We pass through tiny villages and field after field, several hundred meters from the main road, and although we've never spoken, I feel as though I am getting to know the people that live and work there. I watch them work, and see the crops grow. The other day I saw rice being planted by machine, something that seems almost impossible - can a metal hand really be gentle enough with seedlings? Apparently! I'm looking forward to seeing the growth and harvest of the rice too, something I know nothing about. But the people...
Last week a man had left his tractor in the road while he went into the field to do something. It's a very narrow road, but I could get by walking the bike. Returning from the field, he called out "I'm sorry!" Really I wasn't troubled by it, and didn't feel he owed me an apology - but I was amazed that he knew these English words! I bowed to try to let him know everything was all right and I appreciated his words, and he smiled.
The children at school have become accustomed to me, and now I can scarcely make it across the hall without a little girl running up wanting to give me a hug or hold my hand and walk with me a little while. The other day one declared "I love you!" They're so sweet. When I came to visit Gordon once, they all began to cry out "Princess! Princess!" The owner of a store we went into told Gordon (in Korean) that I looked like Snow White. And most every time I walk down the street, someone calls out that I am beautiful. On Odong-Do with SeungJu, an old woman came up to me and grabbed my hands, holding me and staring (also saying how beautiful I was). I honestly think she may never have seen a Western woman before!
All this makes up for those who openly stare and point, not knowing how to react to people who look so different. The children and teenagers who run up to us and yell "HI" in our faces - then run away (the result, we speculate, of an English education consisting primarily of TeleTubbbies). The girls who walked behind me and pulled out strands of my hair, apparently enamored with blonde hair and perhaps not realizing that I was attached to the other end! At first this made me very uncomfortable - at times it can make you feel less than human. But now, with a loving church and friends, all this fades. I know that when I go to church SeungJu will smile and wave and beckon me to come sit next to her, to laugh with her, to dream with her.... to just be "one of the girls." I go to school and the children show me their love. I ride my bike through the fields and revel in the beauty of creation... and return home, to praise God.