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A skype call with JJ and SK – “Sometimes when you’re away and alone, you forget what community is like – what Jesus looks like in the midst of everything, and how important it is. But when you return, you will be overwhelmed and you will be filled again.”

Currently in the process of learning:

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1. “You are enough. This was enough – no more, no less.”

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2. How to receive when I do not feel ready to receive; when I feel guilty about receiving.

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3. That intimacy and control are incompatible.

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4. What to do when I ask for peace and am asked to trust in return.

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5. How to thank a home that loves me deeply even when I am rarely around long enough to indent the soil around my doorstep.

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6. How to say, “I love you,” without making it sound like an apology.

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7. “You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” – Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver

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I guess I have more photos than things I’m learning (haha, yeah right), so scroll on.

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To The Ones Who Come And Go

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1. “I am giving this to you, because it embodies one of the most important things you have taught me. It’s a picture of one of the first times we were reunited again, but the polaroid didn’t turn out and I put it in my discarded pile of film. You have shown me that there is beauty in the darkest of places. That was true then, and it is still true now.”

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2. Remember that no matter how many times you come and go, you take a piece of the True North with you in your heart. Point your compass straight always, and branch out so far that when God shakes your limbs, the entire world gets covered with cherry blossoms.

Kelly

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Kelly and I were supposed to go to France together, but due to the circumstances, I had to defer my exchange. But the light that has come out of a disappointing situation is that I’ve had a significantly less stressful time planning for the big trip because of Kelly’s help. I was lucky to enough to shoot a few portraits for this lovely lady yesterday, and in-between head shots and strangers stopping her on the street to ask for her number (seriously, look at this beauty! HOLY), she would ask me, “What are you most afraid of?”, listen to my answers, and then assure me that the things I fear will change me for the better. It is rare to find people who make it clear to you that having fears is valid, but do not give fear validation.

Today, I am thankful for the ones who go before me, for they show me that the path is not as dark as it seems.

Papa

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On Sunday, my father and I part ways for the rest of the trip. Tiff and I are going to Japan, and he is heading home to Vancouver. Here are 3 things about my father:

1. My father was born with a fisherman heart. He came out of the womb doing the front crawl and the doctor probably said, “This boy has sea legs.” He wakes up before the sun to swim laps until his body goes numb and the only times he ever left my mother and I behind was to go fishing on a boat that he loves almost as much as the ocean. He comes back home with weathered skin and pictures of him with a smile bigger than his catch. His greatest reward is a hook in a lip, but the ironic thing is that he doesn’t like eating fish.

2. When I was in elementary school, my father lost his job. He was unemployed for a very long time, and it wasn’t until I was older that I learned it was because every job that was offered to him required him to leave his family. I grew up watching my father struggle to start his own business. He was a computer engineer trying to learn the world of a businessman; studying company start-up books and working for shit pay at the same time just so my mother and I could remain the epicenter of what makes him move and shake. His biggest regret is not giving up his business, the emporium that he had built with his own two hands, during the last two years of my mother’s life. And that is what he is – not a engineer or a businessman, but a man who loves his family more than any career.

3. My father grew up in a culture where love is not often verbalized and with a belief that everything was his fault. Sometimes things that are not meant to be planted take deep roots, and I always need to remind myself of that before toxic comes out of my mouth (but more often than not, the words have left before that thought crosses my mind). Often (although not always) in my family, anger is shouted and compliments are whispered, but I must always remember that one of the times that I saw my father the most angry was when a boy made me feel like I wasn’t good enough.

First Family Vacation

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I’ve traveled often with my dad’s side of the family, so I have so many childhood memories of packing into a minivan with my cousins and driving to faraway places with no air conditioning but plenty of snacks. My dad has always said, “You’ll get many opportunities to travel with your friends, but as you get older, it’s more rare to travel with family, so take advantage of it while you can.”
Today, we’re taking our first family vacation ever with my mom’s side of the family. They actually thought it was a bizarre suggestion when we first brought up the trip, because it’s something they have never done.
This morning, I asked my grandpa when the last time he traveled with his kids was. His answer: “30 years ago.”

Asia on the horizon

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A year and a half ago, Abby, Esther, Lindsay and I bought a travel journal to mail to each other while Esther was in Korea and Lindsay was in Australia. I received it today, because it’s finally my turn to go away, plus a few send-off letters (we were meeting up for Esther’s birthday, and they somehow managed to make me feel so loved even though it wasn’t my special day). I feel like I’ve spent so much time at the airport the past few years, but I’ve never been the one hopping on a plane, so I’m extremely excited to finally have travels to write about in this journal!

With my Asia trip coming up in two days, this past week has been full of goodbyes; not because I’m going for very long, but because a lot of people are going away while I’m gone. When I come back, things are going to be very, very different. Summer always holds this tension of loved ones jetting off to different adventures, and faraway friends returning home. There are some friends that I have a very brief window of overlapping time with this summer. There are some that I won’t see till I come back from exchange in January. There are others that I won’t get to see till next summer.

I always have a fear of people changing when they leave, because seeing the world helps you learn things about yourself that wouldn’t have been visible to you before. Things happen when you try to stretch yourself to invest into two places at once (which is a hard but important lesson to learn). Change is often good and incredibly necessary, but man, growing pains hurt.