My First Two Weeks in Shanghai :)
Hello Friends and Family!
Okay time to write an update for you guys on how my first two week has been! I still can't believe I am living out here, but once again I have fully embraced catching up with you all through video calls, chats, and texts. :) Thanks for being my community even when I am away from home and for your thoughts and pra;yers.
Expat Life: The Honeymoon Transition
I dub this section the Honeymoon transition because of how things might be difficult, but I am told that the first four months can be the most exciting and new season before you experience some resistance and tough times.
The Expat life can be a real struggle. Essentially it's all about feeling completely inadequate in doing anything on your own! During my first week here I have had so much trouble figuring out the banking system, how to go shopping, how to eat at restaurants, and how to even get into my own apartment.
But slowly, I have been learning to put on a brave face and to be bold. You have to willingly feel like an idiot sometimes and be willing to mimic and dance around to communicate! There is also an element of boldness in how I make friends within the adult community at my church too! People are from all over the world and it's been refreshing to hear about their perspectives and how they came to this city!
As I'm wrapping up my second week in Shanghai, I am really making my apartment into my home and feeling more and more accustomed to being by myself and spending time in pra;yer. I can't believe this place is starting to feel familiar and that I am adjusting to the loneliness and being by myself.
Last week I had an epiphany during the lowest point of my stay here. I was just under a week into moving here, and I was having some iphone trouble with connecting to wifi and communicating and just felt absolutely isolated without my phone. I have never felt so alone, depressed, stressed and worried. And I was in the middle of setting up my insurance stuff which further exacerbated the situation.
Later in the day, I began to learn more about my fellowship and realized we were denied some basic communication necessities like Google Drive and even certain financial benefits and conveniences.... And I asked "Go'd, why do you want me here L'rd? What am I doing so far away from California?"
That's when it hit me that there really is no place I would rather be than right here because He has called me. This epiphany reminded me of the peace I had with the decision to move out when I was still in America and there was no other great option than to be here. I was also just struck by how our C community functions from an administrative level. We are seriously understaffed, but there are just so many willing hearts and servants within our congregation.
Then he said to his di'sciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. - Matthew 9:37
This verse immediately came to mind and I felt encouraged knowing that so much of scripture comes to life for me as I am out here. You really just see how many people want to hear about our father and d'scipleship is abundant!
29 He said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” - Mark 10:29-31
My soul is seriously refreshed and encouraged just recognizing that a life following Je'us was never meant to be easy. Praise G''od for His grace and mercy.
I turned a new leaf after that moment and things have gotten easier as I expect inconvenience, alertness, and flexibility in my new living environment. :)
My Thanksgiving Community
A huge blessing has been my new C community out here! The people are awesome!! Our group consists of 75% expats with 25% locals and it is amazing! Most of the young adults are locals so I have befriended many of them and I'm trying to learn Mandarin from them! I really enjoy their hearts for the L'ord and this is really what I was hoping to be doing when I am here! :)
There is a high view for my occupation and I am being treated out at least 3 times a week by the families here. They are really excited for a youth p'stor here and a lot of them are concerned that I'm alone and single here.
The hearts of many people here are very similar to mine in terms of why we are called to be here and I feel really thankful for it! There is zero complaints about community here! :)
Everyday I'm Shepher'ding
Now the big thing is adjusting to my new role. I have very little influence initially and its been interesting to learn more about how the youth group functions and how parents and school affect them. Still everything is all very positive! These international schools really prepare these kids to become leaders and go-getters in the future and many of their parents are super strong in their own walks and have been great role models for their kids!
The exciting part has been dreaming for them and trying to think about how I can share the good news with them and help them grow as d'sciples!
I love my student and adult leadership teams but I am currently tweaking a lot of the structure and communication that happens among them (once again there is no Google Drive or FB so how the heck do you communicate with leaders?)
Keep me in your pr'yers and pr'y that I learn to love them first and be present and patient through this new process. :)
So lastly here are my pr'yer requests!!
- For Transition and Community. I am seriously grateful for my close friends from home who have emailed me and messaged me and video chatted with me during this time. I am also excited for the community here and to be more involved in the lives of the friends I am making. Please pr'y for some good brothers who have a similar heart as I do to become friends with.
- For Pas'toring stuff. There needs to be a lot of infrastructure renovation with this group of kids but I think my current job is to speak for them! I have already initiated a youth parent meeting for Oct 22nd as a chance to meet and greet and share the vision... but is it too soon for it? Please pr'y that it will be a blessed time of communication and support instead of discouragement and dissension. I have a curriculum planned out up to January and I'm really excited to continue to grow as a communicator and speaker! Please pr'y for the heart of the kids and for my heart as well. I am learning to see speaking as a privilege and exciting opportunity to help and equip those that G'd loves. Pr'y that I stay faithful and true to myself and how G'd created me as I prepare and study for these messages.
- For Speaking. My first Sunday message is Oct 8th!! I have a great topic and outline prepared and I am ahead of schedule! I am also going to be consistently speaking for the youth on Friday starting Oct 13-Nov 17th! Please pr'y for how I set up my messages and what I do for the curriculum! :)
- For a Youth Retreat this upcoming weekend. I am going to a retreat with 300 youths from the Shanghai area and I am excited and pumped up for it! I got to meet the greater international community from around Shanghai from this and I am excited to just be poured into this weekend before I have to speak and serve a ton. Pr'y for revival in my kids' hearts and in my own. Pray for inspiration and excitement to obey our Father and L'rd.