Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving worhsip at Chung Dong Methodist Church. The oldest Protestant church in Korea. I try and fit at least one worship service per month at this historic church into my schedule.

This is Dr. Fish. You soak your feet in a tub of warm water and tiny fish who EAT THE DEAD SKIN FROM YOUR FEET!

My kids are putting on little plays. It's a lot of fun to see who the natural leaders are in the group. Apparently, fishermen wear purple scarves.

So much fun.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Telling the story

I enjoy telling a good story. I always have. In Korea, meals are eaten in silence. It’s perhaps the most unnerving experience for this red-blooded American. I’m so accustomed to the American way of doing things. Growing up, meals were a primary story sharing time. Winter morning bowls were filled with oatmeal, the table filled with the sharing of the THE story – as my sister and I devoured our brown-sugared oatmeal, our mother taught us to devour God’s word. Lunch at school was always a chance for students to talk with other students. After being shushed all day, at lunch we were given the freedom to talk. Dinner with the family was the chance to talk about the day, to share fears and concerns, and to laugh together.

I think it’s important to share stories. And in Korea, at non-meal times, I’m never shy to tell a story. I blog stories from my life(perhaps less than I should) at , I read stories to my kindergarten kids every morning, I share stories of missteps and outright fails with my American friends one town over, I teach my older students Bible verses – sometimes acting them out to make sure that everyone gets the point – and try to work stories I learned around the kitchen table into my lessons, and I share the events of the day with my homestay-family in Korea and my parents at home in the states(via

So I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my story with you. When you read my stories – the adventures and mishaps of a young missionary spending his first full year overseas, the hopes and dreams of a future General Board of Global Ministries missionary, and the tales of a student just trying to make sense of his surroundings – please remember that YOU are part of my story. If you’re reading this, you have contributed to my life and my calling. You have shared your story with me, you have lived the resurrection before my eyes and helped teach me how to serve the savior.

Thank you for all of your support, your kind words and affirmation, and your daily prayers. Together we can all share the story we’re meant to tell.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Things I miss

The other day I bought a carton of milk. Usually I buy plastic bottles, but this week I bought a cardboard carton.

Now, Korean food utilizes A LOT of garlic. Well, I must have left my carton of milk open just a tiny little bit, because the milk absorbed the strong garlic smell that possesses our fridge.

I finished about half of the glass of garlic flavored milk before realizing what was wrong. It was definitely a GROSS experience.

I love being here - but, living overseas always provides experiences that make me miss the things of home.

So, with that backdrop; I introduce my list of things I miss.

Reeses Cups
Vanilla flavoring
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Friends who would die or kill for me (depending on the situation)[OK, I still have these friends - it's just that they're far away!]
Midnight Burger King runs
Mexican food
My family (This is a stream of consciousness list - I probably miss my family more than Mexican food ... but there's no order to this list)
My cat, Vassya
Goodwill & Salvation Army shopping
Stove-top stuffing
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
My house
The train tracks behind my house
Dinner parties
Dr. Smith and our weekly meeting
Church in English
Hymns in English
Large African-American women
Giving big hugs to good friends

I like this list. I've enjoyed taking this moment to think about the things of home. I've been in Korea for over 5 months, and there are things I will miss when I leave this place, too.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I'm taking more pictures to convince myself I don't need a new camera.

My older kids are TERRIFIED of cameras. This photo shows one of my older kids hiding under a desk. This is what you get when you hide from the camera.

This is one of my favorite kindergarten students. His last name (and, of course, his nick name) is Quwock. Just say it once, it's really a lot of fun to say.

Obama is watching you.

And, last but certainly not least, I finally convinced my wonderful homestay family to gather together for a picture. My little sister, Moon Sing Oo, is NOT happy about getting her picture taken. Don't they just look wonderful?

Monday, November 2, 2009

More Pictures

So, part of my job is that I occasionally get to give an English name to a new Kindergarten student. These are the three students I've named so far. On the left (the girl with the face you can't see) is Becky, named after my dearly loved sister, Rebecca, of course. To her right is Graham, named after Jonathan Graham Pound (there are WAY too many Koreans named John - and I only got to name one boy this class). And the boy on the right is Ricky, named after Ricky Zambrowicz.

So, little Ricky is my buddy. Everything he does is super cute. The book we are reading has the phrase "I am angry" at which point all the kids put up little devil horns ... these are Ricky's devil horns. I really think that this kid is going to change the world some day.

"Swine Flu: The Musical"

This is the bus that picks me up every day for Kindergarten, and in the background is Onyang Oncheon Methodist Church. The church has just unveiled the blue prints for its new multi-million dollar building program. The new church, high on a mountain, will be a little bigger than a regulation sized soccer field. "Mission Central" will also include the international school, home for the elderly, sports complex, kindergarten, soccer field, and amphitheatre. I will come back and visit in 10 years just to see everything completed.

This is actually a picture of a picture. The kindergarten teacher gave me the print, but I didn't have any other way of uploading it - but it might just be the cutest picture ever ... so I'm putting it up like this. These are 4 of my guys - dressed in their traditional Korean garb. This is why I'm here.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

They made crowns out of leaves

My Mission Tree

I can't help but view missionary service as a tree. It's a living, breathing, growing thing - I wanted to outline a few verses that shape my understanding of missions.

The Roots:

I love reading the Old Testament through the eyes of a 21st century missionary.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Isaiah 58: 6-8

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Micah 6:8

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

I can't see myself in any ministry that doesn't involve the proclamation of the word of God through humble service, social justice, and "coffee conversation." I love the roots, the spindly things of scripture that point to the coming mission and redemption of the world.

The Trunk:

The trunk of my mission tree is the beatitudes (Matthew 5), the rest of the sermon on the mount(Matthew 5-7), and the 5 times the Great Commission is recorded(Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:46-48, John 20:21-23, Acts 1:8).

Jesus turns the world on its head with his teaching of the Upsidedown Kingdom. And, in all the splendor of his resurrection he gives his disciples the communal call to "go and tell the others." To move beyond the four walls of their hiding place. 10 of the 12 disciples were murdered for proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom where the slave is a brother and a king.

The Branches and Leaves:

These are verses that help "flesh out" the great commission. They help give me a concrete understanding of daily life as a missionary.

Acts 8:26-40
In this passage Phillip shares the faith with a Eunuch, a person that the Old Testament VERY CLEARLY speaks out against. Phillip tears down any remaining wall with signs that read "No __________ allowed." All bets are off - ALL may enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

1 Corinthians 3:5-9
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

This verse helps me to understand that we all play an important role. Even if we never get the chance to "convert heathen" every moment of every day counts for something.

I hope this gives you a better view of my thoughts on missions.