"We are wishing Minjae a safe return to his home. Please tell him he is a *rock star* and we will miss him very much!" - The Monaghan's
"Please tell Minjae that we sure enjoyed getting to know him. We hope he has a great time on his trip to Florida, etc and a safe trip home. We will be praying for him and his family." - Craig and Kris Balvin (Brenton's parents)
"Anna will miss him! Sounds like he fit in perfectly with their class." - Parent of 7th grade student at St Dominic's
Thursday, June 9, 2016
"It is hard to believe it is actually over." was all I could think as I drove home from Minjae's goodbye party at the bowling alley with a lump in my throat and tears pooled underneath my bottom eyelids.
Where in the world did the nine months go since Minjae stepped off the airplane in September?
Last night it was obviously that everyone in the Balvin clan was in a little state of shock, unable to completely comprehend that the kid who had joined our family and brought us so many laughs wasn't around anymore.
We'll miss so many things about Minjae:
- Jacob will miss having a buddy around all the time. They loved to play NBA2K on the Xbox or go outside and play sports. We all learned what an amazing athlete Minjae is.
- Isabelle will miss bugging Minjae and trying to "get him going" with some meaningless argument.
- Andrew will miss having a wrestling buddy, someone who was always patient with his poking and slapping and physical contact. Even Minjae found his "Andrew breaking point" but his fuse was so much longer and burned so much slower than any of ours.
- Stephanie will miss the challenge and joy she got from proving Minjae wrong when he was so certain he was right. She'll also miss watching Minjae grow as a student and seeing him build friendships with his classmates.
- I'll miss so many things. Taking him to the YMCA to play hoops. The both of us flexing to compare our biceps. Eating spicy foods together. Shaking his bed and tickling him before he went to sleep.
We will all miss his kind and patient presence. The way he made us laugh. How he rolled with the crazy Balvin schedule. The things he taught us about Korea and about ourselves. The crazy things he'd say when he was playing games and getting competitive.
Minjae is a great kid and we couldn't have had a more perfect match of student to family. God was very gracious in bringing Minjae into our lives. It wasn't always easy, and I'm sure we could have done some things differently, but I wouldn't want it any other way, and our lives are so much better for the experience.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
St Dominic had a fundraising night a Carbones Pizza. This picture pretty much sums up the relationship between Jacob and Minjae. Pizza, sports, video games. These two guys love love to take each other on in NBA2K16. They trash talker each other and laugh and have some really close games. Plus, they share a love of food! A sausage pizza, a plate of nachos, or some buffalo wings don't last very long when these guys are around. I gotta fight for my right to get a bite. It's been neat to have a bigger brother around the house for Jacob to connect with. There was an adjustment period at first and it took Jacob a little while to connect with Minjae. I'm sure with them being so close in age Jacob was anxious about Minjae cutting into his network of relationships. Now, however, they get along really well and I'm sure Jacob will be sad to see Minjae leave in June.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
This is a picture of Minjae and his friend Luke. They went for a hike on Saturday with Luke's family. Minjae and Luke have become really good friends. They are in the same class at St Dominic School. When they are together they like to play basketball, watch sports or play video games. We are so grateful for Luke's family. From day one they have been excited and supportive of us having Minjae and they have done everything they can to make Minaje feel welcomed in Northfield.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Monday night was the St Dominic School Athletic Banquet. It was a short presentation with a speaker, some words from the team coaches and an awards presentation.
Minjae was one of the big award winners of the night. His teammates had a great time watching him win the awards (which all the players voted on at the end of the season). Minjae won both the Team Spirit Award and the MVP Award. The trophy he's holding in this picture has his name engraved on it and it sits in the St Dominic School trophy case all year long. Pretty cool for him.
Monday, April 4, 2016
A couple Saturdays ago we didn't have any plans so I let Stephanie sleep in and I took the kids down to Cabelas. There was no agenda so we spent about an hour wondering around looking at the stuffed animals, guns, fish and outdoor equipment. The kids look like they are having much more fun in these pictures than I think they really had. :)
As we were checking out (I bought Andrew a pocket knife) I noticed they were selling Moon Pies. Since Minjae's last name is Moon it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. There is a food in Korea that is similar to the Moon Pie. After eating the American version Minjae said that he liked it.