“Lost, but Not Alone,” Friend, Jan. 1989, 3
Fear filled Megan’s heart. As she looked around the crowded, noisy marketplace, tears welled up in her eyes. She was lost! Megan had been lost before, back home in Farmington, Utah, but that was in a small supermarket, where she had found Mom quickly. But now Megan wasn’t in Farmington. She wasn’t even in the United States. Megan was lost in a huge outdoor marketplace in Pusan, Korea.
Megan’s father had come to Korea on a business trip, so Mom and Megan had come along too. Going to another country was exciting. She had loved the long airplane trip and staying in hotels and eating in restaurants.
Since today was Saturday, Dad had the day off and the three of them had gone sight-seeing. Megan had never seen anything like the marketplace before. There were rows and rows and blocks and blocks of sellers. Each seller had his wares laid out on a tarp or on top of a crate for people to inspect and buy. Anything a person could need or want could be found in this huge place.
Megan had enjoyed seeing all the different things for sale. At one vendor’s she had seen beautiful Korean dolls dressed in brightly colored robes and the dolls’ hair combed in the traditional Korean style. There were kites, balls, and other toys. She’d also seen a strange musical instrument called a Kayagum. She loved the music that it made, and she just stood and listened for a long time while someone played it.
But now Megan’s tear-filled eyes searched longingly for her parents. All she saw were hundreds and hundreds of dark-haired Koreans milling around the marketplace, their loud bargaining filling the air. There was a strong smell of fish everywhere, and crates of fresh vegetables and fruit lined the aisles. Some of them Megan recognized; some she didn’t. When Megan saw pigs’ heads stuck on long stakes in the ground, her stomach felt queasy. Next to the pigs’ heads were plucked chickens hanging by their feet from a rope.
Megan’s fear was turning into panic. She couldn’t even ask anyone for help because she didn’t speak Korean. Tears slipped down her cheeks, and her body trembled with fear. She had never felt so alone in her life.
Remember that you are never alone, Megan. Heavenly Father is always near. The words that Mom had said so often came into Megan’s mind.
Megan stopped walking. She wiped the tears from her eyes, folded her arms, bowed her head, and shut her eyes. “Dear Heavenly Father,” she prayed softly, “I am lost and afraid. I don’t know how to ask anyone for help. Please help me to know what to do. Please protect me and help me find Mom and Dad. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
As Megan looked up after her prayer, she felt better. “Stay where you are,” prompted the small voice within her. “Stay where you are.”
Megan didn’t move, but she looked around. She was standing next to some upside-down crates displaying vegetables. A lady was standing behind the crates. As people walked by, the lady called out to them, inviting them to buy her produce.
As Megan stood there, her heart was still beating very fast. She had faith that her prayers would be answered, but it was hard just to stay in one place and wait. She thought about walking around some more, but the small voice again prompted her to stay where she was. Megan obeyed.
As Megan waited and watched for her parents, she started to hum. “A song always helps you feel better,” Grandma had told Megan. Humming did seem to help a little. Then without really thinking, Megan started to softly sing out loud, “‘I am a child of God, And he has sent me here, / Has given me an earthly home With parents kind and dear. / Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, Help me find the way. / Teach me all that I must do To live with him someday.’” *
The song soothed Megan’s fearful heart. She continued singing, a little louder this time: “‘I am a child of God, And so my needs are great; / Help me to understand his words Before it grows too late. …’”
Suddenly Megan felt a gentle touch on her sleeve. She turned and saw a Korean girl just about her size. The young girl’s dark black eyes were sparkling, and she was smiling.
Megan stopped singing and smiled back. Then Megan’s mouth opened in surprise as the little Korean girl sang, “Kil-ul chaja kage cho-rul towa chupsoso (Lead me, guide me, walk beside me).’”
Although Megan didn’t recognize the words, the tune was unmistakable. The Korean girl, still singing, took Megan’s hand and held it tightly.
Together—one in English, one in Korean—the girls sang the last verse of their Primary song. “‘I am a child of God. Rich blessings are in store; / If I but learn to do his will I’ll live with him once more. …’”
As the girls finished the song, they both laughed and started to talk in their own language. Neither understood the other, but both heard with their hearts.
“I’m lost,” said Megan.
“Kil-ul irutni (Have you lost your parents)?” asked the other child.
“My name is Megan,” said Megan, pointing to herself.
“Me-gun,” repeated the other girl with a smile.
Megan nodded and smiled.
The little Korean girl pointed to herself, saying, “Soon Hee.”
“Soon Hee,” repeated Megan. “That’s a pretty name. Soon Hee.”
The girls kept talking in their own language to each other. Soon they were giggling. Then Soon Hee started pulling Megan toward the woman selling vegetables.
Megan realized that the woman must be Soon Hee’s mother. In a flurry of words, Soon Hee spoke to the woman. Megan heard the word Molmon. She thought it might mean Mormon. Then Soon Hee started to sing “I Am a Child of God” again. Megan quickly joined in. When they had finished the song, the woman smiled and patted Megan’s arm, saying gently, “Chin-goo (friend).”
Megan smiled and tried to repeat the words that she had just heard. Although she tried hard, they didn’t come out right, and Soon Hee squealed with laughter. Megan joined in her laughter. It felt wonderful to laugh. Again the girls started chattering to each other, not really knowing what the other said, but understanding the other’s friendship.
Soon Hee’s mother said something to her, and she took Megan by the hand and led her to a blanket spread out on the ground behind the vegetable crates. Both girls sat on the blanket, and Soon Hee’s mother sat next to them, holding a round object that looked almost like an apple. She started to peel the yellow fruit with a knife.
“Bae (pear),” said Soon Hee, pointing to the fruit her mother was peeling in one long peel.
“Bae,” repeated Megan. Suddenly she realized how hungry she was.
After the bae was peeled, Soon Hee’s mother sliced it into sections. The first section was given to Megan. Megan smiled as she took the slice. It tasted sort of like a pear, yet like an apple. It was really delicious.
After the slices of bae were eaten by the two girls, they started chattering again to each other. The fear in Megan’s heart was replaced by a warm, friendly feeling.
As the girls chattered happily, Megan looked up to see her mom and dad making their way through the crowded marketplace. Her heart jumped with excitement. “Mom! Dad! Here I am,” she shouted. She scrambled up and ran toward her parents through the maze of people. Megan saw the look of relief in their eyes when they finally saw her. In the next instant she was in her mom’s loving arms, being hugged tightly.
“Megan. Oh, Megan. We were so worried about you!” Mom said with tears in her eyes.
Megan quickly told her parents what had happened. As she pulled them through the crowd of people, she explained all about Soon Hee, her mother, and their kindness.
When Megan and her parents reached Soon Hee and her mother, Megan’s dad bowed deeply to Soon Hee’s mother saying, “Jamaenim kamsa hamnida (Thank you, sister).”
The woman bowed back.
“Thank you ever so much. I don’t know how to ever thank both of you enough for helping our daughter,” Mom said gratefully while Dad translated the words.
Soon Hee’s mother smiled with a look of understanding.
Megan squeezed Soon Hee’s hand, saying, “Thank you, Soon Hee. You will always be my very special friend.”
As Megan walked between her parents, holding their hands tightly, she felt secure. She knew that her prayer had been heard and answered by a loving Heavenly Father. She knew that she was, indeed, never really alone.
Megan smiled, thinking about Soon Hee. She knew that whenever she sang “I Am a Child of God” in Primary, she would remember her friend in Pusan, Korea, who sang the same song.