I stepped on the plane and found my seat. The plane was filled with Korean people, naturally, since our flight was headed there. The last boarding call came over the loud speaker. The cabin door closed. “Wait, Mary, you can still get off. You’re going to teach English in South Korea for an entire year! AT LEAST. Get off! Tell them you have to get off. This is too hard.”

I suppressed the voices inside of my head, every urge to jump up and bang on the cabin door, and buckled my seatbelt. I knew my life was about to change, but I didn’t know how. And that scared me. Fast forward one month later, things were really rough. I became increasingly frustrated with myself when I couldn’t understand the language or the cultural differences. I felt lonely and isolated.

In that time, one day in elementary class, one 8-year-old boy named Sam* was quietly doing his work, per usual, and I heard, “I don’t know! I don’t know! I don’t know!” I looked up to see Sam under his desk, curled up in a ball, and utterly defeated. He couldn’t do it. I finally coaxed him up out from under desk and we looked at his lesson together. He spelled a word wrong. He was devastated. He said that he couldn’t keep learning English. I hugged him and told him that learning English is hard, but I would be there with him every step of the way. He didn’t have to be afraid.

Teachers, friends, isn’t that what our Heavenly Father promises us? Hebrews 13:5b-6 says;

“…because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” – (NIV)

When I thought I was alone, I remembered that the One who held the world was still holding me.

I was Sam. I was defeated. I curled up in my apartment and said “I don’t know! I don’t know! I don’t know!” Then, I remembered His promises. He reminded me that He was there even when I didn’t understand the menu. Even when I got lost. Even when people would stare and talk about me. God reminded me over and over again that He was there, and He would never leave me. And He never has.

*Student’s name has been changed.

By Mary Jean Graves.
Mary Jean Graves lives in Jacksonville, Florida, but if you ask her where she’s from, she gets confused. She’s moved around a lot, but she feels more comfortable living out of her suitcase. She has taught English as a second/foreign language for the past two years to students from six continents. Currently, she teaches ESL (English as a second language) to Korean business professionals online from home. She finds great joy in bridging the gap of language and the Gospel to her students and in her community.

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