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.