This past Sunday had me crying for the second time since moving to Seoul. As someone who likes to be in touch with my feelings I hate the fact that it is difficult for me to cry emotionally, while at the same time I hate crying. Confusing, I know. There was once a time in my life when I would cry at the drop of a hat; good news, bad news, a painful headache, a sore wrist, oh and it also felt like my tear ducks were directly wired to my temper (and boy, did I have a temper when I was younger! ask the family…). Now, I must admit, crying makes me nervous; I don’t know what to do when people start shooting salty liquid from their eyes.
I could tell you the reason for the change from crying all the time to crying every six months/once a year (yes I keep track, yes I am ridiculous like that… my sister-in-law once told me she had a good cry every week. I wish I could do that, it really is cleansing as a female who experiences the world more emotionally than any male could understand) in two words: broken heart. Yes, yes, a silly boy had me crying myself to sleep every night for an entire semester of college (and NOT because of unrequited love, trust me, I know when to let go). I share that because I am sure many girls can relate… and well I love background information.
Back to Sunday. If I told you I was crying because my good friend Natalie was heading back to Canada I would a) possibly offend the nine other good friends I had to say goodbye to this summer who went back to their respective homelands and b) be lying. No offense to Natalie, who is awesome, but I know I am going to see her again and I am pretty familiar with saying goodbye (oh, the life of a traveler).
I bring up Natalie and her departure from Seoul because it is directly related to the red-faced, puffy-eyed look I had to sport Sunday afternoon. I hope Natalie doesn’t mind me sharing her life story, maybe I should change her name? Any how, when N moved to Seoul two years ago from a small town in a small province (yes she is Canadian, but I still love her) she had never left home before and she was… well, scared. The very first Sunday here one of her co-workers invited her to Young Joong Church. It is a Korean church and it does not have an English service. N went and was welcomed with open arms, despite the language barrier friends were made faster than ice cubes melt in a furnace, even the people who were scared to speak what little English they knew went up to talk to her. N kept going to YJ (I like to shorten things) and soon had a permanent friend who translated the sermons for her, while another friend translated all of the worship songs to English (so both Korean and English show as the songs are played, but were obviously sung in Korean by everyone but N). An English Cell (bible study type group) was created and N started working with children in an English ministry in the mornings.
This is the same church N brought me to back in December, the same church that welcomed me as a long-lost sister. I felt more at home among the congregation of this church within one hour than I did at the English church I had been attending for the past six months. The feeling of love and joy is infectious there, and it wasn’t because N and I are foreigners, it is because we are sisters in Christ and we all shared a common passion to know God more.
This past Sunday was Ns last Sunday at YJ church. She got up and gave the kind of speech that makes you cry. Not only because her words were simple (she was speaking to a crowd of people where English is their second language after all) and sweet and true, but you could tangibly feel the emotions of every person in the room while she cried into the microphone. She was thanking them for welcoming her with open arms and they were returning the same gratitude to her, thanking her for making a visible impact on their lives as someone who was so different, and yet exactly the same (and ridiculously nice). God’s presence and love filled that room and taught us all that His hand is a part of everything, He will always guide us and bring along people to build a community with, to grow with, to live life with.
“And there will be no English or Korean in Heaven where we will all meet again!” Were the last words of Natalie’s touching speech.