Friday, September 2, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I intend to keep all of you updated on my travels and adventures and whatever else I'm doing in Korea. For those of you who don't know, I moved to Korea on the 29th of August, 2011, to work at ECC School in Jeon Ju, South Korea. This school runs all year around and is an "extra-curricular" school for Korean children to learn English.
Let me start with the plane ride. It was my first time flying (surprise!), and for my first time, it was pretty smooth. The night before my flight my dad, Zach (younger brother) and I went to the Pearson Airport in Toronto to check it out and figure out basically exactly what I needed to do. Early on Sunday morning we went to the airport. I checked in my luggage, had my money exchanged to Korean Won, boarded the plane, and flew here. It was a very long flight (13 hrs), and when we had 3 hrs left, I was itching to get off of the plane and see this wonderful place called Korea.
After getting of the plane at Incheon, I got my luggage, and hung around the airport for a bit until I went to the information kiosk and asked for help to get a limousine bus to Jeon Ju. We went through Seoul, Gimbo, Daejon, Iksan. The bus made a stop but I didn't know which city. The bus driver had no idea about English so I didn't even bother asking him how long the stop would last; I was also too chicken to just ask a Korean if they knew English so that I could find out when the bus left again. So I just got off, hung around and felt the air for the first time in a long time, and got back on when the bus driver came back. We made a short stop at Iksan before heading to Jeon Ju. This was basically at a gas station/mechanic shop. I got off the bus, and this old man directed me straight to the bathroom in Korean. I found it, and when I came out after going, the bus was just about to leave. It's a good thing that the stop light to get back onto the road lasted about 5 minutes.
Oh, and I should mention. I think many of you know the saying, "shit a brick." You know, like, "I got so scared I almost shit a brick." Well, this bus driver was nuts. He commanded the road, but when he swung around a corned, my eyes opened and I almost shit a brick. It was ridiculous. Fast driving, lane changing all the time. Not to mention the fact that while driving fast on a superhighway AND following other cars within inches, this bus was HUGE and it was not an automatic. On kind of the same note, nearly everything I see is Hyundai, KIA, Daewoo, Mercedes, Toyota, and BMW.
After the bus ride, I got off the bus close the the Core Hotel in Jeon Ju. I couldn't even see the hotel because we were parked about a block away from it, but I knew it was the end of the ride because everyone got off and I (thankfully) saw Kelsey Hunter waiting with the ESL school manager to pick me up. They brought me to my apartment (check out the pictures if you haven't already). The apartment is pretty nice. My mattress is incredibly hard, but yet I was still able to sleep like a baby last night because I was incredibly exhausted. I think I'm starting to feel the effects of jet lag, but since I have no idea what jet lag is supposed to feel like, I'm not even sure that it's jet lag. Meh. I got through today pretty well.
Last night my future roommate (Kaylene Kramer, with whom I work 7 years ago in Chatham doing corn detassling) came and picked me up from my apartment. We went down the street to the main street by the apartment. A main street in Jeon Ju is eight lanes wide. Mopeds do as they please. Taxis pretty much do the same thing. Traffic is insane. So crossing this thing felt like crossing the Jordan. Seriously, it's crazy. If you think Toronto drivers are crazy (and suck at driving; no offense to those of you who live in Toronto), you have nothing on Koreans. I'm not even kidding. Anyway, we walked down to the Mcdonald's about 15 minutes down the street. I got some decent food for the first time in a while - a McChicken combo. Then we went about a 1/2 hr down the other way to E-mart (they call it E-martah) were I bought my first thing in Korea - an alarm clock. Yes, I brought mine from home. Yes, I plugged in the adapter into the wall. Yes, I then plugged in my alarm clock into the adapter and it worked. Yes, I came back and the bloody thing was fried. So now I have a nice new one with the Korean plug on the end. And it goes "beeep beeep beeep" instead of the traditional "RANH RANH RANH RANH." Blasted noise.
I woke up this morning at 8:15am (it's 1:25am, August 31, 2011 as I write this. It 12:30pm, August 30, 2011 for you). Showered for the first time in what seemed like a week...which is pretty close to reality but not that long. It was a nice wake up. I actually woke up about 15 minutes before my 8:15am alarm, and the was because of the birds and such - the city was started to move. The rear window picture from my apartment has a bit of forest in it; if you were to look straight out, you would see a bit of forest. I swear I heard monkeys. I asked Kelsey (a former Redeemerite) if there were any monkeys around here or in that forest, and she said she didn't think so. But I swear I heard monkeys. But boy, it was a beautiful sleep.
While in my payamas I showed Kelsey what I had chosen to wear. There was some disparity between what I was told I should be wearing and what I actually have to wear. I'm not pointing and fingers (*cough Jordan couch*), but Kelsey said that my dress shirt, dress pants, dress shoes, and tie was too formal. So I didn't wear the tie and unbuttoned the top couple buttons so it was a little more casual. But it was still good because Koreans are big on first impressions. And off to the school we went.
School started at 10am and we were there for 9:30. Before the bell wrang I had to go into the play room where all of the kids were; the youngest group, 4-6 is in the morning and has a few blocks in the afternoon. There I had to introduce myself to all of the kids. Talk about not knowing what to say to a group of kids in which many speak very few words of English. I observed 6 classes throughout the day. Four of these classes were with the young ones, and 2 were with the elementary-aged kids (9-10). They spoke much more English and their comprehension is much better. After observing these classes and getting a lot of advice from a veteran teacher of 5 years, I felt like I would be most comfortable teaching at that level. I don't know what classes I'll have (I start teaching next week), but I do know that I'm taking over the Kitty class, which is like 3-4 year olds. They don't know very many words and speak a lot of Korean (which could help me learn it); they also like to run around a lot. They like to do what they please a lot of the time, but a lot of it is just trying to ask them questions in order to receive an answer in English. This also means that English loses its rules, including word order, e.g., "Johnny, clean up Johnny book please." It'll be interesting. I can't wait to find a groove.
In terms of culture, this place is amazing. I love the land. People stare at me often. I am an incredible minority now. It's kind of weird going from a majority to a minority. I am incredibly humbled because I don't know the culture, the language, the rules of engagement for conversation, etc. It will be challenging. My stomach will have to get used to a lot of new stuff. Today I ate a pork loin, cabbage, some corn, rice, and a bowl of broth that tasted like fish. It was a very good meal. I think I should also mention that the cost of living here is lower than in Canada. For example, my meal, which filled me, tasted good, and is healthier than usual North American food, only costs roughly $4. And I had a big appetite.
After I got home from the school, which is about a 15 minute walk down to another busy street, I took some pictures of the apartment, uploaded them, and took a nap. At about 9pm this evening I went out with Kaylene, got a small Korean pepperoni pizza (amazing, tasted good and had a typical asian spicyness to it, cost 5,900 won or $6). Then we went to 711, where I grabbed a Pepsi and saw little cans of Heineken and said, "Praise the Lord." Right underneath the 711 is a bar/lounge/band place/foreign-people hangout called Radio Star, where I made my first Korean friend, Young Jo Yoon. He plays bass. His favourite band is the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He was sad that John Frusciante was no longer the guitarist. I am so happy that the first friend I made here is a musician. And that brings me to writing this blog.
I thank the Lord for all his blessings. Considering how well this has all worked out, regardless of the little hiccups that happened in getting here in terms of both the paperwork and the flight, I can see how much God works through his children and affirms his plan. I ask for your continued support. I covet your prayers. I will also keep you in my prayers. Until next time, take luck, care for it, and God bless.
Friday, August 6, 2010
It's been...how long since I've been here? Too long. A good friend of mine, who I met last September, has started up his own blog recently. His having done that reminded me of my own. There really has been a lot that has shaped me over this past whole year since I last wrote. I wouldn't even know where to begin to write.
But here I am. I am still living. I can thank God for that. I think that is something that I can write about: thankfulness. The school year, up until now, has proven to show that God answers prayers and absolutely lavishes his love on his people. In my Social Justice class, I learned a Hebrew word, Hesed'. As my professor explained, it is nearly impossible to embody the meaning of Hesed in the English language. However, the best idea we can get is what we use: lovingkindness or steadfast love. God poured out his lovingkindness. He most certainly bled steadfast love. I receive this to be blessings on his people; his richest, fullest, most abundant blessings. Moreover, God still pours out his blessings on his people still today. Do we notice them? I doubt it. Maybe some people do.
I know that part of myself is very pessimistic sometimes. Maybe pessimistic isn't the right word, but I definitely get down on myself and cannot see the Happy in life. Slow down! I must slow down! We must all slow down! Do we not put ourselves into an uncomfortable pace? Then we only end up in an undesirable place. At that rate, we miss all that God has bestowed on us. I had my eyes replaced. Then I saw. I saw the wonderful riches of God and how he has worked around me, through me, for me. If what I have received is not his hesed, then I cannot wait for the day that I do receive it.
Should we not go back to the ways of the OT? Should we not remember what it might be like to have lived in complete dependence on YHWH? Perhaps it should be our obligation to understand the New Testament completely yet only having understood the Old Testament. This brings to life for us the value and importance of having to reflect on our lives and see the hesed that God showers on the world.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Now that I know the proper way of spelling this good thing, I can use it properly. Many of the people that read this blog are good. Some of you think you're great. But I'm just thinking that I'm a sinner. No, I believe that I am a sinner. And so is everyone else, including children, sin as well. I've worked with children for a couple years, and I never get tired of it, i.e. mentally tired. Today I had my first day of YMCA camp, and it was quite the experience. At the end of my day, I'm physically tired, even as I sit here and write this blog. But it doesn't matter how tired one gets from camp.
What is more important is that we always do our best to make sure that the kids that we engage are having a good time. An obvious method for this is to keep them actively involved with the activities. Moreover, we're to be leaders of these kids. We need to be constant examples for these kids to follow because after all, for them it's "monkey see, monkey do." They will follow us around just for the sake of following you around or because they like what you are doing (and I've certainly experienced this).
The best part is that we can learn from them. Of course, we can learn what the latest gadget or video game is (if we ourselves are not in touch with that world) but also some reactions from the kids that could even teach us about ourselves. However, we need to remember something that is also of importance. We walk on everyday facing trials and temptations from one moment to the next. These give us doubts of who we are, where we come from, and what we believe. Our foundations may become shaky or just need some more support. Yet the greatest thing that children can teach us is their faith in things. Children have faith in things that they can't see, and they don't really question them. This should encourage us as adults to be strong in our faith even though our faith might be put to the test. Just as place our faith in the wind and we cannot see the wind, let us place our faith in He who gives us life.
Monday, January 5, 2009
For those of you who don't know, I plan on going into Youth Ministry. It's incorrect to assume that I'm going to be a Youth Pastor and even go into Seminary. Obviously I'll see what God has in store, but for now I really feel the desire to be a missionary. Yes, I did say that I'm going into Youth Ministry, but I want to be a missionary somewhere around the world. It may be across a geographical border in rural Africa, it may be to somewhere in New Zealand, or it may be in Toronto, right in the middle of the city centre. I am completely aware of the Urban mission (thanks to Foundations of Missions) but also the great influx of Christianity in Africa. But most of all, I feel that wherever I do that, I need to work with Youth. Many of you know that I've worked at camp for a few years. But in that setting, I get the idea that the only people that are able to be immersed within the Christian faith are the older teens. It seems that...if the younger campers are taught about the love of Christ, you might face certain troubles that are grounds for maybe harassment or something. The truth is, there is way too much toleration that I've seen in the church as a whole...
There's a radio commercial that I've heard in my hometown, consisting of a dialogue between one fellow that advocates pluralism and toleration and another guy that completely disagrees with mr. Tolerance. The tolerant man says something about the 10 commandments...apparently they're the Seven Suggestions...I mean, come on! The "Seven Suggestions" which are is a great example of what Christians are believing. Not necessarily in those exact terms, but because of pluralism and post-modernity and all that stuff, we're seeing a lot of things happening in the Christian faith that should not be happening. Part of the epidemic is a generation of 'Yes' people - those that don't know how to say no and stand up for what they believe. This allows for things to rise up that otherwise would not rise up.
The church is caught up with the economy (and people say there has been a separation of church and state), and so decisions are often made based upon the amount of monetary funds that are available. Furthermore, the church has been inflicted with another disease: being nice. It certainly ties in with the 'Yes' epidemic, and has led to the acceptance of several waves of doctrine and especially the dismissal of necessary theology. The epidemic of being nice is basically the lamb look-alike cloak for the tolerant wolf. A similar term is 'political correctness'. The ultimate goal is to do what you want, how you want, as long as you include God in it once in a while! There was an article that I read a while ago called "Nice is Not the Point" and it talks about how Jesus loved. He wasn't nice, not nice at all. We need to stop being nice. We need to dust off the books and start studying theology. I suppose this is an initial response to Dr. Haas' Reformation Theology class. But it's also something that I've been feeling for a while.
There's another thing I want to mention. Mind you, I have no background in economics whatsoever, and you should know that. I shared with someone a few weeks ago of something that I think is going to happen. I've often heard (and likely many others have heard) that North America is in the dumps spiritually, and it craves for something bigger than it could ever be. This is the base of revolution within the Church. Obviously it's not my own idea that there is going to be a revolution, and that it's going to happen with youth (maybe I'll be lucky enough to have my hand in it!). On the subject of the economy, there have been rumours of another Great Depression (I don't know how reputable the source of where I heard this is). But doesn't it just make sense that amidst an economic depression the revolution of the Church will occur? I don't know...it's just a thought. It could be significant, but the reaction of the person that I shared this with definitely was not an enthusiastic one (to my surprise, and she was Christian. I won't mention her, since I don't want to embarrass my mom.) I also want to note that I'm not trying to be especially intelligent or special for what I've said. If anything, I have tonnes to learn and I am excited for that. Anyway, those are my thoughts for the day. Have a blessed New Year! Remember the Epiphany of Christ!!!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I woke up to my dad telling off one of my little brothers having complained about their chores. I was so confused (as are all of us upon the opening of our eyes from a gorgeous sleep). After I got out of bed and headed upstairs, I found that dad was making one of Bill Fitz-Maurice's killer Omni 10.5 speakers. A lot of what dad tells me goes over my head, especially sound stuff which is ironic for being a guitarist that loves electronics and quality sounding 'sound makers'. Dad has been the sound tech for church, youth group, and some other things, and is always searching for a good sound. When he told me that he was going build some speakers, I was shocked. I didn't take my dad to be a builder, and to be honest, I thought the end product was going to be kind of shoddy. It turns out that I ridiculously underestimated what my dad could do. When my dad played through this new cab at church, not only was I blown away by the quality of build, but also the quality of sound. I have to say that that moment made me extremely proud of him.
Today I did relatively(!) a lot of cleaning up in the house because mom was gone and dad was working on one of his Omni 10.5's, and consequently the siblings needed some direction. After time, we ended up having supper. Randomly, Dad's cellphone rang while at the supper table. It was random because this was dad's service call cellphone from work, which implied that he had to do a service call on Christmas Eve. Immediately, and almost without thinking, I asked dad if I could tag along. As I mentioned before, I certainly learn through a hands-on perspective the best, and if I passed this opportunity up, I would again be short-sticked in the learning opportunity. So dad and I left for work.
Dad is a truck mechanic, which is not to be confused with a trucker. Dad fixes the trucks for the truckers to get back on the road and make the time slot. I found out today that he learned way more outside of his apprenticeship, which was years ago. Prior to that, I should note (although not to demean him) that he did not complete high school and receive his high school diploma. Dad sometimes comes off as not too bright. But on this night, I found out that he is an incredibly bright bulb. What seemed to be an easy problem to fix, Ron the Trucker's head light lamp needed replacement. However, the problem wasn't that the lamp needed replacement, it was the wiring from the dash inside the cab to the headlamp itself. The problem could not be found, and so dad contrived a solution. Instead of trying to re-wire the original wire, he jumped the signal from the left head lamp to the right head lamp. Some of you might not realize the importance of this. Even though this may seem like a simple solution, I stood alongside watching and realizing how smart my dad was. He knows how sound equipment works. He knows the ins and outs of a truck. Regular people have no clue as to how to fix a truck!
It's so sad that the elite of the social stratosphere are those with white collar jobs - the people that receive all that money for making their lips move and using their voice boxes. I can't stand it how often overlooked people such as truck mechanics are. My point of all this? My dad appears to be a regular joe. He's certainly not a rocket scientist. But his knowledge is incredibly important. He fixes the trucks that bring all types of gases and several other important commodities throughout North America. Without him, these trucks wouldn't get where they're supposed to get, and the recipient of these products is left without what they need in order for the economy to keep running. In essence, his knowledge literally keeps the economy moving. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating economics. I'm trying to say that his knowledge is incredibly important. I don't care what people say. These people just really don't know...their heads aren't screwed on right. They say that he's not important because he doesn't have a white collar job. But my dad is so important. In fact, my dad is a brilliant GENIUS and I love him for that. From now on I will never discredit any person that is a mechanic, an electrician, a plumber, a landscaper. My dad RULES.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
But why do people need to make up stories and lie about things that never happened? Do the find enjoyment in doing so? Do they even REALIZE the pain they cause or the implications that could follow? I don't think so. But you know what, I keep thinking that this is about me. I should stop thinking that...and start thinking about the accuser. I should think about others more than myself. I am reminded of the acronym/definition of JOY ("Jesus, Others, and Yourself"). It can be used for the application of the order one is supposed to love, but I will use it differently; instead of an order of loving, it will echo the sense of selflessness. Mother Theresa definitely had this right. I definitely have friends that not only understands what it means to think in this order, but they also apply it to their lives. These people are great examples. If I can strive and successfully achieve this order of thinking, then I know that this situation will certainly blow over. After all, I've only ever faced Divine providence. And thankfully I can always rely on God.