Eight-Year Reflection

[I originally wrote this for my sending church’s blog, but it definitely applies to all of you who have supported me the past eight years!]

Send off on Sept 12, 2012

“Should we say our names [into the mic]? So he knows who’s speaking when he listens later?”

“Um, ok. Hi Ian, this is Leo…”

So began an evening of sharing. It was the final night of the 2012 worship team retreat, just a month before I’d leave for Japan. One by one, each member shared an affirmation, encouragement, or ridiculous memory. And to make sure I wouldn’t forget, they even recorded it.

Only so much fits in two check-in suitcases. But I had plenty of space for an hour of audio on my smartphone (thanks to my iPhone 4). So across the ocean we came.

The first few years, those tracks would pop up on shuffle mode at the oddest times: jogging in the morning, biking to language school, on an evening stroll to 7-Eleven. I’d be memorizing kanji characters at a Starbucks, when all of a sudden – a joke from Peter Lau. A witty word from Chris Hong. A thank you from Diane Lieu.

And there was nothing I needed more. 

When we think of missionary support, we tend to think finances and prayer. But if I could name a third leg to the “support tripod” that’s held me up these eight years, it’d be affirmation

Here’s why. Two check-in suitcases really don’t fit much. You can’t fit your family, friends, church, job, even wife. (Ok, I didn’t have a wife.) And without the steady stream of affirmation all these bring, we sometimes forget who we are. 

“Why am I here? Did I really sign up for this? What is my identity? How has God prepared me for this?” In the “why’s” of our wilderness, we need voices that speak truth over us. And the voices we’ve known longer, speak louder. 

So thank you Evergreen SGV for reminding me who I am. Thank you for “speaking the truth in love” that I wouldn’t be “tossed to and fro by the waves” of missionary madness. (Ephesians 4:14-15) Thank you for every email, snail mail, FaceTime, text and LINE.

I haven’t forgotten who I am, and I definitely haven’t forgotten you.

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment