Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Those who are called to vocational ministry...

Confession time. I have been struggling with jealousy. It’s not often that my jealous nature is brought to my attention. But I couldn’t ignore the resentment building in my chest every time I entered the church. You might think this sounds crazy, and to be honest, it probably is. But I was so jealous of the people who worked at the church. I want so badly to work for a church. Someone in youth ministry once told me that at their orientation day at seminary, a professor stood up and told the group of students that if they could imagine themselves doing anything else, anything else, that they should leave and go do that. That youth ministry was very difficult and unless you are called and can’t imagine doing anything else, you should leave. I don’t know if I agree with that, but it certainly resonates with my soul right now. There is nothing I want to do but ministry.
I went to church a week ago and was overwhelmed by my jealousy of those who are serving in full time ministry. I know my desire to be in ministry is a good desire. I asked the Lord why I had to spend this year teaching English. He had called me. He had prepared me. And now He was sticking me in a stinky job teaching English to whinny kids? Why? And I heard Him in my heart. It was loud and clear. “Obey me. Even here, in a job you don’t want. Obey me.” Obedience when things are how we want them is almost easy. But then again, are we truly obeying, or are we just doing what we want to do?” So God wants me to obey Him here, in a job I don’t want. At church last week, Pastor Drew was talking about a totally different topic, but he referenced Col. 3:23-24. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive your inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” I’m sure you’ve heard this passage before, but did you know that it is not just addressed to anyone, but to slaves? That’s right. Slaves. When I read that, I felt it click in my heart. I feel like a slave to my debt. I am, really. I don’t have the freedom to do what I wish to do. And the Lord is calling me to obedience even in this time. He could have provided for my freedom from my debt. I could have gotten an anonymous check in the mail for all the money I owe. It’s happened to other people. So why didn’t He provide like that? I don’t know the whole why, but I know that He did provide. He provided this job for me to get out of debt, and He is calling me to obedience to Him here and now.

the year of Jubilee

A little pun in the title. Not only is it the verse of my church, but it seems like possibly my verse for the year. This is my year at Jubilee (Church). At every church I’ve committed to over the last 8 years, I have learned valuable lesson. At Trinity Pres. Of SLO I discovered the (second) love of my life- THEOLOGY! In Chile, at la Iglesia Anglicana de Providencia I learned a lot about leadership and ecumenical unity (or lack thereof). In my two years at Westminster, I heard the most beautiful liturgy at City Church and saw what a bunch of hippies turned radical middle class Jesus lovers can do at New Life Glenside. The Village Church was a whole new experience. It was in so many ways the perfect church for me. It was a combination of good fellowship, solid redemptive historical and yet contextualized preaching of the Gospel, and a true love for the broken yet beautiful neighborhood we lived in. Even if I never get to live in New York again (Lord forbid) I know the six months I spent at The Village Church were formative to my view of how to do church in the city.
Now I find myself at Jubilee. It is the year that we proclaim the Lord’s favor. It is the year that all debts are forgiven and life is restored. I have no clue what the Lord is going to teach me this year. I feel like a butterfly coming out of my cocoon. I know I am breaking free, I have felt the pains of change, and I know my wings are gaining strength to fly. I haven’t looked in the mirror yet. It’s too early to see the fullness of the change that has taken place. But I confidently that this year is going to be big. Probably bigger than any other year in my life.
I used to think that my 26th year was going to be wasted in pain. The darkness of the valley crept over my toes on May 29th. It was my birthday. I remember some time in June thinking that the way my birthday started, the way the rest of the days went afterward was going to be indicative of my whole year. I was sure that the sun wouldn’t shine until I turned 27. It would go down in my personal history as a year of pain. But I am seeing the Lord take what had been set aside for pain and despair and He is redeeming my year. The 5 months that I spent in the valley are being redeemed by His mighty hand.

doing well

I know its been a while since I posted anything. It is not due to any bad turn of events in my life, but on the contrary, life has been good. I am still struggling in various ways with Korean life (like their fierce and vocal judgment of anyone over a size 2 and the way they walk ridiculously slowly down the streets). But I am actually doing really well. I really appreciate my church. It’s not perfect, and I know that. But I really like it. I’ve never been a member of a church this charismatic. They aren’t speaking in tongues from the pulpit or anything, but the way the pastor talk about prayer, or even visions would probably make some of my Westminster buddies uncomfortable. But honestly, I need it. I am so thirsty for the God’s work in my heart, in my life, that I gladly welcome a strong faith in the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives today. Not that my reformed buddies don’t believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, but that too often the power that we so adamantly declare on paper is not given a prominent place in our daily lives. I am above all guilty of this. While my doctrinal theology of prayer is good (or at least I think so!) it hasn’t infiltrated my life. Do I pray like I can move mountains? Does the Holy Spirit’s intimacy fill me with wondrous chills when I approach the throne of God Almighty? When life’s ups and downs come, do I turn to the fountain of Wisdom for counsel? I confess here that I have a weak view of God. I have a weak view of His power. Of who He is. Of what He is doing. Lord forgive my unbelief!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It goes both ways

So as much as I make fun of my Korean students and their English, this morning I write to tell you that the language fun goes both ways. Not only are we teaching English, but most of us teachers are also trying to learn Korean. Last night, as we were walking home from work, Brittany got a text message in Korean from a friend she met this weekend. His text was as to be expected, in Korean. Great. So the three of us girls huddled around the phone and collectively worked on translating the message. Brittany sounded out, "hwa... hwa hae... hwa haeyo... pri..." and then it clicked, "oh! bri-ttan-ny! that's my name!" At that point I couldn't help but laugh. Here we were staring hard at all these strange characters and really they just said her name (the first part means something akin to "whatcha up to?") Ah, the good times you have when living in another country.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Good times in Hongdae

Like I said, HongDae is the area where the university is. It's totally a sweet hangout for young Koreans. It was SOOO cold (well below freezing) on Saturday but Nicky and I walked around the area trying to stay warm. We stumbled upon this park that has live performances. Really cool. I took a quick video so you can see a little of the madness that goes on here.

So this first group was really popular. The lead singer had a mad wig on that looked like an Afro... who knows where that came from.

And this second group was just a few meters away trying to compete with the sound of the big group. It was a few high schools rapping. Cute kids, not really that much talent though.

Birthday good times

This weekend was a double whammy. Both Maggie and Kiren(pictured above) were celebrating the big 23. A group of us went out to a part of town called HongDae. It is where the University of Korea is, so it's FULL of cool student stuff. Very hip place. Anyways, we met up at a bar and got nice nd toasty before heading to another bar where we danced. Enjoy the photos!

Here we are with a ton of vodka and tequila and fruit. For some reason, they give you fruit when you order liquor. Awesome. Fun note: the fruit platters here are always complete with tomatoes. Of course, right?

Sally, Nicky, Brittany, and me

Before we went out for the birthday bash, Nicky and I hung out and got a pretzel at Auntie Annes. It was Nicky's first pretzal!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Girls' Night Photos

As I shared earlier, I was hosting a girls' night on Sunday. After church, Sunyoung, Nicky and I all headed over to my place where we were joined by Ta'eh and Sally (a new American teacher at my school). We ate yummy stirfry and then settled, all five of us, on my bed to watch Twilight. It was awesome. Totally the kind of thing I love doing. And of course the girls loved Twilight and we have all agreed to go see New Moon when it comes to Korea on December 3rd.

Dinner with Becka always includes lots of yummy veggies!

Koreans have a space near their from door for everyone's shoes. Check out Ta'eh's yellow crocs, I gotta get a pair of those!

Nicky and I as I cook the food

All the girls chilling before we start the movie- good times!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Meager Means

I am very excited to share with you that tonight I will be hosting a girls' night at my place. That's right. I'm having a few friends over (3 Koreans and an American) over for dinner and a movie. What's on the menu? My own crazy version of Korea food. It's one of my stirfrys with zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and tofu all in a rich bulgogi sauce and served over noodles. We'll watch Twilight (of course) and then when New Moon comes out Decemeber 3rd here in Korea, we'll head out to see that. I'm really excited to host this. I have such a small place, only 3 bowls (I'm going to borrow another one and use a tupperware myself) and my netbook screen is WAY too small to comfortably all watch the movie, but I decided I would rather live hospitably with meager means than not at all. So there you go!

Friday, November 06, 2009

It's 1:40am. You may be wondering what I could possibly be doing at this ungodly hour. Well after a loooonnnng day at work, I headed over to Kims Club (think Kmart) and then finally to my little studio where I planned on watching some previously downloaded tv shows. It was already 11pm when I started 30 Rock. Then the Office (a great episode, by the way) and finally, the best for last, Vampire Diaries. When all was said and done, it was 1:30am. Even though I was tired and sure that going to sleep was going to be the best solution to that problem, I wistfully distracted myself by looking up Yeah, internet dating. Not that I think I am anywhere near ready to actually date, but I figured it was about time I at least stuck my toes in the water. So I signed up for a free account and began to answer the multitude of questions for my profile. That's when the panic began. First of all, Koreans are obsessed with looks. I mean, in the US we are too, but there are 7 year old Korean kids who refuse chocolate because they are afraid of getting fat. But Koreans don't get fat! Seriously, this is a SKINNY county, and they are VERY prejudiced against fat people. That being said, my panic began when I realized that I didn't want to, or just plain couldn't answer some of the questions. These are questions that would not be asked on an American dating site, and if they were, they would be optional to answer.

My star sign is: I don't know and don't care

I was born in the year of the: Once again, don't know and don't care

My weight is: LOL, yeah right! You think I'm going to actually put my weight on this thing??? But there was no "no comment" option. The stress began to build in my chest. Koreans a quite harsh when it comes to weight. Any Korean girl that doesn't fit into a nie size 0 is seen as fat. Not chubby, not our pc word "overweight". Nope, they are fat. Then you get to truly fat people and the culture freaks out. I knew that any answer about the weight of my 5'2 body that was over 110 would be seen as fat. Umm....

Or even better:

My appearance is: (drumroll) the options are "very attractive", "attractive", "average", or "below average". I put average because I couldn't bring myself to answer anything else. Only a vain person would put very attractive, and only someone with sad self esteem would put below average. (Below average, isn't that a standard teachers use to judge kids on report cards) And isn't attraction different to each person anyways?? This was too much.

I finished the profile (after strategically lying about my weight!) and closed the window. That was way too much to handle. Thankfully my friend Sarah was on skype and I told her all about the Korean online dating experience. We had a good laugh. Well, if that's all it was good for, so be it!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


I bought Sexless in the City a month before Jason and I started dating. I put off reading it to work on my thesis, and then once the relationship started, and graduation plans ensued, and then the getting OVER the relationship season began... well, let's just say that it took me until mid August to begin reading this book that had so quickly caught my attention in February. Once I began, I realized that this woman, Anna Broadway, was telling my story. Sure some of the details were different, but she and I have walked disturbingly similar paths. I cannot recommend this book enough. Sure, it's about sex and Anna has a lot to say on the subject. But it's also just about life. It's about being a Christian. She describes her experiences with a hindsight that I can only hope to have a few years down the road. It's uncanny how closely her reactions to life match mine. Crushes on guys, not because they are worth even an ounce of your heart's energy but because you are lonely, or even worse, bored. The hours spent examining every word exchanged between you and the current crush, the anxious checking of email just in case he replied to your message in the last 45 seconds. I have been there, too many times.
I am affected by the authors I read and those of you who have faithfully read this blog over the last 4 years can attest to my multifaceted personality as a writer. If I read too much Jane Austen (is there such a thing?), my mind works like an Austen novela. And reading Anna Broadway is no exception. Authors give me frames in which I can understand the life that moves around me. With Anna, I can laugh. As I read her stories of loves lost, and really they are just crushes lost, I reflect on my own long list of "loves" lost. In the past I've tried to count how many crushes I've had, but I have realized that it is an impossible task. There are too many to count. Ha, if that isn't humbling, what is?
I have a half day on Wednesdays which means I get home by 7pm. I decided to spend my extra hours tonight at Dunkin Donuts with an iced tea, finishing Sexless in the City. I've been reading it for months now and I decided that I needed to just power through the last 20 pages tonight. I get so easily distracted when I read Sexless. My mind wanders to all the various life experiences the book brings to memory. Anna names all the people in her book with nicknames that have to do with who they are. Winner, Poster Boy, and the Harvard Lickwit are all men in her life at some point in time. I began to think about the boys in my past. What would I name them? There would be the Drummer, Hookah Rocker, and of course Mr. White picket fence. Can you guess who is who? No posting answers, but if you want to guess, shoot me an email.
Tonight as I finished the last few pages, I grabbed my journal and scribbled down a few sentences of reflection. I'll share with you a little of what I wrote:

In a truly pathetic fashion I have played with my heart, holding it out for the taking. I have clutched it with all my strength while simultaneously trying to throw it at the oblivious passerbyers. I have given my heart time and time again, secretly hoping the receiver would turn out to be Prince Charming.

There's gotta be something wrong with this picture. I think I'm learning how to live, to really live. Love is so complex, and life even more.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Kids say the darnest things

I want to start a new weekly, or biweekly posting where I will share with you some of the fun (or just plain strange) things my kids say in class. Everyday in the teachers lounge we share the funny things the kids put on their tests or homeworks. Sometimes what they say is so blatantly wrong that it's just funny.

(I want a cool name for this kind of post. So CONTEST time!!! THink of a cool name for these posts. Like "silly sayings" or "wrong readings". Send them my way and I'll use the coolest one.)

To give you an example of what my kids say:
On the vocab tests, the kids have to write the words and a sentence using the vocab word. Now these are smart kids, so when they don't know the definition of a word, they often try to make up a sentence that is vague enough that it just might work. One of the most popular ones is: "I like ________." Um, yeah, sure but that does NOT tell me that you know what it means.
This was (hopefully) the case today when one of my students wrote a sentence for the vocab word "breed". Yeah, not my favorite vocab word, but it's in the curriculum so I teach it. Sadly, this kid didn't seem to study because his sentence was:
I breed with my mom.
NOT really an acceptable answer and I didn't feel like explaining to the 10 year old boy why.

Here is another fun example of things my kids write and how much they make me smile (when I'm not yelling at them!)
For Halloween I had all the kids do a madlib. It was pretty basic and a lot of kids weren't very creative, but some kids were really funny. They had to pick two Halloween characters in the madlib, so Frankenstein and Vampires were popular. So were witches and mummies. But then again there were those kids that wrote "becka" down. Darn kids. Here are two of my favorite madlibs:

It was a black and foggy night. A tall superman knocked on the door of the old house. A batman opened the door and died. The superman went inside the house. His crazy face was never seen again.


It was a pink and foggy night. A pretty princess knocked on the door of the old house. A fairy opened the door and sang. The princess went inside the house. Her tall face was never seen again.

Which one do you think was written by a girl and which one by a boy? Yeah, you probably guessed right.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Another puzzle piece

Today another puzzle piece fell into place.

I've been struggling with my church for weeks. In fact, every week I've gone there I've found myself sitting in the sermon cringing and wondering why I still go to the church. Don't get me wrong, the people are very very nice and I'm sure they love Jesus very much. But for someone who loves theology, indeed who breathes theology, the simplistic and sometimes slightly bad theology was too much to take. I am the first to say that the gospel is simple enough for a 5 year old to understand and yet complex enough to study your whole life and never full grasp the immensity of it. But the teachings at this church were too, well, let's just say they weren't for me. I loved the social aspect of the church. I met so many Koreans there and I loved going out to lunch with them afterwards. But given my own personal state, I knew that I needed to be in a place where I was being fed spiritually, even if that meant being in a church that is mainly expats. So Sunyoung and I went to a church called Jubilee today. We went to our old church first, then grabbed lunch, and headed over to the 1:30 service at Jubilee. And you know what? I really liked it. I mean, the head pastor wasn't there today, it was a guest preacher who is all into speaking in tongues and what not. But honestly, the talk about tongues was nothing was because the rest of his message was so good. It wasn't legalistic at all. It was a breath of fresh air. The service even included communion. It's been weeks, maybe even months since I've had communion and I have to say, as one who loves to draw near to the Table, I miss it. It is such an important part of worship to me, once a quarter or even once a month is not enough. After the service, a group of us went out for what is called "Bread Breaking" which is basically just a group of whoever that goes out for lunch or coffee. The group of us, 10 in total, went out to a Pho noodle place. Since Sunyoung and I had already had lunch we just got juice while everone else ate. Then, in good Korean style, we all slowly ambled over to Dunkin Donuts for coffee. Then, because Koreans just can't seem to let the day end, we walked around the city a bit more. Our group had windled down to 7 by then, but it was still a fun time. Sunyoung and I were attached at the hip all day, and it was really nice to have a friend with me as we met all these new people. At one point in the afternoon, Sunyoung pulled me aside and asked if I was going to go to Jubilee now instead of our other church. I sighed and told her that I really liked Jubilee. She smiled and agreed. We decided that next week we would go to Jubilee instead. It feels really good. I have struggled with the issue of my church since I got here. I am really excited to be at Jubilee. It seems like one more puzzle piece is falling into place.