Austin’s Volunteering Story for Love Beyond the Orphanage

I was adopted when I was 6-months old to a family in the United States. 26 years later I returned to South Korea. My time in Korea has been full of answered prayers. I have gotten to experience almost everything Korea has to offer. I have worked many jobs including being a cook, bartender, grocery clerk, office worker, and English teacher. Janetta and I have always had the heart for working with kids and young adults in Korea, but due to our lack of being able to speak Korean, it scared us away from volunteering. We have participated in the Oak Tree Run Project charity runs, but that was the extent of our volunteering. We wanted to do more, so we prayed about it. It wasn’t until Barbara Kim came to Seoul Union Church that we started volunteering. We met with Barbara and she told us about Love Beyond the Orphanage. It just so happened to be close to the Lunar New Year. This is kinda a big deal here in Asia. It’s a time where families get together and eat lots of food. Barbara mentioned that Love Beyond the Orphanage was throwing a Lunar New Year event for aged-out orphans. This was something that touched both mine and Janetta’s heart. This was it, finally something we could help out with. This wasn’t forced, this wasn’t something we schemed for. This was something only God could do. It was in God’s perfect timing.

The Lunar New Year event was simply amazing. What a wonderful time seeing everyone laughing and having a good time. With over 30 people attending, we ate some delicious food and played games together. This was also my first time to experience a Korean Lunar New Year with traditional games and some traditional food. We made some great new relationships there. The time went by so fast. What an honor to meet these incredible people. I can’t wait until the next event.

We were able to follow up after the event and meet up with some of them for food and games. Even though we couldn’t speak    Korean well, we were able to still have a good time together. Unfortunately due to the Coronavirus, we had to post-pone some of the meetups and group gatherings. Recently, Korea is lifting the ban on social distancing, so we are both glad to be able to meet in person again.

Fast forward to now. As I am writing this for Love Beyond the Orphanage, I began thinking about something in my childhood. Even though I was adopted, I still lacked something. I lacked someone that could empathize with me. For example, someone who could relate to me when I was teased for being Asian. I grew up with lots of pains just like so many other adoptees. I want to use the struggles that God allowed for me to endure to help others. Instead of being consumed by bitterness or things that I think I deserve, I want to use these scars to show the next generation I made it, and they can too.

“who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 

                                                                                                               2 Corinthians 1:4