Two years ago this week, six weary Waxes arrived on the Korean peninsula. We had flown from Atlanta to Incheon, and we were wiped out. I’ve never been able to sleep on airplanes–maybe doze a few minutes here and there–but sleeping on a bus or plane has always proven elusive. After approximately 24 hours of voyaging with flights, layovers, and bus ride to Pyeongtaek, we finally made it to our hotel around 9 in the morning. We were surprised to see my boss waiting for us in the lobby of the airport. My commander was the first person in my unit to greet us, and he generously whisked me off in his vehicle to get familiarized with Camp Humphreys. It was the start of a great working relationship. I’m thankful for him and his family, and his steadfast love for the Lord. While I was trying to stay awake and take mental notes of the surroundings, Bethany and the kids grabbed a few hours of rest.
We arrived on 23 December, so in-processing was a challenge. Trying to figure out holiday hours and logistics was a constant challenge. Somethings were open, some things weren’t. Getting Korean phones and plans established, purchasing a vehicle from a local Korean auto dealer, taking the Korean driver’s license exam, finding a home–these were the items on the to-do list. Moving in the military is never easy. Moving across the world is difficult. But God saw us through the myriad of challenges. One of my fondest early memories is my boss and his wife picking our crew up at the hotel to take us to worship at the Christmas Eve candlelight service at Agape, the protestant military chapel where he and his family worshipped. It was a kind and thoughtful gesture to give us a ride to the service, and our family enjoyed worshipping with saints in our new surroundings.
Fast forward two years later, and I have the honor of delivering the message at Agape’s Christmas Eve candlelight worship services. I have a different commander now, but this leader also loves the Lord and has been a tremendous blessing to me and my family. He and his family will be worshipping with us on Christmas Eve and Sunday.
A few weeks ago, Bethany and I enjoyed a long walk in our hometown of Asan. I asked her what she enjoyed most about living in Korea these past two years. She surprised me by saying “our yard.” Korea is highly urban. Most Koreans live in cities and in apartments. Many Soldiers and Families live in high rises. One thing that was important to us was trying to find a dwelling with a backyard for the kids to play. As a homeschool mom, Bethany wanted space for the kids to play outside while she graded papers or planned future lessons. Her answer surprised me, but the more I thought about it, I understood it. I’ve enjoyed tossing whiffle balls, footballs, and baseballs in the back yard with my kids over the past two years.
My favorite experience in Korea has been the relationships. We’ve met people all over the world here, and we’ve been blessed by some great relationships. People come and go all the time in the military, but some departures hit harder than others. Korea has a way of exposing the true nature of who people are. It’s a tough ministry environment, and you really can see people in a way you probably wouldn’t in the US. I’m sure the pandemic has played a big role in this reality. Korea is less about building character and more about revealing it. When you’ve been in the ministry trenches with people and been richly blessed by their sacrificial and selfless love–it just makes it tougher to see certain saints head out for their next assignment as opposed to others. We’ll finally be the ones packing up and moving out for our next mission about a year from now. In the meantime, we reflect on our season here and how God has provided and continues to provide during a global pandemic.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a healthy and Happy New Year.