Over the next 8 months, I would pay Bethany more and more attention. I went with a couple of friends over to her house for dinner and coffee. I went along on a ministry trip to the North Korean resettlement center with Bethany and her mom. I would see her at church, every once in a while.
And then Bethany made a couple of trips to the States. The first trip was for training for her new job and she had expressed the need for motivation and encouragement to get through. I emailed her and sent her motivating youtube videos to get through the monotony. After she came back from this trip, I went with some friends to her new place in Seoul and we hiked up to the world-famous Namsan tower. On this outing, she expressed a desire for intellectual conversation or book suggestions. After she mentioned some books she had read, I messaged her later about, of all things, feminism. It was then that Bethany had an inkling that I was actually in to her.
So, I landed in Korea in February 2015. In the first couple of Sundays at my new congregation, I met a lot of new faces. One of them was a lady (Connie, Bethany’s mother) who gave me her family’s contact info and invited me to come over to their house the days during Korea’s lunar new year holidays.
I met Bethany during those holidays. I had stayed the previous night at her parents’ house and enjoyed the hospitality of an American-style home-cooked meal. Bethany came over that day – the first time I met her. Bethany’s friend Brittany was over as well. We talked late that evening about a lot of things (I’m pretty sure I defended the virtues of child-bearing . . .) and the next morning the three of us actually went for a hike near Bethany’s high school. I found her to be well-spoken (I got her attention when I talked about something I read on North Korean propaganda – something Bethany wrote her master’s thesis on – the first of many divine orchestrations where I somehow say the right thing to gain her interest or trust), beautiful, and notably caring: her friend Brittany was leaving for the States and Bethany bid her an affectionate, tearful farewell. Even in my jet-lagged state, my curiosity was piqued.
In hindsight, that time set a good baseline for our later relationship: eating, talking, and hiking around Seoul. But it would be 8 months later before I would be hiking alone with Bethany.
So, my life has taken an unexpected turn. I came to South Korea to take part in a pastoral internship for 2015. Along the way, I met many people, made many new friends, and encountered Korean life. In the months preceding the end of 2015, a romance began to blossom. I guess the story will come out in bits and pieces, as the romance continues to grow, and I just want to share with anyone who is interested!
Her name is Bethany. She’s lived in Seoul for a long time, but she grew up in the Philippines, where her parents were missionaries. They are originally from Tennessee and she has U.S. citizenship. She has a masters in applied linguistics and wants to minister to people in Korea: specifically as an accomplished advocate for the North Korean people.
I’m convinced that the Lord brought me here firstly to meet and fall in love with her. We are convinced it is all His doing!