Reality Check

I think one of the most dreaded things for me to think about is death. There is just something so scary or intimidating about it. In many ways, it is really mysterious. I mean, what is it like to not have any thoughts or brain activity going on? Or to go to sleep knowing you won’t ever wake up. Part of it, though, for me is knowing that whatever it is, it is permanent. There are no mulligans- you can’t undo it. It just is.

It. Is. Finished.

Death is a reality. And as I stated when I started this off, honestly, it creeps me out. I don’t like to think about it. I don’t like to dwell on it. I’d much rather think about other things that aren’t so out of my control. But this past year, death has started hitting closer to home. Prior to this year, I hadn’t really had anyone near me die. (Never really got too close with my grandparents) Yet, it started with an elder gentleman- one of the first people I met while in Korea. And then it was a friend’s wife. And then it was a distant friend that I really admired and respected. And the one fact I cannot shake is this: they are not going to magically reappear and life is going to continue on happily ever after. They are gone from this life forever.

As death has started hitting closer to home, I am forced to confront this curse to existence. The fact of the matter is, I can look death in the face and know that I have the power to overcome it. But I must be willing to lose this life first. I know that doesn’t really make sense: to overcome death, you must die? But that is how it is.

In order for us to overcome death, we must surrender this life we have on this world to the one who gave life to this world. Jesus gave us life, both in the physical sense and in the spiritual sense. Jesus was there at the foundation of the earth- He helped create and, to this days, helps sustain His creation. But spiritually, he gave us life by dying on the cross- taking our punishment in order to reconcile us back to our Father.

And this is where that paradox of “dying in order to gain life” comes in.Β  We must be willing to submit to Jesus Christ as our King and master of this life. We are called to be citizens of a kingdom, but our kingdom is not of this world. We can choose to submit to Christ as our King, and be part of his kingdom for eternity, OR we can choose to reject Christ as our King, thus choosing not to be apart of Christ’s eternal kingdom. We must be willing to give up this life, in order to gain eternal life. We must be willing to submit ourselves to our maker now, or forever be separated from Him in eternity.

Honestly, there is still a part of me that is bummed about our current cycle of life- we are born, we live- experience joy and pain- and then we die. But, life was not created this way. This world wasn’t created doomed, hopeless and destined for death. But our current state of affairs seems to indicate otherwise. And if this is the only life we are living for, it is a hopeless and depressing one.

However, this is where I can find my peace in: knowing that in giving up my life now to Christ, Christ is giving me life back in eternity. Eternity with Christ is the one reality that can help bring me comfort and peace when thinking about this-worldly reality of death.

One of the things God has been challenging me with over the past year is to live in light of eternity. Don’t just live for this life- live for the next. And the reason I spent some time tonight just thinking and reflecting on death was because a guy that I know- a guy that I had a lot of respect for- died at the age of 26 today. He tried saving a drowning camper but drowned in the process.

As saddened as I am by this news, I am proud to boast in the fact that this friend died living for eternity. He brought joy and laughter to those around him. Knowing him both from a distance and up close, there was nothing more evident than the fact that this man was living for eternity. He lived daringly for eternity. He died boldly entering into eternity.

Hearing this news was a reality check for me.

Some day, I too am gonna die.

And if I’m gonna die, do I wanna die living for this life or die living for eternity?

As for me, eternity is my choice. And my prayer is that I can do so as joyfully (and as humorously) as my friend who died today… I’m guessing he is already cracking God up with some of his goofy antics.

God Bless.

PS- It’s getting late so if there are a lot of typos, I apologize. I’m too tired and lazy to go back and fix it right now. Maybe later… Though, honestly, I probably won’t. πŸ˜‰

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A Tiny Taste of Redemption…

For those of you who are unaware of my cellphone bill story, I will start from the beginning… Which was the Friday I had my open class. I had set my cellphone on the desk towards the beginning of class and then left it in the classroom after I left. I went back an hour later (didn’t want to interrupt the class) and it was no where to be found. After asking the students a bit, I just figured it would turn up by the end of the day. But that wasn’t the case… I kind of figured that maybe my students just didn’t understand and so figured I would wait out the weekend and see if my phone found its way to the lost and found. However, after no luck on Monday, I went to the cell phone store and told them my phone was missing and they used GPS to locate my phone. By Monday, my phone had found itself over a kilometer away from the school! So, after checking out the used cellphone stores in the area with little luck (I had some with one used cellphone shop guy who was being difficult and shady about stuff and so I was suspicious of him but I will have to admit now that I was probably wrong that he hadn’t bought my stolen phone)… Either way, the next day (Tuesday), I gave up on finding my phone and went out and bought a new, cheap phone.

And that was the end of that… I thought, “5 days… They couldn’t have done too much damage…” I joked with my teachers that my phone had grown legs and walked away- mostly because I didn’t want to directly accuse one of the students of stealing… It’s the Asian way- indirectly confront or accuse a person…

Either way, a month passes by and I’ve almost forgot about the whole issue… However, that would change on Wednesday. As most of you probably noticed by my facebook statuses, I found myself looking at a $400 phone bill! The fact that I caught that is a miracle. I NEVER check my Korean bank account balance stuff. I just assume that everything is in line and as should be. However, I was transferring money to buy tickets for my trip to Indonesia with some good friends, and noticed that when I finished transferring money that I had $25 left and knew that wasn’t close to being correct. So, I checked the transaction history and noticed a peculiar $405 bill. I copied the Korean to Google translator and got this: Phone Bill. Pretty straight forward.

The next day, while at school, I typed up a list of phrases I wanted to say- to explain what had happened. I then proceeded to use Google Translator to translate all of that to Korean… I knew some of it was going to be wrong but I figured they would understand the gist of it… And so I took it to the cellphone store and explained it to them and they seemed to understand but then said: You’re mistake. Because I didn’t report my phone stolen till Monday, though they didn’t cancel the service and so the student ended up using my phone all day Tuesday till I got my new phone activated. (Which I wanted to point out to them but because both sides lacked communicative skills to really say much more, I let that go)… I was told to go to the Police and report the stolen phone. And so I did. After beginning to take a report, we went back to the cellphone store where they told me I would need to go into Busan into their headquarters so I could see the Phone Bill printout. Apparently, I couldn’t have it faxed to school- not with the numbers at least. Somehow, that is private information that I am only allowed to see in their presence… though it was my phone making the calls! Either way, I gave up on making any more progress that day.

Wednesday night came and went… Thursday rolled around and it dragged along- the hot, muggy weather didn’t help the cause. But I was waiting till the Korean teacher and I were gonna go into Busan and finally grab the bill and check it out. I was a little peaved that we had to do all the work ourselves but on the bright side, I got to live out a childhood dream of mine: solving a mystery like the Hardy Boys or Matlock! πŸ™‚ When we got the bill, there was one number that was called/texted hundreds and hundreds of times and we figured that probably wasn’t just a good guy friend the thief was texting. We figured it was the girl friend and so my co-teacher called and pretended to be the police and eventually got the name of the student who had stolen it. We were almost finished… He just told me to think of a punishment for the kid and that would solve that. (They don’t really want to have a legal issue out of it and no kid in Korea gets kicked out of school, no matter how bad he is.)

So, after thinking about and praying about it last night, I decided I was going to make the kid join me in my orphanage visits (along with repaying the huge bill he managed to ring up). Rather than publicly humiliating him in front of the whole class or school, I wanted to make him do something good and beneficial and hopefully benefit him as well.Β  The next day, I was hoping to talk with him and his mother before I had classes but I ended up not being able to meet with them till lunch. However, I had class with the kid before that. The guy sat with his head down the whole class period. He was actually working and listening but wouldn’t look up. I subtly slipped him a note telling him not to worry and that we would talk later but his Korean cultural mindset would not permit him to participate normally.

Either way, the time came to meet with him and his mom and the home room teacher- who apparently could speak some English which was news to me considering her desk is next to mine πŸ˜‰ She told me the mother was very sorry and that the student was sorry too. The student, who was crying uncontrollably with his head down the entire time, managed to say to me, “Teacher. My eyes cannot see you. Mercy. Please.” I wanted to laugh and say, “You can’t see me cuzz you’re looking down!” but I knew what he meant. So, I told him, “It’s ok. I forgive you.” And after the Korean teacher translated, I told the kid in Korean, “Ajik, salang hae-yo!” Which means, “I still love you.” And after that, I explained my terms of the punishment, that during his non-school Saturdays, he would come with me to the orphanage visits a couple times. And thats about that… The mom agreed and said that they would pay me back the money that was charged to me and that her son would join me on the orphanage visits.

I’m not gonna lie. I’m really stoked to see how this form of ‘punishment’ plays out. I’m praying and trusting that God can use this situation to transform the heart of this student and maybe some of the other students as well because of this. My reasoning for a unique punishment is because I hope that by repaying his wrong with firm justice and love, he will begin to see and understand how God interacts with His creation. God demands justice to be paid but also longs for reconciliation. I hope that I can help the student feel fully reconciled back into a good relationship with me before I leave because for me, there is no condemnation left. Hopefully, redemption and reconciliation will be seen and tasted by him… As well by the other students. It’s making me sad thinking that I have less than 2 months left with these guys. They are really starting to feel like little brothers to me- both in the sense that I care about them but also in that sometimes they drive me up the walls and I want to kill them πŸ˜‰

Well, I wrote a long one this time. But it was such a cool story and I think it has potential to be a great story that I just had to share it. Love you all and God Bless!

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Welp… I think I survived the Radio Active Rain…

At least I haven’t started growing any extra limbs. Though I heard that the states were getting radio active rain too- worse than Korea. So I can’t really complain… Actually, my doubting Thomas side of me caused me to not really t put much thought or concern into it. After Korean class I decided I would venture from my apartment to the gym and work out- there was only a light rain outside. Since it wasn’t really raining, I figured I would be fine wearing my whitish-cream dress pants there if I used my umbrella. However, it began to rain more, and within a couple of minutes of leaving the house, I was soaked- and I was only halfway to the gym… 😑 I wasn’t really so worried about theΒ  rain that was soaking me being “Radio Active” or not. I was more worried about the fact that people probably could see through my whitish colored pants- which were drenched from the rain… It was hard to tell in the dark if people could see through or not. I could barely see through but I’m gonna guess people could make out what colored boxers I was wearing… Oh well… Boxers shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to people, I suppose… Right?

I think last time I blogged was Tuesday (for me)… Right now it’s late Thursday for you all back home- but for me it’s “Friday-Friday! So excited it’s Friday! Looking forward to the weekend” [Sorry, I was planning on abstaining from referencing Rebecca Black’s song but couldn’t resist ;)]Β  I am looking forward to the weekend but I’m not really that cheesy about it. I don’t have a whole lot planned but for some reason this week was fairly tiring so I’m going to try and take it easy this weekend- you know, chillax. Maybe go to the beach and enjoy the beautiful sunny weather (LORD willing)…

IF YOU ARE AN AVID DOG LOVER AND COULD NOT POSSIBLY FATHOM THE IDEA OF EATING DOG OR YOU FIND IT EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE, SKIP THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH… PLEASE… (Seriously, you might not want to read it) Either way, figured I would just give fair warning just in case dog-eating is extremely offensive to a person. Me and some of my Yangsan buddies are hitting up some kind of dog restaurant tonight. I don’t know what to expect- I know Koreans believe that Dog meat is supposed to be healthy for you- especially when you are sick. But I’m not sick. Figured I should at least try it once.

Other than that, my weekend seems to beΒ  pretty uneventful. I’m bummed that I won’t be going to ICC this Sunday because I will be joining my vice-Principal’s church but that should be a fun opportunity. It’s kind of funny how God works. As I was trying to finish up my lesson, I felt like I was constantly struggling to be able to focus and get myself together. So, I ended up calling and talking with Kyle. It was super encouraging and though I had pretty much finished preparing a speech on the idea of time management- through the talk with Kyle, I felt like God kind of prodding me to change the topic and direction of the conversation to an important lesson God has been teaching me over the last few years- and reminding me off that night as well- helping me to better understand God’s grace and my response to it… So, I pray that God will use it to encourage the students the way he has been encouraging me over the past few years as I learn this important lesson… So, if you can remember to, for all you back home, if you could be praying for me as well, that would be awesome! πŸ™‚

Man… Two times in ONE week! I think that is the most I’ve done since Christmas πŸ˜‰ I’ll try to keep them fairly regular… Take care and God Bless!

PS- I just realized that I posted this AFTER midnight west-coast time. So, my line earlier about it being Thursday for you all is a little bit off. But when I wrote it, it was Thursday.

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As I write this…

I sort of see some irony in my situation… I am finishing the day writing on here because I am fighting to stay someone consistent with this blog! However, I am doing this at the cost of finishing up my prep work the lesson I am supposed to preach on this Sunday to my vice-principal’s youth group. One of the aspects I am talking about is how we use our time- busyness and distractions. And writing this blog is just one of many different distractions (i.e. Facebook, Facebook games, TV shows, and other fun activities) over the past couple weeks that I’ve found really preventing me from faithfully preparing for this message and seeking God as much as I could have so far… I’m actually taking the night off from activities (So, no Korean class for me tonight) and hopefully will be able to finish preparing my lesson… I guess since this is only my 2nd time blogging in about a week or so, I guess I wouldn’t really consider this much of a distraction. I’ve been working hard during my classes so I feel like I can take a break, vent, and reflect on the past week or so…

So, this semester, I’ve decided on trying something new with my lessons and lesson planning. Now that I’m a little more familiar with the book- and I know the time line of where I need to be by when- I find my lesson planning becoming a lot easier! It’s no where near a perfected art but I’m definitely improving upon last semester. I am beginning each class with a little session, unofficially know as “Zach’s Cool English”. I don’t really say that to the students but they seem to be catching on that is more ‘slang-ish’ but also normal speech. So, the first week, I really hammered the “Z” sound, so I had my students practice saying the alliteration: Zach the Zebra lives in the Zoo. Last week, I taught my students: Hi, Hello, Hey, What’s up, and Sup. It was funny watching the guys as they would says whats up. When I taught them “Sup,” I taught them they needed to say it with a little head nod- just a slight lifting of your head. However, it quickly degraded to a slow and awkward looking, full head nod, looking down first and then nodding their head up. Haha… When one of the kids did that to me, I laughed and told him, “NEVER! NEVER say ‘Sup’ again!” He looked all confused and asked why. I explained that the full head-nod thing was not really working for them…

This week I’m teaching my students: Bro, dude, and crazy. I know crazy doesn’t really relate to the other two but I was tired of my students freaking out when I would jokingly call them crazy. In their understanding, I am saying they are mentally unstable and need to go to the mental hospital. So, I think they understand that now. I also wanted to teach them “Bro” (short for Brother; not ‘Bro,’ a not so distant relative to the Hipster) and “dude.” Mostly because I use the word, “Dude” all the time- even in class some times 😑 ha. I think they got the hang of it- though I tried explaining they shouldn’t call authority figures “Bro/Dude” and 5 minutes later some kid said, “Hey Bro! What is… Blah blah blah!” I laughed and decided I just liked the fact that he was using English and didn’t worry. I compromised in my head by telling them they could only call Teacher Zach that but no other teachers or big people πŸ˜‰ Though, I was called another name yesterday that I hadn’t heard in a long time (besides Zach). I was called, “Zach Attack!” Haha… Some kid said it while I was teaching and so I stopped and asked, “What!?!” I think I freaked the kid out because he said, “Sorry teacher!” Eventually I got it out of him though. Made me laugh… And smile πŸ™‚

Last Friday was awesome! We had our school picnic! It was at some park and the sun was out. I actually got a little bit sun burnt! It was a great time to hang out and kick it with some of my students and the other teachers (I actually just got paid $10 bucks for going to the field trip about an hour ago, ha). It was cool because some of my kids would actually go out of their way to practice their English. I had one kid walk up to me, and beginning with an exaggerated head nod down before an even more exaggerated head nod up, said, “Sup Jack!” Haha… I laughed and shook my head… What have I done?!? Poor kids are gonna be doing the Indian head swivel while saying “Sup” and think its cool in Western culture…

Welp… Let’s see. Saturday, I went to the Lotte Giants (Baseball) season opener with the Yangsan Crew. It was pretty sweet. Lotte won. I bought a cool light blue Lotte Giants jersey for $10… Sunday, we had our church picnic. I “helped” grill the meat. I was really more moral support but we got the job done! It had been a while since I had grilled burgers… Mmmm…

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Lord willing, there will be more posts to come. Until then, you can pray that God will help give me wisdom, focus, and discipline for both the lesson I will share on Sunday and in life in general. I can see that I greatly need the Holy Spirit’s help in these areas! Take care and God Bless!

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Here’s to Lyle Jiggybottom… and the Council!

I know-Β  the title name is kind of random… Basically, a good friend encouraged me to get back on here and write again. Long story short, this was part of an inside joke about his name- there isn’t supposed to be some kind of sexual reference πŸ˜‰

It’s been a while since I’ve written on here… I’m not sure why I haven’t. Sorry if you guys have been checking here, looking for updates! I’ll try and be more diligent about this… Especially if I end up being here for another year. Yeah, you heard me right. I’m actually considering sticking around for ANOTHER year! It’s such a difficult decision to make. I’m praying about it- and I ask that you too will pray about it and ask God to give me wisdom and guidance as I seek out what’s the next adventure in my life (or if I continue this Korea adventure)… Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to stick it out in Korea if I didn’t have such awesome friends. The last few months, I have enjoyed getting to be better friends with all my Yangsan buddies, as well as my friends from church. I think one of my favorite social activities is the games nights I have with friends. Lately, I have been able to play Settlers of Catan- which is always a pleasure πŸ˜‰ [Higgy, Brad, Wes and other Settlers fans- I was recently introduced to the games: Dominion and Puerto Rico- BOTH fun strategy games I think you guys would enjoy]

Last weekend, I went to the Busan Aquarium with a couple of friends, and we went scuba diving with sharks and “Groupers”- the big one I named, “Rupert”- mostly cuzz it sounds like Grouper…. We were able to rent a video camera and so we were able record the whole adventure. Not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous at first but once I got done there, I could barely keep my feet on the ground! Literally… My body kept on wanting to float away- even with the heavy O2 tank and the extra weights… Pictures and video will be coming soon (hopefully)… Oh, to answer one question: No I didn’t touch any of the sharks or other fish. We were told not to. Well, we were told we could touch the giant sea turtles. BUT, if you were in a position to touch one, you might not be safe. A couple of them had attitudes πŸ˜‰

[Here are some pics… taken by my buddy on the outside]

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This week, my Junior students are gone for a trip to Jeju island, so I have half the teaching load- PRETTY NICE I must say. πŸ™‚ In one of my classes, I basically gave the students the assignment: Write 3 sentences about the most exciting thing you have done in your life. I gave the example, “This last weekend, I went shark diving… blah blah blah…” Thus, 90 percent of the examples began with “Last week/end…” Also, probably 80 percent of the students most exciting activity was either: soccer, video games, or shopping… Ha. I don’t think they fully understood what I was asking- or they did but just dont get to have a lot of excitement in their life. There were a few notables. One said: “Nothing”. Made me laugh and hope he was joking. One kid said, “Last weekend, I went to Noraebang.” That made me smile cuzz I love Noraebangs πŸ˜‰ One kid began his, “Rast weekend…” That’s right, “Rast” with an “R”… instead of ‘Last’… One student talked about a science fair- that made me laugh a bit. Totally a science nerd answer- I’m not bashing on him. It made my inner nerd a little happy! But probably my favorite response was: [paraphrasing because his English wasn’t that good πŸ˜‰ ] I guess this will be a question for the upcoming exam… Haha… Nope! Not pertinent for the upcoming exam at all… Just trying to understand my students a little bit πŸ˜‰ Time to go to class… Be back in a bit to finish this πŸ˜‰

Ok… Back… Just had to explain to my sophomores that there is a difference in the “S” sound and “Sh” sound… Basically, in Korean, some times the ‘S’ sound gets softened into the ‘SH’ sound… I was trying to get some of my students to SIT down and so other students felt they would take the liberty to tell those students get back in their seats too! However, they let the Korean ‘S’ sound slip in πŸ˜‰ Haha… It was pretty entertaining as I heard students cursing at each other since they were only trying to get them to sit down… One of the joys of languages and linguistics! πŸ™‚

Well, I think that will do a suffice job of updating you on life in Korea… I’m gonna spend the rest of the day trying to prepare for the upcoming “sermon” (I suppose you can call it that). The vice-principal asked me to preach to the youth group at his church on April 10th… I’m pretty stoked but definitely a little nervous as I try to figure out what to preach… That could be another thing to pray for as I want to encourage the students towards Godliness but also want to be culturally sensitive!

Thanks for taking the time to read this! Hope you all feel a little more connected to my life in Korea πŸ˜‰ I’ll try- TRY- to be more diligent with this… We’ll see though!

God Bless!

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Well… Finally back to the world of…

Having too much free time at my desk πŸ˜‰ Thus, that means back to studying Korean and back to Facebook-ing it up… and maybe watching a few good movies and/or TV shows πŸ™‚ This week is basically a dead week for me. I have no classes (as far as I know). My new supervising teacher hasn’t come up with a schedule for me yet so we’ll see… But these few “dead” days are very much needed and appreciated. While all the other teachers are cleaning up their old office area and getting arranged in their new offices and then doing whatever teaching they may have, I can just chill at my desk in the semi-heated office [ teachers keep on leaving the office and leaving the door open] and work on outlining my lesson plans for the semester. I’m actually being productive with my office time πŸ™‚ For my sophomore class, I have figured out a 15 week breakdown for the 5 units I have to teach- basically, I know what part of each unit I will be teaching each week. Last semester I was flying by the seat of my pants- going from week to week without knowing what I would be teaching the next week… My Junior class English textbook isn’t as easy to breakdown though- so I’m still trying to figure out how I will do that… Either way, I already feel like I have a good head start on the upcoming months English lessons!

Having this time also allows me to rest a little bit and relax after a busy past couple of weeks. I went home for a couple weeks- my brother Jake was getting married (married now). It was awesome being home. Really, a paragraph can’t really do justice to how my trip home went but I’ll just quickly summarize the highlights. It’s always good to see my family. I played a lot of Smash Bros [that’s a Wii game FYI] with Anara… I played Sisay in Fifa World Cup Soccer (also a Wii game)… I also played basketball with Sisay a few times [Keep practicing Sisay… Maybe one of these days you will lose by less than 10 πŸ˜‰ – That’s Sisay’s goal: Lose by less than 10] I also got to hang with a lot of friends- even got to be a “guest speaker” for one of my buddy’s dorm section meeting (it’s a Multnomah dorm thing…) It was also Global Missions week at Multnomah and so I was able to talk with a few missionaries while I was there- which was cool too! The highlight, though, was all the wedding stuff… I had two “Bachelor Parties” for Jake. We got out of Portland for a weekend and just chilled in Eastern Oregon, enjoying the snow and relaxation. Then I decided I would attempt to share a little bit of my Korean culture experience with Jake and the guys. It’s a little something we like to call in Korea: Norae Bang. Pretty much- it’s private Karaoke rooms. There was a lot of prep work put into setting up the church and then practicing all the wedding stuff. But all the prep work proved to be worth it- the wedding was awesome! Everything pretty much ran smoothly…

Though, being completely honest, having such a good time back home made it very difficult to re-pack all my stuff and get on the plane back to Korea… Only 12 hours after I got home from all the wedding stuff. There were a lot of people I wasn’t really able to see or connect with before I had to leave. It’s a good thing the past few months in Korea have been especially good to me otherwise I might have put some thought into calling it quits. God has truly blessed with me with some good friends from Yangsan and my church. Speaking of friends, a buddy and I went and watched the new “True Grit” movie on Tuesday night. They call it (in Korean) “Da Buh-ray-be” (The Brave)… Being a John Wayne fan myself, I was a little worried it wasn’t gonna be that good but I actually really liked the movie!

Hmmm… Well it’s almost 9:30 which means I’ve killed about an hour out of my day sitting here typing and reflecting on the past couple weeks… Leaving me with 7 more hours of desk time. I suppose I can continue this productivity streak I have going… Thanks for taking the time to read this- though it was more about my visit home than my life in Korea. Look forward to keeping you all posted on Korean life some more… Once I have a few things to write about πŸ˜‰

Take care and God Bless!

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That was a close one…

Wow… (with BIG sigh of relief)… Well, this morning started off with a little unnecessary adventure. I left my apartment at 7 this morning for Yangsan bus station thinking that would give me enough time to to catch a bus to the airport. Unfortunately, the next bus did not leave till 9:30, which would have cut it close for my 11 o’clock flight… So I decided I would take the subway to Sasang which was really close to the airport. However, a Korean guy who overheard my predicament told me to go to Gupo instead and catch a bus from there. So I listened to him- even though the map of the city showed Sasan being the closest. When i got to the bus stop, I asked an old man, “gimhae konghang” which is supposed to be Gimhae Airport. (I even played a little game of charades, acting out an airplane taking off and flying). He said yes and seemed to signal, “follow me” as he was getting on the bus. He was muttering something else in Korean as well but I kind of just disregarded that as unimportant… Now, I had an idea of which direction we needed to go and the bus started off going that way but then quickly turned around was going the opposite direction- I stayed on thinking maybe I just had my internal map backwords… But then it turned and went up into the mountain side… I rode it for twenty minutes or so before I busted I out my cellphone electronic translator/dictionary and showed the Korean man who so confidently signaled for me to follow him earlier. This time, however, he was like, “No!” Upon hearing this, the bus driver yelled at me and had me get off the bus in the middle of nowhere… I found the closest bus stop going the opposite direction and waited. There was a woman there and so I asked if she could call a taxi to this place but apparently taxis didn’t come here. So, I waited 20 minutes for the next bus and rode it until we were at some kind of station and I saw taxis. I immediately got off the bus and lugged all my bags into a taxi where I finally was able to get a ride to the airport without any further complications… I’m not gonna lie, there was a point when I was in the middle of nowhere with just over 2 hours till my flight left, that I worried whether I would make my flight. Thankfully, God gave me extra patience to deal with the situation and my frustration with myself… Hopefully, this will help me rest better on the following flights πŸ˜‰
Oh! Boarding time… Gotta go πŸ™‚
Take care and God Bless!!

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I find it slightly ironic (and slightly sad)…

That the last time I made a post on here was for the last big football game (Ducks vs. Auburn- BCS Championship game). Last time, I had to avoid the internet because I was watching the game later with friends. This time, I did not have that the opportunity to watch the Superbowl with friends. BUT I did manage to find a place to stream it online. And then, somehow, all my classes seemed to be canceled or something because whenever I showed up, either no students were there or a Korean teacher would walk in about 5 minutes after I did and tell me it was supposed to be their class…Gist of it is that I was actually able to watch most of the game. πŸ™‚

Man… A lot has happened in the last month… Well, I’ve been able to do a lot over the last month is what I should say. Now, this was a few weeks ago now, but I went to the Austrian Boys Choir concert with some friends from church. I was slightly disappointed that they never busted out any Sound of Music songs but they were impressive little singers none the less. The first half of “vacation” basically consisted of me showing up to school during the week teaching a couple small groups of students and teachers each day. Basically, winter camp was half day schooling for the students. When that ended mid January, my classes were supposed to continue but most of the faculty actually stopped showing up for class and some of my students did too, ha! So, the last week of my English Camp lessons with my students consisted of me taking them out for lunch and just chilling and talking about whatever we could talk about πŸ™‚ [There were only 2-3 guys that would come each day and I had discovered Yoo Ga Ne in Yangsan and figured we could eat relatively cheap and then I didn’t have to do lunch alone those days!] Those little meal times together were so much fun. It was cool coming back to school and seeing all of my guys from winter camp classes and how much more confident they were in their English skills- they were the strongest students in their classes!

After classes were finished, I spent the last week and a half hanging out with friends. Me and my buddy Jon went up to Eden Valley- a ski resort just outside Yangsan- and hit the slopes for the day. I kind of did something to my tailbone while snowboarding early on and so I was kind of a little pansy about the pain most of the day but by the end of the day I was making some headway in figuring out those ‘S’ slides in contrast to the scissor slides. Jon and I also hit up this “Trick Art” exhibit in Busan. It was super cool! Basically a lot of the art was set up for 3D kind of stuff and so you stand in the right position and it looks like your actually there. It was a lot of fun, ha! For one of my pictures, I got this tiny little Korean girl to pretend to be the head on a tiny little spoon that I was about to eat πŸ˜‰ I actually need to get the pictures from Jon still…

Then came “Seolnal”- Chinese New Year I think… Either way, me and a few friends from church took this unplanned trip to the West Coast of Korea. We went to Gwangju for a day… and Norae Bang-ed it up that night. Then we went to Yeongam where we hiked up Wolchulsan Mountain to this amazing bridge overlooking the area. It was an amazing view and fun hike… Though we might have been slightly unprepared for the hike. For starters, half the group didn’t really have good shoes for hiking in. Then, because it is still winter and we were in the mountain, there was snow- in some parts, very slick snow. It made for adventure going up and slip-n-slide challenge on the way down. Luckily, everyone was able to walk away from it safely and smiling πŸ™‚ Then that night, we Norae Bang-ed it up again… [By the way… a Norae Bang is a private Karaoke room for you and your friends] The next day we hit up Mokpo (a coastal city) and attempted to fly kites. One of the kites worked but the other one (our UFO kite) was a little too high maintenance and required more wind than was present and so unless you were running at a good pace, it would not stay up…

We ended up missing the bus returning to Busan that day (as I said earlier, the only original plan was getting on a bus Wednesday and then figuring it out from there), so we ended up staying in Mokpo for the night. As we were adventuring through out the town at night, trying to find something to do, we saw this place that advertised, “LIVE CONCERT” and we were looking for live music, so we thought “PERFECT!” (Well, I did at least)… When we walked in, it became clear that it was not the kind of live music we were looking for or expecting… Unfortunately, for the rest of the group, I was pretty stoked at the looks of this and so they agreed we could check it out. It ended up being a big Karaoke bar and so we ended up Norae Bang-ing it up for a third night in a row! It was tons of fun… Though I think everyone’s voice was shot… I loved it though I’m sure the people on the receiving end of my singing might have had differing feelings towards my “singing”- if I can call it that πŸ˜‰

Wow… That sums up the past month, pretty much. It doesn’t really do it justice but because I’ve been slacking lately and haven’t written anything, this is really the best I can do without overloading you all with 5,000 word essay about life in Korea πŸ˜‰ I’ll save that for in person whenever I see you πŸ˜‰ I’m coming home in a few days for Jake’s wedding… So STOKED for that! It’s gonna be so much fun…

I think I’ve used up enough of your time… I’ll try to keep my rantings and updates more frequent so they can be more brief-ish. I’m terrible at brief usually… Either way, thanks for all the prayers. Continue praying for me as I am about to finish up this school year and so I need some patience and inspiration to teach as none of my students have any desire to try or even pretend to learn this week- the two classes I had today consisted of a majority of the students sleeping with the rest talking non-stop despite whatever I tried doing… Only a couple more days and then I come home but I want to make the most of the last few days before my break back home. Thanks for reading and I hope this allowed you to get a glimpse into what I’ve been up to the past month. Take care and God Bless!

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This is really really hard…

So, I’m trying to abstain from using FaceBook and any kind of internet that might communicate what the current score of the Oregon Ducks- Auburn Tigers game is… I never realized how dependent I am on FaceBook for entertainment. I’m not addicted-because when I went home, I don’t know if I really used FaceBook much then. But, I think the fact that I am not able to (well- not allowing myself to) use FaceBook makes me feel… disconnected? Gosh! Such a weird feeling… Either way, I’m seeking out ways to maintain that social connection without using facebook and blogging crossed my mind… So, I’m here now giving you all an update as to what is going on in my life!

So, last week I think I left off with me needing to learn Korean πŸ˜‰ And the Korean class I am taking is really fun- good teacher and fun group of friends to be taking it with… Actually, it is a bunch of people from my city, Yangsan- so this English class is making for some good Yangsan bonding times πŸ™‚ I actually feel like I’m learning quite a bit too! I just bring the material I learn in class to my classes during the day and it gives me something to work on with my students.

So, I have two types of classes right now: my high school students and then school faculty. And especially with the faculty groups, I just bust out my Korean “Korean” homework and have them help me understand a little part of it and that usually gets the class rolling πŸ™‚ The faculty love it and so they actually talk with me… in English! It is awesome…

Actually, I think they have taken me out for lunch 3 times and for dinner once! Yesterday, the faculty took me to “YooGaNe” (유 κ°€ λ„€). It is a restaurant that does Bokum Bop- which is basically my favorite kind of Korean food! I didn’t know of any in Yangsan until then- so I’m pretty stoked about this find!

My birthday was last week, on Friday. In my Friday morning faculty class, they brought cake to have during class and then took me out to lunch afterwards. Then, the afternoon faculty group took me out to my favorite little Pakistani place in Yangsan for dinner! Went home and rested a little bit and then went out with some of the guys from Yangsan. We decided to go to a “Norae Bang” (that is, private Karaoke rooms) around 12:30-1ish… And ended up singing our hearts out till 4 AM! It was tons of fun- and yes Mom and Dad, I actually sung! My voice was dead Saturday- actually I was dead Saturday too! I ended up just sleeping, reading, and watching a couple of TV shows. It was a resting day but when I tried getting up to walk around a bit around 9 PM, my legs almost gave out 😦 Haha… They had started going to sleep apparently…

So, without getting to graphic… Well I guess there wasn’t anything gross to see… Either way, I ran to the bathroom the bathroom with the only Western style toilet and I noticed that there were a bunch of cigarettes in there, ha! There is a teacher who smokes between classes and then throws out his cigarettes in the toilet- this time he didn’t flush them down- which isn’t a gross site to see- but I did want to flush before I was going to use. I tried flushing but nothing happened. Then I realized with how cold it is, the water had frozen! I probably would have laughed more in the moment but the frozen toilet meant I had to run home instead in the cold instead! 😑

Well, I have about 20 minutes till class and I’m pretty much all set to go for that so let’s see… One more story… Oh, well to continue with my exciting Saturday in bed story… Because I was sleeping most of the day, I didn’t anything all day. Around 9 PM, while I was cleaning, I started craving a little something something to eat. Not really in the mood to go out, I decided to go with the always faithful Mac-N-Don’s Gourmet Burger restaurant. Remembering my difficulty last time, I had my address in front of me and ready to read as soon as they answered. [In case you hadn’t read about that… Basically, I tried calling the Mac-n-Don’s delivery service the night before I was flying back home but I was hung up on twice before an extremely patient lady helped me struggle through giving her my address and my order] However, after I said, “Annyong haseo,” I heard the lady reading off my address. Now, I was kind of surprised and felt a little special that they remembered me- though I figured it was because they thought, “Oh great! Here is the American who doesn’t really speak Korean and what little he does, is terrible!”

However, a friend of mine at church shattered the idea that I was actually “special” when they mentioned that they just probably had caller ID and linked it with my address. Thus, now this story doesn’t seem all that impressive! But, in that moment Saturday night, I was pretty happy and excited that they had remembered this American guy after our previous disastrous call attempt. πŸ˜‰

Well, folks… I did it! I managed to kill about an hour and a half or so running home and writing this without getting onto facebook πŸ™‚ Not gonna lie… It was super difficult! Checking facebook has just become so much of a habit- I like to know whats going on with everybody! πŸ˜‰ Well… time to head to class!

Thanks for taking the time to read this… I hope you all enjoyed watching The Game as well πŸ˜‰ Take care and God Bless!

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This is why I need to learn Korean…

Before I explain why I need to learn Korean, I’ll start from the end of the day yesterday. I had finished my last class with the faculty from my school and because of the weird schedule, I ended up not eating lunch, so I was fairly hungry and decided that Mac-n-Don’s Diner would be a nice a little pick me up treat. So I grabbed a taxi to go down to Mac-n-Don’s, ate my dinner of gourmet burger and fries, decided I would try their new desert looking thing- it ended up being basically a Root Beer Float, but made with Coffee instead of Root Beer… Not the greatest dessert I’ve tried but whatevs…

Either way, I figured I would just grab the bus back because I was not really in any kind of rush. So I crossed the street and waited at the bus stop for any bus to come and take me back to Yangsan Police Station (which is the bus stop I usually get off at to walk to my place)… The 1500 Bus pulled up (which doesn’t run by my place) with the number 24 bus right behind it. And for some reason, I thought I remembered the 24 bus running by my stop for some reason so I got on that one. All the while, I am trying to watch and finish up “Karate Kid 3”. So I’m paying attention to my surrounds a little bit- but really I’m focused on this Karate Classic πŸ˜‰ I soon realized that this bus was not the one I thought it was- it was the 23 that ran a fairly directly route from my place to Mac-n-Don’s Diner… It ran by and stopped at E-Mart- which I had contemplated getting off and switching to another bus but after reading the bus route, I quickly saw in English a few stops after E-Mart was “Police Station.” However, a few stops after E-Mart as the bus was crossing the bridge to the other side of town, I thought to myself, “This bus isn’t going to take me to where I need to go! Do I get off now and save my losses or do I risk staying on in hopes that it will go parallel with the river and cross back over, even closer to my house?” I ended up choosing the second option- which quickly became clear was the wrong one! The bus went along the river for a minute or two before it ended up turning left opposite of the river and weaving its way up the mountain!

I read the bus route schedule again and realized that the bus was going to some “Kyeongnam” (something like that) Police station- which was not the police station near my place… I decided that by now, I had already ridden this bus a decent distance and figured why not continue on my little adventure and just ride this bus on its return route to E-Mart and then catch a bus there… So I continued watching my movie and ended up finishing it right before the route finished. I ended up starting to watch another movie (I don’t like reading on the buses- I tend to get motion sickness when trying to read and ride in general and it is even worse on Korean buses!). I noticed that the bus was stopped at a place for a long time so I took out my headphones to hear the bus driver yelling at me in Korean… I had no clue what he was saying and I think he realized that so he said, “FINISHEE” (Konglish for ‘Finish’- pretty much if you add the “ee” sound or the “oo” sound to the end of an English word, it all of a sudden becomes understandable to Koreans). Either way, not really thinking, and just following the bus drivers orders and gestures, I got up and got off the bus and crossed the street to the bus stop for the return bus… I watch as the bus driver pulls the U-turn and then drives down the hill away from the bus stop and me!

So there I was standing at the bus stop in the middle of no-where Yangsan up in the mountain side somewhere. I contemplated calling a taxi- but had no clue where to tell him to pick me up… I could have started walking but I felt that staying at the bus stop was my best option… I read the sign and there were only two buses who came by this stop and both went to E-Mart area and so I waited… and waited… and waited in the cold! There was actually still a decent amount of snow left from the Monday night snow fall up there! It was probably a half hour later that the next bus (24) showed up!

From this point, my journey ended up not hitting any more speed bumps. I got off just after crossing the river and decided walking home would probably be my best bet… So almost 2 hours after I started my journey home from Mac-n-Don’s Diner (which is normally only a 10 minute bus ride at most), I finally made it home!

And the fact is, the whole little escapade could have been avoided if I could read and understand Korean better- and if I could speak it better and just asked in the first place if this was the bus that runs near my house, ha! With that said, I just started going to a Korean class on Tuesday and Thursday nights! So hopefully that will help me out a bit πŸ˜‰ Speaking of, I better go do my homework! I have to write 4 dialogue pair sentences! 😑

Thanks for reading! Hope you all are doing well back home and look forward to seeing you all again in February for Jake’s wedding!! Thanks for the prayers! I definitely need them as I think my sleep schedule got sort of spoiled over Christmas break and so now I have only woken up before 8 once this week (when I’m supposed to be at work by 8:20)… Take care and God Bless!!

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