Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Awkward Moment When….


The English language will probably continue to elude me, particularly when it comes to not being able to express a complete thought in few words. I guess the best example of this is when you tell someone that you are moving. It is always someone who you run into either randomly or someone who you see on a consistent basis but do not really get into in-depth conversation with. Example 1: A friend who you see in a restaurant that didn’t know you were back from China much less moving to South Korea. Example 2: The people at the gym who you see every morning but don’t have any relationship with outside of the gym (be them the nice people that they most certainly are in real life).

There is always the awkward moment when people find out and only one response (based on my sample demographics):

Them: Good morning/Hey/How are you/etc?

Me: I’m good. Hey… so did I tell you yet I’m moving?

Them: You are?!? Where?

Me: South Korea.

Them: WHY?!?!? 

Insert the awkward moment when they ask “Why?!!” and you don’t have enough virtuosity to explain it in one sentence so you just stand there trying to placate them with a reasonable response and then after 20 seconds have gone buy you just say “Oh, because I got a job there. But don’t worry, I’ll be back here for all of July.” 

There are plenty of things I can and want to say in those 20 seconds but then I’d have to start talking really fast and  then everyone trying to talk to me would be really be scratching their heads. So I decided to blog about it. Here are just a few but not all of the reasons. 

1. God. Some of my friends believe in God and some don’t. I do. I passionately love Jesus and I want to do whatever He has called for me to do. I have a personality that doesn’t mind dropping everything in one place so that I can serve others in another place. This island has a lot of chances for ministry, especially to TCKs. I dig that. I love it. Yes, I have to leave the ministry opportunities that I am doing here in Cleveland but I will pick those back up when I come back. I don’t believe I should live in anyplace without serving in at least one outlet. So this had an outlet as well as a job. Sounded good to me. No, I don’t have any clear cut “calling” so to speak to this little island (I mean I didn’t even know it existed until January of this year) like I did with China but I do believe if I am serving HIm that others will be blessed. And I will be blessed by those whom I serve more than I could ever bless them. And I love Asia. Hands down, must come from some other source than myself, LOVE the people of East Asia. 

2. Money. It might seem unChristian like to take a job based on money. You might be reading this and start judging me, saying that it is not right for me to take a job with money as a factor. I’m not really one of those prosperity Gospel people, but I don’t like being poor either. I work hard. I earn money. It would be really nice to pay off all the remainder of my debt (student loans from undergrad) and then put some money towards a house and save for the adoption I have wanted since I was a little girl. So, instead of living in the States and really really struggling at times with living paycheck to paycheck after moving back from China — I want to see those dreams realised. A house, a family. Debt-free. I can’t sit around and get upset about things and “Wait for God’s timing” when there is a way and a clear path to seeing that be a reality. So I’m taking this job based partly on money, and whether that’s right or wrong that’s what it is.

3. Insurance. I don’t want to get into all of my opinions of social healthcare systems and insurance here, cause that’s sort of a boring rant but the long and short of it is: It’s impossible to live in the States without insurance. I needed parasite medicine when I first got back and even seeing the doctor was $80 dollars. Before my prescription! A medicine that I could buy over the counter in China for 2 RMB. And then I had what I think was strep throat around Christmas. I don’t know if its that or not, because I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor. And Leslie said it was, so I just believed her because she’s a mom. All I needed was amoxicillan which I could buy OTC in China for about 10 RMB. I just suffered through my “Strep” (if indeed thats what it was). It’s really really hard. I just had some blood tests done after putting it off and putting it off and that one blood test was $400. I really cannot remember the last time I had a dentist appointment to get my teeth cleaned and I really really want to get that done. I think about it everyday when I am brushing my teeth.  I just can’t afford it here in the States. You get my point. I need medical and dental insurance. Also, when I start my homestudy I will need insurance then too. This job provides that. I had been praying for a job that provided it at a reasonable cost. I just had no idea the job would be in South Korea. 

4. Adventure and Once in a Lifetime Opportunity  I am the first to admit I am sort of a travel junkie. So…. a new country, a new language. Awesome. Count me in.  My friend Shelly is there right now and that is going to be really fun working with her. I know this is guanxi because I never would have heard of this job if not for her. A serious case of “right place, right time”.

Those four are the biggest reasons I can think of right now but there are plenty more I am sure. So when I answer… WHY NOT?! that is what I am talking about.

Until next time,




소영 and 佳音


佳音 is my Chinese name. That’s spelled Jia Yin if you are using pinyin to type it. I didn’t pick it on my own, and it didn’t come until my first October in China. Ruby had spent a long time thinking of what it should be. It was a Monday night and we were all sitting at the Muslim Noodle place eating our noodles when she finally decided on it. I love my Chinese name. First of all, a lot of people I know have transliterated names (where your name is Sheila for example so your name just gets translated to 喜了 (Xi le) or from Bethany to 百阿尼 (Bai ah ni) or Sydney 悉尼(xi ni and my puppy’s name). My name isn’t like that.

My Chinese name comes from the meaning of my English name. Christina which means “follower of Christ”. Jia Yin in Chinese can mean two things. The first meaning is “Beautiful Music”. That sounds pretty, don’t you think?? However, this is not my favourite part of my name. My favourite part is that it also means “Good News” or “Gospel News” in Chinese! How cool is that?!?! And it is a perfect lead in when talking about things eternally significant with new Chinese friends. 

I love names. I have the names of my future children picked out. Well, not all of them. Just my top 3 girl names and my top boy name. I don’t know too much about Korean culture yet but I taught a lot of Koreans when I was at WYIS & SMIC. In fact, my first 1st grade class was 9 Koreans and 3 others (China/UK, Singapore and Hong Kong).

Either way, if I *do* get to pick my Korean name, then I want it to be 소영 . So Young. Why? Because here is one of my most joyful students I’ve ever had. In fact, her English name was Joy. So Young means (from what I find on the internet) is a combination of beautiful and everlasting. I don’t even know if I’m typing 소영  the right way using Hangul. 

I’ll let everyone know once I get there whether or not I get to decide for myself 🙂 Anyway, I’ll close with pictures of my dear friend and dear past student! (who, btw, would now be in what… fifth grade I think?? my…. how time flies!) 



Beijing, Okinawa, Seoul, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Seattle, Chicago, Jeju!


17 February 2012 marked (hold on, let me count them up) 7 months and 8 days that I had been living in Tennessee after moving back from Beijing. I’ve sat in 7 airports in those 7 months and I’m getting ready to add my eighth one.

I just got settled here in Tennessee (whatever that word is supposed to mean) in my own apartment in December, after staying with Lanny and Leah who graciously gave me a place to live from July – December. It’s been good. I’ve been happy to be here.  Maybe its crazy to think of leaving so soon. I’m teaching Sunday School, loving my job at Cormetech working on their China Project, working out at the YMCA regularly, going to church, volunteering, eating all healthy complete with drinking almond milk, hanging out with friends and family, yknow…. all those things I’m supposed to do. Having a routine. Living life. I was supposed to be past my awkward “What? I’m not in China anymore?? There are 100 varieties of cereal I can pick from??” stage. I paid off my car. Finally. I have no debt except for my undergrad student loans. I finished my MEd. I was saving up to buy a house…. I know, I know. All of this is true.

But if you know me, you know I am afflicted by wanderlust. If its possible, I’ve been homesick for places I’ve never actually BEEN.

So anyway, back to Feb. 17th. I woke up, checked gmail on my phone and and there was a short email with only one word in the subject line “Korea???”. Shelly and I last talked at Panera just a few days before she was leaving to teach at Korea International School, Jeju. And her email said her school had an opening for first grade (which I have been teaching since 2007 so this is right up my alley!)

Well, here I am now on the 4 March. I’ve accepted a first grade position and I will be in South Korea on Jeju Island before the calendar turns to April. I did a lot of praying about taking this job after my interview and I didn’t really feel anything one way or another. I changed my prayers to be “Lord, just show me something you want me to see today. It doesn’t have to be with the job. I just want to feel like we’ve had a conversation.”

Then I talked to my trainer about it cause I was helping one of his interns with an evaluation. Right there in that gym, while I’m doing my bike sprints, he just started praying out loud. It was awesome. I knew that friends have been praying for me and this opportunity (I shared it with a few close people before I decided for sure on it) but just knowing that Michael prayed right there and then really spoke to me. I was sweating and gross and we doing this insane 45 second sprint thing on the recumbent bike with my eyes closed and hands lifted saying “Amen, Amen” right along with him.

Then I pulled into work and right as I was about to turn the key, this song came on:  Chris Tomlin “I Lift My Hands”…. and there I went again, hands up, eyes closed… and at the end of the song I had such a peace. Not even really the word peace… just… a sense of God’s presence… an answer to my prayer.

So, it’s official. I’m going!

I’m super excited, although honestly — today when I went to Big Lots to get some stuff for my new classroom I saw these really pretty vases and I thought “Wow, that would look so cute in my bathroom. If I didn’t leave I could buy that!” and then this evening I started to drag things out to pack (my least favourite part of being such a vagabond) and I was chastising myself for gathering so many things…. in so few months…. and even worse, how could I prioritise these things…?? I want to take THEM! I know there’s not a feasible way to take all of it, nor is it neccessary. But a girl can dream.  (and yes, that dreaming includes being able to pack people up and take them in my suitcase too!….)

So I’m packing up things like my pretty green teapot I bought at Goodwill for storage and it will be here when I get back. I will pack my hair gel so my hair doesn’t get frizzy though…. and not feel a least bit guilty about it. God will use me with frizzy hair, yes, but I’m pretty sure He could do more with me when my curls are somewhat tamed. 🙂

Oh, I take it back. I forgot about when I flew out of Nashville…. well, 8 airports in 7 months doesn’t have the same ring as 7 airports in 7 months, so I guess I’ll let it slide.

Here we go friends, another adventure. Hope my blog can keep up with the ride. Cheers.


P.S. I apparently cannot count….I just remembered Rainy, Erika, Anne, Lisa and I flew into Shanghai (PVG) and stayed for a couple days on our way to Okinawa, Japan……