"I will lift up my eyes to the hills--
from whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth."
Sunday night, February 7, I sat on my apartment floor, tears streaming down my bare cheeks. "Oh, Heidi!" the handwritten page in front of me read, "I can't tell you how much I wish you were here right now--I so desperately need a hug!" It was the hardest day for me in Korea to date.
That afternoon saw me high atop a mountain passageway in a truck-stop-like restaurant sitting in an oversized yellow armchair, leaning forward to catch every word from my director's lips and bracing myself for the meaning I knew lay behind them. "Joshua and I talked about what to do with some of our staff," he said matter-of-factly and then looked up at me. "This affects you, actually. We need to find a different place of employment for you." He went on to explain the reason for this new developement, a keen sense of a lack of funds to support me. My heart started to quicken even as the reality sank in; my eyes filled with tears as he detailed the rest of the picture. He suggested that he wanted to keep me, but that the other administrator thought I was the best choice to go because I'm newest. Choosing between Andy or Brandon might be like having to decide which cardiac arrest patient to revive, I suppose.
The entire afternoon, my director was preoccupied with my reaction to the news. He asked me not to go to the bathroom just to cry--which I assured him was not my reason for going. He then asked me to call a friend of mine whom I was supposed to meet to ask if she were busy. If she were and we couldn't, he was prepared to take me somewhere. When I told him I was waiting to call her until I got back to my apartment, he nearly begged me to do it then. He was afraid that if I went home at that moment, all I would do was cry. "Have you been to the east coast?" he asked. Later he suggested, "You might like to buy a book in Seoul." When he finally dropped me off at 6, five hours, two meals, and a long scenic drive later, he said, "I hope I've exhausted you so that you will just go up to your room and sleep."
Clearly, my director wanted just to take my mind off the situation, but events like these necesitate time to process them. I cried for six and a half hours that night--and the tears didn't stop the next morning. I talked with the administration that afternoon to confirm the truth of my director's words. I then marched bravely through the foyer into the dark office to tell my co-worker friends the awful news. I sat crying with them for two hours, muling over events, situations, and opinions; understandably, my mind was not in my work that day. My director approached me after my classes to ask when I would know if I were staying in Korea or not. Hanging my head, visibly beaten, I weakly replied that I'd tell him in a week. Andy, Brandon, and I lingered in a restaurant for an hour after our meal that night trying to absorb the day's events.
I've talked with several people about all this, back home as well as here. My fellow co-workers were the first to see my soggy, shocked reaction. I don't know what kind of witness that was, but I've been able to talk more openly with them about what God would have me do in this. My wonderful, sweet, friendly American teacher-friend Andy even suggested that God is teaching me the consequences of others' mistakes. I've also been able to talk with close friends and family who have encouraged me that this is for a purpose, that my director was used of God to bring me over here, that coming to Korea is still a stepping stone even if it's wobbly, and that I should praise the LORD for His great provision even through this. Scripture says toward the end of Luke that things like this "will turn out as an opportunity for testimony for you" (21:13). I've run the gammit of emotions this week, but I think I'm beginning to see things much more clearly.
It wasn't until Thursday afternoon at work that I really understood my need to have a different reaction. One of my co-workers' and my mutual friends, Matt, called Andy to ask if we'd like to come over Friday night and he said, "Do you know what's been going on? This week has been really bad for us." He handed the phone to me and I was able to explain my end of the story. Matt at first had a very sad reaction to it, but he also gave me some immigration advice and with it, suggestions to stay in Korea if I wanted to. Since then, he's listed some options for me and detailed what my next steps should be before I leave.
Long about Wednesday, I was ready to be done with this whole mess. My heart was braking, my countenance shattered. I had visions of moving into cheap apartments in Schertz, taking a daycare job, and walking to work. "If I had to make a decision today," I kept saying throughout the week, "I just want to go home." Matt gave me hope with his words that day; it was the first time in all of this that I actually thought staying was possible. He also showed me that this couldn't have happened in a better way because my director is willing to work with me: I don't have to leave right-right away and my director is willing to pay both my last month's salary and my flight back home, should I need it. Because of Matt, I'm seriously considering staying.
Today I was reminded of my story from the zipline challenge course that my father and I took last summer. I fell on the Hourglass ropes element because I gave up; it was the easiest thing, but it didn't allow me to finish. In some ways, I feel like going home would be just that: defeat, throwing in the towel, giving up. What I don't really want is to find myself back home at my parents' house next month, my senses reeling, and wake up feeling like, "That's it? You mean I'm back already? What happened? So much for that!" I don't want to look back on my time here and feel like it was a dream. I know I'll have to change schools, addresses, and even cities if I stay. I'm sad that I'll have to leave my new friends and jostle what I just took pains to settle into. But I am also confident that this is not the end. As I said in an email this evening, "I don't want to give up just yet, Dad!"