Rebecca Wicker is spending a year in Tenom, Malaysia, as part of the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program. The program relies on coordinators who facilitate the young adults’ ministry and provide mentoring and spiritual guidance. To support a coordinator, go to www.ELCA.org/missionarysponsorship.
As the Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers for 2013-2014 [recently] gathered to discern and find out where they would be placed for the next year, I found myself reflecting on where I’ve been in the past year. I remember being a ball of nerves anxiously waiting to find out which country I would be going to (unfortunately, our names were called in alphabetical order so I had to sweat it out). I remember that weekend as we learned more about the theme of accompaniment and attempting to wrap my head around a concept that has become the theme of my life for the past few months.
The difference between where I was and where I am now feels enormous, but if I look back at my year so far, there’s no singular point where all this took place. Change and learning has taken place in small increments in each passing day. In terms of language, I used to only be able to catch a couple of words in a conversation. Now I find that I can follow most of what’s being said and participate. I’ve had some pretty crazy food adventures and would have never imagined myself eating, let alone enjoying, half of the foods that have become my favorite dishes. The people in my community have become more than just hosts, they’ve become a family. I miss them when I leave Tenom and rejoice when I’m back in town. I look back at when I first arrived here and remember feeling extremely anxious because I had no idea what my role would be. But now I find myself a part of the work of the church, as a teacher, friend, musician and fellow worker in the body of Christ.
What I now realize has been a dramatic change took place at the hands of a very patient God. It’s the everyday kindness and guidance that has shaped me here. From the smiles to the invitations, to the meals, each interaction has helped me become part of the family here. It’s also been in the everyday opportunities that I’ve had for small acts of service that I’ve realized where my gifts and talents can be used. There have been walks with friends, afternoon visits, extra patience and a willingness to be open that have let me share a bit of myself here. Alone, these acts are small, but they add up and build relationships as well as shape the walks we take with people. In these small acts, God brings out the very best.
As I look back at where I’ve been so far, I realize just how many chances the day holds for these small acts. My time here has been filled with these small acts. I realize that time will race by and my time will be winding down all too soon. But if each and every day is filled with these moments of love, these sacred moments that gradually transform, I realize there is still a whole lot to look forward to. There is still a whole lot to experience and be a part of and I look forward to every minute of it.