Jae Young Lee and Karen Spicher’s daughter, Lomie, holds Bertha the goat. Photo by Karen Spicher. 

South Korea

Lessons from Bertha the goat

By Karen Spicher
Thursday, April 9, 2020

Jae Young Lee and Karen Spicher are Mennonite Mission Network mission associates in Namyangju, South Korea. Spicher serves as the communications coordinator for Northeast Asia Regional Peace Building Institute (NARPI). Jae Young directs the Korea Peacebuilding Institute (KOPI) and provides leadership to NARPI. Lee, Spicher, and their four children work and live in community with other families at Peace Building in Namyangju, and are currently on a sabbatical year.


2020 is a special year for our family. We are on sabbatical from Peace Building Community, where our work and lives and church all interconnect.

Over the past year, as we made plans for 2020, we had no way of knowing that the arrival of COVID-19 would drastically change those plans. On Feb. 24, the children and I traveled with my sister and her son (who had visited us for a week) to central Pennsylvania to stay with my parents. Jae stayed behind at Peace Building to work on a book that he’s wanted for years to write.

I thought I was holding our plans with open hands. But as things began to change, I felt sad. Our plans to visit friends in South Texas; Harrisonburg,  Virginia; Akron, Pennsylvania; and New York City now may not be possible. I’m not even certain whether Jae can join us here in mid-April.

But in these uncertain times, I have also experienced deep joy and gratitude, thanks to hospitality from my family here in Pennsylvania, prayers from many people, and a little goat named Bertha.

Two Wednesday evenings ago, our daughter, Lomie, looked out the window and saw a small black goat in the sheep pasture. Mom and Dad weren’t home, so I went to check. Sure enough, a tiny goat huddled by the chicken pen, shivering. I took her into the barn where our only mother goat was with her one kid. Guessing that this must be the mother, I placed the tiny, famished goat in the pen.

She ran to her mother with what seemed like recognition and eagerness to drink, but the mother goat sniffed her once and tossed her back with her horns. Heartbroken, I carried the kid to my sister’s house. Bethany knew where Mom and Dad kept some frozen sheep colostrum, and soon she had warmed it up for the little goat. The impact of the milk was almost instant — her ears got warm. I knew she would live.

Lomie named the orphan goat Bertha after my grandma, who had her 93rd birthday that day. Bertha had survived for two days on her own before we found her. Somehow, she was separated from her mother and sister soon after birth. When Dad had found the two, he searched the pasture for a twin but didn’t find her.

Bertha loves children and loves to jump and run. She brings delight to people, regardless of generation. Bertha is a tangible example of God’s faithful care, and she also reminds me to live with joy and gratitude, in spite of hard times.

 

 

 

 

https://www.mennonitemission.net/resources/the-hope-series/Lessons-from-Bertha

Karen Spicher serves as the communications coordinator for Northeast Asia Regional Peace Building Institute (NARPI).

 

 

https://www.mennonitemission.net/resources/the-hope-series/Lessons-from-Bertha

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