Heavenly Lake, at the top of Chang Bai Mountain, on the border between North Korea and China.
North Korea, you are in my thoughts today. While I celebrate my second Thanksgiving feast of the week with plenty of food to spare, you hurt with children that are much shorter than your brothers in the South because you don't have enough food for your people. The scraps my relatives took home to their dogs would be a welcome meal for you.
North Korea, I knew nothing about you just 6 years ago, but I have come to love you without even setting feet on your soil. My eyes have seen you across the river; my hands have touched the leaves of your branches as a tourist on a bamboo raft; my heart has been broken in hearing your stories. I've wept at the injustice that is life within your borders. I pray for you and long to learn from your people, you diamonds that are being formed out of the pressure in the dark and hidden places.
North Korea, I don't know how life will lead me next. I don't know if I'll ever cross the river to experience the chill of your winter, the relief of your spring, the green of your summer, or make kimchi with your fall harvest of cabbage, but the lump in my throat and the tears welling up in my eyes tell me that my heart is with you. You are my sisters and my brothers, my aunts and my uncles, my grandparents, my teachers, my friends.
North Korea, you have my permission to reclaim the parts of my heart that I've closed off out of fear that my hopes may never be realized. I've tried controlling our future together, but I know that release is the best way to open the future up. My life has been shaped by knowing Koreans - your brothers and sisters - south, north, east, and west of your borders. The world has been taught to fear you or to pity you, but rarely to love you. I love you and am telling you tonight that whatever is in store for us, I can't forget you.
Inspired by this letter to Africa that I saw back in August.