Since I’ve arrived here in Taiwan, I have experienced about two months of ministry There have been lots of ups and downs, but with an overall sense of “yes, this is good and where I am supposed to be.” Something you may not know is that living overseas is actually just normal life, but somewhere else. It is an adventure, but you still get up, go to work, eat, sleep, get bored, get excited, etc. just like you would at home. It’s strange to be somewhere utterly different from everything you’ve grown up knowing. But I’ve found that I fall right into the same home-habits you’ve always had (such as preferring home-made food to restaurant food, doodling during class, sleeping in, etc.) When you travel, you don’t magically become a new person. But just like one color looks like two different colors by placing it on two different backgrounds (I’m kind of interested in color theory nowadays), Kyla looks different in Asia than she does in Canada.
The bar in the middle is actually one constant grey. It looks like a gradient because your eye is tricked by the gradient in the background.
Which brings me to my revelation of the month: since I’ve come here, I’ve felt like there’s been an element of surreality overshadowing my day-to-day life. It’s caused me to ask the age-old, cliche question: “Who am I?” Or, if you will: “What color am I, anyway?”
At home I have people who know me, such as my parents, my brother, my best friends, my family, and my peers at Bible school. They know me in relation to a few different “backgrounds.” (we’re keeping up the color theory analogy, here. When I say background, think of that gradient grey background behind the solid grey bar that looks like another gradient. :D) My “home backgrounds” are these: Canadian home, Canadian Bible school, and Canadian church. But now I am placed on a totally different background, with people who have only known me while I’ve been in Asia. It’s tempting to look around me and become bewildered! What’s going on? Why am I here? I don’t belong here, because nobody knows me here like they do at home! I miss my friends! I miss my parents! I miss my brother! Who am I if I don’t have them? It’s also tempting to swing the other direction: Here I am who I want to be. I am not bound by my past, because nobody here has experienced my past with me! I am so different, and so awesome because now I live in Taiwan! Wowee look at me! So cool I am, yessiree.
But both of these reactions are based on a shaky foundation. They assume that my ME-ness comes from my “background,” or in other words, my surroundings. If I am removed from my home surroundings my identity must be totally different, right? It sure feels like it sometimes. Sometimes I will react to a strange situation, only to look at myself and wonder, “Where did that come from?” Or, someone will react to me, and I’ll say, “Oh, sorry! What you don’t realize is that this is totally normal, and anyone who knows me could tell you that.” But none of the people who know that behavior is normal are here. They’re in Canada. It’s a bit lonely, to be honest. Everyone wants to be known by someone. Everyone wants security. But where can you get those two things when you’re transplanted to another country?
A few weeks ago someone asked my friend Joe, who is from Madagascar but lives here in Taiwan, where his home is. After a thoughtful silence, he gravely said, “Jesus is my home.”
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Because he does not change, I am not destroyed. I have forgotten this, but now I am remembering it (changeable, moveable, fickle and fragile girl that I am). Jesus KNOWS ME. And Jesus is my rock.
Please pray for me as I continue to find out who I am in light of who Jesus is. I am having a wonderful time here. I love it in Taiwan, and I love doing art! Soon we will be going on outreach to study the people group we’re going to make a culture-specific animation for. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t struggling with inner issues like the one I just mentioned (identity, loneliness, frustration). I think that if I really grasp the concept that Jesus is my home, and that he knows me, and that he is my foundation, many of my flurries of emotion and periods of confusion would cease. I want to really GET this, because I believe it will change my life and renew my spirit.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)
To my friends and family back home: thank you for knowing me. It is difficult to be away from you.