Wednesday, May 7, 2014

There and Back Again

Today's music is Sara Groves' song based on of one of my favorite hymns: He's Always Been Faithful.

I feel that I've gotten the chance to really experience the words of this song in the last couple weeks. It's almost as if I have been on a long journey, and am now making my way forward after returning.

The journey begins with a skype call finding out that my grandfather a bit unexpectedly went to be with Jesus. It was strange how even in the suddenness of the loss, I felt a little bit at peace about it. It felt like it would have been harder to see our Papa, so strong in so many ways, wasting away little by little. But, it would have been easier to prepare hearts for it then, I suppose. I still had to teach that day, after finding out, but somehow it was better that way--keeping my mind off of it.

For me, one of the biggest fears of being away from home and of thinking about possibly living overseas longterm has been the fear of losing someone close to me, and just being stuck in the grief: unable to go home because of lack of funds, or inability to take time off or something. I always assumed that if it happened, I would have to deal with it alone and far away from my family. And this time, I figured it would be the same, until one of my coworkers asked, "Will you go back for the funeral?"

I had never even dared to hope that was an option, but as my community here surrounded me with love that day, no one ever made any comments that discouraged that idea. So I dared to hope, and talked with Jae and Karen, who let me know that whatever I decided to do, they would help me work it out, whether that meant covering my last couple classes before our vacation week, or asking community members for funds to help cover the plane ticket.

I was really embarassed to have to ask for money. It wasn't for a missions trip or for a charity thing, it was just little old me, for my personal use. It felt like too much to ask of anyone, and a test for my pride even when I deperately wanted to go.
Well, I didn't even have to make a formal request; I merely mentioned that I would need to ask for money and my fellow teachers stepped up and paid for 1/3 of my trip costs. Not only this, but Karen and Kaia took over my classes, so I didn't even have to worry about that at all. I was floored by my community's generosity.

It felt like it was a direct message from God letting me know that he was looking out for me, specifically providing the things I really needed right at that moment. I can't thank my family here enough for being the hands and feet of Jesus in a time where I really needed it. I love you guys!

So, I headed home on April 25th in the morning, to get home on April 25th in the afternoon...time zones can be useful when you want to get somewhere quickly!
Seeing Mercy at the airport for the first time, I was struck by how big her head had gotten. Not in a figurative sense; she wasn't arrogant or anything. Her actual noggin seemed to have grown. And as every older sibling knows, nothing brings out the waterworks like a little sibling being a lot bigger than you remember. It was so nice to fit back into my family so well...other than growing taller, nothing seemed to have changed. The gps in the car was still finicky; our car was still messy. The sky was just as blue and high as it was, and fields just as wide.

I went directly to my Grandmother's house where all my extended family had gathered and we spent some good time just being together that evening. I got to practice speaking a little Korean with my Aunt and enjoyed the antics of her oldest son, my cousin Josh. In the midst of a room with mostly adults, he marched in and asked, completely seriously, "Ok...who wants to play minecraft in real life?" Cracked me right up.

The next morning, we attended the least funeral-like funeral I have ever been too. It felt like a farewell party! The rollicking Salvation Army tunes, funny and meaningful stories from Papa's life and a rousing gospel message left me crying not from emptiness but from a profound sense of fullness. What a life! and what a gift that I got to be a small part of it and get to be blessed by Papa's legacy even now. There was as much laughter as there were tears on that day.

Coming away from reflecting on Papa's life and how he blessed people, I want to be more intentional in a few ways.
Papa was a champion prayer, and I want to be someone who comes to Jesus constantly like he did. Many people mentioned as well how much Papa saw the potential in people instead of their faults; he was positive when it came to people. I want to call out the best in people like that! including in myself. I want to work at using every opportunity that I am with people to make Jesus a little more real to them. Papa was amazing at never missing chances to show Jesus to people; I want to be that kind of person too. I also want to be a person that checks up on people and show genuine interest in how they are doing. Too many times I am too wrapped up in myself to show care toward other people, and I would like to work on changing that.

Time at home was a real blessing, hanging with some of my best people and getting a chance to talk with my parents, siblings and friends in person was amazing. I felt like it was a great time of spiritual and emotional rejuvenation and left me feeling hungry for growth in those areas.

I feel ready to make these last three months in Korea be extremely rich! Pray for me as I try to live a more intentional life here.

Thanks for reading!