Dear Friends and Family,
Thank you so much for the time we were able to spend with you. Anne Marie and I were very happy to see you and we were very proud to show off our beautiful daughters, Maya and Hana.
I also want to thank you for reminding me what Heaven might be like. I imagine Heaven is like the conversations we had, the food we ate, the places we visited, the movies we watched, the games we played… except there would be no limit to space & time. We can cook all our favorite recipes together, eat the dishes and pair it with the most amazing wines, and not worry about it “getting too late” or “eating too much” or “being too expensive.” We would share our experiences of all the wonderful places we’ve been and even re-visit them together (who needs planes when we have wings?) In the course of a conversation, we might mention a great book or a well-made movie — I’d blink, read the book or movie you recommended, and then blink back to our moment to say, “Yes! It was great!” Or, “Mmm… it wasn’t for me.” In short, I imagine Heaven as being able to spend an eternity in the pleasure of your company.
I am sorry for taking Anne Marie, Maya and Hana back to Korea with me. They are sweet and wonderful, and I feel awfully greedy and embarassed for hoarding them all to myself. I am keenly aware of the responsibility caring for three beautiful souls. My vocation as a husband and father is the only thing that is worth overtime for (and, yes, I’ve given Anne Marie permission to hold that against me). Don’t worry, though: I will shower them with so much love, forgiveness and joy that my wife will complain even more next time how much I spoil the girls… deliberately omitting how much more I “spoil” her, too. As God spoils me, so I spoil them. I follow His lead; and I’m always amazed by how much self-sacrifice leads me to joy.
My beloved friends and family… not a day goes by whenever I’m back in the United States do I not contemplate staying permanently. We miss you. We miss everything that people seem to take for granted. I empathize with the Jews in the Old Testament: they didn’t know what they had until they were exiled. We live in “voluntary exile” and we’ve come to know that we miss you all deeply. “We need to continue to live abroad,” I argue with Anne Marie, “so that we can value them as we do, now.” That argument loses its strength with each year Maya and Hana grows older away from you. They don’t know what they’re missing, but we do. And we feel sad for them. Even more so, since they only have mom & dad to make up for not having you all… not to say we don’t have any friends in Korea, but it’s not the same. You know what I mean? Anne Marie and I both grew up with enduring memories of our cousins and childhood friends. What will Maya and Hana have? Mom & Dad. Boring.
All of this is just my long-winded way of saying, “I love you” and “we miss you.” This goes for the friends and family we did meet, and those we once met and wished we could have seen again during this trip. Keep us in your prayers, as you are in ours.
P.S. I know this letter sounds as if we’ll never see each other, again. I’m confident that God will keep us safe. But you never know… nothing like the thought of death to keep things in perspective. Anne Marie thinks I’m morbid, but that’s my secret for not staying mad with her. No sense in going to bed angry if I might not wake up again. Likewise, no sense in keeping the above silent if God wanted to bring us home early. I’m sure He won’t. But, you know, it wouldn’t hurt if you prayed for our safe travels. Thanks.
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