China 2015


“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, ever there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

~ Psalm 139:7-10 ~





This Christmas break I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Southeast Asia with the Baptist Student Union.  We went to three different cities, the smallest of which was 7 million people.  Traveling in Asia was definitely different from anything I have ever experienced, yet it is an experience that far outweighed any culture shock or uncomfortableness.  I had no idea what Asia was going to be like or if I would even like it.  However, from a young age, God has given me the desire to travel and go into mission work.  So when an opportunity to travel to a new country opened up, I took it.  From my short life I have found that God often pushes us in directions that stretch us but ultimately make us stronger and more reliant on Him.  I had the great pleasure of coming down with the flu for the first few days of the trip, yet God provided the necessary strength (and medicine) to continue on.  It was a good lesson for me to learn to depend more on God and the other members of our team.  There were a total of 12 of us that went—my pastor and his wife and 10 students.  I enjoyed getting to know the other team members much better, and I believe that we came back to the United States with a greater appreciation for the Christian community that we abundantly have in the States.


7639108c2e581e3df075e3889c20bd3bGoing to Southeast Asia opened up my eyes to a completely different culture.  While this seems like an obvious statement, I truly was not prepared for how much I would grow to love experiencing different aspects of the culture or how it would change my view of the world.  There were some obvious differences—authentic Asian food is really nothing like the American version; chopsticks are way more fun to use than a fork, I actually prefer using them now; trying new foods is a good idea about 90% of the time; somehow KFC is more popular over there than in the U.S; public transportation is not as scary as it first appears; clean air should never be taken for granted; regularly seeing church buildings is not common everywhere in the world, and many more things.  However, I also am understanding more and more that people are still people, despite physical distance.  While taste buds, senses of humor, fashions, architecture, etc. can be different, people have many of the same habits, dreams, loves, hates, and most importantly, we are all in need of the same Savior—Jesus Christ.  While there, I had the opportunity to visit a Buddhist temple, which turned out to impact me much more than I could have anticipated.  Seeing tourists and locals; men, women, and even children actively bowing down and offering incense, food, flowers, and praise to lifeless golden statues made my heart hurt in a new way.  Witnessing people trying to gain an empty thing’s favor by sacrifice made me see lost people in a new light.  This new insight also made me realize anew that the people I sat next to on the bus, practiced English with, or go to class with, are just as lost as the people bowing down to a man-made idol.  This awareness gave the words in Matthew 9:36-38 a new poignancy:

“When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’”


During our visit to Southeast Asia, we were able to visit some of the normal tourist things, and while those were interesting to see, they would not compel me to return again.  Yet I fell in love with the area, not for its buildings or attractions, but because of its people.  A people who are incredibly friendly, curious, intelligent, hospitable, and loving.  I met many wonderful people who began as acquaintances, students, direction-givers, tour guides, but who ended as friends—friends I hope to see again in the near future, friends I hope that become my brothers and sisters in Christ.  


I realized when I went on this trip that I would most likely not make any substantial impact on the country, yet I know that my experiences in Asia have impacted me in a great ways.  My appreciation for the Christian community and church that I am part of in Butte has grown substantially, as has my appreciation of learning about God from a young age.  This trip also opened my eyes to the importance of not just going on “mission trips” but on having a missional mindset wherever I am, not just in a foreign country.  Because I am a Christian, I am commanded to be a witness for God wherever I am at.  


Written by Morgan Paolini





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