Trip Participant Story

Christian Friends of Korea makes two types of trips a year: confirming and technical trips. Participants on our confirming trips are typically major donors and those that take part on our technical trips are lab trainers or skilled workers that help with water, building projects, greenhouses, etc. Trip participants from as early as 1997 have shared with us their unforgettable experiences in the DPRK.

Allen Schipper, who joined our technical team in the spring of 2013 to construct the Training Center in Pyongyang at the Central TB Hospital, shared his story with us. Allen’s story is quite beautiful and will be sure to fill your heart.

It had been a hard day working on the TB Center in Pyongyang. The temperature and the humidity had been on the rise, and we were glad to return to our large tourist hotel. Good progress had been made during the day, but we were all looking forward to a shower and spending some time unwinding with colleagues at dinner. As usual, the dining room was sparsely populated as we gathered for our evening meal. Our attractive, young waitress, undoubtedly chosen not only for her skill but her ideological loyalty, hustled about taking care of her responsibilities. Always courteous and efficient, she nevertheless remained somewhat distant and impersonal, as might be expected in someone dealing with people from other countries and beliefs.

As the meal progressed, our spirits were renewed, and we simply enjoyed the respite and the company. Then that beautiful and self-controlled waitress announced that there was ice cream for dessert – an unexpected pleasure. Hearing this good news, one of our Norwegian colleagues dramatically threw his hands into the air and made a goofy face (and an even funnier noise) in celebration of the treat that was coming. At that point, the waitress’s mouth dropped open, and she gaped with amazement at what she was seeing and then simply lost herself in giggles. For 10 minutes, she had to excuse herself repeatedly as she heroically struggled – but failed – to regain her dignity. Hearing her peals of laughter from behind the kitchen door caused us to continue laughing, too, and we all laughed together. That little piece of usually-dour North Korea rocked with unvarnished hearty laughter.

I can still hear it echoing around that room, and the memory makes me smile to this day. It was more than a good joke, however, it was more than just barriers between humans being broken down or political differences being bridged. More than that, I think we experienced an atmosphere of suspicion and even hostility being transformed into wondrous joy right in front of our eyes, and we were glad. I think we experienced just a smidgen of what Mary Magdalene experienced on a certain Sunday morning. It was a gift from the hand of God, and we celebrated.

          IMG_2130        May 2013 - T GS - 1 459

(Left: Allen Schipper)


Contact Us

Christian Friends of Korea
P.O. Box 936
Black Mountain, NC 28711

Phone: 828-669-2355


Words of Truth

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

— Bible, Psalm 46:10
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