Monday, February 27, 2012

Goodbye Letter 001: Claire (South Africa)

This is the first in a series of goodbye letters from people who are moving away and leaving KNU International English Church.  I hope this will be a good way for people to end in a spirit of appreciation and for our church to understand the impact we are having.  This is all inspired by Michael Palmer's post: The Beauty in Goodbye.
Our first installment comes from Claire of South Africa.  We baptized Claire in the fall of 2011.  Without further ado, here's Claire's goodbye.

     Getting ready to leave Korea after a year of teaching here has turned into a difficult thing for me.  I will be gone at the start of March, and it's hard to believe my year is at an end.
     When I arrived last year, I was looking forward to a year of being away from all the things that made me unhappy in South Africa.  Especially a home that had changed into something I hardly recognized over the last few years because of addictions, co-dependencies and lack of acceptance of each other.  My home used to be the place I wanted to be when things went wrong, but it had become the one place I desperately wanted to get away from.
     I was quick to learn though that your problems don't change just because you change where you are.  I remember a conversation I had with a new friend I had made at KNU International English Church in Cheonan.  After telling him my story, he told me that a year might not be as long as I wanted it to be.

     This unsettled me so much, I got quite angry with him.  It wasn't long after that, after many nights of crying alone in my apartment because I hadn't just magically turned into a happy person when I left South Africa, that I e-mailed our Senior Pastor, Josh Broward.  I told him I needed help and for the first time ever, confessed that I had a problem.  I had been struggling with an eating disorder for many years and I knew it was time to come clean.
     There's a very long story behind all the things I learned this year and some of it is in the article I wrote after being baptized again this year, but it feels like I've come full-circle in a way.  What I can say now is that this year has changed me.  For a while there, it could have gone one of two ways for me, but I found this church and the friends and support that came with it, and I today I am better.  I get scared when I think of how differently this year could have turned out if things hadn't happened as they did.
     In the end, my friend was right; this year wasn't as long as I wanted it to be.  But that's because it feels like I have just started living again, not because I can't bear the thought of going home.
     I know things will be the same with my family when I get back, but I have realized that it does not matter.  I have no control over other people, circumstances or events, but I can be different.  I am amazed at how God works in our lives, no matter where we are and I have so much gratitude in my heart for the love He has shown me.
     I will always have the most wonderful memories of Korea and the people I met here, as the ones who walked me back from the edge and as one of my most beloved friends put it, helped me 'step out of the ring and take the gloves off.'   I will miss you Korea, and thank you.    
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