Friday, April 27, 2012

"If I settle on the far side of the sea…" By Jacqlyn Shelley

Being adventurous was never a strong point for me as a child, so it never really crossed my mind to set out on a journey far away from anything familiar or comfortable. Now that I am older and since the invention of Facebook I have been able to follow a few young ladies courage to take off and head away from family and home to accomplish a dream, desire and calling. One of these women is Jacqlyn Shelley. She has a blog
that you can check out that has some really neat stories of where she has been in her life for the last year or so.

I was soooo thrilled when Jacqlyn said she was willing to take time out of her insane schedual to write a blog on things that she has learned since being in Saudi Arabia. My prayer is that her words will encourage all of you heading out to the ends of the earth to make an impact, and give you a little bit of wisdom of what to expect when you are far away from home.


If I settle on the far side of the sea…

To start off, I am a young girl from Southern Ontario whose life has taken a very different path than expected.  I graduated from Teacher’s College last year and decided that I wanted to begin my teaching career abroad.  Little did I know that the door would open for me in the Middle Eastern nation of Saudi Arabia.  The “Kingdom” is not quite like the Kingdom I heard about growing up, if you know what I mean J  but I have slowly found my way.
Saudi Arabia is not the ideal place for a single girl to live.  There are many rules that I have to follow that make life, well, interesting.  Things like not being allowed to drive because I am a woman or having to wear an abaya in public…  However, by going through these drastic changes, I have realized that I CAN survive and be brave but not by my own strength.
There are some barriers that make it difficult for me to say everything I would like to, but I can explain what I am learning through this journey.

1.      Patience is key – I have had to learn that living here is not as fast-paced as North America and I have had to drastically change my outlook on life.  This doesn’t only include being patient with other people, but with myself as well.  After all, I am new to this career and I don’t always get it right the first time.
2.      It’s the simple things that make me smile – Sometimes living here is downright hard.  I have learned to find joy in the small things such as finding a specific brand at the grocery store or sitting down at my piano and playing for hours.
3.      People are placed in your life for a reason – Although there aren’t many people ‘like me’ here, there are some people who have continuously been a blessing to me during this year.  Whether they act as my second parents, become a sounding board when I need to talk or simply take me away from this place to hang out, I am very thankful for these people.  No matter how recent they have come into my life, I know I have made lifelong friends.
4.      Make family a priority – I spend a lot of time chatting on the phone with my parents and messaging my brother and sister, but this is a necessity for me.  I don’t need to pretend I’m brave and go days without talking to them because they are the people I love more than anyone and are always encouraging me to keep going.  No matter how near or far from home you live, I think that remaining close with your family is very important.

Inspiration to keep going can come from the most unassuming places.  I recently took 13 students on a trip to China.  This trip took a lot out of me as the planning process was both time-consuming and stressful.  Most of the students don’t realize the effort teachers make but out of my group, one of the students decided to take the time to write me a very sweet letter and make a thank-you card for me.  She was the only Christian in the group of students and her words, as a 15 year old girl to her teacher, were truly remarkable.  In her letter, she encouraged me by saying, “After all, whatever happens to us in this life it’s all in God’s hands. He knows what’s better for you.  He would never put you in a place [Saudi] unless He knows it is the right place to be in at the right time.”  She closed her thank you note by saying “Thanks for the life you showed me that I could have.”  Needless to say, I was greatly touched by her words and by the knowledge it gave me that I am making a difference here.  Her letter could not have come at a better time.
There are many other things I have felt while living here.  I have gone through every emotion in the book but I continue to remember that God is in control and even though I am far away from all things familiar, He’s here.  One of the most appropriate verses I have found is
Psalms 139:9-10.  “If I rise on the wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.”

No matter where you live or how alone you may feel, remember these words and always be thankful.  I promise that if you rely less on yourself and more on Him, you will make it through and you will make a difference.


Blessings Jacqlyn on your journey and calling where you are!!! You are an inspiration to many young women.

1 comment:

  1. I think it is amazing that she has taken a chunk of her life to make such a difference for so many others. I love this scripture I used this as my testimony as a young girl moving to Canada. It is such a wonderful reminder of Gods love ♥ Diana Wilhelm