The man on the bus

“Here was someone who showed up at the right time with the right knowledge to take me to the right place,” remembers Renette. “He knew how to take me from being hopeless to having direction, purpose. He took me from off the map to back on the map. He didn’t use words, but walked alongside me, comforting and guiding me. And when he knew I could take on the next part of the journey by myself, he left. In 10 minutes I went from lost to found.”

I don't feel very 'missionary'

“…I shared that somehow, I needed to write a blog post about the experiences I was having (in East Asia),” says Anja. “Why? Because the life I described to you at the beginning of this post didn’t fit my definition of what the “classic life” of a missionary looks like. Getting noodles delivered to my bed because I was sick while visiting a foreign country seemed to fit my definition a lot better.”

Happy endings

“As I watched the ending scene (that lasted about three minutes) I thought about the “happy ending” notion,” says Ava. “Is it real or is it a fairy tale? A utopia created by Hollywood to give their viewers a false sense of hope in the reality of a broken world? And so, I said to myself: I believe in happy endings.”

Leaving a legacy

“I love hearing from the local people here about the workers that have gone before us who have now returned to their passport countries,” shares Beth. “I hear stories like: ‘She taught me to quilt’ or ‘She gave me this recipe’ or ‘She taught me how to set a table for foreigners.’ And, of course, the best stories begin: ‘She taught me about Jesus.’ These are the things those who have gone before us have left behind.”

Turning over the table

“I knew before I came to Africa that I would face the issue of poverty cycles, but I didn’t know there would be poverty cycles in ministries as well. I was so emotional about my friend’s situation that I wanted to do something. In Chinese, we call this feeling ‘turning over the table.' Chinese are usually reserved people so turning over the table means that someone could not hold back the emotion any more,” explains Ivy. “They have to do something to express what they are feeling.”

Why we help

“In the face of this devastating poverty, I feel a sickening sense that there is no way to help; that any programme we organised, any aid given or any message shared would not be enough to bring a real change,” shares Ellyn. “It is only when I learn to see their beauty—the person that God crafted them to be—that I feel hope in the fact that they too were created by God and placed here on earth for a purpose.”

My life of adventure in missions

“Yet, the point is not so much that I have any special abilities, but that my story is a story of obedience to God,” shares Simon. “In fact, there are generations of other Christians who gave up their homeland to travel a worse road just to bring the message of hope and healing to other people.  I tell my story, because it is a story of how a simple act— one that is actually fun and enjoyable—can still lead to transformation.”

Rejoicing in the simple gospel

“As time passes by, my prayer has changed. It is no longer for God to take me to higher places, or fulfill His promise for me but through me,” says Camila. “It has become more and more my biggest pleasure in life when I see the poor being fed, the orphan being adopted, the widow being comforted and my heart kept separated from the pollution of the world (James 1:27). Not ignoring it, but fighting it. Bringing justice where there is none and being a light in the middle of the darkness.”

When 'good'byes feel more like 'bad'byes

“At some point just before midnight, I realised that we would never again be in a setting like this to celebrate the new year,” remembers Loïs. “Our friends will get married in the spring and move to the USA. Our other friend just got divorced from her local non-believing spouse and will, together with her son, move back to her family in another country. Again a year of goodbyes.”

God snagged my attention

“I did a lot of thinking and praying. I thought about my fears, my hopes and dreams for the future. I thought about my fears about my hopes and dreams for the future. I let whatever emotion come that would come,” says Hannah. “I let the tears come if they wanted. Only the sheep, fields and river were there to see them. I let any – and every – thought come up, pouring it out before God…and then I left it there for Him to take control.”

When did this place become home?

“If I am completely honest, I think I spent our first two years in Central Asia longing to go home to our home country (or even to the USA where we had lived for a short while),” admits Beth. “I would pray: Your will God but deep down I was hoping that His will was that we wouldn’t be here long.”

Of covers and smiles

“As I continued watching, I wondered if the smiles I saw through that lens of mine told the real story of their lives. Maybe those smiles were a cover for something else, just like the way of dressing sometimes covers those beautiful smiles and faces in their own countries,” says Anja. “In Europe, we often say we are not used to these covers of fabric. We like to see a person’s whole face. But I wondered if we really always see a person’s true face or is what we see not often a cover, too?”