Sometimes the best part of giving something away is finding the right person to give it to. My husband and I have been hosting two Korean teenage girls for the summer. They are delightful, polite, and always helpful. They arrived shortly after my watch broke. Wait, there’s a connection.

I assumed that my watch simply needed a new battery. That was true but having already replaced the battery many times the little groove that enables you to slip the back off and replace the battery had become stripped. I couldn’t do it. My local discount store that sells watches and helps with these technical things verified that it was the battery but couldn’t fix it either. I decided it was time to bite the bullet and get a new watch. I did. But, in a fit of overcompensating I later went back to the store and a more experienced sales clerk happened to be on duty. She replaced the battery, got it all back together, and voila, I had a back up watch.

This is where the Korean teens come in. I noticed neither of them had a watch. (You know, teens consider that that’s what cell phones are for.)  But their cell phone didn’t work in the USA. So, I said, “If one of you would like to have this watch, I’m happy to give it to you.” Everybody wins. I feel generous and satisfied that the watch has gone to a good cause and Suwan has a working watch – although I dare her to ever get the battery replaced.

But giving someone time is bigger than giving them a watch. One of the things I’ve been struggling with is how much time to give the girls. Now that our own children have been sprung, Jim and I have settled in to a comfortable pattern of work, prayer, household duties, and recreation. We pretty much isolate ourselves at our computers for long stretches during the day. It works for us. Hosting someone, however, requires paying some attention to them. We can’t just escape to our caves and happily hibernate. So, we’ve taken long walks, showed them the bus system, enrolled them in some tutoring classes, taught them some new games, and basically just take time to hang out and talk, albeit in somewhat basic English. It’s been a combination of fascinating, draining, and guilt inducing since I continue to feel that I’m not giving them enough quality time. It’s hard to know how much is enough.

One of the gifts they’ve given us is the gift of time and food. Korean cuisine often entails a lot of chopping and a lot of time. They’ve treated us with a number of scrumptious foods. One of my favorites is gim bap which is a Korean version of sushi. See left. We took this batch to our local Catholic Worker House when it was our turn to cook. We give, we take, we repeat. Who needs your time this week?