Endurance Run

 

As our time increases here in South Korea our lives are becoming more like an endurance run. In order to survive the distance we need  teachable spirits, hearts filled with stamina and mental strength. King Solomon was right when he stated, the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong...It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time. (Ecc. 9:11) Life in Korea is teaching us the benefits of a steady pace. In America independence is highly emphasized, if not careful some people will base their identity off of what they do for a living and what they possess. Since living in Korea I’ve witnessed more community and working together than individuals doing their own thing. We’ve been fortunate enough to meet amazing teachers from all over the world that’s been living here for years. They’ve been incredible resources and guides as we continue to adjust to our new surroundings.

Although living in Korea is exciting there’s a newness about it i’m having a hard time grasping. This is where a teachable spirit comes to play. Again, I had expectations after leaving orientation in Suwon and moving to Daejeon. I thought I would’ve been better at navigating through my city by now. Since I’m immersed in the culture, I thought I would know more than just a few words and key expressions. Right now, my Korean is not even functional. I speak what the Korean people call Konglish. It’s mixed with an American pronunciation of what I think Hangul sounds like and big gestures. Fortunately, Daejeon provides free Korean classes for foreign residents. Micah and I started this week and we’re both very pleased with our instructor.

I’ve never worked in an elementary school when I was living in the states. In fact, while training to be a teacher many suggested elementary school as the best fit for me. I was highly against it. I wanted the challenge of working with teenagers in the high school level. I was adamant about not working with ‘little humans.’ Until I discovered teaching opportunities in Korea. I never would’ve thought that teaching at the elementary level would be just as challenging. I love my students but every grade level and student is different. Lesson plans and activities are always being changed and modified at the last minute. I must say, a lot of my teaching these days is trial and error.  Teaching children can be overwhelming at times but I love the inner child they bring out of me. My third graders are officially my favorite! When working with them I feel so loved and admired. They are always so excited to learn. Chants become dances and short stories turns into dynamic plays. I always loose track of time when working with them. They are so much fun!
Life outside of the classroom is a distance run. Micah and I started jogging by the river together. During our first jog I stopped after 15 minutes, Micah was ahead of me, when he turned around and saw me walking he said, you can slow down your pace but don’t stop running. I don’t think he knows how significant those words were to me. This is where a heart filled with stamina and mental strength comes into action. Endurance runs are not easy they are often looked over for quick sprints. The downside of rapid pace running is you only can do it for a short distance. I am learning it is far better to experience my surroundings by jogging through them steadily. At least that way I will never stop running. The heart and the mind must work together by being in the right place at the right time. We are all sojourners in our process of becoming…

Signing Out,

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Writer’s Name: Esther Lynn

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Two

It’s amazing what God can do with the number two. Two years. Two people. Two hearts on fire for God. Two years ago, we made a commitment before God and a crowd of many witnesses to live life together. We soon realized that sharing a life together also meant sharing each other’s burdens. There were times when the burdens were light, but also times when the load was so heavy we thought our arms would break off. But within two years we realized that, even when the weight is heavy, the strength of two is far greater than one.

Our second year of marriage, year 2015, was the ultimate test. Trials came like whirlwinds. Our vows, “in sickness and in health” and “for richner and poorer” became more than just words; they became our reality. We had to make a decision to stand by those words and trust in the God that brought us together. We began the year with barely enough income to pay the bills. Two part-time incomes eventually became only one. We thought things couldn’t get any worse. But, shortly afterwards, a routine annual visit to the doctor became a year-long nightmare. At only 27 years old, Willynn was diagnosed with three uterine fibroids that were large enough to engulf her whole uterus. The doctors kept on telling her there was no chance of her having children without surgery. We soon realized our plans were no longer our plans. The vision to travel abroad was slowly being ripped away and the prospect of having children now seemed so distant. Before we got married, we were a couple with a vision. We had plans…expectations! But at that moment, everything seemed to be slipping away. In all our planning and goal setting, we failed to remember God’s ways are not our ways and his plans are not ours. He brought us together and it was for His divine purpose. He knew what it would take to prepare us for what was next in His vision.

Fast-forward to December 2015. Willynn got the surgery. What were three benign tumors turned out to be seven. What was said to be eroding her uterus was actually preserving it. She can now bare children. The vision was never lost we just couldn’t see it clearly. 2015 was the year of turning; the tilling of the soil, so that God could fertilize our seedbed and produce within us beautiful, flourishing, delectable gardens. Everything had a connection. It was all systematically related and established; even the fibroids were a path to our destiny.

The weight that we carried in 2015 was needed for the journey we are on now. We’re in a foreign land. Everything is unfamiliar and comfort is a distant memory. We know now that obstacles are inevitable, and we’re okay with change. We’re excited about the journey ahead. We’ve seen what God can do with two, and we’re ready to be used.

Signing out,

Micah + Willynn

One Month in Korea

 

Thursday, March 17th  will make one month since we left the United States. My husband, Micah and I took a leap of faith and left everything we knew behind to start a new life in Daejeon, South Korea. What brought us half way across the world was God, vision and the Korean people.

We didn’t choose Korea, Korea chose us. Truth be told, Micah and I had our hearts set on Osaka, Japan. After successfully completing our CELTA course we applied to more than a dozen jobs. But failed miserably in securing a position that would accommodate us as a married couple. South Korea was the last place on our minds to teach abroad. Until I discovered and read Pearl S. Buck’s historical novel about life in Korea, The Living Reed. Buck’s book had nothing to do with teaching abroad but it had much to say about the strength, courage and tenacity of the Korean people. After finishing her novel, I was fascinated with the Korean culture, history and the education system.

We were both born in the United States and lived in the smallest state in the entire country, Rhode Island. Our journey across the world started with much apprehension from loved ones back home. Some were happy for us and encouraged us greatly while others thought we were down right crazy. The last few hours before we left my heart swelled for those hearts that were hardened by our departure. There was nothing Micah nor I can do to help console them. We just knew there was a calling we had to fulfill that was beyond where we call ‘home.’ A vision that God had set in our hearts from long ago that was ready to enlarge itself in our lives. Throughout it all, I just kept on hearing the Lord say, “be strong and courageous and leave everything to me. I will give them rest, walk in the peace I have given you.”

So, with those words of strength, we boarded a plane on Tuesday, February 16th to Seoul, South Korea. Our total time of travel equated to 17 hours. We arrived in the country on Wednesday, February 17th and the moment the plane landed we hit the ground running. There was never really any time for rest. Our bodies had to get accustomed to the 14 hour time difference from back home. We had to use the little bit of Korean we knew to find our way around the Incheon airport and the shuttle bus that would take us directly to the hotel. The first night in the country was an absolute blur… I just remember never being certain about what day or time it was. Everything was in Hangul (Korean alphabet) but the city itself looked like a maximized version of downtown Boston and a minimized version of Manhattan.

Fast forward to one month later. After an intense eight day orientation in Suwon. We finally met our co-teachers and school staff.  We moved into our beautiful apartment in Daejeon and finally had a chance to take in our journey across the world. As we walk around our community many eyes are fixated on us. We are distant foreigners to them. I’m sure we are probably the first black people they’ve ever seen. The beauty of living in this land we don’t have to defend the richness of being black like back home. We actually have an opportunity to walk in it, just as we are- We finally have a chance to share who we are with people who are actually curious enough to listen. After reading The Living Reed I realized how much of a connection my ancestors and I had with the Korean people. The only difference is their culture was preserved, mine has yet to be found. But the process of becoming has begun and I’m determined to Speak Out Loud.

 

Signing Out,

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Willynn Sanon Thompson

Writer’s Name: Esther Lynn