Beautiful days

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Is it possible to write a blog post in 10 minutes? We shall see.

I’m sitting here on my bed inbetween church services (again, I couldn’t have planned a better house for myself! More, and more, I think this 4th-floor apartment is becoming my dream home). So much is happening, but you’d never know about it, because I hardly ever blog (sorry).

Last week, we enjoyed a 4-day weekend (Buddah’s birthday), and Suna and Sungjin invited me to come with them to Kumil Island, to stay with their family. Highlights of the trip: blowing bubbles on the beach with Sungjin’s little niece and nephew, and finding a seastar; taking a moterboat to see the shellfish farm on the sea; eating shellfish (called Chunbok) to my hearts content; getting a tan; getting to know Sungjin’s family. It’s like I woke up one day, and suddenly the language barrier is shrinking around me. I found myself able to communicate (albiet roughly) with Omoni (Sungjin’s mother). From the first moment that our eyes met, I felt a connection with her. Something about the way her eyes sparkle. I watched her preparing fish for sushi, sharpening a wooden-handeled knife on a piece of stone, driving a motorboat, and leaping from ship to shore like a 30-year old woman. This lady is honorable. I hope we can meet again, and my prayer is that she finds the giver of life, joy, and hope – Jesus Christ.

I’ve got 2 more minutes to write…let me tell you about an interesting cultural more.
Several times, I’ve wanted to help old ladies that I’ve passed on the road (one was lugging a pot of dirt, another a cart of cardboard for recycling, another hacking at dry ground it her pepper rows). Each time, the ladies practically slapped me away and said, “No, no!” I felt helpless, smiled, and walked away. I figured it was “Ajuma” culture – stubborn, independent.

However, I was talking with Huiyoung about this, and she told me another cause. In Korea, people must refuse an offer 3 times to be polite! For example, if your host offers you another helping of dinner, you should refuse first. He will offer again…”No thank you.” Finally, on the third time, you may accept (if you really want it). Huiyoung taught me Korean for, “May I help you?” (first attempt); “I will help you.” (second attempt- notice it’s more forceful); and, finally, “It’s fine, I really want to help you!” (third attempt, before taking the move). I’m a little nervous about trying it out…it’s not my style to be so persistent when someone says, “no.” Watch out when I come back to the States!

Well, my time is up. Happy Mother’s day to all you lovely mothers who may be reading my post. Bask in His love this spring ~

Abby

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The Korean Ferry Tragedy

It’s been 6 days since the Sewol Ferry disaster. Korea is in a state of distress. It’s easy to forget that Korea is only the size of Pennsylvania. Such a disaster feels like a direct hit to the entire country. Dramas have stopped airing, and news stations and newspapers report only about the incident. All public schools are ordered by the government to cancel their field trips for the semester. My school has decided to follow suit, and we will not be traveling on our Vision trip to America in June (hopefully we can come in October).

In the face of such tragedy – nearly 300 people, mostly highschool students, drowned – what can we do? How can we respond? Sometimes there are no words to say.

I was praying, and God reminded me of Mary Magdalene. I think many people feel like her now, as she lingered outside Jesus’ tomb. In the dark gray before dawn, her world seemed drained of hope. Her teacher and friend, the Son of God who had worked so many miracles, and shown such compassion to even her (freeing her from 7 demons), had not saved His own life. Though innocent, He had been brutally murdered, and now she couldn’t even find His body. There was no way to reconcile His death. The future looked bleak and meaningless now that He was gone. She could only cry.

But then she heard a voice: “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

Her heart rang like the strings of an organ struck in a heavenly chord. A sudden gust of hope pulsed into her weary heart. He’s alive!

The families of these highschool students see no hope. There is no way to reconcile the deaths of their innocent children. Now, they can’t even find their bodies. The future looks bleak and meaningless now that their own children are gone. They blame themselves, and some are contemplating suicide.

Come, Lord Jesus, speak their names. On Easter day, 2000 years ago, you conquered the power of the grave. You descended into the darkest pit of hell and rose again so that all people, no matter how despairing their situation, might arise up out of their pit and be seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

I’m convinced that in such dark distress, Jesus is the only hope. But, oh, such a great hope He is! What the enemy meant for evil, He will use for good, to save many lives, and many souls. Please pray for Korea at this time, that Jesus would come meet this nation and the individuals at their places of mourning. He must come through His church, through those who know Him. Pray that the people who know their God will rise up and minister the pure Gospel of Jesus – the only message that brings life to dead hearts, hope to despair, and healing to our deepest wounds. Pray that all chains and manmade regulations and religion that are now restricting the church be broken. May we arise in unity and in love to heal the wounds of this country in Jesus’ Name.

I truly believe that Jesus can use this tragedy to awaken Korea, to bring us, as a nation, back to life.

Come, Lord Jesus – Victor over all powers of death.
Come in our hearts.
Come in Your saving power.
Come in Your living hope.

Our God is mighty to save.

Please remember this nation and pray in faith.

Abby

The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10

Scripture from John 20

Watch this


Hello, I just wanted to post the link to this movie. It’s not the Noah movie in theaters now (actually, that one was in Korea before America, ha! But, I didn’t watch it.) This is a documovie that talks about the end of the world. If you are curious about end time events in any way, you should watch it. I haven’t seen anything that addresses end time events so clearly. And if you’re not at all concerned about the end of the world, then you should definitely watch it! It’s 30 minutes, and I was captivated from beginning to end.

Let me know your thoughts after you see it! I have quite a few myself.

Blessings ~
Abby

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes I am coming soon.”
Amen, Come, Lord Jesus.
Revelation 22:20

Story Time!

My Korean teacher suggested that I read Korean children’s books to improve my language skills. I went into the preschool room after church today and borrowed some promising board books.

Having a Sunday evening free (ah, a luxury sweeter than chocolate), I decided to delve in to the sure-to-be inspiring world of Korean children’s literature. I loved the unit in College where I studied childrens’ books from other cultures. Apparently, the college textbook excluded certain books from its recommended book list. “Kobulang Halmoni” (Crooked Grandmother) is one of them.

The book starts with a bent-over Korean grandmother leaving her crooked house to walk down a crooked path with her crooked staff.
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How sweet and reminiscent of America’s crooked little man in a crooked little house! I’m sure this crooked Korean grandmother will meet some sweet crooked animals on her path.
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Next page, the Grandmother has leaped up into a crooked tree. Strange, but it could be because of the crooked dog that’s coming. How cute!
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Next page, something is not right! There’s a crooked pile of something on the ground, and I’m sure it’s what I think it is! The dog is licking it — Reads the Korean words — correction, the dog is eating it!
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The Grandmother hits the dog with her crooked stick, and the dog runs away, leaving behind a chuckling crooked grandmother and a slightly shocked American reader. I get my Korean-dictionary out so that I can fully understand this story. There must be a logical explanation. And why in the world did that grandmother leap into the tree?

Folks, I’m embarassed to say, but, upon looking up certain vocabulary, I’m fairly certain that the grandmother climbed the tree because she needed to poop. And she pooped from the tree. And the rest is history.

I’m not quite sure what to think, but if I was a kid again, I’m sure this would have been a favorite.

In other news, classes are going well. I’m teaching the kids using easy versions of classic stories. My class of 9 boys and 1 girl is loving the adventures of Tom Sawyer, the younger kids just finished Thumbelina, and the older classes are studying Robin Hood. My favorite time of the week is our English worship and Knitting club. The kids learn a new song each week, and then knit while listening to a great playlist (blasts from my past!). Last week, we walked a mile or so to the yarn store and chose yarn for scarves. Unfortunately it started to rain, and we had no umbrellas. Unlike American rain (mom always says, “You’re not going to melt!”), this rain is supposedly harmful. They say it contains pollution that will cause your hair to fall out. Not sure how true it is, but none of us want to take the chance. So, I bought one umbrella, and between that and the kid’s hoods, we managed to make it back to school without any lost hair.

I can’t believe it’s the end of March already! Spring is already here, the flowers are blooming, and the weather is nice more often than not. Also, I feel like I’ve turned a page in my classes. Rather than being stressed and feeling overworked, I’ve been enjoying my classes and the children. Because of a good syllabus and the chapter books, lesson planning is at a minimum, and I feel the happiest I’ve been since I came last year. God is so good! When I look at the way He’s directed my life, helped me learn to teach, and given me such great friendships, I just want to dance.

Enjoy this season of fresh beginnings and new life! Take a moment to bask in the love that God is always pouring out on you, warm as sunlight.

I’m hoping to come for a visit this summer with some kids…I’m taking orders for Crooked Grandma if anyone is interested.

😉

Lunar New Year

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What do hoop skirts, kites, sweet rice juice, and bowing all have in common? You can find them all during the Lunar New Year celebrations in Korea! While Americans were prepping for the Superbowl (which I was oblivious to until Rachel, my friend back home, notified me), over here in Korea, we were celebrating the biggest holiday of the year. I was spoiled to be able to spend it with my friend, Huiyoung, and her family.

In a way, the festivities reminded me of Thanksgiving. Extended family members congregate at the home of the grandparents or eldest brother, eat, talk, and watch TV. Women folk cook, clean, cook. I’ve heard many stories about how married women despise this holiday because they are subjected to, as they see it, slave labor at their mother-in-law’s house. In-laws are notoriously bossy over here, due to the deeply rooted system of respect set by Confucius. Many women would prefer to skip the holiday and continue their daily job…at least there is pay. Huiyoung’s family seemed to be peaceful and happy, though. No one told them I was coming, so I hope I didn’t frighten anyone when I stepped through the apartment door wearing a bright coral and green Korean dress (with a queen-sized hoop skirt) and bearing a 10-pound pumpkin pie.

Huiyoung had the marvelous idea of dressing up for the holiday. Hanbok (literally, Korean – “han” – clothing) is a traditional style of clothing, unique to Korea. Over 300 years before Christ was wrapped in swaddling clothes, Korean women were wrapping themselves in these bright outfits consisting of a short blouse and a billowy skirt that floats just above the ground. Hanbok has been replaced by Western-style clothing for everyday life, but you can still see these flower-like costumes on display at weddings and during the holidays. Huiyoung and I decided to rent, rather than buy, Hanbok, since buying would cost upwards of $300 (I do want to buy one before I return to America, though!). I felt like a princess! Especially as Huiyoung and I were running around the park, flying kites in the beautiful, spring-like weather. I’ll get to that in a second…

New Years Day begins with bowing. Children bow to their parents, wishing them a happy New Year, and confirming their respect. In return, the parents give them money. I joined in the bowing, and was surprised when Huiyoung’s parents gave me money as well. (At the uncle’s home, we also bowed, and three different uncles gave me money…it was too much, I couldn’t keep it, lest I be remembered as that mooching foreigner!).

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After bowing, we eat a large breakfast of deok (chewy rice cake) soup, fried fish, and various plants prepared deliciously. Huiyoung’s mother gathered some of the plants herself at a nearby mountain!
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Lunch was nearly the same menu, except this food had been served to the ancestors. Non-Christian families prepare a large table of food and offer it to their deceased ancestors to show their continued respect (Confucius again). After offering it to the ancestors, the family then eats it. Huiyoung said that sometimes the food tastes strange after being offered to the ancestors. However, we ate with prayer, and I thought the food tasted delicious. One of my favorites is the rice drink, called “shikkae.” It’s a sweet drink, almost milky in consistency, with soft pieces of rice in it. The flavor reminded me of cinnamon or ginger.

After eating, some families suffer from boredom (many teenagers were lamenting the fact on facebook). However, we played a fun Korean card game and then visited the Gwangju Folk Museum where several traditional Korean outdoor games were open to the public. Korean varients of Hacky sack, barrel-hoop, and horseshoes were there, but my favorite was the kite! Words can’t describe the sensation one feels when running across a lawn in flowing Hanbok, sailing a kite through a blue sky. The best words I can use are, “Jack! I’m flying!”

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To finish the day, we visited the childhood home of Huiyoung’s mother, set on the side of a hill on the outskirts of Gwangju. The effect of the setting sun on the old homes was quite romantic.

New Years marks the completion of my first year in Korea, and the start of my second! I’m looking forward to going into this year with more of an understanding of the Korean culture and language, much more teaching experience, and a greater love for my faithful Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Blessings to you all! May you seize every day and, if possible, wear Hanbok!

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Abby

His compassions never fail, they are new every morning!
Great is your faithfulness, Lord!

Lamentations 3:22-23