When I had a place of my own…/Cuando tenía mi propia casa…

[En castellano abajo]

When I had a place of my own, I loved having people over; especially girls who needed some time out from studies, girls who felt like didn’t have a place they belonged, girls who needed a place to stay, or anyone actually. I loved opening my home and doing my best to make them feel at home. The more guests I had, the more I developed a knack for knowing how to make them feel comfortable. I rejoiced when my guests were comfortable enough to sleep a nap in my living room or when they grabbed themselves things from the fridge or tea table without asking permission.

For some reason, there is one anecdote that sums up how happy I was with how comfortable people were in coming to my house. One time, I got home and discovered chocolate and ice-cream cone crumbs on my floor. I looked in the trash can and I found chocolate ice-cream wrappings. I looked in the freezer and saw two ice-cream cones. I called out to see if my roommate was home, but she wasn’t. What a mystery. My roommate wasn’t the type to buy that kind of chocolate ice-cream. When she came home, I asked her about it. She said she hadn’t bought it.

Later on, we found out that a dear dongseng R (girl who is younger than me) came over to my house when my roommate and I were not there. So, she let herself in (I let many girls know the password to my house), and waited for us a bit. She had brought three chocolate ice-cream cones to share with us. Since we weren’t coming, she sat on our easy chair and ate her ice-cream by herself. When she was done, she left our ice-creams in the freezer and left.

The image that stuck in my head was cute little R sitting in my living room, peacefully finishing her ice-cream as she waited for us, and I was glad she could just come and do her thing in my house even though I wasn’t physically there.

These and many other stories made me think that I was a channel of blessing to them. But, as I was doing the dishes today, I realized what a huge blessing they were to me! Allowing me to share into their lives meant they were sharing their lives with me! Now-a-days I do a lot of housework by myself; there is no one to converse with or to listen to. I miss doing the dishes or sweeping my floor as I listen to laughter and conversations, or girls lining up asking how they can help clean up, or girls being comfortable in the silence as they wait for me to finish whatever chores were at hand.

Conclusion: They were a blessing to me for coming and sharing, opening up, eating, cooking, washing dishes, sitting on my cushions and bed, relaxing, crying, and laughing. They shared parts of their precious lives with me, and I will forever be grateful and humbled for having had such wonderful visitors in my home.


 

Cuando tenía mi propio apartamento en Corea, me encantaba ser anfitriona. Venían chicas que necesitaban un descanso de los estudios, chicas que no tenían donde ir, chicas que necesitaban hospedaje, o cualquier persona que quería un tiempo y espacio de descanso. Me encantaba abrir las puertas de mi casa y hacer todo lo que podía para hacerlos sentirse como en casa. Cuando mis huéspedes se sentían tan cómodos como para dormirse una siesta en mi sala, o cuando se agarraban cosas de la mesa de té o de la heladera sin preguntarme, me alegraba el día porque sabía que realmente se sentían como en casa.

Hay una anécdota que resume lo mucho que me gustaba que la gente se sintiera como en casa en mi casa. Una vez, llegué a casa y pisé migajas de cucurucho y pedacitos de chocolate. Me fijé en el tacho de basura y vi que había papelitos del helado. Me fijé en el freezer y había dos helados iguales que el del tacho. Que misterio. Mi compañera de piso no compraba ese tipo de helado. Cuando vino a casa, le pregunto si fue ella quien lo compro. Me dijo que no.

Después de un tiempo, dongseng R (quiere decir chica que es más joven que yo) vino a casa cuando nosotras no estábamos en casa. Se dejó entrar por si misma (les había dada la contraseña a varias chicas), y nos esperó un rato. Había traído tres helados para comer con nosotras. Ya que no veníamos, se sentó en mi silla cómoda y se comió su helado. Cuando terminó, dejó nuestros helados en el freezer y se fue.

Y esa es la imagen que se me quedó en la mente. Mi querida R sentada en mi living, cómodamente comiendo su helado mientras nos esperaba. Me hizo muy feliz saber que podía venir a mi casa, hacer lo suyo cómodamente hasta cuando no estaba yo presente allí.

Por medio de anécdotas como éstas y muchas otras, yo pensé que era un canal de bendición a esas personas que pasaron por mi casa. Pero, mientras lavo los platos hoy, me doy cuenta de que ellos fueron un gigantesco canal de bendición para mí. Permitirme abrir mis puertas hacia sus vidas quiere decir que ellos estaban compartiendo sus vidas conmigo. Hoy en día, hago quehaceres de la casa sola y no hay nadie con quien hablar o a quien escuchar. Extraño lavar platos o limpiar el piso mientras escucho conversaciones y risas, o tener chicas que me preguntan de buenas ganas cómo pueden ayudarme, o cuando están cómodas en el silencio mientras esperan a que termine.

Conclusión: Ellos fueron una fuente de bendición a mí por venir y compartir, por abrirse conmigo, comer, cocinar, lavar los platos, sentarse en mis almohadones y mi cama, relajarse, llorar, y reír. Ellos compartieron partes de sus preciosas vidas conmigo, y para siempre estaré agradecida y humilde por haber tenido tanta gente maravillosa en mi hogar.

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I made a Visitor’s Wall and it was fun to see what people wrote. We had gotten up to four pages of these. Some messages were for my roommates. / Había hecho una Pared de Visitas y fue divertido ver que escribía la gente. Tuvimos hasta cuatro páginas de esto. Algunos mensajes eran para mis compañeras de piso.
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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.

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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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. )

인사의 파워 (The Power of Bowing)

2015년 1월 11일의 일기 내용 (English below):

오늘 정말 오랜만에 동네 공원에 산책 하러 갔다. 한 시간 넘게 산책 한 후 천천히 집으로 걷고 있었다.

거의 사람 없는 공원에 어느 할아버지께서 내 방향으로 걷고 있으셨다. 나는 생각 없이 살짝 인사를 했다 (45도 인사). 그러니 할아버지가 기분 좋은 놀란 표정을 지으며 나한테 말 걸기 시작 했다.

지금까지 살아오면서 이런 인사를 처음 받는다고 반복적으로 말씀하셨다. 그러며 나에게 몇 살이냐고 물었다.

내 나이를 말 하자 할아버지께서 “적은 나이도 아닌데 인사를 했네?” 하며 계속 놀랍다는 표현을 하셨다.

그러자 나는 이렇게 말 했다, “아, 제가 아르헨티나에서 왔는데요, 거기선 길거리 걷다가 한국사람 같은 어르신을 보면 무조건 인사 하거든요.” (솔직히 이건 내 사랑하는 엄마한테서 받은 교육 ㅋㅋ)

그래서 할아버지가 물었다, “오~ 아르헨티나? 부모님께서도 거기 계시고?”

“네~~”

“거기서 무슨 일 하셔?”

“옷 장사요~”

“응, 맞아, 아르헨티나에선 의류사업 한다고 들었지. 그럼 여기는 어떻게 오게 된거니?”

“유학 왔어요~ ‘한동대학교’에요.”

“아, 그럼 몇 학년?”

“졸업 했고 지금은 ‘한동국제학교’에서 스페인어 가르쳐요.”

“나도 초등학교에서 일하다 조금 전에 은퇴 했어. 지금은 연금 받고 있지. 그럼 너의 미래는 어떻게 할 생각이니?”

갑작스럽게 물어보셔서 조금 당황 했지만 내가 생각할 수 있는 가장 진실한 대답을 했다, “저는 하나님께서 부르시는 데로 살려고요.”

“음… 그건 너무나도 이론적인 거고.. 나는 가톨릭이거든. 그런데 조금 더 구체적인 계획이 있어야지? 부모님한테서 도움 그만 받고…”

“아, 저는 대학교 4학년때부턴 부모님의 도움 없이 지냈습니다.저도 부모님한테서 경제적인 도움을 최대한 빨리 안 받아야 한다고 생각합니다.”

이 말을 듣자 할아버지께선 미소를 지으셨다. “그래, 그래야지.”

“그리고 조금 더 구체적으로 말 하자면 저는 계속 교육 쪽에 관심이 있어요.”

“아, 그렇군. 그래, 그럼 잘 되기를 바래~” 하며 우리는 각자의 갈 길을 갔다.

그리고 나는 할아버지를 위해 기도 했다: 하나님의 뜻을 따르는 것이 이론적인 것이 아니라 가장 현실적인 것이라는 걸 깨닫기 위해.

나의 작은 행동 하나로 이 할아버지께서는 아르헨티나교포/한동대학생/한동국제학교선생님/나를 키우신 부모님/기독교인에 대한 좋은 인상이 남았을 거라고 생각이 든다. 이런 일상적인 것에서 남을 존중 하려고 하는 것이 아름답다는 것을 느꼈다. 아이고 기분 좋아라 🙂

(이상한 한국말 죄송합니다. 하지만 한국인 할아버지를 만난거라서 최대한 한글로 써보고 싶었습니다.ㅋㅋㅋ)


Translation of Journal from January 11, 2015

Today I went for a walk at a park near my house. After about an hour of walking in the park, I decided to head back home. On my way back, I found myself walking towards an elderly man. Without thinking, I did the Asian bow (45 degrees of bowing, since it was an elderly person I didn’t really know).

I was about to walk on when the elderly man said, “Wow, this is the first time in my life I am greeted this way! (For non-Asians who might not understand what’s going on, what he means by this statement is this: although younger people should respect elders by bowing when they see them, today’s generation hasn’t been doing this, and therefore I am surprised to see you doing it to me right now!)” Then he asked me how old I was.

When he heard my age, he said, “Well, you certainly aren’t super young, yet you still bowed to me!”

And I replied, “Oh, well, I bowed because I come from Argentina. And there, we usually bow down to any Korean-looking elder.” (But to be honest, it’s a thing my mom taught me. I’m not sure if other Asians do that too :P)

“Ah, Argentina? Are your parents there too?”

“Yes, they own a small clothing business.”

“Ah, I heard about the Koreans in Argentina: they do clothing businesses. So why did you come to Korea?”

“I came to study here at Handong.”

“So what grade are you in?”

“Oh, I graduated. Now I am working at the international school in the university. I teach Spanish.”

“Ah, I see. I used to be involved with Elementary School education. Now I am retired and living on a pension. So, how are you planning on living out your future?”

I was a bit taken aback by this sudden question, but answered what was in my heart and mind, “Well, I plan to live out God’s will for my life.”

“Well, that’s too theoretical of an answer. I mean, I am Catholic too. But what is your realistic plan? It’s not good to live off of your parents.”

“Oh, I haven’t been dependent on them since around my 4th year of college. I totally agree that we shouldn’t be dependent on parents financially as soon as possible.”

When he heard this, he smiled and said, “Yes, that is correct.”

Then I said, “As for a more concrete plan, I am wanting to get deeper into education somehow.”

The elderly man ended the conversation by saying, “Well, I hope it all turns out for good!”

As I walked away, I prayed for this elderly man, “Lord, may you reveal to him that following after Your will is not a theoretical belief but the most practical thing that he could do in his life.”

Through the small action of doing an Asian bow, this elderly man was left with a good impression of a Korean diaspora from Argentina/Handong University student/ HIS teacher/ the parents who raised me/ Christians. By being respectful in a tiny, every day thing, I got to experience a simple yet beautiful conversation with an elderly man, where I even got to share about my faith; even if it was just a little bit. 🙂

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On Death and Eternity

Why does the body decay onto death, yet we desire so much to stay “forever” young? To live forever? How did we think of “forever” when no one lived that long in this present life?

No one living knows what happens after death. There are millions of hypotheses, but no actual answers.

No one on this side of life can prove or disprove eternity.

Then, how is it that we came up with the concept of eternity?

I think about death every now and then, and I am terrified at the thought of eternity as much as the thought of no eternity.

If there is eternity, where, how, and with whom would I be? Even when I thought of heaven as a lovely, majestic place, it didn’t help my terror because I have been to some lovely, majestic places, but I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable in them. If heaven was about singing and singing and singing eternally, that seemed boring to me. Would I be singing the same words again and again, living in clouds with white robes along with the additional superpower of moving around without the constraints of time and space? And would I be able to “learn” in heaven? Would there be mistakes? What things would I remember from my earthly life? These and more questions come to mind.

If there is no eternity, then how come I think of that concept in and of itself? If it’s a figment of my imagination, why did my imagination imagine that? If I am a species that simply wants to procreate my kind (as evolutionary animals should desire to do for the survival of my species), then why think of eternity or the lack of it instead of going out there and having as many children as I can? That’s what the rest of the animal kingdom does. If no eternity will be like a dreamless sleep of nothingness, why are there so many people trying to prove or disprove it in this world?

Both believing in eternity or no eternity require faith. And because of my faith in a Maker who is eternal, my thoughts lean more towards thinking there is such a thing as eternity. I still think it’s a terrifying thing: death and eternity. Especially growing up, I would lie in bed and think of them both. And my heart would almost physically hurt at the thought that I wasn’t ready to face death. I wasn’t sure I was a good enough person, and whenever pastors asked, “If you die right now, are you sure you will go to heaven?” I remember never being quite sure. It was a black or white deal. So I would push back the thought of death when it became too oppressive.

But then, throughout my years in Korea, I met God relationally. And this has been helping me a great deal to think and rethink everything that has to do with death and eternity. Before, when heaven was simply a place far away, it seemed majestic yet cold. But once I met my Maker, who cared for me more deeply than I know how to express, who would rather have me rejoice in Him rather than be an outwardly obedient child, heaven became relational. Heaven is where God resides. Heaven is the fullness of His Kingdom. His kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. This means that the golden, the majestic will look to be so not because of the materialistic value it will have, but because God is there, and His presence makes everything come alive the way it was meant to be. So I imagine that if God made me and you as diverse as could be, then our modes of worship and creativity will be even more what they should be once we reach eternity in His presence. Consider a Maker who not just physically made everything, but made all things intimately: feelings, spirit, psychology included. And if He promises an eternity of untainted communion with Him, is in not worth trusting Him at his Word?

So that’s what it comes to. I need to trust that eternity won’t be a drag. I need to trust God when he tells me that eternity does exist and that He wants all His children to be with him. This is why He wants us to share the gospel, to love, to forgive, to serve. Every time I draw closer to God, every time I obey His command, I understand eternity a bit better. Death is still an unknown, but drawing closer to my Maker takes away its sting little by little.

As Francis Chan says in his book Crazy Love:

Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” It is sobering to realize that this is the same God who is holy and eternal, the Maker of the billions of galaxies and thousands of tree species in the rainforest. This is the God who takes the time to know all the little details about each of us. He does not have to know us so well, but He chooses to.

Finally, the best book that helps me think of eternity is C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, where the world of Narnia comes to its “end”, but in reality marks the beginning of the real story:

“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

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눈치람? (Nunchi RAM?)

(English version below)

나는 눈치가 정말 없다.

지금 것 살아와서 눈치라는 것을 나름 열심히 공부하고 노력하는데도 눈치라는 건 안 생긴다.

왜 나는 눈치 없이 살아남기 힘든 대한민국의 민족성을 갖고 태어났을까?


예를 들면 눈치의 핀트가 안 맞아서 나를 좋아하지도 않는 남자가 날 좋아한다고 착각 하고 나를 좋아하는 남자는 누구인지 눈치를 못 챈다.

  • 예 1) 어느 여름 날, 아르헨티나에서 바베큐 파티가 벌어졌다. 거기에는 많은 청년들이 모여있었다. 어느남성분께서 나에게 계속 말을 걸었다. 내가 보기엔 나한테 너무 관심이 많아 보였다. 그래서 사촌언니한테 “언니, 어느 청년이 나한테 접근 하는 것 같다.”하자 언니는 웃으면서 말했다, “야, 그 놈 여친 있어~~” 민망했다.
  • 예 2) 대학 생활 하면서 수업에서 아는 언니가 나에게 어느 날 물어봤다: “너 술 마시니?” 그러자 나는 “음.. 마시는 편은 아니에요.”라고 대답 했다. 그래서 언니는 “아, 다름이 아니고 우리가 같이 듣는 수업에 너를 조금 더 알아가고 싶어하는 오빠가 있거든.” 나는 그 술자리를 거부 했고 그 후에 언니를 통해 생의 처음이자 마지막으로 가장 많은 빼빼로도 받아봤다. 여기서 내가 눈치 없는 부분은 이것이다: 나는 지금까지 나를 좋아했던 분이 누군지 모른다. 우리 수업은 20명도 안 되는 소규모 수업이었다. 그리고 그 수업엔 여자들도 있고 나와 동갑 아님 더 어린 친구들도 있었다. 그러니 그 수업에 있었던 오빠들의 수는 엄청 적을 텐데 그 중에 누구인지를 눈치를 못 챘다. 아직도 모른다.)

 

우리 엄마랑 오빠는 내가 어렸을 때부터 눈치가 없는걸 참으며 살아야 했다. (아빠는 나랑 비슷하게 눈치가 없다.) 그래서 나한테 비밀스러운 이야기를 할 때 “이것은 가족 아닌 사람한테 말하면 안 돼”라고 말하지 않은 이상 나는 무엇이 비밀이고 무엇이 아닌지 구별을 못 했다. 아직도 그런다.

눈치의 대한 정보를 28년동안 쌓아놓고 있다. 그래서 6살 엘리 보단 28살 (한국 나이 29) 엘리가 훨씬 더 눈치가 있는 인간이다.

 

허나, 평균적인 한국인 눈치만큼 있을려면 하늘에 별 따기로 느껴진다.

 

“이건 이런 대에서 말 하면 안 돼”라고 할 때 나는 단순히 그 상황 혹은 그 상황과 거의 비슷해야지만 그런 말을 하면 안 된다는 인식을 한다. 그래서 토종 한국인들은 대부분 나를 좋아하지는 않다.

눈치가 없어서 한국에서 대학 생활하면서 3 학년이 돼서야 이해 했다 (누가 말 해줘서): 한국 대학생들은 수업에서 손을 들고 질문 하는 학생을 이상하게 본다. 나는 항상 질문이 있으면 교수님께 물어봤었다. 그 수 많은 수업에서 얼마나 많은 한국 학생들은 나를 또라이로 봤을까?

4학년에 눈치 아닌 누군가의 정보 덕분에 알게 된 것: 교수님이 혼낼 때 눈을 마주보면 안 된다. 눈을 마주치는 것은 싸가지 없는 짓. 아이고. 내가 4년 동안 우리를 혼낼 때 교수님과 선배들의 눈을 항상 마주쳤는데… 내가 얼마나 싸기지 없어 보였을까? 그때 당시에는 “어, 왜 다들 말씀 하시는 사람의 눈을 안 볼까? 나라도 봐야겠다”만 생각 하며 빤히 쳐다봤다. 눈치가 조금 이리도 있었으면 나도 눈을 까는 건데…


결론:

지금 생각해보면 한국에서 8년 가까이 생활 해서 눈치 RAM을 많이 늘었다. 옛날엔 1GB RAM이었으면 지금은 2GB인 느낌이랄까? 왜냐하면 이젠 내가 눈치 없는 것에 대해 더 눈치를 챘으니 이상한 짓 하기 전에 가까운 친구들과 가족들에게  물어본다:” 이렇게 하면 돼나? 이렇게 말하면 싸가지 없는건가?”

언잰가 나도 엄마하고 오빠처럼 16GB RAM 눈치로 업그레이드 할수 있을깝?



 

I really have no nunchi*.

(*Nunchi: being aware of others in an interactive situation, like being socially awake and socially keen, picking up on something)

All my life, I’ve done my best to be good at nunchi, but it just doesn’t seem to come to me.

Why was I born into an ethnicity that considers nunchi essential for survival?


A very straightforward example of my horrible nunchi skills:

  • One summer in Argentina, there was a barbecue with a bunch of people my age. There was a guy who kept talking to me. I thought he was interested in me. So I told my cousin, “Hey, I think that guy is interested in me.” To which my cousin laughed a lot and replied, “Dude, he has a girlfriend.”
  • During my college years, I was in this class with less than twenty students. An unnie (older girl) I knew asked me whether I liked drinking because there was an oppa (older boy) who was interested in getting to know me better as we went out for a few drinks. I said I wasn’t really into drinking. Afterwards, through that same unnie, the oppa gave me a bunch of Pepperos (Korean candy). And here’s where I have no nunchi: I still don’t know who that oppa is. That class was not just small, but there were a few girls, and there were boys younger than me. That leaves only a few boys who were older than me. Nunchi level zero.

 

My mom and brother had to bear (and still have to bear) with my nunchilessness. (My dad is equally without nunchi as I.) Thus, when they told me something that had to be kept private, they always had to mention “Hey, don’t tell this to anyone outside the family” because otherwise I couldn’t tell the difference between something that was a secret and something that wasn’t. I still have a hard time differentiating this.

And so, 28 years have passed. I have been slowly gathering information about where and how to have nunchi. This means that the 28-year-old Eli has more nunchi than the 6-year-old Eli.

However, I am thousands of miles away from having the nunchi of a normal Korean person.

Because I had no nunchi, it was barely in my third year of college in Korea that I found out (because someone told me) Korean students consider it rude to ask questions to the professor during lectures. I am naturally a person full of questions, so I had asked countless questions until my junior year in Korea. They must have thought I was a weirdo.

Also, on my fourth year of university, I found out through someone that when a professor or a person in a higher position than you scolds you, you aren’t supposed to look at their face. For four years, whenever a professor scolded us and everyone was looking down, I thought to myself, “Why are they being so rude? They’re just staring at their books! At least I will show respect by looking at the professor.” If I had an ounce of nunchi, I would have looked down at my book too.


Conclusion:

The past eight years I have spent in Korea helped expand my nunchi RAM. Before living in Korea, I had a 1GB RAM of nunchi, whereas now I have 2GB. I consider myself upgraded because at least now I am more cautious and ask “Hey, is it ok to do this? Is it having no nunchi if I say this?” to my close friends and family.

The question is: will I ever be able to have a 16GB nunchi RAM like my brother and mom?


 

20160525-DSC_4500.jpg
As Korean as I get. If only the inside followed suit. Need to get myself some upgrading on my nunchi.