My recent 12-month Serve Asia experience in Japan was truly a blessing to me, an indelible mark that’s forever etched on my spiritual timeline. To tell all that God worked in me throughout those 12 months would be a difficult task and one I don’t really wish to share with the world.
But there is one thing I am happy to share—I think the biggest blessing in my time abroad were the people. This came as a surprise because I enjoy my own company and I am very happy to just sit and think and be alone with my thoughts. However, it’s a different story when you’re not constantly surrounded by your family, friends, and fellowship, or even your own native people with whom you can strike up a conversation when you need social interaction. It was lonely and it was hard! But God was so gracious in choosing just the right people to surround me.
Fellow OMF missionaries were extremely supportive throughout my entire journey and if it weren’t for them, it would have been a completely different experience. God provided me with genuine, down-to-earth, understanding leaders who were incredibly helpful in so many ways. There also was a new long-term missionary who was starting her journey and experiencing similar things to me—we could talk about that and understand one another. There were long-term missionaries who could tell me honestly about the realities of missionary service without the sugar-coating. I had a dear missionary sister who lived near me—we went on adventures, had meals together, and just shared life. God gave me a kindred-spirit co-worker with whom I could talk, not only about work, but about the theological books we had been reading.
On top of all these, I had amazing students who were actually keen to learn! I’m an ESL teacher (English as a Second Language) and as any teacher can attest, it is such a blessing when your students want to learn!
God is all about people and he has called us to be a body with other believers. Before this experience I really thought I could do it alone, but reality quickly shattered that belief. I can’t do it alone and God has not called us to do it alone. I am starting to truly appreciate this truth. It’s such a blessing to be able to work together with others in God’s kingdom business and I was truly blessed to be a part of that for my Serve Asia experience.
By Karen, an OMF short-term missionary