China Mission Trip 2009 - My Family Travels

Before setting foot in Sanming, Fujian, China, I had many thoughts and worries because not only would it be my first time going on a mission trip, but it would be my first time going to China as well. Not knowing what it was like halfway around the world, whether it was the weather, the people, the surroundings, or just living in a totally different environment. I was lucky to have many people with experience who gave me a lot of helpful advice about living in China warning me about the heat and the overflow of mosquitoes, making sure I will have enough water to drink and other important information. Though I can’t say I wasn’t scared, I was actually more worried about my communication skills. The heat I can handle, after all it couldn’t be much different than the weather here in California, and mosquitoes didn’t seem like such a big deal. But my Mandarin skills, that was the one thing I was worried about because I can’t find a way out of it.

But when I arrived in China, all my worries and questions turned into relief. The heat wasn’t as bad as I imagined nor were the mosquitoes unbearable, but most of all, I found out I could communicate with the children at the CV even with my limited vocabulary and wrong pronunciation.

Arriving at the Children Village (CV), I was nervous about how to talk to the children and stayed in the back of the group when the kids came out to greet us. Unexpectedly when one child came over to me and held on to my hand, I was so surprised, I wasn’t sure what to do. Using my poorly pronounced Mandarin, I asked them what their name and age were, the only two things I could remember at that time because I was so nervous. At first I wasn’t sure how I would get through the two weeks with my minimal skills. But through those two weeks, each time a child came up to me and wanted to share some good news or ask me a question, I was able to fully understand and could even respond back with an answer, even if I had to use five minutes to say one sentence. I was scared the kids wouldn’t understand my half Cantonese-half Mandarin, but amazingly not only did they understand what I was saying, they also helped me with my poor pronunciation. That was the first time I realized and learned that I can still use my Mandarin, no matter how bad it sounds. Before this trip, in Chinese school and at home, I never tried to speak Mandarin with many people around because I knew my Mandarin wasn’t good, but being in China for two weeks, I had no choice but to speak out no matter how horrible it sounds and I learned to be more brave and communicate with the kids. I think if I did not put some effort into talking and knowing more about each child, I would not have learned so much from them and teach them so many new things during those two weeks.

Not only did I realized I could communicate with them, I also had to learn to be more patient. I always tend to be a fast person and I never like slowing down. Teaching kindergarteners to second graders for two weeks really tested my patience. In the beginning, I was able to handle it and even when one or two students interrupted the class, I had no problems with it, but towards the middle of the second week, it was really difficult for me not to get angry and yell. I tried not to sound mad and raise my voice, but it took a lot of power. It was one of the hardest things I had to learn to do and control my voice because I tend to have a pretty loud voice and I didn’t want to scare the students. I feel that these two weeks of experience working with children through teaching them various lessons and interacting with them on a daily basis really gave me a good understanding of these children. It makes me want to work even harder to pursue my goals and finish college so I can help more children in the future.

Not only did I learn some skills for myself, but witnessing these children who have so little, but yet can still live such a happy, carefree life really touched me. One afternoon after our interests class, I decided not to play with the kids and followed a couple of two the roof to see how the washed their clothes. When I was up there, I got to see the girls all scrubbing their shirts and pants with their bars of soap. I really was moved by this sight because even at home, I sometimes feel lazy to bring my load of laundry to the washing machine. But yet these children wash their clothes every single day without any complaints. It made me realize just how much I have to appreciate and be thankful for. I really admire these children for being so strong and so hardworking. They are so special and I learned so many lessons from them, it really is true, we learn so much more than what we can give to them. I am so thankful I had the chance to join this trip and I really hope I have another opportunity in the future to go back to San Ming again.


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