Listen. Write. Speak.=Inklub

Hello, World!

Micah and I been active on our new youtube channel, The Inklub. Below are our latest videos on our page. Check them out!

TheWombThumbnail

With a baby on the way, I’ve been thinking a lot about “pregnancy-related things.” Thus, the title shouldn’t surprise anyone. But, this poem goes beyond the anticipated birth of our son. There’s an even greater birth that I’m anticipating. Take a listen.

What makes words so powerful? Here’s my explanation. – Micah

Powerful spoken word about race relations in a foreign country. Take a listen.

One word to describe my life: Drum. – Willynn

Latest Update In the Land of the Morning Calm

This past month I’ve had a lot of cool cultural experiences. Last week, the school of the blind came to my school to give free massages to the teachers. Of course being pregnant, made me jump at the opportunity. It was a fascinating experience. As soon as I walked in the room, the chaperone for the blind students said, “This is the 원어민” (The Native English Teacher). The students gasped in excitement. One of my colleagues informed them I was pregnant and that made them even more amazed with me. I watched as the students talked back and forth about who should give a massage to the pregnant foreign teacher. I just sat back and enjoyed the scene taking place in front of me. What made the whole scenario interesting is their way of identifying who I was, and certain characteristics about me, through the art of touch and the sound of my voice.

The Best Cultural Experience Ever

It was my first real encounter with blind people. It was astounding to hear and see how they interacted with each other and with me. It’s as if I was a part of a reality show, but instead I was watching through a television screen, rather than a present part of the whole encounter. I loved every moment of it. All the other teachers had only their upper back massaged. But, for me, they gave me an arm, shoulder, upper back, and scalp massage. My hair blew them away. I heard them talking amongst themselves about it. Soon, I had three blind students crowded in front of me. “Waaw,” they exclaimed with their mouths open, as they touched, felt, and massaged my scalp. It was SO relaxing! Did I mention it was free! My co-teacher was finished in ten minutes. Before she left the room, she stopped by my chair and said, “Willynn, you must have been the special guest everyone was waiting for.” When I finally went back to the English office, I exclaimed to my colleagues, “Now that was the best cultural experience I ever had!”

hand

Students Behavior: End of Semester

Other than that great moment in time last week. Around this time of year, students get very antsy and obnoxious. It’s humid, sticky, and rainy. The first semester is slowly coming to an end and summer vacation is on the horizon. They talk more than listen and are always ready to be competitive during game time. Despite it all, they are still endearing and caring towards me and Baby T. Every morning, when they see me walking to school, they run to me and with their high pitched piercing voices they say, “Good morning, Willynn Teacher! Hello, baby!” I can’t help but have a smile when interacting with these little people I have grown to appreciate and admire.

 

My Stalkerish First Graders

The English office is on the second floor, which is the same floor as the first-grade classes. My first graders get really excited when they see me. In Korea, there is no such thing as staff bathrooms. Everyone shares the same bathroom, which can be overwhelming at times. A prime example of this is when I go use the bathroom; the first-grade girls become borderline stalker-ish. They stand guard in front of the bathroom stall, whispering to each other, “Willynn Teacher and baby is in there.” (As if I physically have a baby in my hand.) I appreciate my students, but, my goodness, they get taxing at times. The joys and woes of being an elementary school teacher.

The Speed of Time

The days and months go by quickly here. One day it’s Monday, and next I know, it’s already Friday. The weekends are like quick daydreams and the week starts over again. Just yesterday it was March and it’s already July. The speed of time just makes me more aware of every moment. My heart has changed tremendously for these little people. I can now value their roles in adult lives. They are the best teachers with amazingly creative minds. They have this way of transforming any adult and making them in tune with their suppressed inner child. The wonderful thing about it all is when that inner child is finally released from its confines, the world opens up to you, and you begin to see the beauty in all things.

Oh Yeah, Pregnancy Update!

IMG_4721As you can imagine, I’m getting bigger by the day. The women teachers are captivated by my baby bump. They say, they have never seen my sort of belly shape before. (Um, okay. Whatever that means. I never knew there was such a thing.) Just today one of my co-teachers said, “Willynn, your belly! It grew over the weekend! It’s more forward than wide. Wow! I never saw a belly like that before.” My only response is my baby has an appetite just like his father. “But you’re not fat,” is her response. Um, thanks. (LOL, what else can I say.) A few weeks ago we found out that Baby T is a BOY!!! That is what we prayed for and that’s what God has granted us. Micah and I are ecstatic for our baby boy.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how God brings us through certain journeys and experiences. I compare pregnancy to the process of preparing for a wedding. If not careful, the soon to be newlyweds can get caught up with only the wedding aspect and not the actual marriage. Because at the end of the day that’s what matters. Just like pregnancy, soon-to-be parents, get caught up with the pregnancy, the material possessions, the praise, baby registry, baby shower, and labor. But, forsake to look forward.

Pregnancy is only momentary, just like a wedding. After all the glitz and glamor, another life begins, and an old self-image ends. It’s something Micah and I try to constantly be aware of and keep at the forefront as we transition into parenthood. It’s not always easy, but our baby boy deserves to enter the world with parents that are prepared mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to receive him. Even an innocent child deserves wholesomeness in their environment.

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

Signing Out,

Esther Lynn

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

 

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

A Grateful Heart

I will and forever be grateful for the time Micah, and I are spending abroad in Korea. This journey has been nothing short of a blessing. We both grown tremendously in our faith, giftings, and overall love for life and people. We traveled to different countries and exposed ourselves to various cultures across Asia. Although we still have a lot more traveling to do, the short time we’ve been living abroad are filled with endless MicNillyAdventures.

Thus far, 2017 has been a fantastic year.  I enjoy the company of my colleagues. It’s nothing like last year at all. All the bad apples are finally gone, including my selfish, independent American mentality. A new set of fresh minds started this academic year, and it has been such a joy working with them and getting to know them in and outside of the classroom. It’s always good to have good vibes with the people you work alongside. It makes the whole work environment so much easier and less stressful. After all most of my time is spent at work during the weekdays.

My students are overwhelmingly cute and super loving towards me. This school year, I teach first through sixth graders. My first and second graders call me Moana and are often intrigued with my hair and skin tone. I’m sure I’m the first black person they ever saw, LOL! My sixth graders are not that eventful but not too bad for teenagers.

The weather is getting nicer and the yellow dust season is hopefully almost over. Air pollution in Korea is horrible, to say the least. When I lived in America, I use to wonder why people in China wear mask over their mouths. I understand now. Korea has taught me to appreciate the clear air days. I will never take it for granted again.

In any case, life is great and full of wonder. Grateful to God for the community of people we have around us and the endless experiences we have had in the past few months. This blog post just serves as an update. Life is good and changing us for the better.

Till Next time,

Esther Lynn

1 Year Anniversary

I can hardly believe it today is my one-year anniversary in Korea! Wow, time really flew by! I must say this has been the most exhilarating, life changing, and challenging adventure I’ve ever been on. However, I’ll forever be grateful for this opportunity abroad because it has shaped me in ways I never would have imagined.

Prior to moving to Korea, if you did not know me well, I assume people would have perceived me as someone that was relatively quiet, snobbish, and self-absorbed. In retrospect, I would say people assumptions about me were correct. I was very much to myself and life revolved mainly around me and mine. I would say my biggest identity flaw was the “I” syndrome. Often my siblings and cousins would get mad at me for always thinking about myself and what was convenient for me. (Yeah, I drove a lot of people crazy.) Over time, I realized what caused me to be so consumed with me was the lack of not knowing who I really was–so, instead of investing time on what and who really mattered I focused on trivial things such as, image, apparel, and status.

introspection
Untold stories, untold truths, hidden deep within a soul… a voice whispers, awaken the treasures. Reach down into the deepest abyss and capture your truth.

After getting married, I realized I did not need things and praise from others to make me feel complete as a human being. My beloved husband, Micah, has taught me the art of simplicity. I learned how to be content with what I already had and to appreciate the people in my life that I hold dear to my heart. Micah not only taught me the art of simplicity he taught me the beauty of communication. He had this way of pushing me out of my head and helping me put words to my thoughts. He is my Sankofa bird, constantly reminding me to look back from time to time to see what my past has taught me in the wake of my present stage in life.

mw
He speaks truths that awakens my soul. Forever my Sankofa Bird, my Micah Josiah.
For the past year, I’ve been living abroad in a foreign land. As I already mentioned, it has been the most exhilarating, life changing, and challenging adventure I’ve ever been on. Mainly because, as a foreigner, I constantly have to speak out loud. Whatever I say or do is a cultural exchange for my colleagues, students, and friends. Community is what makes this experience abroad so enriching. The necessity to be honest about who you are, who you allow to surround you and what you want in life, rings like a clanging alarm. If not careful or aware of these things, I can slowly become self-absorbed again. Therefore, my community keeps me upright and authentic in all that I say or do. The realization that no matter what, you are a leader worth paying attention to, and what makes the attention either good or bad is completely up to you.

love.jpg
The greatest lesson that life abroad has taught me is the intensity to love.
Over the past 12 months, my heart has swelled for young children that are completely foreign but so welcoming and appreciative towards me. Of course, I had students that were the complete opposite. But the love that pressed my heart made me work harder to somehow reach them and build some type of rapport with them. There have also been people that found me, and I found them from all different parts of the world. Together we all had to bypass the barriers of language, culture, and customs to reach the truest sense of ourselves. These exploits in community have never been easy. The love and security we have found in each other have kept us pressing forward in the direction of change to dissipate our frailties that have kept us lost in our past rather than intentional about our present and future.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES                     SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The intensity to love, the art of simplicity, the beauty in communication and the enriching experience of community. All of these lessons have shaped me by making me better as a woman, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and teacher. I’m grateful for this opportunity; life is more vibrant and real because of it. What else can I say but thank you Korea and all of you that read this blog and spend time uplifting my spirit.

Signing Out,

Friday, February 17, 2017

~Esther Lynn~

 

 

 

 

 

 

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~