yeah, but why TAIWAN? (part 5)
If you wanna know why I live in Taiwan, this post tells you the answer. The post below is the fifth installment of a multi-post series. It is a chronological story of why I live in Taiwan (as opposed to any other "foreign country"), so if you would like to start at the beginning of the story, you can start with part one.
Let's see, to recap, so far I have talked about my first trip to Taiwan in 1997, about how God helped me to fall in love with the Taiwanese culture, how I kept returning to Asia, and about my year as an exchange student in 1999 and 2000.
When I got back to America after spending a year overseas, I had MAJOR reverse culture shock. It was even worse than culture shock because no one had told me to expect it, so I was totally unpreapared for it. I didn't know what I was experiencing, but I knew something was not right.
Thankfully, my Heavenly Father knew. He provided two people to help me get through it. One was a former missionary who I met for coffee one afternoon. I don't even know now how we were introduced, but I will never forget that afternoon of talking and crying through my emotions with someone who understood and could give good godly advice and wisdom. One of the things she told me that stuck with me for a long time was "it is good sign that you are having trouble adjusting back here because that means, first, that you felt at home in your host culture, and, second, that you will want to and can go back."
The other person who helped me was my best friend--a Taiwanese young woman studying in America. I met her in America, then went to Taiwan to study abroad, and then came back to America and lived with her as my roommate. One day--after she built up her bravery--she confronted me. Basically she said, "Amanda, I don't understand you these days. You are so fake. Around Americans you act so American, but around us Taiwanese you act so Taiwanese. What is going on? Why do you act this way?"
Although I could have taken what she said has a huge insult, we had a long girlfriend talk, and it helped me to better understood what was happening to me. I explained to my best friend that I was not being fake; that I had adopted Taiwanese mannerisms and ways of talking because I identified with my friends and roommates in Taiwan. That I was struggling to define who I was--which I know describe as a milkshake or fruit slushie.
After living overseas for a year and the struggle with living in America upon first returning, I knew I was to live overseas for a long time. So, I refused to allow myself to readjust to American culture 100%. I fought hard to keep from going into further debt by buying a car and didn't take out any credit cards. God was SO faithful in meeting my needs. Through my grandparents and their neighbor, he provided the perfect car for me. He gave me jobs that were perfect in that they met my needs, yet still gave me time and freedom to serve and minister to international women, while at the same time allowing me to strengthen my professional skills. He is a great God who cares about the details of our lives.
Another thing I struggled with that first semester I returned to America was what to do when I graduated in December. I sought the counsel of every missionary I could talk to. I asked questions to every missionary sending agency I could find. I thought, and I thought. I asked, and I asked.
Seminary? Grad school? Work in USA to pay off loans? Go overseas two years then come back to study? What to do? What to do? The only way I can describe the
feeling is like the agitation of a washing machine--churn, churn, churn. I was totally "an unsettled wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind." I so desired to do God's will perfectly and didn't want to mess up.
After much tossing, thinking, and asking humans. I just had to trust that James 5:15 was true: "If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you to do – ask
him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking." I just kept praying about what to do. After much prayer, I decided to get my MA in Foreign Language Education close to home (so I could spend time with family before leaving to live oversesas).
This was one of those times in my life where how do you decide what is best when all choices seem to be good ones. It was not easy. And I can tell you that it was nothing like the other times in my life when God clearly said "This is it. Do this." I even begged my earthly parents to have an opinion on the matter so I could be obedient to them as I am still under their authority as long as I am single. I wanted a burning bush, but God gave me no such thing this time.
God doesn't always work in the same ways in our lives. He speaks to us differently at different times. The only way I can describe my final decision is that He gave me a peace that went beyond my understanding. He took away the washing-maching-like churning that was tearing my heart up and replaced it with total peace.
The fact still remains . . . and the theme of the song I sing about Him working in my life . . . is that He never fails. His ways are higher than mine, better than mine, and can't be reasoned or explained away. He is all-good all the time and all-powerful all the time. What an amazing God!
The sixth part of the story will tell how I came to live exactly where I do in Taiwan. How God put me exactly where I needed to be.