A friend reminded me of a time when for Lent I gave up telling my old Korea stories. But this isn’t Lent, so let me tell an old story about how I helped build a house on rock in June of 1974.
I had been sent out to a rectory on a bluff right over the sea. The priest before me laid a strong concrete foundation that was a rarity there. The police station right below our hill was built on sand.
When I arrived there I made friends with a young man named Peter, and with his friend Paul. Refugees from North Korea, they shared their eight by eight room with their radio repair business and with their young wives. They longed to have two eight by eight rooms with a small sunken kitchen at one end.
When their business earned enough money for it, they bought eight ten-foot-long four by fours for uprights; and they borrowed a cart for hauling foundation boulders up from our creek bed.
I was helping them dig the postholes for those stones. Then, I got into helping more, when Peter had to take his wife Theresa south to her parents’ house to have their baby. I had helped Paul finish off the roof when we were struck by a major typhoon.
That house built on stones held firm, and our rectory lasted through the howling night. However, half our hillside slipped, avalanching the police station out into the deep waters of our harbor.
With the roads and bridges all gone, we heard nothing of Peter and Theresa. Then, after two weeks, they struggled into town. Theresa’s family’s house had been washed away, but she came carrying a son born while she clung to a pine tree high on the mountain side.