"Girls! Get down here this minute!" my dad screamed. That was so uncharacteristic of him that my sister Anna and I stopped dressing and stared at each other for a minute. My oldest sister Carrie jumped out of bed.
"It's finally happened!" she said breathlessly with eyes wide. We all gasped and went tearing downstairs in our shirts and underwear.
"What Daddy, what?! Where are we moving to?" we all shouted as we rounded the bottom step and roared into the kitchen.
"Moving? What are you talking about? I'm just tired of calling fifty times for someone to get a loaf of bread from the cellar! I have seven kids; surely one of you can do THAT!"
A LOAF OF BREAD??!! Carrie headed down the cellar stairs while Anna and I trooped dejectedly back upstairs to finish getting ready for school--visions of riding airplanes, living in grass huts, and converting natives leaking away...
I was six years old when that happened. I cannot remember when we all started talking about being missionaries and living overseas. My little brothers and I used to look up exotic pictures of far away landscapes in an encyclopedia. Then, perching on a step of the dark basement stairs and focusing a flashlight on the book below us, we would pretend we were riding in an airplane and watching the country roll away beneath us.
One day when I was eight years old, it finally DID "happen". We were all sitting on the back porch, eating a watermelon and squirting seeds at each other. My mother was inside, chatting with a friend (which is why I suppose she sent all seven of us outside with a watermelon), when the phone rang. A few minutes later my mom appeared at the back door, beaming with tears in her eyes.
"Kids, we're moving to Korea! Daddy got a job working for the Army", she said. We immediately started cheering and hugging and tossing rinds in the air.
"When? Will we ride on an airplane? How long will we live there? Will we have to live in a hut?"
The next few weeks were a whirl of checking out books on Korea, packing, and holding a garage sale. I don't remember having any anxiety about leaving my country and friends. It was all one huge adventure!
With one exception.
My parents took us to a "Travelogue" on Korea. It was basically a talk given by someone who had traveled around in Korea, accompanied by a slide show (or filmstrip?). It was held in a dusty old theater on a curtained stage, and my brothers and I giggled while we tried to keep the theater seats from folding us up. I don't think I paid much attention until the man started talking about Korean food. He showed a picture of chopsticks and rice.
"Do you know how to use chopsticks?" he asked.
Yes, I definitely didn't want to miss this!
"Well," he said dramatically, "You have to eat rice one grain at a time."
Laughter rippled through the theater, but I sat there wondering how I would possibly stay alive in a country where you have to eat rice one grain at a time. Should I carry my own spoon? How DID Korean people keep from wasting away?
And so began the adventure that turned my world upside down and one day brought me to where I am today...a white girl with an Asian heart. Cornbread in the oven and rice scattered over the floor. A foot in both worlds...
To be continued...