I think we are finally starting to feel somewhat settled in our new home and our new church and our new surroundings. I know culture shock ebbs and flows and will pop up again, I know my discontented heart is bound to come up with ways to be discontent, I know that there are still aspects of living in Korea that are hard and I there are aspects of America that I miss, and our home is still not completely "set up" but we are starting to feel a bit more settled.
We've been here almost three months now. In many ways, it feels like we've been here a lot longer. They weren't easy months, I've shared that before. The adjustment and the move were a lot harder than I was anticipating (and I was anticipating them to be hard!). There were a lot of disappointments and a lot of things I wasn't prepared for and a lot of unmet expectations. In many ways, I had heard Korea is a very modern and "first world" country and came expecting that....While that is true (kind of) it is a more recent development so in a lot of ways, Korea is still "arriving" at that and they still lag behind in many areas. While there are some things I really appreciate and enjoy about Korea (and even some things I will miss about it) there are also many things that are very backwards, very ineffecient and seem very odd to an American. We've caught ourselves saying "Why in the world do they do ___" or "Are you serious!?!" or "What are they thinking?" a lot. We'll likely never understand. I'm sure there are thousands of immigrants in the U.S. saying the same things.
The adjustment to living here and the many, many things we miss from "home" has been hard. Adjusting to ministry life has also been a big challenge. We don't have weekends to ourselves any more. Many evenings are also full of ministry or other activities. Steve feels a heavy burden for the kids here and also for the men's ministry and the church. He loves his new job, he loves what he is doing and he enjoys the work but at the same time, I have seen him more burdened in these past 3 months than I've ever seen him. I tease him that he is Somber/Responsible Steve now and I can't quite find Fun/Carefree Steve anywhere. I'm mostly kidding but partly serious. He isn't somber in a morbid, "down" way but in a thoughtful-I-have-a-lot-on-my-heart-plate-and-mind way. He feels the heavy burden of providing for our family, leading Caleb and I, caring for our spiritual souls and also learning a new job, transitioning us into a new country, working for a church and caring for the spiritual souls of the youth. He knows it isn't all on his shoulders and he is trusting the Lord with these things but they still do weigh on his heart (probably in a good way) but it is a new aspect to our relationship nonetheless. I love his heart dearly. Now we just need to figure out melting Fun Steve with Responsible Steve and we'll have a great mix! It is all a balance and we're just learning to figure it out. There is a learning curve, as with all big life and job changes.
Despite all of these things and all the initial hard-ness of the move and the initial frustrations and "down" days, I feel like we (and when I say that it is probably mostly "me" I'm talking about) are finally starting to turn a corner. I feel like I don't have to fight for joy like I was at first. I feel like I wake up excited for the day, instead of dreading it. I feel like I'm finally laughing and smiling again. I feel like things are starting to look familiar and even becoming "home" and "normal." We have a new normal, but it is becoming our normal. I can find my way around town a bit better. I am starting to know where to go to get the things I need. I'm getting used to not understanding or speaking the language around me. I'm getting used to (and even enjoying) not having a personal car. I am getting used to our new diet and at least accepting/getting over the items we can't here. I'm even enjoying some of the Korean restaurants. And finding some new, non-Korean restaurants. I'm getting really excited for summer and enjoying the nicer weather we've been having and the ability to get out more.
All this is to say, I've been excited the past few weeks as I've begun to notice that life isn't as hard as it was at first and that joy isn't something I'm having to fight for as much (at least right now). Steve and I knew without a doubt that this is where we are supposed to be right now and that the Lord was calling us to move to Korea. I haven't doubted that, even in the darkest of the past few months. But even though I knew that, it didn't always change how hard the adjustment was. But it did help. There was a "light at the end of the tunnel" so to speak....and I am glad to feel like I am finally starting to emerge from the other side. It has been a good few weeks. Not perfect. But good. And, really, it has been a good few months too. Definitely not perfect or easy. But good.
"I have never heard someone say 'the deepest and most rarest and most satisfying joys of my life have come in times of extended ease and earthly comfort.' Nobody says that. It isn't true. As Spurgeon said: 'They who dive deep in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls." --Pastor John