My first year in Maryland.

Last month marked my one year anniversary of officially moving to Maryland. A few months prior to my move last September 2013, we drove my little Scion packed with as many things as we could fit – however unsuccessful due to a dog cage filling up half the back space with our poor cat, Snow, inside all 4 days of the trip – from LA to Leonardtown, MD.

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I remember my excitement in finally being with Susanna again after our long-distance relationship for over a year and the excitement of officially co-managing her clothing boutique that she opened in February of that year. As for my own wedding videography business, I had been researching the market and clientele there and had been attending bridal shows and county fairs to get the ball rolling.

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I loved the ruralness of Southern Maryland, the Amish selling their fresh produce and riding their horse carriages to and fro various locations, having four seasons (a first for me), visiting various places along the East Coast with ease (NY, Atlantic City, D.C.) and getting to know the church community at our church, Cornerstone Presbyterian.

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Cornerstone is a predominantly Caucasian church with only a handful of diverse ethnicities. This took a while to get used to and still does, having come from a Korean/Korean-American church with all its own culture, dynamics, language, etc. No one teaches you how to adapt to a whole new land…there’s tons of large and tiny adjustments to make. It was quite jarring, especially having traveled back to LA three times in one year. That definitely didn’t help our adjustment period, although time spent with family and friends has been richer than ever.

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For my mother and I, we’ve had conversations that have flowed and lasted longer than the usual small amount of time. This has been years in progress, but moving across the whole country definitely allowed for richer conversations and love on both ends. I even slept over her house the last time I was there. To me, this was a big deal and has proved to me that intentionality goes a long way with relationships and that it has to be forced sometimes in order to keep at it – you see, my natural tendency is to not be involved. I still don’t know why phone calls are so hard to make, but like with any habit or addiction, improvement comes first with acknowledging your bad habits and thus, not being intentional with my family was a habit I unfortunately deemed to be bad until only recently (thanks to my very intentional wife with her family).

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In the year, I have been here, apparently God sees me fit to lead a small group now where I have to be intentional in facilitating a short lesson on Scripture verses every week. This comes on the heels of already having been “discipling” two guys here. I quote that word because I feel like I’m not adequate sometimes to disciple, but I’m reminded all that God has taken me through in previous years of ministry and education and that I have been equipped. If anything, I just need to stop believing in the lies of discouragement.

Overall, I feel an overall healthiness spread through me and how I deal with family, ministry, and my marriage. There’s a lot we have been learning through our church as well that we deeply admire – enough to the point that made us reconsider not moving to Korea for a few years…..

Wait, what?? Moving to Korea for a few years???

Yes. We were this close (finger to thumb) to moving to Korea to teach ESL for a few years after the boutique closed earlier this year in January. With hopes of this business paying off our school loans faster than anticipated and becoming missionaries quickly, quickly vanished with a closed business, even more debt, and lots of doubt and stress. My poor wife was on the receiving end of a bitter, angry, complaining husband about financial woes, bitter, freezing cold, and a horrible living situation with two small portable heaters having to heat up our space because of a broken central heater. The only thing getting us through was teaching two ESL (English as a Second Language) classes through the county public school system, three deposits from three weddings booked earlier, an extra gig on Captain America 2 (I play a valet and you can only see me as a blur from my torso down, I think), and unemployment checks.

Here we are one year later, with 25 weddings booked for this year and 18 weddings booked already for 2015, no credit card debt (from boutique, our wedding 3 years ago, misc.), and thousands paid off for the first time from our student loans. If anything, I should have learned of God’s faithfulness towards me, having done extra work for 9+ years – a job where you technically get fired and look for work the next day. Extra work should have trained me to not lose faith, but apparently, we are all just like the Israelites who have proven to us in the Old Testament that they are a stiff-necked, hardened group of people, yet God CONTINUED to show His mercy and faithfulness because of His promise to Abraham. God for sure does not break His promise now nor will he ever to me! The work He started in me, He will continue to the end (Phil 1:6). He will never forsake me, nor leave me (Deut 31:6). He is with me till the end (Matt 28:20).

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Susanna and I eventually learned that God brought us to Southern Maryland for many reasons. One reason that stands out is teaching ESL. As you may have already deduced, we desire to become full-time overseas missionaries. What better way to get some kind of “overseas” training without having to be overseas than teaching English to foreigners (African, Central American, South American, Asian, etc.). A church member explained it to us the best when being asked the question why we feel so much peace when teaching, “That’s how you know when you’re in God’s will.” That’s when the puzzle pieces started coming together. This teaching experience was analogous to one finding a prominent corner piece of a puzzle that gives one much satisfaction!

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Another corner piece was the community here. Our church leaders are all on the same page in terms of missions and essentially helping people without hurting them, primarily in accordance with the book “When Helping Hurts.” Having joined the Missions Committee has also given us insight into the different ways the church is involved in supporting local and global missions. Furthermore, we are surrounded by close peers who happen to desire to be full-time missionaries as well. One friend has learned about language acquisition along with Bible training and is currently working at the church. Another friend is in seminary and currently seeking short-term mission trip opportunities to gauge where he feels called. Another friend is also in seminary having just come back from a six month stint in Guatemala and is gauging now on God’s direction and plan for him. We feel extremely blessed to be surrounded by these friends as well as close families who have adopted children worldwide, families who are passionate for injustices in the world, and families who raise up God-fearing children (many who have a minimum of 4 children all the way to 8!) We are learning greatly of the processes of becoming missionaries and how to wisely go about it.

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I truly have nothing to complain about in this current season of my life.   I hope you have been glorified, Lord, in this journal entry. May others be blessed through this entry and know that God is faithful no matter what circumstance or situation they are in and how it appears to be.

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The boutique was born to fail. It took a business for us to move out here, but blessings always come in disguises. I am living an abundant life now with jobs, community, and my wife. Truth is, I have been living an abundant life ever since the day of my salvation. Jesus is abundance to the fullest and may we never forget that. Jesus is all we need.

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