We have a really, really close class this spring. Nomads and interns alike chose to spend A LOT of time with one another while being trained at HQ. In the days leading up to the launch of this tour, we were all buzzing tangibly with excitement. The amazing interns put untold hours of effort into making pre-tour run smoothly. Alongside them, we Nomads packed our bags and our vans for the truly great adventure awaiting us on the open road! But there was also an undertone of melancholy. How could we possibly all be leaving so soon after meeting each other?
Many of us came to LiNK feeling a little alone and, quite unexpectedly, landed in a puppy pile of kindred spirits. Any given night, you could walk through the intern house and jump into a fascinating conversation, listen in on someone’s hilarious anecdote, or grab the next van full of friends leaving on some crazy mission of fun. There were potluck dinners every Friday night, campfires and long romps on the nearby beaches and, everywhere, the blossoming of beautiful friendships.
We were drawn together by our mutual passion for the North Korean people, but we were fused together by our love and respect for one another. Goodbyes were tough and, for me, went by in an almost numbing haze. Laughter, pictures, tears, and loud shouts for “one last hug” rung out around us, alone together at the end of the highway. One minute we’re a circle of 40 around the Friendship Bell, and the next we’re a group of three driving away from one of the best things that’s ever happened to us.
Now, we’ve already completed 1/3 of our tour. It’s been filled with snapchats, texts, calls, and cards all finding their way to us—the scattered sojourners. Those things are a real comfort, but I’ve been surprised to find that they pale in comparison to the comfort our contacts provide. Not only are these people kind enough to feed/house us and listen to our message, they are made of the same rare and wonderful stuff as our LiNK family!
I see Laine’s artistic eye and sweet smile blossoming in a young student at Westfield High. I hear Amanda’s laugh sparkling around a full table at Union University.
I smell Hamaila’s Korean fried chicken wafting out of a Richmond oven.
I feel Yeji’s smile on my face every time someone’s kind enough to let me use their shower.
And each time we get to say hello to the wonderful friends we meet along the road, I taste the sweet anticipation of ALL the Nomads and interns, finally, reuniting.