Friday, September 7, 2007

Family Update

OK, so lots of people have been asking when I'm going to send out another update. I've been waiting until I could get this site set up, so here it is.

Probably the biggest news is that we probably aren't going to be able to adopt any time soon. Some of you probably didn't know that was even on the radar screen for us, but it is. Adoption is a long-time dream for both Sarah and I. We were planning to get the process rolling this summer by visiting an adoption agency in Kansas City. We thought that we had finally found someone who would work with our unique living situation, but unfortunately, after they consulted with their lawyer, they decided that they couldn't help us. The problem is that we are US citizens living in Korea. Neither US nor Korean adoption agencies want to work with us.

On the up-side, while in Houston, we made contact with another adoption agency. The director said that she has facilitated adoptions for missionaries before, so I am hopeful that she might be able to help us, too. We're just getting started with her, though. I sent her about 50 questions this week, and no reply yet.

Sarah is still teaching at Cheonan West Girls Middle School. She likes her job, and it's pretty smooth sailing for the most part. She just shows up and teaches - no grades, no homework, no meetings, no free-talk, just 45 minutes with each class. If you don't know, she teaches conversational English.

Sarah and our good friend Elena are planning to start an easy-English Bible study with some of their Korean friends pretty soon. I think most of the ladies are from their "Mom's Group" on Thursday mornings.

Sarah is training hard for another 5 K. (I'm in it, too, but I'm not really training.) As a "crucial" component to this training process, Sarah picked up a used IPod to help her stay motivated while she runs.

Ever since we came to Korea, Sarah has been steadily loosing weight. She's now about the same size as when we got married (or even smaller). Of course, I'm delighted, but she also gets the added benefit of a regular supply of new clothes because the old ones are too big. I figure that's a good problem to have.

Emma has now started preschool. Here preschools run together with kindergartens, so she'll be at the same school for 3 years. Everything is in Korea, except for English class. Her Korean is already getting better. This summer, when she played with her friends in our apartment building, they spoke Korean and she spoke English. Now, she is speaking Korean with them.

After school, twice a week, the preschool offers a ballet class. Emma loves it! She loves getting dressed in her little pink outfit. Every day after ballet class, she shows me what she learned. I can tell that she's getting better. After the first day, she showed me standing on one foot, but she kept falling over. Now she can actually stand up straight and get her other foot over to her knee and her hands in the air. It's so cute!

Next week, Emma will start piano lessons. She's definitely not as excited about that as ballet, but we're hoping it will grow on her.

As for me, I'm teaching 5 classes again this semester. (That's 10 credit hours.) People often ask me if I'm busy. I used to say "Yes" - like of course, I'm busy. But now I'm starting to say, "Well, I'm trying not to be busy." I'm trying to learn how to slow down, how to prioritize, and how to be OK with not getting every last thing on my To Do list finished - as long as I do the really important stuff.

I'm still playing soccer, usually at 6:30 a.m. with a group of Korean men who meet to play on the field here at KNU. I would love to play in a soccer league, but I haven't been able to find one that fits my schedule.

I'm really interested in reading about postmodernism and the emerging church. I don't really get it, but I get that this is going to be big. However, I'm also trying to pace myself and keep reading some fiction and some books on other subjects.

As for the church, It doesn't look like I'll be a full-time pastor any time soon. Our church set a goal for me to be full-time by the spring of 2008, but I learned later that I really pushed that decision through against the will of the rest of our leaders. Our church isn't ready for it yet. We've had to spend a lot of time debriefing and re-evaluating how we work together. Our next big things are: a) elect a new advisory council, and b) form a Planning Team to discern a plan for us for the next several years.

But, great news, we just appointed two new pastors: Julene Tegerstrand, as Associate Pastor, and Matt Banner, as Christian Education Pastor. Both are graduates of Nazarene Theological Seminary, and I'm thrilled to be able to work with them. We're all basically volunteers, getting a small stipend, but since we can't have a full-time pastor yet, we finally decided to add more part-timers.

Overall, the mood and direction of the church are good. We are really starting to learn how to work together. More and more people are getting involved in service and leadership. On the Advisory Council, we are working out some methods of working together that transcend the cultural and language barriers. In the church, people who were previously complaining are starting to get involved to help us find solutions together.

I'll be preaching on Financial Peace for the whole month of October. I would really appreciate your prayers for this. I want to speak the truth of the Bible on all four subjects: money, debt, saving, and giving. I know that most of us live far from God's plan in all of these areas, and I feel the need to be somewhat prophetic. However, I also know that money sermons often sound condemning and depressing and/or just the church asking for money again. I don't want any of that. What I'm hoping for is an authentic challenge which is at the same time hope-filled and inspiring. Please pray that God will send us in that direction together.

I guess that's enough for now. If anyone has any questions, just post a comment, and I'll try to answer them in one of my next posts.
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