Pregnant In A Foreign Country

Many have been asking the undeniable question, ”How does it feel to be pregnant in a foreign country? How does that even work?” I’m sure if I was living in the States and one of my girlfriends was pregnant abroad I would be asking the same question. So, it’s easy to sympathize with the concerns of family and close friends.

I must say long before I became pregnant I started researching and talking to different expats that had their babies here in Korea. Out of all the different women I spoke to, and all the information I gathered, nothing made me apprehensive about becoming pregnant. My biggest concern was finding an English speaking doctor that had experience working with foreign women with my past medical condition. It did not take long to resolve that issue.

My gynecologist, Dr. Sejeong Oh from Queen’s Medical and OBGYN Clinic, not only speaks excellent English but is highly attentive to me, my baby, my concerns, and has the experience I needed to trust her. I am very thankful and grateful for her. A lot of expats recommended her because of her compassionate nature towards her patients, her willingness to answer questions, her ability in elaborating on complicated medical terms and providing a comfortable place in her clinic for her patients. Dr. Oh highly recommended my obstetrician, Dr. Sumi Kim from St. Mary’s University Hospital, to deliver Baby T. Both doctors are women (which was very important to me personally) who are well trained and experienced in their fields. They both communicate effectively and have been providing me with the best possible care.

I first started seeing Dr. Oh when I was four-five weeks pregnant. After confirming my pregnancy, she gave me a form for the Pre-Natal Care Discount Voucher. It’s better known as the Kook Min Hong Bok Card. The pregnancy voucher entitles women a maximum subsidy of 500,000 KRW (about $450 USD) to pay for doctor visits and other expenses regarding the medical care of the baby. Since being pregnant, I only had to pay an equivalent of $15.00 out of pocket. The National Health Insurance System in Korea is amazing compared to what I use to have in the States.

As for my job, my contract entitles me to three months of maternity leave. Another perk is during the first and third trimester I’m able to leave work two hours earlier than usual. In Korea, government employers are very sensitive towards women who are in their early and late stages of pregnancy. They know it’s a very critical time for the baby’s development. I work at two schools after the logistics of my maternity, and early leave was figured out. A lot of my colleagues wished me well and were very excited about my pregnancy. Of course, they had endless questions that varied from personal to superficial (which I expected), but the overwhelming amount of love I received was astounding, to say the least. My country school always gives me vegetables from the school garden to take home with me. At lunch time, they always have fruits and fresh vegetables for me to eat.

My students started suspecting I was pregnant as of last week. One of my fourth-grade girls asked my co-teacher if I was pregnant and less than five minutes later the news spread like wildfire. I remember last Friday walking on the school bus, and countless students were pointing at my stomach saying, “Willynn Teacher, 아기, 아기 (baby, baby).” “Yes, baby,” I responded and then came the wave of applause and little people with excited faces.

I cannot fail to mention the extraordinary support Micah and I have at our local church, Saeronam English Ministry. I remember during my first trimester I had the weirdest form of morning sickness. I was constantly nauseous, but not to the point of throwing up. For two weeks, I had no appetite. I couldn’t take certain smells, and I was always tired. Several women from the church offered me help and support. They calmed my many anxieties. They bought me herbal remedies that helped with nausea and were always present. Not a day went by without at least one of the women from the church checking in on me. I’m so grateful for them.

Pregnancy in another country could be scary for most, but as for me, my heart is at peace. Micah and I have outstanding people in our community who have become adopted parents, siblings, and of course amazing friends. The Thompson’s are truly blessed. Of course, I miss my biological parents, especially my mama’s cooking. But even from afar, they have been a tremendous support to us by asking what we need, sending us care packages in the mail, and making an honest effort to communicate with us once a week. Sometimes I’m just blown away by the amount of love that surrounds us near and afar. Yes, it takes a courageous soul to do what we are doing. However, you never know what outcome can come out of breaking out of your shell and doing something outside of the ordinary. Following faith requires much sacrifice, but sacrifice brings forth abundant rewards that surpass the understanding of common men.

Signing Out,

Esther Lynn

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

My Hidden Treasure: Baby Thompson

In 2015, the chances of me having children were very slim. At 27 years old, the doctors found three massive benign tumors that altered my uterus and gave me no chance of carrying children, unless I had surgery. The surgery did not guarantee I would be able to conceive; the doctors informed my husband and I that the medical procedure would be risky, but that was the only chance we had in one day growing our family in the future. At first, we were very opposed to the surgery. But as the months progressed and my belly swelled with tumors (not a life), we gave up control and allowed God to take the wheel.

Long story short, 2015 brought me many tears, pain, and unbelief. However, there was such beauty and love that came out of that one historical storm. On December 2015 I had the surgery. My doctors informed us they found not three but seven tumors that were so large they did not know how I managed to carry them for so long. By the grace of God, the doctors were able to repair my uterus, take all the tumors out and give me a chance to carry a baby in the future full term; this is my story, my testimony, my joy, my impossible becoming possible and my precious treasure. God has blessed Micah and me tremendously. Through all the whirlwinds and storms that came our way, God has always kept us in his will.

Two years later, we’ve explored different cultures and are currently living in a foreign land. But the greatest adventure out of this whole experience is the expectation of our little bundle of joy coming in December. MicNilly is expanding their tribe and adding a precious little one to the village. We are so excited! Beyond grateful to God and just filled with so much love for our little peanut.

A good friend said to me,  seeing the purpose in your current place and community is always best. She told me to take this journey, tell it and live it proudly. God has blessed Micah and me with a hidden treasure. Our process to this road was long and rigorous; it required much sacrifice, molding of self, and preparation. On March 2017, God said it was time and opened my womb for life to develop and grow from within. At times I’m just astounded at all the miracles that are happening around us. At my doctor visits, Micah and I watch the monitor screen of our pride and joy actively kicking, punching, and at times sucking its thumb, with so much love filled in our hearts. Often times, after my doctor visits I’ll call my parents and ask them endless questions about their emotions when they first saw me on an ultrasound screen. I become inquisitive about their prayers for me and how they prepared to receive me. My parents share their insights on how a child changes everything any soon-to-be mother or father ever knew about love; they call it the purest element of love.

Life growing inside of a women’s womb changes everything she once knew and observed about her journey. All that matters is the healthy development of her child. The deep connection she has with her spouse. The love and support of family and friends. But, most importantly, the awareness and understanding that God has it all in his hands.

I always tell my husband, Micah, that he is a tangible expression of God’s love for me. Baby Thompson is my double portion. We both fully rejoice in our inheritance. Everlasting joy will be ours. Through the Prophet Isaiah, God spoke his word best into our existence.

“For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness, I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” 

Isaiah 61: 8-9

We are all in our own process of becoming. I just live to speak mine out loud.

Signing Out,
Esther Lynn

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

Life and Heart

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my process of becoming, where I have grown and areas where I am still stagnant. My life experiences have taught me the importance of reflection and awareness. So, let’s have a conversation about life and heart. How do we find a balance between the two? Balance is such a critical word, yet it is so hard to discover and do. Jesus is a perfect example of balance. He sees in us what we fail to see in ourselves. Even in our selfishness and brokeness, he loves us still the same. At times I find myself struggling greatly with God’s love. I don’t always understand it. For God to love me despite my flaws, setbacks, lack of obedience, and selfishness completely blows my mind.

When someone offends me, I hold on to it. It takes me a while to let it go. I ask God for help along my process of forgiveness towards others, but my evil mind will contort negative responses to give when the opportunity arrives. My rational is to hurt them just as much as they hurt me; to cut their wounds deeper, so that they can experience my pain. Now, I know, this thought process is not right. Fighting fire with fire doesn’t calm the fiery flames; it only ignites the spark.

brokenheart

However knowing something doesn’t necessarily mean you automatically put it into action. Sometimes it takes a breaking point, a time of deep introspection to turn away from the dangers of unforgiveness. Every time I get to the point of lacking grace, God reminds me what can happen to me internally when I choose to hold on to strife. I rob myself of the ability to be forgiven from him and by others. This is why God’s love often blows my mind. His love is so deep that the moment I think I am justified in my emotions/ actions he causes me to look at myself. Once I let go of the offense and look at me first, before scrutinizing the offending party, I realize I, too,  need grace. I, too, need love and I, too, am in search of balance that is hard to discover but necessary to go in search after.

One day I will have children. I often think of them when I’m struggling with loving others. As I look forward to one day becoming a mother, I consider my thought life and heart. I think about their characteristics. I imagine the way they will interact with people. I ask myself, do I want them to lack grace or do I want them always to have a heart of love? I realized who they become completely depends on who I am now. It’s important I see people the way God sees me, flawed but loved. My emotions and actions may at times be unpredictable and out of place, but I am loved by God still the same. Just as they are loved by God in the same way. Letting go is not easy but it’s necessary for my past, present, and future.

instrospection

It’s human nature to be broken by something or someone that hurts us. It’s not unusual to feel disconnected to others and their personal views, especially when the pain runs deep. But, to find balance, we must turn away from our judgments and the wounds that hurt us. We cast it aside by not being so dependent on what once was or should’ve been. We let go of our expectations and allow life to reveal itself on its own. Harvesting strife against others is refusing to grow. Harvesting love despite its hurt contents and brokenness is to accept people as they are without hurting yourself or those that are looking up to you or coming up after you. I call this, Periods of Waiting: Periods of Trusting.

Truth is we can become something or someone our hearts allow us to become. Change is not something the environment fosters. It’s rather an internal part of what our hearts desires. Become or un-become; your heart is the only organ with the real answer.

I’m just Speaking Out Loud in my Process of Becoming…

Signing Out,
Esther Lynn

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Love At Every Turn

God-defiers are always in trouble;

GOD -affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around.

Psalm 32: 10 MSG

After Cambodia, Micah and I crossed the boarder into Thailand making our way to the beautiful island of Phuket. I will never forget the time we spent in Phuket. I marveled at the beauty of the land, enjoyed the creative sounds of nature, grimaced at red bodies– burnt by the sun rays– laid out on the beach. I loved the fact that time was not a factor. Everything was just peaceful, carefree and tropical.


Micah and I stayed at another homestay found through Airbnb. It was such a beautiful house. It was rustic and spacious with high ceilings. The interior design was done magnificently, filled with vibrant colors that represented the island and the people of the community. This time around, we had the house to ourselves for the first two days of our stay. The family lived next door in a seperate home and the owners (husband and wife) operated and owned a pharmacy.

When Dan (the owner) came to pick us up at the airport, he gave us a mini tour and shared some information about the neighborhood. He told us it was a Muslim community and because of the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, they were in a period of mourning.  As we cruised through the streets there were a lot of monuments errected and adorned for the late King. The people wore all black to commemorate his life and his death. I was amazed at the high regard that the Thai people gave their leadership. Dan spoke of him with much pride and devotion in his voice. Listening to Dan made me think about America, in the sense of how we view ourselves in our nationalism and the government officials that govern us. Dan was not the first person I’ve heard talk about their leadership and their country with such pride. Everything he was saying I heard it before during my time spent in Bangkok. I just wondered what America today would be like, if division wasn’t such a force penetrating the nation. (Just a side thought.)

Dan pointed out the best restaurants to eat, the local market to buy souvenirs and different areas that could be benefical to us during our stay. Our homestay was located in the northern part of the island and about 45 minutes to an hour away from Phuket town, which is where all the famous beaches and high tourist areas are located. Overall our stay in Phuket was great. However, the greatest and most defining moment in our trip was our motorbike accident. Because, that was when the Good Samaritan story in the Bible, became a reality for the Thompson’s.

Micah and I rented a motorbike for the day. Our plan was to go out to Phuket town and visit the famous beaches. We set out late morning and I must admit I was very scared once we got into the city center. Clusters of motorbikes, trucks, cars, people–no sense of direction. Everyone just seemed like they were on a fast track collision ride. Fortunately for us, we survived the high intensity of the city. We were able to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the island through the scenic routes. There was so much to take in and absorb. We rested for sometime at Rawai and Pa Tong beach. It was on our way back to our homestay the accident happened.


It was dark outside. There weren’t that many street lights. Micah was driving and it was an unexpected speedbump that got us flying in the air and off the motorbike. It happened so fast. I just remember seeing Micah laid out in a fetal position to my left and me to the right of him. The motorbike was behind us with the engine still running.  For most of our ride back to our hostel there weren’t any homes or people parading the streets. It was just long stretches of land. But the place where we had the accident happened to be in front of a house. It was a little girl that came out and yelled to her mother to come outside. Within seconds a big family of perhaps eight people was outside helping us. As soon as I got up, I ran to Micah. Grabbing the daypack that I was carrying with the first aid kit.

I just remember praying over Micah’s body. I couldn’t see the extent of his injuries in the dark. My hands were working faster than my mind. I just knew the wounds needed to be cleaned immediately. While all this was happening, a woman (Mei) kept on asking us if we wanted her to call an ambulance. I was very reluctant at first, refusing several times before Micah said, yes. I don’t know how my hands were moving so fast. I was the least bit experienced as a nurse. In retrospect, it is astounding at the the strength your body will possess when it’s forced into survival mode. By the grace of God, Mei was sent to us. She insisted we go to the hospital. She tried calling for an ambulance and when they took too long to answer she decided to take us in her own car.  The family helped Micah up and into the car as I thanked them profusely for their help.

As we drove to the hospital, we made small talk. She shared about her work and family. She shared how she loved to help others in need, which was already evident in the situation we were in. We got to the hospital and as I thanked her she assured me she would wait and stay with us until we were done. Sure enough, she did. She never left. After informing the doctors about what happened and giving them the information necessary to treat Micah, they then asked me, weren’t you in the accident too? “Yes, I was. But I have no scars. I’m fine.” I responded. This was an amazement to us all. Micah left the hospital with no broken bones. His left side was covered in bandages and the doctor said he would be fine within a week. The doctor’s hypothesis has proven to be true.

After the hospital, Mei took us to a restaurant to eat so Micah can take his medication. When we offered to treat her she refused and paid for us. We were both astonished. Never in our lives have we met a stranger that was beyond kind and generous with their time and money. Afterwards, she took us to her house where Dan came with his family to pick us up. Both families were meeting each other for the first time. They were somehow connected through us. Mei’s big heart opened our eyes in ways she’ll probably never know. She was our Good Samaritan. She took us to the hospital, fed us and made sure all of our needs were met. Her kindness did not stop there. The following day, she came to visit us at the hostel with her children alongside Dan’s family. She spent time with us and we got to know each other a little more. I hope she is reading this post. You were truly a blessing to us, Mei, and I pray God will bless you and your beautiful family greatly.


Our remaining days in Phuket were spent relaxing and lounging around in the house. Dan was kind to us as well. Providing us with antibiotics, gauzes and other things needed to prevent Micah’s wounds from getting an infection. I must say we had another successful homestay. We were treated as if we were a part of their family.  Throughout our vacation we have learned that blessings are definitely hidden in the journey and not the destination. The lessons are in the people, the interactions, the endless stories and values being exchanged. Most importantly, the greatest blessing was in the revelation that God was with us throughout it all. HE showed us love at every turn, through people estranged to us, but never to him.

I’m just speaking out loud in my process of becoming…

Signing Out,

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

~Esther Lynn~

 

 

Preserving the Foundation

How is my today preparing me for my tomorrow? A question that’s been plaguing my mind ever since I turned 25 years old. It’s no different at age 29. I live in a world where every thing is always rushed, everything is right now, fast paced living is the way of life, there is no process and it’s much easier to avoid the journey. It’s easier to waste endless amounts of energy complaining, rather than searching for a solution. Doing the wrong thing is much more gratifying than the right thing. Planning and preparing is far too daunting–. Long  deep sigh….the list goes on and on…

Image result for artistic dance
At times weighing myself down from the unmet pressures stirring from within.

This week I was confronted with a wise saying from the book of Proverbs. “Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.” (Proverbs 24:27) As I meditated on this scripture, I asked myself three questions.

  1. What am I planning?
  2. What have I prepared?
  3. Is my house honestly ready to be built?

In the past, I’ve made countless mistakes in equating plans and preparations with careers, finances and material positions. Not to say those things aren’t important, they most certainly are, but they are not the pillars of a home, nor a solid foundation that keeps it in place. There are plenty of people with gorgeous homes, amazing careers and endless material possessions who are still dissatisfied with life. As I’m getting older, my perspective on planning and preparation has changed. For me, building consistent solid relationships,  investing time, energy and resources in causes that matter, walking in alignment with my life’s mission and purpose, which in turn produces positive impactful outcomes is what really matters.

When I thought about the questions, what am I planning and what have I prepared, I had to really think deeply about my process, journey, impact and progress. I had to separate things I’ve done (actions) with the values of my heart (character-authentic self). I thought about the many children I encounter on a daily basis at work and outside of the classroom. The many unknown names I interact with on the streets, walking to and from set destinations. I thought about the many things that give me a great sense of joy and the things that bring me deep sorrows. My plans consist of the deep treasures that were given to me by my creator, value systems that affect the world in a greater sense beyond just me. They are plans that my great ancestors must have started from long ago. Plans that have been hidden in the deep soils of my earth; plans rooted in the fields of preparation awaiting its season to be harvested and  used.

Image result for simple black and white paintings
plans hidden among the roots.

The question, what have I prepared should be changed to what am I preparing. The preparation is an on-going  process. It has its different stages but its never-ending.  If not careful, preparations can become stagnant due to distractions and vainglory. It’s in my nature to long for acknowledgment and praise from others. But, if I’m truly honest with myself, words of affirmation from others do nothing for the soul, if  the heart is discontent with life. It’s one thing to want more but, it’s another to never see the good  and the growth along the way.

 A house can only be built on a solid foundation. My foundation will always be found within my heart.

Image result for heart black and white paintings

It’s just a matter of appreciating its greatness, deepness and vastness in my life. When  I start looking else where to validate my worth, a piece of my structure becomes undone. I’m learning how to stay true and preserve the  heritage (my foundation) that’s been established from the beginning.

 

I’m just Speaking Out Loud in my Process of Becoming…

 

Signing Out,

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Willynn Sanon Thompson

Writer’s Name: Esther Lynn

 

A field can bare much fruit, but only the farmer knows the true condition of the soil.

 

 

 

Nilly’s 29th

This past weekend I celebrated my 29th birthday. When I was younger, birthdays used to be such a superficial and grandiose affair. I used to buy a new birthday outfit every year, get my hair and nails done, post relentlessly on social media that my birthday is coming up-yeah, I was very self conscious back then. ( Not to say I have grown past it. I still struggle with self-conscious behaviors from time to time.) However, this year my birthday was celebrated differently in many ways.

birthdays

The joy of my 29th new year rested peacefully in my heart. It made me think of my endless blessings, achievements and my personal growth. It made me appreciate everyone around me; my husband, the community of faith I am a part of, my friends, colleagues and students.


As I reflected on age 28, an image of a house fire came to mind. House fires usually first start inside the house before an alarm is sounded, notifying the owner that something is wrong. My inner soul represents my house. My 28th year, I endured my own personal house fires.


 Fires that wreaked havoc in my mind, heart and character. Fires that were daunting, dry and at times very arid. But, those fires were my best teachers confirgured into memorable life lessons. After they passed, ashes of vain glory were left over. I witnessed, experienced and lived those moments;  journeyed through an abyss of trials and  revelations, and out of it I emerged into a beautiful warrior of light. I’m beyond grateful. Even though the storms came, when it was over only sunshine took its place.


So, as I write this blog, a thought just came to mind. I’ll be turning 30 next year -by God’s grace. In 10 years time, I’ll be 39 years old. What would I want my future self to remember about my 20s- my young adult years? 


I would want my future self to remember my courage, strength and my stories along my life journey. I would never want to forget what it feels like to be young and searching for a sense of direction. I would want to remember how the act of actively listening to others speaks more volumes than meaningless words. I also would want to remember my boldness, my adventure spirit, steadfast focus, and last but not least my faith.

By 39, Micah and I will probably have pre-teens running around the house, full of adventure, keeping us busy and talking our ears off. But when I look back, I would like to be in a position where I’m passing on all the knowledge and wisdom I’ve learned along the years- speaking out loud with no reservations. At age 39, I hope to be the woman I am now in the process of becoming.

Signing Out,

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Esther Lynn 

 

 

Left It All At The Airport

Six months ago, I looked in my families eyes with tears streaming down mine. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to travel the world to see what else was out there, besides the New England area. Deep down inside, I knew my family members and close friends didn’t really understand my desire to live abroad. They were just trying their absolute best to be supportive. I appreciate their courage in trusting our (Micah and I’s) decision. It wasn’t until recently, after a friend from back home came to visit, that I realized everything familiar that I ever knew and understood was left completely at the airport. The moment Micah and I took our first steps away from the people we loved the most, to follow the call on our lives, is the moment in time where we decided our lives are so much bigger and greater than just us. 

Our lives our bigger than the people we call family, friends and home. It’s greater than what makes us feel comfortable or asserts us as talented individuals. Our lives are a lifeline paving the way for those coming after us and completing the work of those that went before us. “I”, “We,” “Us” has nothing to do with individual accomplishments. But, it has everything to do with collectivness. Everything that has helped us get to this moment in time and space. The endless prayers of our parents, even when they didn’t understand it. The supportive words of our friends, although they were highly against it. The decisions to obey the words of our creator, even if it caused us to walk in the depths of the unknown. All was left at the airport.

Our first steps were the runway. Our dreams, visions and prayers were the aircraft that catipuleted us to God’s desired destination. In preparation to our take off, we had to pack light. We could not take all of our belongings. Somethings had to be left behind. There was a weight limit, a cut off- we had to trust when God said, it was enough; but more importantly trust in his radar signals that HE was enough. 

 What does the airport signify? Well, it represents the coming of age, specifically emotional maturity. In order to get on an airplane your letting go of your fears, negative thoughts and trusting the pilot to guide the plane safely to your set destination. The airport also represents departure and arrival. It reflects a set timetable and necessary procedures that must be in place before taking off. Collectivism has a vital role in the way in which it operates. In retrospect, the airport symbolizes life transitions and ultimately freedom from everything familiar to start anew. Everything was left at the airport.

Now, six months later, I’m realizing you never really know the outcome of trusting an aircraft to get you to your set destination. But, is it really the airplane you must trust in; or is it the voice deep down inside, whispering go? If Micah and I chose to stay in the States and live among everything that was familiar, where would our lives be? Would we truly be content with who we are and who God called us to be? I don’t know the answers to my questions, but I’m extremely glad we made the decision to leave everything at the airport.

I’m just speaking out loud in my process of becoming…

Signing Out,

Sunday, August 8th, 2016

Esther Lynn