I haven't found a lot to write about for this blog lately. What I want is for this to be a space in which I reflect on how God is present, in challenge and in grace, in my sabbatical months in Korea. And yet, although I haven't felt God's absence, I haven't felt a real Presence either. And I've been thinking about why this might be. I know that God is here and working. I know that my lack of an emotional God-experience does not mean that God is not doing something within and around me. But, I've realized that one of the ways that I experience God powerfully is in relationship with other people. One of the great difficulties of not understanding and being able to speak the language of those around me, is the inability to begin any kind of relationship with the people I encounter. Most of my interactions with people involved me paying for something, or having to respond to friendly (or other) approaches with, 'moreogessayo' (I don't understand) and a chagrined shrug.
But, the first morning that I was bustling Naomi out the door to preschool, there was another mom bustling her two kids out the door and onto the elevator. She said, 'hi' and we exchanged pleasantries in English but since we were both bustling, it never went any farther than that. We did the same a few mornings in a row, until on morning I asked her, 'How is it that you have such good English?' and she told me that she was a teacher. She tutors school children in English in her home. The next day I asked if she would be willing to tutor me in Korean. And thus begins our fledgling language-trade friendship.
Rora (her English name) and I have met once for a teacher session. She bought pastries in order to bribe me (her words) to be her friend. Little does she know how much I needed a friend and how grateful I am for the opportunity to learn from and hang out with her. She also invited me to take a paper-folding class with her, a traditional practice which I jumped at. In her I have and will encounter the hospitality, grace and openness of Christ to the stranger.