Once Upon a Time in South Korea
As many of you all know, my wife was born in South Korea, and that is were we met, dated, and got married. As of last week, my wife made a big decision to become a United States Citizen. She passed her test and interview, and we completed all the hoops we had to jump through. She is now a United State's citizen. But you can't take the Korean out of her!
So last week and up to now, it has been about nostalgia for us. Thinking about how we met in Korea, my life before I started to get knee deep into ministry. How we lived in South Korea. So I thought I'd share some pictures for you all, about the life we started together in South Korea. Most of you all know us in the present, but may not know us from the time before we had kids. So... I'll let the pictures tell the story.
Anyone who is already a citizen of the United States, try to take the citizenship test. I would have instantly failed, I am embarrassed to say. My wife has not only been studying for her nursing degree but also the citizenship test that she will be taking on Friday at noon. She’s a dang pro man! And by helping her read those questions, I feel a new appreciation on what it means to be an American.
But her case is unlike mine. I am already a citizen, because I was born into it. She has to go through every dang hoop possible to make this happen. We had to file for legal immigration, pay a ton of money, get a sponsorship to come to the United States, then do more interviews and tests, which costed a lot of money, and then proving our marriage is legit, then waiting years for the opportunity to do a criminal check, which cost more money, and then finally the day came, the citizenship test. But all of this that is going on is also a psychological test of oneself.
In order for my wife to be a citizen of the USA, she must abandon her citizenship to her country that she left. She will no longer be a citizen of South Korea, the country that gave her birth, the country that educated her, the country that gave her character and personality. It will be gone. She will give up her South Korean passport and receive a United States passport. When she travels to South Korea to see her family, she will now have to enter the airport through the immigration line, not he citizen line.
Getting a new citizenship is exciting, but also heartbreaking when you think about it. We have shed a lot of tears, and still we are waiting on Friday. A lot of mixed feelings. Feelings that I have never faced before. Feelings that I may never have to experience. It is a sensitive issue mixed with heartbreak, abandonment, loneliness, accomplishment, acceptance, new-life, and new identity.
And the one question she will be asked on Friday is, “Why do you want to be a citizen of the United States?” I know what her answer will be. What about you? Why do you want to be a citizen of the United States? Is it because of new opportunities, wealth, job, family, service? It’s a good question to ask yourself this week.
Never take your citizenship for granted.
It's Not That Bad in the USA
Sometimes I feel that watching the news everyday is making me feel like we live in the worst country in the world. It sometimes seems that way when we hear about the COVID-19 pandemic, presidential elections, social distress, police defunding, Antifa, BLM, Confederate flags, and the list just goes on.
But, seriously, it’s not all that bad right? There is a reason why so many people from so many countries still choose to fight their way to immigrate to the USA, either legally or illegally. And there is a reason.
Firstly, not any country in the entire world is perfect. Every country will have it’s flaws. The United States is no different. But racial intolerance is common worldwide, it’s not just in the USA. Good luck finding work in France if you are a Muslim, good luck trying to buy property in Japan if you are a foreigner, good luck trying to buy a cell phone in Korea.
That’s right you heard me…. a phone. If you are a foreigner living in Korea, you may go the first three months or more without being legally able to buy a cellphone. Plus, your rates are going to be JACKED. You see in the United States, we may not think too much about phone and internet. It is something that all people can get, no questions asked. In Korea though, my experience was a headache. It took me about 5 months to actually have a legal phone and plan. It was even really hard for me to get a prepaid plan. And it took me about 3 months in order for me to get cable TV and internet. And I had to accept that my rates are going to be much more expensive than anyone else. In the USA, regardless of being black, or white, or Asian, or any nationality, any skin color, regardless of visa status, you can freely get a phone, internet, and cable tv. We take for granted those simple things that we have so easily in the USA, that is for all people no matter what.
The USA, is a melting pot, the most diverse country in the world. We have people living in the USA with different nationalities, difference race, multiple genders (good luck finding that in Japan or Korea), multilingual, and multi-cultured. It’s a very unique place. And for the most part all those differences, whether we agree on someone’s culture, sexual orientation, or lifestyle, do their best to get along. But it’s going to take time, you cannot expect that everyone is going to agree with your point of view, you can’t force people to think the way you think. You have to take time, listen, communicate, and work together, and tolerate. The USA is not perfect, we got to work on a lot of things out there. But it’s going to get there, eventually, by the grace of God.
However, there is one thing I’d like to see happen in the USA that I miss so dang much while living in South Korea, and I think USA companies can totally benefit from it, and balance some portions of the economy.
Delivery. I would love to see all companies, and restaurants using home delivery services. I know we have amazon… and you can do uber delivery, or grub hub, but it’s not the same, because we have to pay extra to use those services, and those services are a third person service. I want my McDonalds to be delivered to my home by a hired McDonalds delivery driver, you know like pizza. What I miss most about Korea, was being able to get anything, anywhere, anytime in Korea. Does not matter what it is… pizza, pasta, fried chicken, computer chip, fishing lures, books, clothing, whatever it is… literally, without any extra charge.
I ordered a freaking dominoes pizza from inside a baseball stadium. I ordered fried chicken, beverages, and a dessert when I was relaxing at a giant park and the dude found me. I ordered aquarium fish at 3:00am and got it that morning. The USA could work on that… that would be cool…
But seriously, the media really wants to picture the USA looking like we are better off in a zombie apocalypse. It really ain’t too bad in the USA. I’m not trying to patriotic or whatever, nor am I trying to be cynical, just trying to look at other aspects rather than the doom and gloom that we keep hearing from conservative and liberals. Sure, we don’t have all the right answers and it isn’t perfect, but at least I can always count on having a phone, internet, and tv. A luxury to get in other countries but given equally in the USA.
What Have We Become
This little comic about Jesus feeding the 5,000 makes me laugh because I wonder what Jesus would think about us when He returns to earth. How baffled would Christ be when He finds out how fragile we have become.
To me, this comic highlights how passive, how frail, how weak we have become in our society because of our depravity to nutrition, and our connection to God.
Deprived of Nutrition
Do you know what that Bible has to say about food allergies? I’m serious, does anyone know? I can’t recall anything in the Bible that says anything about food allergies. Is it possible that food allergies were just unheard of or so rare back then? It can be… I mean the way we eat and the amount of good and bad options we have has certainly changed since the Bible was written.
We have probably consumed more process food than they did in the Bible. And I have an assumption that due to our change in diet, eating processed food, and other food items that may lack the proper nutrition may give way to more food allergies. Our physical bodies have become so weak that some of us can’t even eat peanuts anymore. Healthy options are becoming harder to get, because let’s face it… processed food is much easier to prepare than preparing a healthy home cooked meal. The demands put on families and the demands of society have changed how we eat and take care of ourselves.
Take and Eat and Do This in Remembrance of Me
That is what Jesus says we should do in the Lord’s Supper right? If Jesus came back and gave all of us the Lord’s Supper, He would have to be forced to have us all sign a waiver before participating. This comic that we saw in the beginning of the blog shows how the people just don’t see Jesus. They don’t see what a miracle is about to happen or that they just don’t care that a miracle is happening before their eyes, and they are only consumed by themselves, and their frailty.
How much of Jesus do we miss in our lives because we miss seeing Him being present in our lives? Have we forgotten that Jesus is holding us as we trudge through the demands of society and the demands of the family? Have we been consuming that easy, processed food, aka. the easy answers to life’s problems, because of how fast we are too move in this ever-changing world? Hmm… maybe there is a reason why God told the Israelites to wander for forty years before entering Canaan…
Do your best not to miss out on life and the life that God gives us day in and day out. Never ignore the little bits of grace that God provides for you to get through your day. Remember Jesus is just saying, take and eat, be fulfilled, be healed, be restored. Never forget that even though our world is demanding, and that our diet has changed, we must live. Living is about eating well, eating nutritious, and taking the time to pause and see the blessing you have in your life.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).