Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Joy Only Grows in a Thankful Heart

A trait I have that I really do not love is that of comparison.  I often look to where others are and think to myself how if I could just have what they have or be where they are or experience what they experience, then I would truly be happy. In a program like YAGM, it is so wonderful to hear the stories of the other volunteers, but I have caught myself being envious of others' experiences.  Don't get me wrong, I am beyond happy to be in my placement and know that this is the perfect place for me, but it is difficult not to compare.  Each time I have caught myself doing this comparison this past week, I have thought back to a story I heard at least once a summer at camp from Pastor Mary, "The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle".  I'll let you watch the story being told.

"The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle"

I love how it closes, "If you can't be happy here, you won't be happy anywhere.  For joy only grows in a thankful heart." I think this story challenges those of us in the YAGM program, but really everyone whether you're working, in school, old, or young, to give thanks continuously.  When we recognize what we have to be thankful for in a given situation, envy and jealousy will subside and we will realize just how much joy there is to be had where we are!  This week, I am thankful for the reminders/slaps in the face that what I need and am looking for is right here in front of me.  It may look different than I expect it to, but I am being provided for by one who knows my needs better than I do!

**This is yet another support for my argument that you are never too old to take away a lesson from a children's book. ;)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Simply Being

Tonight I had the goal of sending out my newsletter, however my internet was being slow so I called it quits for the night.  I closed my computer and walked downstairs to find Mrs. Soong watching TV in the living room eating dinner.  I then realized that I myself had not eaten yet, so I went and poured myself the dinner of champions, cereal.  I sat next to her and watched a Malaysian romantic drama.  She would laugh, then translate for me so I was in the know, too.  Then I went into the kitchen to wash out my bowl and she followed me in and pulled out some of her leftover dinner and fixed me a plate (she is always worried I don't eat enough).  We went back out to our show and after finishing my second dinner, Mrs. Soong pulled out a bag of crackers for us to eat.  We continued watching and talking, and eating, then we both decided we were tired so we turned off the TV and as I stood up, she reminded me how my posture was not good when I arrived to her house and now it is better.  She followed this observation with a "Praise the Lord!" So we praised the Lord for better posture, talked about tomorrow's plans, and after a goodnight hug, I went upstairs.
I got to my room to find a text and missed call from my friend Carrie saying she was bringing me a bowl of soup because I've been sick.  I went downstairs to wait for Carrie and was able to talk some more with Mrs. Soong as she got ready for bed.  Carrie dropped the soup by.  I sat at the kitchen table, eating some absolutely delicious soup and was filled with comfort and peace by the love and companionship I was completely surrounded by tonight.
This is what this year is about.  It's not about newsletters (although check your inboxes soon for the first issue) or plans for what's to come or exotic experiences.  It's about being.  It's about being where you are, in relationship with others, supporting and being supported, and finding peace and joy in those little moments.

Going to sleep so thankful for tonight's simple reminder of why I'm here.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

No Place I'd Rather Be

I'd like us all to flash back to my first few days/weeks of my first summer at camp. I remember sitting below the dining hall during orientation and talking to some of my new friends about how I didn't really love kids, I wasn't really outdoorsy (I actually got my cartilage pierced before the summer because I thought it would make me look more outdoorsy, but that's another story for another day), and couldn't give a very sure answer of why I was there, but there was something that had drawn me to apply.  It took a few weeks and some tears, but slowly I learned that being at camp in the summers was exactly where I needed to be.  Because of my time there, I now absolutely love working with kids, I have some earthy points, I made wonderful friends, and have grown so much in my faith, just to name a few of the benefits :).  For me, camp went from being a place of discomfort and uncertainty to a place that held so many memories and experiences that there was truly no place I'd rather be.
So, fast forward to now. I'm about 3 weeks into my service in KK, and about 6 weeks into my time in Malaysia. Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I'm here. Up until YAGM, Asia as a whole wasn't really on my radar of places to go.  I've never really been more than a few hours away from home for an extended amount of time.  This is not a decision that I would say is characteristic of myself (Much like when I decided to work at camp but did not really like kids at the time).  Why or how we are lead to things sometimes really blows my mind.  Tonight I was in the Eklektos youth service at church and we started singing "No Place I'd Rather Be."  In that moment, after a week filled with a fair amount of discomfort, I was comforted by the familiarity of a song I have sung countless times at camp in the mountains of North Carolina. To be reminded of past experiences of God's faithfulness renewed my hope for the experience to come.  Everyday I see more and more of why I have been called to Malaysia, mainly in the community I have experienced so far.  And slowly, I am growing to call Malaysia the "no place I'd rather be".

No place I'd rather be
No place I'd rather be
No place I'd rather be
Than here in Your love, here in Your love

So set a fire down in my soul
That I can't contain
That I can't control
I want more of you, God
I want more of you, God