Tuesday, September 10, 2013


This is the view from the left side of my bedroom window.

This is the view from the left side. The comparison between the two is really fitting. Every time you turn a corner in Seoul you go from extremely urban to extremely natural.

My building, St. Michael's Hall, from the outside.

The street that the University is on.

My metro stop.

One of the various adorable animals that adorn the benches at City Hall Station. It's kind of great when grumpy people are sitting next to them.

The Anglican National Cathedral. This is where I will be working. Sorry the picture is crummy. It's in a valley surrounded on all sides by other buildings so it's really hard to get a good picture. I'll give it another try though.

The TOPIK office, more specifically, my desk!
Did I mention that I work directly next door to a palace? Cause I do.
And Seoul City Hall is right across the street and the modern art museum is another block down. This day they were having a framers market and out door concert so I stocked up on produce.

My favorite place is Seoul. This is the Pureun Arboretum. It's about a ten minute walk from the University when you cut through the woods. It's just a massive expanse of beautiful gardens. Alot like Seoul, there doesn't seem to be much of a design plan. It just kind of rambles about. Very peaceful. I've been almost everyday for a walk.

They even have a labyrinth.

The Arboretum is build along the tracks of an old railroad line through town. Apparently you can hike the whole thing. Looking forward to the next nice Saturday.

View of Seoul from a lookout point in the woods. I thought I was in the middle of the woods until I turned the corner.

Bishop Mike Marshall. A visiting Bishop from England who came to visit Seoul. He preached at the English service this Sunday and gave a lecture that was translated into Korean afterwards. Poor quality due to the fact that this is a sneaky back row picture.

My Place.

My fabulous floor to ceiling windows.

The all consuming force of my current existence.

And finally, my little desk shrine to the Virgin Mary.

Hit by Humility (Train-man Saves the Day)

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

This is the scripture that has been running though my head almost non-stop since arriving in South Korea. Mostly, because I discovered recently that I have never been meek before. There is no circumstance where I have not been capable, with some level of confidence, to address what needed to be addressed. In fact, more than once during middle and high school I got into more trouble by virtue of the fact that I was able to willingly and confidently accept punishment for my actions. I knew that I would be punished, admitted my sins and saw no reason whatsoever to give anyone the pleasure of breaking my spirit or confidence.

But, this is not something that had occurred to me before last week. But during my Korean class, when called upon to speak, I choked up…my body temperature spiked up…I sweated…and I stammered. After more or less butchering the beauty of the Korean language, I was hit by an 18 wheeler of a realization. I’ve never been self conscious before. Not really, not like I am here. And this new, feeling isn’t quite the right word, state of consciousness might be better, whatever you call it, it’s affecting almost every action I take.

For instance, the other day I walked through a market. I saw many tasty looking things that I wanted to buy. But, it took me about 30 minutes of walking and a return trip to get up the nerves. Meeting people has never been difficult for me. I would even say I derive great pleasure from doing so. Here, anytime I am introduced to someone, it’s like walking through fire. I have no idea whether I should bow or shake hands or both. Whether I should say hello in English or Korean. Whether I will be able to pronounce the persons name. Oh believe me the list goes on.

But it’s OK, says Jesus, the meek will inherit the earth. I don’t know how to fathom that as my newly discovered meekness has left me rather impotent. I find it hard to imagine that I can accomplish anything. I mean, oh great the earth, this place is sweet. Too bad I’m paralyzed by fear and can’t do anything with it.  But, yet, there has to be something to all of this.

For one thing, I have a new understanding and appreciation of introverted and or shy people. I have to admit, there are times with my shy friends that I have been close to losing patience. Like really guys. Just step up and get done what you need to get done. I’m starting to understand that it is a much more complex state of being that I have ever knew. I’m currently looking back on my years as a camp counselor and kicking myself in the pants for all the kids I ever said, “Don’t be nervous.” Or “Just go talk to them, it’s not that hard.” Well actually, it is that hard. And being told that emotion has no validity is not the way to deal with it.

Further more, I’ve begun to understand some of my own shortcomings. I continually am asking, how much of my confidence or talents are due to the fact that I am familiar with a situation? I know what is expected in meeting someone, saying hello to a passerby, what to say to the grocery store clerk, how to ride the metro, and how to read the menu? Am I merely fulfilling expectations, or actually innovating and making an impact?

I am greatly humbled by these feelings of doubt. They have given me the opportunity to hone some of my skills. How do I express affection with out a bear hug? How to I express kindness without talking animatedly to strangers on the street? I certainly don’t have the answers yet, but I see a great opportunity. I hope to use my newly found meekness to make my self more capable of dealing with a variety of people.

But, the results are not just in the future. I have already begun to reap the reward. Allow me a little story. On my way back from the cathedral after service on Sunday, I got a tad lost on the metro. Turns out there are two different dark blue line ones. On top of that, they are the same for about the first five stops before splitting off and I’m not personally aware of a way to tell the difference. Needless to say, my hour long commute back to the University became a two hour commute back to the University. I was flustered, tired, and low on both feul and confidence. I tried my best to make myself as small as possible, and as quite as possible on my tiny seat so as not to disturb the elder gentleman next to me. All I really wanted was someone to tell me it was all ok but I sat there doing my best to be humble and inoffensive. Finally, after about half an hour, I reach my stop. I stand up to get off and as I wait for the doors to open. I feel a gentle tap on my arm. It’s the gentleman who was sitting next to me. He gives me a huge smile, waves, and says goodbye. I tell you, right then, that smile felt like the kingdom of heaven on earth to me. Out of my meekness came an encouragement that I could have received nowhere but in a state of humility. That smile could be my portion of the earthly inheritance Jesus promises and I would be satisfied.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Beginning

Hello Everybody,

As you may or may not know, I have arrived safely in Korea! YAAAY. Now, if only the biggest hurdle was getting here. For starters, this is going to be an informative blog post, not a contemplative one.

I arrived at Incheon airport around 3:30 on Tuesday. I was picked up, after a long trek through customs, by a deacon, Dr. Sang Hun Lee. He had the honors of making small talk with me until we reached my new home. My living arrangements are really swell. Probably...Definately better than the college apartment I recently abandoned. I am living in a room on the 7th floor of St. Michael's Hall at Sungkonghoe University. The college is really beautiful. It's hard to believe that it is in one of the biggest cities in the world. It is about the size of two "American" blocks. I put it this way becasue from what I can gather, Seoul doesn't really have blocks. Everything just sort of rambles around. If you don't believe me, check out this google maps photo. I asked for walking directions to the metro by the University and it figured it would just give me a vague black arrow saying "get here" as something like street names or blocks are hard to come by. That being said. I still feel like google is phoning it in a little bit.

As for the company I will be keeping during the coming year, I am pleased to announce that I am living with the seminarians here at the University. It is a small group, 17 in all, and they have welcomed me kindly into their midst. I am impressed at what a family they seem like to one another. They spend just about every second laughing, hitting each other, or making fun of each other. Yet, you can tell that they really like one another. I couldn't have been more relieved when they started making fun of me a bit too. It is really interesting to see the way this group operates at the University. I don't think I have ever seen any of them alone. I know they seemed surprised when I told them I had walked to Home Plus (think Korea Target) by myself. And when I told them that I had eaten lunch by myself one day, they seemed to take that as a moral failing on their part. I've learned my lesson about meal time. ALWAYS TOGETHER. Which is nice, I can't hardly think of the last time family dinner was a thing in my life. Addtionally, what you've heard is true. The other rule for meals is ALWAYS KIMCHI. Which I have to admit, I'm really pumped about. I can't get enough of the stuff, which is good since I've had it at every meal. I have to admit, I generally eat more of it than the seminarians, but I figure they've had their whole lives to get their fill.

The other exciting thing happening currently is my enrollment in language class! I am now studying Korean at the University four hours a day, five days a week. I'm finding it very very very difficult. I am picking up the alphabet fairly well, but the pronunciation is a huge struggle. I never realized that English speakers never have to employ their throats of cheeks for speaking until I discovered how woefully out of shape mine were. But I will get there. I really can't wait to be able to speak to more people. It's a bit of a challenge not being able to stop and talk to everyone I pass.

As for my position with TOPIK, well, I haven't started yet! This afternoon I am going to meet my boss at the Anglican National Cathedral in downtown Seoul. I think this will be my first taste of how crazy Seoul is. The University sits on the outskirt. Like if you walk three "blocks" you are no longer in the city proper. This will also be my first time taking the Metro here in Seoul. That being said, if you don't here from me again after this post, send help down into the tube. Or just wish me luck now.

Peace and Blessings,


P.S. If this post has a lack of art, it's because I haven't found my camera chord yet. The next post should be a bit more colorful.