I had, up until a few weeks ago, a homestay family. I love them very much and always will. They took care of me and are the only Koreans to really make me feel accepted. Language was always a barrier, but we had fun and never got too stressed out about miscommunications. I was excited to spend Christmas with them. And then the family emergency happened and I suddenly had to move out. My homestay father, who is the most gentle and kind man, was sentenced to prison for an old white collar offence. Not only was I losing my beloved family, but a good friend was going to prison. I feel so sad for them. I just feel that they are the nicest people in the world and that this was a tragedy.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
I had to teach on Christmas Eve. It was my final day. Near the end of the day, the Korean teachers gave me a package. It was from my homestay mom. She had made a very nice card and written a letter to me and attached it to the cake. Koreans share a cake with their family on Christmas - it's how they celebrate and it sure is different from our celebrations. I was so moved at the generosity of my homestay mom - to be without her husband on Christmas must be so sad and she unselfishly thought of me - it made my heart grow warm with the Christmas spirit.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Now, after I moved out of my homestay family's house, I had to be moved somewhere. My school found a hotel that fit every requirement it had - it was cheap! The hotel was the most run down building I have ever seen in Korea. But, perhaps the most unsettling aspect of the hotel was the prostitute in the room next to mine. I imagine that those around me have always known that I would end up living in a shady motel in the room next to a hooker, but I always thought it would at least be my decision. I always tried to smile politely, but not too politely as to look like a potential client. I spoke with her son when he was standing in the hallway waiting for "uncle so-and-so" to leave. I even greeted the Johns. But, I always wished that I could do something to show my neighbors the love of Christ.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
I really couldn't have eaten the whole cake. I had eaten a large dinner and wasn't even sure if I could polish off one slice. And as I walked down the hallway toward my shabby room, I knew the right thing to do. I knew what I wanted to do, the opportunity God had given me. I knocked on my neighbors door, and handed her the cake. She was so surprised - her face lit up and she said Kamsahabneda (thank you) about a dozen times in quick succession. I finally felt like a real missionary again, the connection with the outcast that has been missing from my life was there again and I was truly happy.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
In Korean culture, when one receives a gift it is customary to give something in return. And within a few minutes I heard a knock at my door. I opened it to find her son, standing in front of me with their return gift: a basket of a few hardboiled eggs, some salt, and a few oranges. It was the most wonderful present I have received in a very long time.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.