Cross-cultural Training in Missions

Written by Patricia for Go Asia (May-Aug 2017)

Some missions work requires more training than others. Usually Serve Asia Workers (SAWs) will have to go through Serve Asia training and, depending on the missions work they have, additional training will also be provided to help the SAWs to prepare for the programme and adjust well to the field. Patricia joined the 2016 Mekong Reunion in serving the missionaries’ kids while their parents are occupied with the programmes laid out for them.

My first Mission Trip which changed my life

On 16 Mar, I attended the mission retreat organised by my church, in hope to learn more about mission work and meeting like-minded people. It was when I met Beth Bradley, who was in the same group as I was. She informed me about a mission trip on TCK’s programme to Chiang Mai after I told her about my interest in serving in Thailand. Upon return from the retreat, she sent me the brochure of the programme and asked if I was interested.

I had been considering missions trip but the small group I attended did not organise any trips. I thought God gave me the grace and a wonderful opportunity to serve Him. I applied to OMF after obtaining the blessing from church and approval of annual leave from office. I still remembered I filled in many pages of the application forms as I was a first-time goer on OMF mission trips.

Two months after applying (2 weeks before the mission trip), I met Beth at one of my church mission events. She told me that she would be joining the same trip and we were on the same team, taking care of 3–4-year-old children. We decided to meet up together and she shared the trip schedule and we prepared the programmes for the children (Bible stories, craft ideas, decoration of the venue where the programme would be held). We also prayed for each kid after obtaining their information. Some kids were non-English speaking and some could not speak and understand English. Both of us felt that this was the most challenging part of the trip.

I continued my meet-up with Beth for the planning and preparation. As the days drew nearer, I got more and more excited about my first mission trip and was also looking forward to the learning opportunities that God would be giving me. I also met up with OMF representative, Ling Zi, who briefed me about OMF, the pre-departure information and the six ways to reach God’s world (Pray, Send, Welcome, Go, Mobilise, Learn).

Just a day before the trip, I received a bad news that Beth was not able to go due to an emergency surgery that needed to be done. It was really sudden and I did not know how to react except to pray for God’s mighty hand upon the trip and work to be done. Satan seemed to be on our way to disrupt our plan, but praise the Lord for His provision of a US lady residing in Chiang Mai, that she was able to help during the trip. Also, I was thankful for God’s way in helping me and Beth to prepare some craft ideas that I could bring along to Chiang Mai.

When I got to Chiang Mai, I stayed at a hostel with the other team members for the TCK programme. We had simple Thai language lessons and we had to go to the local market to practise what we had learnt. It was fun and interesting to learn about Thai culture during our language practice as well.

On the second day in Chiang Mai, the TCK team members went to a cooking class together. This was part of the team bonding activity to help us get to know one another better. On the last day before our trip to the retreat venue, we had a formal orientation/training at the Mekong Center. We were briefed on child safety, the term TCK (Third Culture Kids) and accountability of one another during the retreat.

At the retreat venue, I met up with the ladies in the same 3–4-year-old group as me, Jessica from Hong Kong and Betsy from the US. We decorated the venue and prepared crafts and brain-stormed activities for the children who would arrive in the evening. There was a slight language barrier between Jessica and Betsy, and I would be the translator at times.

During this mission trip, I learnt a lot from the people I met, the third culture kids, the missionaries who were there at the conference and the TCK team from all over the world. This trip had helped me to look at things from another person’s perspective. I learnt to adjust to different situations, different styles of working (as each individual is made uniquely by our Creator). Even the children are so different from the children I served in Sunday School in Singapore. Many of the children could not speak and understand English, but I learnt that love is the language that all adults and children could understand. On the last day, the TCK team gathered together to sing praises to the Lord. Moira and Kathryn debriefed us as well, with some team members sharing what they had learnt.

As I prepared this write-up, I read the journal which I wrote every day during the trip and was reminded of how much this trip had impacted me, in my life, in my thinking as well as in my way of doing things. I had always seen things from my narrow view, but this trip had opened my eyes and my heart to see things from a big-picture perspective from God’s eyes.

Everyone on earth is created by God and love is the great command we are to obey, that we are to love one another just like God has loved us. Prayer is now an important routine in my life because I truly see how God answers prayer for my trip despite different challenges along the way.

After I returned from my trip, I continued to pray for the missionaries around the world and I seek God’s will to share in His mission purpose for the people as well. The Bible verse from Acts 20:24 (I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace) really speaks to me and propels me to live my life for Christ. Currently, I am taking the Perspective course to equip myself more about the World Christian Movement and getting involved in more ministries in Church. I continue to submit myself to God’s plan for me, as He knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a purpose. (Jeremiah 29:11) May our Lord Jesus continue to use me to glorify His name.