As I’m writing, I’m sitting in a twin bed in a room without airconditioning (or aircon, as it’s called here) listening to the sounds of a busy suburb and smelling soy sauce in the air.
I probably exaggerated the last one, but truly, it smells much different from home here. Leave it to Miss Oral Fixation to pick up on that one first thing every morning.
So far Singapore has been everything and nothing that I’ve expected.
But let’s back up and explain how I even came to be here first. We don’t need to go to far back; just two weeks ago I was sitting in my parents bed crying with excitement and fear at the realization that my life was about to become very, very different.
I have a friend named Tori that I met at the end of my first year at Southeastern right before he graduated and moved back to Tanzania for full-time missions. We’ve kept in contact over the past year through email and occasional skype conversations, and shared our hearts for missions, as I finished up my time at Southeastern/LAFSC and he kept working on his road project.
I’ve long said that I’ve love to do missions, and most of you who know me have heard me say at one time or another how badly I want to pair my film degree and passion for documentaries with missions/nonprofits. The number of jokes I’ve received over the years about how I’ll probably move to Africa and never come back have been pretty substantial and I seemed to be the only one surprised by the new adventure I’ve embarked on.
As is the case with most of our dreams or passions, we have those carefully crafted excuses that we use to keep ourselves safe from them, or at the very least safe from the disappointment that we won’t be able to reach them. Mine has been a very real excuse, but an excuse nonetheless.
Since graduating from a private Christian university, pretty much all that’s been on my mind is how I can practically pay off all my student loans. I have a good amount of debt and it’s been a slow, discouraging summer in my town that basically runs on season; no one has been hiring and besides applying at McDonalds or something, I’d tried all that I could to get a job.
“I’d love to go move overseas, but I really need to focus on getting on my feet financially and working on paying off my student loans. It’s the smartest thing to do. Maybe in a year when I have some savings and a better grip on what’s happening in my life, I can commit to something missions related.”
That sounds reasonable and responsible, right? I thought so.
About two and a half weeks ago, Tori presented me with an opportunity via his contact in Singapore, Pastor Andrew Chay at the Victory Family Center. VFC is a church spread out into twelve regions all over the city-state of Singapore who’s core beats to reach all the nations of the earth for Christ. Since their foundation back in the seventies, they’ve been to over 84 nations and about 30 to 40% of their congregation has been on a year-long mission trip. They have a very intense training program called the Gideonite program (which I can best describe as physical and spiritual bootcamp) that small teams of 5 or 6 will take part of before committing to an extended overseas trip. Tori was getting ready to return to Singapore to start training and lead a church planting trip to Tanzania, and he had suggested me to Pastor Andrew as a team member. He also told me that they’d like someone to film all the developments and that he wants someone to focus on building relationships…and that they’d be able to get me there financially, and help me with my student loans. I’d go train in Singapore with the team for close to three months and then spend December 2012 – September 2013 in Tanzania.
Only catch: it was August 27th and I needed to leave on September 15th.
Leave the country in two weeks committed to a year overseas? Suddenly all my big declarations hidden behind the safety of my excuses caught in my throat and I faced with the question that Joyce Meyer had posed during one of her sermons:
“God says: You’ve asked for a lot…do you want it or not?”
After filing out all my forms, getting my shots and a FaceTime conversation with Pastor Andrew, finding out I actually needed to leave September 5th, instead of the 15th, having a series of freakout sessions that definitely weren’t glamorous, feeling every emotion in the book but boldness, and finally having Pastor Grant from my longtime home church pray for me, I find myself here in Singapore.
I think the turning point where I finally realized I’m going to be okay was last Sunday at New Hope, when Pastor prayed for me in front of the church. Although it’s been a few years since I’ve really been extremely involved in the community at New Hope, as I looked over the crowd and was approached by many people after service offering their love, prayers and financial support (which I still so desperately need for needs I didn’t account for initially), I saw countless of familiar faces who’ve spent time and love on me over the years.
I saw my teacher who taught me in kids church.
I saw the woman who came as a clown to all of our church festivals and used to make me balloons when I was little.
I saw my old youth group leaders, who were my age when they befriend and instructed me during those awkward teenage years when I felt very lonely and estranged from others.
I saw countless woman from bible studies I’ve attended, coworkers, parents of the children in my sunday school class, family friends and their parents…everyone who’s spent time and helped me get to this point.
I can’t do anything but cry and say with a heart overwhelmed by gratefulness and humility, thank you. Thank you to my family, my friends, my supporters, and most of all my God for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime that I don’t deserve and didn’t earn.
There’s much learning to be done, and difficult times ahead, but I am excited, truly excited to keep my eyes open and see what this next year holds.