• Mal

An Incredible Welcoming

Journal Entry - 7/29/18

"So far, I am absolutely amazed at how much I've been welcomed here into the community. Everyone is inviting me everywhere and giving me rides and asking me how I'm doing. It's like everywhere I look, I see God's hand. I know with every fiber of my being that I'm supposed to be here."

One of my new friends, a fellow new teacher, took me to the local market one day in the next town over. Our mission was to buy curtains for our big and beautiful classroom windows, to make our rooms feel more home-like.

I picked mine out from the dozens of options adorning the tiny shop--sheer cream with the sweetest blue roses--and I knew they were the perfect thing to make my classroom truly my own.

We walked through the market and made a stop at another shop. The shopkeeper had an assortment of bamboo-looking plants for sale.

My friend looked at me and said, "Do you want one? I will buy one for you. They are good luck if someone else gives them to you."

My heart warmed at my friend's spontaneous generosity.

"Pick one out, whichever one you want. Do you like this one? This one is very pretty," she said, touching the plant with red ribbons tied around it.

"You're right, I'll take that one," I said, happy to choose the plant my friend hand-picked.

"This will be your welcome gift," she said, smiling.

I took my new Good Luck Bamboo plant from the shopkeeper and my thoughts immediately went to how welcomed and at home I felt in this new place.

When I first decided I was going to teach abroad, I was open to any location. I didn't really care where I ended up, I just wanted a different cultural experience. I wasn't even looking in the location where I live now, but the job popped up and I accepted it the same day it was offered. Some people might say that's crazy, but I had no hesitations or concerns. It just felt right.

And now I'm here and I'm living it and I couldn't be happier with how this big decision is playing out.

Being out of my comfort zone causes me to cling to God and look for His hand at work in ways living comfortably would never cause me to do.

Here are some of the ways I've seen God work in these last few weeks:

1. Supportive coworkers and bosses

2. Being able to teach both middle school AND high school English, which I love

3. New friends who are always up for doing something fun

4. Great students

5. Friendly neighbors

6. Being able to coach volleyball my first year of teaching (and assistant coaching with my new friend!

7. Having people I love at home who pray for me every day

8. Living in a fully furnished apartment

9. Being able to walk to/from work each day

That plant that was given to me now sits on a lovely yellow table in my classroom in front of my blue-rose curtains as our class plant. I've given her the name of Bambi (because what else would you call a bamboo plant) and every time I look at her, I am reminded of my new friend who teaches next door, my immense feeling of being welcomed into this community, and most of all, of my God who continues to bless my life every day.

Pause and take some time today, even if it's just 2 minutes, and look at the ways God is working in your life.

In response to my study abroad in Oman, my best friend once asked me, "Where did you see Jesus?"

That question has stuck with me ever since. I realize now that my friend meant that not just as a question to ask after big things happen, but a question to ask daily. Trust me, if you keep asking yourself that question and looking for the answers, life is much easier to live.

- Mal