Tiny Traveler: Kelly - A Tiny Traveler

Tiny Traveler: Kelly

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Meet Kelly. She is studying Early Childhood Education at the University of Valley Forge and is married to Caleb. She has a cat named Milo, loves Jesus, and loves adventure. I met her throughout The Peony Project/blog world even though we go to the same school! That's another reason why I love to blog. You meet so many awesome people! The more Kelly and I talk, the more I see pieces of myself and I truly believe we are going to become great friends. I hope you enjoy her post about her trip to South Korea. I know I did!

There are places you long for, dream about, and plan unrealistic trips around. You know the ones I’m talking about…. “If money wasn’t an option, and we had unlimited vacation hours…”

There are beaches that call my name from time to time, sun kissed skin that needs to become my own; there are mountain ranges I want to scale, and meadows I want to share picnics with. I don’t want to settle in one spot, because there are so many destinations that are worthy of my appreciation and sense of adventure.

I think of Peru, and feel at home. The people, the food, the language; all of it is beautiful. Memories of my time spent in Lima make me feel comfortable and secure, and I hope that one day I can share this place with my other and (slightly) better half.

Then there are places that never cross your radar – places that are (extra) dirty, and never seem to stir up that “pee-in-your-pants” kind of excitement. Places like New Jersey, or Kansas.

Places like South Korea.

I had always dreamt of traveling to Asia. Thailand, Vietnam, Japan…. but South Korea? It wasn’t on my “Top 10 Places to Visit Before I Die” list. I actually knew very little about it, and wasn’t sure I ever wanted to.

During one of my very first freshman chapels, I remember Dr. Meyer mentioning the various ministry opportunities Valley Forge Christian College offers it’s students, and how these ministries help the student body grow and mature into men and women of strong character. One of these opportunities happened to be: K O R E A.

Fast-forward 10 months, and I (along with my boyfriend: Caleb, and our two friends: Alexandra and Luke) was boarding one of the longest flights of my life. For the next six weeks, our team was scheduled to volunteer at an intensive ESL summer camp program, and to use our gifts & talents to minister in a local church.

I will be honest and say it was the most difficult six weeks of my life, and I had more bad days than good.

I questioned my career choice & my abilities, and realized I was not as culturally flexible as I once thought.

I complained because my hair dryer blew a fuse, I began to hate white rice, and I missed my mom. Not to mention the air conditioner that shut off every 20 minutes…

I remember the day when our team was told we had to come up with an activity within minutes, because what was scheduled fell through. There was the week I was given a class of preschoolers that had never been exposed to speaking English, and my assistant/translator stopped showing up.
I had never created a lesson plan, had no real idea of how to manage a classroom, and yet, here I was, teaching a new group of students every week.

The good days, however, were extraordinary.

I taught little Korean children movements to “Big House” by Audio Adrenaline, I watched as my students learned to make coffee, and then drank it…black. I was able to be on the worship team and sing in front of hundreds of people, and even ate live octopus.

I stayed with a wonderful host family, and connected with my high school-ers through the Photo Booth app on my MacBook. We played musical chairs and “Simon Says” to practice positional & directional words, and held rousing Karaoke competitions. It was during this time that I was exposed to K-Pop, and “Gangnam Style,” learned how to use metal chopsticks, and ate the most delicious (and inexpensive) chicken I have ever had.   

This culture that is so very different from mine intimidated, yet strengthened me. I met new people that showed a level of hospitality I only dream of having, and appreciated me simply because I was there.

At the same time, they are a people that desperately need Jesus. The men and women I met were beautiful and glamorous, and belong to a culture revolving largely around the exterior. They have much to be proud of, but there is still so much lacking.

This is why I want to go back:

To demonstrate the love of Christ so intensely that they realize that there is more. There is more than material things, and that this “something more” provides true freedom and happiness.

Sometimes thinking about going back scares me.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of travel and adventure, but the reality is: I’ll be leaving my home, my culture, and my family.
Caleb and I will board the plane this time with the expectation of not coming back, and that’s frightening.

But when I think about reaching people that need truth, and hope, and an eternal purpose, I have peace knowing that it’s more than worth it.

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  1. I love this! I loved hearing your honesty, Kelly, as you shared about the hard parts of it all. At one point in my life I looked into South Korea and learned all I could..until I realized how much garlic they ate (I'm allergic). But I am so glad to continue to learn more as you have such a great writing style, but even more so, a higher calling to be there.

  2. Thanks, Samantha!

    The food is definitely very different, and takes some getting used to.

    But I honestly can't wait to go back!