Monday, June 30, 2008

A week ago today, I traversed the streets of Seoul, South Korea, on a shopping expedition with my youngest daughter Courtney. We conversed with street vendors and warehouse merchants on the exact opposite side of the world from our home in Ohio.

Our lives intersected ever so briefly with people who spend their days in a world totally different than our Americana existence. In the shoulder-rubbing-shoulder chaos of that Asian metropolis, we jostled and bumped against hundreds of people on the streets. Or passed by, quite literally, thousands of fellow travelers as we risked life and limb in our numerous taxi rides. For those short moments, we shared life with these strangers.

In the Lord's providence, there have been a few occasions when similar chance encounters developed into lifelong friendships. Pastor Hong, Song-ho is one of those Providential friends. Shortly after we moved to Korea as missionaries in 1989, while in the overwhelming days of language study, my husband prayed for a friend--just one friend in all of Korea who might relieve some of his deep loneliness.

On a whim, after language school one day, we decided to take our family for a hike up the mountain of Keadeyansan outside of the city of Taejon, where we lived. Courtney was just three years old at that time, and her little legs gave out before we'd hiked past the souvenir stands at the base of the trail, so Daddy David hoisted her onto his shoulders.

As we made our way up the mountain, a Korean man approached David and exclaimed in English, "You look like Jesus!" My husband must have looked puzzled, as the man went on to explain, "Jesus is the Great Shepherd and you look like you're carrying a little lamb."

That brief encounter led to an abiding friendship between my husband and the man whom we soon learned was a pastor of a Methodist congregation. Pastor Hong taught David the idiosyncracies of Korean CHURCH language as no one else could (or took the time to try.) It was in Pastor Hong's church that David preached his first sermon in Korean. And the two have shared the ups and downs of life--on both side of the world--ever since.

We were able to share several days of adventure with Pastor Hong during our Korea trip, and he and David picked up their friendship as though they'd never been separated by fifteen years of time and a distance of thousands of miles.(Pastor Hong and David--proving true friends are friends forever!)

As authors, our lives intersect with thousands of readers through the printed page. We may never realize the individuals whose life-paths have crossed our own. There are those special times, however, when God choses to connect our lives with another through a Providential Encounter, which transcends mere happenstance.

Last week, we discussed those nasty negative comments that come our way as authors. Today, I'd like to hear about those special encounters with your readers that spur you on and keep you writing. As I sign off for this week (and continue to recover from jet lag!) let me share a few other photos that capture our reconnections with Korea friends. . .
(Reconnecting with our Korean language teacher and life-long friend, Mrs. Ei, Kyung-Lim)
(Courtney's Foster Mother, Mrs. Ahn, Kee-Young)
(This gentleman owns the small store located next to our Seoul apartment. He still remembers our family well--especially Courtney!)
(A "chance" encounter with elderly rice-farming Korean villagers in the deep countryside near the South China Sea.)
(David preaches in three worship services while good friend, Rev. Shin, Min-Gyu, translates)


Rhonda said...

The pictures are great Susan! It looks like you all had a wonderful trip.

I have met several wonderful people through my books. God is good to supply those people when we think our work isn't touching others. I'm glad for the letters that I get and I have a special place for them so that when I get discouraged... I take them out and read them again and again.

Debby Mayne said...

Thanks for sharing the pictures, Susan.

I've had some really nice comments from readers who have said they were touched by my books. One woman said she shared one of my books with her granddaughter whose parents were going through a divorce, and she needed to see what true love was like. After reading my book, the girl said that if she could find a man like the hero in my book, she could fall in love. Whenever I get down or feel less than worthy of the success I've had or hope to have in the future, I pull out that letter that touched my heart.

Karen said...

Welcome home Susan! It's always tougher coming from Asia to adjust. Loved your photos. We have a connection to Japan through our daughter-in-law and sometimes get to visit with her parents through an internet video connection. They speak no English. My Japanese only gets me in trouble but we love each other dearly. Someday I hope that love will show them Jesus. That's what I hope for my writing. Some little pinpoint of light that reaches a reader and draws her into His arms.

NancyMehl said...

So glad you're back, Susan. You were missed.

I've gotten a lot of nice e-mails from readers. A recent one especially touched me. Someone wrote to me to tell me that a gal in Austraila who won a opy of "In the Dead of Winter" was writing in my book - even putting in a Bible verse! It meant a lot to me to think that this reader saw something that impacted her spiritually. It doesn't get much better than that!

Again, glad you're back. Thanks for sharing your wonderful pictures.


Lynette Sowell said...

What a wonderful story, especially about your husband's friend. People like that are truly God's gifts in our lives.

My recent most special reader moment came through e-mail: "Your Christmas book was really good and all who have read it, enjoyed. My SIL has a hard time with religion and I am letting her read all your books because it has helped her to see what God can do for someone."

This made me tear up because it means so much. This woman's sister is bitter against God, and the reader believes that bitterness is getting chipped away.

Janet Spaeth said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time! That's great that you got to revisit places and faces that meant so much to you.

Memories are the best souvenirs.

Mary Connealy said...

What an adventure, Susan.

I had someone the other day declare Petticoat Ranch one of her top favorite TITLES for last year.

She said it caught the humor, the western tone and a bit of the he said/she said conflict of the book (or words to that affect).
I'd never heard anyone really talk about all she got out of the book's title. It was a new way of looking at that title for me.
I mean, I knew I liked it, but I didn't quite get the LEVELS the title was working on for someone else.

I really enjoyed that.

Mary Connealy said...

I also get a lot, "How to you get inside a man's (or boy's) head like that?"

My only response it, "You think I did okay?"

Who can ever be sure if they 'get it right?' It's nice to hear people say they feel like I did.

Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Susan,
What an exciting trip for you and your family! Thanks for sharing the highlights and photos.

I have received several encouraging emails from readers. One talked about how she appreciated the prayers in my book, saying they had helped her learn how to pray. Another talked about the important Scriptures about forgiveness that I included and how they helped her. Another talked about being thankful for a story that that whisked her away for a break because her husband was in Iraq and she needed a time of refreshment.

It's always a blessing to hear from readers and know that our stories touch their hearts.