Why I am Back in Argentina

Throughout 2017, numerous people kept asking me why I was back and how long I was going to stay in Argentina. I would tell them I wasn’t sure how long I would be here because it would depend on God and tell them I was back “because God called me back”. With this reply, I usually got three types of reactions:

  1. They look at me expecting a longer answer; a more ‘plausible’ reason.
  2. They look at me like I’m telling them the most impractical answer in the world
  3. They say something along the lines of “Right… so you came back to get settled with the family and to get married!”

*face palm*

It seems like my answer is too broad and non-satisfactory to most people. The thing is, that there’s no other logical explanation as to why I came back other than a strong conviction that this was God’s will.

I left a stable job where I was loved and respected, my circles of intimate friends, a rent that was getting cheaper by the year, the only church I ever felt I belonged to, and threw or gave more than half of my belongings. I had seriously no logical reason for leaving. But I did leave. All of this because of the assurance that God was telling me to pack up and leave. I’m pretty sure that had I ignored that small voice, I wasn’t going to be struck dead by lightning, but I just know it was kairos time to leave. It’s funny I have this assurance because there are so many days when I miss my independence, diversity of fellowship and ministry, and so much more.

The assurance that I left in kairos timing came not because everything is great here in Argentina, but because I am experiencing a complete desert here, and in this desert, God is teaching me to depend on Him for my daily manna and quail (many people say ‘manna’ only… but I cannot leave quail out as a meat lover. ahem).

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Back in the land of the cows for a year already!
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애매하다

한국어로만 이해 있는 단어가 있다: 애매함. 애매하다는 표현은 인생을 완벽하게 표현한다. 애매하다는 것은 이것도 아니고 저것도 아니라는 뜻이다.

 

나는 애매한 한국사람

나는 애매한 아르헨티나 사람

나는 애해하게 파라과이에서 잘았고

나는 애매하게 국제학교를 다녔고

나는 애매하게 학교를 10 이상 옮겨 다녔고

나는 애매하게 이사를 19 이상 다녔고

나는 애매하게 9개의 교회를 다녀봤고

 

애매하게 전공을 졸업하고

애매하게 전공과 관련 것들을 듯한 .

애매하게 취직 됐고

애매하게 직장을 그만 뒀고

애매하게 HIS에서 파트타임으로 일하다가

애매하게 HIS에서 풀타임으로 일하게 됐고

애매하게 아르헨티나로 돌아왔고

애매하게 몸이 좋다가

애매하게 몸이 건강해지고 있다.

 

삶에 많은 것들은 애매하지만 한가지는 애매하지 않아지고 있다.

그것은 하나님을 향한 나의 믿음이다.

 

살다 보니 나도 믿을만한 사람이 아니고 아무리 좋은 친구들과 가족이 있어도 누구든지 하나님만큼 듬직하지 않다는 것을 발견하고 있다.

 

하나님만은 애매하지 않으셨고 하나님의 음성을 더욱 들으려고 가만히 있으면 하나님의 신실하시고 아름다운 뚜렷함이 보이고 들린다. 하지만 하나님이 너무 아름다워지고 너무나도 가까워질 나도 모르게 하나님과의 관계를 애매하게 만들려고 한다. 애매함에 익숙한 나는 하나님의 음성을 대충 듣고 대충 이해하는 하고 싶다. 하나님의 진정한 음성을 들으면 다시 죄성에 빠질만한 변명이 없어져서 그런 건가?

내가 아는 패턴은 어느 정도의 불행함과 불안감이 있는 건데 하나님이 주시는 자유와 행복은 너무 보이고 불가능할 같아서… 하나님께로 가까이 갔을 떼 모습이 너무나도 비참하고 싫어질까 봐… 애매하게 살려고 하나님의 음성을 애매하게 들으려고 한다.

 

생각해보면 이런 생각을 한다는 자체가 나는 정말 하나님을 모른다는 뜻이다. 하나님은 사랑이시며 진실이시며 아낌 없이 자기 자신을 우리에게 선물 하신 분이다. .. 하나님의 사랑은 신비롭다. 이런 분이 나를 사랑하고 기다려주고 있으니 애매함에서 벗어나 애매하지 않은 분을 향해 나아가고 싶다. 나아갈 거다.

 

 

The Snail’s Death

As I was leaving Carasucias (a children’s home), I saw R, M, A, Am, E, and C hunched over together.

I approached them and they all talked at the same time:

“R and E killed this snail!”

“The snail was pregnant!”

“C told me to kill it! C, tell her how you told me to kill it!”

“But it wasn’t me who killed it! R and E killed her!”

“Look at the poor baby snails… all dead.”

And so forth they showed me and told me about the dead snail.

It seemed that they regretted doing this, and couldn’t stop looking at what they had done.

I looked at it for some time too and suggested that we have a proper burial for it. I didn’t want to touch the scattered remains of the poor snail, so I asked the girls to bring some leaves so that we can gather all its parts and head towards the dirt.

Thus, after scooping up the snail in all its gooeyness and shells, all of us headed towards the dirt, where we started digging up the dirt. As soon as we finished, I suggested saying our last words to the snail.

R, one of the ones accused of killing it, went first. She said, “Sorry for killing you. And I didn’t know you were pregnant. Sorry for that too.”

And A told R, “You should be really sorry; especially to the little babies that died. Imagine just being in the womb, and they weren’t even born, and BAM. They died.”

R looked like she was truly sorry. After this E said similar words as R.

Then, I asked, “Is there something we can sing for the snail?”

The girls couldn’t think of anything else but ‘Happy birthday to you’, so they sang this but stopped midway as they thought it wasn’t the most appropriate song in the face of death.

Then R asked, “Will it go to heaven?”

I was honest with what I thought. I said, “I don’t think so… because it has no soul like you and me. It doesn’t know right from wrong.”

“Will I go to heaven if I die?” R asked.

“If you believe in Jesus, you will.”

“I do.”

I don’t know to what extent she believes what she says or whether she does know Jesus, but it was amazing to see conscience at work. After killing the snail, the girls were feeling guilty and sad about it. With a bit of guidance, I showed them we could at least give it a dignified death to show we were sorry for what we did. Also, by not brushing this off as meaningless child play, we were able to dig a bit deeper into life and death.

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The tomb we made for Mrs. Snail and her children.

Oppa

Oppa.

 

He turned 30 yesterday.

That’s a new decade!

Hooray!

 

So here are thirty lines for him (not including the above ones):

 

Whatever I say rarely makes him laugh. (썰렁)

Whatever I say is usually not worth his full attention. (재미 없음)

Whatever I do is dorky in his eyes. (어설픔)

Except when it’s not.

 

There are rare moments

When he pats my head

Or squeezes my cheeks

And says, “우리 동생”.

I won’t lie;

In that short time,

I do feel the love.

 

But many days,

It’s hard to feel the love when oppa:

Yells, gets mad, half-ignores

Me. At me.

 

If anyone else treated me like this,

I wouldn’t give them a second glance.

But he’s my oppa.

And that changes everything.

 

Even when my 자존심 is crushed,

I always hope for reconciliation.

Even when I think he’s the biggest jerk to me,

I don’t want any evil to befall him.

 

Friend and foe,

Mocker and encourager,

Indifferent and caring,

He seems to be both;

A paradox of good and bad

All of it in one.

Oppa. Happy Birthday. TQM.

 

From your fan #1 a.k.a. 동생.

Hitting the big 5-0 (kg)

Today, for the first time in Eli’s history, I hit the big 5-0.

50 kg in the house. (YAAAAY!!!)

Socially, skinny people aren’t allowed to speak of their woes. Well, this is a virtual journal, and #thestruggleisreal, so here’s my spiel.

Ever since I can remember I have been underweight. And I have low blood pressure and a high metabolism. These three babies combined means that anything that requires energy tires me out immensely. Thus, exhaustion has been my constant companion.

I remember that missing school due to sickness was a common occurrence for me.

I remember going shopping with my cousin, and being so tired that I just sat on the sidewalk as my cousin got me a Coke to give me S.O.S. energy.

I remember blacking out in public places as well as in the privacy of my own home.

All because of exhaustion.


One of the main reasons I wanted to gain weight was so that I could have more energy. A life with a deficit of energy hasn’t allowed me to do half the things I wanted to do had I the energy to do them. I still can’t do the many things I’d like, but now that I’m 50KG!!! I feel like I have more energy.

My formula for gaining weight seems to be Argentina.

Before I went to college in Korea, I lived in Argentina for about eight months (before this I was living in Paraguay). During those eight months, I went from 45kg to 46~48kg. Ever since then, I have been in that kilogram span. At my worst, I would go back to 45kg. But I could never, no matter how hard I tried, hit the 5-0. Now, it’s been about 9 months back in Argentina, and behold I am FIFTY KILOS!

I attribute this great feat to three things:

  1. Food: My family does not miss a meal. They are food lovers and make sure I eat at least two meals a day. (Back in Korea, I wasn’t as regular with wholesome meals, now that I think of it.)
  2. Metabolism: at twenty-eight, my metabolism might be slowing down a bit, and more nutrition going into my body rather than out the door.
  3. Pilates: I started working out about four months ago. I am amazed that my body is not all mush now. Compared to many other Pilates students, I am mush. But compared to previous me, I am an Olympic athlete.

If you still don’t understand why I’m raving about this, imagine being underweight from the time you were five years old until you are twenty-eight years old. That’s a long time of being underweight with an extremely low reserve of energy and of being prone to get sick. Do you know how many times I looked down on to see my weight, only to be disappointed by a 47.5kg mark? Do you know how many times I wished I had more muscle so that I could carry heavy things? Do you know what low energy on a daily basis means?!

I want to celebrate. I need to celebrate.

I am hence celebrating October 25, 2017 as The Day I Hit the Big 5-0,and hoping I keep up a healthy lifestyle of an average-weight person! Woot woot!

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According to my cousin, my love of food has made me a “fat person trapped in the body of a skinny person”. This is no longer true! Now it’s more like “fat person trapped in the body of an average person”! 🙂

Ordinarily Extraordinary Life

Ever since I can remember, I had ‘adventure phobia’. I wanted to be as ordinary as I could be. I didn’t want any excitement in my life, and having a secondary-character kind of life was my life goal. Long story short, when I unexpectedly went to college in Korea, God met me relationally, and I realized that if I was going to follow Jesus, I had to let go of my Ordinary Life Idol. I reluctantly let go of it, and the last eight years have been quite the dramatic first-character kind of adventure (like a soap opera, it includes dramatic airport meetings, coincidences that are too great and numerous to believe, divorced and remarried parents, the list goes on).

Now that I find myself back in Argentina, with no clear plans or leads from God, I am struggling with being here because everything is so ordinary. So far, God led me in a “wow, that’s really cool” way, and I came to expect this same pattern again: more adventure! So when that didn’t happen and is still not happening, I thought I must have misheard or done something wrong. Now, after seven months in Argentina, I am finally getting the hang of what this ‘next adventure’ is about. This time, it seems as though God wants to whisper something to me. And I hope I have ears to listen.

Since letting go of the Ordinary Life Idol, I subconsciously built an I-Need-to-be-Extraordinary Idol. It meant I wanted to be extraordinary not in terms of money or fame, but in Kingdom of God stuff. And somehow, I started defining “Kingdom of God stuff” as the visible and famous Christians’ deeds.

I thought my calling had to be as significant as the Bible’s “main” characters or as the current Christian celebrities: Joseph, David, Paul, Katie Davis, Francis Chan, etc. I am literal to a fault, which means that if someone tells me “Paul was a great apostle. Be like Paul”, I literally start thinking that in order for me to be of any use in the Kingdom of God, I need to have some dramatic sort of suffering like Paul did and be as theologically eloquent as he was, and make some kind of mark that can be recorded in a modern-day Christian book. When I read about Francis Chan talking to ex-convicts, who go on to become pastors themselves, I ache terribly to do such awesome things as he does. So I compare their deeds and results to mine. Thus, I feel like I’m not doing something clearly significant or meaningful for Him as they are doing, and that I need to ‘push myself’ more to be like them.

Knowing these dramatic stories, I am dissatisfied as I see myself in a hiatus year where my health is slowly recovering, and I don’t do much except for hanging out with my family. I want to get past the little annoyances that happen every day as I live with them; I want to be useful and bright in something that is ‘tangibly’ Kingdom of God centered (for example, feeding and evangelizing the poor, the orphans, and the widows).

Then one day it hit me: my calling as a Christian could be to be as “insignificant” as the servant who accompanied Saul to look for his lost donkeys, or as the widow that gave Elijah room and board along with some food, or the widow that Jesus saw giving all her money as an offering unto the Lord.

I realized that the disconnection between what God has called me to do and the focus I am giving to the outer appearance of things is great. While it is true that people like David and Francis Chan are people of God, just because my track record as a Christian isn’t newspaper material, it doesn’t make me more or less of a Christian. Now, I don’t want this to be an excuse for me to never do anything bold for God. The widow who gave food to Elijah was bold because that was all the food she had left! Like her, I hope and pray I will be ready to do that bold thing God calls me to do at whichever season in my life!

But that’s the point: it is God who decides what, when, and where. I don’t get to choose and plan out the grandiose thing I will do for God. God determines how I will serve Him; what my calling is. And that something can be as great as defeating a giant with a stone or as small as giving bread to a hungry prophet.

I might not do something or be someone grandiose in this life, and my Christian walk is not meant to focus on that. Perhaps I will directly, with my own mouth, preach the gospel and have many people convert thanks to my direct words. But perhaps I might never see one person convert because of my speech. Whether people convert or not is not up to me, but to God. It is my duty to be faithful and proclaim the gospel wherever I am, but it is not in my power to convert them.

The real glory, and the real battle is in the unseen. How come Saul’s servant knew so much about how to find Samuel and who he was? How come the widow had enough faith to not reject Elijah, though she had barely any food left and he was wanted dead by the queen of Israel? And how did the widow Jesus mentioned have enough love and faith to give up her entire possession as an offering unto God? I am sure these nameless, background Bible characters knew God. And I’m sure they led extremely ordinary lives. And they were willing and prepared to do the small yet big actions of faith required of them at the right time.

Wherever I am put by God, my calling is to be holy (set apart), and to love sincerely as I serve others. I can happily be all of this in whatever circumstance God allows as long as He’s with me. And funnily enough, as I am learning to live by these principles, I see the Holy Spirit giving me boldness to keep quiet at times, to be patient and kind, and to love in a way that I know it is not from me but from God. I am learning to live an Ordinarily Extraordinary life, and it is quite the adventure.

 

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1st Time Voting! :)

I am 28 going on 29, yet this year is the first time I ever cast a vote. Circumstances were such that I couldn’t exert my vote until now. (Valid circumstances, I promise!)

And curiously, this year I voted for different positions in two countries.

I voted for the presidential elections in Korea, and I voted (and will vote) for senators and congressmen in Argentina.

Honestly, I felt like a little girl who gets to do adult stuff. (I mean, imagine voting for the first time at the age of 28!)

I always looked at politics from afar, but after the Sewol incident in Korea, and even just living in Argentina and seeing how politics is such an important part of daily life here, I realized I need to educate myself more on these issues. Not as one who wants to criticize government, but as a citizen who exerts the rights allowed to herself.

I also find it funny that 2017 has become that year where I:

  1. Vote for the first time.
  2. Vote in Argentina AND Korea.

Am I officially a bicultural adult now? 😛

A lot of adulating in one year.

 

p.s.: Found out this year that in Argentina, voting is mandatory. You can legally get fined for not voting! Obviously this law isn’t enforced much, but I thought it was an interesting way for the country to motivate its citizens to vote.

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Excited voter right here.