Korean Octopus, and You, and Me

“Whoa, octopus! Let’s get some.”

He’s peering in past a frosted glass window to a ten-inch package of purple tentacled octopus legs coiled tightly, their suction cups pointed out at us. In an international Asian grocery store with green tea popsicles and dried mango slices, I love that seven year old Daniel is brave and eager to try new things.

Photo: J. Griffin Stewart, Creative Commons, cc license

“We’ll see,” I murmur, “I don’t know how to cook them yet.”

Twenty minutes later in the deli section, we see it, and my husband and I grin to each other. “Daniel, remember how you wanted to eat octopus? They have it here. We’ll get some!”

He cheers and skips happily as we edge closer to the counter. Soon we are crowded around a small square table, the three of us sharing a monstrous bowl of soup and nibbling steaming octopus dumplings. He slurps beside us, wrestling with his chop sticks on the miles of ramen noodles, and the beauty of this moment etches itself onto my heart. Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hmong, and our European blend of German, English, Irish, and Czech whirl and pass in this busy, jumping restaurant, a gorgeous mix of cultures and languages. And I love that I can sip spicy Japanese soup, sample Korean octopus dumplings, and pass tall elegant veiled Somali women on the sidewalk outside.

We finish our meal, wipe up our spills, and carry the dishes to a back corner. Paying for the groceries, we drag a metal cart holding our fifty pound bag of rice to the car, and turn towards home. In the car, the Minneapolis skyline dips and whirs past, and the beauty of cultures reminds me of heaven.

Daniel surprised me recently. Sitting on the couch beside me, he said, “I have a Korean friend.”

“Yeah, you do,” I agreed, thinking of his cousin and several friends from church. “That’s cool, huh?”

“I’m a little Korean too,” he stated matter-of-factly.

“Really?” I asked, curious to see where this was going, looking at my son’s summer-highlighted caramel hair, brown eyes, and peach face.

“Yeah, I have the shirt.”

And I laughed to remember that his cousin and his friends had all received the same soccer jersey he had from a recent missions trip. And apparently having identical shirts from overseas makes him Korean.

I hugged him and thought about heaven where the Bible says we will have people from every language and people group around the Creator’s throne, and I can’t wait. You and me? We’re part of an international family. It is beautiful, vibrant, and requires action some days too. 

I have the shirt.

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  1. Cheryl Barker on September 8, 2015 at 4:42 am

    Love how you see the variety of cultures around you as a taste of heaven, Jennifer. Here in our little corner of the world we don't have many cultures represented so what you are describing sounds very cool. And I'm impressed with your little boy's adventuresome spirit! 🙂

  2. Unknown on September 9, 2015 at 2:00 am

    Oh man… how awesome is that? I imagine our Father in heaven smiles at us in the same exact way as we lack His grasp on what He created and what's to come. I like that; the smile of our loving Father. A lot like the one we shared over your youngest. Good one, Jennifer.

  3. Caleb Suko on September 14, 2015 at 10:23 am

    My kids love octopus, but I guess missionary kids can be a little strange that way. It seems to me that man's general tendency it to cluster into groups that all look and act alike, it's the Gospel and the Church that break that tendency, and yes, it is beautiful!

  4. Jennifer Dougan on September 15, 2015 at 12:30 am


    I wish we had more people from around the world nearby me too. I love celebrating other cultures, foods, and people too.

    Jennifer Dougan

  5. Jennifer Dougan on September 15, 2015 at 1:08 am

    Hi Floyd,

    I like the image of God smiling. Thanks.

    Jennifer Dougan

  6. Jennifer Dougan on September 15, 2015 at 1:13 am


    I love the quirkiness of missionary kids and count myself in that bunch. 🙂

    Jennifer Dougan

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