Field Stone Cottage Blog

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Coming Home

Approximately 17 years ago, I had the unique opportunity to visit Korea with a Korean friend of mine who was going home to visit her family. Normally, I would not have left Andy and Emily to be gone for a month but after prayerful consideration, God cleared the way for this special experience for me. At that time in my life, I had several Korean-American friends with whom I was quite comfortable. I could understand and speak a limited amount of Korean and was able to attend church services with them and interact in the wider Korean-American community of our small city in upstate New York with relative ease.

But staying with my friend, Jin Hee, and her working class family far from any foreign influence in Seoul was a different experience. These people, gracious as they were, were not at all Korean-American. They were fully Korean in language and culture. Jin Hee was the only one in the family who spoke English and while she was Korean-American back home in the States, with her family and in their home, she became much more Korean.

Meanwhile, I became a bit of a tourist attraction all on my own. Traditional Korean homes do not allow for a lot of individual privacy and everything about me was quite interesting to the family and even to the neighborhood. This group of people had gathered their knowledge of Americans from Hollywood movies and television shows and I didn't quite fit their image of what I might be like. At that time, my hair was much darker and that I was not blonde was a point of interest to them. My face was inspected at very close range on multiple occasions, a disconcerting experience, I must say.

This was in the pre-cell phone days and about half-way through my stay, I spoke to Andy and Emily on the family's phone. The fact that I cried when I heard the voices of my family was exclaimed over and mentioned many times. They did not expect that an American woman would miss her family like that! To tell the truth, this was a turning point in my relationship with these people. It was clear that my tears and emotion helped bridge the differences between us and allowed them to see our shared humanity beneath the layers of culture.

But still, in so many ways, I was the outsider. And I was so homesick! We visited the DMZ at one point and speaking to a young American soldier there, a person with whom I would have had so little in common were we both back home, was a wonderful and so welcome experience for me!

I never had such a strong sense of my American-ness as I did when I was in Korea. I never saw my country so strongly as home as I did when I was in Korea. And I never missed my family, my sense of being home when I was with them, as much as I did when I was in Korea. I do, with deep gratitude, thank God for the experiences I had on that trip; most of all the knowledge of His continuous presence and provision for me during my time in Korea. The joy that I felt upon returning to my home, to my family here in my country is only a glimpse of the joy I'll feel when I finally go home to Him.

View other home-themed posts at Rebecca Writes.


ellen b. said...

This was wonderful to read Dorothy. A sweet reunion when you came home, I'm sure. It reminds me of my parents when they came home from their first long stay in Russia. My father got down on his face and kissed the American soil and thanked God that He led them out of Russia so many years ago.
have a good week...

rebecca said...

I love this!

I'd been planning to post verses from scripture with the idea of home. Today I think I'll post the ones from Hebrews 11 because they go so well with your post.

Dorothy said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Ellen and Rebecca. I very nearly didn't publish this because it felt too emotional to me.

Kim from Hiraeth said...

I'm so glad you DID decide to hit the ol' publish button!!

What an experience that must've been!

(PS: I'm glad to be HOME!)

Elle said...

When we first married, my husband was stationed in Korea and so the country became "home." I remember distinctly the strange sensation of having to stand in the line marked "Alien" at customs in the airport. Really a table turning moment. Great post, for the memories and gratitude it motivated in my own heart.

Islandsparrow said...

Beautiful thoughts of home Dorothy. I especially enjoyed hearing about your experiences in Korea as my oldest boy is married to a very sweet Korean girl.