In just two short months, Merielle has adjusted to life in Asia, started working on strategic initiatives for the shop, joined a local soccer league, and made many friends. According to her, if it were not for the new job and new team, the adjustment might not have been so quick.
Merielle’s journey began with a desire to push beyond her comfort for the sake of the gospel. She had always desired for her daily life to reflect Christ to others, and now she is applying that value in a new context. She says, “My purpose is to use the gifts and talents God has wired into my brain and heart to do business well. Ultimately my goal is through my actions, the way I work with people, the way I befriend them, to shine the light of Jesus to the people who live here.”
Some aspects of her new life feel familiar to Merielle.
Each day she gets up and goes to work, in much the same way she has for years. That sense of purpose and structure reminds her that God is with her in this new environment just as he always has been.
Of course, not everything is familiar, and Merielle is grateful for the way God is helping her adjust to the new culture, weather, people, foods, smells, and sights more quickly than she expected. Getting used to a slower pace of life and the unpredictable nature of her work has been the most challenging adjustment. When asked about a typical day, Merielle accounts that each day starts at 7:30 when she walks the 60-second journey from her apartment to the coffee shop office. From that moment on, every day looks different.
Merielle often starts with administrative duties in the areas of finance, social media, and placing orders. At some point, she will stop by the shop to check in with the staff. Many days someone drops by to say hello (and often stay for a two-hour conversation!). Anytime there is a special project or office need, Merielle runs to the mall – and between transportation and running into friends, that might take half the day!
These types of interruptions are part of life in Southeast Asia, and they have challenged the coffee shop’s owner and founder to balance the routines of the business with investing in their vision of building strategic partnerships. Now, with Merielle’s assistance, they are able to expand the shop’s community-building efforts while staying on top of daily business tasks.
And what an effective effort it is!
Beginning with its employees, the shop is intentional about relationships. By taking the time to show an interest in their lives and listen to their stories, Merielle has already developed meaningful relationships with the staff. Most are young Southeast Asian people, and she has been welcomed into their circle as a confidante and friend.
Merielle has also connected with the customers, and through one of those contacts, she has been able to rekindle her lifelong passion for soccer. Surely much fruit will come from these friendships in the future, but for now, Merielle is thankful that God is showing his faithfulness through them. She never expected to have genuine friends only two months after arriving in Asia, but that has been her experience both at work and in the larger community.
If God has been tugging on your heart to consider cross-cultural service, let Merielle’s story encourage you!
- God can use your gifts and experiences in a variety of contexts. Just because you have found your niche in the US doesn’t mean that he may not someday call you to use those same gifts to benefit people halfway around the world and enhance the spread of the gospel.
- Transitioning to a new culture may not be as hard as you expect—having a team to join and a job you’re headed to can smooth the way.
- God may use your passions and hobbies in unexpected ways. Maybe you, like Merielle, will find yourself brushing off your high school soccer skills in a neighborhood league in Asia.
- Wherever he calls you, God is already there and will be faithful to you. There may be bumps in the road, but he will see you through.