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Hofbräu München (Where we fell in love)

I can't believe the weekend is almost over. I feel exhausted. I also haven't been getting good rest, not sure why. I am thankful that I was able to sleep in a little bit instead of go for a run or bike ride. Once in a while, people ask me for "words of wisdom" based on my experiences in the past six months. My "generic" advice I'll usually share are something along these lines:

  1. Making the Most of Time with Loved Ones: Cherish the moments you have with family and friends.

  2. Balancing Work and Life: Strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance to prevent burnout.

  3. Embracing New Experiences: Don't shy away from opportunities to travel and explore.

Most of you know I am terrible at putting these words into practice. In fact, I'll likely spend the rest of this Sunday catching up on work. I'm also not a big fan of traveling. It can be expensive, requires a lot of planning, and sometimes leaves you feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation. Most of the time, I'd rather be at home with Mayo, sticking to our daily routines like our morning and evening walks around the lake.


Fortunately, Teri made traveling easy for me. She was the organized planner in our relationship (yes, really). She had fantastic ideas. I never thought I would say this: I truly miss my travel adventures with Teri. From my first trip to Atlanta in 2017 to our final one to Israel in 2013, we created incredible memories that I now spend a lot of my free time revisiting and organizing. I haven't even seen all the photos since they were on her phone, and I never had the chance to go through them carefully—until now.


Recently, while searching for weekend activities with friends, I stumbled upon an Oktoberfest-related event in Laguna Hills. It brought back memories of a work trip to Germany in 2017 when Teri and I had the chance to explore together. These experiences serve as powerful reminders of the importance of creating cherished memories with our loved ones.


Lessons Learned from Oversleeping

Normally I try to be punctual so people don't have to wait on me. There are two instances in my life when I overslept and will never forget the consequences. The first occurred in September 2013 during a wedding rehearsal, which I was officiating. I can't recall all the details, but I do remember falling asleep in my hotel room and I believe waking up to a phone call asking, "Where are you?" Disoriented and groggy, I rushed to the venue, finding the entire wedding party waiting in the scorching sun. Although I caused undue anxiety that day, the actual wedding ceremony went well in my opinion, especially for my first time officiating a wedding.


The second unforgettable incident took place in August 2017 when Teri flew from Atlanta to Germany to join me during a business trip. We had been dating for just over five months, and our relationship had already weathered its share of ups and downs, including her first cancer diagnosis in July 2017. Despite the challenges, we were determined to make the most of our travel opportunities, including our time in Germany together.


I flew in a few days earlier since I was there for a business trip. After picking her up after a long flight from Atlanta, here is photo of us on the way back from the Airport and what the view looked like driving back to the hotel:

At first glance, we might appear to be a happy couple in the photo. However, the reality was quite different. I was very late with picking her up from the airport. Teri was understandably upset with me for oversleeping, as I had consistently set the expectation that I would be punctually waiting for her at the curb or cell phone lot to spare her the inconvenience of waiting after a long flight. I, on the other hand, argued that my jet lag and my alarm failing to go off were to blame.


I also believed that those being picked up from the airport should allow a 10-15 minute grace period to prevent the pickup person from arriving too early and waiting unnecessarily. I didn't win the argument. It was a rocky start to our trip, and we both had valid reasons to be upset with each other. Thankfully, we managed to talk through things, move past the incident and salvage the rest of our trip.


Enjoying German Food

Usually when I travel alone, I will just find whatever food is convenient and familiar. Most of the time this means I will eat fast food that I can get at home. Thankfully, Teri always made an effort to do the opposite. I am glad we did. We both fell in love with "german fries" and drinking the local beer:

When we would eat fries back in California, one of us would remind each other about "German fries" and how they were the best fries we ever had. While I don’t really enjoy drinking beer during social events, our Germany trip had such a special place in our relationship that we chose to buy the same beer for our wedding (all thanks to Costco):

I also realized today that Teri put on the drink display at our wedding that Hofbräu München is supposedly where "we fell in love." I'm not sure I agree this was really the place. Maybe for her? I'm not sure. The photo above is me at Costco a few days ago, which was another reminder that I should write about this trip.


Teri's Solo Trip to Vienna, the capital of Austria

While I had to spend a day at the office, Teri embarked on a solo adventure by train to Vienna, Austria. There was a some discussion (or possibly another argument) the day before about whether I could join her or somehow meet up with her after my workday ended. Vienna was a city I'd heard great things about, and the temptation was strong. However, we ultimately decided it would be too complicated, and she embraced the experience on her own.

Her journey was filled with unforgettable moments, and seeing her happiness in the photos warms my heart. These photos reminded me of the many trips she did on her own while she was single.

As I continue on my journey of grief, I've come to realize that it's okay that I was not with Teri 24/7. Teri sometimes made me feel otherwise. Many challenges in our relationship stemmed from my relentless work schedule and coming home past the 6PM deadline. This is an important reminder since I think about how I could have spent even more time with her in March before she passed away. I'm working through all the "regrets" I've had and really am trying to trust God that everything happened for a reason that I may not understand in this lifetime. Teri being apart from me gave Teri the opportunity to be alone with God, friends, and family. To grow on her own. Just like I am trying to do on my own, now, without her.


Exploring Germany with Teri

While I'm grateful for my regular cycling buddies and the joy of riding high-end carbon fiber bikes, there's something truly special about riding heavy cruiser bikes with the one you love, especially in a foreign country, even if it means getting caught in the rain:

It's been a while since I flipped through this album, but it brought a smile to my face revisiting these photos and videos. We also swam together in a lake and visited some castles. We did some very difficult hikes. The crazy rain did not get in the way. She was always smiling and having fun and sometimes I struggled to keep with her pace. This remarkable journey wouldn't have been possible without Teri, as she took charge of planning most of our trips, driven by her passion for exploration.


Conclusion: Finding Faith in Lessons Learned

Although my initial intention for this post wasn't solely about our trip, I've come to realize the importance of revisiting some valuable lessons, particularly as someone who often holds themselves to high standards in my role as a spouse:

  • The Power of Honest Conversations: It's essential to engage in open and honest conversations with both friends and family when it comes to our expectations. The airport argument that threatened to spoil our entire trip ultimately stemmed from misaligned expectations. Thankfully, we were able to discuss the incident, seek forgiveness, and find a way to a better place, allowing us to enjoy the remainder of our journey.

  • Embracing Individual Growth: There have been moments when Teri and I were physically apart, even though she wished for us to be together, and that's perfectly acceptable. These instances can serve as opportunities for personal growth. Teri's solo trip to Vienna allowed her to fully immerse herself in the city and create her own unique memories. We both had meaningful experiences as individuals before we met, and I'm in the process of rediscovering how to embrace this concept once more.

  • Creating Lasting Memories: Throughout our travels together, Teri and I have crafted numerous unforgettable memories, with Germany being just one of the many destinations we've been fortunate to explore. Each of these trips could easily serve as the inspiration for future posts (and presentations at my house).ings will work out, and with time, I will become more adept at navigating this path.

As I reflect on these lessons, I can't help but draw parallels to what I've recently learned at Mariner’s church regarding the distinction between righteous and unrighteous anger. My faith in God has taught me the importance of patience, trust in His plan, and finding strength in adversity. Just as Teri and I have grown both individually and as a couple through our travels, our spiritual journey can lead me to new levels of faith and understanding. So, let's remember that even in the face of challenges, there is always an opportunity for growth and the strengthening of our faith.

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Jenny Scott
Jenny Scott
Oct 07, 2023

I love this post on the importance of making travel memories with your loved ones. I am so inspired by you, Erwin. I love that you guys got to enjoy Germany together. Maybe we can go there as a life group someday. I love how Teri is so brave to venture out to Vienna. I love that we have that adventurous spirit together. Thanks for sharing. Love this

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Gretchen Lai
Gretchen Lai
Sep 26, 2023

While we were dating, Phong and I had a similar disagreement at LAX when he picked me up after one of my international work trips. He didn't want to have to park, and I didn't want to have to wait because I was exhausted... lol In hindsight, it doesn't matter to us now; we have both grown a lot and been through a lot more serious things than arguing about an airport pick up. What I have learned is that there is no need for regrets when you are on a constant path of growth.

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As a notorious oversleeper, this is my nightmare 😬😬😬 I love Germany and Austria!! I'm glad Teri was able to see both in her time on this mortal coil. And those are great lessons on how to love others well and be loved by them, too. So thankful for how He brings the truths of Scripture to life in our lives in so many diverse ways.

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Grace H Lee
Grace H Lee
Sep 25, 2023

Wow, you and Teri shared a lot of adventures as well as intense experiences during your few years together. What a gift you were to her too, Erwin. Praying for continued perseverance and peace along this part of the journey. -G

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Just like someone develops faith, someone will also answer the call of adventure when they’re ready. I know God has much more in store for you. He is amazing. 🤗

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