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A Letter to my Friends in New Zealand, from Lynne

“To my friends in New Zealand.

I really miss you guys and I’ve already settled down and started my internship for one week.

Following are the words that I wrote on the plane back to my home country:

Out of my expectations, the last month here totally changed my mind of the student exchange experience in New Zealand.

The first month here was terrible. I secretly cried in my room on my 21st birthday because of loneliness. I greatly regretted the decision of choosing New Zealand for student exchange, instead of going to Taiwan with my friend. I tried so hard trying to make friends with local students but what I felt was disappointment and rejection. I wrote diary every day to comfort myself, although this method was always useless. I felt increasingly very anxious and and impatient, which in turn gave me too much pressure to try to make New Zealand a positive experience.

The first place that made me feel welcomed and the sense of belonging in New Zealand was the Friday ISM bible study group. I went there nearly every Friday for as long as I can. It was the first place that I got to know more about Jesus and found some peace in my nervous heart. The Friday bible study group could somehow give me superpower to reset myself and helped me be prepared for the next week to come.

The first time I cried in front of others, was just before I was leaving New Zealand when I saw my Christian friend Dan who was trying to hold back his tear and looked up to the sky. This image will stick with me forever, as this reminded me that we must not close our hearts because of fear of being hurt and rejected. We must open our hearts and look up to God.

The 145 days in New Zealand gave me plenty of time to get along with myself, to discover myself, and to think about the important questions of life and God. I have not found all the answers of who I am yet, but I can say I found the answers to what I want and what I love now; I cannot say that I have 100% believed in the Great Lord yet, but I do want to get close to him and keep seeking Him until I find Him.

The final week here in New Zealand for me was particularly hard, as I had to say many goodbyes to my New Zealand friends. It is not until then that I realized how many beautiful relationships I have been blessed with here. These are all but God’s blessings, and not because how good I am.

Saying goodbye is difficult. I prayed to God every night now and for the people I care for here in New Zealand, because my memory of New Zealand would be plain and indifferent without knowing you and receiving your love.

No matter where we are and no matter when we will see each other again, the memories with ISM will always be kept in my heart. I will cherish these memories as the reminder and courage to keep being myself and searching.

Lastly, I am back in my home country now knowing that I am very different than before, this is only because of you all. I know that I am better prepared for life now than before, this is because You are always by my side. Let’s continue to grow in faith together even we are so far apart.”

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