Showing posts from August, 2014


I have a few things on my mind that I want to put into words before I forget them. These will be disjointed thoughts, but maybe some sort of overall theme will emerge by the time I finish writing.

The other day at the top of Bonghwasan a.k.a. The Mountain in my household, I saw a man in his hospital pajamas strolling along, cane in hand, with his friend. A hospital patient had climbed the mountain in his pj's and it was threatening to rain at any moment. To all my American friends in the healthcare professions, what would happen if a patient got out of his bed, left the hospital, and climbed a small mountain and then got caught in the rain? Wouldn't there be hell to pay by someone? This man was not a mental patient who lost his mind and wandered away. I thought I was beginning to get used to seeing hospital patients outside in their jammies, smoking a cigarette, chatting with a friend, taking a walk down the sidewalk, like this guy,

but when I saw this man at the top of the moun…

How Beautiful...

As I begin to write this, Pastor Steve is conked out on the settee in the downstairs private dining room of Viccollo restaurant which doubles as our Discipleship class meeting place. He has already taught a Bible class this morning at Yeomyung school. 

This is a school begun by a pastor to educate North Korean refugees. I read some articles about the school (National Public Radio did a piece on the school in 2010 - and learned a little about the hardships the students have faced in the North and the challenges they are facing in the South. Pastor Steve's class is attended by students with English language skills enough to be taught in English. We were escorted to the art classroom where there is a long table with enough chairs for her and all the students. The girls were quiet and the guys more outspoken. It was the first class after the summer vacation, so Pastor Steve asked them what they remembered from their previo…

Lions and Tigers and Boars - Oh My!

This evening around dusk, I decided to climb Bonghwasan again to get some exercise and fresh air. At the place where I have to make a right turn to head to the summit, I noticed some new signs had been hung. Here is the first one:

Cute, huh? Little squirrels carrying acorns. Next came this sign:

Again, some friendly chipmunk/squirrel cartoon creatures and acorns. A few yards away there was this sign:

A pink bunny rabbit with his woodland friend. The mountain forest seems like such a friendly place, doesn't it? When I hiked a bit further and reached the steep stairs that lead to the top of the mountain, I encountered this last sign:

Let's look at the two pictures more closely...

That looks like an angry boar to me. What could this sign be about? Let's check the other picture...

Hmmm... Does this mean that I should not throw rocks at boars and make the angry enough to chase me? And why am I just now being informed about wild boars on the mountain?

I'm not really scared. I'm…

Sweat and Waffles

I just got out of the shower after climbing Bonghwasan. I am still dripping with perspiration since it takes a while for my body to cool down even after mild exercise. Today on Bonghwasan I met up with a squad of Korean soldiers at the intersection of several trails. They had rifles, radio equipment, and full uniforms on, and some of them looked sweaty, so I wasn't the only man perspiring on the mountain today. I said hello and got some stares then moved on. I enjoy greeting the older folks on the mountain. Some ignore me, but others smile and return my greetings. 

On my way down the mountain, a white-haired gentleman caught my eye, sprang up from his bench, and ambled over to greet me. I plucked the ear buds from my ears and reached out my hand to shake the one he offered, imitating his style of politeness. He looked up at my sweaty forehead and then placed his palm on it in curiosity. I suppose he could not believe the sheen on my brow was actually water, but he discovered , to h…

Odds and Ends

It is a cloudy August afternoon here in Seoul and I just finished eating lunch with Jin and Esther after climbing Bonghwsan with Jin. There were fewer people on the trails this afternoon because it has been raining off and on all day. The forest had a sort of musty, rotting smell to it and I saw mushrooms growing alongside the pathway that I had not seen before. At the peak, there was just one other man and the usual flock of hopeful pigeons resting on their bellies in the dirt waiting for someone to scatter or accidentally drop some food for them to eat. I drank my paper cup of sweet, cold rice punch (shikhye) with the gray-brown grains of rice floating in it 

and breathed in the fresh, damp air, a song by Clay Crosse playing through the earbud in my right ear. 

Sometimes my life here feels like a dream. There is an unreality to my existence here, since every day is so unlike the experience of my years since graduating from college and having to get up and work a job five days a week i…

A Grand Reunion a.k.a. 8 Hours with Min Mok

Min Mok, I hope that you are reading this, since I am mentioning you by name in my blog again and making you known to everyone else who reads what I write here. My heart is filled with joy because I was able to see you again after more than a year, and, as I said, I had been waiting a long time for this day. You were my first Korean friend, and I believe God arranged for us to meet on Jeju last year. Of all the people living in Korea, God chose to put you in my pathway for a reason. As you said, "Nothing happens by accident." 

For everyone who hasn't met Min Mok, here is what he looked like today here in Seoul:

Min Mok has five more months before he finishes his training in the police academy. He came up to meet me and Tain today on the Liberation Day holiday. We went to lunch and ate barbecue with another of Tain's friends, Johan...

...did some walking around and saw some interesting things...

... and then finally found a place to have dessert. Check this out:

The name o…

Climbing Bonghwasan

The other day the weather suddenly turned fine. I awoke to blessed balmy breezes blowing through my window carrying none of the oppressive humidity of the past weeks, and I was excited by the prospect of being outside without spontaneously overheating, activating my sweat glands, and soaking through my shirt before walking three hundred feet. When Jin, the man in whose apartment I have been living, suggested that I climb the mountain with him, I agreed to do so with out a second thought. This was a day to tackle this nearby mountain that I had been hearing about since the day after I moved in. I had had no desire to climb a mountain under sauna-like conditions, but on this day of blue skies and bearable temperatures, I was ready to go and said I would right after breakfast ended.

Jin and I walked out of the apartment building, walked left, turned left and walked up the hill toward one of the entrances to the apartment complex. A right, a left, another hill, another left at the corner o…

City Time

After saying our goodbyes to the pastor and his wife in the country, some of our group returned to Seoul with Pastor Sejun while the rest of us headed south to Jeonju to visit the mother of one of the ladies in the church. When we arrived, we all gathered in her mother's apartment to give our greetings, eat watermelon, and admire the beautiful artwork that she creates in her home. It is traditional artwork done with ink and brushes, and though it may look easy, it is very difficult to do. Here are some of her works that I photographed in her little apartment studio.

We left the apartment after praying for this lovely mother and went down into a busy tourist area called Jeonjuk Hanok Village to look around and shop a bit before going to eat. It was busy because the main attraction, the village, was free to the public that day, and, despite the heat and humidity, people were everywhere enjoying the variety of foods available for sale and buying souvenirs. At the gate of the village t…