Saturday, December 15, 2007

Back By Popular Demand!

Well, the "Random Korean Facts" have been absent from the blog as of late but no more. Back by popular demand I give you, Random Korean Facts:

It's election time here. There are 12 candidates for mayor in the city of Daejeon. Now campaigning looks vastly different here. There are trucks with the picture of the candidate on the side of them that park at street corners and blast music while a dozen campaign workers (all dressed in the same outfit) dance a choreographed routine while singing the candidate's jingle. It's a truly amazing (and entirely humorous) event.

The city is digging up the road parallel to our dorm. There's some pretty heavy machinery involved in this process. They block off part of the road with a very small sign that says something in Korean but you are still allowed to walk through the gravel and danger. The other week, I came very close to a claw digging up concrete as I passed on my way. Can anyone say unsafe? In the same way, they were working on the power lines last week. But this time, nothing was blocked off. I walked by and something fell from the man working above me. Let's just say, I barely escaped the falling cable and all the workers acted like nothing happened....oh crazy Korea.

When a store has a grand opening here, there are dancers and live music accompanied with confetti and fireworks. It's a HUGE affair! (oh and the sign always says "Grand Open"...because English isn't always translated properly here). A Papa Johns just opened here...it was a big deal.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Monterey Jack Cheese

I didn't really have a great title for this entry. I'm tired and decided that the first words to enter my head would be the title. In true Wisconsin style, the name of my favorite cheese came to mind, reminding me how much I am craving a hunk of it at this very moment (despite the fact that it's 2am). Cheese knows no time barriers.

Even though I took the semester off from learning (I'm starting seminary courses in January), I've learned more about myself, faith and the Lord's will during the past few months than anticipated. Therefore, I still consider myself a student. But aren't we all still students anyway? My dad is going to give his oral defense for his doctorate this week (good luck, Dad!). He's going on 56 years old and is still a student. One of my students mentioned to me this week that he can't wait to get out of school so he could stop learning. "Oh boy" I told him, "you are going to be very disappointed with life then." We never stop. But I believe that can be an amazing encouragement to believers...especially if we are retaining what we learn instead of relearning the same lessons over and over. If you complete a unit in math, you move on. If you pass the class, you go onto the next. You gradually learn harder and more complex theories and equations. That's how the education system works. Does faith work like that? Once we learn something, can God throw something harder at us? Definitely. It's clear that the Lord teaches us through the Word, others believers, trials and more. If we can learn something about His character, plan or even about our relationship with Him (and retain it), He can throw much more our way. I'm grateful for the spiritual education available to those who ask for it (James 1:5). I hope that I'm a student for the rest of my life...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Climb Every Mountain

With the fall weather (and colors) in full swing, what a wonderful opportunity to take a hike. So, I did just that. My amazing dorm parents (the Springers) took me on a hike up one of the nearby mountains that over looks the city of Daejeon. Great exercise, wonderful views and just what I needed to beat the "city blues". Below are some views of the city from the mountain and a video (no sound included). The city lies in a valley so everything you see between the ranges is...buildings. I didn't really know just how big the city was (at least for a small town girl like myself) until I saw the panoramic view from the top. Please take note of the random Korean man doing exercises at the top of the mountain. I guess if you're going to work out, what better place to do it than a place with a view.

God really made a beautiful world and I'm so grateful that I'm getting the chance to see it!







video

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Chapters

So, I've finally been able to process the events of the last few months...graduation, best friends getting married, moving to Korea, starting a new "Chapter" of my life. If you know me, the best way I process is by either journaling or putting my thoughts to song. Therefore after a long creative dry spell, I've written my first song since coming to Korea. It pretty much sums up this transition...

Chapter four, another door
That I don't want to walk through
Chapter three, you've grown on me
And I don't want to lose you
Seasons change and so must I
But summer sure has flown on by

Shed my skin, yet again
A new endevour, another end
Leave love behind and face the dawn
I can't look back because I'm gone

I should be wise and realize
Time is not the enemy
Stripped of all I've ever known
Blaming time settles me
Seasons change and so must I
But I loathe the word good-bye

Shed my skin, yet again
A new endevour another end
Leave love behind and face the dawn
I can't look back because I'm gone

We can't pretend that things won't change
We're moving on, that comes with age
We could adapt and survive
But this is just a part of life

Shed my skin, yet again
An new endevour another end
Leave love behind and face the dawn
We will endure, though I'm gone

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Little Blessings in a Big World

I've been reminded lately of the dire importance of JOY. It is, after all, a fruit of the Spirit. Joy is not an emotion, it is a state of being. I am learning to find joy in even the littlest things here in Korea. Just thought I could share a few with you:

- the middle school girls in the praise team, singing/playing the Vanessa Carlton song "1,000 Miles" after practice
- seeing my high school praise team students lead worship entirely without the help of me or the other staff leader. they picked out the songs, made the power point, practiced and lead their fellow students in an amazing time of worship...it brought tears of joy to my eyes to see those so young leading so fervently.
- Paula, one of my students, remembering how much I love dark chocolate and bringing me a different variety of several times.
- my co-worker, fellow "newbie" and friend, Allison. she too just graduated from Christian college and we just seem to get each other, our hearts, our minds, thank the Lord for someone who "gets me".
- Sally and Virginia, two other female RAs. They too "get me" and because they have been here longer (both in Korea and on the earth), can impart so much wisdom on me and Allison. thank the Lord for females...
- the fact that Costco here sells a huge block of colby jack cheese
- the fact that Korean food isn't all that fried and is full of vegetables (and that even me, a very picky eater has yet to go hungry due to taste discrimination).
- High School Spiritual Emphasis Week...40 came to Christ and so many more learned new things about our Lord and Savior.

I've been able to see each and every day why I am here. I'm almost 3 months in and it's crazy that I'm still writing about this transition. BUT, it has been the biggest one of my life...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sweet Sweet Saturday

I have never felt so at home in Korea as I did today. It's Saturday and my day off. I woke up, had a meeting with one of the teachers to plan worship for High School Spiritual Emphasis Week next week and then spent the next hour on the roof of my building. There is no a cloud in the sky today. The sun is warm and the wind is gentle. I sat up there, overlooking the city, the mountains, the school...overlooking my new world. A huge gust of wind enveloped me as if Jesus was wrapping me in His loving arms. I felt Him say "this is where I want you".

God has taken me farther than I ever expected. He is allowing me to do what I LOVE. My job consists of loving kids, planning worship services and mission work...my job consists of my three greatest passions. Thank you, Jesus, for leading me here.

2 months in, I have an amazing community, friends who know me, students who amaze me and a God who is showing me each and every day why I am here....

thanks for the prayers! God is hearing them!





The view from the roof, where (when it's not raining) I get to spend my quiet time.




The Yellow Sea (across the sea is China) where I spent an amazing Chu-sok break with some pretty amazing friends.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Chu-sok it to me

This week, Korea is celebrating Chu-sok. It's pretty much their thanksgiving. While the actual day of Chu-sok was today, we have all week off of school. Therefore, I have a whole week off. One might say, what on earth will you do with yourself for an entire week? Well, so far, I've watched movies, sat in the park, had amazing conversations, participated in airsoft wars (yup, the dorm staff played capture the flag last night on campus with airsoft guns), played soccer under the lights and it's only Tuesday! Later this week, a group of 18 of us are going to a beach on the ocean for a few days. One big cabin, 18 friends, the sun and the sea...I'm loving Chu-sok.

Last night, Allison and I went onto Hanam University's campus (the school right next to ours) where they have a great pond surrounded by trees. You basically feel like you've left the city. We sat there for a bit when three westerners came up to us (two Canadian and one American). They just started talking, obviously excited to see other English speakers. Well, we soon found out that one of the girls is a teacher in a town about 3 hours away. She graduated from Northwestern College in MN (Christian college) and is starving for other Christians. We even have some mutual friends. Wow, it's such a small world. The other two didn't seem to know Christ or hold a religion. Allison and I left, praying for the two unsaved people and then for the lone Christian. We prayed that somehow, God would bring some other Christians into her life. It made Allison and I very thankful for the community we are in. We were also pretty thankful that we could strike up a conversation with strangers in a park...in ENGLISH!

Two months in and I'm seeing more and more the hand of God...Thanks for reading and for your prayers!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Driving Miss Dainsy

I can officially drive in Korea...God help us all. Today I took my driving test. I'm 23 years old and had to once again hit the books and study driver's ed. I had to take the written test just like the 16 year olds in the US. Only this time the traffic signs I had to i.d. were in Korean...a little tricky. But a trip to the police station, an eye test and the relinquishing of my Wisconsin driver's license later and I can legally drive in this crazy city. Let's just pray that I never have to. If you know me, you know why...

I started Korean language classes today to. It's a world away from my high school Spanish classes. I desire so desperately to speak this language and understand the strangers in these neighborhood shoppes...maybe one day soon.

I miss depth. I miss the times in Townhouse 600 when people would just pop their heads in to say hi and end up staying the entire evening. I miss trips to McConn and ordering my 12 oz., skim, decaf, sugar-free vanilla latte. I miss Thursday nights when Angela and Kristin would pick me up after rounds, we'd get Steak n' Shake cheese fries, sit in the Starbuck's parking lot and listen to the "Bubbly" song. I miss Bekah and Meg's music videos. I miss Hodson wiffleball. I miss Shatford and the fact that Katie lived there. I miss chapel, the religion department, drama classes, Baldwin (if only I had known how good that cafeteria food is compared to here), the student development office, my RA staff (from all 3 years), eating those terrible doughnettes with Jen in IBS and Bib. Foundations of worship with Lennox. In short...I miss the past 4 years. Five weeks into my "new life" in Korea, I'm feeling a deep sense of loss. I feel like I'm missing out on my friend's lives. It's almost as if they are still living and I'm at a stand still. I know that's so far from the truth but when you find yourself on the other side of the world, it's easier to believe the lies. I long for deep conversations. I long for someone to ask me what the Lord has been teaching me. I long to ask someone face to face what they are dealing with spiritually. Rome wasn't built in a day, right? Well neither was my community at IWU. May God continually remind me that just as that community took time to grow and develop, so will the the TCIS community. He's starting a great work here in my life. I wish I could tell you everything that I've learned so far! The Tower of Babel has strangely come up again and again here. Manna in the wilderness as well. God is at work...it's just taking longer than anticipated to find my way.

RANDOM KOREAN FACT:

You can't get your driver's license here until you're 20. Since the country is the size of Indiana but has roughly 50 million people, you just can't have all the 16 year olds in the country driving (especially on these crazy tiny streets). Therefore, you can't drive until you're 20.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Wheat bread, school dances, and volleyball

Recap of the week here at TCIS:

The tennis and volleyball seasons started. 3 games in one week and half my girls are on the teams. I feel like a proud mom who goes to the games, takes pictures, and cheers them on. While they haven't won yet, I'm SO PROUD!

There was a school dance last night and I had to float over and check on the dorm students there. While there, I danced with the RAs and teachers. It was then that I realized that I'm officially an adult, dancing with adults (not students) at a school dance. I am no longer a participant in school functions, I'm a chaperon. Even so, it was a blast!

I judged the dancing auditions for the fall musical, Godspell. It was the first time I've been on this side of the audition process. I could see the nerves and worried faces in the students on stage. I had to sit with the other directors and pick who I wanted to be in the dancing ensemble. Once again, realizing that I'm an adult. But, we narrowed it down and practices start next week. I'm so pumped to help choreograph this musical.

I walked into the corner bakery by my dorm earlier this week. I greeted the clerk working and she started talking to me in Korean. Seeing that I couldn't understand a word, she said one word..."wheat". Wheat! She had wheat bread! A huge smile came across my face. "Ne, Ne!" (yes, yes). She proceeded to slice a fresh loaf of wheat bread for me. How did she know? I can only assume that since wheat bread is next to unheard of here, she's had a lot of foreigners asking for it. She baked wheat bread just for the Americans in the neighborhood. God bless this baker who has given me the gift of wheat. (and it was good!)

I had lunch on Thursday with Amy. She made grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Let's just say it reminded me of home...

Now, I'm concluding my last few hours on duty this weekend. Last night, I baked brownies with the girls and watched a movie. Now, I'm sitting in the TV room with 5 of the students, watching Happy Feet. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.

Sorry for the surface level of this post. It's been a whirlwind week with more business then depth...

RANDOM KOREAN FACTS:

"Adjuma": it's the Korean word for middle aged (to retirement) working mother. We have an adjuma cleaning lady, adjumas working in the TCIS kitchen, adjumas everywhere. The Korean language has so many specific names for people. Middle aged working mother is no exception.

It's been in the news lately, but South and North Korea are still technically at war. There was never a peace treaty signed after the war so long ago. So, technically, North Korea could bomb us without any legal consequences. It doesn't seem to bother anyone here, though. Nobody is really scared of North Korea. If anything, South Korean wants to be reunited with their brother to the north and has wanted that all along.

You eat rice here with a spoon and other food with chopsticks. Sometimes, forks are provided (if you're lucky).

Comic books are HUGE here. Not the magazine-type ones we have in the states. They are in actual book form and are like novels (only told with pictures, speech balloons and boxes). There may not be a library in the neighborhood but there IS a comic book rental place.

The clothing stores here sell couples outfits. No joke. If you are married or dating someone, it's perfectly normal to dress in the same clothes. You can buy them in a set, one male and one female. Today I saw a couple wearing white shirts, jeans and pick neck ties. Perfectly normal...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I have no idea why I'm still awake. There's really no reason for it. It's 2 am Thursday here, 12pm Wednesday in Wisconsin (happy birthday, Mom!). It's my wonderful day off tomorrow so maybe I'm subconsciously giving myself permission to stay up super late and sleep in. However, knowing how my days turn out, I don't sleep in, I just jam pack them, morning to night with activities. It's part of diving into this new community, I suppose.

I'm doing a Beth Moore Bible study with some of the other girl RAs and dorm moms. We're only one week in, but God's slapping me around. One specific idea that's striking me over and over today, not just in the study but in life is how blessed I am to be here. God always accomplishes what He sets out to do...whether or not we cooperate. God was going to have an RA here in Korea, working with these kids, showing them Christ regardless if I went or not. God's will would've been accomplished even if I said "no". But how much greater are the blessings if we say "ok"! I could've stayed in the states, worked at a university or church. I could've stayed in Green Bay. I could've...missed out on a chance of a lifetime. God may call us to the unknown or familiar. He may call us close by or far away. It isn't a matter of who is lucky enough to stay close to home. While I miss home dearly, I'm all in here. I don't feel like I got the short end of the stick. I feel blessed that God provided me with the wisdom, council and peace to understand that He was calling me here for "such a time as this." I'm thankful for all you friends who are also where God has called you. Whether you're working in some random stores in Fort Wayne, moving to Chicago, still at IWU, living in Africa, going to seminary (in Mississippi or Colorado), moving to a small town called Booneville, working in Indy or living like crazy in Houston, I'm thankful that God has placed you there! Cherish that, walk in contentment and joy that you God was able to accomplish something through you because you said "yes."

RANDOM KOREAN FACTS:

While Valentine's Day is celebrated here with males giving females chocolate and flowers, a similar holiday "White Day" is celebrated for the reverse. On White Day, girls give boys chocolate and the like. However, on "Black Day" all the singles in the country go into mourning, drinking Coke (since it's black) and eating "jajamyun" (noodles and black bean sauce).

*Warning, generalization approaching*- Korean men dress phenomenal. Their attention to hair astounds me. Our dorm guys spend just as much time getting ready as some of our girls. Longer (almost a styled shag) is in style. Designer clothes (including skinny jeans for guys) are wore. The school has a good amount of Korean staff that work in the offices, including several Korean men in their 20s and 30s. These men wear the most stylish suit in Korea- a metallic gray pant/coat combination with a skinny black tie. Let's just say I get out dressed every day by the Korean men...

Age is one of the first things you discover about another person. Since it's such a hierarchal society, someone who is just a few months older than another demands respect. So much so that traditionally, when addressing someone older than you, you don't use their name. There are specific Korean titles for that person. One of the 9th grade guys in the dorm today, when addressing Jennifer (who is a junior) used a Korean word meaning "older girl" instead of here name. The same goes in a family. There are terms for "older brother", "older sister's husband", "older brother's friend" and so on. It gets pretty complicated.

Korean ages are calculated differently than those in the US. While you can say how old you are, it's more common to just say the year you were born. I hear "oh, you're 90" or "really, you're 89?" so much in the dorm. They are referring to the year of birth, date is insignificant when figuring out your numerical age (though significant when figuring out respect). Even if your b-day is in December, as soon as January 1st rolls around, you're a year older. Therefore, even if you're 17 in the US, you could be 18 in Korea. I find myself asking my students "What's your American age" a lot...a question I never thought I'd have to pose.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

South Korean Freedom

The Taliban has agreed to release the remaining 19 S. Korean hostages. However, Seoul had to promise to withdraw Korean military from Afghanistan and cease missionary efforts (or some degree of that). Even though I can't understand the newscasts here on my TV, the whole nation is celebrating. When the entire country is the size of Indiana, news like this is enormous. Praise the Lord for the release of these individuals! It's a happy day in South Korea...

I've had the blessing of conversing spiritual matters with several of the dorm students. There are so many here who are searching so hard for something that's right in front of them! I've talked to a student who just can't accept the concept of an all-powerful God. Tonight I talked to another student who believes that Jesus is the Son of God but hasn't been able to accept His saving grace yet...too many things in life have gone wrong for this student to reach out and trust. My heart cries for them. I find myself praying each day that my words would be seasoned with salt and will proclaim truth. I get to defend the Gospel every day here, something very different from the bubble of IWU but something so refreshing and energizing. I feel like I'm living a life of purpose.

On a lighter side, yesterday I ate a Korean dish called chicken mayo. I'm discovering that it's better 1. to not ask questions and 2. to just dive right in. So...I did. The dish consisted of rice, egg, chicken, soy sauce, seaweed and mayonnaise. It was surprisingly amazing.

RANDOM KOREAN FACTS:

Sandwiches are basically an American food. Apparently, Koreans think that most sandwiches have egg in them. I thought it was a one-time thing the other day. But, everywhere I've gone for a sandwich gives me one with egg. So, if you go to one of the sandwich shops or even to a nicer restaurant that happens to serve a few sandwiches, chances are you'll get an egg, cooked over-hard on your sandwich.

It's completely normal to walk down the street and come across someone peeing on a wall. It's not illegal to relieve oneself in public. While it's much more common to see children enjoying the liberty, once in a while you'll see an adult as well.

While Koreans enjoy spicy food to no end, they don't care for Mexican food. There is not a single Taco Bell in this entire city nor is there an other Mexican restaurant...it's going to be a rough 2 years.

Here's some irony...Korean baked sweets (especially cakes) look absolutely amazing. The corner bakery by my apartment has some of the prettiest cakes I've ever seen. But if you were to eat them, you'd be disappointed. Korean's don't like too much sugar in their baked desserts. Instead, cakes, cookies and muffins are bland and dry. However, if you go to buy a good cracker, maybe even a wheat cracker, it'll be sprinkled in sugar. The only crackers you can buy that aren't sweetened are saltines. Even the Korean version of Ritz crackers are sweet. Potato chips are also sweet. What we have here is a classic case of sugar displacement. Instead of putting it all in the wheat crackers, just put it in the cakes. C'mon, Korea, how hard can it be to change your taste buds??

Friday, August 24, 2007

Defending the Faith

There's a student in my dorm who is agnostic. This student has soring intellect and loves debating. This student is searching high and low for truth amidst the chaos of this world. The "convenience and hypocrisy of Christianity" (in the words of the student) just doesn't bode well. I've gotten chances to debate and express my beliefs several times with the student. I just pray that these conversations continue and one day, they will see the light.

Living here in the midst of non-Christians has re-ignited a deep passion for my Lord and Savior. Having to defend my faith each day, explaining why I believe in the risen Son has burst me out of the IWU bubble in a big way. I'm one month in and already I'm seeing the world in a very different way. One month in and my students are capturing my heart. One month in and I can't wait for more...

RANDOM KOREAN FACTS (well, stories actually):

The other day, me, Virginia and Allison got into a cab to come back to school after shopping. Virginia (who has been in Korea for 6 years and has a great handle on the language) was talking to the driver. He pulled out his cell phone, called his high school age son and handed the phone to her. He then told her (in Korean) to talk English with his son because he needed practice. We spent that cab ride listening to Virginia talk broken English to a boy we've never met. But hey, we got a discount in the cab ride!

Yesterday, Allison and I went to a local bakery and picked out 3 random baked goods (they are all set out on tables and you just go around and pick up the ones you want, place them on a plate and then buy them (the health codes are very lenient here compared to the U.S.). The ones we picked? A green tea bread filled with cream cheese, a cheese and onion-filled pastry and a peanut butter scone. I was a bit skeptical but man, they were amazing. Who would've thought green tea would be tasty in a pastry?

Today, I went to a sandwich shop for lunch and ordered a ham and cheese grilled sandwich. It came with ham, cheese, an egg patty with corn cooked in it and sweet dressing. It was one of the most random combinations but it was amazing! Korean food as a whole (though very spicy) is wonderful! Shabu shabu, bulgogi, yumyung...all good.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Glimpse of the Dong

"Dong" is the Korean word for neighborhood. Here in Daejeon, I live in O-Jung Dong. So, in order for you to better share in my South Korean experience, I've snapped a few pictures from the Dong...

My apartment's living room.


The city of Deajeon at night (taken from my dorm balcony)



More of the city from my dorm (yes, I get to see mountains when it's not too hazy)



Springer Dorm...where I live on the 5th and 6th floors (I live where the round windows are...pretty sweet, huh?)


The front entrance to the school


The street that runs along side of the school (it's a two-way, believe it or not)



The street right outside of the school. Shops, restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops and more are right at my fingertips.

The same street at night.


More city views

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pickle Pizza, Bare feet and Fan Death

God is so good. He amazes me everyday with His kindness and mercy. I'm realizing how amazing it must've been to be face to face friends with Jesus. His words overflowed with peace and encouragement. In John 15, Jesus is telling His disciples about His relationship with the Father, how to love one another and other things. But in the midst, he says, "I am telling you these things so you may be filled with joy." Joy! I think that joy is such an amazing characteristic. It's not an emotion, it's a mindset. We've been freed, we have everlasting life and we have the best teacher and example in the world...we have Jesus! Because I work with many students who don't know the Lord, I'm more conscious than ever of the joy I have. I may not be having the best day, but I need to strive, no matter what, to have the JOY OF CHRIST. If I don't, how will they be able to see the Lord in me?

On a lighter note...I'm still loving Korea and TCIS! Here's some more food for thought:

Random Korean Facts...

In many places, when you order pizza, they will give you pickles or relish to put on top. I don't know why, but Koreans love pickles on their pizza.

In Korea, you take your shoes off when you enter a house, no matter what. Even when I'm walking around the hall ways, I have to take my shoes off before I enter my girls' rooms. But walk around the hallway in bare feet?!? Never. You don't walk around with bare feet because of "all the germs and dirt that will get on them, then you'll track it inside when you take your shoes off." It makes sense, I'm just not used to putting my shoes on to walk a few doors down only to take them off again.

Many people in Korean believe in fan death. Yes, fan death. They believe that if you have a fan on in your room all night while you sleep and you don't have a window open, you'll die. The fan will suck all the air out of the room and you will suffocate. It's been reported on the news, it's in the obituaries, fan death is a serious killer here in Korea. Some of the TCIS dorms have alarms on the windows so they can't be opened in the middle of the night (kids like to sneak out). They were just installed this year. But what wasn't considered was fan death. Students are afraid to use their fans at night since they can't open the windows. Now, not everyone believes in fan death, it's most the older generation. But it still trickles down even to our high school students. Oh Korea...you gotta love it!

The Black Eyes Peas were in Seoul today...all the Korean news stations covered their press conference- top story. Just another hint of how much influence (whether good or bad) the states have around the world.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Oh Life

Today was the first day of school. My initial thoughts? I get paid to do this?!? In every other job I've had (except for those in college), I've had to "look busy". If I didn't have anything to do, I had to find something to do. What did I do today? Monday is the Springer's day to wake up the students, so I slept in until 10. At 11:30, the dorm team went out to an "American" Restaurant for lunch. It's amazing what they deem "American". Nevertheless, it was good food. We did some shopping for the dorm and came back in time for the students to come home from school. I then just had to keep tabs my girls. If they were going somewhere, they had to tell me or call me or text me. So, from 3 until 6, I played chess, chatted, watched Nanny 911 (one of the random American shows that is shown here) and just hung out. We went to dinner, and came back to watch some more American television. The show? So You Think You Can Dance...one of my favorite shows.
It doesn't matter that they show it one season behind and I already know who wins...it's still a great show. Now it's study hall. Therefore, the girls have to be doing homework or reading for 1.5 hours. At 9:30, we'll have snack followed by devos and eventually, lights out. That's my job. Now, granted, Tuesdays are filled up with chapel and Mondays are with staff meetings and chapel practice, but it's still not too shabby. Thursdays are my days off and I get to hang out with the other RAs. I feel definitely blessed to be in this ministry! These high schoolers are pretty amazing and I can't wait to get to know them even better.

Random Korean Facts:

You can go to the eye doctor and buy a pair of glasses for around 20-30 dollars...no insurance needed. Because of this, Koreans treat their glasses like shoes...they wear ones that match their outfits.

There is a juice here called Aloe juice. Yup, it's juice made from the plant. It's green and has chewy Aloe pieces in it. It's hard to explain, but it's actually kinda good.

As previously written in my blogs, American food products are crazy expensive here. But I didn't realize how much until I looked closer at the grocery store today. How much would you expect to pay for Hidden Valley salad dressing?? How about 9 bucks? What about Heinz Mustard? 4 Bucks? What about Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade?? 12 dollars. Looks like Sarah will be eating a lot of Korean food for the next few years.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dinner and a Movie

I feel as though my blogs as of late haven't been particularly deep in any way. But that's just where I am in life right now. I'm at the surface in a new part of my life, just biding my time until I can truly dive in deep. But for now, I'll just write about new and exciting things I discover here in Korea.

Last night, the dorm staff and our few new students (the returning students come today) went out to dinner and movie. We walked to a Japanese restaurant just down the street and I once again discovered the inexpensive cuisine offered here in Korea. For 6,000 Won (around 6 bucks) I got a huge portion of fish along with soup, cabbage, corn, rice, kimchi, and other veggies. Let's just say I couldn't quite conquer it. From there, we went to Say Department store. In Daejeon, we don't have malls, we have department stores. Inside, there are tons of restaurants and sub-stores so it looks just like a mall (but instead of taking up a lot of land, it has tons of floors). Well, we went to a movie in this department store (there's a theater in it too). What movie?? Transformers. It was shown in English with Korean subtitles. Seats at Korean movie theaters are assigned. You'd think that this means you wouldn't have to buy the tickets early. BUT, Koreans love their movies. You're best off buying online a few days in advance and then showing up to the theater 20 minutes early (at least on weekends). At the movie, the audience was mainly Korean except for a couple of our students and the 4 dorm staff members. As a result, there were times when we were laughing at jokes in the movie but the rest of the audience didn't understand them. So much of our humor doesn't translate or gets lost in the subtitles. Let's just say we got a lot of looks.

So, that was my first night out with the dorm. The rest of the students come today and school starts tomorrow. I'm excited to finally feel a sense of routine and discover what this whole RA thing is all about. Thanks for the replies and prayers. I miss you all!!

Random Korean Fact:

Even though several places and stores have English names, they are "Konglish" instead of straight up English. If I were to get into a taxi and say "HomePlus" (a Walmart-ish store), the driver wouldn't really understand me. However, if I said "hom-u plus-a", they would get it.

DVD Bangs are stores where you can rent a movie and then also a room to watch it in. There are different size rooms and different size TVs to watch the movies on, but you go with your friends, pick out a movie and then watch it right then and there.

There are parts of the city that look so advanced. The movie theater looks very futuristic as do some of the buildings and cars. But the streets are still narrow, there is garbage everywhere and some of the buildings look very old. It's almost like I'm living in two different time periods.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Breakaway...

We're in the middle of Breakaway weekend...new student orientation. Springer dorm (where I am an RA) has only 2 new dorm students here and a few OCK's (Out of Country Kids...their parents are either missionaries or just live in another country). We've had activities, games, skits, rule sessions, worship, hang out time and mini-messages from some of our dorm dads. Today we went up to Suwon to our sister school and hung out there. For one of the games, they (being two of the RAs) asked for a volunteer from each dorm staff. Well, I had to go. The game? I had to chug a blended mixture of bananas, grapefruit juice, canned beats and shrimp fries (a snack here in Korea). Let's just say after two big gulps, I was done for. On the way back from Suwon, we stopped for dinner at an amazing Thai place and then walked around. We happened to be right next to the U.S. Military base so there were tons of American soldiers around (as well as families). The people in the shops spoke English, there were tons of knock-off stores (one of the RAs bought the movie Hairspray on DVD...hmm, isn't that still in theaters in the states??) but along with the great shopping, there were plenty of sad sights. It made me ashamed to be an American when I heard of what goes on around the base. We had to warn our high school boys that if a woman tries to talk to them that they need to get away from her as fast as possible beause she's probably a prostitute. How sad that the perimeter of a U.S. Military base is filled with filthly bars, night clubs and pimp houses...while I appreciate all they do for our country, many still need Jesus.

I've always like being busy. In college I thrived on activities. That being the case, God sure knew what He was doing. I hang out with kids all day, making sure they get from place to place and on top of that, I'm the co-leader for the middle and high school praise teams. I've helped to lead worship already this weekend and tomorrow will be time #2. I'm hanging out with kids in a foreign country and leading worship for my job....wow, God knew what He was doing. While I'm just begining to realize what it means to live in a place where few speak my language and values are so different, I'm holding fast to my calling and looking foward to an amazing (yet challenging) year here in South Korea!

Random Korean Facts:

Hierarchy is so important here. If you're in line at the store, an older person can just come in front of you, cutting you off. This isn't rude or inconsiderate, it's just accepted in the Korean culture for elders to have the right of way.

Koreans LOVE golf. When driving on a Korean highway, if you look to the left or right, chances are you'll see a big green net and frame. There are driving ranges everywhere. From the roof of supermarkets to the top of parking garages. They are everywhere. Koreans love their golf.

If you want to keep the mosquitos away, you buy a Mogi machine (mogi is the Korean word for mosquito). You put mogi oil in it and plug it into the wall. It emits a kind of bug spray in the air to kill and detract the bugs. Everyone seems to have one....

The legal drinking age in Korean is pretty insignificant. Kids as young as 13 can go into stores and cages (the Korean word for convenience store) and buy alcohol. Because of the large alcohol consumption (and the view of women in Korean society) domestic violence is a HUGE problem.

This is less of a fact and more of a funny story. I was in the store the other day and the song "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne came on the speakers. I started singing along with the first chorus but once the verses started, the singer and language changed to Korean. I obiously couldn't sing along. But once the chorus came on again, there was Avril, singing in English. I wonder how that Korean girl got that gig...Avril's Korean voice double.

Last random Korean fact for today?? I really love this country!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Good Ole' City Life

Surprisingly, the biggest adjustment I've been dealing with the past few days is not the fact that I'm living in a country with an unknown language but the fact that I'm living in a huge city. Daejeon is a city of 1.5 million, the majority living in high rise apartments. As previously stated, the school's front gate is just off a very busy (and neon lighted) street. In fact, my apartment is in a building outside of campus so it lies directly on a busy street. Tonight, Allison and I (the other new RA) ventured down the main street outside of the school and discoverd that city life is so crazy! We caught a cab with Angela, my dorm's mom and took it to downtown Daejeon. Now, if you've ever seen Times Square in NYC, multiply that by about 5 and you'll get the feeling for downtown. The streets are closed to cars and neon lights are EVERYWHERE! We were there are 9Pm and I could've worn sunglasses! What's crazy is that just a few blocks away from downtown is Old Downtown where during the day you can buy fresh fish and other goods from huts in typical old-school Asian style. But once the sun goes down, the huts are closed and the lights are turned on.

With all that said, the city life is hitting me hard. I've never been a city girl but I'm sure I'll adapt. Oh, today we went to Costco and they have cheese!!! Yes, this Wisconsin girl can still get her cheese (but it costs 8,000 won, equal to about 8 American dollars). I'm finding many American goods are readily available but cost an arm and a leg as opposed to the Korean goods which are generally dirt cheap. Anyway, enough rambling, not much else happened today. All the other RAs and faculty will be here tomorrow for meetings and convocation. Students come on Thursday....God prepare me! Thanks for your prayers!!

Random Korean Facts:
Cab rides are amazingly cheap....4 bucks is expensive!

Koreans know how to do shopping. Their dollar store (or 1000 Won Store) has stuff you wouldn't believe! Seriously, the quality of goods made my mouth drop and my wallet empty. Stores like HomeEver (Korean version of a Target type store) are HUGE! They all seem to have large food courts inside, several floors, extensive goods and one even had a driving range on the roof. Shopping in Korea = an amazing experience.

There are two different number systems in the Korean language! One set is used for money and the other for items. But once you get more than 20 items, you switch to the money system. I was so excited because I learned 1-10 in the money system and then went to the store. When the clerk asked me (in Korean) how many bags I wanted (you have to pay for every plastic bag you get at the store so you're better off bringing your own), I said "ee" which means 2 but 2 in the money system. I was so excited that I new the right word only to find out later that I was wrong. I should've said "dual"...oh man...it's gonna be a tough language to learn!!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Yes... I Live in Korea

For 3 full days now, I've lived in the city of Daejeon, South Korea. The verdict? I LOVE it. The school that I'm working at is right in the middle of the city. Just a few yards from the gate and you're on a very busy street filled with random stores, coffee shops and various other restaurants. Let's just say it's a world away from Marion, IN. I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but I'm definately in Asia. The streets are about as wide as alleys, drivers are crazy, rice is sold in dog food bagsand some of the most peculiar things happen. That's why I'll be including "Random Korean Facts" in the blog (see below). My apartment is small but it's home. I live on the 5th and 6th floors of a dorm just off campus (stairs inside my apartment go to my bedroom), my sweet round windows overlook a busy city street and just a few blocks away is a university of around 20,000 students. The staff thus far is absolutely wonderful. The rest of the dorm staff arrives tomorrow and the students get here on Thursday. Now that I'm over jet lag and have my apartment unpacked I can't wait for the students to get here. 32 boys and girls (I'm directly over 16 girls)!!! Everday, I wake up- think "wow, I'm living in Asia, working at a Christian school in student development" and I marvel at how I got here. God is so good and so stinking wise. He knew exactly what I needed and what had to be taken away from me to step out into His plan. I'm living by myself in a foreign land completely out of my comfort zone and I LOVE it. Thank you God for knowing what we need eons before we know it ourselves.

Well, Gilmore Girls is playing on my TV and I have a few more pictures to hang up, so this is the end. Thanks for reading! And an-young-ka-seo (one of the forms of good-bye).

RANDOM KOREAN FACTS:
In HomePlus (basically a Korean Walmart Supercenter) every half and hour or so, the employees all stand at the end of their respective isles and sing along with a song played over the loud system. In fact, they have choreography that goes with it. Once the song is done, they bow and go back to work like nothing happened.

When you go to nicer restaurants, you take off your shoes and place them in cubbies by the entrance.

It's completely normal for members of the samesex to hold hands in public. It doesn't mean anything homosexual, it's just an acceptable way that good friends show their affection for each other, male or female.

Churches all have large, red neon crosses on the top of their buildings and since many are just one floor of very tall buildings, these crosses tower above the streets. When you're driving into Seoul or Daejeon, you can see tons of neon crosses lighting up the night sky. It's actually amaszing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Oh Life

This summer has been crazy. I got back from the Czech Republic, spent 3 weeks at home, went to two weddings then headed to Houghton NY for pre-field orientation. I spent 2 weeks in sessions about working in international schools, missions and other various preperatory topics. I met some of the people that will be at TCIS with me and many others who will be spread across the globe. It's feels so great knowing that others are in the same boat you are only their going to Africa or Europe. Missions is alive and well and there are plently of young people ready to fight the battle.

So, I got back from PFO and headed to another wedding in Indiana. Got back from that and headed to Pennsylvania to visit some old friends (from Continentals and SLAM). This week has been filled with really tough and confusing emotions. We traveled to a kids camp in D.C. that we ministered at last year and got to see many of the kids and counselors again. I got to see Paul from SLAM and had to then say goodbye to him. We saw a Continental Concert with plenty of old friends on board (Nathan, Jordan, others) but then had to say goodbye. I leave today and will have to say goodbye to the friends here. I don't know when the next time I'll be able to come out to PA again is. God seems to throw curve balls my way a lot.

I leave on Wednesday to go to Jen and Tom's wedding. So many friends will be there but along with it, so many goodbyes will be shared. I was fine with graduating from college because I knew without a doubt that I would see all these people during the summer. Now I'm really moving to South Korea and won't be able to see them for a year. It's finally setting in.

This blog hasn't been super profound or though-provoking. But it's where my heart is right now. I'm so full of emotion that I just needed to write it down. So, there you have it...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Life at Present...

Steal my heart and hold my tongue
I feel my time, my time has come
Let me in unlock the door
I've never felt this way before

The wheels just keep on turning
The drummer's began to drum
I don't know which way I'm going
I don't know which way I've come

Hold my head inside your hands
I need someone who understands
I need someone, someone who hears
For your I've waited all these years

For you I'd wait til kingdom come
Until my day, my day is done
And say you'll come and set me free
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me

In your tears and in your blood,
In your fire and in your flood,
I hear you laugh, I heard you sing,
"I wouldn't change a single thing."

The wheels just keep on turning,
The drummers begin to drum,
I don't know which way I'm going,
I don't know what I've become.

For you, I'd wait 'til kingdom come,
Until my days, my days are done.
Say you'll come and set me free,
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.

~"Til Kingdom Come"- Coldplay

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Lazy Summer Days

Now that I'm home, life has taken a drastic turn. I am no longer frantically finishing papers, putting together worship services, keeping up with which resident is doing what...life is different. Life is weird.

My typical post-graduation day (besides my 3-week missions trip to the Czech Republic, which was challenging yet amazing...ask me about it sometime, it's still too fresh to really process) looks a little like this:

11:00- roll out of bed
11:10- eat whatever granola bar happens to be in the cupboard
11:15- sit down with my TCIS stuff (the school in Korea), my loan stuff, my grad school stuff and any other "stuff" that seems to be in my life.
11:20- take a break from staring at all the forms, calls, emails and to-do lists that I have to tackle and see what's on TV
11:25- turn the TV off because there is NOTHING on and get back to the stuff.
1:00- lunch
1:30-6:00- organize or pack something else, do some errands, watch an episode of Christy (yes, now have the whole series on DVD), call friends, read, or just sit and stare at the ceiling, wondering how in the world I got here.
6:00- dinner
6:15 (Dainsbergs are fast eaters)-12:00- hang out with the fam.

Exciting life? I'm going with a "no". But my days are full of contemplation and preparation. I know that I've talked about Korea a lot in this blog but now that I'm less than two months away (and only 3 weeks from orientation), it's more real to me than ever.

I miss IWU. I don't miss the course load or the unending stress. I miss the spiritual community that was always pushing you to go deeper with the Lord. Since being home, my relationship with Papa hasn't been the greatest. Maybe it's my current state of anxiety. Maybe it's because I sit alone a lot of the day and can't muster up enough self-motivation. Maybe I'm just not trying. Whatever it is, it isn't right. So, something's gotta change. Somewhere in my daily schedule, God needs a big chunk of alone time with me...

So there you have it, my thoughts about summer thus far on this, the 7th day of June. Even though most of us who just graduated from college are going through a variety of emotions, please keep me in your prayers. I'm leaving everything in 54 days and moving to the other side of the world.

...but it's ok- God's there too!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Two Thoughts in One

It's a blessed day when we can sit back, throw up our hands and say "I don't know". What powerful three words! So often, I HAVE to have the answers. For those who know me, I will sometimes make up something just so I have an answer. Those who know me really well will immediately be able to tell that I'm lying and they'll call me out on it. The fact of the matter is, it's ok to not know.

In fact, too often deep knowledge can get in the way of the childlike faith we are called to. Now, I'm not saying to stop all the studying and exegeting. Rather, belly up to the possibility that we'll never know all the answers. I like that concept better anyway.

By acknowledging that we'll never know everything, I can be free to rest upon the one thing I know for certain...the undeniable Word of God. And that, my friends, is not a lie.

The other thought rolling around in this head of mine is just these two words: divine imagination. Wait. Think about it. Read it again: divine imagination.

Trying to wrap my brain around that idea has left me in a place of peace. Going along with the former thought, what happens when I don't know the answers? What happens when something doesn't seem to make sense or that something just won't work out. Well, that's when divine imagination can step in. How often do we draw a box around God? Who says we only have to color inside the lines? We serve an incredibly creative God!! He can take nothing and turn it into a great big something. What makes us think that he won't continue to do so?

Sometimes you just need to rest on divine imagination...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Suburbia

Today marked the conclusion of Missions week here at the WU. But before I go into detail about the chapel services, let me tell you about the week in general.

Monday night, the snow started. Now, I've seen my fare share of snow in my life but wow, this was a doozy. They canceled school (yes, college) on Tuesday AND Wednesday. There was basically a blizzard for 2 days. We got about 15 inches and students are still digging their cars out of about 3 feet of snow graciously piled up behind bumpers by the snow plows. While I welcome any chance to get out of class, the snow caused some issues for Missions week.

I was in charge of worship and since all the academic buildings were closed, I had to pull some strings (and walk 4 blocks in a blizzard since the county issued a Level 2 travel restriction-no cars on the road for 2 days...or else!) in order to practice with the band. Then, chapel on Wednesday was made voluntary (which was absolutely amazing, by the way). Why is it that when the mandate of chapel is taken away it gets so much better? Instead of having 3,000 in attendance, you have 100 people who truly want to be there to worship our Lord. Anyway, this was all after a rough Monday. I was feeling inadequate and unorganized. When it comes to worship leading, I HATE those emotions. After all, this is my major! I should be able to do this with ease, right?

Well, Friday's worship didn't go exactly as planned either. Technical difficulties triumphed over my spirit in BOTH services and I sat down, defeated. Then Steve Moore, our speaker for the week, shared from the Word. Acts 20:22-24 is an absolutely amazing passage that I never really noticed before.

"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

Wow. Paul considered his life completely nothing without bringing the gospel to the world. If only I could have such passion. I felt attacked all week...and I finally realized why. Why did the worship not go as planned? Why did I cry at every chapel? Why were my spirits down all week? Because, once again I was leaning on my strength. My life is worth nothing! My talents are worth nothing...unless I use them for my Lord. I was the weakest I had been all year and that's exactly where Papa wanted me. For in my weakness, He has more room to be glorified. When I'm as low as possible, He can get even higher. He was glorified more in my shortcomings and humble checks than any high tech-musically intricate super service I couldn't produced.

God's been calling me out all week. The theme for missions week was "abandon". How fitting. So what if things didn't go as planned. Abandon my expectations and my race for glory for the sake of the cross. Abandon my fears of moving to South Korea. Won't God be there too? Will He not go before me? It's so fitting that the week that required the most spiritually, physically and emotionally was about going to the ends of the earth. Thank you, Lord, for reaffirming my call into missions. It's a scary one, but I'm ready.

Steve said some pretty amazing things this week. Here are some that struck me the most:

"Live on purpose" (yeah, sounds cliche but think about it...)

"We need to abandon the thought life that says: if it's something I like, God will call me to it. If it's hard, God won't ask"

"Clarity about the task doesn't remove uncertainty about the results."

"Uncertainty breed passivity"

"The most important thing about you is what comes to your mind when you think about God"(that's good ole' A.W. Tozer)

...and...

"Suburbia is sucking the life out of us more than any third world country could."


...amen and amen.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Academia...or lack there of

I've tried to check out. I have done everything in my power to do homework for the sake of getting it done and give lackluster performances in my classes this semester. After all, I already have a job. I'm already accepted into seminary. I have 3 months of college left in my entire life. Why shouldn't I be lazy when it comes to academics?

Because that's not me, that's why. I am a perfectionist (both good and bad). I hate it that I can't leave a room knowing that something is grossly out of place. I don't like that I walk around my townhouse picking even little lint specks off of the floor. I can't turn in a paper late...ever. It's just not in my nature to slop words together on a page and turn it in. I can't use all my skips in a class just because I can. Being a perfectionist in the second semester of my senior year is...difficult.

But it's not just that I'm a perfectionist. I see school work as an act of worship. The Lord was gracious enough to allow me to come to IWU. He has miraculously provided the funds to study here under some of the greatest minds I have ever encountered. Slacking off, even in my last semester just doesn't seem like worship of our Lord.

I want to live every moment to its fullest. I want to soak up as much of my friends as possible. I want to take advantage of the spiritual atmosphere here. I want to be able to randomly go to Kokomo at midnight to satisfy Bekah's IHOP craving. But I also want to leaving knowing that I did my best and gave my all...freshman or senior.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Mountain

How many times do I have to climb up the mountain for a few distinct moments in the crisp air only to tumble down to the earth again?

We just concluded our Spiritual Emphasis Week here at the WU and after 6 Summit services in 3 days, the mountain top is on my mind. I can't say that I was spiritually challenged by the speakers in new and profound ways (though they were anointed men of God who certainly proclaimed the Word), rather it was through the worship that conviction came into play. I had the amazing blessing to help lead the worship time with 9 of the greatest musicians on campus. For one week, my nights were consumed with practices and fellowship with these friends. Then, when Monday rolled around, we stood in front of the IWU student body and led them in worship of our Almighty Lord. After I lead worship, I am emotionally, physically, and spiritually drained. You would think that after singing praises to the Lord that at least spiritually I would be energized. But leading worship is like taking all your energy and giving it to the people in the congregation, leaving you with none.

Let's just say that by the end of our Summit services, I was left feeling exhausted. After the last service all I wanted to do was process and contemplate what had taken place. But I couldn't, life had to go on. Homework and meetings were waiting and the week wasn't over.

So what does any of this have to do with the mountain top experience? Absolutely nothing. That's kinda the point. I don't think we place enough stock in the valleys or the simple plains that lie between the peaks. We look to weeks like this one for a spiritual pep rally but don't realize that the "game" never ends. I didn't get any spiritual high from this, my last Summit at IWU and I wouldn't have it any other way. Through this week, the Lord grabbed a hold of me, pointed out some very evident weaknesses in my life and has begun to shape me out of those. He has taught me what it means to be selfless and giving in a ministerial setting and helped me realize why exactly He has blessed me with these musical abilities (well, we're still feeling that one out a bit). He did all of this not through a great speaker calling out challenges or corporate times of raising hands and singing. He did it in practices. He did it in my 5 minutes of down time each day. He did it through the tears I shed, thinking that there was no way I'd get through the exhausting week in one piece. He did it in the valleys and plains. I've been more challenege in this Summit week than any other I've experience at school. God can reach us just as easy in the plains as the mountains. And when we let Him, even the plains seem like they are touching the sky.

"We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life- those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength." -Oswald Chambers