In our last newsletter, we posted a link for an update on the water well project in North Korea. The link was broken. Here is the new one. http://newsite.lnkministries.org/ We got another update from the president of the company the drill rig operates under. Because of tensions between countries and sanctions, they are not being given permission to drill any new wells. Many other aspects of the company are being affected. Please pray for those working in the area and the people who cannot get clean water.
May 25, 2017
Departing Because Deported
We've kept you updated on our struggles at our school here in South Korea. Since August 2016, our school has moved facilities twice. This necessitated that we move apartments twice. We've had five different people be in charge of our school and we've had two name changes.
This last week, we were visited by immigration police and 15 of our teachers, us included, are being deported. English international schools have operated in Korea for a long time under after-school academy licenses. We were one of three schools visited and all the foreign teachers are being deported for violating visa laws. There are nine other schools that will also be investigated. Korean government has decided to erase the gray area surrounding English academies.
We had planned on staying in Korea at least another year or possibly returning to the Philippines. God has other plans for us. Monday we were offered jobs at our Christian school in Libby. Wednesday we found out we couldn't stay in South Korea. Friday we found out that the cancer I had two years ago has returned. We will go home to the states to pursue medical treatment, settle back into our house in Libby, and Dave will begin teaching 7/8th grade in August.
We are departing Korea because we are being deported. But we know why this is all happening. God always has a plan for our lives. At the immigration office, in the midst of getting fingerprinted and signing confessions, we marveled at God's plan. Our group of 15 teachers will be parting ways in the next few weeks. God will scatter us all over the world and we will spread His light wherever we go. Acts 8:4
We fly on Friday to Seattle. Our grandkids and kids are waiting for us. God is beginning a new chapter in our lives. Please pray for us!
I found this in a file on my old computer...written in May 2015 as we were driving into North Korea for the well drilling project.
From Chihuahua City to Chosun
In 1995, our five children were in middle and high school. We were leading the church youth group and they wanted to go on a mission trip. We had a relationship with a church in Texas who had sent their youth group up to Montana several times to do a vacation Bible school program. Every summer, they also took a group to Chihuahua City, Mexico to do vacation Bible schools. We were invited to accompany them.
We spent the winter planning fund-raisers and discipling our youth group in missions. We all learned a little Spanish and could sing our praise and worship songs in that language. The day finally came and we loaded up our old, blue church van with twelve of us. The van had no air conditioning and tended to overheat. The entire church prayed for us as we drove out of the parking lot. We were going to need those prayers!
The three day trip south got warmer by the minute. In Texas, we thought we'd never been so hot! When the weather reached 108 degrees at the Mexican border, we were quite thankful to have left our van in Texas and we enjoyed the air-conditioned vans of the other youth group.
The five days in Chihuahua City were spent running a five day vacation Bible school in two different locations. One in an inner city church in the morning and one in the slums on the edge of town in the afternoon. Our children built lasting relationships with the youth from Texas and they all lavished love on the Mexican children we met each day.
On our last day in Chihuahua City, the preacher from the inner city church hosted us for lunch. They took us to a huge park where our kids spent several hours sliding on gunny sacks down one of those tall funhouse slides. Dave sat on a park bench and visited with the preacher, who spoke a little English, about the workings of the church in Mexico. I wandered through the flower gardens of the park with the preacher's wife. She knew no English but held my hand tightly and enthusiastically named each flower for me in Spanish. Our American teens gathered quite a crowd of small children at the park. As we were leaving, the children were chattering excitedly in Spanish and hugging all of us. Dave and I looked at each other and he said, "This is what we are going to do for God someday!"
Looking back from twenty years in the future, we regret saying someday. We robbed our children of experiences and situations that would have strengthened their faith and molded them differently. After the trip, we simply went back home and finished raising our kids in our hometown, forgetting all about the children in Chihuahua City.
Once our children left home and began to marry and start families of their own, we remembered the joy we felt serving in Mexico. But we had a problem. It was called debt. Friends from church were conducting home studies in Christian financing and stewardship. We took the class, dedicated our finances to God, and He got us totally out of debt in two years. God had brought us to a place where we were free to serve Him wherever He called.
Our son, Todd, had been in the military and lived in several countries around the world. After leaving the military, he took a job with a private contractor in Iraq, where he had already served a year and a half. He was not living a very Godly life but something happened in Iraq. He pulled his Bible out of his pack and began to read. The Word convicted his heart and he called home. Todd breathlessly explained that he was quitting his job and taking his earnings to Kenya. He wanted to help children in Kenya. He didn't know anybody in Kenya. But God knew people and Todd spent three years there working with various mission outreaches, a local school, and an orphanage. Dave got to visit him for two weeks and came home excited, once again, about serving overseas.
Dave had dissolved our water well drilling business and gone back to teaching full time at our small local Christian school. I taught there for a few years and we enjoyed the ministry to our students. But we couldn't forget the faces of those children in the park in Mexico. And Todd's experience in Kenya was inspiring to us. We began looking at job opportunities in foreign countries. We felt this would provide us an income while we searched out ministry opportunities in another country.
Having been to Mexico and Kenya, those were the places we desired to find jobs. After putting our resumes out on Christian international school job searches, offers began to pour in...all in Asia. We looked at each other and decided God must want us in Asia. We settled on a small school in the large city of Seoul, South Korea. Their website showed that they emphasized missions outreach in their curriculum, community, and focus. In 2008, thirteen years after hearing God's call, we moved to South Korea.
Rural Montana did not prepare us for city life among 10 - 12 million people. But God placed us in a small school community that was much like our Christian school at home. Staff were all American or Canadian and we hung out in and out of school. We discovered an international worship in English that felt like home. He also plopped us next to Namsan Mountain, which gave us trees and wildlife to enjoy and trails to hike just minutes from our apartment. Dave dug in with his high school students, academically and spiritually. I did a number of different jobs at the school and also volunteered at a cerebral palsy home in the neighborhood.
At Christmas, we did not have enough money saved to fly home. A friend from our hometown had left the states at the same time we had, and was running a children's ministry in the Philippines. We flew to the island of Panglao to visit Annette for three weeks and fell in love with the people there. The simple island life and the happy, genuine people were appealing.
We returned to Centennial Christian School and signed up for the spring mission trip. They just happened to be going to the Philippines! Annette flew up and met us in Manila. She stayed a few days with us at the YWAM base where our school was serving. She needed to go get training in the fall. and asked us to come live on Panglao and run her children's ministry. Dave and I looked at each other and remembered the faces of those children in Mexico...so much like the faces of the children in the Philippines. For one month, we prayed about it separately and finally agreed God was calling us there.
In August, 2009, we rented a large house on Panglao and began learning the ropes before Annette started her training in September. We hired two girls to live with us and translate for all of the feedings, lessons, Bible studies, and after-school programs. I was in my element, working with almost 100 children every day and interacting with families in the fishing village. We had plenty of room in our house to host various missionaries and the rooms were always full of laughter and fellowship.
Dave struggled to find his role until November, when he was invited to a ministerial association meeting. He met a group of six pastors who shared their triumphs and struggles. Unity among the local churches was an issue so Dave suggested an island-wide youth gathering at our house each Sunday afternoon. This became a precious time of getting to know the pastors, their wives, their families, and their youth. Over 100 youth attended each week for worship, a Bible lesson, snacks, and games.
Dave spent hours visiting with the local pastors and finding out where they needed assistance. Thus was birthed the idea for Partnership for Academic Student Success, or the PASS grant program. Pastors reported that keeping students in school was one of the hardest challenges they faced. For various reasons, children would drop out of elementary or upper school and never return to finish their education. This perpetuated the poverty in each of these families, and directly affected the churches.
A group of six pastors assisted Dave in developing the guidelines for the program. Students would receive a grant at the beginning of each school year that would cover their uniforms, backpack, shoes, and school supply costs. Parents and students would attend a meeting with the sponsoring pastor to outline the program and sign a contract. Families were required to attend worship and Bible studies. Students also show their grade cards to the pastor each semester.
Another need that was identified was a simple resource the pastors could use to reach out to their members and non-believers alike. Rice. Each month, we fund six churches with thirty kilos of rice. The pastors keep meticulous records of who they distribute the rice to. Pastor families get five kilos and they usually package the rest in two kilo bags to help out a dozen other families. Pastors report that the rice has been a blessing when neighbors are struggling financially...it is an opportunity for them to take food and pray with those in need. Many pastors also use the rice for a weekly children's feeding and bible lesson.
We funded the year in the Philippines out of our savings from working at CCS in Seoul. Just as we were running short on funds to remain in the Philippines, the school called us and invited us to return for employment in South Korea.
After a summer visiting family in the states, we went back to CCS in August 2010 and enjoyed four years of teaching and living in Seoul. It wasn't long before God revealed to us the reason for our return to Korea.
Our pastor at IWE ( International Worship in English) worked with another American who, like him, was married to a Korean. Both men lived, worked, and raised their families in South Korea. Pastor Bill was visiting with Gabe Segoine, who ran an organization called Love North Korea Ministries. Gabe shipped rice into North Korea for the purpose of paying local workers. Salaries are fixed by the government but businesses can pay workers extra in goods. Gabe also shipped in hundreds of non-battery powered hand-cranked lanterns for use when electricity was scarce.
Gabe had visited villages in North Korea that did not have a clean water source. He had a vision to drill water wells for these communities but needed someone with experience in the industry. God had Bill introduce Dave to Gabe. The Living Water Project took three years to organize. Dave and Gabe took numerous trips into NK to set up the business with the government. They scoured websites and talked to suppliers in China to find machinery, equipment and tools. In 2012, they drilled the first well.
Meanwhile, we had been teaching in Seoul, visiting home in the summers, and traveling to the Philippines on other school breaks. We knew faithful workers all over Asia who were looking for an inexpensive, yet restful, vacation. We also knew of many schools and churches who were looking for safe places to send their youth on short term mission trips. Korean parents also often sent their children to the Philippines for English language study. We purchased a piece of land on Panglao to develop a center designed to meet these needs. (We've got this property for sale, since it is now near an International airport. The property has increased in value and we are waiting for God's timing)
We resigned our teaching jobs in Korea in June 2014. The drilling project needed a boost to get up and running so we agreed to spend the summer in NK to train a local driller and a crew to operate the drill rig. Three months in Chosun (This is the ancient name for the Korean peninsula and is what North Koreans prefer to call their country.) was an experience we will never forget.
The drilling project got off to a slow start when we arrived in June. More tools and equipment needed to be purchased in China. When we finally crossed the border into Chosun, a local worker to train had not been located. Dave drilled a well for Daedong, the transportation company the drilling project was partnered with. A worker was hired and the drill crew began to work out their drilling routine. Relationships with local people and foreign workers were forged by both Dave and I. The crew was trained and many wells were drilled before we headed home in mid-September.
We spent the holiday season at home in the states. Our son-in-law had battled cancer all year. We had a new one year old grand baby to get to know. My parents were doing well in their late eighties but I felt the desire to spend quality time at their place. We hadn't spent Thanksgiving and Christmas home in five years. It was a blessed four months of loving on family and connecting with old friends.
In January, 2015, we flew to the Philippines to begin construction on our ministry center. We hosted an outreach to our island for 40 staff and students from our school in Seoul. I taught numerous preschool teacher trainings. We spoke at churches and graduations. We purchased a jeep to provide safe, reliable transportation of supplies to and from the construction site. The well, septic, concrete floor, electrical and plumbing lines were all installed. Our crew finished out this phase of construction by plastering the walls of the first floor and boarding up the windows and doors.
We had planned on flying home in June, visiting family, and searching out new teaching jobs for the fall. Our friends in Chosun called and asked if we could help out more with the drilling business. The drill crew needed more training and they wanted us to come back for 4-6 months. They were willing to compensate us for our time if we agreed to come for a longer stint. We remembered the wise words of a friend in Seoul. "When faced with a choice of work in God's kingdom, choose the one no one else has been called to do." We looked at each other and agreed to go.
In May, 2015, we flew to China one day and took a bus into Chosun the next. Dave had not been at Daedong for long before he was meeting with clients and talking with the driller. The next morning found them on the drill site and checking out several new sites. It was a joyful reunion with the local workers and our foreign friends from last year.
Looking back over the last twenty years, we don't regret following the call from Chihuahua City to Chosun. We look forward to where He takes us next.
Dear Friends, We have been "outside" for a few days. I got a clean bill of health at my 2 month check-up at the Chinese hospital. Life and the work goes on "inside." Dave has had many opportunities to train the drill crew in troubleshooting problem wells. We go back "inside' tomorrow at 6am. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts. Following is something I wrote. I hope you enjoy reading it.
People Like You and Me
"This country is filled with people. People like you and me. People who love their families and love their homes. They go to work each day and come home to children and spouses. They cook dinner and wash laundry. They pay bills and look forward to holidays. Sometimes they are sad and sometimes they are happy. They are people like you and me.
Human touch is important to everyone. They are not a demonstrative people. Public displays of affection are rare. Hugging is not part of their culture. In spite of all this, I often feel loved by our workers. The women will come sit close beside me after lunch. Shoulders, hips, and knees touching tells me I am accepted even though I don't know their language and can't join in the conversation. Last summer,I knew I had made a friend when our secretary came and stood beside me and just gently squeezed my hand for several minutes. Even in a society much less "touchy-feely" than ours, human touch conveys friendship.
Kindness transcends all culture and language barriers. One of our Chinese workers often makes short trips into China for parts. He always brings back fresh produce or small treats to share with others. My husband accidentally left a muddy tee shirt in the work truck. The next day, one of the women workers politely handed it to me with an Asian bow...laundered, dried, and folded. I knew she had washed it by hand and hung it to dry all night. Last summer, at the hotel, I had washed out a few clothes in the sink and hung them around the room to dry. The room manager took all our clothes outside to hang in the sun and we found them neatly folded on our bed in the evening. A friend left a bag on the bus when traveling from the border. The bus driver retrieved the bag and made sure it got to its rightful owner. People here, like everywhere, are kind.
Children are valued here. We walk to the open markets several times a week to purchase rice, flour, meat, and fresh produce. Sometimes the foreign children come along. The vendors love children, no matter what ethnicity. They smile and tease the children while pressing free fruit or a package of crackers into their hands. Looking around the market, I see vendors treating all the children in the same manner. Children are loved here just as they are loved around the world.
This country is filled with people. People just like you and me. The next time someone speaks badly about this country, remember the people. They hope and dream like you do. They long for peace and security. They are people just like you and me."
Beth and Dave
May 23, 2015
We are out in China at this time. We spent five days "inside" and Dave got one well drilled. I began experiencing severe abdominal pain. We decided to come to Yanji and seek medical treatment. To make a long story short, I had a total hysterectomy in a Chinese hospital and they found a rare form of cancer. Surgery is the best option and they think it was caught in the earliest stage. Further treatment will be b-monthly ultrasounds and chest x-rays.
I am regaining my strength more each day and Dave has been an excellent nurse. Our many friends here in Yanji have helped, supported, and loved us through this challenge. We have confidence in the very modern hospital and a caring doctor. Relationships have been formed with many people we wouldn't have met otherwise. Provision has been made at each and every turn along the way.
The plan, at present, is to return "inside" and begin again with the water project. Dave is ready for some physical labor after two weeks of sitting around. I can rest and recuperate in the wonderfully comfortable apartment provided for us inside. We will update again in July when we come out for my check-up.
Love and blessings to all, Beth
Here is a video link from Love North Korea Ministries about the Living Water Project:
A friend from Montana sent a Book Bus Box and it arrived on Panglao last month. The books are being enjoyed by children at a local church preschool. Thanks to all who donated books and helped to ship the box!