What have I learned? What was the purpose of me being in a land, far, far away from home, from friends, my family, my church, Keswick and Western culture for an entire summer? Well I hope that hooked you in, but if you are expecting answers, you can probably stop reading now for I truly don't quite know how to respond to these questions that plague my thoughts. I should have this down pat, for I know it will be asked upon my return, but I'm not sure if I have the answer ready. So this is my attempt to verbally spew out thoughts as I seek to find the answers.
A vision trip. That is what this was called. With that I suppose come the idea that I am seeking to become better acquainted with what it means to be a missionary... and I was hoping through it that God would provide insight to where I was to go, what I was to do, to whom I was to reach. In fact I expected that. I also expected to be found in an area where Christianity wasn't very accessible, and see immediate effects of the gospel's work, and then consider if Thailand was to be where I would spend my life. I also think that I expected Thailand to be this. The Lord has shown me that this was the wrong approach, for the question isn't about where, or what or to whom, but rather, will I trust the Lord. The question isn't about whether I will see immediate effects, but will I be willing to wait in the Lord's time (whether it be seconds or many years to come...). Actually, the question isn't about me at all, which is also something that He revealed, for my pride and high self-worth is a serious issue in my life. Deny myself, take up my cross (Luke 9:23) - this doesn't involve an attitude where I consider myself better for my efforts, nor does it involve an attitude where seek to build affection for what I do, nor does it involve expecting greatness or abundance when I seek to serve God. Rather, when I deny myself, I must recognize how unworthy I am to have any part in the Kingdom, and realize the shear beauty in my ability to commit my way to the Lord, an ability given only by Him.
I've realized, moreso, the importance of fellowship and discipleship, as I've seen groups of missionaries and come to watch just how important the relationships developed are. Even as I stayed with two different families, I came to see the importance of relationships in ones walk with the Lord. Being with Godly people serves to remind, to model, encourage, exhort so ones walk can grow. This helps to strengthen us that we may then go out with the strength of the Spirit, and see the kingdom grow.
I think that being a long term missionary involves developing relationships and settling in that the people can see you as a steady factor ... not quick share and leave methods, but it is also important to know that the Lord may terminate a project sooner than expected, so building godly relationships is of first important that these natives then may share.
I've seen too that a missionary isn't just about spreading the gospel out, but it is first and foremost being a Christian, and thus we are called to love one another and be examples of Christ. Humility and service come into play here.
I don't really feel like I've gotten anywhere typing that all out, but maybe it means something to you reading.