And I'm Loved By You: A Time of Love

My feet are back on Korean soil or sidewalk outside the airport...
The summer is flying by and I have flew back to Korea on July 13 arriving July 14 due to crossing the International Date Line which puts me 13-14 hours ahead of my friends and family on the East Coast of America, depending on the time of year. As I begin writing this on Friday morning, my parents are getting sleepy and thinking about going to bed on Thursday night. When we talk online, one of us is usually eating breakfast, since my breakfast lines up with their evening at home or my evening at home matches up with their breakfast time. Afternoon here is sleeping time there and afternoon there is sleeping time here. Sometimes I have things I want to tell them, but I have to wait until they are awake to call them. I am grateful for the technology that allows us to bridge the great distance between us.

As I was riding in the car with my parents on Wednesday morning to Logan Airport in Boston, I was thinking about how far away I would soon be from my loved ones in America and it made me teary eyed. I knew that my mom and dad understood how far away I am from them because they had made the trip to Korea themselves back in April. Sure, you can fly to Korea in less than a day, and that's amazing, but the distance is greater than the time spent traveling. As I embraced my father and mother for the last time in many months, I was squeezing in all the love I could since my arms cannot reach the nearly 10,800 km (6,700 miles) between Seoul, Korea and Portland, Maine.
A goodbye selfie at Logan Airport
Since I wrote that last sentence, I have been to the hospital in Junggye to see the dermatologist who is dealing with the non-cancerous lesions on my forehead (more cryotherapy today), I have been to Uijeongbu to get my phone working again, and I have been to Ceci's place to say hello to my favorite Christian Korean cupcake maker before walking home and parking myself in front of the fan to cool off. The humidity always gets me...

I was able to spend almost half of July with my family in Maine. We celebrated the Fourth of July at my sister Beth's house with her husband Kevin and my niece and nephew, Kayla and Austin. My father bought some red, white, and blue "Uncle Sam" hats and had us all take pictures wearing them. He initially bought them so that my 97-year-old grandmother, Ella Manzo, could be photographed wearing one, since her doctor had said she'd be in heaven before July 4th and my dad wanted to show the doctor he was wrong. My head is too big for the hat as you can see...
My family played volleyball in the backyard pool, and I was the guy who retrieved the balls when they were hit out of the pool.
Someone has to do those sorts of things. I'm not a pool person, so I was enlisted, and I worked on a New York Times crossword puzzle as I performed my duties, so I was content as I listened to the cheers and laughter from the players. It was a happy day.

Contentment. I experienced much contentment during my time with my family. I was content to read books, eat my mother's yummy home cooking...
My mom made me a sour cream raisin pie knowing I would be missing this in November at Thanksgiving
...help my brother-in-law set up his printer, watch a little television or go out to eat with my parents...

...plant some flowers with my mom...
...and visit with people.
Some of my favorite visits were to older folks I've known. Besides my grandmother, I was able to visit a precious lady named Norma Clark who is living independently in her 90s. She has an uplifting spiritual attitude toward her life, and she prays for me. I had to buy her a jigsaw puzzle to make after I heard how much she enjoys that activity, since that is also one of mine. This past Monday I went to the home of Frank and Connie Morehead to pick raspberries. 
Connie, the famous maker of the "red gold" raspberry jam that blesses me here in Korea, got out of her bed to come say hello to me and tell me that she prays for me. Even now as I think of those few moments when I could be with her, tears come to my eyes. She suffers from Parkinson's disease, and still she made the effort to come outside and grace me with her presence. I should have a prayer card for her on my refrigerator! Another memorable visit 

Tuesday, I went to Sebago Lake to enjoy some time beside and in the water there thanks to the kindness of Alan and Kathy Whitten. 

A little shade and some crossword puzzles for me

Mom and Dad enjoying the lake water
I enjoyed listening to conversations as I did crossword puzzles on the beach and got to say goodbye to Pastor Vreeland and his wife Carole, who, along with their church, have been prayerful and caring for me. I enjoyed swimming too. It seemed that everywhere I went, I heard how much my blog and newsletters meant to people and how it helped them pray for me.

Another sweet visit was with my former student Ashley (Hallett) North and her husband Jesse and their sons Turner and Liam. What an awesome family to spend an evening with! I was blessed to see that Turner had my prayer card on his bulletin board and that he and his younger brother remembered me from last year. Those little guys have amazing parents and other family and church members investing God's love in them, and it shows.
The Mooseasaurus on the North family's lawn
One of the things I realized during this time in America, is that despite what the devil tries to tell me, although I am gone and far away, I am not forgotten and I am loved. People think about me and pray for me and, yes, they love me. I am crying yet again as I think about all the food my mother cooked to bless me and how my father looked after me. I am humbled by the way they loved me, and though I know it is all grace, I can't help but think, "Who am I and what have I done to deserve this?"

I am blessed to be a missionary that is supported by people who believe in missions and caring for missionaries. And I am grateful that being a missionary doesn't require me to be anything other than who God has made me to be and that all I have to do is share what He has given to me.

A song that keeps playing over and over in my head these past weeks since the International Convention is Chris Tomlin's Good, Good Father. I thought of that song again as I drove with my parents to the airport yesterday, especially the words,

And I'm loved by You
It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am

We are all children of a good, good Father who loves us, and that is our identity. Each of us can say, "I am the one Jesus loves" like Apostle John said several times in his gospel. Ezekiel 16:8 speaks of a time of love, and I thank God for this time of love I had while I was home visiting in America. 

I am here in Korea until July 31 and then I am off to set up a school in China. I will return to Korea on September 3 to see what God has planned for me this year here in the Land of Morning Calm. Until then, let's all remember that we are loved by the Everlasting Father and keep each other in prayer.

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