Tag Archives: life

the persimmons: aunt k (pt 7)

 

We don’t usually have visitors to our home.  So when an old friend of the Pops had come for a visit with his wife one day, we were pretty surprised about it.  Normally, I’m not a fan of visitors to our home.  Mainly, because our home is usually an embarrassing mess.  But also because the fam and I are not an “entertaining” bunch.  Too many awkward silent moments during visitor’s conversation times in the past.

But for this particular day, the Pops’ old friend and his wife’s visit had become a day of big relief for me.  Because finally, I had real macoy eye witnesses as to the ways of our infamous Aunt K, who had arrived through our home’s front door unexpectedly once again, several minutes prior to their arrival.

Because we had visitors, the Mom and I began to prepare some beverages and fruit to peel for them to drink and eat.

 

In regards to having fruit in our home, if we didn’t have to buy them, we wouldn’t.  Not because we don’t like fruits, but just because they’re too expensive for us to add onto our grocery list.  The reason we have to buy some fruits to have available in our refrigerator is because the Pops is so very picky when it comes to eating his meals, but is not as picky when it comes to eating fruits.  So the Mom and I have to dish out our dough at the grocery store, to make sure that we always buy enough fruits to feed the Pops with, in case he refuses to eat the meals that we prepare for him.

With a heavy heart, the Mom and I pulled out the bag of persimmons that we had in our refrigerator, for the guests to eat.  Persimmons are the Pops’ favorite.  And because they’re only available for sale during certain times in the year (during the winter months), we always make sure to buy quickly them in bulk, as soon as they’re in season again.

 

Everyone sat on our livingroom floor.  Because the Pops can’t talk anymore (since his first stroke), the Mom always has to talk for the both of ’em, trying to keep our home’s visitors as unbored as possible.

The Mom had washed and placed the persimmons on a serving tray, and began peeling them as quickly as she could, as she talked about this and that with the Pops’ friend and wife.

Many folks aren’t aware of Aunt K’s existence, and would ask us if she was really his “real sister” when they’d meet her.  If they’re asking me, then I’d answer, “Yeah” – and can’t help but make a forlorn face, as I answer them.  But because this couple had already known who she was, no introductions was needed.  Most likely, they had heard about her from the local Korean community grapevine.

Aunt K sat on the floor right next to the Mom, appearing to be impatient as to the Mom’s careful peeling method.  The couple were sitting beside Aunt K.

Normally, I stayed in the bedroom whenever the parents’ friends came over because I’d just about always get harrassed by them (whether they were male or female, or by both, if a couple showed up) as to why I’m not married yet.  But because this particular couple didn’t ever give me that usual shpeel (probably because they too had 2 grown children who weren’t married also), I stayed sitting in our livingroom floor along with them.

As the Mom peeled the persimmons and spoke, Aunt K suddenly interrupted her.  “Why are you cutting the persimmons like that?!  That’s not the way you cut persimmons!”, she yelled.

Then she took the knife from the Mom and the picked up the persimmon that she was in the middle of cutting into pieces.  Aunt K chopped off a big piece of one end and did the same to another piece.  “See!  You’re supposed to cut them like this!  Aye, you don’t even know how to cut persimmons!”, she said.  Then she took a bite out of the one that she had just chopped.  As she chewed, she glared at the Mom with a tsk-tsk look of unapproval to her fruit peeling standards.

The Mom sat in silence as she served the other peeled persimmons to the couple.  As the couple began to also eat, the husband then turned to Aunt K and said, “Why do you have to have such an angry facial expression?”  Aunt K looked at him, surprised.  But continued to chomp on another persimmon without say anything to him in answer.  Oy, I’m sure the dude was now on her hit list of hated people.

Once again, Aunt K had barged into our home uninvited.  And once again, she had come to our home to eat.  But this time, her rude bombarding manner had been witnessed by others who are non-family members.  It really is quite odd how such a comment by a visitor could become such a relief for me to hear.

 

 

 

 

 

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They, Each, We, and I

 

Such a time as this: #MeToo

Such a surprise.

Such a day I could not fathom as ever coming.

Such a thing so incredible to see

and hear and read about.

 

They are older now.

Both women and men.

They now tell their stories

after so much time has long passed.

 

Each had felt the shock.

Each had felt the fear.

Each had felt the shame.

Each had been powerless.

 

Each had hidden those moments.

Those times.

Those long, long seconds in time.

 

Many had tried to find a place.

Maybe a real place.

Maybe a place they had been in

only in their minds.

 

Somewhere to somehow rest.

Somewhere to somehow be in safety.

 

Will it happen again?

Will it happen today?

Will someone not help?

Their minds ask over and over again.

Their mind’s constant agony.

 

I must hurry to hide.

I must hurry.

But no door will keep me safe, I know.

Not even a locked one.

God help me, the door does not lock.

 

Days have turned into years.

Years have turned into more years.

A poor memory has become a blessing.

An even poorer one is much longed for.

 

We all have our stories.

We all have our hardships.

We all have our pains.

 

No family can bring me comfort.

No person can bring me comfort.

Only God can help me.

Because He has always helped me.

Each and every time.

 

In darkness, He had comforted me.

In silence, He had sat with me.

 

God continues to pull me through.

He continues to give me hope.

He continues to show His love for me.

He continues to help me to live again.

 

 

“For I have given rest to the weary

and joy to the sorrowing.”

 

~ Jeremiah 31:25

 

 

 

 

return of regret

 

Thoughts of regret come

Again to surround my mind.

Heavy sighs aflow.

 

 

 

I don’t know why it is, but it just about never fails that whenever I’m washing the dishes, it’s that moment when thoughts of regret start comin’ back to my mind like an unstoppable black-and-white movie reel.  I’m reminded of the many times when I had messed up, when I had argued fiercely with someone, when I should have made a different decision than the one I had taken, and so on.

So as I’m soapin’ up those dishes and rinsing ’em off one by one, I can’t help but sigh to myself over and over again.

 

 

the one elementary school friend

 

When I was a kid, I had just one school friend during my elementary school age years. She was fun to be with cuz she was pretty conversational, even though I was always a bore to be with. It was she who had asked me why I colored the way I did. That musta been in 1st or 2nd grade then.

da friend: “Why you colorin’ like that?”

me: “Like what?”

da friend: “Why do you have to outline the picture before you color the inside of it?”

me: “Um…cuz I like to…”

Then I looked from my coloring sheet to hers, and back again. Oh. Being the non-sharp kid that I was, I had thought that everyone had colored the same way I did. I didn’t realize that outlining a picture that I needed to fill in with the crayon of my choice was an odd move on my part. After her comment, I thought, Great. Now I’m wierd, even at coloring too.

Once in awhile, I would visit her at her home apartment. It was at least 3 blocks away and I had to dodge and sprint from a number of boonie dogs along the way. Unbeknownst to her, my gettin’ there was a life and death experience every single time.

Her family lived on the 3rd floor of their apartment building. Even though I was an overall healthy kid then, the walk up to her 3rd floor unit seemed like a workout for me. Maybe it was cuz the staircase was really dusty and the steps themselves seemed taller than elsewhere. I was huffin’ and puffin’ all the way up, as I wondered how the heck her parents carried groceries up all those steps to their unit.

 

Among our family photo albums is a photo of the sis and me at this friend’s apartment, celebrating one of her birthdays. I remember how the friend’s Mom had asked me to come on a certain day later in the week, cuz it was that friend’s birthday, and the Mom was gonna throw a party for her.

The reasons why her invite had surprised me was cuz:

1) I had never had a birthday party thrown for me as a kid.

2) The parents never gave the sis and I a birthday cake ever during our childhood. I believe it wasn’t until I was around 24, when the sis had bought me a cake. The Mom was living with her at the time, so it was the two of ’em and a cousin who was with us, as I blew out my one candle to celebrate my birthday with ’em that day. I just about choked up in happiness cuz it was the first time I had ever received a cake from the fam.

On the day of the friend’s birthday party, the sis and I had dressed up in the only one dress that we each owned. So we were in our bestest outfit for that party. As we sat patiently on the couch, we looked around at the apartment. It looked the same. The only difference was, the table now had a birthday cake still in its box, paper plates, plastic utensils, and napkins laid out on top of it.

The sis and I sat in silence as we waited. The friend’s Mom was busy at the kitchen, cutting up some fruit, I believe it was. After some time had passed, the sis and I had come to realize sumthin’: that we were the only guests present at this party. I wondered if the friend’s Mom had invited others, but perhaps they couldn’t make it.

After waiting for more than an hour, the Mom decided to break out the cake, and the “party” was gonna begin. We ate the cake and we chatted some, as the Mom asked us a few questions of how we were, how our parents were, and that kind of thing. The whole party was so awkward, that the sis and I couldn’t wait to make our exit, and to make our walk (sprint from them boonie dogs) back to our home.

 

That friend and I were just school friends. We didn’t really hang out much together, except for my stopping by to her home, which was like once a month or so (when I could brave myself enough to make the dangerous dash to there). We never went to the movies together, cuz the parents didn’t allow for the sis and me to ever do fun stuff like that until we were in our high school years.

So when I had gotten lice from that friend, I couldn’t believe it. Yup, lice.

Ever since I had known her, she had lice in her hair. I could see the itty-bitty white thingys sticking here and there in her hair. Especially when we were outside during recess time, cuz the bright sunshine outside had shown ’em ever so much more clearly.

Nobody ever told me they were contagious. That they were live critters that could hop from her head to mine sometime in the future, even though we never did anything together that “closely”. No science lab classes for us to butt heads as we looked into microscopes together. No sleepovers to share pillows on our heads together. None of that closeness ever.

So when I suddenly kept feeling a major urge to constantly itch my hair, like I’d seen her do so often, I knew without a doubt that them white thingys had somehow made a transfer from her head to mine. And before long, the sis had gotten it from me too.  Oy!

Well, neither of us told our Mom. Dunno why we didn’t, but my guess is cuz we thought that she might give us a clobbering for it too. And sure enough, as soon as our Mom realized that the sis and I were itchin’ our heads more often than is natural to do, she went ballistic. The Mom grabbed the both of us by the hair, and pushed us towards the middle of our home livingroom. (Lookin’ back at that moment now, she shoulda pushed us outside the house for what she was gonna do next.)

The Mom left us there as she went to go get whatever she was gonna get in another room. Needless to say, the sis and I were freakin’ out, expecting her to go get a bigger weapon than her fists to whack us with. But even worse than a stick, the Mom was comin’ back holding what we didn’t expect. It was a can of Raid.

As she smacked our hair from left to right, she sprayed that full can of Raid into both of our heads thoroughly. I tell ya, the inside of our house musta been smokin’ to the ceiling with that chemical spray.  What I recall the most about that moment was of how I couldn’t breathe. It was obvious the Mom was grossed out that we had them critters in both of our heads and she was determined to kill ’em completely, if that was the last thing she was gonna do in her life on this earth.  I was coughing, gagging, and my eyes were sorta burning from the strong pest-killin’ spray. The Mom smacked, whacked, and continued to spray our heads like crazy. She was determined to kill ’em all – and possibly even us, while she was at it.

Thankfully to God, the sis and I had survived that day and we both live to tell the tale of how our Mom had killed every single spec of lice that had been living inside of our hair from a single can of Raid. It had been a painful thought-I-was-gonna-die-for-reals experience and is very much not recommended to any mother out there to do to their own kid who has lice. But our Mom’s terrible (painful and inhumane) method had surprisingly worked thoroughly and our heads had received completely critter-free relief since.

What I had learned from that experience:

If ya hang with someone with head lice, you most surely is gonna get it too. So stay away from that person, until he/she becomes lice-free – even if they might be your only friend. Cuz someday later, you’ll most surely make another friend or number of friends again. Yup.

 

artist:  Aeppol

 

 

 

the molestor

 

My molestor has returned for a “visit”.

This time he did not bring his grown early twenties-aged children in tow.

When he had brought them the last time,

are they his method of “camouflage”?, I had wondered.

He thinks I’ve forgotten because I had been young.

Under age ten, I had been back then, I know.

When it was late in the dark, he would come to my bed.

And believing I would not tell, he had been correct.

Years and years have gone by, and yet I have not confronted him.

What would be the use?  Would I really be “healed” after?

I will most likely continue to let more years to pass.

Because keeping “our secret” is what the power of shame can do.

During his visit, I made sure to hurry away into my room.

Locking my door, I had tried hard to shut his voice out.

But purposefully, I know he would always speak louder.

And his horrid, even louder laughter, had made me cringe and shudder.

As much as I could, I had tried to stay away from his path.

But during his visit, there had been at least a number of face-to-face moments.

It was smugness, I know I seen.

Yes, it was his face full of smugness and his laughters so loud,

which will stay with me in my mind for many days,

as more years upon years, will most likely again pass.

He had left this time, without leaving us with a “fake” prayer.

For the last time, he had prayed proudly aloud.

But with his grown children with him, that time had been.

Which was why I believe they had been his manner of screen.

As he grinned to me whenever he could with his sly self,

he had most likely believed that his secret was solid,

and no longer did he need to bring his family with him and pretend.

 

Because God is, I have hope.

Because He sees and knows, and will always, always give correct judgment, I have hope.

And because Jesus saves, I look up and can face another day.

 

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me.

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.

But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

 

John 16:33

 

 

“Here I Am Lord”

 

 

 

learnin’ is possible – even for an unedjumacated chick like me

“Then this little-kid voice, this Tweety-bird voice, said, ‘We need to pray.’  I sighed again.

Eventually I lowered my face into the palms of my hands.

‘I know you have bigger fish to fry, I said to God, but I need a little help with this stupidity’.”

 

~ Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies

 

 

About a year ago, I had shared with y’all about the mom’s having made signs of the Multiplication Table on the walls of our house when I was a kid cuz I had really sucked at Math real bad during my school years.  The mom thought that she would help me to memorize those dagnabbit Multiplication Tables by her plastering ’em on our wall.

I use the word “help” loosely.  Cuz she had certainly clobbered my head countless times cuz of my failing grades in Math.

(p.s. I’d like to take this opportunity to do away with the cliche that Asians are good at Math.  Cuz I is a perfect example that that dumb belief ain’t so.)

The way she’d make those signs was by getting herself a permanent marker and ripping off some calendar paper.  Then she’d get on the floor, flip the long calendar sheets over, and write the Multiplication Tables real big on the back of ’em.  So one calendar would have all the numbers from 2 thru 10 that was multiplied by 2.  Another one would have everything that was multiplied by 3.  And so forth.  I think she went all the way to whatever was times 10.

Had I had any sense of humor left from all of the head-clobbering given to me, I mighta asked her, “How come you didn’t make one for zero?  Wuz zero times two?”

Maybe I still had a little bit ‘o wisdom left that told me to not ask that, or else there’d be an even harder clobberin’ comin’ my way.

Needless to say, those super-sized Multiplication Tables had done nuthin’ for me.  They were  just like boring numbered wallpaper of my worst school subject.

Thinking back on ’em, they kinda reminded me of Garfield and his osmosis thing.  Maybe the mom thought that I’d one day stare at those calendar sheets and have me a major “A-ha!” moment, and them answers would stick in my head permanently from then on somehow.  But nope.  Never happened.  ‘Til today, I’m still confused as to what times 6 thru 9 is.

Therefore, I immensely thank God for the existence of calculators.  I have ’em in every size.  From ultra-jumbo number buttons that you can practically jam with your whole palm, to teeny-weeny mini calculators that I hang on a keychain.

 

 

Although the mom’s head-clobbering cuz of my lousy school grades throughout my elementary thru middle school years really sucked, the pops’ clobberings were, of course, worse.

‘Til today, the sis and I have a sense of fear of phones.  Due to this phobia, both of us are not “phone people”.  Seems crazy in today’s world of smartphones and nonstop social media sharing via phone.

When the sis used to live in CA, she’d very rarely answer our phone calls.  We’d always expect to leave a message on her phone after all of the rings had gone through, cuz it was so rare for her to ever answer her phone.  Reason she didn’t answer was cuz the majority of the time, her phone was on silent, was sitting at the bottom of her bag, and she wouldn’t remember to check if she had any messages on it ’til about 12 hours later.

One time, when a friend of mine had asked me how come I hadn’t answered his phone call, I had answered that it was cuz I had left my phone at home.  He had gasped aloud and had an expression of utter shock as to how I could go on with my life with my phone having been left all alone in limbo back at my house. I told him that it was possible.  And my life could go on fine and dandy without no phone.

The reason the sis and I have a fear of phones is cuz the pops used to clobber us so often when we were kids cuz we didn’t answer our home telephone “correctly”.  His order was for us to make sure that we get the name of the person who had called while he was out of the house. Lousy for us, this was back in the day before Caller ID ever existed.

Whenever our home phone would ring, I don’t know about the sis, but my body would practically shudder.  Our home phone’s ringing was like the harbinger of my death (would lead to a good clobberin’ later).  We couldn’t not answer it, cuz it might be the pops callin’.  It seemed like it was always me ending up having to answer that darn phone cuz I couldn’t find the sis nowheres.  So I’d be the one to answer the pops when he came home later.

We had one of those rotary phones.  Beige-colored with a thick cord.  Used by turnin’ the dials round and round, one number at a time.  Click click click, around it’d go.

Just like in the horror movies, whenever our home phone would ring, I’d creep up to it.  Then I’d pick up the hand receiver ever so slowly, like I was scared someone on the other line was gonna tell me that I had to pay a whoppin’ amount ‘o ransom dough if I ever wanted to get my puppy back.

(Had that ever happened, I’d never see my puppy again, cuz I sho didn’t have a single penny to my name ’til I was 19 years old.  Good thing the parents had never let us have a puppy.)

99% of the time, the caller was a male friend of our pops, which made the much-feared phone calls so much the more terrible.  All those old dudes seemed to have the same loud, booming voice as they told me to give the phone to my pops.  I’d then let ’em know (in my witto school kid voice) that my pops wasn’t home.  (Had they been real macoy robbers, we woulda been robbed many a-times for reals.)

Then the caller would tell me he’d call back later.  But right before he hung up, or even as he was tellin’ me that was gonna call back later, I’d hurry to ask as loudly as I could, what his name was.  99% of the time, the dude would say, “My name?”  And then he’d either:

a) Say it so fast, that I’d have to ask if he could repeat it again.  Even though he did, I still couldn’t hear it for some reason, that I almost always wrote down the wrong name.

b) Totally ignored that I had even asked him, and he’d just hang up on me.

In either case, I was dead meat when the pops got home later.  And I’d again get whooped for not getting the caller’s name.

Why didn’t I just tell the pops that no one had called, you ask?  Tried dat.  But many a-times those lousy, non-name-leaving dudes would call back, and let the pops know that they had called earlier.  Then my booty would get into even bigger trouble.

So ever since childhood, a phone’s ringing sound (whether landline or mobile) has always caused for me to have a sense of fear whenever I’d hear it.

 

 

Just about everyday, I think of sumthin’ to write about.  Sumthin’ would happen or I’d be somewhere, and I’d think to meself, I should write about this someday, yup.

But then that thought would just go up in the air cuz:

a)  I had forgotten all about it, along with everything else I had told myself to take mental note of.

b)  I’d put off writing about it over and over again, cuz I didn’t know how to start the story without it soundin’ too ultra-boring for even me to read.

When I had begun my so-called writing years ago (’bout 13 years now; wid my grammar not havin’ improved much), I’d reread what I had written and try to make it even funnier, if that wuz at all possible.  If the sis happened to be passin’ by, she’d holler at me, “Are you laughin’ at your own writing again?!”  And then I’d try to quiet my crazy self-chucklin’ into little held-in snickers.

~ ~ ~

One of those topics that I had been wantin’ to write about for some time now, but had kept puttin’ off cuz I didn’t know how to begin it, was of this topic, which I’m about to share widcha.  It’s the topic of my havin’ learnt how to read Korean from the pops.

I know.  From da topic alone, talk about a dry read.  So after some jammin’ on my keyboard earlier, I had figured it out.  I decided to start off this story by recallin’ to y’all about the mom’s Math memorization tactic for this ever so unedjumacate-able chick.

Then I’d share about the pops and of his havin’ been an even stricter parent who had clobbered me for other stuffs outside of my pathetic school report card.

Finally, (if ya haven’t fallen asleep yet) I’d reach to the end of my story and its grand finale point of how the pops had taught me how to read Korean.

~ ~ ~

What had made the situation oh so immensely, humongously, miraculously incredible for me is cuz it had contained no head-clobberin’ whatsoever to me for my lack of containing any sense of mental knowledge (my denseness) for the very, very, very first time in my life.

How it had happened:

One day, the pops told the sis and I to go get our bums over to where he was in the livingroom. He then pulled out a small chalkboard that I had never seen in my life.  What wuz even stranger was that I had never seen that small chalkboard ever again.  Maybe he had borrowed it from someone and had given it back to ’em after having finished givin’ to us “his lesson”.

He held that chalkboard upright on his lap, and it was about a foot and a half wide.  I had no idea what he was up to, but whatever it was, I was shlumping myself down for another head-clobberin’.  Cuz I knew without a hint of a doubt, that I was for certain not gonna have the right answer to whatever he was gonna ask us.  (Unlike the smarty pants sis who always had the right answer.)  So I braced myself to get whacked, as I listened to the pops as he held that chalkboard.

“Today, I’m gonna teach the two of you how to read Korean”, he said.

Just fabulous, I thought. I can’t even get a decent grade in my English class yet, and now I gotsto learn how to read a whole ‘nuther language.  Great.  Just great.  Somebody please shoot me now.

One by one, he wrote down the Korean characters and told us how they each sounded like.  Then he explained how if one character was written down, then how another character would move on over to the spot below, or to the right of it.

To my recollection, his whole entire “lesson” had probably been about a coupla hours.  Maybe 3 hours at the longest.

As to how in the world the sounding and writing of each of those characters had been able to stick in my mind (when those dagnabbit wall calendered numbers never had for years) is only by this reason: by the great, grand grace of God.

Cuz there is no other answer for how that coulda happened for a person like me.  A school dunce like me.  A poor student for like forever like me.

 

Korean written characters

 

While in middle school and as an adult, I had taken the Japanese language several times.  The Arabic language just a few years ago.  But neither of those languages’ alphabet characters had ever stuck in my head.  They’re all Greek to me now.

But for only by reason of being God’s miracle, I had been able to learn how to read Korean with just a coupla hours of havin’ been taught it with a little chalkboard that day by the pops.

Folks would often tell me about how they had taken up learning the Korean language cuz they had an infatuation with watchin’ Korean TV dramas.  Just about a week ago, it was in the news of how the language is being taught more in the colleges in the Middle East.

So if perhaps you too have ever had the desire to learn how to read the language as well, then I’d like to tell ya friend, that if a dunce, much-penalized for being a poor student like me can do it, then so can you.

 

“I pray that God, the source of hope,

will fill you completely with joy and peace

because you trust in Him.

 

Then you will overflow with confident hope

through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

 

~ Romans 15:13

 

 

Abnormal Summit is a popular television show in which about 11 foreign expats residing in Korea share their opinions about the various topics of the day.  In this particular episode, 2 of the guys from one of the longest-running Kpop groups called Super Junior appear as guests on the show.  Click cc for English subtitles.

 

 

 

some thoughts on faith

 

“I guess it’s like discovering you’re on the shelf of a pawnshop,

dusty and forgotten and maybe not worth very much.

But Jesus comes in and tells the pawnbroker,

‘I’ll take her place on the shelf.  Let her go outside again.’ “

 

~ Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott

 

artist:   Aeppol

 

I read somewhere about a survey that about 80% of homes in America have at least 1 Bible inside of ’em. When I was a kid, I never saw one in our home. Then again, maybe my Mom had owned one and it was kept inside a “church bag” of hers. But other than that, I never saw one on our home’s shelves or nuthin’.

I was about to say “dusty shelves”, but our home’s shelving areas weren’t dusty. Reason why was cuz the Mom always made me wipe them all down every single week. When it was the weekend, she’d throw a coupla rags at me and holler at me to hurry up and wipe down our shelves and whatever else she wanted wiped down with those rags. Back then, we hardly owned much knick-knacks on our shelves (compared to the countless super-dusty ones that we have galore of now), so wiping them down wasn’t that too time-consuming. But for a kid like me who knew the Cinderella Story, I was in utter misery as I carefully tried to wipe down the Pops’ knick-knack statues that he had collected over the years. Should I accidentally drop or break one, I knew I was dead meat. I’d get a good clobbering on my head, for sure.

So I dreaded the weekends, during my young years. Forget cartoons on weekends because we didn’t have cable TV after I was around 8, I think. Well, somewhere before I was 10, the parents had turned off our home TV’s cable cuz they couldn’t afford to pay for that bill anymore.

Note: I won’t share about the different denominations of the churches that I’m writing about here because I don’t wanna be possibly bashing any denominations. So I’ll just refer to ’em as “churches”.

Prior to my going to First Grade in school, the Mom made the sis and me go to a church. I have no idea why. She herself wasn’t religious and the Pops most certainly wasn’t either. I don’t recall either of them having stepped foot into a church themselves to attend a service. But like just about all Korean folks here, I supposed that the Mom owned a “church bag” that had a Bible in it.

The interesting thing about Korean Bibles is that most of ’em have the same pages of worship songs printed (added) to the back pages of their Bibles. Meaning, although they may be different versions/translations of Bibles, some of ’em have the same songs printed on the back of the Bibles. Therefore, song (worship) leaders would often just say, “Turn to song number twenty”, rather than tell everyone the title of the song that they’re supposed to look for.

I didn’t realize that about Korean Bibles, regarding their printed hymns on the back pages until much later, of course. Thought that was interestin’.

Like I said, I didn’t know why the Mom sent us to go to church every Sunday. Whenever that morning came around, I found it to be so unfair in life, to have to wake up early to get ready for church, when she didn’t even have to go either. What the point of it all was, was beyond me.

In my opinion, I think she just wanted the two of us out of the house. It’s not like we were roudy or anything. We didn’t even have a TV set to look at, for cryin’ out loud. And no books either. Not even any TOYS. Yes, folks. The sis and I didn’t even own or have any toys. To our parents, toys were for “other people’s kids”. For us, I think they believed that toys are just plain unnecessary. Period.

In regards to books, if ya mighta read my “learnin’ is possible…” post, that’s where I share about how book-reading was banned in our house (for me, at least) because of my poor grades in school. The parents clobbered me if they ever caught me with a borrowed library book. I really got it good, whenever I had gotten caught with that contraband in my school bag. Ho hum.

So every Sunday morning, the sis and I were forced to wake up, get ready, and wait to get on the church van. It was always the same dude who drove that church van. I can’t recall if he was a happy camper about having to be involved in this part of his church’s ministry. But I do recall his being a not-so-happy camper whenever the sis and I were late and he was honkin’ his van’s horn for the whole street to wake up that Sunday morning with us too.

Then we went to church. It was a big, tall white building. Which still stands and is still in use today, in fact. Sure doesn’t look as big now, though, of course. But back then when I was a kid, I thought it was like one of those huge cathedrals in Europe. Real big. I stood looking up at the sky, trying to keep my eyes from getting blinded by the sunlight whenever I looked up at it from the front doors.

When I went inside, it was always the biggest blessing to my physical body to come inside the building’s air-conditioning. Aaah. Much cooler than our home, and way cooler than the hot van that we ride in to get to that church. I wonder why the church couldn’t provide us with a van with air-conditioning. I guess it was enough that they picked us up from our homes.

When we entered, the sis and I always went straight to the section of pews where one of the female church members would come and give us the day’s Sunday Lesson. I have no memory of what those women looked like. I can’t even tell ya if there were 3 ladies who taught us – or even if it mighta been the same woman. All because I had never paid any attention to what the heck she, or whoever it was speaking to us, was saying. Their story never interested me, and I too, was no interest to them, I believed. Because nobody ever bothered to say to me, “Hey, look here, and pay attention!”. Nobody seemed to give a hoot that I and other kids like me, weren’t paying any attention to our day’s lesson speaker.

I can’t remember what in the world I did during those lesson times. Maybe they had lasted for 30 minutes or a full hour. Dunno. Maybe I had just slept through the whole thing or did people-watching. Can’t remember. All I remember is that I didn’t pay any attention. Which is why the whole church-going thing was meaningless to me.

Until it was time to go, that is. When the entire church service was over and us kids exited the front doors along with all of the adults (none of whom I remembered ever said anything to me), that was when it was gonna be the highlight moment of all of my church-going Sundays. Reason was cuz it was the time when the church handed to every single person walking out its doors something to eat. Yup, it was FOOD time! Yeah-hoooooo!

I couldn’t wait for that moment when they’d put into my hand either a jelly roll, a sushi roll, or some other snack to eat on our way out.

But what I do recall is how one of those jelly rolls had squashed inside my church bag. Considering how I salivated and just about woulda done anything for the single snack we received after church (cuz we didn’t ever have such snacks at our home), I couldn’t remember why in the world I had put that jelly roll inside my church bag at all. But some days later, I had discovered it in there, and it was all squashed up and molded. That was when my church bag smelled of mold forever and ever.

It was the church that had given to the sis and me our church bags. I remember how it was yellow-colored and square-shaped. Looked like a kid’s little briefcase. Whatever material it was, it was a good one, cuz it was wipe-able. Faux-leather perhaps. But even for a young kid like me, it looked a bit too kiddie. I didn’t like how it couldn’t be put under my arm, but had to be held with my hand, like a briefcase. And it was so thin, that I could fit only like 1 thin book inside of it. I sure didn’t own a Bible and the church never gave me one to put inside of it. So I mighta just put some paper and a pencil inside of it. Since I never listened to the kids’ lesson speaker or did any of the lessons given, I had nothing to put inside of that bag. So it just remained empty with a squished, yucky, and moldy jelly roll on the bottom of it ’til the Mom didn’t force us to go to church anymore.

Then came 1st Grade of school. The school I went to had a church on its campus and we had to go to it on certain days of the year. The only thing that creeped the heck out of me about that church was the casket it had of Jesus inside of it. I don’t know why I thought it was Jesus in there. Maybe it mighta been one of the apostles. Maybe I thought it was Him in there cuz the statue might’ve had a crown of thorns on its head. Anyhow, it was this particular casket that made me get all freaked out inside, whenever me and my classmates had to line up to enter that church building again. I always wondered why we coudn’t enter one of its other doors (I think there was at least 2 other entrances), so we didn’t have to pass by that casket. Cuz didn’t the teachers wonder how it would affect young kids to see and pass by? Nobody ever mentioned it bothering ’em, so maybe it was just me.

I went to that school all the way to 5th Grade. Most of the teachers were old women. Only one teacher was nice to me. She was my English teacher during my 5th Grade. I thought it was so incredibly weird how she was so nice to me whenever she called on my name to answer one of her questions (I never raised my hand to voluntarily answer any questions, of course).

The class that had to do with the subject of God was called “Religion Class”. The topics spoken about during this class was in regards to the saints, mostly. Of how a particular saint had become a saint. Their background, the country they were from, and of how they had come to remain remembered by their churchmembers today. That kinda thing.

It was only one teacher who had ever made Religion Class to be more than what was covered in our Religion textbooks. She did this just once, though.  She told all of us to get up and one by one, we had to say a name of one of the 12 apostles. She went through our class like 3 times, and every single time, I couldn’t recall a single name of one of the apostles. Looking back on that day, I shoulda just said “John”. Cuz one can’t go wrong with that name being part of any list of names, no?

I don’t ever recall a teacher or adult ever teaching to me anything about Jesus throughout my 5 years there. All I knew was, that He was the skinny person statue on the cross with a thorn crown on His head. For what He had died for, I didn’t know. And the baby in the manger when Christmastime came around. Sometime during my years there, I had learned that He was supposed to be the “Son of God”. But what that meant, I didn’t know either.

Then came 6th Grade, when the Mom had sent me to another school. The school didn’t require students to wear uniforms.  So of course, the Mom was very annoyed to have to buy me new clothes to wear there. And didn’t buy me anymore new clothes for many long years, after she had bought me that first number of clothes, just to wear to that school.

Now, this school was “island-y”. It had open windows on 2 sides of its classrooms, and no air-conditioning. Then again, it’s one Science classroom did have air-conditioning. Students ate lunch right at the desks, instead of at a chow hall or dining area.

What was most unusual about the school (and seemed like its tuition cost was ridiculous because of this) was the fact that each classroom was made up of TWO class grades. Meaning, one teacher taught 2 grades of students, rather than just one. So there I was in a classroom of about 20 students. Half of them on one side of the classroom was in the 5th grade, along with me. And the other half of the classroom were in the 6th grade. She taught us both in a few of the classes and taught us separately in the rest. Considering that we didn’t have no dividing wall to separate us when she was talking to just one side of the class, that whole teaching system seemed a bit messed up to even a poor student like me.

The following year, the school seemed to be even weirder. Now, it had school uniforms for us to wear. Wonderful for the Mom, who didn’t have to buy me new clothes – which I highly doubted she was gonna, anyhow.

So for my 6th Grade year, I was now on the other side of that same classroom, having the same teacher I had the previous year. Had we had cable TV in our home, I woulda thought I was in the Twilight Zone.

 

To be continued…

 

 

“He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to Him.

Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair,

and you will find the right way to go.”

 

~ Proverbs 2 : 8 – 9

 

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