05 October 2009


Last weekend Korea celebrated Chuseok. Occurring annually during the harvest season, it is a time Korean families take to to thank their ancestors for providing them for rice, fruit, etc -- basically a celebration of family and other blessings in life. Same idea as Thanksgiving.

I spent my time off lounging around on the shores of the South China Sea. One night, in the spirit of the holiday, we sat around the grill cooking dinner and shared what we were grateful for. I've since returned from the camping trip, and I can't stop thinking about those things... so I've decided to share them with you.

I am grateful to have a job. Some days I love it, but most days I just laugh and wonder what in the world am I doing teaching English? I've struggled with the disconnect between things I am passionate about and what I'm actually doing -- and yet, I am just so grateful to say that I have I job.

I am grateful for the peace of Korea. It did not take me long to realize that there is a very significant and obvious absence of violence in this country. Those that know some of what I've seen and experienced the last two years doing anti-trafficking work may be able to appreciate how healing peace is for my heart. Out of all the countries I could have landed in, I am grateful that I landed on this small little peninsula in northeast Asia.


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I am grateful for grace in transition. I know I've been painting a pretty picture for everyone back home -- and don't get me wrong, the beauty of living and working in Korea is unparalleled -- but the adjustment has been pretty hard. I'm still riding the emotional roller coaster of transition and culture shock, sometimes daily. I just keep reminding myself: not only am I adjusting to a new country, a new culture, language, cuisine, people, etc etc, but I'm also in the middle of what my mentor Tamara calls "the biggest transition of your life" -- life after college. To all my dear friends who graduate in the spring: buckle in, because the transition is crazy. And no one can tell you what it's like because your experience of it will be unique to you. But I am grateful, as you will be, that grace abounds -- especially in seasons of transition.

And I am grateful for the tangible demonstrations of this grace:

I am grateful for my school, Eunhaeng Elementary School. I am grateful for my co-teachers. I am grateful that the principal is never around (thus, never on my back about anything). I am grateful that I only teach three lessons per week. It is SO easy to get stuck with an awful workplace while teaching English abroad. I didn't.

I am grateful for my apartment. Many teachers get stuck in rooms smaller than a dorm room. My living space has been nicknamed "the mansion" by my friends. Enough said.

And OH MY I am so grateful for those friends. The gals who sat around that grill with me last weekend. The gals with whom I wine and dine on Wednesday evenings. Whitney, Katie, Tayla, Charissa, Kelsey, Mindy, and Anna. They have been the most consistent demonstration of grace since I arrived here, and every day I am humbled by the singleness of heart that we all seem to share.

I am grateful for community. For the fathers and mothers, the 20-somethings, the children, the grandparents I've met here. I am grateful for laughter, for adventures, for people who are seeking to grow during their time in Korea. I have spent the last six weeks watching a hodgepodge group of people slowly come together, and look forward to what will unfold in the coming months.

I am grateful for Kim. She loves to spend time with us younger gals while Todd teaches. She dines with us on Wendesday's. She meets us at Butterfingers for breakfast on the weekend. She hangs with us whenever we have a day off. She and Todd also happen to have two of the most beautiful children on the planet. But I am especially grateful for Kim because of the friend and mentor she is becoming as she and I meet once a week to share life together in a more intentional way. Having a mentor here was so far off my radar that I didn't even think to pray for one... suffice it to say Kim has been one of the more poignant demonstrations of the tangible grace that is dripping from all areas of my life in Korea.

What about you? I want us to share our gratitude. Send me an email, or comment on this post.

In spite of and in light of all that is happening in the world around us, we all have much to be grateful for. This Sunday we are celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving. In another month, we will celebrate American Thanksgiving. In every culture, this holiday is a communal event. The community with whom I will share Thanksgiving this year has decided to celebrate our gratitude each time we gather for this special meal.

As you approach this holiday, I hope you find yourself pondering the many tangible demonstrations of grace in your life. And most importantly, I hope you are quick to share and celebrate your gratitude with loved ones at your thanksgiving meal.

And just because I know you all love pictures and videos, here was "An Afternoon at the The Great Wall of Suwon," the last leg of my epic Chuseok weekend.

p.s. Did you know you can click on the pictures to make them bigger?