Showing posts with label South Korea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Korea. Show all posts


The Anniversary Trip We Couldn't Plan - A Dose of Encouragement

In August 1997 Fred and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary by taking a trip to Hawaii.

A week there Island Hopping in fantastic weather was a real enjoyment for us.

Five years later we headed to the Bahamas for 2 weeks for our Silver Anniversary.

Then in 2007 we took 3 weeks and went to the East Coast of Australia with a layover of a few days in Singapore on the way home.

So August 2012 should have seen us heading off on another big trip but it just didn't happen.

Although we talked about how it would be our 35th anniversary often, we still never could decide where to go or when to go.

Then near the end of the year, our daughter Linda told us she was going to apply to go to South Korea to teach English for a year.

Months later all the applications, online courses, visas etc. had been sorted and she headed off in February 2013 (I wrote about The Day We had to Say Goodbye)

Okay then no prizes for guessing where we did go for our 35th Anniversary trip even if it was almost a year late.

South Korea

We just had to make sure we didn't go when it is too cold, too hot, or too wet in South Korea, because it can truly be too cold, too hot or too wet - we experienced the "too hot".

Oh and shortly after she left she face-timed to tell us she had been allocated to a school on the Coast so wasn't that a bonus too!

We had a fantastic holiday together and when I say together it actually included all five of us.
Fred and I flew over and spent a weekend in Seoul with Linda and met up with an old friend, then this old married couple flew over to Hong Kong for 4 days on our own, and finally back to South Korea to meet our two sons as they arrived to spend the rest of the time with Linda and us in Seoul and also in Gangneung.

The boys wanted to come to visit Linda obviously but also knew that it would be the last time that this family of five would be together on a holiday as a family of five because later that year we had another special event when Daniel & Suzie got married.

At times during 2012 I had got frustrated because we just could not make a decision about where that anniversary trip should take us o when Fred would get off work to be able to go and sometimes when we can't make up our minds we just let the thing drift on and on.

But this time that indecisiveness was meant to be.

I am a firm believer in the fact that God sometimes holds us back 
from doing certain things at certain times 
because He has other plans for us

and of course

His plans are always BETTER because they are the RIGHT plans for us.

I'm also thankful to God for the way He provided everything for Linda and was clearly guiding her.

On other occasions I have wondered why I seem to procrastinate about something but in the end I realise that it wasn't just procrastination or laziness it was actually God keeping me from feeling ready to proceed with my original plan or thought; even in a small thing.

Yes God cares about the small things too.

The more we acknowledge the importance of God's guidance and look for it in all aspects of our lives the more we will come to recognise the times we are meant to hold back and the times He wants us to proceed.

We will learn to know His direction day by day, bit by bit as we become content to be in His Hands and trust that He is the only one who knows what's best for us.

We only think we know what's best.

He really does know what's best.

If you want to read more about our trip to South Korea you can start here 

The Day We Had to Say Goodbye - A Dose of Encouragement

Well our life here in Banbridge has changed once again.

For two weeks this year our daughter was home from South Korea and for the first of those two weeks our son was over from Leeds, England.  That meant we had a week in which the whole family (including our other son and daughter-in-law in Belfast) could do some things together, and we did have some nice meals and outings.

With visits there are all the hellos and hugs and lots of chat and catch up but there are also the goodbyes.  So it came that we first had to say goodbye to Jonathan and then last Friday it was goodbye to Linda.  Fortunately this time we have hopes of seeing her at Christmas for a quick visit back here because she really wants to be able to meet her nephew/niece who is due at the end of October.

This all brought back memories of another goodbye.

One which took place in February 2013.........

Our daughter Linda came back from university to live with us in September 2012 and all along we knew it was probably only for about 5/6 months while she decided what she wanted to do after completing her Masters Degree in Creative Writing.

Then on a Tuesday in February 2013 we drove her to Dublin Airport to fly to Dubai and then on to South Korea, where she was going to teach English in a school there for at least a year with the EPIK organisation.

Having had her with us for those months (after having seen her toddle off from our home in Belgium to university in Norwich in 2006 and then stay on there for a couple of years working and then another year at the university) our way of life did change somewhat from living as a couple who are very easy going with regards to when we do things, to three people in the equation of when we are going out, when we are eating, what we are eating, more detailed conversations and a lot more listening from us.

Now that extra dimension in the household had gone again.

Those last few weeks of her time with us had been very busy getting her visa organized, tickets, vaccinations, hospital appointments, dental appointments, shopping, going to certain types of  restaurants she may not have the chance to get to for a long time, visiting friends and family, saying goodbye to people at church, deciding what to pack and trying to sort out all her other stuff that will have to stay here (2 cases with a total of 30kg does not allow for much of her belongings to make the trip with her).

Then I was left with an empty bedroom to Spring Clean and find a space for all the bags and boxes she filled and left there.

If Fred did not work from home I think this would have been a very lonely time but as it was we just had to revert back to the way we were before she arrived, the way we had grown into since we came to Banbridge.

People may have said we should have taken the opportunity to make other changes then instead of going back to our old way.

Were we just going backward or should we have been determined to be different?

I think a lot of time could have been wasted in trying to

         decide what is best 
and analyzing it all about what we may have learned 
from the situation 
and how to use that insight to develop further 

when really we should just be living the way God wants us to live and doing each day what He prompts us to do.  I actually think the analysing and learning and insight bit sounds more like a business situation.

This doesn't have to be a mind changing event or life altering event, it is just something that happened on one day of our lives and was a sad occasion.

Today we are living another day in our lives in our walk with God

The following day, all the days in between and today we are living another day in our lives in our walk with God. There is no point in reading a lot into a situation just to have something to talk endlessly about but in the end do nothing anyway.

Everyone will view a situation differently depending on the type of person they are and how they see their relationship with God.  We cannot expect everyone to be the same as us or the same as others we have known.

We can only look at our own relationship with God and be prepared to make the small or bigger changes He wants us to make when it is right in His plan.

While Linda was back again this year she acknowledged that her move to South Korea had been the right move at the right time and spoke of how God had been helping her to grow in her faith even in a country where she does not understand a lot of the language.

We are thankful that she is happy there and we know that God has given her good friends and a good church family.

Even so it was hard again last week when we had to say those goodbyes again.

Some things change but some things don't - goodbyes are always hard.

But again I am reminded of the plaque we were given in 2004 when we were leaving Northern Ireland to go to live in Belgium

Yes the Lord is with us wherever we go, or wherever we stay 
and he is with you wherever you go or stay 
when you are a child of God, living each day for Him.

The important thing is that wherever we go 
we are living each day for Him.


Family Photo Shoot - Xtra Special Day

Sometimes our Xtra Special Days are a long time in coming!

What I mean is they are thought of

          and partly planned

                    but then may take weeks,

                              months or sometimes years

                                        to actually take place.

Take our FAMILY PHOTO SHOOT for example.

This one was thought of by me many years before this, definitely prior to 2004 when we moved from Northern Ireland to Belgium.

It was then decreed by our kids in 2007 as the gift they were going to give us for our 30th wedding anniversary that August while we were still living in Belgium.

It actually took place in February 2013 after we had returned to live in Northern Ireland.

I guess this shows that we are not a family ruled by the mother anyway!

We were always (well practically always) flexible in when we did things before we went to live in Belgium but then while we were in Belgium Daniel was living in Northern Ireland, later Linda was mostly at university in Norwich and then Jonathan was pastoring in Leeds so it became harder to arrange times for specific things that were to be all-family events and there were certain things that we really wanted to still share together as a family.

The problem is I always say we should do something and then think "Oh when will we ever get it organised" instead of just going ahead and putting them all on the spot and saying "Right we need a date".

Let me go back in time and explain that this was not our first Family Photo Shoot.

Approximately a year after each of our children were born we had a family photo taken, so we have the early years where the family grew in number from 3 of us to 5 of us.

Then another one took place in 1992 just a few weeks before we left Northern Ireland to go live in Delaware in the US for 3 years.

This was also done by a professional photographer although it took place in our home.
There was one of the extended family involving my parents, my sister's family and then this one of our family which meant we had one with the kids in their pre-teen years.

My father died a few months after we returned home to Northern Ireland in 1995 so it definitely was a good time to have taken those pictures and the fact that all the grandchildren had already been born was just another blessing.

Several times in the following years I would say we should have another family picture taken because the kids were older but all through their teen years they were not so keen on the idea.

Finally the spurt of energy was on for this Photo Shoot to be done in Feb 2013 as our daughter Linda was heading off to South Korea at the end of the month and for that moment at least there were 4 out of the 5 of us living in the same country and within 40 min drive of each other.

Okay, so a plane journey was still involved for Jonathan but when we were trying to do this a couple of years ago in Belgium it could have meant 3 plane journeys from 3 different places to get us all together.  And of course Jonathan wanted to come visit and see Linda before she set off anyway.

Then the question was "What to wear?"

  • Do we take an change of outfit so that we have a formal and casual one?
  • Will we clash if we don't talk this over first?
  • Is there anything we should avoid wearing?

         Well we really did talk it over but .....

1.  Linda and I still ended up in colours which looked very similar in the pics yet no-one thought they were that close in reality, and we were living in the same house at the time.

2.  The boys ended up in almost matching casual shirts (my dressing them to match when they were very young could not possibly have had any influence on this as they have always told me how they didn't like it).

3.  The more formal outfits presented us very much as a black, white, grey type of family!!

The photographer was very nice and easy to talk to.
Some of us have no problem in front of a camera but the rest of us just do not relax too well in that kind of situation  -  eyes close at the wrong times, we speak or giggle at the wrong times, etc.

Well when it actually happened I really enjoyed the Photo Shoot - as much as a person who hates getting her picture taken can possible enjoy it.  But of course what I really enjoyed was the family being together, laughing and joking and knowing that we were actually doing what we had always planned for.

Anyway one hour later and we are all done and hoping that we can manage to have a few decent pics to choose from out of the dozens he took.

We did some more formal wear pics like the one above and then some casual wear and you can see our almost matching shirts and colours.

Unfortunately Linda was off to Korea before we had a chance to go back and view the pictures but that was ok as we were all able to view them online and make our lists of our favourites.

Now that was the next problem such a long drawn out procedure as it turned out that we had very different opinions as to what we each liked or didn't like.

In the end (months later) I just had to make the final decision on what to get and Fred & I were pleased with that even if the kids had a few comments.  I never claimed we were the perfect family just a loving family.

Of course when I think of that day I know that it wasn't just the photo taking time that I enjoyed but also the coffee time afterwards when we found a little coffee shop in Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland.    It was nice to sit and chat about the different poses and how we thought it all went and relax together before heading back to our house in Banbridge.
Not only did we get good coffee but we also discovered they make great cheesecake as well.

I'm thankful that we were able to have this opportunity to have another family photo together because with Linda in South Korea & Jonathan in Leeds
we have only been together again twice. 

If you are trying to think of a nice way to celebrate a specific time in the life of your family why not go for a Photo Shoot.

And don't forget the coffee time together afterwards.


Tears Over a Little Letter - A Dose of Encouragement

She placed her hand on my shoulder after the prayer meeting in church and simply smiled when I looked up.
I stood up to give her a hug as I normally do and ask how she was.
Then I noticed the tears in her eyes as she quietly said
"I got a letter from your daughter today".

I was surprised that it had arrived so soon as our daughter Linda is living in South Korea, but I was pleased that it had.  I knew that she had written but I hadn't mentioned it to Irene.

So I reminded her that Linda had told her she would write but Irene said she had not really expected her to take the time to do it for someone like her.

Whether she meant this because she is an older lady in our church, or because she is someone Linda only got to know while staying with us for 6 months between doing her masters and going to South Korea, or because she felt that she was an insignificant member of the church, I'm not sure.

All I knew was that she was so delighted by a little letter from my daughter.

She had brought it with her and took it out of her handbag to share it with me.

Written on little sheets of paper shaped like Panda's heads, Linda had just shared some random little incidents and feelings with our older friend.

I had to laugh because it was so typical of Linda - the cute comic paper to make anyone smile and laugh and then the little random stories.

Then Irene shared something else with me; she told me how she had woken up that morning feeling very down but that all changed when she read Linda's letter.

It was not a very long letter, but it was just an act of kindness that certainly made a difference that morning.  In fact later our Pastor told me how this letter was the first thing she spoke of when he had arrived at her home to take her to the prayer meeting that evening.

So today I want to write about a very basic thing that more and more is getting overlooked by all of us these days.

A little thing like a handwritten letter can mean so much more to someone than we can imagine,

     it can bring tears of joy to someone,

          it can show love to someone,

               it can say "I still think of you and care about you even when I don't see you"

                    it can just keep that connection fresh between two people.

A little bit of effort on our part can mean a whole lot of joy and encouragement to someone else.

Who can you encourage this week?

So who are you going to write to this week?

Will it be a letter or will you buy a sweet card and add a greeting?

Will you make a card and give it the really personal touch?

Or will you think of other similar ways to connect with someone?

Let's see who God wants us to bless with our thoughtfulness this week.