Not Ready, Still…

Have you ever had times in life when you encountered a similar situation as before, but this time you knew how to respond? Wait, I don’t mean déjà vu. I mean the key being that it was majorly different than the previous experience. Indeed, this is what has happened at least a few times recently. I have found myself walking away from a conversation or dilemma saying to myself… “I’ve been through this before.”

Working at a school in China before was much harder those first two years. I saw so many things I thought were wrong. There were procedures and people I wanted to change, and I also thought more and more that I wouldn’t end up well professionally. What has not been the same this year though has been simply me.

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I’ve been pondering this the last few days, and it won’t leave my mind. (Thank you, Father.) The time back in the US last year was huge, crucial, mind-blowing for me. I have been on a few short-term trips to other countries to serve, teach, whatever the mission was. But long-term living is definitely not the same. I don’t mean this in a negative way for short- or long-termers. Short-term trips can be very beneficial and eye-opening while long-term scenarios bring relationships, fruit, and life. Therefore, I had never received any training for living overseas with other foreigners in an environment totally of another culture. This truth hit me after unknowingly self-examining myself last year and realizing almost all of the reasons I wanted to leave were selfish ones.

When I discovered that I was the source of all this tension built up inside and in the atmosphere, it helped in order to offer it up to the One who would care and listen to anyone seeking a Savior. There are still times, here and there, that I find myself mentally revisiting where I used to be. Thankfully, I am saved, and thus, I can rely on Him to not just save me once but daily. The following are a few verses that have assisted me as of recent. (underlining mine)

Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.  *Proverbs 4:26-27

Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.  *Proverbs 5:5-6

For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.  *Proverbs 5:21-23

Am I now 100% ready to take on the field of work, family, friends, etc. here in China? No, never. That’s the beauty of it. None of this life is to be lived on our own. And for the professional part of things, I’ve joined some organizations and blogs so that I can grow. I was just too blind by my pride before to see these were possible.

*Proverbs just do something to the mind, and when connected, to the heart as well.

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A Week Out

We received an email yesterday morning saying that we need to be in China sometime between August 5th-7th. That is news to us! That’s about a week or two earlier than we were expecting to take off. Knowing this, my wife and I have rushed around at speeds beyond the limit for indoor activity the last couple days (after returning from Chicago with our visas) packing, repacking, loading, and moving.

With a move comes mixed feelings. These similar feelings came 3 years ago the first time we moved to China. What history has taught me is life is just a mess if I try to handle feelings on my own. Thus, I have been going to God, friends, positive music, and mentors. It has been through some friends/mentors that my feelings have been expressed to an extent. “This is sad, yet awesome.” “We’re going to miss you guys.” “We’re excited for you.” Through these statements, my heart has been touched, yet it hasn’t been fully expressed, if I am to be honest.

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What do you mean? How do you feel right now?

I will miss some people and other events in life, but I am much… much more excited to live with nationals and experience life with them once again. Being a week out, I am not sad. I believe this is what we need to do. We need to move on and go where we have been called. Why should I be sad, afraid, scared, or not be ready? Those feelings will inevitably happen when we are there anyway. I will never be ready on my own. This is where surrender has to occur! If I want to stay comfortable, I am able to here and even there because of how westernized our city in China is. That means I need to be careful. Careful is another feeling, if it is one, residing in my heart and mind in this transition. My wife and I compiled a list of actions and feelings we had during the first stint that we want to avoid this time, and I want to be cautious of where my heart will be in regards to living the everyday life, relationships, and communicating with others.

NO other god

After spending a week at a camp, I was able to read chapter 11 of Antiquity and 16 chapters of John today (not all in one sitting, mind you).

After finishing, I was reminded of God’s “signs” in the Exodus from Egypt. Before the last plague, the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.” What the ESV Study Bible points out (and affirms my thought on) is “What is being displayed in judgment on Egypt’s land, animals, people, king, and gods is also revealing to Israel that Yahweh is the only true God of heaven and earth and he is acting on their behalf.” God was showing the Israelites and the Egyptians that he was the one and only God, and that the Egyptian gods weren’t going to fly, literally or figuratively, ha.

Isn’t this similar to what Jesus was doing when his signs took place according to John’s gospel? His signs (possibly somewhat correlated with the plagues; water to blood – water to wine…) were to show that he wasn’t just human, but that he was also indeed 100% God and part of the Trinity. But you might be thinking, “Maybe, but in the Exodus, God called out the Egyptian gods and proved them wrong. How does that connect with Jesus’ signs in John’s gospel?” I’m learning, too, believe me. But maybe, just maybe, these signs were for the Pharisees (and any others) who lived by the law and external acts. When living with this belief and in this lifestyle, don’t we as humans make ourselves gods? We can be legalistic, live by a checklist of our own, and become the god of how to live.

Just like God showed the Egyptians that they were wrong, Jesus did so with any that called him out and considered the law more important and better than him. Jesus wasn’t just showing that he was the Son of God by doing these signs, he was also displaying how he was the Word and how the Word became flesh.

What did 1st century Christians believe when it came to the Trinity? Hoping to stay on topic here, but I didn’t know how many connections there are here with the OT and NT. Just wondering… Thoughts are welcome, please and thank you!

Too Comfortable

In a month and a half, I will be heading back to Shandong, China. That is, if all the paperwork goes smoothly from here on out. I received an email just a few hours ago notifying me about a new law that went into effect China-wide for any foreigner wanting to work there. With the new law comes more fingerprinting, notarizing, etc. with our updated criminal background check that will need to be first inspected at the Chinese consulate nearby. Then, the originals will go with me to the Chinese city and be given to whoever needs them to do whatever it is that they will do with them. I lack the correct verb to apply in this case because I really don’t know what the local PSB (government) will do. Thankfully, I do not fret since there is nothing to hide. 😉

Through this process, my wife and I have had thoughts that have gone back and forth like a ship in an undecided sea. At times, an email has given us hope of going to the embassy within the next 2-3 weeks, while other messages set us another 2 steps back, as if we were playing Candyland. This game, as some may refer to it as, displays how comfortable I have become here in America. I didn’t think that I was becoming this way until my eyes were unveiled. Continue reading

Getting Prepared

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When it comes to preparing for China this August, little did we know until last week that a physical would be in store. After finishing that up and submitting it to the school we will work at, it is now time to wait for Letters of Invitation. No worries, we will have another physical after we arrive in the country, but we’ll see how that goes. And yes, one needs to be invited to China in order to work there (fascinating, eh?). All seems to be going well, and I am becoming more and more pumped as the days are counting down to returning to the same city, same school; yes, we will even be in the same apartment building with the Yellow Sea out our back window.

“Tough life…” you say with sarcasm.

The truth is, it can and will be at times, as it would be anywhere in this world. Such is life, but we are greatly looking forward to being back where we were because we believe it is where we need to be. When the reason for doing something is right, then the preparation and the process are much more meaningful. The thing is now, though, not to overthink the situation too much because I don’t want to have as long of a honeymoon stage this time. Sort of like in marriage, newlyweds who are just married want to spend every waking moment of everyday with each other. Well, when you are fascinated with a novel culture and diverse people, you take it in and enjoy every second of it… then reality hits you. Yeah, that’s the honeymoon stage in a nutshell. It is this and other various items that we are thinking through and prepping for (however much we can, that is, ha!). I just want to move there & live the first year being able to say, as many times as I can,

“I was prepared!”