Happy Children, World Aquariums, Sweet Reunions, and Nitro Cold Brew Coffee

It’s about 5am here in the Motherland and after having spent the last two hours tossing and turning (darn you jet lag) and doing all the things you’re not supposed to do when you’re trying to go to sleep (aka scrolling through Facebook and Instagram countless times to find that nothing has changed in the last five minutes), I figured it was time to update the world on our June adventures.

I did mean to update along the way, but I learned something revolutionary over the last few weeks.  Ready for it?  Let go and just BE.  Yes, I know, usher in all those articles floating around about having a Darling weekend, living in the present, etc.  But after spending half of our trip in Dallas thinking about how I would sum it all up in a blog post, capture the adventures on Instagram, etc. I realized I wasn’t actually enjoying the simplicity of just being in the moment.  So now that I’m not in those moments, here are the updates :).

First stop – Dallas!  We took a van full of our high school/college staff to lead the Kids Power Encounter retreat.  They kept us two drivers totally entertained by creating and video recording a sing-along and dance interpretation to Hakuna Matata from the Lion King for several hours.

The retreat was filled with ridiculously cute kids and fun moments as we taught them about Jesus, His salvation available to us through the cross, and the life we can live in freedom as God’s children.  It was particularly moving as we were reminded that for most kids who grow up in the church, they usually give their lives to Christ during their elementary school years at such retreats as this one.  We saw many children experience that salvation during Kids Power Encounter and we were so honored to partner with Him in bringing children into His Kingdom.

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Our day off was spent at the Dallas World Aquarium seeing manatees up close, sharks swimming above our heads, flamingos sleeping, frogs hiding, birds chirping (some screeching), monkeys leaping…you get the idea :).

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One of the coolest exhibits they had was their underwater coral and fish tanks that replicate the exact same climate and creatures from around the world (e.g. Figi, south Australia, Japan, etc.).  If you got really close, squinted your eyes enough, and let your imagination wander, you really felt like you were snorkeling in those locations!  My favorite was Lord Howe Island, an island in New South Wales, Australia.  I have never seen such colorful fish and intricate coral reef.  Gazing at its beauty reminded me of just how detailed our God is in His creative work.

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Below is a snapshot of our awesome staff playing with the puppets at the gift shop.  After spending many hours preparing for our puppet shows for Kids Power Encounter, they have the puppeteering thing down.


We made our way back to Kansas City and a few days later, we were on a flight to Southern California.  The best part of the trip was reuniting with old friends and our church family.  On our first night back, the doorbell continued to ring as one by one, different friends stopped by (even though it was late at night) to welcome us back.

We also had the awesome opportunity to support one of our friends in his new endeavor with a start-up company and “pop-up” coffee brewing bar – Well Done 25.  How can you say no to delicious nitro cold brew coffee that follows you to whatever event you’re hosting?  Check them out on Instagram.  There’s some serious potential with this start-up and we’re excited to support our “entrebrewneur.”


Father’s Day coincided with my parents’ 29th anniversary this year.  I was sad that I couldn’t be with them physically and they, too, had a rough day with a family medical emergency (everything is okay now thankfully!).

There were so many things I could’ve said to them, but it all boiled down to this – “I love you 엄마 and 아빠 and thank you for your love and devotion to the Lord, to one another, and to us as your children.”  They are not perfect people or parents, but they had the most important thing down – love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind first.  Then love for one another will be the overflow of His love for you.  I saw it on display time and time again growing up, and now that I’m married and will eventually have my own family, I just pray that we will be able to do the same with our future children.  (As a side note, I’m pretty sure long-sleeve, polka-dot, ruffled rompers will be back in style.  Should’ve kept that for our future daughter…).

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Our trip in California ended with our annual youth/college EM Power Encounter.  Although I’ve been a part of leading this particular retreat for the past 8 years and now officially as a staff member, it was in this moment below that I was reminded of why I do what I do and why I am a part of this outreach ministry…


I got the “Holy Spirit goosebumps” (or so I call it) as I watched 60+ middle and high school students, college students, and young adults lift their hands in prayer in the “traditional” Korean style of crying out “JESUS” and praying out loud.  I was reminded of the weighty glory of this calling – of awakening, serving, and loving the next generation to know the Lord and make Him known to the rest of the world.  So grateful to be a part of building His Kingdom.

After Power Encounter, we got to have some more quick, but sweet reunions with old friends and co-workers from my former work place and university.  We then hopped on a plane early in the morning and are now in Korea.

All that to say – it’s been a fun and adventurous June!  Looking forward to what July will bring.  I’ll update you after I’ve enjoyed the fullness of each moment ;).

Much love,



One thought on “Happy Children, World Aquariums, Sweet Reunions, and Nitro Cold Brew Coffee

  1. Debra says:

    What a wonderful overview of your adventures, Stacey. You guys covered a lot of ground while you were “out here” and I’m only sorry that your time in Southern California coincided with out time away! You honor your parents so beautifully, Stacey, with your words, yes, but also with your life. Your commitment to others and especially in the children’s ministry must make them so proud! I am so glad you are journaling your “adventures” in this blog. It’s a joy to read, my friend. ox

    Liked by 1 person

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