How Palawan Changed my Life

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November 3, 2017 was the day I decided to become a missionary. Training with AFM was a life-changing experience that marked the beginning of a wonderful journey.

I went to Palawan with two other missionaries—practically strangers in the beginning, but we became as close as family. When we arrived at the lowland base, “the farm,” we met a few of the Palawano people, Pastor George and other missionaries. We were very jet lagged but extremely excited to be there. They treated us very well but warned us that our world would change in a matter of hours. The next day we would go into immersive cultural training and set aside most of the items we came with. This included our electronics, most of our clothes, and hardest for me, my American snacks!

The next day was the beginning of a new life. I had no idea how to walk, talk, eat, or even be in Palawan. It was as if I was a newborn baby. The first challenge that arose was sleeping. I had to sleep beside my mission companion from the first night until the day we left. This was very difficult for me because I had never been able to sleep with someone so close to me before. Another challenge was the food. I had never eaten so much white rice in my life! The climate was also something to either really enjoy or really dislike. It rained so much that fungus began to grow between my toes. Then, in the dry season, it was a constant struggle to shower, cook, do laundry, and even get drinking water. The language barrier was also a huge hurdle to overcome. I could not even speak to the people in need of Jesus.

Every day brought a new challenge, but those challenges made every day worth living. With the constant struggles, I found a deeper thirst for God. Once I was able to get over myself and give my every breath to God, I found purpose in building relationships with people. I found myself enjoying moments of silence with people; sitting and cherishing the simple presence of those around me. Valuable time became the most precious gift anyone could offer. The fast pace of life that I had been accustomed to became foreign to me. My time in the Philippines was not spent worrying about my technology, my wants, my needs and my desires. It was about listening to something greater than myself—others’ wants, needs and desires.

Is God calling you to make a change in your life? Accept the calling! Get out of your comfort zone. Teach others who are in desperate need of Christ’s love. After all, nothing in this life matters more than service to God.