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,