Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Thoughts Over Chinese New Year

Recently the VOICE Missions teachers were able to enjoy some off time as Taiwan celebrated Chinese New Year and the schools took off for winter break. Korea's winter break falls around the same time and when a friend from Korea asked if she could visit over break I was very excited at the prospect. We began making plans, but never solidified anything as we weren't able to find a time when we could both talk on a voice or video based communication platform. Additionally, some of the emails I had sent with important information pertaining to places we could visit, train times, etc. were misdirected. The day before I was to meet my friend in Taipei, I still had no idea what our plans were. 

Even after arriving in Taipei, we weren't sure what the schedule for the week would be. My friend's father had been in Taiwan for a work meeting, but stayed longer to sightsee with my friend and I. I expected creating an itinerary that would keep everyone happy would be quite challenging, but looking back, I think it turned out just perfectly for our group of people. Each day we made plans, and then changed them as we found other things that piqued our interest. We visited places I have been to before and love revisiting, and saw many new places that I'd never been to and had been wanting to visit for awhile. All three of us enjoyed the visit quite a lot.

After my friend and her father returned to Korea, a fellow VOICE Missions volunteer asked me hadn't I been stressed out not having a schedule to follow? She was surprised when I replied that I think it was easier not having a schedule. My friend was somewhat of the spontaneous type, wanting to stay and look at things at her own pace (or add things into the schedule if we passed something interesting) rather than stick to a strict schedule. Not having a schedule allowed us to take things one day at a time. If we had had a schedule and stuck to it, she would have had a much less enjoyable visit. If we had had a schedule and decided not to follow it, I would have been more stressed out trying to figure out how to fit everything in and what bus we would take home now. It's easier to let go of plans and go with the flow when we're not holding on to any plans to begin with.

It's not always easier not having a schedule or a plan. I think back to when I graduated high school. Getting asked "So what's next?" or "So what do you want to do with your life?" was always awkward for me because I had no clue. When I graduated with my Bachelor's degree I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. It was always difficult waiting for God to show me the next step because He always seemed to reveal it so last minute. It wasn't always easy walking the path of life without knowing where it would take me, but as I look back over my life so far, I'm thankful for every place God has included in my journey. I look to the future with a better idea now of what I want to do with my life, but constantly needing to remind myself to let my plans be flexible. 

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

As we enter this New Year, it is my hope that together we are all able to walk with purpose, yet keep our hopes and plans in open palms, willing at any moment to exchange them for whatever God brings our way, seeking first His kingdom. Happy Chinese New Year!

Originally from Chicago, Gabrielle Martin is currently living and serving in Shuili Nantou, Taiwan.  She has served with VOICE Missions for four and a half non-consecutive years. She enjoys teaching English, entertaining her students with stories and songs, and is now pursuing a degree in TESOL with lightly held plans to live abroad teaching English long term. Her personal blog sharing her adventures and things she's learned can be found at http://gemgoingandgrowing.tumblr.com