Cultural Exchange

1. Survive post-war Korea where the only toys you had were, legit, rocks.

2. Serve in Korean Air Force.

3. Move to hinterlands of Canada. Birth babies in hospital where doctors do not speak your first language.

4. Move across Canada in conversion van; wheel flies off en route and catches fire.

5. Eventually settle in Michigan, open dental lab.

6. See sons graduate college and marry.

7. Meet grandchildren.

8. Go to Chinese buffet in Chattanooga at 4:30 p.m. before the rush on the sushi bar.

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Sometimes I feel so inadequate to thank my in-laws for their sacrifices, for raising the estimable men that they did in my husband and in my brother-in-law. What can I give them in return for the kindness they have shown me, for the love that was so difficult to understand at first, and for their patience as I came to understand them better?

I’m reminded of that poem The Lanyard by Billy Collins. My in-laws gave me support and faith and the man that takes care of me and I gave them a sushi feedbag at the geriatric dinner hour.

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My in-laws visited this past week. We had a lovely time. It was one of the best visits, and even though that’s a hard thing to qualify, it was just ace. One night we sat around going through the English language alphabet and practicing pronunciations and laughing, and the next night we sat around telling stories about crazy times in apartment living. And we laughed some more.

This is not to say that the visit was all easy breezy with some kimchee and cherries on top. But ten years into knowing each other and I am convinced that the laughter and the love do cover a multitude of language and culture gaffes.

I mean, is there really such a thing as a “cultural exchange?” Can you exchange a culture like a neat and tidy hand-off of foreign currencies, a U.S. dollar for two Mexican pesos kind of a thing?. It’s never an equal give and take, a perfect helping of Mazo ball soup for that very large enchilada in my experience. Navigating another culture is an absolute mess, with overtones and misinterpretations that get me into all kinds of trouble. But anything worth getting messy over is worth doing and having. My in-laws’ culture is vastly different from the one in which I was raised and we are both still learning and struggling mightily to learn from one another. We are fortunate to love so many of the same people, and chief among them is our God.

Thank you, Lord, for my amazing in-laws. I don’t know how I hit the jackpot with them, but fortunately the exchange rate is favorable where I am….

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Incline up Lookout Mountain

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Point Park, Lookout Mountain

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Do you enjoy how Baby Girl is fixated on MagnaDoodle design in contrast to God’s handiwork in the view off of Lookout Mountain?

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Kendraspondence is the personal mischief of Kendra Stanton Lee.