When I was 16 my family moved to Massachusetts. A few months after moving I made a friend in my church, who showed my older sister Korean dramas. My sister then told me about them. If you've ever seen Korean dramas you know that they're really cheesy, but really funny, and fun to watch. I started watching "Boys over flowers" and I almost immediately became addicted.
I couldn't stop watching K-dramas - they always end the drama so well, and watching K-drama's was my favorite pass time. Because of watching Korean dramas so much I grew a liking to the Korean language, it sounded really cool and Hangul (Korean written language) looked awesome. So I started to look up simple sentences in Korean. I'm sure you can guess my first sentence was. 사랑해 (sa-rang-hae) = I love you. ^^
After learning that I kept wanting to learn more sentences like:
안녕하세요 (an-yeong-ha-seh-yo) = Hello literally: Are you at peace? 제 이름은 쟈넬라입니다 = My name is Janella. 나는 미국 사라밉니다= I'm an American. I found joy in learning another language...It was very exciting. I never had this passion to learn another language before. As time went on my passion only grew. My goal was to be able to watch Korean drama's without having to read the subtitles. (That's kind of a silly reason to learn another language, I know) ㅎㅎㅎㅎ = hahaha But God has an awesome way of working things out. (you'll see what I mean).
I would practice Korean everyday by myself and I had no Korean friends. So I would constantly be speaking Korean to my family members.
After graduating I decided to take some time off from school and just get a job while I was figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. I got a job working with my older brother, as a barista at a coffee shop. ^^ It was lots of work, but fun and I got paid very well. After saving a lot I went out with my dad and bought a used 1995 Honda Accord.
My first car which I named (거북이- turtle) looked nice…At least that's what I thought… Little did I know what problems it would give me. After buying it that next week I found out it had a major gas leak and I couldn't return the car (something to do with the lemon law).
I self-studied Korean, but having no one to speak to I got discouraged. There were many times I felt like I was only learning Korean to benefit myself. At one point I decided to surrender this passion to God, with tears this became my prayer often "God I realize that I've been selfish with my time, using it only for my personal benefit and choosing Korean over you. I'm sorry. Help me to give this passion to you. You know my heart you know how much I love Korean, if it's your desire then help me to learn Korean and Let me use it to glorify you and not myself." It was hard for me to surrender something that I loved so much, but it became an idol.
I stopped watching dramas for maybe about 4-5 months and didn't spend all my time studying Korean anymore. Instead I was trying to figure out my future plan. I was still stuck.
My favorite verses became:
Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight." Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Day after day working for 3 years, now 20 I was getting tired of the same routine.
Tired, Dissatisfied with my life, feeling I wasn't making a difference, stuck.
At work everyone knew that my brother and I are Christians so we would get asked questions often. I was so shy in sharing my faith when I would have opportunities, so my prayer was that God would help me to grow in Him and to share my faith with boldness to others, being unashamed of the Gospel (Rom 1:16) and to be confident in what I believe. My parents encouraged me to check out schools so I started checking out art college's, with a love for art but an unsettled heart.
As time went on, I went to a Christian women's conference expecting to get some sort of direction from God, surrendering everything to Him, just completely ready for Him to use me. At the conference they were selling speaker's messages, books, Bibles, typical conference stuff. As I was looking around with my friend, a lady about mid 20's started talking to my friend VERY passionately about this Bible college, in which I've never heard about before. "Word Of Life Bible Institute" (WOLBI). Honestly I never thought about going to a Bible college before because I was planning art school with a mindset for a long term career. So I figured maybe my friend was thinking about it.
As my friend is flipping the pages of the brochure, to my surprise it said they had a campus on Jeju Island, South Korea. My eyes (I can imagine) got huge and I was immediately engaged in hearing about this school! I applied right then and there. The rest of the conference that was all that I could think about. To be able to grow deeper in my faith AND be in South Korea?! How AMAZING would that be? God sure knew how to catch my attention.
When I told my parents about my interest in WOLBI Jeju, South Korea they weren't surprised. My parents already knew my passion for Korea and learning Korean, so I think that helped them know that WOLBI Jeju is where I should go. I'm so thankful for their understanding.
During this time of applying and getting accepted, I got a second job so I could save for school, and my car had major problems. I could go on and on about all the issues my car (a.k.a. 거북이) had but I won't, instead here’s a list of all the things I had to replace, 1. Gas tank 2. Radiator 3. Spark plugs (twice) 4. Starter 5. Head gasket 6. Radiator fluid tubes 7. Antifreeze (literally TONS of this stuff)
There may even be more stuff but it anyways, it was a nightmare.
During this time my dad and I calculated how much it would take for me to save to pay the tuition of WOLBI Jeju, after that I spent less, worked extra and for two months I had 2 jobs. Twice a week I would work 16 hour days and then the others at least 12 hours. Paycheck after paycheck went into fixing my car, so with a car that won't start after fixing SO much, you can imagine how frustrated I was.
Honestly I cried so much during this time in my life. I was having a hard time trusting that God would provide. I would cry everyday, and I feel like I hid my struggle pretty well in front of others. But I was having such a hard time inside. Crying, I would share my frustration about my car to my parents and they would encourage me again and again.
But still I would get so anxious and worry everyday, in fear that my car would prevent me from going to school and that I would have to wait another year. My fear was that I would be stuck. I didn't want that. I went to scripture and found these verses and would recite them everyday when I would get anxious. (Philippians 4:6-7) "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Trusting in God was the best thing I could do, and He gave me peace time and time again.
I would listen to this one album that would always encourage me. "The Undoing" -Steffany Gretzinger and it really helped me focus on God and trust in Him. (I encourage you to listen to it, it really helped me to focus on God and not myself in my time of struggle.)
My dad encouraged me to set up a "GoFundMe" page for school because people wanted to help me out. I was a little hesitant at first...Because, well, who "likes" asking people for money? But to my surprise many customers at the coffee shop I worked at, people from my church, friends, family and many others donated money to help me out so that I could pursue my dreams.
Through all of the hard times I went through, I can absolutely see God's hand in it all. On my own I could have never gotten enough for school but I ended up with more than enough because my God is faithful.
Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight."
Now here I am at WOLBI Jeju, studying God's word. I'm learning lots I didn't know. It can be really hard.
But I wouldn't have it any other way.
The people here are amazing, were all learning and growing deeper in God. I have such a better understanding of the gospel than I ever have before. I'm studying God's word in Korea, a place I've wanted to go since I was 16. It's great to finally be able to use all the Korean I learned by myself to speak to actual Koreans...and let me tell you having someone actually understand you in a language that's not your native tongue, is a pretty amazingly awesome feeling. And it's great because I'm learning so much more from my Korean friends, it's fantastic!
I'm so thankful being here.
Janella Leger, 21, USA
Believer of Jesus.
Nothing without Him.
Java Dark from the coffee shop of past employment hits the spot (Yummy).
Ceilings that aren’t normal white ceilings are easy entertainment – find the hidden pictures. That sounds odd. Not crazy, promise. Aspiring penguin, because they’re super cute. ^^