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.


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...


"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."


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.