Yays and Yucks (Looking Back on a Year in Asia Part 1)

— by Elizabeth

NOTE ABOUT THIS SERIES:  I spent a lot of time in December and January reflecting on my first year overseas. Then I wrote it all down. In a 6-part series. Yes, I know that a 6-part series is waaaaay too long, but what am I if not long-winded?? (It could have been worse, you know. I scrapped a few ideas along the way.) My fiancé used to suffer through my jabbering till 2 am nearly every night, despite being in his first year of law school and working 3 jobs on the side. Boy, do I have a lot to say. (Oh yeah, and my fiancé still married me. More evidence of the existence of True Love.)


I love my life. It’s true. I loved it in Kansas City, and I love it in Phnom Penh.

We learned in missions training about the paradox of yays and yucks — the good things and bad things that happen in life – often at the same time. A friend recently described it as roses and thorns. People make decisions in life after listing out the pros and cons of a particular situation. And then “normal” people take the road that has fewer yucks, right?

Well, if I were to list out all the yays and yucks of living here, my yuck list would be longer. Muuuuch longer. You might question my normalcy. You might question my sanity. And you might question my claim.

So here’s my answer to those questions:

It’s because the weight I assign the yays is much heavier than the weight I assign the yucks. It’s like those weighted percentages in school. How we wish that our grade would depend more on the homework, which usually garners about 10% (sometimes none!). Quizzes are in there somewhere. Maybe a term paper. But the bulk of your grade is based on test scores.

God has granted me some heavy-duty yays this year. He has given us health (by missionary standards anyway). He has given us a sense of home and belonging. He has given me close friends in this country. My marriage is better than ever. (Research has found this is not the norm.) And I have peace in my relationship with God. (To any men who read this, I do apologize that my blessings are heavy on the relationships. But I am, after all, a woman, so what else would you expect??) These blessings are worth more to me than all the language mishaps, cultural isolation, sweat, dirt, bugs, and stinky smells combined. And believe me — there are more bugs and stinky smells than you can possibly imagine.

So in the weighted grade of my life, the yays count like tests, and the yucks count like homework. Go figure.


 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8