Sunday, November 28, 2010


We're back in B-town.  Things feel pretty normal: Jaina wants me to fly her around on a "magic carpet ride" (her blanket folded) and the Bills lost another heartbreaking game.  Ah, home.

Thanks again for your prayers.  We are tired (42 hour Saturdays do that), but happy to be home.  I look forward to sharing the events of the trip with you all--privately, one at a time, and promise to tell you stories about a week that felt like a month, about a trip that felt like a dream, about all the strange and wonderful things we saw in route to and from Korea.

Just like a father folding his daughter's blanket with perfect symmetry for the third magic carpet ride in an hour, Our Father is folding our lives with perfect balance, with delicate hands.

Peace and love,

Jae and Tash

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Westward bound

In about an hour, we're heading to Incheon to the airport.  I'm relieved we are heading home.

This morning, we cared for the infants in the orphanage here at Eastern.  It was hard to hear them crying, but harder to leave.  Many of them had runny noses and colds--they were miserable. I found a little guy in the corner with dried snot all over his face who was burning up red from crying so hard.  We walked down the hall and rocked and I was praying for him and wondering how his life might unfold. 

I wondered if he might come back to Korea one day and realize some of the things that I have on this mission trip--that the reach and design of God's plan is infinite and that we are wholly finite.  That there is no such place where wholeness is achieved--at least no concrete place.  That when the Lord tugs on your heart, it is useless to resist.  We do not need to know the reasons why we do the things we do; that's why it's service.  We do not need to know so many questions that may haunt us.  What I have learned, personally, on this trip is that there is one answer for every question, but that some answers are questions in and of themselves.

It was a remarkable trip.  We traveled across the world to give love to children who will never remember us.  Isn't that exactly the kind of selfless love we all seek?  Isn't it amazing that this is the love we receive daily and still can't keep it all in perspective?

Heading home.  Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.  Keep it going, especially for Tash as we have a long, long trip ahead of us.


More Photos - Jacob's House & Eastern Orphanage

Last 2 Days in Korea....

Yesterday we spent the day with children from the Jacob's Home.  This is an orphanage for abused and neglected children who will probably never be adopted.  It was heart-wrenching.  This morning we feed, rocked, and sang to newborns at the orphanage.  We leave this evening for the US.  More stories to come...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

News from Gyeongju

Hi all:

I imagine that most of you are aware that North Korea blasted off 180 rounds of artillery on a island just off of Incheon.  Things were tense last night; while it occured, we were walking around a beautiful pond illuminated by lights.  It was a historic shrine full of pottery and art.  Needless to say, we were suprised when we got back to the hotel.

We're fine.  The South Korean president is calling for an "enormous" reply, but things are smoothing over here.  The people are upset, especially since it was an attack on civilians.  But there's a growing feeling that things are going to be okay, as they have before when Pyongyang has initiated its tendency to grab attention.

We're fine.  This is always what would could occur here.  It's a place still technically in a state of war.  Today  we danced with children and played games with domestic adoptee families.  We visited a folk village over 700 years old.  I wore a pink hanbok.  It was a strange day full of ceremonies and cultural enrichment, but again we're on the South East tip of Korea now, away from the area where the shots were fired. 

Last night we had a traditonal Korean dinner full kimchi, rice, and all the other fixings.  Luckily we were sitting with a couple from California (the woman was born in Korea and spoke it fluently).  Tash made a passing comment that she'd love a Coke and the woman, Amy, ordered it for us.  Moments later, out came a woman carrying a glass bottle Coke with two small glasses.  There was a moment where I thought, "I really shouldn't drink this.  It's really Un-Korean of me."  We were drinking warm rice water.  But that idea passed and I drank that whole Coke and it was the best Coke of my life. 

More photos to come including pictures of the aforementioned pond and a picture of my birth mother, Tash, and I.  Back to Seoul in a few hours.  We're off this morning to visit a grotto and temple in the mountains. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Days 1 &2

It's 2:30 am in Korea.  I can't sleep.  I keep waking up every morning at this time, then I am ready for a nap at 6am.  I wonder what Jaina is doing now...

The first two days have been amazing.  Monday started by us going to a flower shop to buy flowers for Jae's birth mother.  It was an unbelievable experience meeting her.  It's his story to tell.  He will share more when he's ready.

After spending a few hours with her, we went to a community center and taught an English lesson to 2nd and 3rd graders.  They were so cute.  They acted just like American 2nd and 3rd graders!  We taught them body parts in English and then played some games.  They loved Simon says and were very good at it!  It was hilarious when we opened it up to questions from them.  They asked things American 2nd and 3rd graders would ask like, "Are you married?"  "What is the name of my favorite cartoon character in America?"  Their favorite part of the afternoon was having us do face painting.  The girls lined up with me asking for butterflies, kitties, and swans.  The boys lined up with Jae asking for dragons, gorillas, and snakes.  We are definitely not artists, but they loved it.

At the end of Day 2 we cooked a meal with a group of birth mothers.  Some of them were expecting and some had already had their babies.  Some were so young... maybe 13 or 14.  Others were my age.  The birth mothers loved hearing that I was pregnant too.  It was very emotional when we started talking with them.  There were many tears shared by the adoptees and the birth mothers both.  One woman shared her desire to have an abortion even through the 7th month, but her inability to do so.  She cried as she talked about considering suicide.  We cried with her.  This woman ended up having her baby and he was 100 days old that day.  We had a celebration for him, as it is part of Korean culture to celebrate the first 100 days of a baby's life. 

The next day we cooked and spoke with another group of birth mothers.  One young woman just had her baby Nov. 17.  She was really struggling with her decision.  Mostly, the birth mothers wanted to know if the adoptees were mad at their birth mothers or if the adoptees ever thought about their birth mothers.  Jae's response was perfect.  He said, "Your child may be mad at you.   But all children are mad at their parents, not matter what.  As your child ages he or she will realize the selfless act of you giving him or her opportunities through adoption that you never could have provided on your own."  It was important for them to hear that.  We all felt so connected as we laughed and cried together. 

Some random things...

This being my first international trip, I am struck by how similar we are.  I was so worried about making so many cultural mistakes and offending.  But people are people and we all share this life in similar ways.

I love Korean food.  It does not love me.

I am enjoying "couple time" so much.  I feel like a newlywed.

I don't care what country I am in, it is wrong to not be able to flush toilet paper.

The industrialization is killing me.  I feel so fortunate to live in WNY near Letchworth, the finger lakes, and farming country.

I am so grateful to Jae's birth mother for sending him across the world.  I'm so grateful to be a Rambuski-Newman.  I love my in-laws and I can't imagine my life in any other family.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Our Arrival

We're here.  We landed around 4:30pm local time.  We made it to Eastern Social Welfare House around 6:30pm. 

The flight was 12 hours and I use the term "hour" loosely.  We were up there a while.  That makes about 20 hours of travel in the last two days for us.  Tash was able to sleep here and there and has been feeling okay.  I slept 20 minutes in 20 hours.  You could say we were a little tired when we made it to our room last night.

We were surprised to find out that our guest room is on the third floor, right beside the LOVE THE CHILDREN wing where the babies are cared for.  We heard them crying all night.  It was tempting for us to want to care for one. 

Meeting my birth mother in 3 hours.  More later. 

Jae and Tash

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

3 Newmans in Korea

I can't believe that we are only 2 days away from departure!  Jae's last post was so touching and honest.  I'm honored to share this experience with him.  I hope that I can be the support he needs on this incredible spiritual journey.  The thought of taking care of orphans and birth mothers at the very orphanage he was adopted from brings tears to my eyes.  I am so grateful to all of you for sponsoring us on this amazing trip.

You may be wondering about the title of this post.  No, Jaina is not coming with us to Korea.  Actually, we are pregnant!  This news was a bit of a surprise to us, but it was a welcome surprise.  I'm now 10 weeks along.  Baby's heartbeat is strong and all looks well.  We always imagined we would be bringing a baby back from Korea with us someday.  We just weren't expecting the baby to be in the womb!  I would really appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers, as I have been pretty sick in recent days.  I really want to be able to give my all on this trip and don't want to be held back by pregnancy symptoms.  I'm on the cusp of the end of the first trimester, so I'm hoping to feel better very soon.

Thanks again for all of your support.  We are so excited to be sharing this journey with all of you.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Fantastic World of the Interior

For about as long as I can remember, I've been the most pensive person I know.  It wasn't that I couldn't find happiness.  I did.  It's that I have felt this constant low-grade call toward something I never understood.  I have been called an over-acheiver.  I have been called Type A.  I have been called a lot of things and deserved many of them.  To many, I've been a lousy friend and that was so important to me when I was younger.  In the last eleven years, though, two things have occurred simultaneously: I met, fell in love with, and married Natasha.  And I have become a poet.  I cannot say that one event isn't married to the other.  For sure I know I would be neither a husband or a poet now, at 28, without God's intersection. 

Next week we are going on a Mission's trip to Seoul Korea to work in an orphange, teach English, cook, and talk to unwed mothers who are unsure what to do.  It is incredible to me that after years of trying to force my way back into Korean consciousness (reading countless wikipedia articles, books, and even devoting my own artistic energies to create a book of imagined relationships with my birth nation), it's all coming to a head.  We' re going.  Really.  I have the tickets.  Really.

I read a book two years ago about Sabbath years.  They occur every seven years and they are supposed to be your most pivotal spirtual years.  Can you remember what happened to you at seven? Fourteen?  Twenty-one?  At seven, I became a spelling ace, beginning a life long affair with language and words and their order.  At fourteen, my face was broken in four places and I spent long hours alone in the dark wondering what I would become.  At twenty-one, I traced a picture of Korea into my sketchpad and ignited a search for who I was beyond Mayville, beyond what I could measure. 

I have been praying for so long about this trip.  On the surface, it's what I've always wanted.  But as that old adage warns: be careful what you wish for.  It is more than sage advice.  I'm terrified about what is going to occur upon arrival, during seven days in Korea, and throughout departure.  I've this terrible feeling of potential let down. 

But it's leading me to measure myself in new ways.  I think I understand myself better these days than ever before.  It makes sense to me why I am a poet after years of wondering if this was really the right choice.  Seriously, I'd ask God, this is it?  There is nothing else that could make You happier than having me putting marks down on paper.  But those marks aren't the thing.  The real joy, for me, is invisible.  And those marks are but the coded trail, the footprints I leave when traveling to the remote isles inside myself to discover all the immensities of what God has given me. 

I can't help it.  I keep thinking about coming to America 28 years ago.  I had nothing.  I was hurtling in a silver plane to NYC stinking of vomit without diapers to meet my parents and new life.  And somehow, even in the small town I grew up in, I met a woman.  And that woman became my best friend.  And that woman became the mother of my child.  And we're together still in mutual love and respect (and set to fly across the world 15 hours into the future to find out where I've come from and where all those hours of staring into walls or not communicating while company was over have gone). 

I meant this to be a simple thing to say.  I'm happy.  For the first time in so long -- and that's no slight to anyone I love -- I'm happy.  I keep thinking about a way to describe what this is like.  This is the best I can do.  I feel like I'm a book, a book whose cover has been sealed in glue and whose pages (thoughts and feelings) have been fluttering in a circle back and forth with the tide.  And now the glue is gone.  And now I'm holding the face of the book shut because I am  not ready to see myself.  And soon there will be no choice.

I kept a dream journal from 2006-2009.  I wrote in it every morning, jotting down what I recalled.  This is the period where I resigned myself to the fact I would never return to Korea.  But so many of those dreams are occuring in the here and now.  I dreamed I was carrying a Priority envelope around trying to find a way to enter Seoul.  A month ago, a Priority envelope came in the mail with some information about the trip and our tags for our bags.  I dreamed that Tash and I were lost in a desert at some gas station and the attendant (God himself) would not talk to me as I tried to ask for directions.  He spoke to Tash and of course it's sensible since she found this trip since she's the only one who loves me this much to not let this part of me, this tiny flicker, burn out.  I dreamed that I was fishing in the river of heaven and it was calm and there were no shadows.  A giant fish flew out of the water and smacked me in the face.  In reality, it was my daughter's hand smacking me in the forehead.  And I dreamed that my birth mother often thought of me and hung clothes up on lines outside along the Han River shore. 

And that was true.  After imagining who she was and what it would be like to meet her, God has delivered.  I'm meeting my birth mother in ten days.  She does own a cleaners shop and like so many other dreams, I knew it.  I had been there, quietly within myself, perhaps while sleeping.

For every way that I doubted, I now see the giant fold.  I see my life opening in blossom, this year, at 28, and these blessings are experiences I can only perceive in the periphery.  For if I turned and saw all the goodness sprouting now, I would surely burst into flames.  -JN

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Countdown is on

Natasha and I are going to Korea in less than two weeks.  For me, a Korean-American adoptee, it will be my first trip back to the 'motherland' since I was adopted in 1982.  For Tash, it will be her first international trip ever (Canada, withstanding). 

We aim to include pictures and chronicles the events of the trip.  We are so grateful to our friends and family for helping us reach our fundraising goal.  More to come soon.

Jae and Tash