Saturday, December 4, 2010

What Next?

I know it's a long ways off, but lately I've been thinking about what to do after this year. My contract doesn't end until October, so I'll be here at least until then, but I don't know what I'll do after that.

Should I stay here? I like my job a lot. It's probably one of the most relaxed and (mostly) fun teaching jobs that ever was. As far as making money and paying off my loans, this is a pretty good place. I could probably make more money in Korea or China proper, but this is still decent. Besides, it's nice to have so many English-speakers around. It's nice for church, meeting people, getting directions, etc. On the other hand, it isn't so great for my language learning. I don't have as much incentive to learn Cantonese as I might if I had to use it to get around.

Another factor is whether my parents will still be here or not. Housing is SUPER expensive here, so it would be tough if I had to pay for my own house. Another thing that I don't like is how much money I spend here. Most of the people I come into contact with are definitely not as thrifty as my last group of friends. I always feel like a cheapskate because I don't like to pay much more than $5US for a meal (but we eat out so much!) and think the clothing prices are atrocious (not much for thrift stores, sadly). BUT I do like it here a lot, and it's a fun city to be in. Not such a huge fan of working six days a week, but it happens.

Should I go back to the States? I miss a lot about the States, some things more than others. Food is one of the things I miss the most. This is kind of lame since Hong Kong probably has the most Western food of any place in Asia, but it doesn't have everything and some of the prices make me stay away. Because of milk prices, we always use powdered milk. I'm not a huge fan of powdered milk, so I won't drink it; it's for cereal only. I used to drink a least two cups of milk a day. I think I've drunk milk maybe two times since I've been here. Sad. Also, I MISS MEXICAN FOOD! Or any kind of Hispanic food, really. Tacos, burritos, chips and salsa, horchata, pupusas....I could go on but I won't. I hear that there are a couple Mexican places around, but they look super expensive.

I miss friends a lot, but even if I move back to the States that won't change. If I went back, I would probably move to Denver and a lot of my friends are still in Arkansas and Oklahoma. But, I could still go see them. There are small things that I miss about living in the States. I can almost imagine a life in Denver, and it's so great. I always imagined what life after college would look like. I'd share a small house with some people, decorate it to my heart's content, work some kind of job, invite people over for dinner, welcome couchsurfers, go to lots of local events, cook and bake a lot, get involved in a church, hang out with teens, etc. I never thought I'd be over here. Although I'm so glad to be here, a part of me is waiting for the excitement of that "normal" life to start.

There are so many little things that I miss. Farmer's markets, driving, houses, concerts, people who like my music, hang-out nights with friends, seasons, thrift stores, jeans, used bookstores, decent libraries, eggnog, campfires, camping, playing in creeks, my pets, snow, snow ice cream, cars driving on the right, parades, carnivals, rodeos, traditions. Really, I don't think of these things THAT much, but they all come up every now and then. It would be nice....

Should I go somewhere else? Even while I dream about life in the States, I also think about other places I'd love to go. Thailand? I loved staying in Bangkok and was tempted to stay there. Somewhere in Latin America? I could really learn Spanish and experience yet another culture. Korea? More delicious food and good money to pay off my loans quickly. Because that's the rub, really. Places like Thailand or Latin America or the Philippines or somewhere in Africa would be awesome, but I would have to make enough to pay for these stupid loans. Who knew that they'd dictate where I'd live? If only I could wish them away and do what I want. Maybe I'd be able to work something out. We'll see, we'll see.

What do you guys think? Thoughts?


  1. When I first left for school, I stepped out in faith that God had a plan, and I had no clue what it was. I didn't want to leave Chicago, but I did. Half way through that experience, I decided to make my roots in Arkansas with those close friendships and make school and those friendships my home. After graduating, I didn't want to go back to Chicago because I knew that if I went home, it would feel as if I hadn't gone forward at all. When I was forced to go back, it felt like the biggest failure in my life in career and relationships.

    The question to ask if you come back is, what will change in you when you return home? You're someone who loves learning and wants to travel the world. When you come home, traveling becomes something near impossible without financial stability. As friendships are spread throughout the world, where do you give your prime investment? Home is something that is extremely debilitating. It feels like going backwards because it is going backwards. I would encourage you to go to those places like Latin America, Thailand, or the Philippines. Keep going forward, don't get comfortable, and live a life that is an adventure filled with every seized opportunity. I think if we live lives like that, God will use is in more extravagant ways. Now, in my season, I have to dig myself out of a pit to get back on the adventure. There is never an adventure at home.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement Charlie. I do agree about the adventure part, but I've actually never lived in Denver. Going there would still be new and different. I'm very excited about living there, I just have to ask myself will it be sooner or later.

  3. As an MK, I'm going to make a plug about returning to the US here. Living overseas is no more adventurous, fun-filled, or holy than living in the US. It's what you bring to the table (and, more importantly, what God brings to the table) that makes an experience worthwhile. People are fallen everywhere. American is just as much a mission field as Europe. Adventure is to be had everywhere, including at home.

    That being said, you need to follow your heart. If God has put Denver there, then why wait? But if he's put other things on your heart too, then I think you ought to prayerfully pursue all of them. :-) God doesn't give us longings for no reason.

  4. The rest of the world may not be "more holy", but home is a place that creates complacency. Denver may be a new place, or for me Chicago proper would be a new place. But "home", the place where you grew up, with various connections is a debilitating place that causes us to be lazy about our lives. You try less, you experience less, and you have less chance to see the rest of the world. If you move somewhere else, it prevents making permanent, complacent roots. That's one thing that frightens me about home. I don't want to be one of those people who doesn't live anywhere else for 50 years. It doesn't take a chance or any courage to go anywhere else but home. America may be just as much a mission field as Europe, Africa, or Asia, but home is a mission field for those who come from another home who have a passion for living there.

    When you come to a new home, you have a new optimism, you're willing to experience more, you're willing to see everything that this new place has to offer, you dream out ways to improve it, and you have the energy to do it that you wouldn't at home. Home is a place that has a greater tendency to create pessimism. "Nothing has ever changed here, this or that hasn't worked, why try to fix this place? No one cares, why should I?" I see that attitude in myself in every person I meet in this suburb of Chicago.

    Granted, your home may be way better than my home. No one enjoys living here who I meet, and they have the fear of living anywhere else. When you live somewhere too long, there's a fear of the unfamiliar, a fear of meeting new people, and a fear of trying new things. That's the danger of "home". Denver may be a new place, but is it the biggest chance you could take? Is it bold? Is the bold answer always the right answer? Sometimes, boldness is the most foolish mistake (in some of my experience).

    Here's a new question, what place will cause you to be more dependent upon God? It's not going after what or where you desire to be the most. Where should you be that doesn't distract you from Christ, where should you be that doesn't cause pessimism, where should you be where you can use your gifts the most, where should you be that causes growth and not regression? Where should you go where God can teach you the most? Where should you go that does not cause complacency? America may be a mission field, but are there places here in the US that would cause your life to be more complacent? I would say both.

    You can't blame the place completely, it does come down to what we make of it: optimism, pessimism, etc. But what environment makes growth the most conducive? What place makes your future opportunities limitless? What place makes you less self-centered? What place causes weaknesses to flourish? What place causes strengths to be strengthened?

    Not everything in your heart is worth following; just take a page from some of my recent life's story. Our hearts can be deceived, and our hearts long for places, people, and things that may not have anything to do with where God wants you to be or go. God may not have put those places on your heart; you might have thought those things all on your own. Test the doors to see what opportunities come about in all of those places. Don't give up on the dream, unless God demolishes it. Our hope should not be in our future, it should be with Him.

    Ultimate Question: Where should you be where you will be most dependent and content with Christ alone, not on the food, not on the culture, not on the friends or geography, but just Christ alone? That's where you should go next.

    Ultimate Disclaimer: Don't follow your heart; you will always be deceived.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.


I like comments just as much as fresh guacamole and chips! Well, maybe not quite that much...