The day I met my wife

March 12, 1998

Instead of finishing out my senior year at the local high school, I had decided to enter into a program where I could finish my senior year of high school and freshman year of college at the same time down at the community college.  During my second semester, I was taking Statistics 101, and my college professor had done the math and pointed out that the chances of someone in the class of 60 having a birthday on that day were actually pretty high.  Myself, having a distinct lack of social grace and care about my reputation, decided to put the theory to the test and begin saying “Happy Birthday” to everyone I met.  Friends, classmates, strangers and passerbys were all greeted with a “hey, happy birthday.”  There were some that walked past avoiding eye contact, some that gave strange looks, and some that replied “ummm.  It’s not my birthday.”  My responses were varied and equally awkward.  “Well, happy birthday when it comes” or happy un-brirthday then.” Continue reading “The day I met my wife”

Preparations and Plane Flights

Preparations and Plane Flights

In the years that we were living in Pasadena, Mom and Dad had watched as the political climate in South Korea become increasingly nationalistic.  The government started pressing Protestant mission organizations to prove that their missions work in South Korea was necessary, and that they were doing tasks that the South Koreans themselves could not.  The number of visas were being restricted and several missionaries with other organizations had already had to send missionaries to other countries instead.  In addition, the group our mission organization had been working with had splintered and was no longer considered by the government to be a stable sponsor.  By the start of our fourth year, the writing was on the wall that the door to return to South Korea had closed, and our missions organization, the Christian & Missionary Alliance, asked my parents about changing their field of service.   They were interested in having my Dad become professor at the Alliance Biblical Seminary (ABS) in Manila, Philippines.  The change was a disappointment for my Dad, who really wished to return to South Korea, but he accepted the new assignment it faith.  Serendipitously, the leaders of the South Korean churches we had worked with had previously approached ABS about training their South Korean missionary candidates there, so Mom and Dad were encouraged that their work with Koreans would continue even in Manila.

During this time, my parents had remained silent about the changes to us kids until they knew for sure what they would be doing and where we would be living.  One seemingly normal evening after dinner, Mom and Dad called us kids around the dining table for some news.   “We’re not going back to South Korea,” they solemnly said.  Continue reading “Preparations and Plane Flights”

Two New Websites

Two New Websites

For the past several months, I have been using one website for two different projects – a divergent life with stories about growing up as a missionary kid and Divergent Explorers with videos about traveling Oregon and beyond.  But the time has come to give each the home it deserves.  I have been working hard this week on reformatting this website solely for my writings and created an entirely new website to host our travel videos. Continue reading “Two New Websites”

Final Furlough Year

Final Furlough Year

1990-robert-cindi-joel-pandaWith our furlough years almost over, the summer before our departure was spent visiting family, while we still had the chance.  We went to the Panda restaurant in Pasadena with Uncle Bob in the years before it turned into the popular chain Panda Express.  We took one last road trip up to our Grandparents house in Sunriver, Oregon and visited Crater Lake.  And we took a trip up into Washington to meet some relatives we hadn’t met before – our Great Grandma and our Uncle Dale and Aunt Leigh.  They lived several hours north of my grandparents house on a farm in Worden, Washington.  Along the way, we stopped at a ghost town and explored the old buildings in Shaniko, Oregon.   I was tired from staying up 1990-03-crater-lake-family-1the night before, so when it came time for continuing the road trip, I asked my parents if I could take an afternoon nap in a sleeping bag in the back of the station wagon, and this still being the 1980’s, my parents obliged.  What I failed to realize was that the journey took us through the high desert of Oregon, and when I awoke several hours later covered in sweat.  I unzipped the sleeping bag and felt the cold air rush in against my now damp clothing.  As darkness settled, we stopped at a restaurant for dinner and I felt chilled to the bone sitting in the air-conditioned restaurant throughout the meal.  Heading onward, we pressed into the night and finally arrived at the long gravel road leading to my Uncle Dales farm.  Waking up the next morning, we explored the surroundings of their farm.  They had acres of land that grew a 1989-07-shaniko-hotelvariety of crops and several farm animals.  At the center of the land was an old farmhouse with several outlying buildings.  During the day, I spent time exploring around the grounds, looking at the farm animals, and riding on the back of an all-terrain-vehicle while my Uncle drove.  My parents deemed that my brother and sister were old and qualified enough to drive off on their own, and I watched as they gleefully drove off across the field, down the gravel road, and disappeared.  A few minutes later they returned looking nervous and frightened.  Apparently one of the cows did not appreciate them encroaching on their space and chased them away while by brother quickly hightailed it back to the farmhouse.  Before dinner I assisted Grandma and Aunt Leigh pick 1989-06-uncle-dales-family-oregonfresh raspberries from the rows of vines that grew next to the farmhouse and that night at dinner, we sat down at a long farm table covered in a white tablecloth and had a meal resembling a thanksgiving dinner, compete with ice cream and fresh raspberries for desert.  The next morning we hopped back in our old Oldsmobile station wagon for the drive back to my grandparents house and then the further drive back to our home in Pasadena, California.

Continue reading “Final Furlough Year”

Seminary & Ministry

Seminary & Ministry

Before beginning his work as a pastor and then missionary, my father had completed a Masters in Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary.  In the years that followed, our missionary organization (the Christian & Missionary Alliance) had recognized my father’s gifting in teaching, language and leadership and had marked him for further study.  With the completion of our four-year term in South Korea, the C&MA felt it was time to further his studies and suggested he attend Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.  Fuller, at the time, had one of the premier programs in Church Growth and some of the best Missiologists or teachers in missions.  The expectation was that after he had completed his doctorate, the door to return to South Korea would be open and if not, he would serve somewhere else, most likely in a seminary capacity.

My mother was also interested in furthering her studies.  Over a decade earlier, she had walked away from her dream of earning a Ph.D. in linguistics in order to marry my father.  Throughout my father’s years at seminary, as a pastor in Oklahoma and on the mission field in South Korea, Mom had quietly and faithfully served by raising us children, leading children’s groups and having women’s Bible studies.  But her desire and leading was to be a true partner in her husband’s ministry. Some people assume that living abroad alone is preparation enough for cross-cultural ministry but that is rarely the case.  Even though Mom had lived in Germany, Great Britain and Korea, had learned several languages, and had completed thirty units of Bible and Theology, she still had many lingering questions and relished the idea of being properly trained for ministry.  While the C&MA would not pay for her schooling, Fuller offered a grant of nearly matching funds to couples that wished to study and serve together, and  Mom enrolled as a student as well.

Continue reading “Seminary & Ministry”

Furlough Summers   

Furlough Summers   

When it came for our family to travel, it quickly became obvious that airfare for a family of five on a missionary budget was prohibitively expensive.  That could only mean one thing: road trips.  Our trips were planned out with three goals in mind: seeing the sights, stopping to see old friends and supporters, and reaching our destination.  Our longest road trip was to visit our Grandparents’ house in Chicago.  Packing up our grey diesel Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser station wagon, we headed out east of Los Angeles.   After several hours on the road we approached Death Valley and Dad asked us to roll down our windows slightly.  “I’m turning off the air conditioner so that the car doesn’t overheat going through the valley” he said.  As we sat three kids across in the back of the now sweltering car, the arguments started.  My brother, sitting to my left, had a regular habit of what is now described as “manspreading,” where he would sit with his legs wide open.  For me in the middle seat, I would then have to move my legs to the right side of the car where my sister would have her space taken up.  For whatever reason, the greatest source of arguing in the car was always my brother’s spread legs which after several years, hundreds of discussions and several fireman drills to switch people around, never seemed to have any lasting effect.  Fortunately, before we killed each other, Mom and Dad had arranged a steady stream of sight-seeing adventures.  Continue reading “Furlough Summers   “

Lambert House

Lambert House

1986-home-548-n-michigan

While both of the boys had received answers to their prayer requests, there was still one prayer request unanswered.  After two years of our family of five living in a two-bedroom apartment, my sister desired a space of her own.  My sister, always the introvert, had claimed a tiny hallway closet as her safe space upon moving in, but as she had grown older, the space was shrinking.  We had prayed for years about being able to move into a larger, three-bedroom apartment, but the opportunity never arose.  As it was, we were receiving generous support to help pay for our current apartment from our missions organization, the Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA), from our grandparents and even Christians that we did not even know.  Many of my clothes came from the “missionary barrel” –  a collection of donated clothes meant for poor or needy families –  missionaries often fitting both requirements.  Some clothes were the wrong size, some were tattered and the ones near the bottom had a funky smell.  But they were free and even my picky self was happy to have something new – even if it was something new to me.  But I digress.  Dad had pondered buying lumber and subdividing part of the living room to give my sister the space that she needed, but there were other needs as well.  Mom was going through a crisis of her own.  Despite doing well in her studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, she was worried about an uncertain future returning to South Korea, the noisy apartment neighbors that were a constant interruption to her sleep, concerns over my sister’s needs, and the crux of all of the problems, the lack of funds to change the situation.  Feeling the weight of her problems, she drove the car to a hilly park where we often played, stopped the car and wept.  As she opened her Bible and reflected on the Psalms, she understood the need to trust God alone as the provider of peace, of respite, and of our family’s needs.  Then and there, she had a change of mind and heart. She would trust the Lord, even in the difficult times, and even if it meant doing what she did not want to do.
Continue reading “Lambert House”