“Consider a tree for a moment. As beautiful as trees are to look at, we don’t see what goes on underground – as they grow roots. Trees must develop deep roots in order to grow strong and produce their beauty. But we don’t see the roots. We just see and enjoy the beauty. In much the same way, what goes on inside of us is like the roots of a tree.” -Joyce Meyer
As our time in Daejeon was soon coming to an end, Pastor Yang and June Lee invited us to go for a short hike to Gyeryongsan National Park. Pastor Yang leads the Stepanos Praise Mission, but she also leads a large choir that travels all over the world, performing and ministering. There is a peace and calmness that I sense from Pastor Yang whenever I am around her. She seems to always have a smile on her face, and seems much in control of her emotions. I guess I have quietly been studying her demeanor because I yearn for the Holy Spirit to grow the fruit of peace in me, like what I see in her. I do not know much about her life, but the fruit I see does not lie. This is a woman who leads, mentors, trains, preaches, prays like a warrior, and yet moves with the grace of a swan, irradiating love to those around her. She truly has inspired me! As I followed the pathway after pastor Yang and June Lee, I noticed Pastor Yang silently pray and sing worship songs in her native Korean language. Whenever she sang a song that was familiar, I could not help but sing along in either English, or Spanish (depending on what language I learned the song in.) I noticed June Lee also singing along in between conversations. Pastor Yang did not care about who might hear her. She was lost in conversations with her Lord, and joy was beaming out of her. It was contagious!
We walked on a trail that was adorned with creeks, waterfalls, and trees already beginning to show the start of a beautiful Spring season. I found a serenity all around me that I shamelessly welcomed. The last two years since my surgery have been plagued with suffering and a battlefield of the mind that sometimes cripples me (too honest?) I was never one to ask why things happened the way they have, however, I often ask myself, “why am I still around?” “What is the purpose in keeping me alive this way?” Just honest questions because the journey has not been fun-filled or ideal. Funny thing is, my questions are often met with a deafening silence. One that for the most part only makes me feel more alienated and ignored. Nevertheless, I have not denied God, or weaken my love and trust for him. I just keep waiting, and waiting…To be honest, my time in South Korea was meant to be my last trip anywhere; a last hurray, and a time to finally find inner peace. Today was a special day because I felt somewhat connected to a different type of quietness of soul. I welcomed the walk, the fresh air, the sights, the small talk, and the random people with whom we came across. But while watching Pastor Yang, June Lee and my husband Brian, I felt as though God was whispering something to me.
I decided to listen carefully. Surprisingly, I found joy in watching my husband relax while flying his drone. Is funny how such a small apparatus can bring someone peace-especially one that is so loud! I thought that perhaps he had found an escape from the reality of our current situation. After all, this has been quite a trying year for us. In the midst of trying to keep our organization afloat, dealing with a very sick wife, and the separation we have endured, somehow he continues to move forward, by my side. This year, by far has been the most challenging of the last two years since I had the triple bypass. My husband has been a rock through it all, but a rock that’s been battered by troubled waters. The rollercoaster of emotions has left him with many scars. While I stood there watching him, I loved him all the more. What a gift he is to me! I know in time, with God’s help and with buckets of grace to give out, we will find much needed resolution and rest. My heart so longs for that; not only for myself but for my best friend, as well as for our two sons who have also suffered much throughout this process. I still believe that regardless of the messy situation, God continues to be a good father to us all.
In times when we feel lost, God has a way to send people our way, perhaps in order to remind us that He is not distant but present in ways we cannot even imagine or comprehend. I treasure the new relationships formed in Daejeon. These precious people are now part of my family and part of my life. There were two gentlemen that stopped to watch Brian fly his drone. They became like wide-eye kids having incredible fun while watching something cool for the first time. For a while, we found ourselves talking and laughing with them. They seemed happy to have met us, and we enjoyed the brief interaction. Later on, while walking back to our vehicle, we heard a loud “jal jineseyo!” (take care). We were surprised to see the two gentlemen smiling big and waving goodbye to us. They will never know it, but those two gentlemen brought us a pleasant and much needed pause.
After our peaceful and eventful walk, Pastor Yang treated us to a lunch of stew with thin slices of beef and stuffed dumplings. Wow! It was delicious! The meat is so thin that as soon as you dump it into the broth, it gets cooked within seconds. We had a pleasant conversation, and left there feeling encouraged and a bit sad to have to say goodbye. I want to leave you with a thought about an important lesson I learned today: When you choose to take your eyes off your suffering, and focus on others for a while, you will see your attitude begin to shift for the better. Somehow that peace that you feel has been eluding you, will suddenly feel closer than a brother.
Next stop: A Visit to Soul!