I am a toddler.

You know how when you are eating with a toddler, and you just kind of take their plate, cut up their food, and hand it back without comment? Maybe you don’t even break your conversation with the rest of the table. It’s just habit, part of the meal process when a three year old is present. (I have no idea at what age children start cutting their own food, but I assume you get the point.) Anyways, that’s what my life is like here sometimes.

The shiny new gloss has worn off, and I am more of a fixture in day to day activities. We have established some habits and routines, and can go about them pretty smoothly. However, there are still MANY things I cannot do. There is no point in asking me if I need help, because I cannot understand the questions anyways. So, often times, people simply help me. They do the thing that I cannot do, and cannot ask for help in doing.

In church, I cannot read the scripture, because I do not know the names of the books of the Bible in Korean. Someone will take my Korean-English Bible and flip to the correct page then silently hand it back. At the welfare center, a lady will come up behind me, Velcro the back of my apron where I cannot reach it, then walk away without comment. Sometimes I don’t even know who did it. If I need to move out of the way or follow someone, they will simply grab my arm or move my body where it needs to be.

Serving lunch at the Welfare Center. Everyday we serve around 100 elderly people from the community.

Small generous compassionate acts of service like this happen every day. Yet I find myself feeling frustrated. I want to explain that, under normal circumstances, I am a competent and capable human being. I constantly want to explain my thought process, defend my miscommunications, and overall be independent when I cannot. Maybe that’s the biggest takeaway from this journey so far. I am not in control of the narrative, and I must live with however people think of me.

I must also not assume other people’s thoughts and motives. Part of the YAV program is “Embracing the Ambiguity.” At first, I thought this meant not having a set schedule, not being told where you’re going when you get in a car, not understanding instructions, etc. And it does mean those things. But more importantly, it means embracing the ambiguity in interpersonal relationships. Being open and engaging. TRYING. Allowing your actions to speak for themselves and trusting that other people have good intentions behind their actions as well. So, I might feel like a toddler some days, but I have to trust that the people around me are trying their best, and that they know I am too.

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