A final 谢谢。

A final 谢谢。

Dear friends and family,

I am 11 days away from flying to Guilin, where I will stay for nine weeks. Thank you to everyone for your donations and kind words through this entire process. Your encouragement and support for me and my goals is evident and not forgotten.

One day in September of 2016 I met my mom in town for lunch. We sat at the Floyd country store and discussed studying abroad. We decided that it wasn’t possible, the financial gamble was to extreme, tuition expenses were already strained, adding a summer session would be the expense that would send us underwater. I wish I could express the conversation in words. My mom wanted nothing more than for me to accomplish my goal, “I wish we could Garrett, I want to see you go, but the money, the money just isn’t there.” She was right. We cried, right in front of God and everybody. The money wasn’t there, I’ve grown up hearing that saying, and I have yet to find out where the money is, if it isn’t here then where? I drove home, heartbroken. I think my mom did too.

October passed and I still couldn’t shake it. I knew that my summer would be spent in China. It was odd, I had accepted and agreed with my mom that the program was out of our range, and I wasn’t going. However, I felt something was different. Don’t make summer plans. Plan to be away for the whole summer, start saving money. My mom and I met for lunch again, this time at Cracker Barrel (the fanciest place I know of) and we discussed it once more. At the end of the conversation we both settled on a No the risk was too great. If I commit to studying and then fall short on payments, what then? I can’t go. I will fail. I will run, and then fall flat on my face in front of everyone, 20 feet before the finish line.

November hit and I decided to bring it back up, we sat down and for some odd reason the conversation didn’t run as planned. We discussed numbers, prices, estimates, incomes, extra fees, everything mapped out on notebook paper. We looked at it, and instead of saying No we said “Actually, this might work.” Two days after Thanksgiving I applied, a week later I was accepted, a month later I payed my Tuition deposit in full. I created a GoFundMe, began working two extra jobs, filed for every scholarship in the book (website), and began to speak of nothing else. I couldn’t afford not to.

By February we realized that the Lord is multiplicative. “Garrett, I don’t think you can raise $8,000 before you go.” My mom said, “realistically you will probably get about $2,000.” No, we couldn’t afford to only raise half of my tuition. I didn’t pray for $2,000, I didn’t pray for $4,000, I didn’t even pray for $8,000. I prayed that my trip to China would be debt free, that my trip would glorify the Lord in all aspects before, during, and after my time in Guilin.

By Mid-April, I felt slumped. Donations slowed, my classes were in full swing (at my head), and I was prepared to drop it all. Nothing is worth this much. I am working too hard, I have been at my limit for too long. I bought my plane ticket on April 13th. April also welcomed good news, the one full night I stayed in the library filing scholarships proved fruitful. I received $1,100 in awards (roughly a quarter of my tuition).

May released a tension I had felt for the entire semester, I finished my classes, stopped working three jobs, and began to realize just how fortunate I am. The date that loomed in my head since Thanksgiving was May 22nd, 2017. The day it was all due. My final tuition payment had to be submitted by then. On May 12th, I received my Chinese visa (I got three extra portrait shots, if someone wants one hmu), May 20th my brother graduated Highschool (shout out), and on May 22nd, the day that I thought would never come, finally arrived. This time my mom and I sat in our living room floor, the tuition was payed in full. We looked at each other and couldn’t help but laugh, we just did what we deemed impossible 6 months prior.


This process would have been impossible without your support, both financially and emotionally. I can’t thank y’all enough for everything, and I carry you all in my hearts as I travel.

Here are a few things this trip has already taught me:

  • It is ok to ask for help, it is ok to ask for money- The Lord is a provider, all of our help and aid (though given through people), ultimately comes from the Lord.
    • Psalm 24:1
  • You’d be surprised what you are capable of. Push your limits, fight for yourself, take care of yourself, love yourself.
    • Rupaul at the end of every episode.
  • Never shut up about your passions. Let them keep you awake at night. Talk about them, be about them, fight for them. In our lifetime, we will be flexible and compromising to a multitude of things. Never compromise your passions.
    • The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling. -Fabienne Fredrickson
    • Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it. -Julia Child
  • Listen to people’s passions as much as you talk about yours. Everyone is passionate about something. Every passion has the same value, when people speak of their passions it is your job to listen, care, and support.
    • Galatians 6:2
  • Don’t make fun of people for expressing their passions. Don’t be rude to people who are trying to live the life they want. Don’t make fun of the serious moments. (so like don’t make fun of me for writing this).
  • Listen to good music.
  • It doesn’t have to be a special occasion to bake and eat a full cake.
  • Buy that cookout milkshake.
  • And lastly,
    • What if, you were like, yourself and you liked that.


In 11 days I will land in Beijing International Airport

In 12 days I will land in Guilin.

In 14 days I will start my coursework.

None of this would be possible without your support.


Garrett Whitlock