Thoughts on faith and life and life in faith

Author: Tamara Belanger (Page 2 of 73)

Mama of six grown kids, Nana to a magical little girl and a lilttle boy destined to climb mountains, divorced and broken for a purpose. An unabashed follower of Jesus. A social introvert, lover of all things travel and photography and cultures different than mine. I thrive on pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I love chocolate and wildflowers. I enjoy cooking and hiking and would live outdoors if I could have a claw foot bathtub with hot soapy water at the end of the day

Walking the Flower Road

25 years ago my son was born in Seoul, South Korea. He came to our family by human courier and was delivered into our world by a plane. I knew intellectually he was Korean. His beautiful almond eyes, his skin a color different from my own, his black shiny hair told me that. But in my heart, it was hard to grasp what being from Korea meant. It felt like missing fingerprints. I longed to know who he was, what his DNA story told, where he had been created.

24 years later I sit in the Gangnam province of Seoul in an air b and b and look out the window, surrounded by a sea of people that look like the son I raised. I can smell the food, hear the language, feel the heartbeat of the city. This, I think, is what my son would have seen and heard.

When my girl decided to accept an internship in Seoul we knew this was my chance. I began to read and watch everything I could find on Korea, hungry to learn. I have always loved to see the eyes through other people, those in my neighborhood and those in other parts of the world, to remind myself that my way is not the only way to live a life, that the world and it’s people are an amazing place to walk among.

We landed on Korean soil after a long and tiring 24 hours and immediately felt the throng of people; those in the immigration line, the customs line, the COVID testing line and finally the traffic teeming through streets reflecting the setting sun and the bright city lights. There was a settled patience, in the middle of the swarm of fast trains, fast subways, as if the multitude of people had taught them to not resent the wait; to just keep going.

We’d made friends through online resources ready to meet us, eager to show us their country or, in Sarah’s case, her adopted country. Sarah came here from the heartland of America to teach and eventually met her husband, a Korean man, and has settled here for the distance. She is kind and giving and loves the people around her well. She and her husband sow into the beautiful children they have been entrusted to teach with intention.

She came to collect me on our first day in country and helped me navigate the subway,to take me to church and introduce me to the people already familiar to me through the magic of the internet, having skyped into their world for several church services. They welcomed me with bows and waves and homemade cake by one of the pastors, complete with chopsticks to eat it with. We walked down the street after the service, several of us, to a Vietnamese restaurant and ate together. I had no idea how to order, what to order and the usual rhythm at home?… going to a restaurant and knowing just how it works?… was replaced by dependency on my group to lead me. This is their life; this view, this food, this cadence. I am honored to be a part of this snapshot of time and take a picture in my mind. Wendy and Hannah and Laurie and names I’ve now forgotten…..all have stories, hurts, joys, losses and gains and I stand beside them and wish I could “read” their books.

Steven was born in Korea and found his way out of poverty as a child into a well respected profession and position as a legal counselor in a large company. He works long hours without complaint and strives to provide for his wife and children. He is dignified, diligent and kind. He introduced me to Korean fried chicken and patiently answered all my questions. It was fun to slow down and learn to understand one another; to make room and time in our lives to sit across a table and see one another. We walked along the streets together, the young people streaming toward and around us like tumbling fish, and I marveled that two people a half a globe apart, strangers just 7 months ago, now shared a meal and a walk in his country.

It’s a marvel, really, that God, the creator of us all, in so many shapes, sizes, colors and languages share this globe together. There is a Korean phrase….Let’s walk the flower road, a lovely way to say “Let’s walk on the road filled with happiness and success together.” How beautiful it would be if all of us could spend time with strangers and make friends, to celebrate what is the same and what is different, to see and hear each other and learn to walk the flower road together. <3

Why NowMe?

When the dream of going to Korea first poked it’s head up in the soil of our hearts we talked about wanting to create a diary that would become a gift to others and a treasured collection of memories for ourselves. For me, living is a constant process of writing about it in my head. I “record” it as movies in mind and will frequently get lost in my head with my words when I’m experiencing something I want to keep alive.

Naomi means beautiful music. We had her name painted on a banner in Chinese characters by a craftsman when we went to China to gather her up into our family those 21 years ago. She’s no singer, which she would readily tell you….:D….but her life sings a song of miracles. To be found on a street in her country, brought to an orphanage and adopted into a family in another country thousands of miles away, healthy and curious is itself no small thing. She has always seized learning new things with a self motivation that left me startled. As a child, she taught herself how to knit on the computer, read books well beyond her age level, joined in with little fear to new groups, new situations. She had a quiet, determined confidence.

After graduating high school with honors, she went on to college with a full scholarship. She has continually set her sites, lined her arrow up and shot with unbreakable focus. So came the evening when she first said “internship abroad” and what did I think….my head snapped up immediately. I could hear my father’s voice to me when I was young. “Travel is the best education. Always say yes to it.” I stepped on Naomi’s words…..”Apply. But before you do, know that you will get a green light. They will want you. Are you ready to say yes?” Within a week she had her interview. 6 a.m…..all make up and blown dry….sitting before a screen talking to someone across the globe. I paced outside her door trying to hear what across the globe sounded like. Two days later; “Congratulations! We would like to welcome you into Beyond Academy!” We grabbed hold of one another and jumped up and down like school girls on the playground! My miracle girl had hit her target again!

A few days later, she had a “match”. A company in Seoul, Korea wanted to talk to her about an internship. Another early morning, more make up, just the right lighting, she sat in front of her screen and wowed them. By the end of the 30 minutes they already told her they would like to have her on board. It was a Korean beauty product company seeking to expand globally. The girl was going to Seoul!

And then, it dawned on us. My beautiful son is from Seoul. Unlike China, when you adopt from Korea they allow for a “courier” to bring your child to you. Without having a resource to watch our other children at the time, we were not able to go to Korea. In my mind, then, Naomi came from China; Solomon came from the airport. I had always longed to see Korea. And that’s when the girl said the magic words….why don’t you come with me and settle me in. I all but packed right then, except money. I had more extra socks than extra money.

God? Is this a dream bud growing? Should I water this or let it die? “Ask and you will receive. Knock….” And so I started wondering how to knock. I love to serve. I would come over and gladly do your laundry for a cup of coffee; drop your cat at the vet, take your kids to the park. When I can find my place in the room to serve, I am “home”. So, I set out to serve and hung up my banner…..and people came calling. Within the week the answer was delivered to my heart. “Water your dream.”

And then Russia. What does this mean, God? Should we go? Can we go? “David and Goliath is a true story. Keep watering.” And so we water, we forge friendships with those in Korea that have become people we care about, check on, learn from. We search flights and air b and b’s and make lists and check dates. And I am reminded of my favorite verse; one that continues to make itself known in my life.

“Sit still, my daughter, that you may learn how the matter turns out.” – Book of Ruth 3:18. So, we proceed with our hands while we “sit still” in our hearts. Naomi created a title for our blog/instagram by spelling out how her name will be pronounced in Korea. Seoul, we love you already.

Check…Check…First attempt :D

The Amazon bunny delivered our selfie sticks so…..Naomi’s masterclass commenced. This took three takes on a cold side street in Covington, KY…and an abundance of patience from Naomi. Ya’ll, this world is moving way too fast for Miss Tam Tam. Consider this to be the maiden post on the voyage of a lifetime! Thank you from the top of my head to the tip of my toes for making this possible!

Travel itinerary updates for Korea will follow shortly after Miss Naomi returns from a class trip to the Netherlands! If you aren’t friends with her on Facebook, now would be the time to do that!

“So you just click that button to take a selfie and…” <3

A special thank you to my website wizard of a son, Caleb, for his time and effort in helping me because he loves me. I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always. <3

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