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.
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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.

On being a TCK that no, hasn’t travelled much. Yep.

[Definition of TCK (Third Culture Kid): A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture. The third culture kid builds relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any.]

For the past few years, I saw a lot of posts on the internet that equate a TCK to getting on lots of airplanes and travelling tons.

And I could never relate to this because I am a TCK from birth and have not been on airplanes nor travelled much until I graduated from college. (Uncivilized TCK in the house!) For me, being a TCK has been mainly about culture. It means I mixed up the different cultures I was exposed to and formed my own culture.

[Proof of my TCK-ness: I was born to Korean parents who lived in Argentina, who moved to Paraguay when I was six, and I attended a mixture of local, Korean, and American churches, as well as local and American schools. Thus, I am currently a mix of Korean, Argentinean, Paraguayan, and American cultures all mixed into this little Asian body.]

So when I see articles like the ones below, I add a few words to the title as I read it:

“For Third Culture Kids with Parents of Higher Income who Travel a Lot by Airplane, Travel is Home”.asdf.png

On this next website, #11 assumes all TCKs have a lot of airport and airlines experiences. Nope. Not true of me.jkl.png

I could find many more articles on TCKs, and lots (if not most) will have something about airplanes, passports, and constant country-hopping. All of which do not apply to me.

I guess this means there are different kinds of TCKs, and that the vast majority can identify with the whole passport/airport travelling experiences. So even amongst the TCKs, am I a minority?! Maybe the less-travelled TCKs are not getting as much of a voice on the internet as the “higher end” ones?

For us, as a working-class immigrant family, traveling was only done to go to Argentina on summer break to visit relatives. And we didn’t travel by airplane. We went on an 18-hour bus ride (20 hours if the border was crowded) to Argentina. That one time we went to Argentina by airplane (a meager 2-hour flight) because for some reason bus prices and airplane tickets were the same price, we took a bunch of pictures to commemorate that. I still remember the thrill of that one time I got to be on the plane. I must have been about 9 years old. The next time I travelled by airplane was when I turned 19.

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Proud momma took a bunch of pics of us at the airport and us getting on the plane! Yay! I remember being SOOOOOO excited about this once-in-a-life-time experience of flying on an actual airplaaaaane!

Also, the whole thing with the passport stamps. I didn’t even have a passport until I was 19 (because Argentina and Paraguay are part of the Mercosur, you don’t need a passport to travel between these two countries).

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Sorry BuzzFeed, no passport stamp experience for me! 😉

Lastly, there was no country-hopping for me as I grew up. I lived six years in Argentina, and then the next thirteen years in Paraguay. I don’t feel the itch to move to a new country every five seconds. This might be what some TCKs feel like, but not all! I quite liked living in South America, thank you very much.

So here is to the TCKs who have never travelled, travelled very little, are yet to travel, or don’t like to travel! To those who don’t know what a traveling bug or itch is! To those who didn’t have diplomatic, military, professional, missionary parents, but had immigrant parents with a lower income! To those who might have travelled a bit, but not by airplane (and instead travelled by horse, camel, bus, boat, ferry, railroad)! To the refugee TCKs, to the undocumented TCKs, the immigrant TCKs, and whatever TCK I missed mentioning, you are still a hipster, cool TCK!

 

(This post is to be read not too 진지하게 [a.k.a. not too seriously]. I’m not trying to define or undefine anything. I just found it funny how all the TCK posts that were popping up on my Facebook feed included that airplane statement, and I just wanted to give my own statement about that statement, if you know what I mean. )

La situacion de Bs. As. en relacion a la caca de perro (Buenos Aires’ Relationship with Dog Poo)

(English version below)

Observaciones sobre la caca de perro y Bs. As.

  1. La cantidad de caca de perro en las veredas ha disminuido.

Desde que tengo memoria, que es más o menos desde el año 1995, las veredas de la capital Argentina fueron caracterizadas por tener una probabilidad alta de pisar caca de perro.

Sin embargo, cuando volví a la capital luego de una larga estadía en Corea del Sur, no encontraba tanta caca de perro como lo hice en años previos. Lo que sí encontré fueron muchos carteles del Gobierno de la Ciudad que decían “Seamos más los que levantamos la caca de perro”. ¿Será por esto que encuentro menos caca en las calles?

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  1. Aunque la cantidad de caca de perro ha disminuido, igual es mucho más comparada a la de otros países (mis experiencias al decir “otros países” se limitan a Canadá, Estados Unidos, Paraguay, Perú, Brasil, Corea del Sur, Rusia, Suiza, e Inglaterra).
  2. Cuando caminas por tu propio barrio, tu cerebro ya calcula en qué cuadras usualmente hay caca de perro y tus ojos automáticamente escanean el piso cuando llegas a esa área.
  3. Cuando caminas por territorio nuevo, un escaneo del piso es recomendado por cada dos o tres pasos que das.
  4. Aunque estés en una área comercial donde sólo ves negocios, hay que ser precavido y escanear el piso. O sino, preparate para una sorpresa no grata.
  5. En varias ocasiones, notás que hay una caca de perro que alguien pisó recientemente. Si este es el caso, tus próximos diez pasos deben ser muy precavidos porque la persona que pisó la caca dejó rastros de su desgracia bien marcadas.

La caca de perro en las veredas no es algo de la cual podemos estar orgullosos, pero al mismo tiempo su presencia testifica cuanto nos gusta tener perros y caminarlos de acá para allá. A pesar de que a ningún porteño le gusta la caca de perro en las veredas,  todavía no me encontré con ninguno que no le gusten los perros. Viviendo así en una ciudad amante de perros, a pesar de las complejidades de esquivar caca de perro cada dos por tres, me alegra ver tantos perros diversos todos los días; incluyendo los dos perros de mi hermano: Messi y Neymar.


Observations on Dog Poo and Bs. As.

  1. The quantity of dog poo found in side walks has greatly diminished.

Ever since I remember, the sidewalks of Argentina’s capital city have been infamous for giving you too many opportunities to step on dog poo,

However, when I came back to Buenos Aires after a long period of absence, I noticed there was less dog poo on the streets. I also noticed many signs made by the Argentinean government saying “Let it be more of us who pick up dog poo.” Maybe this is why there is less dog poo?

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  1. Although the amount of dog poo on side walks have diminished, it is still a lot compared to other countries. (When I say “other countries”, my experiences are limited to Canada, U.S.A., Paraguay, Brazil, South Korea, Russia, Switzerland, and England).
  2. When you walk in your neighborhood, your brain will map out which blocks usually have dog poo, and your eyes will automatically scan the floor when you reach that area.
  3. When walking through new territory, a floor scan every two to three steps is recommended.
  4. Even if you are walking in a commercial area, where all you see are stores, you still need to be careful and scan the floor. Otherwise, you might get an unwelcome surprise on your foot.
  5. Many times, you will find dog poo that has been stepped on recently. If this is the case, your next ten steps must be careful because the person who stepped on poo has left his stained footsteps all over that area.

The sign you will see around the city now-a-days. It says “Let it be more of us who pick up dog poo.”

Even though the unpleasant presence of dog poo on sidewalks is not something to be proud of, its presence testifies that Buenos Aires people love having dogs and walking them to and fro. No matter how much we hate dog poo on sidewalks, I have yet to meet a porteño who hates dogs. Living in a dog-loving city, in spite of the complexities dog poo presents, I am glad I get to see all kinds of dogs every day; including my brother’s two lovely dogs Messi and Neymar.