Last year, through the Youth Expedition Project (YEP) organised by Asian Journeys Ltd, a partner of ITE, I travelled with a group of 40 students and 4 teachers to Inner Mongolia, to be part of the “Green Desert Project”.

Inner Mongolia has been combating desertification over the years due to overgrazing and industrialisation in the region. Grassland has turned to sand dunes and deserts. When the winds blow, the sand particles are being blown and many houses and farmlands are being covered by sand!

Hailstone!

We experienced a hailstone on our way from Beijing to Duolun, Inner Mongolia! The whole land was covered in white within seconds!

Sandstorm!

We also experienced a sandstorm as we were about to go to the plantation area.

Thank God for keeping us safe in both occasions.

In an effort to save the grassland, our goal was to plant 2,500 trees in Duolun, a county in Inner Mongolia which is about 8 hours bus ride from north of Beijng city.

Step 1: Mark and dig holes

We spent several days, from morn to sunset, marking and digging under the burning weather of nearly 39oC. We had to put on our raincoat and continued digging on a raining day, just to ensure we complete our target for the day. Obviously, at the end of each day, we were exhausted and our bodies ached. However, the satisfaction at the end of the digging process is unimaginable and indescribable!

My reflection: Foundation is critical just like how we should follow our Lord to continue to live our lives in him, “rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2: 7)

Step 2: plant fir trees

After digging the holes, it was time to plant fir trees to complete the process. This was an easy yet challenging task because if each tree was not placed properly, the root might be damaged and the tree might die as it could not receive nutrients to grow.

Each time as I gently placed a fir tree into the hole, I said a prayer, “God, enable the tree to grow healthily and not wither”.

We finally finished all the planting by sunset. Seeing the whole field filled with 2,525 trees (to celebrate ITE’s 25years anniversary) planted with hard work, patience and love, all of us were beaming with smiles. All wearies were forgotten.

5 years? 10 years? I can’t wait to be back in Duolun, to see the growth of the trees that was planted by us.

For the remaining days of our trip, we were being “stretched to our limits” while immersing in the Chinese culture by eating Mongolia dishes, staying in Ger, a Mongolia tent, attending a Mongolian cultural night, riding horses hiking along the Guniang lake with a beautiful love story, rolling down the sand hills …

Nothing is complete until we climbed the Great Wall. I vividly remember how I “conquered” this majestic wonder of the world. God gave me unexplainable strength as I climbed and worshiped Him. Eventually, with courage and in faith, I reached the top and captured a memorable photo with my friends.

At other times, God also protected me through friends and teachers who took good care of me by providing me Vitamin C pills in the morning, praying for me when I was sick. God also taught me how to overcome my fear, and to persevere and be patient in everything I do. I have wonderful memories that I treasure because the trip was filled with deep relationships that were built together with God.

All glory to God!

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” – (Galatians 6:9)

By Rachel Tay

31 Anchorvale Road, Singapore 545056