Since we at Living Water have not been able to get together in person and have fellowship with each other, the we in LW communications team have introduced a new campaign called the People of Living Water. Through a series of interviews with members, we are hoping to bring us closer as a family by uncovering some fun facts about our church members, opening up the opportunity to reach out to members you may not have known well before, and encouraging intercessory prayer on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ. This interview will be the last one for this first season, but let us know if you would like to see a second!
Introducing: Ha Ram Kang
Q: Can you introduce yourself to the Living Water family? So your name, (approximate) age, leadership position at church.
A: My name is David. I always introduce myself as David when I speak English, but my Korean name is Ha Ram. Kang Ha Ram. And I have few different nicknames. Some people call me Ramy. Other than that, my approximate age, I turned 26 this year. I think. I’m turning 27 next year. So I’m starting to get into that early thirties, I guess. My leadership position is in faith formation.
Q: When and why did you decide to come to Living Water and make it your home church in GR?
A: That’s a good question. I wasn’t planning on coming to Living Water; it’s because my wife Beulah was already attending the church. But I was at Grace Korean Church before, so when we started dating I stayed in Grace because I liked the community there. And later on, when we got married, I decided to move [to Living Water] because faith grows with the partner that you’re with. And also I randomly came here because I knew a few people here, like the youth and I knew the young adults here and I hung out with them a lot. So I ended up coming here and I started to make Living Water my home church.
Q: What do you like about Living Water?
A: One thing I really like about Living Water is, it is actually a multicultural–even though a lot of [us] are Asians, but we are starting to invite people and it’s a place where your cultures are exposed and I think that’s pretty important in the community, especially at Grand Rapids when our surrounding churches are mostly Dutch or mostly white, like a hundred percent white, Caucasian churches.
Q: Where do you call home?
A: Right now I call home where I feel most comfortable. So Grand Rapids is my home.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in China, Thailand and the Philippines. Those are the points where I will emphasize a lot in my life. So in China, pretty much my childhood was spent there. I went to kindergarten in China. Went to school in China, the local schools. So I never attended international school in China. And I didn’t know how to speak English back then.
Q: So you learned how to speak Chinese when you’re in China. Did you speak Korean at home?
A: Yeah, my parents tried to, but it didn’t work to a point that they started to send me to a Korean school so I don’t forget Korean because I was speaking Chinese all the time.
Q: Were you a very social kid?
A: Yeah. I was always outgoing. I love to be part of anything that’s going on. Like I wanted to become the classroom leader, we call it the banzhang, which is the class leader. So I studied really hard for that, even though we were just third grade or fourth grade, I’d be studying really hard to become one of the leaders. I wanted to be my class representative for my class, 1 – 3, I think. You need to study hard, you need to behave really well.
Q: What is one place that you’d like to travel to when you have the chance?
A: Ah this is hard. Recently I really wanted to go back to Korea and travel in Korea. But one place I really wanted to go is to places I haven’t been. Especially South America. I want to go there. And also try to experience Africa… And Europe, because I’ve never been there. Exposing [yourself] to different cultures is amazing. I want to be cultured, I guess.
Because I grew up in a lot of different places, it’s easier for me to adapt to those situations. Even though a lot of times it’s hard because the communication is the hardest part. If you can’t speak their language it’s going to be really hard to travel around. That’s why I think China, if you don’t understand Chinese, or if they don’t speak English, it’s like the hardest place to travel. That’s how I experienced Myanmar. Myanmar was the hardest place to travel, and Vietnam was a little hard too, but it was okay because there’s tourists. And oh, the countryside of Japan. We went to Nagoya as a family, like my parents and I, and then we took the local train, which was the hardest thing. There was no English there and we rode that train all the way to, like, it changes to a subway at a certain point when you reach Osaka. Those are the few countries [where] it was hard to travel because not everyone spoke English.
Q: Is there a place that you dream of living?
A: You know, my dream is kind of like the typical American dream. Like in the 1970s commercials. So you’re living in the suburbs, with the kids, you have the yard, comfortable, driving to work, during the weekends you would just chill. Like chill life. Slow. Like it’s the American dream because I can live like that and then travel whenever I want to, kind of thing, when it’s required. So I think that’s one thing that I always dream of, but I don’t know, something that I had to always think about because maybe God’s future for me, it’s different. Because my growing up was always different compared to life right now. Like right now I’m really comfortable. I don’t have to worry about anything. I eat anything I like, I don’t have to worry about the monthly payments. It’s all there. Which is great. I’m enjoying my life too much.
Q: Describe your favorite meal or a meal that you’ve been enjoying recently.
A: My favorite food is kimchi bokkeum-bap, which is kimchi fried rice. I can eat that every single meal every day. I used to say I would sell my soul to eat it. It’s pretty bad. But now I can make it myself. And Beulah makes the best kimchi fried rice.
Q: I know you went to Calvin. What did you study there? And what’s one thing that you appreciated about being at Calvin?
A: I studied engineering. I wanted to do things related to the environment or structural [engineering]. So I decided to go into the structural route to make really environmentally friendly structures. So right now, I’m working as a structural engineer and I really love structural because something that makes me happy is thinking about the things I can build, or knowing that it works. It is really satisfying.
Now, one thing I appreciate about my time at Calvin is my wife. I would say that’s like the given foundation, I guess. I think my time at Calvin, the best things were events like Dance Guild, it’s something we can do together. Dance Guild, Air Band. I miss Air Band a lot. So there was a thing called Air Bands. So people would come and prepare an eight minutes minimum show doing lip syncing and that was called Air Band. I think it was dying when I was a freshman there, like the event was dying down. But they used to use the Hoogenboom, the gym. They’d put out the chairs and use that as a stage. So it was actually pretty big.
Q: Go-to boba order or coffee order?
A: I like drinking weird stuff so I like Sesame matcha. It’s the one in Kung Fu Tea. What else? Oh, this is hard. I like weird drinks. Something that people usually don’t get. Something that I never order. When [something is] in season, I’ll just try that one. So I’m not afraid to try it. But I hate pumpkin spice. There’s a few things I don’t like. I shouldn’t say I hate it, I don’t like pumpkin spice, cinnamon. Cinnamon bread is fine. But not in drinks.
Q: Top two love languages?
A: Probably right now it’s words of affirmation and physical touch. I’m pretty sensitive about words, and it can make me really sad easily. It depends though. Like sometimes it hits me really hard. When you say the same thing, sometimes it doesn’t hit at all. It’s a hit or miss based on my mood.
Q: Tell me about a hobby that you enjoy and why you enjoy it.
A: I should say games. I play a lot of games now, because when I was a kid, my parents didn’t allow me to play games. They didn’t think it was worth it. And I mean, I agree. It’s not really worth it, but being able to enjoy [games] is pretty satisfying and it’s fun. It’s actually fun. Some other hobbies I used to have… I love soccer. Like I love, love soccer. I would stop playing games to go play soccer. That’s how much I like soccer. I’m not a fan of watching soccer, but I’m a fan of playing soccer. Like I myself need to run. That’s fun. And other things, I once had a hobby of beatboxing. Yeah, that was fun. And I tried to get back to it, but I’ve been really lazy, and if you’ve not used it as much it doesn’t sound good anymore so you practice it.
Q: Do you have something that you are particular or snobbish about?
A: I’ve looked down on people who are immature. Yeah, this is a hard one because I myself am immature. I will feel like it’s immature when we are being competitive enough that it overcomes your sense. I am like that too, but it’s funny, cause I look down on people who are just like me.
So for example, when I play soccer [and somebody] did not do well, they put [so much] emotion into it that they start swearing and they start being mad. I really don’t like that because that kind of crushes other people, which I really looked down on, like, wow, this guy is immature, why would he do this? This is just a soccer game. I know it’s important, but why this far, when we could all enjoy it together. So yeah, something like that.
Q: What does the perfect day off look like?
A: Oh, it starts with a good morning. Wake up well, without any tiredness in my muscles. It’s the perfect day when you just open your eyes and your brain is so fresh. [It] rarely happens, but it’s the best feeling in the world. It’s like, wow, today I can do anything. That kind of feeling. I love to start the day like that. As soon as I wake up, enjoy the moment of being fresh. Go stand up and grab some food, slowly walk to probably my computer. And the better day is when there’s a game that day like soccer. That’d be awesome.
Q: Do you still play soccer now?
A: I still do, I shouldn’t play, but I still do play with people who are going to Calvin. I make sure I social distance, not with the soccer people, but throughout the week so that I don’t have COVID and give it to them. But I have been playing.
Q: Do you have a book, movie or show that you recommend right now that you’re discovered recently?
A: I’ll talk about the recent movie that I watched, Enola Holmes, on Netflix. It’s about Sherlock Holmes’s younger sister. So if you ever have Netflix, you should watch it. It’s pretty good. That’s the last movie I think I watched. Any shows to recommend… I like really intense shows, like psychologically bad, I guess. Extracurricular is a good show. I like a lot of Sci-Fi movies, and I watch mystery and psychological horror. I’m not into drama at all, especially K-drama. Nope. Everything they do has a love story in it. So let’s say the genre is crime; there’s always a love story and they’re heavily focused on the love story instead of the crime. And on the other hand, there is [a show] about a hospital, doctors, it’s heavily related to love stories… [Same with] sci-fi. There’s always a love story that it’s just like, what’s the focus of this genre? Is it a love story or is it sci-fi?
Q: What have you learned about yourself in the past year or so, and I guess tacking onto that, what have you learned about yourself through being married?
A: Oh, first of all, I learned that I am easily… I’m kind of bipolar. Not the disorder; I can just go from angry to happy and happy to angry, really fast. It’s so drastic that it’s kind of like, am I okay? So I learned about that, which is a good thing. I know myself now, I guess.
And one thing I learned through marriage: never assume things. Always ask. For example, when I get home I shouldn’t assume my wife’s gonna cook for me. That shouldn’t be a thing because she is different than I am. And my wife. she’s busy too, right? And I shouldn’t assume that she’s okay with me playing games all the time and not doing any housework, which is bad. Yup. So I learned how to, not to assume things that you shouldn’t be [assuming]. Like, let’s say you know, I would assume she’ll do something, but she doesn’t. Why should I get mad? Like a relationship is something that you need to figure out together and if you stop communicating, there will be more assumptions than communication.
Q: How have you been finding rest lately?
A: Sleep, honestly, sleeping and playing games. And recently I have been reading commentaries and preparing for LWYG (Living Water Youth Group). I’ve been learning so much about the Bible because the Bible that I used to know was always about my personal opinion of what I’ve learned through Bible studies. But in reality, it’s actually not that way. The reason that pastors can give a good [sermon] or good Bible studies is because they read these commentaries, they meditate about it, and the most important thing is they pray. Prayer is really important because that’s the key to communicating with God, the key to reach out and search for that missing piece.
Especially recently, we talked about Jacob and Isaac in LWYG. And we wanted to write out the questions, as in the faith formation teachers are trying to write all these questions to ask the LWYG kids, the youth group, and when I first started as the leader, like a co-leader, it was really hard. It’s so hard [because] it shouldn’t be my personal opinion when I write these questions. It should be something that God has given me and also given to LWYG, and to reach that point, it’s not that I need to try hard. It’s more about asking God for wisdom. And asking God for His presence to talk about the Bible because the Bible is not easy. It should be easy, but because of my nature of being sinful, it’s a little hard and asking for grace is the hardest part.
Q: What else have you been working hard at recently?
A: I’m working hard in my job. Like I love structural engineering and I want my company to thrive. I really do. And I’ve been spending way more time than I should. I’m grateful because they were able to help me out as an international. It’s not easy to get hired in the States as an international, and the good news is that I finally got my green card, so I can stay here longer. And to reach that point, without my company I don’t think I could have done it. And I’m really thankful for them. And they actually provide me with good insight of the community around here. As Christians who have grown up in this one place, even though they’re exposed to a lot of different cultures, it’s still hard to grasp what is culture. Because they have their own way of identifying those views because they have never lived outside of the States. And it’s a privilege to me and people like you, we lived outside of the U.S., right? And they never experienced the outside. So you can already see, there is a difference in what they see in this, we call it “the well,” like TVs. They have TV and the internet to go through, but those are not everything about the world. There’s more than just that, [so I’ve been] sharing these things at work and trying to excel at work because [I] love the job. It’s like the greatest thing right now. Yeah.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years? Do you have goals that you’d like to accomplish?
A: I don’t know. I want to become a dad, so hopefully in five years I can be a dad. And in five years, I want to get my license, professional engineering license. As an engineer, to stamp the drawings I need to get a license to be able to show them like, Hey, I worked, I have the knowledge to do things. It’s like a worldly proof of that. And hopefully going to grad school sometime. I want to study structural engineering in depth. And I see myself, my wife, somewhere else outside of the U.S. So I don’t know how that’s going to turn out, but I’m hoping to stay here for a while. Yup. That’s all where I see where I’m going to be.
Q: Do you have any ideas about what places you would want to live?
A: Grand Rapids; Philippines, maybe. And if we’re able to get a connection, we might go to China too, those are probably three possibilities.
Q: Any prayer requests?
A: First of all, I want prayer for… becoming a leader in church is not easy. And I can see that from my previous leaders, and I think there’s a lot coming through and I need to manage my time really well. And I don’t think it’s possible without God. You need to serve, you need to have that mindset of being able to sacrifice. It’s like how Jesus did, but I’m not Jesus (laughing). It’s really hard. Like you get encouragement from the community, but at the same time, you need to pour out to the community. And that pouring out, it’s not from me. It should be from God. And that’s the hardest part for me. So that’s my prayer request. Becoming a good leader.
Secondly, Beulah and I, I don’t know where we’re going to be in two, three years. She’s graduating this year and after a year of being part of a school to teach, we don’t know where we’re going to be. And I hope God has something prepared for us other than my own plans or my family’s plans.
Lastly, I want to pray for my family, because my parents have been missionaries for a long time and they don’t have future plans other than being missionaries. Literally, my parents don’t have plans for retirement. They don’t have plans for where to live [in retirement], and I’m really worried because at this position I can’t do anything for my parents. I was so grateful that I was born as an MK (missionary kid), but at the same time, it’s kind of hard to [express] that thankfulness when the future is uncertain, but I guess that has to be my life. I shouldn’t be worried about it, you know, God always took care of their kids, and I can see that by how my parents always prayed for me. And I would never complain about myself, when I was a kid not being able to have enough, because we always lived on the edge, like always on the cliff edge, and it’s amazing that I haven’t fallen yet. That’s the craziest part, right? And then you realize God has ben giving you the side roads to make sure you don’t fall. And I hope my parents would be taken care of by God. And I’m not saying I’m going to just leave it to God, but it’s about, you know, providing from God and I’ll be happy if that would be me, if I can, and I’ll be happy if there’ll be other people.
So I’m just praying for my family that has been serving for a long time. And it’s just like, I have faith that God will take care of us, but at the same time, maybe clinging onto God is our only choice because the reality is not that way. [You try to plan, but] it doesn’t always work out. And it’s when it gets to a point, you realize that you are ready, you are safe. But at the same time you’re worried about your life.
Thanks so much to Ha Ram Kang for taking a break from playing video games (jkjk) to share your experiences and hopes with us! If anything resonated with you, reach out to Ha Ram and send him some words of encouragement, and include him and his family in your prayers.
This is the last interview of our first season of People of Living Water. Thank you to everyone who participated in this project, and we appreciate everyone who reached out to our interviewees. We in the communications team are considering releasing a second season featuring more members of the Living Water family in the future. Let us know what you think by submitting a comment down below, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or commenting on one of Living Water’s Instagram or Facebook posts.