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
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
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.