Good evening, my name is Glory. Before I begin, I just want to let you know that this is one of the few times that I have shared my story. In advance, I want to thank you for your patience with me.
My journey is quite different from Destiny’s. I only recently arrived at The Potter’s House, and yet, it has impacted me in some deep ways.
Today my story begins with when I was eleven. I am the third of four sisters. My dad is a chaplain in the Korean army and he raised us alone after my mom passed away from cancer. I was the tender-hearted child, loving all things tiny, and any opportunity to be my mother’s little helper.
Before my mom passed, there was an opportunity for chaplains’ kids to learn English in the Philippines. My mom’s intention was to send me away so that I would not witness her physical degression. While I was in the Philippines my uncle called to tell me that my mom was really sick and that I needed to come home. When I had left my mom a month before, she seemed fine. She looked fine. She was acting fine, but she wasn’t actually fine. She was being strong for us.
I cried and prayed on the airplane. My sisters were there for her last moment and I arrived three hours too late. I hated myself. I was at the funeral location for several days. A week after my mom died, everyone started telling me that my dad needs to get remarried, and he knew that my sisters and I did not want that, so he respected our wishes. In Korea, churches will often not allow a pastor to come if they don’t have a spouse. So we ALL suffered.
Not long after, a parent called the house and my grandma informed her that my mother had died. Soon everyone knew. In Korea, there is a lot of discrimination when a parent has died. Teachers that had treated me well, began dismissing me. In church, I would say hi to people and they would look at me in a different way. I had just lost my mom and it felt so hurtful.
When I was twelve, my dad sacrificed in order to send my older sister, Shalom, and I to study in Pennsylvania. Our American host family and classmates tried to force me to believe in God, and I struggled to trust Him because I had prayed and my mom still died. I felt like God had left me. I asked them questions about why God let my mom die and they kept telling me that I didn’t understand God because I was a sinner. I just wanted to go home. My first experience of America wasn’t that great.
I returned to Korea after a year. Returning was academically difficult. Korean curriculum and American curriculum were so different. At my Korean high school, I would arrive at 8 in the morning and study until 11 at night. On a parent conference day, my dad couldn’t come because of work. My teacher spent time talking with classmates about how to prepare for college but never met with me. I experienced a lot of discrimination, not because of my race, or because I’m from a different country, but because I didn’t have a mom.
The Potter’s House was a surprising discovery made by my oldest sister while she attended Calvin College. My younger sister Grace and I enrolled in the fall of 2017. All that I had imagined about America had come from my Caucasian experience in Pennsylvania, and when I walked through the doors of The Potter’s House I was shocked. Here there were Africans, Asians, Caucasians, Hispanics, African Americans, and others from all over the world. It was completely different from anything I had experienced. People were welcoming and I no longer felt like I was the only one that was different. EVERYONE was different, so it was ok to be different. Walking down the halls I would float past conversations in Spanish, Creole, Burmese, so many languages. I would listen and it was wonderful.
At The Potter’s House, people don’t really ask about your parents. Classmates are sensitive to the fact that some kids don’t have parents, or some people do, but they are divorced. I had been excluded for not having two parents, and here, that didn’t matter. They look at me as me, and not as my parents or my background.
When I came to The Potter’s House I had never taken a theology class. My Worldview class with Dr. VandeBrake allowed me to compare and contrast worldviews. It was a great experience. Now when people ask me about my faith I can confidently say, “I have a relationship with Jesus, and I believe God is always with me.” Maybe He allowed me to experience the death of my mom so that I can encourage other people who are going through the same experience. I feel like I can continue to heal at The Potter’s House, and I really enjoy it here.
One day I told a teacher that I was struggling and she told me she would pray for me. I thought, “oh wow.” That would NEVER happen in Korea. It’s against the law.
As a response to my dad’s sacrifice for sending me so far from home, I want to do all that I can to succeed. Whenever I think about my dad I want to go back to Korea and make something for him…he’s not a very good cook.
This summer I will go home, and then I’ll return and attend Calvin College this fall. I have attended secular schools most of my life, and being in a school with Christian boundaries has been a really good experience. I want to keep that going so that my relationship with Christ will be made even more firm. Since being at The Potter’s House I realized I am interested in becoming a dentist. I still like little things, and under the instruction of my science teacher, Mr. VerBeek, I now love chemistry and biology, which are two subjects I never thought I would like.
Thank you for listening to my journey and for supporting a school that helps students, like myself, feel accepted for all that I am, and to help me build a spiritual foundation that is grounded in reason, and truth, and love.