I have really enjoyed working with the Gaudet family. Living in Thailand and interacting daily with this dear missionary family has taught me more than I could have imagined:
*Pray is not just a four-letter word that should be thrown around churches, conferences, meetings, and "spiritual" discussions. God is still on the throne and prayer changes things. How sweet it is to meet each morning and to share burdens, joys, and prayer requests and then to bring those very requests before the Lord collectively.
*God is not broke. In a way, this goes along with the first point because often I have a genuine need, but I don't think to pray and ask God for the __________ (money, time, resources, etc.). Jeremiah 33:3 is in the Bible for a specific reason!
*God's work is bigger than any one ____________ (person, group, church, missionary, etc). I have met at least 8 other missionaries/pastors while on this trip and I realize that God's Hand is moving in so many ways.
*Like-minded churches are actually producing godly young people. It is so easy to fall into "we're the only ones living for God" rant when it just isn't true. Numerous young people have come to help the Gaudets over the last 10 years and they came from all over the USA and have been used of God.
*Any spiritual growth I'm going to do needs to be cultivated by myself. Without having: "church" to attend 4 times a week... a Bible study... a specific visitation time... I am pretty much on my own. Any lapse in my growth is my fault, not the Lord's, not the missionary's, not the pastor's, not the people back home - MY fault. This also makes watching the Sunday morning service online a very sweet time and one that I will not miss being a part of!
*It's a choice to rejoice even in what seems mundane. Without having the opportunity to jump in my car... go to work whenever I want to... plan what I'm working on... going shopping... hanging out with friends... being spontaneous... taking trips...; it would be pretty easy to get bored with going to the office 5 days a week and coming home and STAYING home each night (for the most part) and spending the weekends around the house (with the exception of going to Future Park and to church). The first couple of weeks might be exciting, but routine is routine - no matter where you are! It's my responsibility to be happy and smile and be thankful that God put me here, which I am!
*Just because one thing was done "a certain way" back home doesn't necessarily mean that it is done the same way somewhere else. Having had the opportunity to work in the church office for four years has taught me a lot of things, but there's always more to learn from someone else, and perhaps it's even something I thought I "knew".
*Communication is vital! There have been some "miscommunications" that have happened around our office, and as a result, work was either done twice, not done soon enough, or a step was missed. I've learned that even if I think I'm doing Bro. Tom a favor by jumping onto a new project, it really is a better idea to double-check with him (or whomever the boss may be!) to make sure there was no new project lined up.
*Even when I'm not talking, I'm communicating something. It's been said body language makes up for 60-70% of all communication and I think it's true! A smirk... a giggle... a raised eyebrow... slouching in the seat... a hand covering the mouth... shoulders shaking... a frown... angrily walking away... an injured expression... the list could go on and on. One example I can think of is when a national pastor asked Bro. Tom, "how long was Pookie in America?" Pookie has never been to America but has picked up on the "American lingo" from the Americans around her. Now that's not a bad thing; it just happens to prove the statistic:o).
*And finally, being on a foreign field for an extended period of time gives a very small glimpse into a missionary's reality:
1- The burdens that can't be effectively shared with those back home other than, "Please pray!"
2 -The numerous daily blessings that never make it into a prayer letter.
3 - The sweet times of fellowship with national believers, even with a language barrier.
4 - The feeling of helplessness as a very hard trial shakes your family and you can't be there.
5 - The times of loneliness after you've been gone for a while and the "novelity" wears off. Sometimes it really is "out of sight out of mind."
6 - The way you soak up any news from back home, even if it is "only two people were in nursery tonight" or "some of the teen boys came and helped put in new cabinets in the lunchroom".
7 - The reality that some final good-byes were said and you kick yourself for not going over to visit "one more time" with ____________.
8 - The fact that some events are going to be missed... whether it be a national holiday, a yearly happening at the church, new babies born, or just something you've "always done". That's the way it is and there's no use moaning or complaining over what is missed.
9 - The opportunities and experiences of a lifetime that God has chosen you to have and as you drive in an international city, you think nothing of motorcycles and scooters weaving in and out of traffic as they try to beat the cars, trucks, taxis, buses, and street vendors.
I truly consider coming to Thailand as one of the best experiences of my life and I thank God for it! For now the Lord is leading me home, but I also am praying about coming back for an extended period of time to work with the Gaudets... and I believe that, in God's time, that will become a reality again! So although I will be packing my bags up in just a few weeks and leaving for Pennsylvania, I know it won't be too long before I pack my bags up again as I follow my dear Saviour's leading! And you know what??? I wouldn't trade it for the world! God has been so good to me:o).