So, a week or so ago, I posted a status about how I’m ready for the next adventure God has in store for me. I’ll admit it, that was a little tease to get everybody interested. It just wasn’t the right time to completely reveal my plan because a few steps how to be taken first. So, now, I can share my exciting news….I’m going to China!
Somewhere along the way, I became an adventurous traveler. I’m not sure when and where the travel bug bit me, but it bit me hard and left an itching inside me to travel the world! Now, those of you who know me well know that I’m a planner, and I never like to be spontaneous. Yet, somehow with traveling, I just jump in feet first and take the plunge.
So, how did I end up going to China? I don’t really think it was my choice. I think it was something God told me to do. Let me explain the situation…
While skipping church one morning (don’t judge me! This was the night after my BFF’s wedding, and I didn’t get home until after midnight), I checked my work email. Inside was an email with the subject, “China Summer 2013.” Immediately I thought, “Psh! I’m not going to China!” Yet, I didn’t delete it. Instead, I clicked on the email and read it. As I was reading the email I thought, “Um, I am not going to China. I already did the Japan thing, and I vowed to never go to Asia again.” So, I thought that was that. Yet, for the next two hours (the entire span of church service, mind you), I kept thinking about China. Eventually, I felt like God was saying, “Go.” And I said, “YEAH RIGHT…no!” Then he said, “Ashley, I’m serious. You need to go.” And I said, “But the food in Japan was SOOOO GROSS and I can’t use chopsticks! I don’t want to go to China!” And interestingly enough, God did not care about my excuses, and he said, “Ashley, go.” And I said, “Okay…but can I at least talk to my best friend first? (who was on her honeymoon, btw. I have IMPECCABLE timing.)” While I’m sure God did not need for me to speak to my bestie (who happened to be online right at that moment), He listened to my foolishness, and I discussed this with Jennifer. Her IMMEDIATE reaction was, “Um, that’s the chance of a lifetime. Why are you even considering NOT going?” And then I thought about it…and I realized that I needed to go.
So, naturally, I prayed. Which, is kind of silly since God was telling me to go, but I felt like that was necessary. I turned in the application and decided if I was accepted that it was meant to be. Then, I attended the informational meeting (and learned about “donkey burgers”), and turned in the required hard copy of my application. I asked, “So, when will I know if I’m accepted?” The lady simply said, “You’re in since you’ve turned in the paperwork. Welcome to China!” And God said, “I told you so.”
So, I’m still not quite sure what my summer holds. I know that I’m going to China. I’ll either be near Beijing or Shanghai teaching English. I may teach elementary, middle school, high school, or even adult age students. I may live in a nice hotel or stay in a dorm. I really won’t know until later. I’m pretty sure none of that stuff matters since God said, “Go.”
First and foremost, this is a great teaching opportunity and life experience. I’m not quite sure where I’ll be or what age group I’ll have, but I know I’ll end up in the right place with the right people. I hope to have a positive impact on their lives, but I’m pretty sure they’ll change mine. Secondly, it’s another fantastic country to be stamped on my passport. I know it’s a communist country, and my dad and some friends are a little worried about my safety. I promise to be smart, but I think God has this under control. Yet, I really appreciate my family and friends’ concerns. Thirdly, I know this is not a missions trip. I know that I can’t be vocal about my faith because Christians aren’t really welcome in China. HOWEVER, I do feel like God gives everybody their own talents for a reason. My spiritual talent is hospitality. Even though I’ll be in a foreign country, I know that my classroom will be very inviting to my Chinese students. While I don’t think I have the spiritual talent of teaching the gospel, I do have the worldly talent of teaching. It’s kind of my thing, and I know that God created me to be a teacher. So, while I don’t think I’ll be bringing any Chinese people to Christ (because that’s not the point of this trip, and I have to be smart about my faith), I do think I have a purpose for being sent there. I promise not to wear my Biblical t-shirts and WWJD bracelet while carrying my Bible everywhere. BUT, I do hope my love for other people and positive attitude rubs off on others over there.
So, that’s my next adventure. I’ll be gone for the entire month of July. Did I mention the day I leave the country is the day I finish my last grad class? It’s funny how God knew I’d use grad school as an excuse to not go, and how perfect the timing seemed to be. So, what can you do? Be excited for me! Also, if you’re a prayer warrior, pray for a safe, fun, and productive trip. I could be nervous, but I’m throwing caution to the wind and relying on faith. Like I said, God said “Go.” In typical Ashley fashion, I was a little hard-headed, but He won me over MUCH faster than normal. Maybe I’m learning a little bit after all. 🙂
I’ve already shared the news with my family, some close friends, a few colleagues, and my principal. So, I guess that cat’s out of the bag for now. And, in case you were worried about me being in China alone, I do have a friend going with me. After I mentioned that I got accepted to her, she said, “Really?! I was going to ask you if you wanted to go because I want to go too!” So, she filled out the paperwork and has been accepted too! I’ll let her divulge her identity when the time’s right. When she told me that she wanted to go too and asked if I was interested in going, I think God kind of nudged me and said, “See, I told you so.” The few people who do know her identity should keep it quiet just in case she doesn’t want to share it with the Facebook world.
PS: I already ordered 100 sets of chopsticks off of Amazon so I can learn to eat before landing in China. Let the adventure begin!