Last Days in Korea

Jeonju

Nearly 2 years ago, I was packing my suitcases and preparing to come to Korea.  Today, less than 2 months remain for my stay in Korea.  I’ve had lots of emotions.  Over the holidays, I was an emotional, teary-eyed, homesick mess.  I just wanted to hop on a plane and fly home.  I’d lost motivation…and you know how hard it is to remain in a place you don’t want to be. (This whole experience has given me a whole new understanding of immigrants living in America, especially those who want to but aren’t able to visit their families.)

Isn’t is remarkable how fast our emotions can change? Two weeks ago, they were somewhere deep and dark in the hull of a ship that seemed to be sinking (I’m not over-emotional…don’t tell me that you haven’t felt the same way).  Now, they’re top mast, facing the sun, catching a cool breeze, and headed toward a happy harbor.

Someone has been praying for me. If it’s you, thank you, because my attitude has had a great turnaround.

So, I’d just like to take a few minutes to update you on my life, and give God thanks for some of the beautiful little gifts with which He’s filled this season of my life.

Precious little gift 1: My puppy

I’ve tried really hard not to fill Facebook with pictures of my little Munk, but it’s hard (and now I can’t roll my eyes at those of you who do post endless pictures of Fido and Kitty…I know your love).  This little guy makes me so happy!

photo 2

When I came back to Korea from this year’s America Vision Trip, a fluffy white bichon was tied to the principal’s desk at school.  My heart did a somersault, and I began to repeat the 10th commandment (Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, or ox, or unbearably cute bichon).  And not only was he cute, but this furball had an immediate attraction to me (I think he could feel the American-style doggy love in my heart…not that Koreans don’t love their animals, but I’ve seen a few people glare at him like, “what is that bowl of stew doing alive?”).  I prayed that, if it was possible, I’d be able to keep him.  I made sure to show the principal how much I loved him, and that I knew all about caring for bichons (my family had Reggie for the first 19 years of my life).  And, as it turned out, the puppy (Munk), had been passed around between a few owners since his master had moved to a pet-free apartment.  My principal wasn’t eager to keep him, seeing as is wife had a baby on the way, and he asked if I’d take him.

WHA–  YES???!!

For the past three months, my house has been considerably messier, my bed warmer, I have a thrilled love-you-forever reason to go on 2…or 3…walks each day, and my free time no longer revolves solely around me.  The first few weeks were a little rough (messes on the bed, scratched doors, chewed up pens, potatoes  strewn around the room, you know the deal), and then there was that devastating moment when I walked into the hairdressers and found she’d cut off all of his soft, glorious fur, but we’ve reached a happy place now.

photo Huiyoung and Munk – post hair-cut

He’s lying on my pillow, cuddled up in a sweater fashioned out of one of my old wool vests.  And I’m here in my room on a sunday night not alone.  Thank you, Lord, for giving me something that only You knew how much I’d enjoy and love.

2) The Gym

I’ll make this one short since the last one turned out so long.  I’ve always hated the gym.  After going twice on a family pass – feeling humiliated because of my white legs and developing an immediate disgust for those sweaty machines that cause PAIN – wild horses couldn’t drag me into another gym.  I have no idea why the thought popped into my mind that I should buy a gym membership for over winter break.  I would have convinced myself out of the idea had I not promised Huiyoung that I’d get her a membership too for a Christmas gift.  Shoot.

When I’d finally resigned to the idea of sweat and muscle aches, I remembered something.  The Jjimjilbang (heavenly retreat filled with saunas and hot tubs) has a fitness center.  We signed up, and have been going strong for 2 weeks (workout for 40 minutes, hot tub for 30 minutes)! Contrary to my expectations, it’s actually quite fun,  gives me a reason to get up early, and is a wonderful excuse to spend time with my dear friend.  Oh, and the trainers are quite handsome.  They’re the first ripped guys I’ve seen in Korea.  Just saying.

Lord, thanks for directing my thoughts in a way that I never would have planned on my own, so that I could have a healthy, energetic winter break, and be able to spend more time with my friend.

3) The Weather

You know that lightheaded, bubbly, warm feeling you get when spring starts to rise out of the bleak winter? I’m feeling that now.  Lately, the days have been unseasonably warm (45 degrees), sunny, and blue-skied.  I’ve even heard some birdsong.  And, folks, this is January, for goodness sake! This can only be attributed to a Loving Father who just happens to be in charge of the weather 😉

4) My teammates

My final project as a teacher will be directing an English musical: Esther.  The students have been learning their parts well, and God gave me lots of inspiration to write the musical, but even so, the prospect can be overwhelming at times.  I usually don’t go to teacher meetings due to the language barrier, but God prompted me to go to the last one.  I shared about Esther, and how I needed help with props, costumes, and music.  The teachers rushed to my aid! And my wonderful friend, Suna (a music teacher) has some free time to help me with the songs.  (Can you feel that burden lifting?)

But then, there was the issue of choreography.  If you’ve ever seen me dance, you’ll be cringing now at the thought of me choreographing a musical.  I prayed and asked God to provide some people who could help me come up with dances.  For the past two weeks, Sofia has been helping me, and we’ve planned most of the dances.  She possesses some inner dance rhythm that I seem to lack.  I’m so grateful for her.  But, my next task is teaching it to the kids.

Imagine, for a moment, a Korean lady teaching you a complicated dance…speaking Korean.  Yeah, the kids feel the same way when I’m blabbering and stomping around up there.  Lord, how in the world am I going to teach them these dances? Send me a helper!

Is anything too difficult for God? I just learned this week that the school is hiring a young woman from church to take my position.  She just happens to be, not only skilled in English, but also choreography (she’s planned and directed countless musicals at church).  She’s starting work before I leave Korea, and readily agreed to help me! And…get this…her e-mail address is danceforgod@—-.com

Really? “DanceforGod”? Lord, you’ve outdone yourself, yet again.

5) Good teaching

Finally, let me say that I’m so thankful for the accessibility of great Christian teaching.  Without the internet and my kindle, it would be difficult for me to face struggles in a foreign country.  But, when I see myself getting (for example) overly emotional, I can easily download Joyce Meyers book, “Living Beyond Your Feelings,” and take a spiritual college course! I’m also indebted to Pastors Doug and Fiona Pyszka for making their sermons available on the internet (http://www.vcfpa.org/audio-downloads/).  I can continue to grow with believers in America while I’m across the ocean over here. If you’re having any sort of struggle right now, I encourage you to find some good teaching, take it to heart, and see the wonders that God’s truth can work in your life!

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free! John 8:32

I could continue this list, but I think I’ll save that for when we talk in person ~ I can’t wait to see you all, but I’m going to finish this race well!

If you think of me, please pray for the Korean church and Daniel Wisdom School, that I could finish my work here and leave them with more joy and freedom in Christ.

Until we meet again!

Abby

Every good and perfect is from above,

coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights

who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

p.s. The photo is of me and my friend Jihye during our trip to Jeonju~

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