This is our seventh year living, working, and schooling in South Korea. When we signed up for this gig (in a whirlwind!) we hoped that we could stay 4 years. At that time our boys were 9, 6, and 6. Our family was in need of stability and cocooning.
While we have benefited from extraordinary opportunities living abroad, we have also experienced some significant challenges. Before moving to South Korea, we had never heard the term “Third Culture Kid,” and had no idea about the pervasive effects living abroad has on kids’ worldview. Of course, with the Ward Seven, that is only one of the layers.
So, as we have approached our contract decision this year, we have been considering things like these (in random, wake-me-up-at-night order)
- accessibility, mobility, and adaptive sports
- men’s volleyball
- occupational and speech therapies
- academic support
- racial identity
- drivers license (he turns 16 in 2 months!)
- college preparation
- a yard with dirt and grass and a garden
- a dog (really?)
- a cat
- extended family
- pastoral ministry
- spiritual development
- financial freedom
- community support
- time with our kids
- medical care
- the refugee crisis (and how we can help)
- organic farming
- world peace
Is it better (for him, for us) to go back to the US now and establish a home with Zachariah before he heads off to college? Will his transition be easier if he transitions to US life while living with us? Or is it better for him to remain situated for as long as possible, graduate with his friends, play his beloved volleyball, and make one whopping transition all at once? (Let’s not even think about MY transition in 2.5 years! UGH!)
Would the targeted professional support of experts offer benefits more potent than the time, energy, stability and consistency of our less-than-expert family and community support?
How long will it take for us to transition to a new country (though the US is “home” to me and Chris, it is hardly so for our boys)? Would middle school or high school be a better time for the twins to adjust?
Is it fair to continue to live in a less-than-wheelchair-friendly environment? What priority does this question have in our decision?
Are we still contributing to our community and school in meaningful ways? Is it time to move on and make space for others?
Well, you get the idea. It’s a complicated decision.
I took to Ephesians (CEB):
“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that makes God known to you. I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call, what is the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers, and what is the overwhelming greatness of God’s power that is working among us believers” (1:17-19).
Yes! We need wisdom! Yes! God, reveal your call–No!–your very self to us! Empower us!
“I ask [the Father] that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God” (3:17-19).
The call is love. The fullness of God is love. The power of God is to love.
And while I might wish for God to serve me in some future-revealing way, like a personal, omniscient crystal ball, I find that instead God comes as companion, guardian, and friend. Created in the image of God we have been gifted with the capacity to imagine, consider, and decide. For me, there have been times when God has come with a clear invitation to a particular path. But not this time. This time: freedom to choose. So rather than following God’s direction, we are trusting God’s character: incarnate love. Our mysterious future is secure because our loving God is already there.
So we have come to a decision: two more years at GSIS if they will have us. We will anticipate KAIAC sports, the Reading Challenge, Science Knights, VASE trips, chapels, the 2018 Paralympics (and Olympics), completion of middle school, high school graduation . . . with this community. We go forth in persistent hope of Emmanuel: God with us.