The first person I would like to share about is the teacher/mother that lives down the road from me. We swam together quite a bit last fall. I did not have class on Monday unitl 12:00, so I decided to join her when she was talking about swimming pools this past summer. She took me a pool up in the hills that I remember going to years ago. We swam, and I fell in love with being in the pool. I love the water on my face, the not-so-strong smell of the chlorine, the other swimmers, and I love being around my friend. A number of laps of breast stroke puts me in a great mood. Love swims, so to speak.
I love that fact that she has a child that she mothers in a way I can relate to. In fact, we have gone on many outings with her child and my boys. Swimming, the zoo, movies in her home, chit-chats over coffee. I can relate to her in so many different ways.
It may be the fact that she personifies Canadian Prairie hospitality, but really it is just her and her way. She is kind, loyal, and overly generous.
Another friend who has expressed love beyond measure is the person I make cookies with every winter close to Christmas. It is our annual tradition. It started years ago when we were in a Bible study together. Near the end of the study, she shared about an orphanage that she was volunteering at. She wanted to bake cookies for 40 orphans, and she thought she could do that in a little toaster oven! I was reflecting on my rather large kitchen in that moment and wanted to share it with people who would appreciate it. I offered to host a cookie baking party, she accepted, and the whole Bible study came over to my place to bake cookies that year. That was about 15 years ago.
We still make cookies once a year, but the conditions are a little different. We are the only two of the original group who are left. Everyone else has moved out of the country for different reasons. We now bake for the Christmas pleasure of it. I love the smell of cinnamon and apples, banana bread, and cranberry and white chocolate chip cookies. Another important aspect of this is the chili I make for lunch. I have a special spice blend that goes into the chili that my friend appreciates, and she has tried to duplicate it. We eat the chili with my boys googling over warm buns and butter, and then we bake.
We have done other things in other seasons. One autumn day, I took the boys to Kongju (this means princess in Korean but it is the name of a town) and she showed us an art gallery in the woods. The boys had a great time visiting all different kinds of tree houses in this natural setting. We have also had meals in Kongju, visited parks, and have gone for walks. It’s a quiet place and very natural in its beauty. When I think of Kongju, I think of Lisa and her smile that brightens up a room.
I would also like to honor my Korean office mate, Chung Eun. She was hired about 10 years ago. I had a running joke at the time that her desk was cursed. There had been a number of English professors who had just not lasted, working from 4 months to a whole year. Chung Eun has an easy smile and a great disposition. She also loves to talk. We became friendly immediately.
Right before COVID started, she congratulated me on the book that I had written, The Giver. She said that she thought it was impressive that I had written a book while working on a Masters in Education. I just smiled when she said that because I had not quite connected the dots the way she had. I knew I was extremely tired.
About two years later, right before Christmas, I was able to give her a copy of the book I wrote. She again said that it was impressive that I had written a book that was useful for Sunday School teachers, not about teaching English. Of course, for me, it all runs or comes together after a while.
She gave me a lovely 3D Christmas card. The card sits at my desk. Santa Claus is sitting in his sleigh and the reindeer pop out. It is absolutely gorgeous!
When I took Justin, my oldest son, to university the other day, she was very kind. She bought him some coffee and a muffin. She said that he looked cool, and that he would be popular with the girls in university. I kind of laughed when she said that.
Of course, I need to end this by talking about my family. The boys are great. They help me carry in groceries, give me hugs to keep me going, and say ‘I love you’ when I am exhausted. I love to see their smiles.
My husband deserves an honorable mention as well. We went to Outback Steakhouse on Wednesday in honor of Aidan’s graduation from elementary school. With the COVID restrictions, social gatherings have been reduced to families of four, and you have to prove that you all live at the same address. My husband spent about 30 minutes arguing with the manager in Korean, and then with City Hall, attempting to get them to realize that this policy is unkind to foreigners and to large families. Justin spent a bit of time explaining President Moon JaeIn’s policies to me. I was just about to give up on the whole thing when we were called back into the restaurant. We had a good meal that day. Hansung celebrated by taking himself to the hospital in Daejeon to find the results from a blood test he had taken a few weeks before. I would have just slept when I came home, but I am not him.
Love is very diverse when you think about. It brings clarity and comfort. It can feel like a warm blanket covering you up in winter. Love can be full of activity, or it can be a moment when you realize that someone has gone out of their way to protect you. The bottom line is that love makes sacrifices for your benefit.