What a beautiful place Geojedo is! It is the second largest island in Korea, after one of Korea's most famous places, Jejudo. Just beyond Busan at the southern tip of Korea. We arrived at our hotel right next to the sea and checked in. We went to dinner shortly after. The atmosphere was relaxed and I felt, for the first time in a long time, at ease. It was this night that my attitude changed. What was uncomfortable became enjoyable and, though I'll never be one, I felt Korean.
For me, this trip was about taking a step of faith. Once I took that first step, the boldness began to flow. One of the teachers at another table sent me a text message during dinner: "Im worried about that you could be bored." I replied, "Bored right now or bored after work?" "both" she responded, "I feel sorry for that. i wanna talk to you everytime dont hesitate to talk to me." Beautiful 은, so sweet to think about that. I told her not to worry and that I was having a good time. 은 invited me to have dinner with her on Tuesday. (I can't Romanize her name because it's too difficult)
So dinner was a spectacle of merrymaking. Everyone jovial and lively and though most of the teachers speak little to no Korea they were not afraid (for some, thanks to the alcohol) to speak to me what they could. And me, with my ever-expanding Korean vocabulary, held one or two word dialogues with them. I learned so much from my table of English-teaching coworkers about what they thought of me when I first arrived and answered so many questions they seemed as though they had been dying to ask me for a long time.
After dinner we moved on to the 노래방 (song room) for karaoke. I know I would be asked (forced) to sing so I grabbed the enormous song book and flipped to the English section. I picked out a classic song and rocked out to a room full of screaming teachers. It was quite the experience. If you want to know the song, you'll have to send me a message. Out of all the embarrassing things I've done since I've been here, this one takes the cake.
So midnight came and we left to walk back to the hotel. Or at least, that's where I thought we were going. We wound up at another restaurant for another meal of seafood. I would have escaped back to the hotel (for as tired as I was) but 행님 would not permit that. He declared himself my older brother that night (he is actually the same age as my oldest brother) and we walked arm in arm or shoulder to shoulder for the rest of the trip. I respect the man's leadership at the school. He planned the trip and, as you know, organizing events is something I love doing as well.
The next morning we were up early for breakfast and the rest of the day was spent sightseeing around the island as well as a boat ride to another smaller island. The day also served as a historical lesson, as many areas we visited were landmarks of past wars. That day I chose to walk with many different teachers. Some were not as courageous to speak with me, but one woman in particular was receptive. She could not speak a lot of English, but she could understand me well. Later that day she asked me, "Do you miss your family?"
I said, yes, of course, but I said that meeting friendly people like her helps me live better here. After dinner that night, she handed me my shoes at the restaurant. It was a very small gesture, but its always the small things I remember.
미란 (Mirahn) is sweetest person to me at school. She is a subject teacher and speaks almost no English. We speak back and forth in simple English and Korean. Enough to squeeze by. We did this a lot on the trip. She is has a strong relationship with God. She is one of those rare people you can see the Light in their eyes. She is thirty six years old. I told her she is my 누나 (Nuna, older sister for man), but she didn't like that. It's not right to use Nuna in many cases. I told her I understand why. Later that day she told me in broken English: "I know why I am your sister." "Because Jesus" was my simple reply. It's always the small things...
Which brings me to my last passage. The bus ride home was a time for many to catch up on sleep. My bus buddy this time was 미주 (Miju). I always have a great time with Miju. She loves to laugh and is always smiling through her bright eyes. She is my 누나 but only by two years. She fell asleep soon after we left. I was left to think about the trip and thank God for pushing me to go. I told Him I was sorry for the times I ignore His voice when I want to be comfortable. I thanked him for new friends. I asked him for one thing. I miss my family and friends back home because, when I see them, I can hug them. It's sissy stuff for a man to admit this, but I did in a moment of reflection and prayer. Miju nuna's head gently rested on my shoulder. I thanked God for my Korean sister. I will always remember that moment, because it was a small thing. I thank God for those small things. I'm learning to be more bold, thankful, and appreciative of the small things.
Miju, Mirahn, Soongmin, and Yunmi (the right two are co-teachers) on
the boat ride to 지심도.