#2 Little Amie in Korea

I’m not lying when I say I don’t remember too much of bus rides in Seoul City before I was six. I know our family rode around plenty of times but they all are bunched up in this part of my brain called Before Taiwan. However there is this one vague conversation mum and I had after a bus ride. She accidentally got us off at the stop before the should-have-been stop.

“It’s such a long way,” she worried my legs would fall off.

“We can walk, we’re missionaries now!” I said without much thought as we walked. Our walk happened right before the Move and all I could ever say was the fact that we were going to be missionaries and we were going to Taiwan. Those two facts actually wouldn’t hit me until much later but they sounded good in my ears those days. It just made sense for me to be someone going to a different country. If I could go to another country, a little extra walk couldn’t hurt me. Little Amie Logic.


#1 The Origin

Every bus ride is an adventure and it all started with an episode…

Surprisingly I don’t remember too many bus rides from when I was tiny in Korea. They probably just weren’t as traumatic as the one I call the ride that stared my Taipei City life.We only just got settled in Taipei. Dad was busy with his seminary and umma would take me around the city.

These were the days without cell phones and “just Google Map it” where we, well umma, tried to figure out routes with her amazingly non-existent Mandarin skills. Of course, that didn’t matter–I was six and I trusted umma with all of my heart. It wasn’t long until that she would shatter my trust in her by taking the wrong bus.

We’re going to a department store, I remember umma saying. Department stores were my favorite–they had toys and McDonald’s, the two universal languages of little kids. I put on my comfy sneakers and asked umma for my orange-on-white Easy card. I held her hand tight as I asked her which number we were going to get on. Here is where my memory becomes a blur, she said a three digit number with the combinations of 2 and 6. For the story, let’s say she said 262 (as a matter of fact, a real bus number) so as I saw the gargantuan bus approach, I swung my arm up and down and followed umma into the mysterious 262.

It was 10 minutes into the ride that umma realized that we took the wrong number, thus the little confusion of 2s and 6s. All hell broke lose and little Amie began to bawl, sitting on the second front seat next to a window on the right. Umma crouched down to meet my eyes and tried to explain that we could get off the bus now and get on the right one. Like I would you trust you, is probably what I shouted, and I bawled until the-very-very-wrong-262 reached it’s last stop. At this point, the bus driver asked if we were getting off but little Amie said no, we’re going back to where we came from while umma said but Amie we can get on another bus. Little Amie with her sobbing face was convinced, that she knew better and umma with her 2s and 6s was too stupid to know how to get anywhere. Little Amie just knew she had good logic, and her umma just wasn’t good enough.

As I sniffled away, the wrong-but-correct-262 swung round back to our house. Now I felt safe to get off and take the other bus, 266 or something.

The funniest part of the story was that umma didn’t get angry. Although this memory is marked with fear and confusion, there is no hint of the rage of umma. On the contrary, even though I couldn’t trust her knowledge, I trusted her heart. I trusted that she would keep me safe and get us to the department store and back home. Amongst this strange feeling of being lost, there was warmth and comfort.

So did we get to our intended destination? Yes, I had McNuggets with my Happy Meal toy, it was probably a plastic Hello Kitty.



29 Mar 2015

In linguistics, I’ve learnt that there is this thing called lexicon in our brains. Kind of like a mental word bank–all the words you know or heard of by now.

I clicked into my brain, just like I would with my laptop. I double clicked into this folder called lexicon. It showed me three subfolders–well, three large ones and couple of other smaller ones. There was a show all option, so I entered.

There it was.. all the words that I picked up from the streets and from the skies. From flying high and digging the ground. All the words I did not ever want to know. Words I speak like they are the air I breathe out. Words that morphed into a thousand blades and pierced every millimeter of my heart. Words that turned me into a hurricane. Words that turned me into a princess. Words that turned me into a poisonous viper. Words that froze my bones and words that melted my soul. Words

Why are they so important to you? Asked God. Why do you think they are so important to you?

Because you spoke the whole word into being. Each word that vibrate off your mouth became. And I know that each word becomes too, because I’m your princess. But it’s so hard to break through those words. It’s so hard because they became. And they are. And they still hurt. I don’t know what they are anymore.

I want to delete these words.

But there’s no recycle bin.

There’s no shift key nor delete key in my brain.

But I have you, could you replace those words? Could you help me rearrange those words? I know…. I know that some words will always be there because it’s in my head. But could you help me speak? I want your mouth, I want your eyes.

I want your lexicon.



18 Apr 2014

“You’re going to discover that conversations are best at 4 am. The heavier the eyelids, the sincerer the words. Those are the talks you’ll remember. It’s ok not to know the answer and silence is not awkward. It’s shared, so share it more often than not.” —Jeff Stuckel

On the second day of October in the year of twenty-fourteen, I woke up and saw a ray of sunshine peeping through my window curtains. It was 7am. I thought about you and wondered whether the stars and the moon over there would be just as pretty as the ones that I saw last night. Thinking about you made me smile. I hope you too will smile at 7am but I know you won’t—your mouth will be too busy making grumbling noises and your hands will blindly search for the snooze button on your tiny square alarm clock—I pray that you won’t hit the off button instead. You overslept through your 9am class way too many times.

The kitchen beckoned me to come fill the house with the scent of coffee. I routinely followed what felt natural: opened the bottle of coffee bean grind, put it in the coffee filter, poured water, and switched on the little nob. Then my hands reached for the whole grain toasts in my fridge—I took two out and popped them in the toaster. I glanced at the clock on my wall, 7:10am; you’re probably having dinner with friends on the other side of the globe. My breakfast time, your dinner time—the world is too funny of a place sometimes. I giggled at the memory of having to slap your butt to get you off bed and feed you breakfast. A funny yet familiar smell nudged my nose. My toast turned black. With a sigh, I scratched out the burnt part then gobbled it down with my black coffee.

I realized I was running late because I was daydreaming too much. Your slow morning pace has rubbed off on me. “What’s the point of rushing?” you’d remind me, “You just end up forgetting everything because you forget to relax. Just take it slow.” I brushed my teeth, washed my face, dried it with a towel, took ten minutes to be indecisive about my outfit, stuffed my backpack with whatever belonged there, and headed out the door with keys in one hand my phone in the other. I put on my earphones and tapped on the little icon with video camera next to your name on my contact list. Thank God for technology.

I held my phone tight as I listened to the dialing sound. The words “pick up” echoed through my head as you picked up the call on the tenth dialing sound. Yikes, I counted. I wonder what kind of impatient freak that makes me.“Hello, hello!” I greeted you as I waited at the side walk for the light to turn green. I stretched my left arm so you could see the view and my face at the same time.“Hey you, heading to school? Dude, I just had the worst Chinese food down town. I miss Taiwan so much. Send me them danbings please!” you complained with the frown that I am so familiar with yet can only now see on my tiny phone screen.

“I feel very happy this morning.” I said after asking you how your Americanized Chinese food was and how your day was. “I feel fabulous just because.” I shouted, forgetting the fact that I was on a crowed morning bus. Some eyes turned toward me but most were glued to their own phones and books. “You always feel great in the morning,” you retorted. “You’re such a morning person. I hate you.” you complained.

“What is this nonsense, you love me so.” I winked. Then we said our good nights and good mornings and settled the fact that night owls and early birds attract each other.

Evenings make me exhausted. The evening sky is beautiful and the glistening city lights replace the stars but all these beauty is overwhelming and I am so ready to sleep by 10pm.Evenings also make me overly reflective and overly emotional. I miss how your brain just suddenly wakes up at 10:30pm and starts asking me the deepest and most mindboggling questions I could never answer with my caffeine-free night mode. I miss giving you a hug before I drift off to the world of dreams. I miss giggling about the stupid tiny things, like you accidentally growing a ketchup mustache.

This long distance thing works well. I am a morning person and you’re a night person. We seem to be in the right time zones. You will never see me sleepy and incoherent at night and I will never see you grouchy and fuzzy in the morning. I will never tell you all the bad stuff from last night because I want to share with you what my new day has in store for me. You will always tell me about the wonderful things that have happened during the day.

This long distance thing is killing me. I never get to tickle you awake and see your drool filled mouth and your thunderstruck hair. You never get to hear my incoherent confessions during our heavy eyelids talk sessions. We will never share that mutual silence that we know that can never be awkward. The beautiful silence that acknowledges the fact that we feel safe by just knowing that I know you are there and you know I am here. I miss that peaceful silence that hums us to sleep.

It tickles my mind that soon you’ll be living the same date as I just had. It’s 11pm. As the moon shines through my window curtains, I ask myself questions that you would have asked me if you were here. Isn’t it weird to think about the fact that someone who shared a day in the same space every day for three years is now having completely different days on the other side of the world? That was a really lame question. I’m still working on coming up with open ended crazy questions. I’m just so sleepy, dearest night owl. Goodnight, and see you later tonight.


The origins of my love for traveling and everything else

Attending an international Christian school from middle school meant that I grew up in an environment with a special set of worldviews. I’ve learned that the world is a small place and little actions can make a change.

We had Christmas projects each year to raise funds for causes like children in Uganda or orphanages in Taiwan. I remember having endlessly many bake sales and garage sales. The most hilarious fund raising I remember was where a few of my classmates pledged to go bald if people donated a certain amount by a certain time. They had a head shaving ceremony.

The swim team had an annual service trip to the Philippines to go help out at the children’s home while training in the sizzling sun of Manila. I was on the swim team the last two years of high school. I signed up for the Manila trip without much hesitation. The first year I was there, we dug out the foundation and mixed the cement to lay out the foundation for the future school building. The very next year, we saw a four story school building at the very same place. The local children could finally have proper schooling. My heart was full from seeing how much the place and the children grew within a year.

It would take me another 500 words to describe all the other miracles that I have seen and experienced throughout my trips. This is all to say that going on mission trips have somehow become a lifestyle.

However, being a missionary kid does not automatically make me a missionary, that has to be understood. Mission trips at the moment is still just a way for me to grow and learn more about the world that God so loves. Every trip is a growth spurt and answers to questions that God has been preparing for me to discover.

So even after high school and during my first year of university, I found my spiritual family in Bread of Life International. Guess what? They also had mission trips–to Hungary.