Saturday, July 25, 2009

Language of Love

Yesterday was our last day at school. We had a mushy gushy ceremony where the students sang to us in Korean and we each got to share one last teary message with them. They gave us little gifts, and we finished with a very unsugary cake for all the summer birthdays. It was good... sweet, sentimental.. everything it should have been.

Then a few minutes later as everyone was mingling and saying more goodbyes, Leah, a student that I've gown pretty close to, pulled me and Kayla aside to talk to us alone. "Story," she said. She wanted to tell us a story, but she wanted to be able to tell it in her language so she could really express herself well. So, we found someone to translate.

Leah said that she didn't like us at the beginning of the summer. She had only been at the school for a month and barely even knew the alphabet. All we would do was speak English to her, which mad her feel sad, angry, and frustrated. But, she said we persisted to love her and so she began to want to learn so she could speak to us. Our team grew on her, but Kayla and I had a special place in her heart because of the way we had befriended her. Then with tears in her big brown eyes she said that she knew it's inevitable that we would be leaving soon, but that she wanted us to go back home, study, do well in school, and have good lives. She said she would pray for us everyday and pray that we would one day get to meet again.

Tears filled my eyes, and I could see in Leah's face one reason why God has brought me to South Korea this summer.

Leah has learned over 600 words just since we've been here and speaks to me more than any of the other students.

I remember meeting Leah and after just a few days her saying with a big frown, "I am sad. I cannot speak English." I told her we would teach her. Not long after that, I began to notice improvements in her Enligh every day. Every morning Leah would ask me, "Did you have breakfastee?" Leah's a tiny little thing with a big smile on her face every day. "Happy everyday!" she always says. She would go around saying "I piggy" after I called her a pig one day when she downed 6 pork chops at lunch. She's the only Korean I know that won't eat rice. "Rice no delicious." I think she just wanted as much room as she could for delicious foods. She would always make fun of the hair on my arms.. hair down, she calls it, like a down comforter I guess. My favorite thing about Leah was every time I would see her she would hug me so tight and say, "I miss you."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Better to Give

Over the course of the summer I feel God has been dealing with my heart about living a sacrificial life. All too often we live with only one person in mind. ME, ME, ME. We wake up every day, go to job/school with the intentions of making money/gaining knowledge in order to make money, drive our cars, entertain ourselves with TV, computer, books, friends, hobbies, or even studying. Now while none of these things in themselves are the root of selfishness, I think it is our ambitions that are... or can be.

All of this makes me ask myself... When was the last time I did something in which I would receive no benefit? When did I last do something completely for someone else's gain?

Last Friday I walked to a stationary store and came back to school with a cute new notebook with a picture of the map of Asia on the cover. I loved my new notebook, and I even told myself that every time I used it I could be reminded to pray for the 10/40 window. (Let me tell you I had big plans for this notebook!) As I was showing a teammate of mine, a student walks up and says, (in Konglish-- Korean/English mix) "I like that. Can I have it?" Everything inside of me wanted to say, "Of course not.. I just bought this cute little notebook to bring back to America so I could be reminded to pray for your country!" But instead I just gritted my teeth and said, "Sure! Of course you can have it." Then she sat me down to help her with Enlish. After about an hour of going through dissecting and explaining about 10 little sentences she opens up that notebook I just handed over and begins to fill the pages with all of the words I just helped her to understand.

I felt unmeasurably blessed (even without my new notebook) knowing that somehow, even if she never remembers who I am, something that I did, that really cost me nothing, has reached out and helped someone else. What if we all lived like this every day, with every action? We would either all have a lot of new notebooks or we could possibly reach people we have never dreamed reachable all through a never-ending chain of Christ's love flowing through us.

I then began to take notice of all the things that were done for me, just in that one day, that I paid nothing for yet only received the benefit of. I was given a free ticket to Lotte World. People tried so hard all day to communicate with me, even though I was the only one in the group that didn't know Korean. Someone shared there small umbrella with me, and another person, which resulted in everyone still getting wet. Teachers were concerned I would catch a cold because I was wet. I was given tissues, yes.. tissues.. to dry off because I was soaking wet. A teacher bought me a whole dinner, and when I got to the table to sit, I realized he was sharing his dinner already with a student. And a random 12 year old girl in a line for a ride shared candy with me! All in one little day at Lotte World.

What will I do when I go home? Will I sink back into my same old routine? Or will I remain in this challenged state I find myself in here? I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to convict me, and that my Christian friends will hold me accountable to this great calling.


Friday, July 10, 2009


Now for some girl time.

Yesterday, our only male teammember stayed home the first half of the day for a little extra rest. This gave us girls a chance to do something that I believe is often overlooked in Christian communities. Instead of our daily Bible study, we ended up spending some time confessing to each other some of our deepest darkest sins.
In the midst of a culture (both here and in the U.S.) that feeds us the lies of all that matters is what we look like on the outside, it can be hard to really open up and be vulnerable to others, even in the church. But this time we shared together was one of the best times this summer. A loved one of mine once told me when you tell someone about a problem, it cuts it in half. When you tell someone else, it cuts it in half again. And so on. To be able to come together with these other girls and honestly open up was both releiving and refreshing. I would encourage everyone to find someone you can trust to confess to. You may find out you're not the only one struggling with that secret sin.
Then I accidently read ahead to the verse that was supposed to be for the next day in Acts 19:18,30 which says, "...many of those who were believers came, the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily." But maybe there are no accidents.

Later that day before I left school, one of the students that has really been on my heart lately, H, hugged me when I was telling her bye and said, "I miss you this weekend. My uhn-nee, I love you." Talk about make my heart melt. All I could do was hug this tiny girl so tight and try not to cry.

The day only continued to get better. Laura and I left school early to cook American dinner for our slumber party. We made spaghetti and peas, which everyone seemed to love. But I didn't anticipate how difficult a slumber party could be with 2 bunches of girls from completely different cultures. At first, they didn't like our games, and things seemed a little slow. But sooner or later after a round of Spoons, things loosened up and became a lot more fun. We played cards, did nails, listened to music and danced. We even got to make American brownies... in bowls in the microwave, which no one seemed all that fond of, except for us American girls who gobbled them up.

Uhn-nee is a term used by Korean girls when talking to other girls who they are close to or just friends with. Uhn-nee translated literally means sister. I'm so grateful for all of my newfound Uhn-nee here on this side of the world.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


It's at that point in the summer in which things have started to become comfortable. We have somewhat of a daily routine and know a little of what to expect, despite our still every changing schedule and plans! And I think this can be a good thing... but this can also be the most dangerous time of all.

First, our team has become somewhat of a family, which can lead to clashing and quarreling over silly little things, like any normal family. But so far we always bind together and work things out for the best with love.

But more importantly, we're at the point where it's easy to lose sight of our purpose... of His purpose. The weeks are flying by, and our time left here is growing shorter and shorter as every precious moment slips away.

Missing home is something that has also crossed my mind a time or two. As I sit here and listen to Dixie Chicks "Wide Open Spaces" I certainly long for some beautiful countryside that's not so easy to come by in Seoul.

Let's say it's easy to get distracted. Especially in the busy hustle bustle of the big city and going, going, going constantly. And although I seem to learn a little more every day just how much my life is not my own, the more I try, the more I fail. I can try and try, but it's never until I just let go and listen to the whispers of God that I truly find anything.

So what can I do now? Hold on for this ride, but let go. Be strong, yet be broken. Remain, yet keep moving. Speak yet listen... to His whispers.