By Dave Pope
After four days of hosting Sunim in Calgary we parted ways on the side of a highway just south of city limits. It was a suprisingly emotional parting for both of us.
My two toddlers, four year old Jimmy and three year old Ava, instantly became attached to him. Though lacking in language he communicated through gestures and smiles and within one day Jimmy and Ava would snuggle up to Sunim on the couch as the three of them watched Dora the Explorer and other interactive childrens shows. I think Sunim was learning more than the kids. It was a wonder to watch him repeating words and learning english while each of my children sat on either side of him with an arm wrapped around his, the three of them smiling and content.
Sunim was a gracious guest. He attempted to stay out of the way as much as possible. Many times I needed to go down to the basement room and urge him to come back up and join the family. He would always ask if it was OK and when I motioned him to join us the smile that came over his face told me he was glad to be included in simply being together as a family.
We performed some work on his bike and a big thank you goes out to the freindly people at Cycle Path for providing Sunim with parts discounts and free labour to get his bike in shape for the next leg of his journey.
When the time finally came for Sunim to resume his trek I drove him to the outskirts of the city, to avoid traffic, and once again we said our goodbye's. This time it was more heartfelt than after his two day stay with me in Vernon. As we drove towards the point where he would continue on with his Journey of Spirit Sunim softly said to me," God send you to me, but I afraid he not send anyone more. I afraid I lonely now." That really choked me up. It told me that other than his time with me, my amazing family and my good friends Joe and Tanya in Fairmont Hot Springs, Sunim has been on his own since arriving in Canada. So in the last 6 weeks Sunim has had 9 days of companionship and human interaction. The long and winding road ahead for Sunim will be hard on him without doubt. I pray that other people will show a little kindness to him. He will spend days on end without speaking to another human being. Peddling and sleeping, sleeping and peddling. Hundreds upon hundreds of long cold nights inside his tiny tent on the side of some road somewhere between here and the edges of Antarctica. After long stretches just being in the presence of other people will lift Sunim's spirit and give him the courage to push on.
There is no better way to achieve happiness than to be a servant to others. To know that a simple gesture of kindness, in providing Sunim with a bed and some food, has elicited such heartfelt gratitude from him has made me feel happy about myself and the path that I am walking in life. He has helped me in many more ways than I have helped him. I am commited to following Sunim's progress and helping him however I can through to the end of his 30,000km journey. I wonder....has there been anyone else who completed such a task? Anyone else in history?
We embraced on the side of the highway after unloading his bike and gear. It was a long, tight hug that suprised me because I squeezed just as hard as he did. Sunims eye's were watery when we let go of the hug and looked at each other again. I was pretty choked up too. We both knew, as we looked at each other, that we wouldn't be seeing each other again. I do know that we will be good friends for the rest of our lives. The kinds of friends who can go a decade without meeting or speaking and when they meet up again it's as if no time has passed at all. It's amazing that such a bond can be created between two strangers, who are from completely different worlds, after six short days. As I drove away I kept one eye on the rear view mirror and saw that Sunim watched me for quite a while. When he was almost out of view he looked slowly over at his bike, then at the road ahead, and ever so slowly started to get ready to peddle.
Good Luck and good fortune Sunim.