Memories of a Mission Trip, and Why Everyone Should Go On One
The opportunity of a life-time
It's been 28 years since I went on the Mission Trip to Taiwan with the Council for World Missions, but it is an experience which lingers with me to this day for so many reasons. It was 1988, and Martial Law had only been abolished in Taiwan for just over a year. I heard of a Missions opportunity and I immediately set out to discover more information, and to find out how I could be involved.
I found out that it was to take place in Taiwan; that only one representative was being chosen from each region, meaning only one from the Caribbean. I had to go! I just had to!
How were the representatives chosen? Each one simply had to write a letter to the Council For World Missions laying out an argument basically telling why that individual should be chosen.
I guess my argument was compelling, because a few weeks later I was packing and getting ready to go on a life-changing experience to Taiwan!!
Training In Missions Team
All my bags are packed......
This was not my first Missions trip at all. I had already been to Mexico on another trip...but that is for another blog.
This one did seem to take a lot of preparations, however, from getting all kinds of vaccines, one of which lingered on my butt like a basketball...well it felt like a basketball hanging there, but it really was just the pain.
I had to think of what clothes to take with me. It's not like I could write home and ask for clothes to be sent once I got there. I was going halfway around the world.
Well, my bags were packed and I was ready to go when we got news of a hurricane heading our way. It's name was Gilbert and it was to put a lot of kinks in plans that were set in place, such as departure dates.
Hurricane Gilbert is here!
Hurricane Gilbert is coming!!
Hurricane Gilbert sets a bullseye on Jamaica, hits and wreaks havoc from major flooding to death. After deciding it had hung around Jamaica enough, it sets it eyes on Grand Cayman and heads that way with a vengeance.
As is the norm, there is scrambling to get the tourists and other non-locals off the island. That was the priority. Never mind the fact that I was to leave that day for the trip of a lifetime. I headed to the airport to try to get on one of the outbound flights, but because I was a local, it was not happening. Only the tourists were on the evacuation list. This meant that I would be leaving a day late for my trip.
Hurricane Gilbert hits that Tuesday night of September 12th, 1988 as a category 3 hurricane. We watched as fruits became like torpedoes around, and I sulked as I had not been able to leave that day....but I got over it.
The next day I was fortunate enough to get out on another flight and so began my adventure to get to Taiwan. I say "adventure" because I could have written an article on the travels just to get to Taiwan. More of that to come.
Hurricane Gilbert's devastation in Jamaica
I'm finally on my way
I boarded my flight in Grand Cayman. Everything was going smoothly, although we did leave a little late due to the Hurricane issues from the previous day.
Missing every connecting flight
My first connecting flight was in Miami. Guess what? I missed it because we had left a little late from Grand Cayman. I was put on a later flight to continue to the next segment of my journey....London. The flight across the Atlantic was beautiful. I had 3 seats to myself. I could sleep comfortably. I was woken up for meals. It was also the first time that I manage to see the change from daylight into darkness. If you have ever travelled across the Atlantic, you know what I am referring to.
After arriving in London, I was informed that I had missed my connecting flight. Well, no worries. My aunt Norma lived in London with her husband. I would just call her. I would just call them. They arrived in time for me to spend over an hour with them. It made missing my flight worth as I would not have seen them otherwise.
My journey continues onto Saudi Arabia, where I would make 2 stops...one in Dubai and the other in Dhahran. After refueling, we were on our way again...this time to Bangkok.
We arrive in Bangkok, and guess what? At this point you should know what I am going to say! I MISSED MY FLIGHT! It was a beautiful city to be stuck in, though. I did not complain, and not once did I think of what was going to happen when I arrived in Taiwan.
Arrangements were made for me to take a later flight, and I was well taken care of during my short visit in Bangkok.
We're on our way from Bangkok to Hong Kong.
We get to Hong Kong, and...you guessed it...I missed my flight again. You would think that I would be getting very despondent at this point, but I considered this trip an adventure. I had never traveled this far on my own, and all the sights that I had managed to see in this "short" time was incredible.
It was now Friday night when I arrived in Hong Kong. I had been travelling since Wednesday, and I was tired, but I was also excited. It was so late that there were no other flights to catch so the airline offered to pay for a hotel for the night. I agreed! It beat sleeping in the Airport, which I was prepared to do.
The hotel was beautiful, and I wish I could remember the name. I received the key and was escorted to my "ROOM." It was the penthouse suite, with a breathtaking view of Hong Kong at night. I was so glad I accepted the airport's generosity!!
Well, morning came, and as much as I enjoyed that night in Hong Kong, it was time to take the last leg of my journey...from Hong Kong to Taiwan. So on to the airport!
Sunrise over the Great Wall
It was quite early on Saturday, September 17th, 1988 when the airline departed for Taipei, Taiwan. One memory which is forever etched in my memory is that of the sun rising over the Great Wall of China. It gave me a sense of calm and peace. That was replaced by excitement later when the pilot announced our descent into the Taipei area.
I've arrived...but where is the person picking me up?
I'm in Taiwan! I have been travelling since Wednesday and it was now Saturday. I collected my luggage, tired but excited, and exited the airport to meet my group.
Wait! Where's my group?? There was no one there to meet me! What now? I was in a strange country, not able to speak the language, and the only thing I had to help me was a business card with the address of my destination written in Chinese. AAAAAHHHHHH! You can understand the panic I was feeling....so I did what anyone would consider crazy.....I found a cab, showed the business card to the driver. The driver nodded as if to acknowledge that he knew where to go. I nodded in return. I got in the cab, and we were on our way. After A LONG NAP......yes, you read that correctly....I took a nap....and woke up to see a building that I would only recognize from a dream. I tapped the driver on the shoulder, pointed, and he nodded, as he pulled into the driveway.
Wait here, I motioned. I knocked on a bright red door and waited. After only moments, the door opened and in the doorway stood Roderick, the leader of the group, and a friend from Jamaica.
A sight for sore eyes
Oh No! Not again! Earthquake, then 3 Typhoons
To make a long story shorter, the first night after arriving there was an earthquake, and in the following three weeks we experienced 3 typhoons.
Here begins the real adventure of the Mission trip, and what it means to trust God.
Get out of your comfort zone!
Our mission trip took place the year after martial law had been abolished in Taiwan, so there was a lot to appreciate about the freedoms we experienced as Christian in the countries where were from. You can read more about it here: http://www.nytimes.com/1987/07/15/world/taiwan-ends-4-decades-of-martial-law.html
Our day typically began with prayer and classwork. After our class was over, and we had had lunch, we would go out into the field to mingle with the villagers or to do some labor.
This trip really pushed me outside of my comfort zone. By coming to an unfamiliar place, I have to step out of what is comfortable. I had to engage in activities I may never have done before; I met people I did not know and I saw things I never would have. It disrupted the norm of what I knew, opened my eyes to new things, and afforded me the opportunity to see things differently.
Missions trips will completely change you
Just be honest, part of me made the decision to go on my first mission trip because it just seemed like a really cool thing to do. I was always intrigued by the idea of doing missionary work, but did not have a clue as to what it really entailed. Now that is not necessarily wrong, because we should want to do cool things for God, but we always need to check our hearts and motives for why we are doing what we are doing. I was a different kid when I stepped off that plane back home, after my trip was complete. I could not wait to tell everyone what I had seen, heard and experienced.
White River Rafting
Getting down and dirty
Opportunity to experience new things and places
Going on this trip gave me the opportunity to experience so many new things. Some good, some bad. I witnessed a village completely devastated by mudslides. I witness holes in the ground where Christians hid and worshipped just so they were not captured during the time of Martial. As a group we helped gather supplies, sort things, and rescue a old church building. We also managed to interact with locals at shops, cafes, and even those in the Red Light district. I even found some amazing and interesting new things to eat. When you go into a restaurant that says fresh fish, it's fresh. I got a chance to pick one from the numerous aquariums at the back of the restaurant and it was cooked to my specifications.
More aware and more compassisonate
Going on this mission trip made me more aware and more compassionate towards people, and their plight. I had always had a heart for missions, but being on this trip challenged me to reach out to those around me who may feel uncomfortable or unsure of their new home.
Missions taught me that people are People!
Going on this trip made me realize how different and yet how similar we as people really are. For as many of the differences you realize there are when you arrive, and for as much as you can read about or watch television that shows the variety between people groups around the world, when you interact with people face-to-face, you realize we’re really not all that different. We all experience fear, joy, pain and happiness. When you start to engage someone, even when they do not speak the same language, there is a connection that we make. We acknowledge who they are, and they acknowledge us. When that happens, you realize that differences are nothing to fear. In fact, our differences can and should be embraced. Our differences speak to our amazing ability as human beings to live uniquely, thousands of miles from one another, and yet share similar experiences. Challenges. Hopes. Dreams.
Missions experience will stretch you!
I had only been in Taiwan a few days and already I am aware of the blatant differences between here and my home in Cayman. Being in a place where you are the minority, don’t speak the language, view the landscape as unfamiliar, and worry that your ability to sense what is safe or appropriate is not always accurate is challenging. It makes you feel vulnerable and rely on others around you to help you navigate your surroundings. It was also exhilarating to experience something new and different. The food was different, the smells, the shops, the people — all allowed for experiences I would never have, tucked safely in my home. The experience stretched me.
Getting to know each other
“Once we take our eyes away from ourselves, from our own interests, from our own rights, privileges, ambitions – then they will become clear to see Jesus around us.”
-Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Missions allows you to become more grateful
I became more grateful for friends, for electricity, for food, for medical insurance, for lack of illness. One of the most difficult sights to see at that time was a group of lepers living under a bridge. Many of them had missing fingers or toes, and all were ostracized from the rest of the community due to their illness.
Missions enabled me to meet people from difference ethnic backgrounds
You get opportunities to make friends with people from different ethnic and social backgrounds than in your hometown.
Meeting a Hero - Chun-Ming Kao
One of the most amazing people I have ever met was Chun-Ming Kao, who was one of our teachers during the time I spent in Taiwan. To this day, I have a book given to each of us, by Chun-Ming Kao. On it is written a poem that he wrote while in prison.
My favorite poem and treasured keepsake
This poem, written by Chun-Ming Kao while in prison, and which I received on a bookmark while in Taiwan, is one of my treasured pieces. Everytime I feel that things aren't going the way I want them to, I always remember this poem. God's way is always the best way.
I asked the Lord for a bunch of fresh flowers,
but instead He gave me an ugly cactus with many thorns.
I asked the Lord for some beautiful butterflies,
but instead He gave me many ugly and dreadful worms.
I was threatened. I was disappointed. I mourned but after many days.
Suddenly, I saw the cactus bloomed with many beautiful flowers and those worms became
beautiful butterflies flying in the sping wind. God's way is the best way.
Chun Ming Kao, From Prison
Missions allows you to experience new cultures
Forget watching the Discovery Channel or National Geographic. You can go into far lands and personally interact with other people and cultures. We all tend to be ethnocentric and shrink the world to revolve around us, while ignoring the varied cultures and nations that the Lord has created.
Places to see
Let me know your thoughts!
What d you think about the location I am writing about?
Have you ever been on a Mission trip?
Have you ever been on a mission trip, whether short-term or long-term?
Complete reliance on God
This short term mission trip to Taiwan really taught me how to rely on God, from the beginning of the trip to the end of the trip.
Missions will awake a passion and a vision to see the world
Missions will awaken a passion and a vision to see every tribe, tongue and nation worship the one true God and ascribe to him the glory due his great name!
Two years after this trip, I was on my way to Mexico, where I will spend a year working with an Orphanage, learning Spanish, with Youth With A Mission....but that's another story!
Why you should visit Taiwan
© 2015 Gina Welds Hulse