Finally! Thank you for all of you who kept asking me for an update about East Asia. I finally have the time and the sanity to tell you about this trip and other events that have been happening in my life. As a short recap, this past Thanksgiving break I went with 13 other students from Madison to travel to a large communist country in East Asia. The purpose of our trip was to see how God is working in people's lives on the other side of the world and to share the gospel with students at one of the top universities in that nation. Here is a picture of our whole group at the Great Wall:
What I can say about this trip is that I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go. Honestly, it was a really hard week for me. My heart was heavy over the question "Why am I here? What is my purpose in coming to this country?" It was dirty - the ground, the air, the water. I did not speak the language and was even illiterate. I felt very far from my friends and family and anything familiar. And I was frustrated with myself for having been willing to "go anywhere" for God when I was back in Madison, but for not feeling that when I was in East Asia. I was confronted with my own sinful, selfish nature and the realization that there is a lot left to be done in my heart in terms of surrendering my full self to God. In addition to all of this, I was trying to picture myself serving for a year in a ministry role in this country. I really wanted to say that I would follow God's call and come for a year-long internship, but my heart was very hard toward the idea. Looking back, I'm not really sure that God was calling me to that place for this next year. I think he wanted to show me the contrast between my stubborn, unwilling, anger-filled heart and his merciful, loving and redeeming heart.
During the week that our team from Madison was at this university in East Asia, we did see God working in the people's hearts. It was not our purpose to go teach them; it was our purpose to listen to them and to love them. We spent most of our days going on the campus in pairs so that we could approach people as they ate or walked around and ask them if they would be willing to talk with us about life and culture. One day my sharing partner, Jenna, and I stopped a girl named Tracy. She said that she had a lot to do, but she was willing to do it later on in order to spend time with us! What a sweet girl - we were able to go through the gospel with her and she had some really good questions. She said that she would want to think about what we shared with her and we connected her with the international staff so that they could talk more about spiritual things after our team left.
Meeting the people was probably the best part of this trip. It was striking that most of them had no knowledge of Jesus. In America, many people have a lot of baggage attached when spiritual conversations are brought up, but people in East Asia do not have this baggage. Their government blotted out religion as best they could this past century so that the people may only depend upon the government for all of their needs. With no chance to accumulate religious baggage, the students responded as interested listeners when we brought up spiritual topics. They had genuine questions about this God that loves them.
So, I am back now and have been thankful every day for blue skies, the English language, and the new friends that I made across the globe. I don't think that God is calling me to East Asia next year, but he has given me the vision for how he will be moving in people's hearts in this country to turn around and touch people's hearts in the most unreached places of the world.
Thank you so much for your love, support and prayers!
Please feel free to ask any questions or comments. Love, Bridget