Yvette, a Masters in Intercultural Studies student from Singapore Bible College, shares about her 3 weeks overseas “shadow” internship in East Asia with a view to exploring serving among this Unreached People Group after she graduates.
As the term “shadow” internship implies, my goal was two pronged –
1) to observe and learn how the field workers go about their daily life and work here and
2) to understand the culture and beliefs of the locals in order to connect with them.
The field workers here were very accepting and willing to share with me their experiences. A couple shared with me about their counselling work and I also learnt about the campus ministry from others. I learnt a lot about their lifestyle, work in the city and their interaction with the local people. Initially, I felt a distance between the local people and myself. As I slowly began to talk to the local people during meal times or while walking the streets and places of worship, or when buying things, I got to know them better. Most people were actually quite friendly to a foreigner like me and we interacted well.
For language, the local dialect was difficult to understand, but I could sometimes figure out a little. This did not pose too great a difficulty, except for visits to villages and occasional conversation with the elderly in the city. I then depended on translation by another worker and would ask if I could not understand. For culture, I learnt from conversations with the locals and by observation of local people in the streets. I also learnt it from the team. It was helpful that there was a new long term worker, so we went out to together to learn about culture. She also shared with me what she observed and learnt about the people.
I was involved in weekend English classes. It was fun to teach the children English and the guided English material provided was helpful. I also attended English Corner on Campus and interacted with the students. There was an outing organised to the park with the students. One of the students offered to show me around the city and we talked about heavenly things. I got to visit the families in the village and I learnt about their poverty and troubles. I also saw how the gospel is contextualized and shared through dialoguing with them. I learnt the importance of seeking to understand them, to find points of connection to the gospel, and not just pour out our faith to them, which may also be useful at times. We spent about 2 hours at each family’s home. We began each visit with prayers and closed with praying for the families, committing them to the Lord.
Team Time on Sunday was meaningful, focusing our life and ministry on God and entrusting ourselves to him. We also explored Scripture together and I enjoyed the time together. I joined one prayer meeting and it was meaningful to have everyone in the team to be covered with prayer. On my off day, I spent my time in quiet reading, reflections or taking walks to the supermarket. Once, I went downtown to the city centre and explored the place.
The major strengths of this trip gave me insights to the life of a field worker and also the local people. It helped me to understand that life out here is about making connections with the local people, relating, spending time with them and also finding ways to contribute into their lives meaningfully to build long term relationships.
My Take Away:
1) I learnt that God prepares, but God also gives surprises. There were days when God prepared my heart for what was to come. There were days when I did not know what to expect for the day, God gave me surprises of new things to learn.
2) I learnt a lot about the UPG here and the life of a field worker here.
3) I remembered God’s call on my life for missions and God’s grace in my life to grow me through ministry in Singapore. I saw the possibility of serving the Lord long term in missions. I enjoyed connecting with the locals and was excited when there were opportunities to talk about heavenly things.
4) Through conversations and interactions, I learnt and recognised my weaknesses too, such as shyness, rashness at times and making decisions without consulting others.
5) The interaction with the Team Leader was helpful, gleaning from her experiences. She always pointed me to the Lord as the provider, sustainer and keeper of all matters.