So often, fear keeps us from stepping out and doing what God wants us to do. Whether we fear failure or fear rejection, there are many reasons why we are hesitant to follow God’s leading in our lives. This series on “Top Fears” will focus on the different fears current students experienced in their time before coming to WOLBI and the beginning of their experience here.
Top Fear #1 FRIENDSHIPS
Many different emotions tend to flood your mind when you realize you will soon begin that first year of college.
Joy. Anxiety. Excitement. Fear.
It feels like your mind constantly cycles through these different emotions where one moment you feel prepared for this new adventure and are ready to face it with excitement while the very next moment you start to doubt how your experience will be.
Honestly, that’s why opening day of WOLBI is of my favorite days of the school year. With every young lady who steps foot on campus to start their journey here, I see a little reflection of my college myself. The stress of unpacking and setting up your room and all the awkward “get to know you” conversations with these new people reminds me how I felt the first day of college. Every year on this day I have the same conversations with some of the incoming young ladies as I bring them to their dorm and reassure them the different emotions they are experiencing are normal in a time of transition. Every year they think they are all alone and have yet to realize a lot of others are feeling the same way.
Opening day is important to me because I remember the emotions I was feeling that first day and serving in this role now gives me the opportunity to point them back to the beautiful truth that although transitions are hard and are filled with uncertainty, God is always faithful to carry us through them.
One major question I frequently hear is "WILL I HAVE FRIENDS?"
I remember my first day at WOLBI New York. As an outgoing person you would think there would be no problem getting to know people but deep down I was terrified. You’re listening to the girl who didn’t want to go to breakfast the first day because she thought there would be no one to sit with. Thankfully, I got up and went anyways. It was on the way to breakfast that I met a classmate who would become one of my dearest friends to this day.
Fast-forward seven years, current student Mizuki Yokota, just like me, had her own fears about building friendships at WOLBI. “I was super nervous and I was worrying if I’d have friends or not. I was praying for that for almost a year since I decided to come here.”
Knowing there were only two other Japanese students, none of which are girls, Mizuki knew the beginning of the school year would be hard but she knew that God would provide for her. Mizuki recalls God’s faithfulness through her time here at WOLBI and how He has allowed her to build meaningful relationships.
The initial van ride to campus was intimidating because everyone was talking so fast so it was hard to understand what was going on. At that moment, it was easy for her to doubt if she’d have any friends. But even though she was nervous, Mizuki was intentional about reaching out to her classmates. She claims the best way to make friends is to offer food so on the second day Muzuki invited the foreign girls to eat Japanese instant noodles and taught them how to use chopsticks. It was the perfect opportunity talk and laugh together.
There was a turning point after orientation week where Mizuki felt God was really helping her to form deep relationships. WOLBI had a dedication campfire night and the students were challenged to surrender this year to God. Mizuki was impacted by God’s Word that night and took some time to reflect on her decision to give this year to God. She remembers her two friends, Talitha and Anya coming up to her and praying for her. Mizuki recalls thinking, “I can trust them and they are my sisters in Christ.” From there, whether it was late night talks or studying together in the dorm, slowly everyone started building deeper relationships with each other. Looking back, it’s hard to believe there was once a time when everyone was afraid they would have no friends.
Mizuki & her friends out to dinner in Jeju!
2 Essential Tips
1. Be intentional
Mizuki said the best way for her to form friendships at WOLBI is understanding what her classmates like. Whether it’s playing their favorite board game or eating their favorite food, it’s important to reach out to them. At the beginning of the year, “Mr. Steve told us to jump into the culture so it encouraged me to do something new.”
2. Be Patient
Too often, we are impatient and we forget that friendships take time to build. It’s the journey along the way that builds the friendship. As you study God’s Word together, participate in ministry together, and experience life on Jeju together, you will see that little by little these people will become your close friends.