Asia Todd ('14) | Journalism & Mass Communication
Multimedia Major/Missions Minor
from Chiang Mai, Thailand
"Not your typical college student," is probably the best way to describe multimedia major Asia Todd ('14).
What makes Asia stand out is not only her substantial involvement on the ACU campus, but her love of others and ability to show Christ's love through the joy she finds in serving others.
Asia's time in Mwanza proved to be quite eventful. Her bride price was negotiated in front of her, as the village leaders and her missionary overseer debated how many cows she was worth. Since she couldn't cook or farm, Asia lost major cow points, as she described them.
Whether by capturing life moments as a talented photographer, mentoring freshman girls as assistant director in Nelson Hall, or serving as an officer of Third Culture Kid club on campus, at the core of everything she does, Asia is a servant for the Lord.
From Thailand to ACU
Born and raised in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Asia was surrounded by a servant-hearted community. Asia grew up watching her parents serve on the mission field. Asia's dad did everything from translatiing to leading small groups, from couples counseling to social service projects. Asia's mom is a teacher and the language supervisor at a school in Thailand and is always working to help students value Thai culture.
"My parents are kind of super stars. They are passionate in everything they do. I grew up watching my parents be very active and creative in what serving God can look like," says Asia.
Asia came to ACU because she wanted to be in an environment where people would value her upbringing on the missionary field.
"It was important for me to know that I would have professors and peers who understood the world I came from, or were at least interested in hearing about it. I also had a sense of peace about coming here," says Asia.
Upon her arrival to ACU from Thailand, Asia connected with Dr. Chris Flanders, associate professor of missions, and Larry Henderson, mission coordinator for WorldWide Witness. WWW is a program that provides students with practical missions experiences outside of the classroom. The program connects ACU students with experienced mentors and opportunities for service in global contexts.
"Chris and Larry have strong ties to my hometown," says Asia. "Because of my connection to these 'Abilene uncles,' I naturally became involved with the mission opportunities the Halbert Institute for Missions has to offer."
Asia spent the summer of 2011 serving as a WorldWide Witness intern in Mwanza, Tanzania, a city in east Africa.
A new kind of serving abroad
Although Asia grew up on the mission field, her internship in east Africa was her first time to be a part of a missionary family in a context wholly different than how she grew up.
"Getting out of Southeast Asia was an eye-opening journey that gave me a bigger picture on what missions can look like," says Asia. "When I arrived in Mwanza, I enjoyed experiencing a reversal of roles as I was the intern playing with missionary kids."
As part of her work in Mwanza, Asia shadowed a church planting mission team who went in and out of villages in the surrounding areas. Asia's role was to observe, ask questions and build relationships with the local people.
"I practiced giving my testimony in Swahili and observed everything from the crazy roads, to the affectionate mannerisms of the local people, to how the Sukuma danced and ate their ugali, a staple starch food. Everything intrigued me as I was sent to take in a new culture," says Asia.
Additionally, Asia helped the missionary families by playing with their children and cooking the occasional meal. "But for the most part, it was the missionary families who took great care of me as I watched and learned as their intern," she adds.
Out of the ordinary experiences
Asia's time in Mwanza proved to be quite eventful. She was kissed by a drunk African prostitute on her first day in the village, she recalls.
And her bride price was negotiated in front of her, as the village leaders and her missionary overseer debated how many cows she was worth. Since she couldn't cook or farm, Asia lost major cow points, as she described them.
The negotiation was in jest but gave Asia a glimpse into a very different culture and way of life.
"The conversation was in Swahili," Asia recalls. "Jason Miller, the missionary, was talking with the men of the village and I was sitting a ways away. He yelled, 'Hey Asia, can you cook?' And I said no. He turned around and they kept talking. A bit later he turned around again and asked 'How about farm?' And I said nope. And they started talking amongst themselves again. I would have loved to understood what was going on. The missionary explained to me later what happened."
Another memorable experience was waking up one night to find five African women sharing her twin bed with her.
"I knew I might share the bed, but I was shocked to see how many people we fit on it," she says.
Advice from a missionary kid
As a missionary kid who has also had a chance to serve in the mission field, Asia shares her words of wisdom about serving with WorldWide Witness.
"Go with the expectation that the people you are going to 'serve' are actually the people who will be serving you with their time. If you are willing to take a humble approach to learning more about yourself, other cultures and God's heart for missions, WWW can help you get there."
Asia is continuing to act as the Lord's hands and feet. This summer she interned with a relief and development non-profit in Chiang Mai called Partners. The organization works directly on the Thai-Burmese border fighting abuses of human rights and developing the surrounding communities.
In addition, Asia led a team of eight ACU students and one A&M student to Thailand this summer. The team worked with schools, a prison, slums and non-profits that are connected to Asia's church home in Thailand.
Through her missionary experiences and her involvement on campus, it is no surprise to know that Asia has a big heart for others and purposefully seeks out opportunities to share her heart.
Asia is inspired by the words of John Wesley when he says, "Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can."
"Giving back to the community that shapes us and leaving a legacy through relationships is one of my life goals," she says.
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