Planet Ernesto | LAUP Narratives

“What’s on Planet Ernesto?” I asked.

“There’s LOTS of dirt for dirt bikes and motorcycles, and so many trees that grow apples- but not the fruit kind, the candy ones. Can there  be a rainbow road with unicorns and lots of stars in the sky? Sounds beautiful!” he replied, his eyes looking afar and glowing with wonder. I chuckled.

“Ok, your turn! What’s on Planet Angela?”

“Well, how about you make it up for me?”

“Okay, hmm…probably lots of coffee!”

As you could imagine, I bursted out laughing by this point. I mean come on y’all, that couldn’t have been more accurate- Planet Angela would most definitely run on coffee. I had been placing a tumbler with tea or coffee on the desk every day that I came in to class for “Impacto”, a summer enrichment program for kids in the inner city of LA located in Boyle Heights that I was volunteering for in my duration as a LAUP Intern. Ernesto, a 8 year old boy in the 2nd/3rd grade class I was assisting for, must have noticed my tumbler when we read together and stored it in his memory.

That wasn’t the only moment he proved his spectacular memory and attention to detail. As we walked on the streets for the program’s weekly neighborhood field trips (whether to a police station, park, or library), he would tell me from the beginning the exact directions to reach our destination. While we headed back to the classroom from lunch time, he would vividly describe a funny movie scene or tell stories of his family from years prior. He was even able to digest complicated plots in the Star Wars comic book that I read with him, which was way above his reading level- and honestly, I didn’t even understand what was going on half the time.

Ernesto; he insisted we take a selfie, and then hated it because he’s missing a tooth LOL.

Throughout LAUP, I learned about the complex layers of systemic injustice and how that effects people, especially low-income ethnic minority communities. In fact, it’s so deeply engrained and complex that it feels hopeless to see any change no matter how much people shout for help and their voices to be heard, or how much they try to push and yank off the strings that are choking them. Trying to untie one string out of the many intertwined strings of a giant knotted ball still leaves an inevitably giant knotted ball. It was not the first time I heard about these issues, but being away without technology or worries of everyday life for 6 weeks really forced me to immerse into the deeper waters.

It’s one thing to hear about these messed up policies and  the overwhelming, glaring statistics, but another to build relationships, hear real life stories, and witness them yourself. Also, I did not expect to see so much of my own story in what I heard and learned- how freaking uncomfortable! I was at LAUP to learn about injustice and God’s heart, not about my own past and present hardships or pains- what the heck, Jesus?! That’s what being at LAUP was like for me, if I had to summarize it.

The partial narrative of my LAUP experience that I’m about to continue telling here is about how one boy’s life intersected with mine at the right place in the right time, and how Jesus used this to grip my heart, alter my perspective, and realign the trajectory of my future.  There is no happy ending or clear resolution to this story, but it is one that is honest and real.

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Tales of a Clutz in a Materialistic Culture

For lack of a better description, I felt like a total clutz these past few weeks. In a span of 1 week, I lost both my phone and wallet.

Well, the first incident was considered a theft as my iphone was stolen from a taco place in Long Beach. It was turned off when I tried to call it, and 2 hours later the location was tracked in between East LA and Compton at 10 p.m. The person who took it clearly knew what he (or she) was doing, and it would not have been worth it to drive to a sketchy area in the middle of the night just to try to retrieve the phone. I had already made peace with what had happened within those 2 hours anyway, and while it was kind of a hassle to go through with it, everything was fine and I moved on the next day. It was actually nice to have a week of “phone fasting”.

Now, losing my wallet on the other hand was a different story. I was on the bus back from work, sleep deprived and apparently too distracted by looking out the window at the busy street construction before I got off on my stop. An hour later, I realized it was missing and the only place I could have lost it was on the bus. I was panicked due to some money I received from my parents the night before for rent, as well as irreplaceable important documents I had in there. I wondered how I could have been so clumsy and given this was the “theme” of the week after the phone incident, the guilt felt even stronger. The story for this one ends better though. The 4th bus driver opened his door at the bus stop I waited at and greeted me with a smile saying “Yes, I know exactly why you’re here!” and handed me my wallet. This could have easily been stolen too instead of being turned in.

With both incidents, no real damage was done. However, as I was shaken with worry from the second event, I knew these things didn’t occur out of coincidence. Perhaps it was a lesson to always put my belongings in a zipped pocket or bag, but it had to be more than that…

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In Retrospect | Dry Season

Rewind 2 years.

“I squatted in the dark backyard and pondered upon my life- past, present, and what could be the future. A feeling of dismay and distraught washed over me just as I turned around. I saw that what used to be a field of lively pink and yellow flowers in the summer time were now nowhere to be seen. What’s left were dried up patches of grass and broken, fallen stems.
There wasn’t even one glimpse of hope in sight.
I closed my eyes and lifted up a quiet, desperate prayer for the hope that seemed lost in the moment. As I prayed, I remembered that God has been faithful in the past, bringing light to places of tremendous darkness in my family. Every dry season, I come back to this place of looking and focusing on what seems dead, forgetting that Jesus loves my family just as much as I do. The Lord is good, He is always by my side- why do I worry? Why do I lose hope, slip up, store up anguish and anxiety in my heart, and not trust in Jesus when these seasons come?
I am reminded that God never changes, and He is what I need to fix my gaze upon when I feel like I am lost.
That night, I read. He spoke hope over me. I slept reassured again, holding on to hope that is unseen but eternally trustworthy.”

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.” -Psalm 145:13-19 

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Social Anxiety & Community: To “Fit in” vs. “Belong” in a Temporary Home

Yep I said it- social anxiety. I am not using this word lightly, nor do I want to undermine the experiences of anyone who has/had the disorder. Rather, I would like to ask you to read this in the lens of me being vulnerable in sharing my own personal story with the intent to make space for more honest conversations about mental illness and the stigmas surrounding it.

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In our day and people-pleasing culture, we spend a tremendous amount of energy  to try to”fit in”-to be sociable, interesting, likable, and relatable. Perhaps you are extra blessed and could care less about what people think of you (not trying to act “idgaf”, but actually dgaf), excel naturally at socializing, feel confident wherever you go with whoever you meet, and find complete peace and happiness in who you are. Shoot, the old me would have loved to be you instead (okay…maybe even now). Regardless of if you’re another victim to people-pleasing like me or if this is not a general concern for you, it is innately engraved in our human heart and mind to harbor the desire to be accepted by others (“fit in”) and have a place to feel belonging. Somehow, these two desires got skewed and synonymous to one another, when in fact they are quite the opposite.

At this moment, I can call myself a very “social” person and most people would agree with me. I am naturally very relational, strongly value close relationships I can deeply connect with, and have decent interpersonal skills.

Okay, get to the point- So why is someone like you, then, talking about this particular subject matter?

Let’s take a short *ahem*  trip down memory lane.

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About Me:


You can call me Angie.

I am a 25 y/o Korean American woman, 1.5 generation and residing in Southern California.

I was creating art and dreaming of new projects since I was a young gal, and am always deep down hoping for creative ventures in the midst of all the busy-ness of life. This is a place for me to share some my raw thoughts, story, and express myself through words.

I spent my entire undergrad growing with IVCF chapter at CSULB. Truly, so many lifelong friendships have blossomed through pursuing the same mission, towards the Kingdom of God. In this period of my life, I learned that being Christian does not go against the fight for seeking justice in our world like racial or gender inequalities, but rather Jesus fights for these things as well.

In order to be equipped to make a difference in this big ol’ world, I followed God’s voice for me to pursue a graduate program to obtain a Master of Public Health at UCLA in the Community Health Sciences department. He paved the way for me to be here very clearly, and as I’m finishing up my first year, I’m still seeing where God leads me with my passion for connecting with people, seeking justice, being an advocate for mental health, creating access for communities to improve their health… I sometimes feel over ambitious haha. I would love to someday work with a minority population in health education and promotion, food security/access issues for women, children, and families. What and how I am unsure, but I am sure of being called to be a bridge builder.

When I’m not drowning in research papers or meeting deadlines, I am probably catching up with someone over coffee/food, playing games with friends, dreaming of unfulfilled goals, scrolling through blogs, or chasing down strangers’ doggos.

Aside from all the rather (un)interesting small talk,

(A real about me)

I stumble over my words and feel awkward easily, which I overcompensate for by laughing or smiling a bit too much. Often times don’t know how to receive or give love to the extent I want to due to fear. I wear my heart on my sleeve and can be unfiltered, yet I am super guarded and skeptical. I am too self critical, stubborn, observant, overly sensitive or numb, a perfectionist, and sometimes emotionally impulsive or prone to migraines due to over thinking. I think a lot more than I express in words, surprisingly (… and trust me, I usually talk a lot). I absorb positive or negative energy all too easily, and while I tend to surround myself with constant company I try to make sure I have enough space to keep myself balanced and in check. I underestimate time, sleep too little or too much, and am too many extremes that I may be either normal or completely insane. Complicated, weak, broken, weird. But the most important thing about me-

(My testimony)

Jesus called me by name, meeting me as a personal Lord and Savior one summer night in 2009 in the quiet, dark corner of my bedroom. He spoke to me so clearly, that I could not deny that the God of the universe was trying to get my attention. At that point, I realized that it’s either all or nothing- so I committed myself to following Jesus, whatever the heck that meant. I didn’t grow up in church, I wasn’t sure what knowing God was supposed to mean- in fact, I was scared, but more than that, I felt love in a way I never felt before. Since then, my life literally got flipped turned upside down.-insert Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song-

I am still a complete mess, and what God intended as good we humans have twisted it. There’s so much divide, quarrels, hate over love. But, no matter how jaded I get with the world, or even get caught up in my own life (distractions, temptations, lies, or trying to be in control), Jesus brings me right back. Not with angry shouts or punishment, but with a gentle whisper of love. I know I can never go back to how my life was before, no matter how much I doubt or struggle, because I have found a joy and a new life that is seriously irreplaceable.  This new life is pretty freaking great, and God allowed me to find my purpose in life- to be loved by Him and to love others, enough to point them back to Him. Following Christ is not in the least easy, He never said it was; but it is worth it in my book.

God chose, found, and loved someone as broken and lost as me. Giving Him praise and serving Him on earth is only a natural response.

All that to basically say:
I am another fellow human on earth just trying to figure out what life is all about and share what is important to me. Welcome to my world of blurbs.

Why this is truly a new beginning

Hello and greetings!

Ah yes, I am more than happy to welcome you here. You must be either a good friend, a curious bypasser, a bored night owl, an accidental clicker, or an unlikely fellow human who actually enjoys reading personal blogs like moi. I consider this to be like a fun house warming party, except that there is of course no food, no obligation for gifts, and 100% introvert friendly! This is in fact a Korean house hold, so take off your shoes and come on in!

*closing the door to corny introductions*

It’s been a close part of my heart to be a part of the blogging world all throughout college. I have created numerous blogs in the past (discounting the 10 tumblrs I had in my life time … is that considered blogging nowadays?), designing templates and planning the contents for days only to delete it soon after. I do a similar thing with journals too- I love starting a fresh new one and get excited to write in it. Then I find myself eyeing the stationary section at a store for prettier ones or having little patience to finish the current one until the very last page. There’s something about having new beginnings that are more attractive than necessarily efficient or productive.

So why is this truly a new beginning?

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