False Alarm, False Response

by Sammae Gee Biboso (36th Batch)

Hours before heading to the airport, I couldn’t hold myself but cry in the bus while talking to someone who knows me well. I sobbed at the corner. I will miss myself. I cried not because I will be separated from my family, not because I will miss them for a long time. But I cried because I might miss myself again.

Missing myself could cause severe depression to me again. Severe depression could affect my missionary work. I might not endure it this time; my comforters are too far away from me. I left them that I might be left comfortless. I wept for that. I will face a big storm ahead.

“Korean people are just so cruel!” This fearful statement that my Korean partner had just said kept ringing in my ears. I was still on the way and this has already bothered me. Should I have the same attitude, I would surely suffer from culture shock. “Korea is like this! Korea is like that!” they said.

I made a decision. I should be tough this time–an attitude which I never learned to love, so opposite from my being gentle and kind. I suffered like this once. I have to, twice.

I don’t want to be in Korea. It was never in my dreams. I know the hardships that lie ahead. I’m afraid of it. But I’m left with no choice. For some reasons, I don’t want to stay any longer in my mission field, either. Neither do I want to quit.

Oftentimes, I couldn’t dare to disappoint my father. Above all, how could I dare disappoint my Heavenly Father? I hate refusing His call. I’m a missionary. These things kept on bothering me. God’s promises then became clear to me: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) These reminded me. I should go on.

We arrived in Korea. Just as I expected, the moment after we met Pr. Shin, we just went out on our own ways without even any drama of hugging and saying goodbye. That depressed me already. I took a deep breath and told myself that I should be tough. I should be tough enough! This is just the beginning of endless struggles.
 
Days had passed. I kept on waiting for any tough circumstances. Unknown to myself, those thoughts were left at the airport. I found myself wrong! The family who catered me has shown me the truth of being human and the spirit of being an Adventist. Far from what I expected, they are true people. Far from being cruel, they are as sheep.

Staying with them was great. I was supposed to be tough and a perfectionist in their sight, never applying my soft side. But I turned out to be the other way around. They brought out my tender, clumsy, and sweet personality. I never tried to love them, either. But I can’t deny it. I love them. I then began to love Korea.

Korea is not the horror story my partner has told me. It’s way too opposite. God is indeed wise. He proved me wrong. He taught me not to generalize, not to judge, never to hate. I just don’t know the people yet.

Moreover, God has taught me to be true at all times. He taught me not to hide my wonderful self. He let me realize that my partner just wanted me to prepare myself for the worst that I might appreciate the simple and good things of this country. He let me realize, as well, how I just wasted my missionary opportunities in my own country. With God, I could redeem those wasted moments here in Korea. I would be a better person through Him. This is such an opportunity!

Now, though I am living with another family with different personalities and lifestyles, I could understand them. I still could appreciate their goodness.

People are people. They may vary in countries, personalities, culture, and lifestyle, but they are living people like us. Some of them might not be as good enough as you want them to be. But as for the rest, there are those who would prove you wrong. You are among those people. You can disappoint or disprove other people also. It’s up to you then. Which do you prefer? Someone who could disappoint others or someone who could change their tough personality? Someone who could disprove their misconceptions? Someone who could make their judgments faulty? A missionary will choose the latter.

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WEATHER…You Like It or Not

by Joanne Maghuyop (34th Batch)

Yes! Whether we like it or not, we are all going to experience hardships; we are all going to experience difficult times; we are all going to experience pain. When you focus on this negative side of life, you will fail. Before I came here (Korea), I heard somebody said, “Expect the worst.” And as what I expected, it was really the worst. The weather was really cold and most of the students were disobedient.

One of the biggest challenges for me was the weather. It was already cold when I arrived here. Suddenly I have to wear thick clothes. I couldn’t move properly. I couldn’t go out anywhere I want to. I was a little bit disappointed because they said that Korea is very beautiful, but when I looked around, it was not because most of the trees and plants were dying. I did not see beautiful flowers. And just like the weather, I felt very cold inside and out.

But thanks be to God because He did not create just one weather or season. As what the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

I believe in this verse. During spring, I found out that this is really true. I was surprised that most of the dead plants came back to life again. The trees started growing leaves. The flowers started blooming. I can see beauty all around–not only in the plants but also the people.

Just like the weather, hope sprang into my mind. I began to hope for a better future. I just let God control my life. Because I finally believed that He knows what is best for me. Now I expect for the best. I know that rain or shine, hot or cold, summer, spring, winter, autumn–whatever season may come in my life, as long as I’m with God and as long as He’s with me, everything will work out just fine according to His purpose.

Reaching Others in a Simple Way

by Arcelie Baer

Whatever your hand find to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowlwdge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.  Ecclesiastes 9:10

Missionary work here in Korea is quite different from the work in the Philippines. We might sometimes think that our mission of spreading God’s love here is impossible. There are a lot of people who are sensitive and reluctant when you talk about God.

In my adult class, I always have a Bible verse at the beginning of each class. I carefully choose verses that are easy and I relate them with real life situations. I ask them first what they understand about the text and then we discuss it together.

One time, we talked about discipline and leadership. One of my students in the group who is a teacher asked me if it is ok to discipline children. I told him, “Of course, especially that you are a teacher.” Then he said, “Oh! I forgot that I’m a teacher. Whenever I’m here, I feel like I’m a student and you are the teacher. Thanks for always reminding me to live right and think positively about life.”

Then I realized that although my explanations and insights are simple and direct, I was able to reach his heart. God guided my tongue on what to say. 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke and exhort, by unfailing in patience and in teaching.”

Let’s not get tired in telling the people, especially our students, about the good news. They may seem passive and unattentive but we can never tell–they might have kept our words in their hearts.

I Am Chosen

by Maria Eleofe Magtahas (36th Batch)

Upon coming here in Korea, I really didn’t have any idea what kind of life would I have as a missionary. What I only knew was that I will be a missionary teacher here.

With that description, I was expecting a classroom setting with a group of students. I thought it didn’t matter either one is assigned in a church or in a school as long as he/she must teach in the classroom.

But reality did not happen as what I have thought it would. In my case, being a missionary teacher turned out to be a tutor. I go to my students’ houses by bike.

At first, I was really devastated. I kept asking myself, “Why am I here, biking? Why did I choose this kind of life?” And I started comparing my life before while I was working in an office and now as a missionary teacher here. I was very sad and felt very tired of my work. But amidst of these, I still managed to come to God in prayer. I asked Him to help me discern the reasons why I am here.

Then, God led me to the book of John 14:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”

This made me realize that, “Oh, yes! I am one of the vessels chosen by God. A vessel that will be an instrument to carry my students to God’s feet.”

Now, I am enjoying my life as a Chosen Vessel. I enjoy biking, teaching, and playing with my students. I already learned to forget who I was before and learned to love who I am now. For as Ellen White says, “Whatever may have been past experiences, however discouraging your present if you will come to Jesus just as you are, weak, helpless, and despairing, our compassionate Savior will meet you a great way off. And will throw about you His arms of love and His robe of righteousness.” (The Mount of Blessings p.16)

God is always willing to embrace us with His unchanging love. Pray and have faith.

Our Willingness as Shepherds

by Lizanne Gay Salubre (33rd Batch)

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the father knoweth me, even so know I the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.  John 10:11, 14-15

 As missionaries here in Korea, our students are our sheep. Are we that willing to sacrifice everything for our students, even our very own lives? I know the general answer is never. Most of the time, we are too impatient with our students. Even I myself have regular fights with my students.

 If we are going to rate ourselves from 1-10 as good shepherds, what grade can you give yourself? Are we that willing to sacrifice as Jesus? Or are we just too selfish to only think about ourselves, about what we want, rather than our students? Are we willing to sacrifice our prides and not get mad at them especially if they never ever respected or obeyed us? Don’t ask me because my personal answer is “I don’t know” and most of the time inside my class it is “never.”

 It is really, really hard to follow Christ’s steps and become a good shepherd to other people especially to our students here in Korea. But that is what our calling is all about. May we strive hard to become a shepherd who is willing to sacrifice not only for our students but also towards the people around us, especially those who need us the most.

I pray that we will be able to conquer the disease of selfishness that is controlling our individual hearts.

My Angels in Korea

by Flordelyn Ondangan (36th Batch)

See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Exodus 23:20 (NIV)

We can never see the future, the things ahead of us. We can never tell what will happen next. But God will send an angel along the way and bring us to the place He prepared for us.

Before I came to Korea, I prayed that I would only come here after I finish my first mission field assignment. But God didn’t answer my prayer and He sent me here even before I finished my first term. I’ve promised not to disappoint Him in any way so I said YES for Korea even though I was really scared. First of all, I’m not a teacher, I don’t know how to teach and I don’t know what to teach. I prayed so hard and asked Him, “Lord if you really want me to go there, please send an angel ahead of me and please prepare everything for me there.”

I never expected that I would have a Filipino missionary partner from the 35th Batch, my principal is also from the 1000 Missionary Movement (1st Batch) and my newly found Korean friends were really nice and kind to me. WOW! What an answered prayer! Everything was perfect. At first, I thought this is great. But day by day, little by little, things changed. It never turned out the way I expected.

I’ve experienced a lot of hardships and insults and I was even deprived of some of my rights. This is the hardest part of my missionary work so far. I had the greatest battle in this mission. This time I tried to question God. Why did you put me in this place? Why do I need to suffer like this? Why does it have to be me? Why did you leave me? I was crying so hard at that time and I wanted to go back home. I cried out to the Lord, “Please help me. I am so tired of being here.” And God heared my prayers and helped me.

Then I read the verse from Deuteronomy 28:13 and I said to myself I’m going to win in this fight because God is with me. I am not going to compromise my faith just to please them.

Right now I’m okay; we are fine. I realized why I am here; now I know my purpose. God sent me here for a big change for myself and for others. I learned to fight in His name. I consider the people here as the angels God sent me.

When things go wrong, all we need to do is trust and seek Him for help. I am no longer afraid of tomorrow because God is already there.

As His Follower

by Gilmae Aguilos

 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Ephesians 5:1

Being a missionary has been an amazing experience. At times the work is challenging but I am thankful that I already spent almost three years in service for Him. But I’m the kind of person that at hard times would tend to question my faith.

One of my students threw a rolled up paper directly to me, hitting me on the neck. And I asked him why he did that. He said, “Because you always let the others answer the questions though I was the one who raised my hand first.” He continued, “Even when we memorize sentences, this same thing happens.”

It was the same excuse I heard from this boy that entire week.

I didn’t try to argue with him. I was shocked and speechless. I didn’t know what to say and what to do so I prayed silently. After praying, I said, “I’m so sorry. I love you all. I had no intention of hurting you; I just want you to respect me as your teacher.”

At that time, I felt I shouldn’t be here. I was thinking, “If only I have money to just stay in the Philippines, I wouldn’t have to be here with these kids. But then I remembered, “OH NO! I’m not here for money; I’m here to serve God.”

So I told myself I’m not going to get discouraged about it. I will just hand this matter over to God and trust Him to take care of it.

There’s a quote from Hudson Taylor that gives me strength whenever I encounter some difficulties. It says: “God isn’t looking for a people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him.”

When the class was over, he said, “Teacher, I’m sorry.”

I nearly cried as he said that but also felt it wasn’t nice to cry in front of the students.

After several days, his mum called me up and said that I should be strict with them. It is definitely a struggle for me being an authority figure and a role model when at times I still feel like a child myself. I’m so tired of trying sometimes, but I would just tell myself, “I’m not going to give up. This is the task the Lord has set for me.”

We must give ourselves to God without reserve. Consider Jesus the greatest role model for us all. He did not consider any price too high to pay. I’ll just keep on praying that one day God will reveal the great and wonderful work He has done through my weak efforts.