On October 2017, I returned to Taiwan as a second term lay missionary. When I came back to Taiwan, I was so glad to see again many things that I am already quite familiar with. Seeing again the old neighborhood, the parks and the university campus where I used to visit, the restaurant where I used to eat, gave me great comfort.
An opportunity was given to take a four-month refresher Mandarin course at a language center of a Catholic University in Taipei. This would give me the opportunity to be in a "Catholic atmosphere" during my language study. However my excitement and positive expectations about the new place quickly turned into a confusion. I realized I needed to make adjustments from what I was used to. From the experience of having my own room to sharing a room with other roommates or from having a one on one tutorial class to attending a class with many other classmates. Everything became a challenge for me as I started to create a "new home" in an unfamiliar place. I had to familiarize myself with places to study, to eat, to exercise, and to pray.
Another challenge for me was encountering new people. There were times when I felt tense when I met a lot of new people. At times I found myself comparing my language abilities with that of other classmates. I gave myself a hard time.
As I spent my days struggling with my adjustments, I remembered the first time I arrived in Taiwan when I found it difficult to adjust to the new food, the weather, the culture. I also remembered the times when I became sensitive as I went through conflicts with others and when I met new challenges and faced my limitations. Reflecting on these previous experiences gave me some wisdom and helped me to identify some learning. I began to relax and found time to do things on my own. Not rushing but trying to do things one step at a time and bring my life experiences into my prayer.
Finally, my heart found peace. Now, I am trying to express my gratitude as much as possible in my daily life. Because each day I can learn many things about myself, my own short comings and vulnerabilities and by encountering new things in my life.
Columban lay missionary Sun-Hee "Maria" Kim lives and works in Taiwan