In May of 2009 I made contact with my biological father for the first time since I was 3.
One of my primary motivations for making contact with my father was so I might re-connect with my Uncle Gerry.
When my mother decided she needed to leave my father, she was determined to raise me in the United States. (She was born and raised in South Korea, and I was born in Seoul.)
She didn't know anybody in the United States, nor did she speak any english, but my father would occasionally receive letters from the U.S., and once in while one would come with familiar markings, "Burke."
She reasoned that this must be one of my father's relatives, so she penned a letter in Korean, and took it to a translator.
My mother explained her situation and her desire to raise me in the U.S., and pleaded for one year of housing so she could learn the language, get a job, and find a place for us to live.
Now, stop right there.
Imagine receiving a letter in the mail. It's crudely translated into english. It says your relative's wife has left your relative, and has his son, and wants to bring him to the United States, and wants to live in YOUR HOUSE... for a year.
What would you think? What would you do?
My Uncle Gerry wrote back, and said, "Come."
I was 16 months old when we landed in Southern California. I, of course, remember nothing of that time.
My Uncle Gerry held up his end of the deal, and my mother held up hers.
She cooked and cleaned for the family, while learning english, finding work, and eventually finding a place for us to live.
After almost exactly one year, my mother moved us into a little garage apartment, and the rest is history.
In time, my Uncle Gerry ended up divorcing his wife, and moved on from that house, and we lost touch with him.
I never really thought much about my Uncle Gerry until I was a young adult.
And then when I thought about him, I realized what a huge deal it was that he had opened his home to my mother and me, allowing us to get our start in this great nation of ours.
I wanted the chance to say, "Thank you."
When my father and I made contact in May 2009, I immediately asked about my Uncle Gerry.
Fortunately, my father and Uncle Gerry had stayed in touch, and he had my Uncle Gerry's contact information!
The next day, I called my Uncle Gerry to say thank you.
We spoke for just a few minutes, because he really didn't have the strength to stay on the phone very long.
I found out that my Uncle Gerry had been very sick.
A few weeks ago, I found out that my Uncle Gerry had been diagnosed with late-term lung cancer. His doctors told him that he had only 3-6 months to live.
My heart broke. I had just found him, and now he was facing his mortality. I had hoped to get to see him in person before he died.
Last week one of our board members at Life Fellowship let me know that the church wanted to send me and Cyndi to Oregon to see my Uncle Gerry.
I was speechless. And thankful.
Tomorrow, we leave for Oregon.
We'll fly from New Orleans to Portland, and drive from Portland to New Port on Monday. On Tuesday, we'll drive from New Port to North Bend where my Uncle Gerry lives.
I haven't seen him since my mother and I moved out on our own.
I am so grateful to God for His blessings in my life.
I am so grateful for my supportive wife.
And I am so grateful for an amazing and wonderful church, making this journey of gratitude possible.
I'll keep you posted...