Sunday, March 18, 2007

Surprise, There's Still New Things to be Done

After being in Korea for more than 2 years now, I would have thought that there was not a whole lot left to experience. The past few months have shown me to be incredibly wrong. Although I could write about several different things, the past weekend should suffice.
The weekend was full of friends. Friends are a good thing to have. They make the experiences we have that much better. Eunji came to visit me on Friday, and we had a great time together, just enjoying each other's company. Over the last 7 months we've really grown close. She's taught me a lot about what it takes to be in a relationship, and she's really opened my eyes to what it really means to love someone.

On Saturday, my friend Billy came down from Bundang. I met Billy at Swaton, the first job I worked at. He came to Korea almost 2 years ago, and we've kept in touch throughout our time in and out of Korea. He's a great friend, and I really appreciate his attitude towards life. I've been trying to get Billy to come down here pretty much since I first moved here. When he came down he understood why I had been trying to get him to come.
He got into Gohyeon at about noon on Saturday. I met him at the bus terminal, and then we drove down to a couple of spots on the island that I love. The thing I've noticed is that no matter how many times I go to these places, the mystery and emotion of them never diminishes. They inspire reverential appreciation for the creative genius of God. The first place we went was to the 'ol' swimmin' hole' that Aussie Jon and I found last summer, and I had swam at during a typhoon. It was an overcast day, and absolutely gorgeous. We started climbing down towards the rocks, but Billy just got this wide-eyed look on his face and sat crouching over the precipice. He just kind of muttered that he was okay staying where he was. Just then I got a call from Jaynie about what groceries I wanted from Costco in Daegu. Billy got a kick out of the fact that I was just standing at the edge of a cliff talking on my cell phone like nothing was out of the ordinary.

The next spot we went to was Haegeumgang. This place is probably my favorite spot on the island. I first found it with Craig and Ashton when they visited me, and have taken almost everyone I know to this place since then. Eunji decided to wait in the car, because she wasn't feeling very well. She has such a great disposition; she wasn't complaining or whining, but simply enjoying the time she could spend with me, and allowing me to have fun without her. I'm grateful for her attitude towards me, and for her enjoyment of life.
Billy was taken aback at the beauty of the place.

He took a lot of pics and videos.

After that we left for Jangseungpo to pick up my best friend Will, and drop off Eunji. He had just arrived in Korea the previous Tuesday, and I was excited to have him here. We met him at the ferry terminal, said hi to him and bye to Eunji. After meeting him, we picked up my friend B (of the swimming incident) and went to an Indian restaurant in Okpo which I hadn't yet tried. The food was incredible, and the conversation was light-hearted. It was a great time. We ate like slobs, and at the end of the meal the table was covered with all sorts of Indian delicacies.

After dinner we headed back to my place to have some wine and conversation. Chris and Joshua met us there. It was a lot of fun just to be able to unwind and laugh and just forget about anything that might be weighing on our minds. As much of a hermit as I've been in the last 2 years or so, I have come to really appreciate my friends and I cherish any opportunity that I'm able to just sit and talk with people.

The next day I woke up early to get ready for church. I got the boys situated and arranged a ride for Will to meet me later at church, because I had to go early to set up and practice music. It was a good turnout, and a really good service. Joshua spoke and did a fantastic job. It's been great to see him grow in his aptitude for speaking. After the service we had our first communion in the fellowship room. We're trying an open form communion, and the first one was quite moving, although only about 10 minutes long. WIll commented after that he was really moved by the whole service, the music, message and fellowship.

After church we grabbed Billy and headed out to my favorite coffee shop on an island called chilcheondo. Unfortunately, it was closed.

This was unprecedented. I came here every Sunday after church and it had never been closed. We were in the middle of a crisis. 3 men hungry and in the middle of nowhere. Since we had Indian food the night before, our stomachs could only handle a certain type of food that day. We drove towards the north side of the island and stopped at a restaurant called blue sky. The place was really fancy. After grabbing a menu the lady told us that they didn't have any food, only drinks. Absolutely incredible! Why would you say you're a restaurant if you don't have any food? We left, continuing our search for a meal. We made it into Jangmok, which is a small one-road town that kind of reminded me of Harrow. Seeing a restaurant, we parked the car and boldly went where no waykook (foreigner) had gone before. The place was a shack. It was so ugly and bare, it looked like it could've been a giant outhouse. Looking at the menu on the wall, I saw what said 'ga ori jjim.' Recognizing the word 'ori,' which is duck, I ordered it for us along with a kimbap. They said they didn't have any, which immediately illicited the reaction of amazement by Billy as to why they would have it posted on the wall, and yet not have any. I decided to text Eunji and ask her what it was that i had ordered. She texted me back that it was ray fish. Sure enough when they brought out the dish, we saw that we weren't eating duck, but sting ray stew. Incredible! It was actually really good, and I was glad to see Billy mowing down because he's usually not a very adventurous person when it comes to food.

After lunch we drove around a little more on the north side of the island. We stopped for coffee at a little fishing village. We sat at some plastic tables outside of a shoopa (convenience store) overlooking the ocean. There was a puppy in the middle of the road taking a squat. Billy called him over, and he immediately came. He was so cute and friendly. Usually the animals are afraid of humans, but this one just came right over to us. He started licking my hands, and posing for Billy's camera.

After the coffee we just kept driving and looking at the scenery. Running out of time, we couldn't go to some of the spots I love, but we could take some nice pictures. After taking some pics we headed back to Gohyeon to drop Billy off at the bus terminal. We made it there about 5 minutes before the bus took off. Perfect timing. We said goodbye, and then went to meet my friend Hyeon Jin at Samsung Centre. We were going to skate together, and Will was just gonna hang out with us.

An adventure to find some bearings ensued, and once that task was completed, we headed back to Okpo for WIll to grab his things, and then on to Jangseungpo to skate, and drop Will off at the ferry terminal. It was a great day, a great weekend, and it's a great life.

The Birth of Understanding

Here it is... finally. I've taken a long hiatus from writing, taking the opportunity to establish myself somewhat in my daily life. Taking the opportunity to sort out all of my previous hang-ups about church while working to establish a church here in Okpo. It's been a time for quiet reflection, and hectic activity. Since my last written post, I've gone back to Canada to visit with my family and friends, seen students come and go, begun working on living healthier, started a Bible study, done a music showcase, started Korean lessons, and much, much more. It's been a time for me to begin working on what I'll call the practical side of my life.

The last few years or so, I've been concentrating heavily on developing my thought life, trying to work out in my head a consistent worldview that's in sync with the Word of God. It's been an unbelievable journey, and although I sometimes found myself in corners of contradiction, God walked me through some of those and I believe I have a much more consistent philosophy of life now. What God has come to shown me in the past 6 months or so, is that the practical side of life is just as important as the thinking side. I've seen and felt the hand of God in my life, and it has gripped my heart and mind.
God has shown me that the remedy for hypocrisy is practice. What I mean by that is that the best way to stop doing things that are out of sync with your philosophy of life, is to become active in things that are consistent with it. For me this meant going to church, and taking on an active role in the church. Church was never meant to be something where people just go and sit; it was meant to be a place where people can serve each other, and encourage each other. I have been so encouraged by the people who gather together with me here in Okpo. It's been an amazing thing to serve them here, and I've appreciated their great desire to follow the Lord closely. It has truly helped to step up my practice in Christianity. The other thing that I needed was prayer. Not only did I begin to pray more sincerely and honestly, but I also began having more people pray for me. This has really been the steadying hand in my life - that people have always been praying for me. I've felt the power of their prayers, and God has answered their prayers. I am deeply grateful for those people who have taken the time to love me by praying sincerely for me.