Thursday, July 8, 2010


This is my second summer in Korea. Last summer, I fell in love with our students. I fell in love with Asian culture. I left my heart here in Korea and have been longing to be back ever since. I’ve spent the entire last year preparing for this summer—learning the language as best I could, hanging out with Koreans (maybe even stalking them in the grocery store from time to time thinking about what I would try to say to them in Korean if I ever got close enough), trying to make my own versions of Korean food, and praying all the time for our students and their families.

Last summer changed my heart so dramatically that I just couldn’t wait to see what God had in store for this next summer. When I got here, I was so thrilled and excited to be back! Ooh! to taste that first bite of real Korean kimchee and rice or to hug some of those students who at points in the past year I could only know by who they were in my memory.

I finally made it back to Korea and things were just the same… until… they weren’t. My team was bigger, we were spilt up to go into two different schools, spicy foods weren’t so spicy, foreign customs and ways—like squatty potties, no shoes in the house, and little old ladies pushing me out the way on the subway… didn’t seem so unusual. And what about the stories that blew me away last summer or brought me to sobbing tears? I’ve heard them again, and they still hurt, but it’s a familiar sting—a sting that I have clung to over the past year in my praying, or along with my other memories of Korea.

So what’s happened? Maybe some would say the adventure is no longer adventurous… or maybe that the newness has worn off. While this has been a struggle at times, God is faithful, and He has reminded me of the real adventure—sharing His truth and Gospel with those who don’t know… sharing the love that I have been so freely given; this love that all should know.

In my journal a week or so ago I wrote
Today during class, while students were talking amongst themselves, I walked up to S and just stood by her and scratched her back. I started to think about her story. She came to this country with just her grandparents, who have since then died, and is now here all alone. I was reminded of times with my own mother and grandmother just sitting and scratching my back or brushing my hair, and the love that I know is there. I began to wonder, when was the last time someone rubbed her back, or just held her? When was the last time she has felt this sort of love? As I was thinking these things, she reached out and grabbed my hand. I couldn’t help but cling to this moment so much. I felt so unworthy, yet privileged to be able to show her this love. What had I earned to be able to have this moment? Certainly nothing I could do could grant me this privilege.

God has shown me His grace once again. He’s taught me still to rest in Him and wait on Him. He IS faithful. Sometimes my experiences and moments where God has taught me this summer don’t seem as dramatic as last summer, but they certainly are just as significant. And I’ve been reminded of what is the most important… not having the best stories or eating the craziest foods (which are some my favorite things to do!), but showing those who have been through worse than I can imagine—those who may never know the earthly love that I so take for granted—that it doesn’t really matter. We all feel pain and hurt. And we all have a desire and longing for filling of our deepest desire of goodness. That desire that only He can truly satisfy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Ok... Now that I've gotten all my inspirational thoughts out in that last blog, I can give a basic update for those interested.

Before leaving to come to Korea, we had a week of orientation... a.k.a. bucket bathing, washing clothes by hand, intense security training, killing our own dinner, and then of course eating as much unhealthy southern food as possible before all heading out to Asia to live off of rice and veggies all summer.
But in all seriousness, this week really went great! I felt so prepared to fully serve God as I headed out.

Then the travel began. I arrived the place I was staying around midnight and was up and at 'em the next morning for our first day of school! The first few days were full of busy-ness and shuffling around, but we were all settled soon enough.

However, the next Monday I was headed to Cheonan. We split our team of team up so 7 could serve in Seoul and 3 (me and two other girls) could serve in Cheonan. The school we are at now has the same name as the other school, it's just in a different location a little further outside the big city of Seoul. (So instead of being in Seoul: population 25 million, I'm in the not-quite-as-big city of Cheonan: population 100,000!)

The campus we are at couldn't be better! It is located right outside of the city of Cheonan on a very small seminary campus. The weather is a little cooler than Seoul, and there are mountains and city buildings all in one view.

To be honest, I was a little nervous about being here at first just because it was the unkown. I knew the students, teachers, and the rest of my team in Seoul, and I had no idea of what to expect when leaving that little comfort zone. However, as soon as we arrived here the three of us all felt a peace and experienced confirmation from God that this is indeed where he wants us to be!

This is our second week in Cheonan now. We've already traveled back to Seoul twice (which there and back are about 3 and 4 hours commutes respectively)! We'll do this mostly on weekends, but we hope to be able to stay some weekends here as well. I mean, who wouldn't want to be on a tiny campus full of seminary students where you are literally the talk of the school?! heehee.. just joking... but all three of us have really fallen in love with God's life and work for us here in Cheonan.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Yesterday I sat on the steps of the school, listening to the boys play "Hosanna" on the occarinas while looking off at th mountains in the distance. We all knew the song... as long as no one sang the words. So they played and I hummed, without any sort of linguistic or cultural barrier standing in our way.

As I sit in the cool weather, I stare off into the distance, admiring the beaty of the misty mountains and the city buildings still further off. I think about where I am. It's amazing to be back here in this place; for the rest of my physical body to finally join my heart again, where I left if-- with these students, halfway around the world, so far away from the country and culture I call home.

The word Korea no longer sounds foreign to my ears. No matter how many times I say it...
Of courseI still get plenty of stares because I'm white or because I look lost (or because I really am lost and I'm speaking such broken Korean that all I can do is make people laugh); and everyone may assume that the only thing I ever want to eat is hamburgers or pizza; and people will think I'm dirty because I forget to take my shoes off in the house. It seems I am constantly reminded that I am a foreigner, that I really don't belong.

But for this time and season, God has drawn my heart and called me to be here. Although I may still be foreign to Korea, Korea is no longer foreign to me.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


Sometimes when I think about those suffering in different places around the world I feel as if there is so little that I can actually do. I know I shouldn't feel bad, that I should do all that I can and trust God to use a willing and obedient heart... but I often feel helpless.

Then I open my eyes and see helplessness all around me; even in those who don't see it in themselves. Yet so often the only thing standing in my way from following Him is me. Is there really a better place for me to be? A more effective place for God to use me than where I am? In the center of His will, step by step, following His lead in complete and full surrender and submission; no matter when; no matter where.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A great start....

.... to a great day.

As I sit here eating oatmeal (which was half plain/half sweet cause all the sugar was stuck at the bottom making the last few bites overpoweringly sweet!), looking around my packed-up-almost-empty-room, I am able to finally slow down for a few minutes.

With this past month of school, and now finals week upon me, it's been some of the busiest most cram packed full days of my life! But now there's only one left (which I definitely won't be trying to study for til at least the morning of ;) as any true college student would with all this free time til then), and all I really have to do is wait around til it's time for my plane ride home in 3 days. And in the quiet of waiting, a wonderful song come across my Pandora list.

What a great reminder of all that my life here on earth really is.

In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.

When I am alone,
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus

When I come to die,
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus

Monday, April 26, 2010


Tonight I had the chance to talk with a friend from school who recently graduated and is now attending Southeastern Seminary. I kind of jumped into a conversation she was already having with some Korean girls about introducing them to Asian guys at her seminary (always an interesting topic of course!)

The conversation soon turned to talk about Christian lifestyle. We progressed from one issue to another on the topic as the evening continued on. One thing we discussed is how as servants of Christ, we do not desire what most people chase after in this life. This led to materialism, to giving to those who are less fortunate, to the fact that sometimes that means sacrifice and not necessarily what we can seem to afford. Now this topic is really something that makes my heart stir. I was reminded once again of how as Americans (or just people who are a part of cultures where it is more common to live a "comfortable" life), we either (A). tend to see ourselves as blessed; or (B). don't realize our need for God.

These are both thoughts that I've wrestled with in the past to reconcile in my own mind.
First of all... A. We tend to see ourselves as very blessed.
Of course, I would agree with the statement that we are blessed people. But what exactly is it that constitutes us as blessed? The fact that we are comfortable? rich? happy? or even American? If any of these are the case, then what about everyone else? Are they just not blessed? Are they not any of these things because God loves them any less than He loves me? Did he strategically place me in one of the richest cultures in the world because I'm significantly more special than they?
I somehow doubt these things.

Then... B. We don't realize our need for God.
Life in places like America is a lot easier than many other places in the world. This even applies to how much easier it is to forget about God. I think that because we are taught that it's all about making sure that we are safe and sound, happy and secure, we can ensure the false reality that we don't actually need God. As if because we really can make it all on our own. It's like we aren't ever really faced with a situation where we need to depend on God because we are so self-dependent.

What a trap we've set for ourselves in being deceived into thinking this is the way things should be. However, I found my solutions to these dilemmas reading my Bible while at a kids camp in Korea (hiding by myself in a room away from the kids... skipping my leader Bible study... but that's another story for another day... )in James 2:8

"... has God not chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith?"

This opened my eyes to who is truly blessed.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hangukmal jusayo! 한국말 주세요! Give me Korean!

So... ever since spring break, it seems that school has been busier than ever! It didn't seem that I could finish anything that I had begun, all the while having a continuous flow of additional projects, tests, and due dates piling on and demanding more and more of my time.

With all of these pressing deadlines to meet, Korean study became less important as it got pushed further to the side with every passing week. And just when it began to feel as if my learning was gradually coming to a halt, I returned to class! (after 2 missed weeks plus one cancelled week)
I learned a new sentence... 지난주에 레이쳘이 바쁘습니다 그래서 안왔습니다.
(Last week Rachel was busy so she didn't come.)

Even though at the beginning of this class I felt as discouraged as ever about my Korean, my mood somehow lifted by the end of the class. I started class feeling already defeated, as if there was no way I could catch up and understand so quickly. But it turned out that things weren't so difficult this week, and I was really enjoying learning more.

Then came this weekend... Fort Caswell. Fort Caswell is a state-wide international student conference that takes place at the beach in North Carolina every spring. I met a guy there who speaks Korean... an American guy. He began learning Korean four years ago because his girlfriend is from Korea, and although he's only been to Korea one time, only for 10 days, his Korean seemed pretty great to me.

Anyways.. he pretty much spoke to me in Korean the majority of the time I was around him and even forced me to speak it back to him...

"한국말 주세요!" "Give me Korean!" he would say. So I tried. I got a lot wrong, but I really feel as if I'm beginning to understand a lot more of what I hear spoken. I also started to feel more comfortable with just speaking what was on my mind using the little Korean I know, which I think will be the key to me learning more and communicating this summer!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

So c-c-c-c-cold!

Last weekend I went on a camping trip! It was lots of fun... hiking through the woods, roasting hot dogs and smores over the fire, catching fish in the river and cooking them, listening to music, playing cards.

Until... it got dark. At first it wasn't so bad. We had a nice little campfire burning, and if you weren't close to it, you could easily stay warm enough with a blanket. Even when the time came to go to bed. We were cold, but we were able to quickly fall asleep. Just a few short hours later, one by one we all began to wake up because we were unbearably cold. At this point, no one could even fall back asleep because we were all so freezing. We did the only logical thing to do in this situation with 8 people in one tent... that's right... we starting snuggling and spooning just for the warmth. (Laugh if you may, but this really works!)

Anyway... while we were all laying there whining about the cold, all I could think about was the story of a close friend of mine from last summer. She and her family wandered for 50 days in the Mongolian desert. I couldn't take my cold seriously knowing that in less than 24 hours, I would return to my comfy life where I rarely suffer such inconveniences. How might my mindset be different if faced with this as my fate? What I mean by that is, what must it be like to be in this kind of situation, not knowing how long it would last? Confronting the fact that I can travel only by foot carrying everything I own... those with me are the only ones I may ever really be able to trust again... if we all make it...

And now as I put all of this together into words and paragraphs, it strikes me that this indeed is the life of a sojouner.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Do they see?

It's times like these when I begin to question. The times that I begin to feel that I might just have it all together. I'm not really talking about questioning my faith or anything like that, but more of the application I guess. I just finished my last HUGE round of tests before finals, and now I sit back and think, "Whew, glad that's over..." but I can't just leave it at that of course...

I think further into it, to things more like, what will all this really matter? Why do I try and try and learn and cram all for a piece of paper that proves that I'm capable of learning how to do something? Where do I want to end up, and what do I want to be? and even more importantly, where does God want me to end up, and how to I go about living my life in that direction now? When I say the times I begin to feel I might just have it all together, what I really mean is, those times when I suddenly realize how far I am from that and how impossible it is for me to ever actually reach that.

Yet I struggle with the things that hold me back. Sometimes I can't even seem to figure out exactly what they are, but there are always those things that I allow to hold me back from freely giving my all.

Sometimes I feel I'll be such a failure if I don't follow God the right way... as if I miss one little turn in the road then I'm doomed. But when will I realize that it's the little things that make up the big picture?

Relationships I've allowed to remain broken...
Things I said that I shouldn't have...
Things I should have said but didn't...
The lonely and hurting person I brushed right past...
Inhibition I allow to control me...
Ignoring His call those times when I certainly heard it...

What if I stumble, what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?

Father please forgive me for I can not compose
The fear that lives within me
Or the rate at which it grows
If struggle has a purpose
On the narrow road you've carved
Why do I dread my trespasses will leave a deadly scar

Do they see the fear in my eyes?
Are they so revealing?
This time I cannot disguise all the doubt I'm feeling

What if I stumble, what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?
-DC Talk

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cravings for Kimchee

As I sit here in my room. trying to memorize all the muscles in the lower extremity of the body, I can't help but stare off and daydream. I look at the handkerchief that hangs on my wall, signed by all of the students and staff from our schooll. I'm taken back to that place and I go over every name on the handkerchief, remembering each student, what her hair looked like, what his favorite ice cream was, all of the time spent together over the course of last summer.
Now it seems so far away and so long ago...

While I want to put all that I can into what I'm pursing at the moment, I can't suppress the persistent deeper desire to return to what seems more and more like an apparition with every passing day.

66 days...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Value of a Sparrow

As I was reading of Jesus' commissioning of the original 12 (Matthew 10), I was struck with the truth that as a missionary, disciple, minister, follower of Jesus Christ, this is my calling as well.

"...but go to the lost sheep... you received without paying, give without pay... And if anyone will not receive you, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town... wise as serpents, and innocent as doves... do not be anxious how you are to speak of what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you... and you will be hated for My name's sake...

...So have no fear... And not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from the Father... you are of more value than many sparrows...

...Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

I cannot call myself His yet live as something else.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

93 days...

It was a Monday...

-Woke up at 8am for my 8am class...

-Put my pants on backwards...

-Found out that a favorite old tee shirt has holes in it (because I also wore it! with the holes, which grew, all day long)...

-Didn't turn in my homework because I thought it was due next Monday (which turns out to be whole nother assignment that I'll have to work on)...

-Spent $10 shipping an item I just sold on Ebay for $12...

-Missed out on an opportunity to walk to class with a cute guy because I was too preoccupied trying to figure out how to print the $10 shipping label...

-Missed lunch because I was shipping the item I sold for a total profit of $2...

-Got back a test... no more needs to be said on that one...

-Broke out in a popliteal rash from the fabric of the previously mentioned backward pants...

(I succumb to the fact that it's me vs. Monday, and Monday is winning)

+I head home for an afternoon of homework and notice the beautiful weather...

+I finish my homework quicker than expected and have time to stretch and listen to music...

+My best friend joins me for a delicious dinner of leftovers...

+I have a great Encounter meeting...

+I go to my other best friend's apartment and we make a cake (while studying of course)...

+I have to walk home, and it's not freezing...

+I decide at 10pm to head to the gym and end up walking for 2.5 miles...

+I meet a new friend at the gym and we share travel stories...

+I'm about to read my Bible before I go to bed...

= not such a bad Monday.

12:01 am Tuesday.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Korea's Sunny Side

So I made a new Korean friend this year at school. After only meeting with Sunny a few times at the beginning of this past fall semester, I asked if she would mind getting together once a week or so to help me out a little bit with my Korean. After about two weeks of the class being just Sunny, her roommate, and I, the class exploded. Since then we've consistently been meeting on Sunday nights, and what started out as a couple of people getting together has turned into 2 classes of about 8 total students.
I don't know how to thank enough or how I can show her how much I appreciate what she's done to help me! She's been such a great teacher, and I've really learned a lot. (I've even been neglecting school work at times on Sunday afternoons to make sure I get my Korean assignment finished in time! heehee)

Another time, a few weeks ago, I pretty much invited myself over for lunch to Sunny's apartment. She graciously accepted the my own invitation for her to cook Korean food for me, even though looking back I think she may have been pretty busy that weekend.. oops!
Regardless, she whipped up this delicious meal that we shared together! (And she says she's never really cooked before...)

Thanks Sunny!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

100 Day Countdown!

So I was informed today that in exactly 100 days from today I will be arriving at our debrief in Alabama before heading to Seoul for the summer! I was so excited I literally had to hold onto my chair so I didn't get up and start jumping around my room!

So 100 days left of preparation. But I was later reminded in the midst of my busy day of the most important part of preparing for a summer on mission. I met with a friend who is preparing for a summer in Africa. It will be her first time overseas, and we were talking about what she might expect. She said that she just didn't know what to expect and what to do to best prepare. I then began to think of myself a year ago and what I was anticipating my coming summer to be. I remember feeling inadequate and unworthy of the task set before me.

Now I feel like I know somewhat of what I should expect, but I'm beginning to think there is potential danger in having this confidence. The last thing I want to do is forget that there really is nothing that qualifies me for this job outside of the fact that I am Christ's willing servant. He could just as easily accomplish His purpose without me involved in the least.

So how do I best prepare? Knowing or not knowing, being ready or not, I think some sound advice can be found in Micah 6:8

"... And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

What else could make me more ready?!