Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Desert

No know, it's a ironic that the words "desert" and "dessert" are so similar to each other. One holds great joy, pleasure and chocolate. The other id dry, tiresome and just plain hard. I'm currently finding myself in a desert. My spiritual landscape has dried up and all that remains is sand and mirages of what used to be. Where is the girl who was bouncing with joy for the Lord? What happened to the girl who could get up in the morning and look forward to the day? She's gone now and what remains is a girl who dreads the morning, is tired ALL THE TIME and can't seem to hold a steady conversation with her Lord. I don't like this new girl. After being in Korea for over a year now, I'm finally understanding the full cost of a life of ministry. Only one year on the field and I am spiritually, physically and emotionally exhausted. I feel as though I'm just walking on a treadmill that's running at full speed. I don't know how missionaries can do this for years upon years. It would be one thing to actually seem progress and people come to Christ. But I'm really struggling with even feeling welcome here by some students. To some, I am a glorified nanny. My father reminded me recently to minister to those who will let me. I can't force relationships and I can't make kids feel loved. But those who allow me to, that's where I can be the most effective. The problem then lies in the 24 students who push me away. I can't just pour all my effort into the 8 students who let me in and forget about the rest. I'm finding this ministry setting to be harder than I ever anticipated. There's no spiritual accountability or encouragement for the staff. We don't even have staff meetings anymore. There is nothing pouring into us from up top. How am I supposed to have something to give when nobody is equipping me? I just long to be spiritually refreshed and revived.

I've heard it said that some missionaries in Africa have "ticket days". These are the days that if they had the plane ticket in their hand, they would be out of there in a second. Some missionaries from Senegal where here at TCIS this weekend for our dorm staff retreat and they told us how lucky we are to have the facilities we do. They said that ticket days came usually as a result of the poor living conditions, the heat or other geographical factors. Here, we refer to ticket days as "I hate Korea" days. It may sound harsh, but that's what it is. We have nice buildings, we have air conditioners and 4 seasons. But that doesn't mean that ticket days are fewer for us. See, the big difference I've found between this Christian boarding school and others is the sheer demographics of Christians. I envy those working in missionary kid boarding schools. Those people get to disciple students, mentor them and come along side of them in their spiritual walks. But here, with only a handful of Christians (who generally don't seem to "have time" for their faith walk in the midst of the highly educationally competitive society that is Korea), I can go the whole day without one faith conversation. I see what an amazing ministry I have here with Buddhists and atheists living on my hall but at what point to we stop being a "Christian school" and start being a "secular school with a Christian staff"? With 80% of the students here being non-Christian, there exists even a form of social persecution of the believers. If a kid raises their hand to praise during chapel, they are mocked. Bible class is a pain and chore for most of these kids, not a reverent study of the living and active Word. How can I battle this? What can I do?

I'm coming to the end of myself here in Korea. The only thing I can do is live my life daily reflecting Christ and hope that someone finally thaws out their heart and becomes receptive to the message of the Gospel. Because without being effective, I don't know how much longer I can be here. It's like the faucet is running into a full sink and the drain is clogged.Nothing is going in so now everything is pointless runoff...

I have 9 months left here (maybe more if the Lord decides that He wants me to stay)
I don't want to spend all that time in the desert. Oh Lord...grant me some dessert!