This is my second summer in Korea. Last summer, I fell in love with our students. I fell in love with Asian culture. I left my heart here in Korea and have been longing to be back ever since. I’ve spent the entire last year preparing for this summer—learning the language as best I could, hanging out with Koreans (maybe even stalking them in the grocery store from time to time thinking about what I would try to say to them in Korean if I ever got close enough), trying to make my own versions of Korean food, and praying all the time for our students and their families.
Last summer changed my heart so dramatically that I just couldn’t wait to see what God had in store for this next summer. When I got here, I was so thrilled and excited to be back! Ooh! to taste that first bite of real Korean kimchee and rice or to hug some of those students who at points in the past year I could only know by who they were in my memory.
I finally made it back to Korea and things were just the same… until… they weren’t. My team was bigger, we were spilt up to go into two different schools, spicy foods weren’t so spicy, foreign customs and ways—like squatty potties, no shoes in the house, and little old ladies pushing me out the way on the subway… didn’t seem so unusual. And what about the stories that blew me away last summer or brought me to sobbing tears? I’ve heard them again, and they still hurt, but it’s a familiar sting—a sting that I have clung to over the past year in my praying, or along with my other memories of Korea.
So what’s happened? Maybe some would say the adventure is no longer adventurous… or maybe that the newness has worn off. While this has been a struggle at times, God is faithful, and He has reminded me of the real adventure—sharing His truth and Gospel with those who don’t know… sharing the love that I have been so freely given; this love that all should know.
In my journal a week or so ago I wrote
Today during class, while students were talking amongst themselves, I walked up to S and just stood by her and scratched her back. I started to think about her story. She came to this country with just her grandparents, who have since then died, and is now here all alone. I was reminded of times with my own mother and grandmother just sitting and scratching my back or brushing my hair, and the love that I know is there. I began to wonder, when was the last time someone rubbed her back, or just held her? When was the last time she has felt this sort of love? As I was thinking these things, she reached out and grabbed my hand. I couldn’t help but cling to this moment so much. I felt so unworthy, yet privileged to be able to show her this love. What had I earned to be able to have this moment? Certainly nothing I could do could grant me this privilege.
God has shown me His grace once again. He’s taught me still to rest in Him and wait on Him. He IS faithful. Sometimes my experiences and moments where God has taught me this summer don’t seem as dramatic as last summer, but they certainly are just as significant. And I’ve been reminded of what is the most important… not having the best stories or eating the craziest foods (which are some my favorite things to do!), but showing those who have been through worse than I can imagine—those who may never know the earthly love that I so take for granted—that it doesn’t really matter. We all feel pain and hurt. And we all have a desire and longing for filling of our deepest desire of goodness. That desire that only He can truly satisfy.