10 Things I’ve Learned in 2017

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…and just like that, 2017 is over. It’s like I blinked – looked away for just a second – and a whole year has passed by. My life couldn’t be more different than it was a year ago…so much has happened…and when change happens, one tends to learn a bit extra. So let’s talk about it…the top ten life lessons learned in 2017.


10. Queso can be made without Velveeta. Some of you reading this might not even know what I’m talking about, but let me explain. “Queso” means “cheese” in Spanish. But in Texas, queso is not just any cheese…it’s a dip of deliciousness that should be eaten at least weekly. It’s melted cheese mixed with tomatoes and peppers, and it’s just so good.

Velveeta is a type of fake cheese we have in America that’s probably more plastic than cheese, but when melted, it’s quite delicious. We use it to make queso.

There is no Velveeta in Australia…probably because it is not real food. And there’s no awesome Mexican food here, either. But y’all, don’t worry…because I now know how to make queso without Velveeta. It. Is. Possible. And once again, all is right in the world of Mel.

9. I can be outdoorsy…and like it. I tend to be more a of a city-type girl, and when God called me to Australia and Papua New Guinea, it seemed as if the adventure of it all was wasted on someone like me, who tends to prefer a good cinematic adventure over an actual adventure that makes you sweat. However, I’m changing my tune a bit. For example, I went camping with my friends a few months ago…and slept in a tent…and it was fun. I go hiking, and I’m actually glad I did it. And going to new villages in PNG makes me giddy excited. God is funny how He changes the desires of our hearts as He calls us closer to Him. It’s weird, but it makes me happy.

8. “Missions” looks a lot different than I thought it would. I experienced YWAM Townsville and life onboard the MV YWAM PNG a bit before I moved here, but I still expected life to be different than it’s turned out…and I’m glad. When you hear the word “missionary,” you often think of someone living out in the bush wearing weird clothes and having super-spiritual, theological conversations all the time. Which can be awesome for some people…but it’s not quite me. And God knew that and didn’t expect me to be that person. [insert sigh of relief here]

Just this year alone, He’s given me opportunities to work with people all over the social (and geographical) map. Yes, I get to go on outreach and work with people living in the most isolated conditions in rural PNG, and it’s amazing. But I’ve also been able to work with people who are heads of major corporations in the middle of Sydney, government officials working in Port Moresby, and highly-qualified physicians and medical professionals from all over the world. I feel blessed beyond what I could have ever imagined.

7. When you feel alone, you’re not. Moving to a new country and doing things that seem bigger than you can handle can be a bit lonely sometimes. You want to explain how you feel to people, but sometimes it just takes too much effort when you know you don’t quite have the words. If you’re not careful, you can quickly isolate yourself.

However, Hebrews 4 is true. Jesus is able to sympathise with us in everything we go through, because He went through it, too. So when you feel alone and like things are too big to put into words, He knows. Rest in that. Take comfort, and find joy in the hard. It’s there – just wait for it.

6. Your people will always be your people, regardless of where you live.  My relationships with friends and family back home have obviously changed since moving to the other side of the world. I don’t talk to them as often, and I don’t always know what goes on in their daily lives. They can’t fully understand my life here because they haven’t experienced it. And it’s okay. It doesn’t mean we’re less close…it’s just different, because it has to be. But it’s still good. [cue the cheesy “Friends are Friends Forever” song]

And speaking of my people…

5. When you leave your people to follow God, He gives you more people. You don’t love the people you left less, but your heart grows, and there are new people for you to love just as deeply. I don’t know how it works…but I’m just grateful.

4. Leather moulds in the tropics, y’all. This was a traumatising lesson to learn. Also, “mold” is spelled “mould” over here.

3. Learn to read what season you’re in and embrace it. This is a lesson I’m still learning, and it might take a bit longer to fully grasp this one. But it’s one that’s been highlighted this year, as each month has been a bit different. People come and go, as we often travel back and forth to PNG for months at a time. There are months of crazy busy, and months with a bit more breathing room. New opportunities arise, and there are times to embrace the opportunities, and other times to wisely decline. (I feel a bit like Solomon as he writes Ecclesiastes). Anyways, it’s all about the season that God has you in…and each season has a treasure He’s prepared for you. You can choose to look longingly at a past season or in anticipation of a future season, or live fully in the present. Once you figure out how to do life in the season you’re in, it often means that a new season is just around the corner…try to just go with it. (As I type this out, I’m rolling my eyes…because I’m so bad at this!)

2. Bloom where you’re planted. I guess this goes along with life lesson #3, but fully living where God has called you is a choice, and I think it’s one that makes Him smile. In Jeremiah 29, He calls the Israelites to put down roots and prosper in the land to which they were exiled. How much more do you think He desires us to flourish and make home in the places to which He’s brought us to fulfill His calling on our lives? It’s a choice, and it’s work. However, I’m finding that being whole-heartedly invested yields so much joy and contentment and makes all the work well worth it. Make home where you are. Make new traditions, and embrace all that God has for you.

1. Trust. When it seems like God’s called you to do something too big or too difficult, He probably has. But He’s done it to grow your faith, not to crush you. He has to get you to the end of yourself before He can show you more of Him. This is what He means when He says that His power is made perfect in our weakness. We see miracles when we step out in faith, trusting that He’ll provide. I think that God will always be teaching me more about trust, because isn’t that what all of this is about?

…looking forward to all the fun and life lessons that await me in 2018… #bringiton

He. Is. Faithful.
Melissa Kauk

Mel is from Dallas, Texas and has been on staff with us for almost a year! Mel works in our Ships office as our Medical Team Coordinator. She enjoys coffee, laughing, brunch, and spending time with others.

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