Jump from the Cliff

IMG_0898This picture is over a year old. But, it fits into the theme of my soapbox story.

Don’t let the adventure scare you away… I was sitting here tonight thinking about my decision to become an ESL teacher and working in a different country. I had gone home to see my parents. Tough decisions are always best discussed with loved ones. We talked about it in great detail. I think the talking was the most important part. It was not just me trying to talk them into this being a great idea. I was trying to talk myself into it as well. So many doubts, worries, fear, trepidations, and a whole host of other thoughts and emotions went into this decision.

It kind of reminds me of a time when I was younger. There was a place where we watched people jumping from a high cliff into a pool of water. It looked fun. As we talked, it even sounded fun. But, when I was standing at the top, looking down into the water, all that fun talk and seeing the thrill was different when it came to my own life. As I looked down, fear and negative thoughts and emotions put doubt into my mind. It seemed like hours of me standing there to try to talk myself into jumping. But, jump I did. And once I did it, I wanted to do it again and again. And, I did. Yes, the first step is always the hardest. Especially if you have never faced such a challenge before. But, once the step is taken from the cliff, there is no going back. You continue down the cliff and hope you made the right decision.

Just as with the cliff, I took a step into China. That first step was not easy. It took me a long time to decide to put my foot out there. It took lots of soul searching and courage to leap into the unknown. And, through the entire process, before I left the USA, it was one doubt after another. I had hoped that it would have been like a child at Christmas time with the excitement of finding loads of presents under the tree, all for you. But, it was more like waiting in a line outside of a Halloween haunted house hearing the horrible screams from within. But, you still stood in line to enter the horror filled house.

And, even after I arrived in Beijing that first day, and the days and weeks that followed, you second guess your decision. When you are trying to speak English to a Chinese speaking population so that you can just get some food, your mind is screaming…”why can’t anyone here speak English?”. When you discover that the toilet is not something from back home, you scratch your head wondering where the directions are to use this thing. When you are constantly told by your Chinese handler to sign this, stand there, sit here, and trust them, you are taking a great leap of faith.

But, when I look back on those beginning days, I have to laugh at myself somewhat. Afterall, I am very strong in my faith in God. I had made the decision years ago to turn my ENTIRE life over to Him. And, if I take a hard look at my past, God was preparing me all along for this time in China. He had me working with kids most of my life. He has allowed me to travel and experience other cultures and lifestyles. He provided me with an education and experiences that would allow me to survive. He made sure that I had a good support system at home and the right people in line for me here in China. God allowed me to go through many hardships in preparation to harden me for this task. And, He delivered me through those hardships stronger than when I went in. He has given me knowledge and experience to deal with the many differences I would face. God prepared me for this journey in my life. Without God, my faith, and my love in Him, this whole experience would have been one big tragedy. I am sure of it. Sure, there are many Westerners here without God on their side. And, many seem to be doing well. When I speak to them though, I find many things in their life that is lacking. They fail to embrace the experience. They muddle their way through it. They face the challenges of this lifestyle with difficulty and angst. They struggle to find their place, in a place that they really don’t fit in. I too face these same issues. But, God has prepared me for this. He is with me every step of the way. Sometimes I forget this. And, sometimes I try to go on this journey alone. But, not for long. Because I will face a situation that draws me back to Him, and I just turn it over to Him. And, you know what? It ALWAYS works out better when I turn it over to God. ALWAYS!!!! He has not failed me once when I let Him guide me and carry me on this adventure.

But, this was not supposed to be a story about God and the plan He has for my life, or even your life. This was a story to show you that there is more to life than the house you live in; the street you live on; the town you reside in; or the country you love to be a citizen in. I wanted to let you know that it is ok to be fearful of jumping off the cliff into the pool of water below. Life is meant to be an adventure. This world is too big to view from the porch of your house or from the comfortable chair in front of the television. This life I am living is definitely not for everyone. But, for those who seek adventure and change, take a look at being an ESL teacher. This is no summer break vacation. It is not a trip to Disney World or a cruise on the high seas. It is not even jumping off a cliff into a pool of water. When you work overseas, it is a total life changer. It is as if you woke up one morning and you are someone completely different. You will be transformed. You will be changed forever in how you see things and think about things. You will be made into someone new and different. Have you ever wondered what it is like for people who have gone to space for the first time? How about the people who sail across the ocean when they thought the earth was flat? What was it like for the pioneers that crossed the unexplored wilderness in the USA for the first time into a world they could not even dream of? What is heaven going to be like? This is the experience I have had. This is the experience that awaits anyone who steps away from the comfort zone they have made for their life and dares to jump from the cliff into a pool of water below. If you think you can take that leap from the cliff and want to have an adventure of a lifetime, chat with me about being an ESL teacher overseas. It does not have to be China. It does not have to be forever. But, I assure you, it will be one of the best decisions of your life. It will be life changing in ways you never thought possible. And, if you will let me, I will jump from the cliff with you so you have someone experienced to travel the distance to the pool below.

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2 thoughts on “Jump from the Cliff

  1. Hello what a wonderful and meaningful letter you have written. i will have to read it again to soak it all in. As a Christian myself i am proud of you that you boldly gave Jesus the glory and honor. I know it came natural as He is real to you but its awesome to read. I think you need to give Bridget from Oxford Seminars a copy to give to new or possible new students. I have taken the Oxford Seminar course in 2011. I have taken the dive and taught ESL in Bangladesh. it was a fantastic way to see a new place, culture, and meet some great people. I learned a lot myself during that time last year. I have been wanting to climb the ladder, using your illustration, and take the jump more on a permanent basis. I was in Bangladesh for three times teaching but traveling back and forth. I am praying about renting my house and taking the plunge. But i fear the loneliness and also my parents are not getting any younger and has health issues. Keep me in your prayers. I think we have a lot in common. I don’t see myself in China teaching ESL but somewhere i am seeking.

    Thank you again and again for sharing. Please respond so i know i have your correct email address God bless vince bailey st. louis

    • I am renting my house in Nashville. My parents are near 70 years old. And I faced the same issues you raised. Here is the thing. My parents and I have an understanding. We love each other and stay connected through Skype. The fact that I may not go home for two or three years is ok. They only want me to be happy and safe. They know that they are living their lives and I am living mine. We share everything over the internet. We have an understanding. Yes, I could spend $1500-$2500 to go home for a month or two. But, for what? I would sit at their house and run out of things to say and do. I have grown up in St. Louis, so, there is not much to see. And, they have no desire to travel to China where it is not handicapped accessible. So, we have decided that I should use the money I would spend to go back to the USA and use it to travel and see this part of the world. They live my adventures through my blog, videos and pictures. And, when I eventually do decide to visit America again, they will take a vacation too. We will meet someplace we both have never been and vacation together.

      As for my house. It is only a house. I am not overly attached to one place. I am renting it out for about the same amount that I have to pay for it every month. I have a rental manager that keeps an eye on it. Just last month, I paid off most of my debts, with the exception of my mortgage. But, I was able to arrange payments to be automatically taken out of my bank account. For any legal matters, my parents have power of attorney over my estate.

      I am living in China rent free, utility free, and living a dream. My only real expenses here is what food I want to buy, and personal travel expenses. I send between $1000 and $1500 a month home to my bank account. And, I am rebuilding the retirement fund I destroyed while I was unemployed. I order western products online. And, I have very few worries in my life.

      Does it get lonely? Yes. Sometimes. Seems strange to say that I can be lonely in a country with 1.35 billion people. But, it happens. Eventually you meet other English speaking people. You develop friendships that you would not normally develop in the USA. The common bond is English. That becomes the umber one priority with friends. I have told my friends here that if we were in the USA, I doubt we would be friends because of the vast differences in interests, personality and character. But, here, we support each other. We agree to disagree with the differences and learn to tolerate each other. And, when you find a local who speaks English and you develop friends, they are great companions.

      If you need help jumping from the cliff, let me know. I will jump with you.

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