This is my Korean family, 1970...I've given speeches at Family History Conventions, I've talked to countless ward members, government officials, random neighbors, and basically every "Kim" I meet about my family -- and how in the world I'm supposed to find them. My friend Sean helped me try to track them down, but without much success. ...Then, like I said earlier -- after having gained a year and a half-ish worth's of Korean, and meeting my wonderful new "Korean grandpa - Mr. Lo", we spent a few hours at the Police station filling out "missing persons" forms.
My Grandma Kim (middle), with two sister and mother, 1970
...Three weeks went by,
and I got a phone call.
This is my great-grandmother with her oldest son and wife and my mom and aunt visiting, 1980
Then, as if miracles couldn't come any faster, within two days I had talked to at least 5 of my different relatives all across Korea, from Seoul to Busan, Yongdam to Yeosu, Songnam and Chungu, and even a few relatives who moved to Australia!
The man who lives in Australia is my Grandma's oldest brother's, oldest son. He was one of the nicest people I've ever talked to over the phone, and was so considerate. He asked loads of questions, and I got to talk to his wife and son, (his son being 23 years old, born in Australia, and fluent in English, how cool!) -- who couldn't stop talking about how excited they were to hear from me. When I got back on the phone with his father, he switched to dad mode and I was blown away.
Are you ok?
Can you sleep alright?
Are you sure?
Do you need anything?
How is living in Korea?
Is everything comfortable?
Can you eat well?
You don't drink, right? ..Because lots of young people drink around Korea, and you've got to be very careful -- especially if you're not confident in your Korean.
If there is anything you need, please call.
..And remember, your family in Korea is SO BIG.
..True, you're never alone -- call me anytime.
Whenever you have questions, concerns, hardships, when you feel lonely, just call us. Any of us!
Are you sure you don't need anything?
Money? Food? Anything??
Grandma Kim's oldest brother and wife, 1970
..Man, it was insane. These people are amazing.
I've also found that two sons of my grandma's younger sister are pastors! Haha! They're killing the church game, and her older sister wants to learn about our church, since she only believes that .. well, whichever God we believe in -- we come from the same one. ..And two of them own restaurants down in Yeosu, and promised to feed me fish, steak, and delicious Kimchi if I come. Hahahaha. I can't tell you how many times I've had to explain to them that I can't just hop on a plane and fly down to Busan in 2 hours, no matter how many times they offer me a ticket, hahaha. I love them already, and I have yet to meet any of them! We're hoping I can meet them this upcoming Monday (25th), and finish connecting some loose ties.
Grandma's 3 sisters, mother and brother-in-law, 1975
..I can't even explain how surreal this all is. I feel like everything I'm supposed to accomplish on my mission is done. ..Except for meeting them. It's wild. ..I know I'm not done but -- that huge part of my drive... it's finally become a reality, and I'm not quite sure what to do other than just celebrate until I go home, hahaha. It's insane.
But until then.. hahaha.. I'm still trying to figure it all out for myself, hahaha. SO. MANY. NAMES.
..You'll get them.
Two of Grandma's sisters and mother with same brother-in-law above, 1970
...Sometimes it just takes a year or so of everything you've got, a lot of tests, a lot of days filled with empty hands, and just a little more desire.
.. I've learned it just takes time.