Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Korea I - Half a World Away

It's the middle of the night here and I just woke from a nine hour "nap". It seems we're a little on the mixed-up side right now. Just tell me this - how's a girl supposed to sleep when she knows she'll be meeting her son in just 12 hours?

Looking out our window here at the guest house, it seems that most of the city decidedly does not have my problem. The city's eyes are shut tightly, save the lone man walking down the alleyway, the glow from his cigarette mirroring the orangey cast of the street lamps.

As expected, I find that I am unable to really grasp where I am right now. I find myself looking around, doing my best to take it all in, and thinking, over and over, "Calvin used to live here". In fact, he spent time in the very building in which we are staying. These are things that he and his brother will always share - these snapshots of their earliest beginnings.

I am amazed by the sheer foreignness of Seoul, though I'm sure that sounds silly. All I can say is, it is one thing to read about a country, to watch a documentary about a country; but it is an entirely different thing to walk amongst the people of a country; to ride the subway with them, to purchase their wares, to eat a meal prepared by them.

We are finding that most of the people we encounter here do not speak English. Yes, our Western self-importance had us thinking that many would have a basic, working understanding of our language. The truth is, I like it better this way. I like not having the option of taking the easy road. I like being in the position of acclimating, rather than assuming that those around us will acclimate to us.

I am thankful for the brief, pin-dot-small moments of awareness I have had that I am different here. I look different. I am obvious. In these moments, I have not felt less-than, or scrutinized, I have simply felt "other". It brings to life for me just a tinge of what my kids will very well feel as they live their everyday lives. Unaware as they are right now, I know they will grow increasingly world-wise and I know there will be times when they feel "other".

What I am feeling for my boys, right now, is immense pride in their heritage. Their people are lovely, humble, stylish, kind. I am newly amazed that God's plan for both of them required a trip across the ocean, a detachment from their culture, a forfeiting of their language, their blendability.

My kids, all three of them, have a story that I have never lived. Try as I may, I will never really know what that's like.

I am so proud of their bravery, so inspired by their trust, so honored by their willing hearts.

As I look again out our window, at rooftops frosted with snow and buildings NYC-tall, I want so badly to fold up all of these feelings, wrap them in a red ribbon, and pack them safely away for all of those conversations that are sure to happen in our house as the years go by. I don't want to miss a thing. I don't want to forget a single detail.