2017: Year End Reflections

Earlier this year, I asked the Lord for a spirit of love. I needed to learn how to love with no limits and no expectations from others. I also wanted to learn how to experience a love that is present in every moment. I wanted this year to embody the kind of love that God has for me. The type of love I was asking the Lord for was one of accountability; I needed the Spirit of Love to keep me grounded—by humbling me and keeping me teachable and authentic to my core. This year, I desired to rise higher in my interactions and dealings with others. I longed to have grace and view the best in ALL things, even in challenging circumstances. As I reflect on the year 2017, I realize that my character has been strengthened through the beautiful art of love, grace, and humility.

Korean Earthquakes: The Workplace

In 2016, my husband and I took a leap of faith and moved halfway across the world to teach English abroad in South Korea. Our move was bold and adventurous, especially coming from the smallest state in the United States, Rhode Island. We had this dream to travel the world, live, thrive, and be exposed to different cultures- be one with the natives of the land. Our time in Korea has been dynamic and outstanding; a season in my life I will treasure forever.

However, my exposure in the workplace has often left me feeling like I’ve been placed in the epicenter of an earthquake; an earthquake that would come suddenly with no warning or time for preparation. This year, my request for ‘A Spirit of Love’ has been tested with the ground shaking viciously from underneath me. I could blame it on the Korean hierarchy system, unruly colleagues, or the challenges of living and working in a foreign country- but I won’t. The Korean Earthquakes I have experienced stem from the lessons I needed to learn to sustain and endure the heart of love I asked for at the beginning of the year.

These Earthquakes chastised me to no end. I’ve been placed in situations where I had every right to defend my case or either accept my fate by exuberating love and mercy. Usually, I did not have a long time to thoroughly think about my response or reaction to any given situation. My only option was to make a choice whether I would forgive the seemingly unforgivable and demonstrate love with grace and humility, or live up to the foolish preconceived notions about Western foreigners. It was never easy!  Just like escaping an earthquake, I often felt like running from the wreckage. But in order for growth to happen, I had to confront the nonsense head on instead of running from it.

I must admit my life in the Korean workplace hasn’t been all bad. I loved my country school. My colleagues, administrative staff, and students welcomed me into their school community with open arms. I never felt like an outsider there. When the headmaster and assistant principal heard the news about my pregnancy they offered their congratulations and constantly checked in with me every week to see how I was doing. My last day there was bittersweet. I will genuinely miss my country school. They were the calm away from the quakes at my main school. So in the end, Korean Earthquakes have taught me lessons about love, grace, and humility.

Foreign Pregnancy: Tough Skin

Being a pregnant black woman, living outside of Seoul, is very rare. I would walk down the street with piercing stares that would make me feel as if I was a freak of nature. I would counter these experiences with the thought, “Okay, I’m probably the first foreign pregnant woman these people ever have seen.” But after a while, the stares started to hurt, and the joy of pregnancy began to fade. I was gracefully broken throughout my whole pregnancy in so many capacities. I’ve learned endless lessons of endurance, steadfastness, and turning of the other cheek. I got a more in-depth understanding and revelation of my process by relinquishing my control; allowing life to open my eyes and reveal to me my inner identity; my deep-rooted divinity.

Eventually, I stopped trying to define happiness through others; and started to see the seed growing inside of me as one of the greatest treasures ever to behold. Soon after, stares did not bother me. I embraced them by flaunting my massive belly. Personal joy was the lesson I had to learn on my own. Joy had to be defined by me. I had to find purpose and the beauty of creation in it. My foreign pregnancy produced within me tougher skin, and I am forever grateful for it.

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My Joy: Micah Isaiah

My son’s story was already being written way before my husband and I were even cognizant of him. Even in the womb, he taught us what it really meant to fight to live. His warrior-like spirit arose first out of a fertilized egg, transpiring into many cells. He then trekked a traverse journey into my fallopian tubes; entering the darkness of my womb; attaching himself to my uterine wall; while radiating his marvelous light. It’s a love untold until fully experienced.

My little Isaiah does this thing where he stares intently at his mama during feedings. He knows when my attention is focused on him or elsewhere. Through his little eyes, he sees the reflection of the images I’m watching. His innocence is a direct reflection of what my husband and I expose him to. The way in which he sees the world around him, his surroundings, and the sounds that consume him; references back to his father and me. The tone of our voice, the beating of our hearts, our interactions with each other and others– is a mirror of who we are in him and who he is in us.

Love At Every Turn: Saeronam EM

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.”~Matthew 5: 7~

My husband and I have been fortunate to be a part of an amazing faith-based community, Saeronam English Ministry. There were a lot of women from the church that helped me tremendously after giving birth to Isaiah. Their love, presence, and kindness towards my family have meant the world to me. My transition back home from the hospital with a newborn was very smooth because of them.

God looked out for me by allowing me to be pregnant at the same time with one of my dear sister-friends from church, Jane. She was five weeks ahead of me. She had a girl. We both were first-time moms experiencing the highs and lows of pregnancy in a foreign country. I genuinely appreciate Jane and her husband, Paul. Anyone who knows me knows I ask an endless amount of questions. Thankfully Jane has always been patient enough to answer them to the best of her ability. It was great to have someone to talk to that understood the season I was undergoing, because they, too were going through it themselves. Post-Korea, I’m sure we will all still be connected with each other because of our shared experience here.

Then there is my Chinese-Jamaican-Canadian Mama, Joanne who went above and beyond to make sure The Thompsons were situated well at home. One of the most significant lessons I learned from Joanne, W’lynn don’t be afraid to ask for help there are plenty of people here willing to help you.” Her sound advice was what made me adjust to motherhood so quickly.

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I can’t forget my Jamaican Queen Heather and my Bajan beauty Tisha who traveled about two hours to assist me at home throughout this month. Heather — in the midst of preparing for her final exams, graduation, exit out of Korea, and just the overall chaos of transitions — made time for me and my growing family. My Bajan beauty Tisha was committed to helping me. She always gifted me with endless laughter and joy.  A rare gift for a first-time mom that’s often sleep deprived. These two women made me feel at peace as I adjusted to my new role as a mother.

I cannot forget the elders that serve at EM: Lovely Sue, Grace, Heather and countless others that kept on checking in and sending meals our way- the love was remarkable and unprecedented.

Although 2017 has had its ups and downs, it will always be my most memorable year. Out of the challenges, there were always endless blessings of love waiting for me to acknowledge its existence. Life lessons I will cherish forever. As the dawn of 2018 approaches, I look forward to my family’s transition back to the United States but more on that another time. Happy New Year Everybody!

Signing Out,

~Esther Lynn~

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

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