Adventure embraces every moment of our lives. We have no idea what is coming next. I had no idea Chye (a co-worker and Korean woman) would ask me about the Korean Presbyterian Church I had attended some months back. Crashing their service was a personal dare to further my book research.
It had not been a comfortable experience.
I am not Korean.
Chye had embarked on a personal quest, to secure a Korean husband, and had completed preliminary research–general fact finding about Korean places of worship in the larger metro area, plus she had joined Match.com and joined a Korean dating site.
At mid-thirty the time was now. Marriage and baby were her goals.
As an an artist/designer, Chye recognized and was appalled by the Korean dating sight and the lengths single women went to in order to photoshop a model-perfect profile photo. Chye would rather you know her as she is. I peered over and wondered what it would take to convince her to remove her beret, comb out her long, dark hair, and dab on light makeup–if only lipstick.
Oh, and a little weight wouldn’t hurt, either. By government standards she was probably five lbs. underweight, but that underweight was valued by Korean men. In fact, it might impress her latest long-distance interest, an architect in Korea who engaged in intriguing, online conversations. He sounded like a stunning prospect, so I had demanded, “Why is he not married now?”
“I wonder same thing,” she noted.
Korean men are not easy to please. Last year on her annual visit home, a high-school classmate had convinced Chye to meet up with him. He was a doctor, who as a teen, had been smitten with her and waddled behind her like an imprinted duckling. Apparently, Chye had become too Americanized. Their first in-person conversation in years ended abruptly when he cancelled their dinner date and explained, “You’re too fat.”
There’s something about that bone thin Asian women that is hard to shake from some men’s fantasies. “Keep eating at Burgerville-USA,” I advised. “It saved your ass.”
The music played, someone uttered a prayer, and programs shuffled as eyes reviewed what was next in the service. We sat in the back row. I felt slightly self-consious, if not borderline unacceptable (church behaviour-wise), as I pulled out my Droid and snapped a few pictures.
I had no clue if tweeting from church was practiced by Presbyterians, but what could it hurt, I wondered and scribed a couple of 140’s.
The music drifted away. The minister began to speak. Instinctively, we both felt the spirit at the same time. We spontanesouly reached out for deeper communication. We were, after all in God’s house. Things should be said, things should be shared.
I wrote the first note. “There were more people when I was here before.” She glanced at my notepad and shrugged as the minister’s voice rose in dramatic fashion. “I LOVE the sound of the language. Beautiful,” I wrote and added a smiley face to underscore my appreciation.
Chye slipped the small, spiral notepad from my hands and plucked the pen from my fingers. “He has nice voice!” Her head tilted away as if listening, then wrote, “They are too serious make me very uncomfortable.”
“Do you go to church?” Her script on the notepad asked.
I answered, “I used to—this past year, no.” Then I drew a little arrow in case she didn’t know to turn the page. “And I’m Presbyterian!” I wrote, as if that should allow me entrance to the Korean church mysteries.
“Ah, I don’t have religion,” she answered in her crisp printing. This makes very strange.” She listened and translated the current theme of the sermon then crossed it out, but it was still readible: “Talking about donating and offering money to god.” Then she repeated, “I’m very uncomfortable.”
She passed the pad and pen my way. “I felt the same way the first time I came here,” I wrote, although my reasons had more to do with feeling like I didn’t belong than about what I did or did not believe. “Better this time,” I finished.
“Hahaha. I’ll feel same way if I go to American church.” Her next sentenced betrayed that she had spent too many years away from home. “There are too many Korean here.” Then she got right down to it. “I don’t see any available men. I feel real guilty here. I’ll stick with Match.com.”
Guilt belongs a lot of places, but not in church.
Okay, guilt is created in church, but I encouraged, “Don’t feel guilty—it’s an adventure. Not all are successful, but the stories we will tell!” I finished with a larger smiley face.
Chye nudged me and pointed to the notation in both Korean and English in the church bulletin that said, “Welcome.”
This is going to be good, I thought, and imagined them asking us to share a little about ourselves as way of introduction. Yes, I’m here with my friend Chye. We are looking for a husband for her. Who is single?
That’s when my prayers began in earnest. Yes, Lord, please let us find Chye a husband and get this over. Please, please, please.
To be continued…