"The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped." Proverbs 11:25 The Message
We're at the pool. I am sitting in the shade feeding 4-month-old Palmer in the sweltering, hundred-degree, sweat-through-your-boots, Texas heat telling the other three kids, "GO SWIM!"(they are all sitting in my lap, too). There is another boy jumping in the water to his mom. Hunter sees. Hunter jumps. Hunter stays. (in her arms, wrapped around her neck) Hunter splashes. Hunter kisses. Hunter laughs. Hunter plays. Hunter makes friends.
Hyeong-Sook Lee and Jung-Woo Hong have become like family to us this summer. We spend many days each week playing with them. The Hong family is visiting College Station for one year while Ic-Pyo is a visiting professor here at Texas A&M University. They speak Korean and limited English. We speak no Korean, except what they've taught us and yet, it is like we have known each other forever. We have quickly developed a friendship as warm as an old quilt on a cold winter's day.
Hyeong-Sook loves my children. When I say love, I mean LOVE, people. She willingly and joyfully holds Palmer for hours at the pool...or the children's museum...or the park...or my house...you get the idea. She does this even when it's hot, very hot outside (as previously mentioned). She changes diapers and fixes bottles in all sorts of odd places. She consoles Hunter when I'm holding Palmer, she squelches squabbling and sibling rivalry in an instant and she feeds my grazing children like they were her own! And, I must say, feeds me, not just Fritos and Coke, that's usually all I have to eat at the pool...but makes me Korean food: California rolls, rice cakes, Korean pancakes and noodles (I won't even try to spell their names in Korean). She's even taught me that I like sushi...love sushi!
One of the most amazing things to me about our friendship is the excitement we feel over seeing each other. Pretty much from the day we met, our children scream each other's names hysterically, jump up and down and run in circles when they see each other. And see each other they do! Jung-Woo attends school with Julia and Alyssa, we attend the same church and our schedules are such that we play together several days a week after school. Not to mention the daily activities we did together during the summer...swimming, Vacation Bible School, library, swimming, children's museum, parks, and more swiming.
Also, let me clarify, she loves my children, but she really loves me too. She tells me daily that she loves to hold Palmer, help Hunter, talk with Alyssa and Julia, but her heart's true desire is to help me.
Truly, one feels blessed when she has a friend who asks her each day, "What can I do to help you?" Hyeong-Sook loves to hang out with me at Target...at the mall...at church...at Bible Study...at the grocery store...at the doctor's office...at home doing laundry...or cooking...or cleaning...or any other fun-for-kids adventure we can find.
Hyeong-Sook just loves to be with me...and I with her. Sometimes I feel our friendship was built on convenience. I needed a friend to help me with daily life and Hyeong-Sook needed an American friend to converse with. What began hesitantly, quickly blossomed into a close friendship...a sisterhood...very best girlfriend stuff...a place so inviting you can let your hair down and be yourself...a place you long to visit everyday because it's as comfortable as your favorite chair, a good book, worn-out slippers and a cup of coffee.
I have also been amazed at the way Hyeong-Sook needed a friend. The loneliness of being in a foreign country...virtually alone...for many months...and not being able to converse freely and deeply must be completely overwhelming. I rely on my girlfriends so much...talking, sharing, reasoning, processing...sometimes this is how I know what I am really thinking and feeling. I pray I never take that for granted.
Although Hyeong-Sook says she misses time with her sister and extended family the most, I can only pray the time we spend together can ease some of the heartache. I feel we've developed a certain closeness, by spending time together every day, doing everyday things. An intimacy shared from simply being in one another's presence. She is so special to me.
This is a friendship made in a minute to last a lifetime...a friendship made on the spot that will span oceans and continents...A friend divinely sent to me when I needed someone, someone to fit into my everyday life today, where I'm living at right now. Hyeong-Sook is truly that person.
Although there will soon be a time that many continents separate us, we know that we will be bonded together forever through the love of Christ..."neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:39). God recently gave me the incredible opportunity and privilege to pray with Hyeong-Sook as she made the decision to give her heart to Jesus. I am rejoicing with her that she has found True Life...Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me." (John 14:6). I pray this is the beginning of a lifelong personal, intimate relationship with her Lord and Savior.
Everyday I pray that I communicate more to her than the words I say. I hope that my heart is communicated to her...I love this most precious and beautiful person. What an incredible blessing she is...a very rare treasure...this friend.