The last good day

Mrs. Gin, Kandice, and me

β€œThere’s no way of knowing that your last good day is Your Last Good Day. At the time, it is just another good day.”
― John Green

As of today at 5:55PM, Kathy Gin breathed her last breath here on earth, and is now with the Lord. She passed away at 56 years young of age and is survived by her husband David, her oldest son Christian, her middle daughter Kandice, and her youngest son Zachary. The doctor came in at 6:05PM to confirm that her body gave no pulse.

The picture above was the last picture I had with Kathy (or as I normally called her “Mrs. Gin”) and Kandice. It was the last good day I had with them and I did not even know it. That was almost a week ago. One week. And it was enough time for the cancer to metastasize to the point of being untreatable and debilitating her body to the point of robbing her of voice and breath in this life during her last two days here. Her voice, once filled with such ebullience and happiness, was silent.

But she did not pass away unnoticed. Mrs. Gin was a loving woman of God. She truly loved people with passion and joy. And it showed in her smile and speech; Mrs. Gin was one of the most chattiest women I have ever met. In fact, if you paired her with Kandice together, you would have a dynamic duo that is so chatty to the point where I can only sit down and wonder “so this is what it’s like to be an introvert~”

I’ve only known her for about 4 months and it was enough for her to make an impact on my life. When I started seeing her daughter, Mrs. Gin took the initiative in reaching out to me and showing me her care for my well-being, even in the little things. I have her to thank for making my first date with Kandice a success story in surprises (and that is a story for another time.)

So when Kandice and I rushed into the hospital yesterday after speeding through the freeway from Los Angeles to San Jose to pick Kandice up and drive to the hospital, Mrs. Gin was already bedridden and surrounded by droves of extended family and friends. Nurses and doctors wondered why that one room in the 5th floor kept getting visitors and overflowing with crowds of people.

Her preschool students sent her a binder filled with coloring papers that they filled out, family members came to drop by gifts and visit her, even to touch her and speak to her. Friends were there to hold her and talk to her. She was unable to speak, for her formerly loquacious vocal chords had become raspy; her esophagus parched, dried up of all moisture. Yet she was able to hear us and feel us tenderly pat her, letting her know. In the last days, when I spoke with Mrs. Gin, she locked eyes and twitched her eyebrows at me. I knew that I had her attention, despite the pain of cancer coursing in its relentless advances.

Kathy Gin loved much and she was greatly loved by much. She was not just Kandice’s mother, but she was everyone’s mother. I found myself shedding tears and choking up as I was reading Scripture passages to Kathy.

Treasure in Jars of Clay

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

(2 Corinthians 4:7-12 ESV)

And I saw a real manifestation of the suffering yet renewing spirit of that passage in Kathy Gin. I told her my thankfulness for her loving and caring for me, despite only having known me for a couple months. It was truly heart-wrenching to know that this was goodbye for now, that the questions I wanted to ask her will not be answered in this side of life, that the conversations I wished we had will not be happening here on Earth. But I recall a fellow brother reminding me that “The death of a Christian means we have completed all the good works God has prepared for us and its time to go home, we are in no way leaving something unfinished… our home going marks the completion of what God has prepared for us rather than missed future opportunity.”

Kandice has said that her mom lived a full life at 56 years young. And had so much more life to live. One of Kathy’s last words were “no more pain, I’m going to meet Jesus”

So during tonight at 5:55pm, as I held Mrs. Gin’s hand, Kandice looked into her mother’s drowsy eyes and told the words “I love you.” I felt her hand grip mine as Kandice saw her mouth stop breathing.

Kathy Gin impacted so many people in her life, and now she’s no longer in pain. Kandice said that she’s not sad that her mommy has gone to meet Jesus, but only wishes she had a little more time. And I feel the same too, knowing that those 4 months were absolutely sweet and a joy with her. I never knew that knowing someone for only that long would be enough to break me into tears.

I miss her so much for someone I’ve only known for a little bit. And I look forward to the kingdom of heaven, when I pass on to be with the Lord or when He comes back, that perhaps I would get the chance to have some good fruitful conversations with Kathy Gin, just like those last good days we had.

The final words she told Kandice to write were “Every day is a blessing, I’m thankful for each day. And I love everyone and I always will.”

Summer Heat

20120824-111230.jpg
This is an odd time of the summer for it to be very hot. The days seem to drag on a little longer, as the heat waves in my head.

A familiar sense of humidity floods into my sensation, as I opened my car door to drive to work. I know I’ve felt this same sensation back in Austin, TX.

At a fairly remote part of my workplace, there are some unused couches and empty one-seater cubicle desks that are strewn in the room. My work is beginning to move out of the current location and into our new facility, so there’s been a great amount of commotions and hubbub going about.

Normally on my lunch hour, I’d go out of the way to leave the building to find an isolated sanctuary, but with the added heat of the summer and its humidity, I decided to relocate (temporarily) my sanctuary to the storage area in my facility.

I pulled out a yellow-cellophane wrapped cheeseburger and proceeded chowing. There was a time when I used to take liberal amounts of the day (& night) to create amateur cuisinery for myself to take through work and play, but I am finding myself at too much of a time-deficit to do this. More often then not, take-out and friendly leftovers are the order of the day for me. Other times, I’ve done without.

In the midst of a order-filled, packed day, washed and replete with much todos and tasks, I feel my cranium desiring a momentary respite.

But what a time for my mind to begin a recap and redraw the steps and path that I traversed back in Austin.

It felt like the last ‘true’ vacation that I’ve had in a while. “Refreshingly entrepreneurial” was the expression I used to describe it, but I would like to add one more adjective to this:

Profitable.

In so many ways. Spiritually, Physically, and career-wise too. I found great profit and gains to be had from the trip.

It makes me a bit aghast that I’ve allowed myself to be too overstretched and overloaded to review the horde of notes i’ve taken during that trip. I’ve still yet to solidify my web and spiritual convictions, based from the lectures and sessions of the trip.

I still clearly remember seeing the joys (and trials) of personal family discipleship, being lived out and fleshed out on the day to day basis. I can still recall the beautiful, smiling faces of the children and the people there. I can still clearly remember.

20120824-111325.jpg
All this to say that I am so grateful for my time at Austin. I found so much refreshment and joy there, with the ultimate joy reminded to me. I do feel greatly indebted to the people there and I hope to revisit the area.

Hm. Another bite of fast-food down my throat.
I’m already full now, so why do I keep eating.

It’s been weeks since I’ve flown to Austin for my web design conference, but nonetheless I do miss the times I spent there. And I am truly grateful to God for every moment of it.

Now. Let’s wrap this up and get back to work.
+MK

I sure may

We often know so much more than we obey

During the car ride from NYC to DC, we were chatting about how it is often the case for many who has grown a significant understanding of the Bible. When you think about how much you know of God’s Word and compare that to how much of it you actually obey, you see how much we still lack and fail as ambassadors of Christ.

It humbles me to the deepest level.

I sure may proudly proclaim the prince of peace but if true reconciliation and peacemaking is not a priority in my life in all my relationships, then I have failed in every respect as a follower of Christ.

I sure may spend countless hours in devoted times of service & ministry to others and give all my freedoms away but if true love for God & for people is absent in my heart, then I have only succeeded in being a clanging gong.

I sure may read the word of God all I want but if a particular person in my life “causes” me to stumble and sin, then what have I truly got to show that the word of God is in me? People don’t cause me to sin. I cause me to sin.

I sure may say I serve the church for the sake of the Lord of peace but if I do not cultivate peace in my relationships with a pure heart, then I may be lying to myself about my true allegiance.

It doesn’t matter if I can give convincing arguments for the faith if my very life argues against it.

I need to truly live out the knowledge that was given to me.

I sure may not like it. But it does mean that

I need to die to myself and depend on God in order to truly incarnate my Savior in my life.

Consider this.. personally, what does true dependence on the Lord specifically look like, in the light of your knowledge of Scripture?

DC RECAP

Wednesday, 11/23
-ride to SD airport by David Young Lee.
-Buffalo Chicken Pizza from CPK. My last californian food for the week. =)
-Met Matt, my airline seat buddy, and had good conversations!
-flying! until 11pm. Perfect time to level up my characters πŸ˜‰
-The Paglinawans are here! Jenn & Joe picked me up and chilled with the Abot’s
-Playing DLD and barely remembered songs of Kenny Choi.
-Sleep-over, met Ruthie, Noel!

Thursday, 11/24
-Morning Devo and breakfast with the family. Reminded of 1 Thess & being thankful in everything.
-BASKETBALL! Half-court at the park nearby. We won! =D
-Found Yugioh cards and played with Noel!
-Thanksgiving! Abot-style πŸ˜€ Met the rest of the family & ate a LOT OF FOOD.
-Played with Gaby & JZ, the most adorable little kids ever!
-Dinner time!
-Black Friday shopping.. this early at Walmart?
-sleepy time! Time to snooze.

Friday, 11/25
-Morning! Time to play Dance Central two!
-Time to commute to new york! 4 hours of driving, here we go!
And now currently in the car, parking & getting ready to explore the rest of the city! =D

OSTRAVA!!!

Back from Czech Missions 2011. In a few words, I can definitely say that the entire trip was life-changing.

Over at Ostrava, God brought so many wonderful hearts into mine. From my host family in Ostrava, to the humble church members, I saw extraordinary humility in their service.

Granted, they are not perfect. But even in seeing what little they have, the people exemplified the love of Christ in their action.

I saw what it meant to live a selfless, devoted life to God, hour by hour, day by day,… in the Christians at the Czech Republic.

Indeed,…
There is something about seeing people live in such a sacrificial way that it convicts the heart.

+Michael K

Day 3 CZ update

Hello all!
I am updating everyone about missions in the Czech Republic with this blog. Currently, I am in my host family, typing away in with my droid & getting ready for bed. It is 12:07am now (9 hrs ahead of San Diego time).

A lot has happened in the last 3 days and I can hardly begin to tell where to start. Here’s the recap.

Day 1 (Tue/Wed)
-an intense traveling experience, but thank God all persons (and luggage) are on board. Loads of small stories to share about this day…
-1st sight of Czech Republic= I was struck back by the secularism that dominated this country. Even the very architecture oozed (post-)modern idealism (depending on locale),.. a very artistic/aesthetically/visually-pleasing country, but extremely humanistic and secular.
-things move very fast in CZ. There’s no time to waste for us with loading/unloading luggages. =( note to self: assembly line =)
-Chris T. and I met our host family, the Pidrovi’s, for the 1st time. Sam is the father, Silva the mother, Kristinka the 11 yo daughter, & Michael (Misa) the 5 yo son. Such a kind, hospitable family. 1st time meeting them & we were blown away by their love & care to us.
-general thoughts/meditations: the Czech people (from the churches there) are extraordinarily gracious and hospitable, which deeply convicts me. Do we demonstrate such care & love to strangers in our own midst?

Day 2 (Thur)
-an entire day ministering at 2 convalescent homes with Pastor Meinolf Mellwig, the pastor at KSOP (the church at Ostrava, whom we partner with)
-different environment, but same feel. Both denizens at the convalescent homes feel neglected & unloved by overall CZ society.
-spent some time at TESCO, the CZ version of Walmart/Target/Costco, to resupply.
-I am challenged to practice guitar more. The 1st home we visited, I forgot 2 songs in the set. Not very good of me… but God is still gracious.
-met Hanka today! A very cool, calm woman. Even her voice *exudes* coolness. πŸ˜‰
-finally met Mattias Mellwig, my “future friend”, according to Facebook. A fellow who is quite genial. πŸ™‚ I look forward to more fellowshiping (:
-had my first monopoly deal victory at CZ.
-also had my first nap in CZ… maybe more to come? Hope not.
-played *intense* volleyball at a gym in Polanka. Still sore..Β  seems like most Czech are *natural* athletes.
-general thoughts/meditations: Am I truly being zealous for God’s glory? Especially with those I do not feel comfortable with (such as people in convalescent homes), am I looking past circumstances & looking directly to the state of their souls?

Day 3 (Fri)
-the first good sleep in Czech.
-shopping, errands at TESCO, and ate at McDonalds. Now I understand why America is sometimes called “land of the free condiments”
-played killer with mellwig kids & team, then teaching time for men.
-met Jirka, Katrin, and Monika. Very friendly CZ folks. Also very *cool*, cooler than cucumbers πŸ˜‰
-also met Sergei, an atheist who visited that day. Spent the entire time at bbq discussing with him. Sergei had 2 questions = 1. What is the difference between God & Harry Potter/any other fairy tale. 2. If there is a God, why does He make salvation so difficult (why could he not make it obvious?)

Hard. Not because of the questions (easy questions to dismantle), but because of the heart. Complete refusal of submitting to God’s authority.

Sergei & I had good talk and it seems like he likes me. Perhaps we can continue to stay in touch (though I am hardly the robust, logical thinker like Stephen R…)
-general thoughts/meditations: The zeal of God’s glory & the servant heart of mercy is one and the same. The passion for God’s glory is the same passion to meet our needs as sinners needing salvation.
-more dinner with Pidrovi’s & played games with them. Extremely blessed by the family. They really pull so much effort & go out of their way to express love to us. I am completely blown away by their incredible hospitality.

A few lessons from CZ.
-appropriateness. The Czech knows how to be appropriate & proper. A part of that may originate from their overall cultural demeanor, as they are an overall stoic nation.
-efficiency. Time is important & being punctual is greatly valued. They do their best to make it on time to things & even the people who are habitually late do *know* that they are habitually late (and naturally deride themselves for it).
-hospitality. The way they show love & care is amazing. They really know how to minister & bless in ways that I never considered before. Self-sacrifice is seen among families and they treat us like families.

The Czech are a unique, rugged folks who work hard. But they pray a LOT. They do so much, even with what little they have, but their child-like dependence on God challenges me more.

I look forward to more days ministering and serving alongside them. Already I am beginning to miss these days. This has been such an amazing blessing.

Please pray for us. English camp is tomorrow & it is the main event that KSOP hosts. Please pray for:
-our hearts to be right with God.
-all of us to be depending on God for teaching, preaching, & evangelizing.
-hearts to be softened to Jesus Christ. Czech are mainly atheistic & cold. Christianity is culturally derided and ridiculed (which makes Czech Christians a rare, hardy group of believers). Pray that unbelieving Czechs will be open to the Gospel.
-opportunities to share the grace of God in our lives.
-physical/mental/spiritual help. English camp will be a 7 day ordeal which will demand so much of ourselves.
-relying God for everything (& practical demonstration of this faith).

I don’t know if I will be able to update much, if at all, after this post, but we shall see.

I must go sleep now, but please keep us in your prayers! Thank you!

For the sake of His name,
+Michael Kwon