This past Sunday I shared with our church about our adventure in Hong Kong exploding into a life changing experience at the end in Davao, Philippines. The following is what I wrote to our church in Hong Kong since I had a better idea of how to organize my thoughts. It's pretty long and it's only a small fraction of the total experience. Feel free to email me if you'd like to know more.
Previous Mission Trip Part 1
A year ago Jeff had the idea that we move to Hong Kong so that he can learn more about his culture and get to know his family better. I thought wow that would be quite exciting to live somewhere totally outside of our comfort zone. We were pretty much born and raised in the California suburbs. Even our home is your typical ranch house with a white picket fence. So over the summer we sold many of our belongings including our fancy German sports cars. I gave my notice and packed up our house and found a house sitter.
Upon arrival to HK we scrambled to find an apartment while at a hotel. My main task was also to find a church. Fortunately for us Jeff was surfing and found The Vine website and listened to the message online. I checked it out as well and we made it a point to attend the service.
Our first Sunday at Hong Kong was amazing. Not only was I not familiar with the sight of all the maids hanging out in the public spaces, but The Vine proved to be quite an amazing experience. That same Sunday the church prayed over the team that was headed out to Cebu for a mission trip. They shared a video clip of a previous trip. All during that time I felt my heart moved to possibly do the same. A few weeks later the team came back and shared their testimony, once again I felt this was something I wanted to do. A couple months later one of the programs that The Vine sponsors, Care International, did a presentation on their program also bringing a few people who were saved during these outreach programs. I was definitely moved and knew then and there that we had to go and serve. I leaned over to Jeff during the service and said it was a definite must do before we left. Just before Chinese New Year the pastors announced a variety of mission trip for sometime in March. We signed up not even knowing when the dates were. Our time in HK was limited to 6 months so we were hoping it would land during our designated time. Well as it turns out our plans were short by 1 week. So we made the arrangements to change our lease, airplane tickets, and get Jeff some vacation time off from work so that he could also join the team. I felt it was very important to do this. God had placed it in our hearts to do this. It was an opportunity that would probably not be possible when we returned to California.
Boy, we really didnít know what to expect. Even with prayer, practicing our dramas, and learning more about the people we would be serving wasnít even enough to prepare us for the emotional, spiritual, physical challenge of this trip. After doing research on Americans traveling to Davao, we read that there were recent terrorist activities in that region and Americans were strongly discouraged to travel there. They even stated that travel should be limited to only urgent circumstances. In my mind I felt the mission trip was urgent. Even though this trip was on my heart, in the back of my mind I felt so challenged about my safety and security. The area was on high alert and there were many armed soldiers and police around the town. But during the whole trip with our team mates and the program leaders, I never once felt insecure. Riding around in the jeepny I never really felt a sense of my security being compromised. See, my personal safety was such an issue for me in the past. Every night I would nag Jeff to set the house alarm before we went to bed. After returning to California, the first night Jeff mentioned he was going to set the alarm and I told him that it wasnít necessary. I felt that my whole trust was in God to watch over us. If something were to happen, I wasnít concern because God would have a reason for it. This was one aspect of my personal life that has transformed because of the trip.
On a related event when we were in Badjao, I had no idea what to expect. When I first saw several planks cobbled together as a path and being 10 feet above the sewage down below, I freaked out. I have a fear of heights and to see those planks bend at each step just made me freak out. But I kept praying in my mind that what we were doing was to share Godís message with His people and serve God by serving them. All I had in my mind was to literally step out of my comfort zone. After walking on those planks to the worship center, someone asked for volunteers to go door to door to invite people to our presentation. I volunteered and really had no idea what I was volunteering for. So earlier there were a few planks put together to wander the area, but this time there was just one plank or bamboo barely the width of your foot and with little or no handrails like another hut to lean on. I think at one point I stood in my tracks just praying to God to give me the courage to keep going. Somewhere where I stopped, one of the women took me by hand to the next hut to invite people. On our way back another person helped me walk back. It was quite a challenge to face my fear of heights and at the same time be so motivated to get some folks to the center. I still have a fear of heights, but somehow at that moment, I knew God had his angels under my feet to get me going.
I like to sing, and I thought that my gift that I could share during the trip was to sing during worship. But with a bad cold, I could barely speak let alone sing. During the whole I time I was frustrated because I didnít know what else I could do. At one point, all I could do was pray quietly for someone and share stories with just a couple people without keeling over coughing. Another point during the trip we were doing open air outreach and Karen was making balloon animals on her own. With all the kids lining up she definitely could not have done it on her own. All I could do was tie the blown up balloons. There was like a whole assembly line of folks blowing up and tying the balloons and then Karen twisting them into fancy animals and things. At one point someone showed me really quick how to make a dog. For the next hour I along with several others was helping make dogs and other animals out of balloons. I didnít even know I could do something like that. I was so surprised of how supernatural that whole experience was. These kids probably donít have much but we were there to encourage them and give them a gift as simple as a balloon was probably a big deal.
So I couldnít sing, speak, and didnít think I had any talents to share. But in the end, I think what God wanted me to do was to listen and observe/absorb everything. There were times during the trip that I could understand all the Cebuano being spoken. It was as though I was at my family gatherings and everyone was speaking Tagalog, which is my parentsí language. Many of the local leaders kept telling me it was a completely different language. But one time in an open field, Andy was sharing with one of the teenagers and there was no English translation of the message. I sat there and understood the whole message. But it still was very frustrating that folks would tell me that thereís no real way for me to be able to understand, even though I could hear what I did. I shared with Jeff that night because I was so freaked out. As you can tell I get freaked out very easily and definitely lived a very sheltered life. So the only thing I could think about was that this trip was Godís message to me. That somehow this time was to really push me out there beyond what I thought I was capable of doing because it wasnít by my will but it was in trusting God to take care of me. His message for me was sprinkled throughout this whole trip and through the relationships I made.
So how have I been transformed, well Iím more conscientious about how I spend money. I used to buy expensive purses like it wasnít a big deal, but every time I see the price of nice clothes or purses all I can think about is how many kids could be fed. I never used to think twice about paying the hefty price at high end grocery stories here. Today I feel that the money could go to other things to support ministries or a church. Like I mentioned above, I have no fear or worry anymore about my personal safety because I trust God in all aspects of my life. I love God so wholeheartedly and I feel it was a great opportunity not only to learn from a new church, but also to learn from so many people from so many walks of life. We are truly blessed to have been part of the experience and we hope that our lives will cross paths again in the future.
Another way that I have been transformed is in our growth through The Vine. The first several months in Hong Kong was truly a preparation for our hearts and mind to even know it could be possible to go on a mission trip. The Vine was very supportive and open to us even though they knew we were there just for a short time. We felt part of the family and very inspired by so many peopleís lives there. The relationships we formed on the mission trip and with the team will be everlasting in our lives.
Our transformation had been happening the whole time in HK and the mission trip was definitely the climax of that transformation. Iíve learned that all things are possible with faith in Christ. My journey in Christ continues even to today. Today we shared our story at our church here. Hopefully we were able to help plant the seed, and possibly help water some seeds. Weíll never know because itís really Godís work. We are just the messengers. In some way, maybe The Vine and the mission trip was our training ground to start sharing how God has changed our lives.
All I know is today I pray for God to use me in any way. Today I am His totally and completely.
Posted on May 03, 2005 09:08 AM