Tuesday, March 22, 2011


It's one of the most difficult decisions I've ever made in my life.  Never have I felt such an inner struggle over which way to choose.  The choice boils down to two countries.  I have two solid offers, and a third one likely coming (based on what I've heard).  But which do I choose?  China or Cambodia?

My heart positively bleeds for Asia.  Its a continent that got under my skin and stayed there.  God put that love there; I always thought Europe was my love when I was younger and playing with atlases (okay, I admit it, I still play with atlases).  Since coming back from Korea, I doubt that I have gone more than two weeks at a time without dreaming about being back in Asia.  I check the BBC news on Asia twice a day or more.  I think about the people over there in need, and sometimes I just start crying.  So many millions, so many souls to be reached, so many tragedies . . . so much need.  I could give my life to Asia in a heartbeat.

But which do I choose?  China or Cambodia?

Cambodia has suffered so much.  War, genocide, governmental instability, poverty, disease (it has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world) . . . the country is full of need.  The school that offered me the job is a small school in Sihanoukville.  They have daily power outages.  They can't attract highly qualified teachers because teachers with higher qualifications want more money, and the school can't pay very much.  The school lacks a lot of resources, and they need a creative and innovative teacher who could build up a curriculum and take what she's given and make something more from it.  I could make a difference here.  I could use my God-given gifts and give to students who need good teachers if they're ever to get anywhere.  I could use the pain from my past to empathize with souls in even more turmoil.  I could meet Jesus when I die and tell Him that I fed His sheep.  But they can't pay very much, and I have student loans.  Could I live off the low pay after meeting the loans?  Yes, but it would be tight.  There would be no extras, no savings, no luxuries.

China has been through a lot as well.  The cities that I would teach in (there are a few possibilities) are financially well off, but still in need of good teachers, and desperately in need of God.  Communism makes it difficult for the spreading of the Gospel, but dedicated people keep at it.  I would earn decent money by local standards (little by American standards, but that's never bothered me).  I would be comfortable and taken care care of, although I would of course be under considerable restrictions.  Still, I would have more than I needed.  I would teach in a beautiful school full of every resource I needed.  I would still be using my God-given talents for good and for the spreading of His Word.  I would still be able to meet Jesus one day and tell Him I fed His sheep.  There are just as many needs there as Cambodia; some are different and some are the same.

My heart aches for both countries.  Somedays I wake up with China on my mind; some nights I go to bed thinking of Cambodia.  I would be serving God in either location.  I would be needed.  I could fall in love with little Cambodian elementary students, or I could fall in love with international middle school students in China (Christian schools aren't allowed to teach Chinese students in China).

But which do I choose?  China or Cambodia?


Cla said...

The fact that you came to Qingdao as our teacher is a blessing to us! I think you made a great choice coming to China :)

Clara Yi said...

The fact that you came to Qingdao as our teacher is a blessing to us! I personally think that you made a great choice coming to China :)

Stephanie said...

I definitely made the right choice. Even if I do have to deal with freshmen . . . (ah, everyone knows that I secretly love freshmen, even though freshmen are usually insane).

"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"