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 there were two guards in traditional costumes. They reminded me of the guards at Buckingham Palace, because they had many people come and stand beside them and take photos while they stared resolutely ahead. I did see one guard break character to smile and wave an adorable child who dared to approach and say hello. 

I could not resist sneaking a picture of this boy with a cast and a Spiderman cap patiently posing for his parents beside the guard who had smiled at the toddler. I dared Emily DeVries to go up and hug one of the guards while I took their picture, to see if he would blush or smile, but she wouldn't do it. I noticed that there was a thoughtfully placed block of ice on the sidewalk for people to cool themselves with. I took some of the icy water and bathed my face and neck and then let others in my group in on the discovery.

Tain and Dawn cool off with the ice block.
Even though we had all eaten ice cream to try and beat the heat, we got back in our vans to go to a bibimbap restaurant. Jeonju is famous for its bibimbap, so we had to try some. Bibimbap has a base layer of sticky rice and is topped with all sorts of vegetables, raw beef, and a raw egg. The diner mixes all the ingredients together and then seasons it with red pepper paste to taste before eating it. A wide variety of side dishes, banchan, are also put on the table to eat or mix in.

I liked it. The beef is lean, high quality meat and you don't feel like you are eating raw hamburger, because it is all mixed in with everything else. After he finished eating, our church's history expert, Samuel, found a local paper to read in the lobby. I like Samuel. He loves to read whenever and wherever he can, just like me.

Samuel tells me the latest news from Korea and the world.
On the road again, we ate some delicious sweets from a local bakery. Fortunately, one of the vans had to stop for gas, so Dawn bought us all cartons of milk to drink with our desserts. Our next destination was Busan (this is the hometown of my friend Im Seong Ho) where were scheduled to attend a church service at 7. We thought we had a lot of time before the service, but the traffic going into Busan was miserable. We crept along the highway, and when we reached a certain spot that should have been ten minutes from the place we planned to stay, it ended up taking us an hour and ten minutes to get there. We emerged from the vans, happy to not be cooped up in the snail-paced traffic, only to have to get back in the vans less than 30 minutes later to try to get to the church service on time. My attitude was not godly at that moment. I asked if we could simply walk to the church, which I thought was nearby, but, no, it was back into the vans since the church was across town. With a big sigh, I followed the other vans, parked, and feeling rather grungy, went into the service. 

We arrive late, toward the end of the worship time, got seats, and I made my peace with God and decided that I would cease being negative and enjoy being in God's house with His people. After the offering, a pastor got up and introduced another pastor who gave the main message. It was all in Korean, so I didn't understand a word of it except the words for love and Father, and the universal words amen and hallelujah. When the message ended, I anticipated a closing song and the worship team got up and sang, to be joined later by the pastor who had spoken the message. It seemed the people were singing the same things over and over again. Then the pastor began to pray, and suddenly the congregation joined him in a swelling roar and then began praying all at once in our loud voices as fast as their tongues could go. This was interspersed with some song, and as this went on and on, the lights in the sanctuary grew dimmer and dimmer and eventually went off except for a few here and there. It was rather eerie. People began to leave when they tired of their emotional utterances, and we left too, eventually. Pastor Steve was able to meet the head pastor of the church, who was not the man who had given the message or started the emotional cacophony. It turns out that he was a Calvary Chapel pastor who had come from Canada to pastor this church, but had inherited this culture of emotional fervor. He just wanted to teach the Word, but the people wouldn't let go of their ways. I felt badly for him.

Back in the vans we went to our lodging, which was two large rooms in a building owned by another church. Men stayed in one room and women in the other. The men's room was a classroom that appeared to be used for Sunday school and/or Vacation Bible school.

Looking into the men's room through the Christian curtain.

Looking out of the men's room into the hallway where our shoes were shelved.

We used the men's room for devotional times.

From the rooftop of our building where we could dry our wet clothes, 

you could see Haeundae Beach in one direction 
You can see the ocean between the buildings.

and mountains in the opposite one.

Okay, the mountains are there behind the buildings...
Instead of heading straight up to bed, Pastor Steve and I went with the young adults to see the beach at night. Haeundae Beach is very popular and crowded during the day. At night, there are lights that illuminate the beach enough to see where you are going, and people go there to play soccer and volleyball in the sand, have night picnics, stroll with friends, family, and significant others, and listen to the buskers who serenade passers by with a variety of styles of music. I waded in the water and managed to get one picture of Dongsu, Emily, and William enjoying the cooling surf.

We decided that the next day would be one of relaxation. People could go to the beach, go shopping, evangelize, rest - whatever they wished. I slept well that night knowing that I would be able to do some long put off reading the next day, and I thank God for the opportunity to not drive the van.

I spent the morning reading a book on my Kindle and then ventured out to eat something. The evening before, our beach group had stopped at the McDonalds up the street, because the teenagers were craving burgers and fries. I limited myself to a 50 won ice cream cone, since I was still pretty full from bibimbap and the sweet I had eaten at lunch. I decided to have lunch at McDonalds by myself. If you eat in the dining room at McDonalds in Korea, you usually get a real cup, not a paper one, for your soft drink, and there are dining room attendants who take your tray and separate your trash into its recyclable components, since recycling is important here. I enjoyed people watching as I ate my Bacon Tomato Deluxe burger (no, I didn't have the Bulgogi or the Shanghai burger) and caught children looking at my American self. Sometimes they are brave and wave and say hello. On my way out of the restaurant, I took this picture of a service offered by Mickey D's here in Korea:

You can order your food online 24/7 and have it delivered to you. Lots of restaurants are like that. I am not a fan of McDonalds food, but I admit that I am tempted to buy a 50 won ice cream cone whenever I pass by.

Walking down the street, I happened upon my Chinese friends Frank and Tina whose daughter was off having fun with the other teenagers. They invited me into a Caffe Benne for refreshment and conversation.

We talked for some time about education and raising teenagers to love the Lord. They love their daughter Annie dearly and pray that she will grow up into Spirit-filled young woman of God. I think she will, because they are wonderful parents, on their knees for her, and living out grace-filled lives as her examples.

Back in the dorm room, I read more, sent out some pictures via Instagram, took a shower, and rested. (You can follow me on Instagram. I am dunbar.dan) When everyone returned, it was decided we would go to a buffet restaurant for dinner. Despite my ernest desire not to, I go into a van and drove half of our group to the restaurant, parked, and joined the group on the sixth floor where they had already begun grazing on the various foods and beverages. I had filled my plate with some slivers of pizza and pasta and just sat down when a robed, barefoot man holding a picket-type sign came into the dining room, walked up to our table, pointed his sign at me and said, "Jesus!" and then walked away. I was half amused, half flabbergasted by this, and then thought, "Why didn't I get a picture of that?" Later, I found him filling his plate at the salad bar and I indicated I wanted to take his picture. "Christian?" he asked me. I smiled and nodded, and he posed for this photo:

After dinner, I asked Pastor Steve to drive the van back to our accommodations so I could walk back via the beach. I stopped and sat with my back to a sign warning swimmers about the dangers of rip currents.

I stayed there listening to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, feeling the balmy breezes on my face, smelling the salty-sandy air and had myself a little prayer and praise time. It is interesting to see who God brings to mind at times like this when I am alone with Him, even though I am in a public place with folks passing by. After a while, I went back to the dorm and slept.

The next morning, Tain and Pastor Steve took Tain's brother Ake, Pastor Tongbai and his sons in one of the vans back to Seoul so they could catch their flight home to Thailand. I believe it was Ake who bought each of us an Egg McMuffin sandwich for breakfast that morning before he left. He was quite a charmer, that guy. He was always buying us little treats to eat and he bought all of the young people shirts as gifts in Busan. Those of us who remained cleaned the rooms and got into the vans and drove to Busan Tower 
We took the elevator to the top where there are two levels of observation decks.

where we had magnificent views of the harbor and the mountains, which you can really see in the pictures this time.

Samuel and Hannah admiring the view.
After the tower, we visited the nearby marketplace to shop. Marketplaces are wonderful places to shop and get bargains on clothes, shoes, food, cosmetics, toys, pots and pans, textiles and many other things. I like taking pictures of colorful items, so these got my attention:
Neck pillows

I like the alligators peering over the top of the pile.
Once some purchases had been made, we drove to the Busan waterfront fish market where everything imaginable from the sea can be found for sale, either to cook at home or to eat in the restaurants there. Just look at these fresh, uncooked seafood platters for sale:
Shrimp, crab, and baby octopus anyone?
Not being a fish eater, I passed on the fried fish in the restaurant and ate rice, soup, and side dishes instead that lunchtime. I think I disappointed my table mates by not eating the fish...

Lunch eaten, it was back to the two remaining vans for the long ride back to Seoul. I wish I could have captured some of the beautiful mountain scenery I witnessed as I drove. There was one place where it seemed that three mountains all converged at one spot and that spot was where a tunnel had been made for us to drive through. I wanted to stop the van and take a picture and marvel in awe at God's majestic creation. I can still see it in my mind.

We stopped a few times at rest stops for food and fuel on our way home, made it through the snarl of Seoul Friday evening rush hour traffic, and arrived safely at the church where I was happy to hand over the keys to my van, shoulder my backpack, and take the subway home to sleep in a bed. We are talking that we need to do more trips of this kind throughout Korea, so I hope we will in the future. Perhaps when Pastor Scott and Diane Robinson have settled into their church in Jinju, we can go visit them... But maybe next time we can take the train?


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