Well, you can’t say you didn’t know this would happen.
Maybe you can, actually.
I can’t. This is classic Colleen: after a month or two of a new activity/hobby/interest, my enthusiasm wanes with the novelty. I have a hard time sustaining interest in things; you could say I have a commitment problem. I did hope to avoid that second-month slump with this blog, but without any effort. Just a sort of “gosh, hope that thing I always do doesn’t happen this time, even though there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t.”
But I’m here now! and I’m writing. What do you want to know?
My first Sunday here I tagged along to church with some fellow teachers. I’ve gone back every Sunday since (except once, but I was sick. Jesus understands). Now, it’s still my plan to check out more churches, but this one has free transportation already figured out, and in a country where you can neither read nor speak, the sort of thing which in America might be “convenience” or possibly “sloth” instead becomes “lifesaving.” So I’ve been attending the English service at this church. Pastor Cho (who I think is in charge of youth services as well as English service) studied in New York; her accent is more New York than Korean. Which is awesome.
Roughly fifty people regularly attend the English service, American teachers and Korean church members who want to practice. A few weeks ago I met two sisters, Ji-hyun and Ha-young. They practice English on me and I tell them that my Korean is terrible (“terrible” and “nonexistent” are synonyms here, ok?). After a week or two of having to reintroduce ourselves we wrote down our names and this week–this week those sweet kids came over after service and gave me a little Korean-English book. “900 Promises of God.” Ji-hyun is 17 and her English is a little better than Ha-young’s, but Ha-young (15) wrote in tiny letters on the book’s last page: “To: Colleen, from Ha-young.” And there was a tiny heart. (Korean teenage girls love to write in as minuscule a script as possible.)
The best part, though, was what Ji-hyun said as I thanked them (with hugs! Couldn’t help it. Poor kids.): “I’m glad you like it! We got this book to give to our first English friend.”
Could you not just die? How cute is that? First English friend (I’m going to use whole sentences here any time now; bear with me)? I have friends. I am a friend! The worst part about being here has been not having people. I’m so spoiled; it borders on the ridiculous how needy I actually am when it comes to having Good People around. I’ve always had them, and I’ve never ever had to do without them, and it is hard trying to find them in a whole new place. And even though I’m older than Ji-hyun and Ha-young and even though we can barely communicate I look forward so much to seeing those girls every week, because they look forward to seeing me. And sometimes that’s all it takes. All it takes is 900 promises, or someone to think of you unexpectedly, or maybe just someone remembering your weird slippery unpronounceable foreign name.
Plus, they remind me of what my sisters and I were like at that age. You know, if we had been, like, nice to each other, and to people.