Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hello Everyone,

It's time for a fan update. I will be adding more pictures after this post (I hope you enjoy them), but that's not why I'm writing. I'm writing to share some things that are on my mind.

First, this trip to Korea is very different from the one I took two and a half years ago. Then I often thought of home and even missed it. But this time I feel that this is my home. I really love it here. It is quite and people don't bother me, but at the same time people always want to talk to me even if we can't communicate. It is very strange but at the same time very normal. Most of the people I have met are not Christians and in fact don't have any belief in God whatsoever. Yet at the same time they seem very interested in an American who would come all the way here to tell them about God. They listen, and if they can understand they ask questions. I discovered that they, like myself, really want to know the truth. Even if they don't believe what I tell them they still seem to respect me and they treat me with a lot of kindness. This place has really brought it home to me how much people want to know the truth (even if they don't want to accept it).

Second, I have learned that I really love kids. For the longest time I thought that I didn't, but teaching them has changed my mind. Kids are just little adults who are bound by their circumstances. They can't really control what there home environment is so they try to control the environment where they think they can. At school, I can tell which kids are unhappy at home and which are not. Strangely, I can tell this by the way they act to correction. This is hard to explain but any of you with kids might know what I'm talking about. The ones that I think are unhappy at home don't care about correction and they act the same way once their "punishment " is over, but the one's that cry and really respond to my correction seem to get over it quickly and don't repeat the bad behavior. So I have adapted to each type of student. And so far it seems to be working. I still have two who I don't really know how to handle, but they aren't really disruptive to the class anymore. One of them reminds me too much of myself - as someone once told me he's too smart for his own good (and he's still in elementary school) . Please pray for him - I won't give his name or age, but God knows who you're praying for.

Third, being in Jinju, and pretty much alone, has given me a lot of time to think. I think that God, and the Bible He has given us, are the only real answers to life. I've thought a lot about Matthew's Gospel and Genesis chapter one. Matthew's gospel has taught me that there are really only two types of people - sheep or goats. One is blessed by the Father and one is cursed to everlasting punishment prepared for the devil and his angels. The sheep all share the same reward - a kingdom and God's everlasting blessing. There is no difference in their inheritance - everyone gets the same thing. The goats on the other hand get nothing except what was prepared for the devil and his angels. In Genesis chapter one I learned (again) that God brings order out of chaos and he does this by his word. I learned that we must have absolute faith in the power of his word. A great man once told told that nothing makes him more angry than a person that says "I can't." I understand now what he meant. God created everything just by speaking and God gave us His word. If we have that word in our hearts how is it that we "can't" do something. Pray about it for a while and see what you come up with.

OK, I have to upload some pictures which takes a while so I'll be going for now.

God Bless You All.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hello everyone,

I'm back. It's been a while since my last post, but after a gentle rebuke from B... (a good friend) I've decided to follow up on this blog.

I love it here in Korea. I love teaching and I love "my kids". Some of them really have no desire to learn English and can get rather disruptive in class, but with a little "tough love" it is usually quite easy to get them under control. For the most part, though, they are very excited about learning English or at least learning about the strange foreigner who stands in front of them everyday. Everyone of them says, "Hi" or "Hello" to me every day. I am literally the first white guy they have ever seen and they still can't figure out that I don't speak their language. "Hi" or "Hello" is all they say and then they begin talking to me in Korean, somehow thinking that I know what they are saying. It's kind of funny because some of them just keep talking to me - I just keep saying "I have no idea what your saying," but it doesn't stop them.

I've decided to learn the equivalent of what I teach them in English in Korean. I think that in this way I can accomplish two things. First, I can show them that learning another language is important. If I learn what they learn in my language in theirs, they may be more motivated to learn my language. Second, I can't think of a better way to learn Korean than to practice what I am preaching. In many ways I'm just a kid learning a new language just like them.

Let me tell you a little about my home. I live in Jinju. It is a city of about 100,000. Roughly the same size, population wise, as the city I grew up in but a whole lot smaller in geographical size. In Korea, people live "on top" of each other, whereas in America we live "by" each other. This is one of many "cultural" differences that takes some getting used to. One advantage of this is that I can get anywhere in Jinju on my bike in less than thity minutes. Which brings up another point that I thank god for everyday. Jinju is probably the most Bicycle friendly city in Korea. They have wonderful bike paths and wide sidewalks with bike lanes on them. People walk on those bike lanes, but my bike has a very convenient bell which people respond to instictively - they are very used to hearing them.

Bukchun, where I teach, is a very small village. I can walk from one end to the other in less than five minutes. If I were to walk around the whole thing it might take fifteen minutes, but that is only because I would have to walk on the burms between the rice fields and would have to be carefull. However, the people are extremely nice. They all say hello to me and one man who doesn't speak a lick of English has befriended me. I stop by his restaraunt all the time and he gives me coffee - not good coffee, but the thought makes it the best. Like the kids, he doesn't care that I don't understand what he says, he just says it anyway. Usually, after a lot of body language, we can understand eachother - or not. But it is fun seeing him anyway.

It is 5:30 Am now and I have to get to Busan today to meet a group of Christians. God is working! I'll try to be more faithful to this post. I want to say I'll write everyday, but you all know me - once a week will be more realistic.

One Final thing. I'd like to set up "pen pals" for my kids. If you know of children between 1st grade and 6th grade who would like to correspond with rural Korean kids please let me know.

I gotta Go.
May God Richly Bless You,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Very Busy Orientation

It's already Feb 12, Thursday of the second week of orientation. I can't believe how quickly this is going. The days are so busy here and there is hardly anytime to do anything outside of the orientation program. What little free time I've managed to scrape together in the evenings has been taken up with pingpong or reading some strange C.S. Lewis books about a guy who travels to Mars and Venus to "save the day" - that is mankind or Venuskind.

Yesterday evening we went a very interesting Korean show called Nanta. I guess you could call it the Korean version of blue man group without the blue pant. There were also four stars as opposed to three, but there was very little talking and a lot of percussion. They also incorporated a lot of audience participation into the show. Everyone I talked to loved it, me included (I didn't really talk to myself, but my mind confirms my appreciation of the show).

I've met some very interesting people in this program, quite a few who are in their thirties which really surprised me. I even met one woman who was my neighbor in Chicago. Actually she lived a few blocks away, but close enough to be called a neighbor when your three thousand miles from home. I just happened to meet her when we visited a palace last Saturday and then again last night I ran into her in downtown Seoul walking around by herself as we enjoyed two hours of free time before the show. She is Jewish, but she expressed a desire to go to a Christian worship service.

I also met one lady, Hera - who is not in the TaLK program, but is at the orientation sight taking another class with another group - who is from Gyeonsangnamdo province. Hera's home town is only about 20-30 miles from Hadong and she offered to help in anyway she could. I met her through an early morning prayer meeting that I attend with about 10-12 other TaLK members each morning. Yesterday she just showed up, so we welcomed her. Perhaps God has sent an angel to help me along this journey. Anyway, this brings up our prayer meeting. Last Thursday I met a man named James after one of our classes. As we talked we found that we were both Christians and as it turned out he had found several others. He had taken the initiative to start a morning devotional group and he invited me to join. The next morning I went and I was pleasantly surprised to see 13 other Christians gathered to think about God's word and pray. We are praying for the TaLK program as a whole and specifically that God can use each of us as His messengers to the rural people of Korea. I have been greatly encourage by these young Christians and their desire to live Godly lives in the hope that others might come to Christ through their example. Please pray for us to keep in contact throughout our journeys and to meet together once a month or so to pray and encourage eachother.

One final word before I go. Through daily bread each morning, God has been greatly encouraging me. When I arrived last week I was a little aprehensive about what was going to happen over the next several months, but this week God has answered my apprehension with His wonderful promises. I have been studying John 14 (John 15:1-8 today) and God clearly told me not to be afraid, but to trust in Him and Jesus. He promised that when I do so he will not only make everything right, He will make me a very fruitful blessing for the people of Hadong. His promises are truly great, even beyond belief when we really think about them, but when I meditated on them and who he is I repented of my unbelief. God is the creator of the heavens and the earth and the Sovereign rules of all things, nothing is too great for Him. Therefore I believe His promises and I believe that he make me a most fruitful man here in South Korea. Thank God for His wonderful promises.

Until next time, May God richly bless you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Safe Arrival


It's been almost a week since I was able to write. I am very happy to announce that I have arrived safely in Korea and after spending a wonderful day with a few friends from KyungSung center have settled into my room at our orientation training center. The room is small but very nice and I have two roomates, James from Las Vegas and Johnny from Toronto. They both seem very nice, but we'll see how the next 17 days go. Anyway I am very excited because today we officially begin our "tours of duty" as TALK team members.

I got up early this morning (several times actually - 2:00 AM then 3:00 AM, then 4:00 AM and finally got out of bed at 5:00 AM) and got to spend some nice quite time praying and meditating on God's word. Today's Daily Bread passage was from Amos 5:1-27 and through it I was reminded of one of the great Bible promises - "Seek God and live". I thank God for this word and this wonderful opportunity to practically put this into practice. As I prayed I repented that up to this point I have not truely done this. I lived a nice complacent, easy going life but I never really gave my heart to seeking God. But I believe that God brought me here and gave me this word on the first morning of this journey to help me to really focus on this. I also thought about what seeking God means practically in my life. I was brought back to my key verse for this mission journey which is Philippians 3:10, "I want to know Christ and the Power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, becoming like Him in His death." I was reminded that seeking God practically means to follow Jesus example. This means living my life for others so that they can find theirs in Jesus. May God help me to remember this all the rest of the days of my life so that I can really seek Him and help others to find Him ias well.

The day is about to begin and strangly I'm already tired - I think it from my struggle to read Amos chapter 5 out loud in Korean. That effort took almost 1/2 and hour and I'm convinced that the security guard thinks I'm a babling fool. But, no matter, because the Bible says being a fool for Christ is a good thing. I have to go now, but I'll write soon.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Final Sunday Worship Service in Chicago

On Sunday January 25, I celebrated my final Sunday worship service in Chicago for at least one year. As part of this celebration I participated in the last of our fellowship's group Bible study for at least the same period of time. I was greatly encourage because my friend Chuck led his very first group Bible study. I pray that this may be the first of many. After the worship service our Bible study group went out and enjoyed a wonderful meal at Bakers Square.

I was excited and at the same time just a touch anxious about what the future might hold. Each Sunday I looked forward to our Bible study because it not only helped me prepare my heart for the worship service, but it gave me a great opportunity to think deeply about the Sunday passage while at the same time listening to what others thought about the same passage. Through these group studies I realized that people all think differently and God reveals His truth to each of us on our own level. Listening to what God was telling others and combining that with what God revealed to me gave me a much deeper understanding of the passage. Having learned this, I hope that I can establish another group study when I reach my final destination in Hadong. Of course for a little while I may have a very hard time understanding what God is revealing to the other members, nonetheless, I would like to participate in one.

I have to go to Chucky Cheeses now - I'll explain later.