no English. They rooted through my backpack, one took away my wallet, and they shooed us down these steps and through the woods to a river edge. Whereupon I wavered on a little ledge next to this lovely green canoe for about ten seconds, then proceeded to fall flat on my butt, in this cold northern water, with my backpack attached. I will give these lovely mission ladies credit for a masterful performance, they picked my backpack right off my back, still chattering away, while I was still spluttering away. They whisked my backpack away (with my computer thankfully intact!), and took me and my two new friends on a long and meandering canoe ride down the river. This was training. I was at first vastly amused, and then cold, and then tired of not being understood by these people who seemed like they had a tentative grasp on how to keep the canoe from flipping over. However, between my chattering teeth the hilarious language mishaps, I begun to get an idea of what training entails for the people at Adventist Frontier Missions.
The following week proved to be quite the educational experience, from learning my fellow missionary students’ names, to experiencing this wonderful exercise, ‘burpees,’ on the first day of classes, from the Acts of the Apostles, to the mishaps of Paul in his early ministry, I felt a little overwhelmed. Then they took us survival camping, in all it’s glory and trench toilets. This little city girl had a culture shock. I Think, prior to the Crucible weekend, I had no clue what living in a different culture would really entail, beyond a vague sense of change. Now, I know what it is to be truly uncomfortable with another culture’s customs, and to push through the discomfort. I know what it is to work as a team while sleep deprived and exhausted. The AFM training team asks that we not put too much up about Crucible, but as a student missionary group, we came out of it strong in our faith in each other, in God, and with a strong sense of team spirit and unity. Also, a profound dislike for Papuan New Guinea jungle cuisine. If someone offers you Sak-Sak, politely decline and run. Over these last weeks, I have been overwhelmed, I have laughed, learned, struggled, cried, prayed, memorized, attempted to start language learning, and prayed more. I have been so encouraged by the emphasis on prayer and the attitude at AFM that emphasizes the importance of tenacity and grit.over an overabundance of talent as one navigates the total change in culture, language, food, and people that being a missionary to another country inevitably entails. I’ve had several people who were quite concerned with my endeavors overseas, but I feel so much peace with my decision. It will be difficult, and it will be so out of my comfort zone, and yet I feel so much conformation from God that this is his will, how can I spend time scared? I feel quite challenged, and nervous, but not in any way scared. I ‘dwell in the secret place of the most high,’ he who ‘covers me with his feathers,’ (Ps. 91). As Laurence Burns is fond of saying, the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. Ahmeen.
Note: Khmer has an odd alphabet I’m not going to try to learn yet, so Chamreab suah is my best phonetic try at writing this language as a help to me. I ask for your prayers as I move forward into this adventure, and I’m so thankful for the support shown to me by all of you, I count myself so blessed by your love and prayers.

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