giving someone else an opportunity to make amends

Last week I did something that I was really proud of. I gave someone an opportunity to make amends. I posted about it on my LJ blog but here is a slightly revised version.


Yesterday was hard for me. I wasn’t sure why… and maybe that’s what made it extra hard. But something happened at work that kind of was a little miracle.

I went to the health center to get my flu shot after reading an email about a flu clinic. They don’t do it everyday. I walked in, filled out a form, and was told to wait. When I got in the room, the nurse asked me why I hadn’t come yesterday. I was caught off guard by the question and said that the email said that the vaccinations would be offered yesterday and today. The nurse proceeded to tell me that that’s not what the email said because she had written the email. I suggested that maybe I was thinking of a different email. She proceeded to tell me that she personally reviewed the email and was sure that it was right and would I like for her to show me the email? I said sure, why not? She led me to her office and proceeded to show me the email which had two rows that said

Tuesday, 19
Wednesday, 27

She asked why I thought that the above was unclear? I said I read it fast and assumed that the days were sequential. She made some comment about how she hoped that I didn’t do my work like that. I got offended and tried to say that perhaps the email could have been written clearer. (I do work in Health Education after all, I couldn’t resist…)  She told me that she has been doing this for years and never once was told that the above was unclear. She asked me  again what was unclear about it? I didn’t want to argue and mumbled something. At this point there was nothing to do other than go back to the other room and get the flu shot. She said something about getting the flu shot and I sternly said, I don’t want it anymore and I walked out of her office. Went to the other office to grab my flu shot questionnaire (to make sure she wouldn’t know my name) and made my way into the women’s bathroom where I proceeded to cry and try to think more clearly about what had just transpired. I decided that it was wrong of me to assume that I was right about the email. But I also did not understand why she had to insist on my wrongfulness. I’ve been reading the book “How to win friends and influence people” and it has been affecting me a lot. As well as other things…

I decided that I’d just say what I thought I did wrong. I did not want to argue so I planned to leave her response up to God.  However way she reacted, I will accept.
I walked back into the office and she was standing in the lobby with a few others in the room. I looked at her in the eye and asked if she had a moment. She said she did and we walked into her office. She cleared a chair for me and as soon as I sat down she said that she was so glad I came back because she felt so badly about what she’d done. She apologized and told me she had no right to do that and it was inappropriate. I agreed with her and told her I appreciated her apology and then proceeded to cry. I told her that I didn’t know she wrote the email and it was wrong of me to assume that the email was wrong. She said that I was “on another level” to have come back. Otherwise, she would have felt crummy about it for the rest of her day… and she didn’t even know who I was so she couldn’t do anything about it. I told her I would have felt crummy too. We ended up having a pretty decent conversation, after I’d calmed down.

Although I accept her apology, if I recall the words she said to me, I still feel a little hurt. She can never unsay those things that she said to me. How quickly she judged me and made me feel so small. I have no desire to have any relationship with her but perhaps God will have different plans for me.

As I thought more about what happened and have had more time to reflect, I realized that sometimes, other people need space to make amends. It’s easier to just brush over wrongdoings at the first whiff of an apology… but I think it’s more true to myself to hear it, acknowledge it, and accept it with a grateful heart. There are some people in my life who I am not ready to give this space to make amends… but my heart is healing slowly.


Philippines – Day 4

Day four’s theme was “A Day in the Life of a Sponsor Child and Their Family.”

After we got to the center, we got grouped into groups of 4-5 and we went to visit some of the children’s homes. I went to visit Chrizel and Christian’s home that was a few minutes away from the church. A brother and sister were sponsored and the family also had two other children who were not sponsored. The dad worked as a tricycle driver, and the mom worked at home by selling things at a little store they set up in the living room (through the wire windows) and doing other odd jobs like laundry. She also bought a big sack of coal, divided them into smaller bags, and sold them. She made one dollar from doing that. She also gets like 200 little pieces of bread and sells them for like 1 cent each through the window.

As soon as we got to her house, she brought out soft drinks for us… as well as some fried fish. The kids were getting ready to go to school. The local elementary school has SO many kids… that they divide all the kids into two shifts, morning and afternoon. There isn’t any space for all the kids to go to school at the same time. Chrizel and Christian go to school in the afternoon. Preson, Nelly, and Jillian were in my group. We all sat around in the living room and the mom turned the t.v. on for us. It was a little awkward cuz we didn’t really know what to do. We asked about their sponsors and they brought out some pictures and letters to show us. The TV was really really distracting… so I turned it off when the mom went into the kitchen to do her coal work. All the neighborhood kids came to the house to look at us visitors. =)

This was the first day that I heard Jillian sing. She has an awesome voice! She sang with the kids and led them with some hand motions. It was cool!

After a little bit at the house, we went back to the center and they gave us a tour. The center was three stories high. Here is a picture of a bathroom.









During lunch I sat next to Victoria. She currently goes to college and has had the same sponsor for ten years. TEN YEARS. BUT… it was super duper sad because she has never received a letter from her sponsor. She doesn’t even know what her sponsor looks like. She looked SO SAD when she was telling me this. I was heartbroken for her. Later, I found out that I could write her a letter and that the Philippines Compassion staff would make sure that it got to her so I plan to write to her very soon. Here is a picture of me with Victoria on the right.














After the CDC, we got to go to a local high school. Some of us took the jeepney there, and some of us took a tricycle. I got to ride on both (one on the ride there, one on the ride back.)  After riding them, I couldn’t believe that this is a common mode of transportation for most of the people here. The smog that comes out of these vehicles is SO SO bad. I could feel the film of gunk lining my lungs. It was that bad. And I’ve lived in Seoul and LA so I know a little about smog but this is like the worst smog I have ever ever seen. Apparently, the rates of asthma here are really high. Here are what the jeepneys and tricycles look like.

When we visited the school, the kids went CRAZY. We were walking in and all the school officials came out to greet us. All the classes were jam packed and there were classes in the courtyard, under a big tent. The student body president came and greeted us too. All the kids kept yelling and screaming… it was quite the raucous.  After a tour of the school, we went back to the development center.

Saying goodbye to this center was kind of hard… we all got to see what they did for a living and some of us on the tour even got to participate. This lady made snacks and sold them to kids. One of the sponsors help her make them that day and she was able to sell every single piece!  Another guy painted little trinkets as his job. A woman did nails. Some of the jobs that the men had were jeepney driver, tricycle driver and security guard. We got a tiny little taste of what a day in the life of a sponsor child and their family might be like…

letter from my sponsored child

I got my first letter from Rizel today. The first one that was written after our meeting. Here it is:

Dear Older Sister Mary Choi,

“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23

First of all I would like to say gam sah ham ni da (thank you in Korean) for our bonding and at the same time visiting our place with your husband. Kuya (brother) Jin was so god and generous as well as you. Sorry if my english sometimes was not so good because at that moment, I can’t believed that we had our conversation in personal. Until now, I can still remember the low tune of your voice, your radiant and awesome beauty and the tenderness of your heart. I really miss you. I am lucky that you’ve been part of my life. You know what? August 7 was my best and worst day because when we said goodbye and separated to each other, I felt that I am broke and empty. I cry most of the time, especially when I reminisced those times we spent happily together.

Anyway, you told me that your favorite sport was swimming. Aside from it, do you have other favorite sports?

About the question of your letter last June 15, what do I want after schooling? I want to go to abroad to find a good job so that I could help my parents especially my younger sister. Because on that time, she will be graduating in high school And I am going to finance all of her expenses at school in God’s will.

Please pray for me that I could have good grades at school and also our health condition.

I always pray for you and your family. I miss you so much. T.T

Hope we will see each other again soon…

Your sister in Christ,