Meet Lydia. She’s a sweet and ridiculously intelligent 25 yr. old who is a Point Loma graduate. She majored in Literature & English Education and her latest occupation was at the Natural History Museum in San Diego, working as the Programs Registration Coordinator. She’s a surfer, a lover of Mexican Food, and she’s a writer. I first met her through Christopher in 2008 right after I got back from my 7 month YWAM Adventure… and since then, we’ve become fast friends. Though we haven’t spent a ton of time together, the yearly “surfing weekends” and the sporadic overnighters have fostered many late night talks and some pretty quality “share life with each other” experiences. Like iron sharpens iron, we’ve challenged each other to use our gifts and passions… and while she encourages me in my photography, I absolutely love it when she writes.
I find it a rare occurrence when I meet someone who, naturally, is a deep-thinker like myself… so I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly we connected and have stayed connected in the past 2 years. A while back, when Lydia mentioned she was contemplating spending some time in Thailand, I was intrigued… and when she told me, for sure, she was going…. I was beyond thrilled. And because she’s a writer, I’m really excited to keep up with her adventures on her New Blog.
And before we continue, I want to give a little foreward to this Part One of the mini project “GO | Portrait of a Missionary|“. Like I mentioned in the last post, my beginnings as a photographer started in missions. I remember what it was like being in a foreign country with a bunch of people I’d never met before. I remember, at times, feeling overwhelmed with all God was showing me/teaching me. I remember battling the stress of living off the support of family/friends/anonymous donors, worrying I wouldn’t be able to pay for even a plane ticket home…. But I also remember how powerful the prayers and encouragements of my blog readers were in all the triumphs and challenges I encountered. While actually partaking in the missions work was important, sharing the joys and the tough times on my blog was also important. It allowed people to journey with me and to connect on a deeper and more personal level to what God was doing… it wasn’t just me who was being challenged. So, in my efforts to support missionaries who are foregoing their comfort, their paying jobs, their family and friends, even their lives in order to give their all for the Kingdom… I want to encourage you, again, to dig deep into their stories. Follow their blogs. Send encouragements and prayers their way. And if you feel led, support them financially… even if it’s $20… it’s amazing how God can use the little you feel you have to move mountains. And please don’t hesitate to email me if you have questions. Ready? Let’s GO…
Q: What, in your life, do you think has prepared you best for mission work?
Lydia: My parents and my pastor, because they’ve been the ones, in my life who’ve encouraged listening to God, reading my bible and praying, and waiting to hear what God has planned for me. In the past four years, that has meant staying involved in communities, even when I didn’t feel any sort of connection to them …. it’s meant starting a girls bible study for them and coordinating Christmas plays for them… it’s meant staying in San Diego when I’d rather be living somewhere else. But now, after doing all of these things, even though it’s been hard to follow his direction when I don’t understand, I can see, with this Thailand Trip, how all of these things have fit so perfectly… and they’ve really been preparing me in ways I couldn’t have foreseen 4 years ago. And it’s because, against my better judgement, and my own will I guess, that I stayed and listened to God’s calling.
Q: What exactly will you be doing in Thailand?
Lydia: I’ll be teaching English a couple hours each day, leading a women’s bible study group, I will be putting on a Christmas play with the kids at the church I’m working with, doing some office work to help them get organized, at some point I’ll be going to Burma to help run some camps and visit the Hills Tribes in the jungle. Basically they keep adding things to my list because there’s a ton they need help with.
Q: Why Thailand?
Lydia: I don’t think I really “chose” Thailand. But I suppose a reason Thailand came into play is my dad went there in January and worked with this mission organization. He wrote me an email and told me that I should really pray about coming to Thailand because the spirit of the place is amazing and the people are incredible and they have need for someone like me there. But if I had chosen when I would go and teach English for 6 months, it would probably have been a lot closer to the beach and maybe in South America. But he suggested that I start praying about going to Thailand… and I did… and God really started confirming that would be a good place for me to go. When I presented what I would be doing in Thailand to my church, I showed them a map and I showed them where Chiang Mai (the area I’ll be working in) is… and I proceeded to make the point, “Do you SEEE how far inland that is? Do you SEEE how FAR away from the BEACH that is? This is how I know that this was God’s idea.. because it’s nowhere near the beach!!” But in all actuality… I’m positive he loves surfing as much as I do, but for this season of my life, He’s got something better for me in Chiang Mai… and I’m choosing to trust that He’s got something worth giving up surfing for.
Q: What is the most evident way God speaks to you? Is it an audible voice? Or an “impression”? Through other people? Or God closing doors? How does it happen for you?
Lydia: I have, on my computer, a little sticky note that simply says, “Cultivate Stillness.” And I think I have to put that up there as a reminder to myself that, in order to really hear anything God has to say, I have to find a quiet place to hear it. And for me, that means for 10 seconds, not thinking all the anxious thoughts I house in my brain most of the time, and really contemplating things like: what I’m doing with my life, why do things not work out, what could i be doing better? Basically, I need a place to just be still and to be open to letting God speak into my life… and more importantly, I need to be ready for whatever it is…. because I don’t think you can approach God to give you answers when you have answers of your own, or even if you expect Him to answer you the way you want Him to. He doesn’t work like that, and to expect such things… well… you’re not going to get much out of that time because you’re looking for a preset answer. You have to approach it, ready for him to tell you things like… “Go to Thailand” or “Go to Haiti”… sometimes He asks us to do things we don’t want to.
Ooof…. that’s hard. I think part of it is feeling peace about a decision and I think He gives me that peaceful feeling through confirmation from other people. I think God knows I depend on what other people say a little more than I should (that’s something I’ve always struggled with), but in this case, I think He’s used the positive response I’ve received from other people in my life that I trust. They were so excited about this trip, and they’ve been so encouraging… so supportive ever since I mentioned that I wanted to go. So that’s been a pretty big thing for me. I’ve already prayed about it and I’ve already made a decision in my mind, but when I start sharing the decision with other people, the positive reaction has really confirmed that it’s right. There have been other times in my life, when I’ve made, what I thought was, a good decision… I thought I would be honoring God, but the reaction I got from other people was not very positive… and that really made me stop and think because these are people who love me and whom I trust. So if they’re not on board for some reason, it’s probably something I should look into before I proceed. I think God uses that weakness in me sometimes, to speak to my heart.
Q: What are some things you would really appreciate prayer and encouragement in while you’re away?
Lydia: I guess loneliness is going to be a really big thing. Also, prayer for good relationships while I’m over there, to stay focused on the reasons I’m there, prayer for any sort of spiritual warfare that might be going on… and that kind of folds into the loneliness thing… because when you’re alone in a foreign country, doing God’s work, you’re kind of easy to pick on. I’m also needing to raise support still, so prayer that all the money will come through is a big one.
Q: What are some ways us blog readers can support and connect with you while you’re away?
Lydia: I will be keeping a blog, titled, The Prospect of Joy | Notes From a Volunteer English Teacher in Thailand. I’ll be writing frequently there, talking about what I’m doing, posting pictures, and sharing what God’s teaching me. Comments are always a good thing as an encouragement… and as a means of connecting with people outside Thailand. I would definitely ask that you all keep me and Thailand lifted up in prayer and in your thoughts… this isn’t going to be a walk in the park… I’m sure there will be enjoyable parts, but it will be a challenge. And lastly, I’m raising money to actually fund the trip… and there’s a lot still to cover. It will take $6,000 to cover the cost of this 6 month trip. If you would like to help support me financially, you can send checks (made out to the church, with “THAILAND-FLC” in the subject line) to:
Warehouse Christian Ministries, 9933 Business Park Drive, Sacramento, CA 95827
San Diego Japanese Christian Church, 1920 E St., San Diego, CA 92102
I hope you know that we are all SO EXCITED for this adventure you’re about to go on. Remember document your joys and triumphs so you can remember during times of pruning and hardship. I’m behind you. I’m praying for you. I’m positive He’s going to use you in mighty ways. Go get ’em Tiger!
“Pra Jaow Uay Pon” (God Bless You),