We've actually been here for about a month already. And here's what I've noticed about the city:
1. It's not my comfort zone (at least yet). Life here is very different than it was back in Tampa! For example, instead of driving to Publix, I walk down the street to a small and crowded market and carry all our groceries home. Same with the post office and pharmacy and shopping in general. We walk to church. That’s definitely different! We do our laundry in the basement of our building (which feels a lot like living in a dorm again). We’re becoming a lot more familiar with the bus and train routes. And I think we’re gaining a new appreciation for warm clothes.
2. It's full of sin. And I don’t just mean that sin is tolerated or accepted here. I mean sin is completely glorified and made to look so sophisticated. Although a lot of what we see or hear on a daily basis is very blatant, many of the godless attitudes and values of the city creep up in such subtle ways. It’s teaching us to be prayerful and watchful on a daily (and sometimes hourly!) basis.
3. It's in desperate need of the Gospel! While the majority of people seem self-satisfied, there are some here who are searching for God in such a sincere, earnest, and beautiful way. Although there’s a lot that feels discouraging about the city, the opportunities to help and encourage and serve the souls here are deeply rewarding—and we’ve only been here a month. After dinner and a conversation about seeking the Lord, I received this text last week from a Korean girl (whose English isn’t the best): “Thank you for sharing gospel tonight. Yours owesome. Thank you be my teacher and friend either. Bless you!!” Needless to say, we are so glad to be in a place so in need of God’s light.
In times of transition and change, I’m always reminded of Moses instructing Joshua as the Israelites are on the brink of entering the Promised Land. In Deut. 31:7-8, Moses tells Joshua, “Be strong and courageous… the Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid!”
I'm not sure what the city holds for us—whether good or bad—but I know God goes before me! And we have nothing to fear.