Tag Archives: children

Ulsan, South Korea: What If…

Playing games at orphanage in Pusan, South Korea

What if we all sat in a circle and talked about our similarities and our differences? Would it make a difference? I think it might.

Living in another cultures gives you a different perspective on just about everything. It’s impossible to ignore the differences and it’s a joy to discover the similarities.

What if we left products for sale out in the open each night, with just a tarp to cover them up? Would people in the United States steal them all? Or would they get used to having them there?

What would it be like if we all took time a few times a year to rest and reflect on our lives in a peaceful and serene spot? Would we still allow the stress to get to us all the time if we did that? Somehow, I don’t think so.

A mountain retreat near Ulsan, South Korea

If we left our shoes at the door, our floors wouldn’t get dirty as quickly. Would our minds stay cleaner as well? Who knows?

The girls came to my room at English summer camp in Pusan, South Korea.
They left their shoes at the door. So had I.

If we celebrated birthdays simply and elegantly, would it be enough? Or do we have to have more gifts, bigger cakes and larger parties to show our worth? Not only was this cake simple, but it was also scrumptious.

“Tis a joy to be simple, ’tis a joy to be free…” Shaker song

At the end of the day, I think it should be enough to stop, to stretch, to take deep breaths, and simply, to rest, and to enjoy the view. What do you think?

Good night, Sun.

Travel to another land and take in the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes. Celebrate a world filled with people who are different, but who are the same. Believe in yourself and your dreams. Hold onto your hopes. Cling tightly to love and family. Forgive freely. Live large. Don’t give up. You will not pass this way again.



Filed under Travel, Uncategorized

Kind Strangers I Have Met: #1 Ulsan, South Korea

Korean children, photo by
Ellie Kuykendall

From an early age Korean children are taught to follow directions and respect their elders. However, there are always those who would rather play than wait patiently. I smiled as I walked by these kids that bright spring day in 2008. I was on my way to my new job; it was only my second day, but already I knew I would love it.  Not only was I teaching ESL, but I was also editing students’ papers, so it was a nice mix of my talents.

Two minutes after walking by the children, I was on the ground because I tripped on an uneven pavement. I knew that one ankle was sprained, but when I tried to get up, I couldn’t support weight on either leg. “Now what?” I asked myself.

Thirty seconds later a man came out of nowhere. There were other people walking around, but I hadn’t seen him. He lifted my right foot up and massaged it. One of the things I love about South Korea is that people try natural remedies first. The massage hurt me, so I let him know. He disappeared for a moment and came back with a chair. He lifted me up and helped me sit down. Then he walked out onto the street to hail a cab.

If you’ve ever paid outrageous prices for taxis in the United States, you’d adore the fact that cabs are really cheap in some other parts of the world. The cost of the cab from where I was to my school was about $1.50 for the trip of about 2 miles. I arrived at the school, having called both the director of the school and my minister. My minister was going to pick me up at the school and take me to the doctor.

My director looked at me skeptically, as if I were lying about not being able to walk. I told him I would be fine. He allowed me to go to the doctor with my minister. After we left, we drove down the street where I had hurt myself. We looked for the man who helped me, but we couldn’t find him.

Maybe he wasn’t a man after all. Maybe he was one of my guardian angels. You have them too, you know. They’re everywhere and nowhere.

And the next time you meet a stranger, don’t think of him or her as a stranger. Think, “S/he is just a friend I hadn’t met yet.” That’s what I do. Have a blessed day.


Filed under Friendship, Helping Others, People Who Have Impressed Me, Travel

How Important Is It, Anyway?


My peaceful and serene abode

The last time you spit out a few choice words and maybe a gesture to the person who nearly caused you to have an accident on the freeway, how important was your reaction anyway?

When you remind your other half, partner, spouse or housemate to stop leaving the cap off the toothpaste for the umpteenth, zillionth time (is zillionth a word? lol), how important is it anyway?

I’ve been thinking about this for the last 24 hours, ever since I found out one of my two close friends here in Spartanburg died. I remember our last words to each other a week ago, “Love you,” and “I love you,” with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Now, THAT’S important, don’t you agree?

So you drop the butter on the floor. Do you think it will make any different a hundred years from now? Probably not. I remember back in 1979 I was housemates with another woman my age. I had just separated from my husband and Anne was the perfect roommate. She was loving and kind, generous and caring, and her faith was something to be admired. Anyway, one day she dropped the butter on the floor as she took it out of the fridge. She leaned over, picked it up, and threw it against the wall. She didn’t swear or act upset. I stood there with my mouth open. “Why did you do that?” I said.

“Because the butter wasn’t good anymore anyway, and it was just my way of expressing frustration at having dropped it. I know I’ll have to clean up two messes now, but it sure did feel good to throw it against the wall!”

I’ve never forgotten that (obviously). Dropping the butter wasn’t important. Throwing it against the wall was, because in that way, she could express her aggravation in a healthy way.

Does it really help to yell at your child when s/he doesn’t do exactly what you want him/her to do at the moment you request it? Does the sound of your loud voice enhance lives, whether it be your children, your spouse or your parents or friends? Nope.

Fifteen years from now, will you be remembered for speaking quietly, smiling greatly and letting people know how important they are in your life?

Or will others remember you as complaining, whining and gossiping about your neighbor?

What were the last words you spoke to the people in your life last night or your kids before they left for school this morning? I hope they were loving and sweet.

I wish for you all the good things and feelings in this world. While we might not always be able to control things (life just happens sometimes), we can control our attitudes toward those things, situations and people. And the more peaceful we are, the more we express our gratitude, and the more ways we let God’s light shine through us, the happier we and all the people we know will be in the long run.

Have a blessed day.


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I’ve Been Thinking

This Christmas cactus in my home has bloomed three times since Thanksgiving!

Of course, the problem with thinking too much is that a person can often wind up with obsessing instead of just “thinking.” That’s happened to me, and it’s probably happened to you as well. I’ve not been obsessing about the following things, but I’ve definitely been thinking about them…

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is health. I wonder why some of us (me included) wait so long in our lives to develop and maintain good, healthy eating habits. At the same time, how is it that many of our parents had horrible eating habits (by today’s standards), yet still managed to live until they were 90 or more years old. Yet today, with all the health information available, many people die in their 60s or 70s. I keep thinking that maybe it’s because of all the pollution and food additives, as well as to the stress we put ourselves under by working 24 hours a day. What do you think?

Another thing I’ve been curious about is why we are cruel to each other. Here are some examples.

1. We have bullying in schools (of course, it’s always been that way, but now it’s coming to the attention of many people who either hid their heads in the sand or who chose to look the other way).

2. Many children totally disrespect their parents by the way they talk to them in the United States, but in Asia, most kids do not do that.

3. We are not always very nice to our friends. We act as if we are friends with someone, but then that person turns around and poof – the supposed friend has disappeared without rhyme, reason or even a simple “Goodbye; this relationship is no longer working for me.”

4. Some of us claim to be Christians. We go to church every Sunday, volunteer to cook the Wednesday night or other special occasion meals, help with the yard sales and send cards to other parishioners who are ill or grieving. Yet, we walk out of church and immediately start gossiping about so and so whose dress seemed totally inappropriate or asking the person we’re with if they’ve heard the latest news about x and y’s divorce and custody battle. We give money to support our church, but when we see a homeless person on the street, we turn our heads and make a fast track for wherever we are going…thus totally ignoring Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40 — “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

And one more thing – why has my Christmas cactus bloomed three times since Thanksgiving last year? lol – I sure do love these plants!

Anyway, I guess that’s enough for tonight. It seems that it’s been so long since I wrote a blog – another trip to the hospital and the days just fly by. But I’m out now and really paying attention to eating more healthily and using some natural remedies to help God heal me! (Not that He really needs any help, but I think you catch the drift!).

Have a blessed day and week and month and year. And please, please let me know what you think of any of these things – either by email or by leaving a comment!


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