Time to give credit where credit is due. God is GOOD! (I’m considering changing the blogs name to this phrase since it seems to be all I can say these days.) So yesterday was a little rougher for me. I had to remind myself that I didn’t have friends the first week in Chile and it was ok. I thought back on that first month even and how I spent a lot of time alone. How I would wander the streets alone and it was ok. So last night was my first Saturday night here in Korea. Because I haven’t started school yet, I know NO ONE. I had woken up ridiculously early yesterday so by the time 6pm came around, I was ready to sleep. But I knew that it would be bad if I got in the habit of sleeping so early (especially since my work hours are 2-9pm) so I grabbed a book and went to good ol’ Dunkin Donuts. After an hour or so of reading, I was feeling the need to move, so I got up and started walking. I walked, and I walked, and I walked. I knew I wouldn’t get lost if I paid half attention so I wandered pretty far. I walked for a solid 2 hours and finally gave up and headed home. For someone who is used to having loved ones near and dear, I had a hard time accepting that I was going to spend my whole day alone. I feared that it would be a foreshadowing of my year here in Korea. So when I got to my apartment, I took out my journal and started to pray. I prayed that God would give relationships here. That He would provide for this in my life. I boldly claimed that I trusted Him to provide in all things, so I knew that He would in this area. As I said in my last post, it just might be in His timing.
I had a feeling that church this morning would be important. I was trying to be cautious not to have too many expectations about how well it would go. I kept telling myself that this might not be the right church for me, that maybe I would end up at a different church, etc. After grabbing a bagel and Americano from a coffee shop, I headed over to the church. I was a solid 30 minutes early but I snuck into the sanctuary and listened to the choir practice. They were all Korean but one. I’ll take a moment to explain what church this is. There is a HUGE church (we’re taking 60,000 people) called SaRang. They have an English Ministry called New Harvest Ministry. It’s probably about 10% foreigners and 90% Koreans who want to practice their English. They have 3 services and about 600 people all together. So when I sat down in a seat 30 minutes early, I was alone and afraid that the awkward alone thing would extend even into Sunday. But surely enough, a Korean woman named Kyung Ho sat next to me and we chatted up a bit. She even tried to recruit me for nursery duty. The service itself was ok. It probably isn’t the church I would go to if I were in the states. I have been much spoiled with preachers like Brian Kay, Tuck Bartholomew, Tim Keller, and Sam Andreades. Nonetheless, there was nothing that screamed red flags. Toward the end of the service, one of the pastors got up to the front and asked that anyone who was there for the first time stand and introduce themselves. So I did, and I was the only one. After the service Kyung Ho introduced me to one of the pastors who asked if I wanted to go to the new member class. Whoa, that was quick. Yeah, sure, why not? I filled out a visitor card and skipped the section where it asked me to list two of the things I first noticed about the church (I need to give the church staff time before revealing the totality of my nerdiness and how I analyzed every moment of the service down to how they placed and seats and what kind of information they chose to put in the bulletin.) I headed up the stairs to the new members meeting and found myself sitting next to three Korean girls. One of them, named SunYoung, turned to me and with a huge smile welcomed me. She seemed genuinely excited to meet me. I would come to find out later that she had noticed me in the service and had thought to herself how much she would love to meet me. The meeting itself isn’t worth mentioning, it was ok, theologically ok but not amazing. I know, I am too spoiled. But afterward, SunYoung and another girl named Nickie asked if I wanted to grab some lunch. Yes please! If this all seems too good to be true, just wait till you hear where we went to eat. Dos Tacos. That’s right folks, I had Mexican food for lunch today! Oh joy. Just when I thought the Lord had heaped enough blessings on me for one day, I get to have a burrito for lunch. Over lunch we discovered that all three of us are major travelers, the other girls had seen just as much if not more of the world as me. Nickie is a psychology grad student and SunYoung works in campus ministry with YWAM. Yeah. So cool. After lunch, coffee. I told you, Koreans love coffee and I love Koreans. Nickie left and SunYoung and I continued to talk. Almost immediately after Nickie left, SunYoung grabbed my hand and told me that she was truly really excited to meet me. That she had spent last year living in Montana and she knew what it was like to be new and alone in a country and she wanted to be my friend and help me anyway she could. What? Seriously Lord? Could anyone have said ANYTHING more clearly an answer to my prayers from last night? I almost choked on my coffee. Then, to make it better, before I had a chance to respond, she told me that she believes I am an answer to prayer. Again, what? Isn’t that what I am supposed to be saying? She said that this was only her third week at the church and that she had been praying for a friend. She said that many of the girls in the church already had tight friendships and she was feeling lonely. She’s only been back in the country (from living abroad) for 2 months and she has been praying for a friend, particularly a friend at church. Oh Lord, how good You are. Friends, forget not His goodness. We may walk through valleys, but we walk not alone. We may tread scary ground but His hand is always near. For today, I am just grateful. Grateful for a Korean church that speaks English. Grateful for some new friendships. Grateful that God is good. Always.