Home is nowhere and yet everywhere

Today I met someone new and they asked if I have felt homesick at all so far this year. I proceeded to talk about my family and my many siblings and my cat for much longer than anyone should ever have to listen for. And a friend from PA is going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and asked for recommendations of things to do… And she got a boatload of Facebook messages in response.

I miss my family. I miss New Orleans. I miss New Wilmington & Westminster. I miss Bath & Body Works. I miss all of my friends…

And I’m feeling immensely blessed by my community here in South Korea. And despite how cold it is at the moment, I am falling in love with South Korea. The people, the culture, the language… I feel at home.

I feel at home but I still feel a bit homesick. But for where? Pennsylvania? New Orleans? The US? Where is home?

I could easily say that home is where I grew up. When people ask where I’m from, I say Pittsburgh. But despite my driver’s license having a permanent home address in Pennsylvania, I don’t know that I consider that home anymore. Certainly, I feel “at home” when I am with my family and friends in PA but I also feel at home with my family in Ohio. And I’ve never lived in Ohio. And I feel at home in New Orleans, and Daejeon, and New Wilmington… So where is home?

Through my time as a YAV, I’m realizing that home is where I feel supported. God provides and has blessed me with an incredible support system, one that is literally spread around the world. And with technology, any one of my supportive friends, family, mentors, and even my cat, are just a few taps on a touch screen or a few clicks of a mouse away.

Home is nowhere and yet home is everywhere. And no matter how comfortable I feel somewhere, I will inevitably miss the people that make me feel most at home. I miss going to visit my niece and nephews just because I can. I miss hearing the streetcar pass by as I sit on the porch playing my guitar, the delightful scent of jasmine tickling my nose. I miss being annoyed by the horse and buggy that I can’t seem to pass quickly enough. I miss singing “Surely the Presence,” arms wrapped around friends, the air glittering as the particles of sawdust float around a brightly lit, Spirit-filled Anderson Auditorium. Hanging out with Hyeyoung and S as I did this evening, laughing and eating wayyyyy too many ‘bugles’ is something that I treasure and will certainly miss when in return to the US. All of these experiences are bits and pieces of what I call home.

I am learning to feel at home within myself-knowing that each step I take is guided by God, that no matter where I may live, work, sleep, eat, or pray, that God is present.

I am homesick. And I will talk your ear off about my family and friends, Bath & Body Works, New Orleans, my cat, NWMC, NWPC, SCAPC, EUPC… I love and miss my people and places dearly. But I am not aching for home. Because each and every day I am reminded that I am carefully placed, blessed, highly favored, and positioned to prosper. Each and every day something or someone reminds me that I am God’s beloved child and that I am at home when I rest in His love and mercy.

Psalm 139:1-18
1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5 You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

음식 (Food!)

So I was absolutely set on blogging bi-weekly. But then my back issues happened and I got busy learning Korean, teaching my kids, going to Japan…

A quick update on my back-I have seen the doctor twice, and will probably be going soon to see him again  because while it has gotten better, it still hurts, and it’s quite ridiculous that I cannot sit for more than 30 minutes at a time without pain in my lower back.

Anyway! A while ago, I was asked for a post about food. I figured that this would be an easy way to ease back in to blogging. I have many blog posts floating about in my mind (Chuseok, Japan, No Gun Ri & Grace… to name a few) but first, food!

The food here is incredibly cheap and quite delicious. Dishes are often spicy, and while I do not love “hot” spicy, Jordan can probably attest to their deliciousness. Now, I will admit that I have had intense cravings for the likes of a delicious, juicy cheeseburger. I have been taunted regularly by the restaurant “Jin & Kino” that apparently has pretty good cheeseburgers. They are literally NEVER open. Last Friday, I actually saw lights on and could smell something mouth-watering, but when I went up the stairs, they told me that they would be open “next week.” They weren’t.

Anyway. While I don’t remember all of the food that I’ve eaten, I have eaten a lot of delicious food and I’m going to try to list some of it here and give some description.

1. 반찬 banchan, or, side dishes. This link here has a pretty good description. They come free, no matter what. At least that’s what I’ve encountered so far!

2. 김밥 kimbap is Korean sushi. It’s quite tasty. It’s a really easy “to go” option. While waiting at a restaurant for take out one afternoon last week, I actually watched a woman making some kimbap. It took her about one minute to make it, and I was absolutely fascinated.

3. 비비밥 bibimbap consists of rice topped with sautéed vegetables, chili paste, and beef or other meat, sometimes with the addition of a raw or fried egg. My favorite way to eat bibimbap is in a stone bowl. It’s called 돌솥비비밥 (dohlsoht bibimbap.)The bowl itself is really hot, so be careful not to burn yourself! When it’s brought to the table, be sure to mix all of the veggies, meat, rice, mean and egg together–but leave a bit of rice on the bottom–it will cook more and get crunchy–it’s like a special treat after you finish the rest of the food. Also, most people use a spoon rather than using chopsticks to eat this particular dish–it’s hard to pick up rice with chopsticks once you’ve mixed it with other things.

4. 만두 mahndu. mahndu are dumplings. There are many different ways to make dumplings (pierogies are actually a type of dumpling-fun fact!). I’ve eaten mahndu many different ways here in SK, and so far, I’ve enjoyed all of them. My favorite are 고기만두 (gogi mahndu) which translates to meat dumplings… The particular restaurant that I enjoy them from is incredibly close to my house.

5. 돈가스 dongaseu is fried pork cutlets and is hands down one of my favorite dishes here in South Korea. I particularly enjoy 치즈돈가스, or cheese dongaseu. It’s the fried pork cutlet but with a slice of cheese between the pork and the breading. mmm… The restaurant that I get this dish at most often actually serves the dish with two tater-tots which make me unreasonable happy.

6. 삼겹살 samgyeopsal is BBQ pork. It’s definitely not eaten like BBQ pork in the US but it is quite tasty all the same. It’s actually quite fun to eat. You can eat it on its own but the way I enjoy eating it is using a leaf-typically a piece of lettuce-adding the meat, sometimes rice or other bits of tasty food, and then stuffing it into my mouth.

7. 볶음밥 bokkeumbap is fried rice. The fried rice place near our house is awesome. For about $4.00 you can get enough to feed two people and still have leftovers. Sadly for me, the fried rice seems to frequent the spicy side so I don’t eat it as often.

8. 불고기 bulgogi is a dish of thin beef slices marinated and grilled on a barbecue. It’s delicious.

9. 라면 ramen consists of quick-cooking noodles, and is typically served in a broth with meat and vegetables. I know my peeps in the US are thinking about the cheap packets of ramen or “Cup ‘o’ Noodles” which are a cheap, tasty, quick meal-if you’ve never had ramen in Asia. It’s absolutely delicious. And I will never be able to eat a “Cup ‘o’ Noodles” without my tastebuds weeping for want of real 라면.

Bonus: Kobe Beef. In October, the SK YAV site headed to Japan to acquire official, fancy visas for Jordan and I. We spent five days there, exploring the cities of Osaka and Kobe. While we were there, we heard that we MUST try the Kobe beef because it’s supposedly the most delicious beef in existence. I admit, it was pretty tasty. But I don’t know that it was the most delicious burger I’ve ever had.

Finally: The pictures! I don’t have photos of all of them, but here are the photos that I do have!

삼겹살 Samgyeopsal

삼겹살 Samgyeopsal

김밥 kimbap

김밥 kimbap

돌솥비빕밥 stone bowl bibimbap

돌솥비빕밥 stone bowl bibimbap

치즈돈가스 cheese dangaseu

치즈돈가스 cheese dangaseu

Pain in the Back.

I need some healing prayers. I mentioned in my last post that sitting on the floor at mealtimes and all of the walking has been painful for me. While most of my body has adjusted, there is one part of my body that has simply decided to rebel. While celebrating Chuseok* with my housemate Ye Eun’s wonderful family, I noticed that my lower back was hurting a bit more than usual. I didn’t think much of it-I was spending a lot of time sitting on the floor between making, preparing, and eating food as well as socializing and visiting with various family members.

However, in the last two days the pain has worsened; I have had a very hard time doing anything-walking, sitting, standing, coughing, laughing, concentrating-you name it. I went to the doctor today (9/12) and they took some x-rays of my spine. Two of my vertebrae are pinching one of the discs so that it is bulging a bit. They gave me an injection and medicine, and the instructions that I am not allowed to sit. I am allowed to stand with one leg elevated (sort of like the “tree” yoga pose or Captain Morgan) and I am allowed to lie down. If the pain does not subside in the next 5 days, then I will need to have physical therapy three times a week.

This has delayed the start of my position at the Sae Um Children’s Center by a few days, which is quite frustrating. And, the medicine will make me sleepy. Good thing I’m not teaching or taking a class or anything. T.T (that’s my “not amused” face)

On the upside, the doctor’s visit AND the medicine only cost a whopping total of $20. That is a blessing. And, my site coordinators are pretty awesome and supportive, which is also a great blessing-even to the point of taking me to the doctor on their anniversary! And, on a test that we took today in my Korean class, I only missed two questions, giving me an 80%!

And, now I get to wonder around, standing like Captain Morgan. ARRRR me mateys! Just give me an eye patch, a parrot (though my mom has one that doesn’t like me) and a wooden leg named Smith and I’ll be good to go. (did anybody catch the Mary Poppins reference? Anyone???)

At any rate, please pray for healing. I’m not sure how much I’ll enjoy not sitting, with things like meetings, baseball games, teaching, and classes on the horizon.

*post about Chuseok, with many pictures and thoughts, to come.

Culture Shock.

I am uncomfortable. My body aches from Fibromyalgia and jet lag. We walk most places, and we walk up hill to catch the bus. And the Korean custom to sit on mats on the floor for meals is painful. My body hurts a lot.

I am silenced. I enjoy talking. But because of the language barrier, I cannot express my thoughts, questions, or feelings. I cannot even introduce myself. Though Hyeyoung and Kurt translate, I am horribly dependent on them because I cannot speak Korean myself. I cannot speak directly to my new acquaintances.

I cannot listen. I enjoy this part of talking too. But because I do not know many of the words that my brothers and sisters are saying, I find myself drifting away, trying to guess or imagine what they may be saying, or trying to read a Korean label or sign nearby.

I cannot understand the signs and labels. Many of the signs are in Korean. While I am starting to read the letters and syllables, I do not know the meaning, therefore making reading nearly fruitless.

I am frustrated because I feel I have little to offer when people are offering so much, opening their hearts and homes.

And I am reminded that I am a YAV not to be comfortable. I am a YAV to serve a God greater than all of humanity, greater than anything human kind has created. I am serving a God of love, justice, peace, and mercy.

I rest at K-Dong, my home in Korea. I rest so that Fibromyalgia and jet lag might release their grips on my body.

I write in my journal and on my blog so that I might express myself. I write in my native tongue, coveted by many who wish to learn it.

I listen. I find peace in prayer, conversing with God, listening to his voice. I am at peace knowing that I am carefully placed, blessed, highly favored, positioned to prosper, and eternally His.

I study Korean so that I may hear. I study so that I may understand. I study so that I may speak.

I eat delicious food. I experience new flavors, and new styles of cooking.

I receive grace as I accept people’s hospitality. I receive grace as I enjoy the atmosphere, the people, and the food.

I laugh as my new housemates, acquaintances and I stumble through sentences, and play charades and word games to better understand each other.

I am a YAV to be changed and moved. I am a YAV to learn from our brothers and sisters here in South Korea. I am a YAV to serve a God greater than anything you or I could ever imagine.

평화. Shalom.



Jordan and I arrived in Daejeon a little after midnight (Korea time) last night. After 24 hours of travel, we are a bit exhausted. I do believe the video below reflects a bit of that. haha.

Are you going to South Korea to teach English?

I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked that question.

And now I can say: yes, I will be. I will be working at the Sae Um Community Children’s Center (pronounced kind of like “say – oom”). The community center also happens to be a church. They run an after-school program with youth ages 8-14. I will be there several times a week, teaching English, leading games, and participating in other various activities.

I’ll still need to learn Korean. There is an emphasis on academic rigor, and I’ll need to have lesson plans prepared. I’ve been writing lesson plans off and on since high school when we ran a preschool out of our classroom (I taught about fire safety via a book about having a dragon over for tea). I just have to get back into the habit of writing them. Good news: I’ll be writing a lot of them next year!

In addition to my site placement, I’ll also join Jordan, my fellow South Korea-YAV, once a week, helping the homeless and hungry ministry at Saenaru Community Center, washing dishes and eventually helping to distribute food to guests.

For anyone interested in a countdown: 9 weeks until I head off to Korea! 6 weeks until my YAV year in New Orleans is finished. And, 3 weeks and 5 days until my birthday.





That means “hello” in Korean. I’m working on learning the alphabet and it is HARD! It has quite a few letters (19 consonants+21 vowels=40 letters) and I can recognize quite a few of the vowels and consonants already. It’s exciting. I can also spell my name. Which is pretty neat. And, I can almost say “My name is Kalyn” but I’m having a hard time with pronunciation. It’s crazy how a slight change of the shape of your mouth changes everything… Of course, I know this from my years of voice lessons and choir singing… But my gosh it’s hard!

So here are some details:

I will be living in Daejeon, South Korea, on Hannam University’s campus, in an old missionary village (it’s #35 on the map). Fun fact: one of the houses has been preserved just as the last missionary left it in 1994. His clothes, shoes, & books were left just the way he left them. The house my fellow YAVs and I will be living in has been renovated and modernized. Our site coordinators will live across the way from us. And, I’ll be safe. Why do I feel like I’ll be safe? Because our God is awesome. Because the PC (USA) isn’t going to send us into danger, nor will they leave us in danger. And, I have some awesome site coordinators who say the following:

Safety…. Usually, this is the most common concern you will run into when telling you friends and family that you are going to live in Korea for a year. They are afraid that North Korea might start a war and you might be caught in the middle of it. As there has been increased activity at a nuclear site in North Korea, that anxiety will grow leading up to a possible test of another nuclear bomb. Let me assure you that you are in more danger of being a victim of violence in a US city than you are in Korea. There is a growing consensus here in Korea that we understand North Korea is not actually interested in restarting open conflict. There already is a current state of war, as that state of war never ended with a peace treaty. Only an armistice (cease fire) was signed in 1953 by N. Korea and the US and other UN allies (S. Korea never signed it). More and more people recognize that N. Korea is not interested in committing suicide, which is what would happen if they re-ignited open conflict. Even the US military is closing down its bases next to the border with the North and opening up new bases to the South and the East. Nobody here believes N. Korea will actually attack anymore. This will likely be a move similar to the nuclear tests before and the saber rattling last year around this time. US Americans and others around the world got worried last year in April because of statements from N. Korea, while most Koreans recognized it as the same old song and dance. N. Korea will most likely use this coming nuclear test to gain more leverage in aid negotiations and to make the US pay attention to it. Currently, the US is involved in a decades long strategy of isolation and ignoring N. Korea hoping that it will be starved of attention and thus come around. N. Korea hopes to draw the attention of the US in other ways.

All that being said, as your site coordinators, we have made contingency plans anyway, just in case the need arises, for what to do in the event that open conflict starts again. So, we will be ready if that happens to make sure you guys are all safe and out of harms way. We are in constant communication with our partners and watching the US Embassy in Korea’s alerts, so that if you are in actual danger, we can take the appropriate actions. The PC(USA) denomination will not place YAVs in regions of danger if our partners are telling us we will not be safe.

So. I feel safe. And I feel at peace about it. I pray that if it is something that is worrying you that you are blessed with abundant peace.

As for what I’ll be doing in Korea, I’ll be learning the language and I’ll be serving with churches and schools in the Daejeon area, most likely at an after-school program, forming relationships with my Korean neighbors, students, & friends. More specific details (like what the program focuses on i.e the arts orTraditional Korean Culture) about my work placement will follow at a later date!

Here’s what I need from you as my supporters: I need prayer for myself and each person I come in contact with. Pray for me as I finish my year in New Orleans, spending time loving my housemates and the city.

Also, as a Young Adult Volunteer, I am required to fund-raise support. The money I raise will be part of my income over the year I serve. It will provide health care, rent, food, transportation, and a stipend. I would ask that you prayerfully consider giving on my behalf.

My minimum fundraising requirement is $4000.

If you are one of my New Wilmington Presbyterian Church family, you can give money to the church with my name in the memo line of the check or on the envelope as a specified gift. Kay will process it from there. :)

To donate online, please follow the link here.

To donate via check:

Please make the check out to PC(USA) and write YAV Kalyn Stevwing and ECO # <<E210905>> on the check. Send it to:

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Remittance Processing

P.O. Box 643700

Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700

I thank you all for the support you’ve given this year and I thank you in advance for the support I know is to come.

Thank you!