Country Time

Sunday morning I awoke and packed my eBag travel bag.

This bag was a last minute purchase and I am so glad I made the investment. Actually, I should say, "Thanks, Mom and Dad for this awesome early birthday gift!" It has served me well as an amazing carry-on back pack and travel luggage. That and the Keens sandals have been two of the most valuable items I bought before I came here. I now realize I should have also gotten a pair of Keens hiking shoes like the L.L. Bean saleslady suggested. Twenty-twenty hindsight...

Once the bag was packed, it was off to Sunday morning service where I saw Pastor Tongbai and his sons from Thailand along with Tain's brother Ake (second photo)

Pastor Tongbai with his sons, Best, and Grace.
Ake was trying to determine if I had given someone money that he had wanted to give. I had not.

and Frank, Tina, and Annie from China. (Frank is on the right. Jhun from The Philippines - a great worship leader is on the left.) 

The Thais and this Chinese family were going to join a group of us from Grace Mission Church on a road trip to three places in Korea to try to build up people we met there. I was asked to bring my international driver's license, since I would be driving one of the three vans on the trip. I had never driven in Korea before and had picked up a few of the differences between Korean and American driving practices while riding along in Jin's car and in the church van. Fortunately, Koreans drive on the same side of the road as Americans do. After the service, lunch, and a rap at the church, we loaded up our vans and headed out toward Pastor Sejun's hometown out in the countryside. My job was to relax and attempt to follow the more experienced drivers - Pastor Steve and Petros who had GPS guiding him. I was not as aggressive a driver as these two, so sometimes I got separated from them by a red light or in merging traffic throughout the trip. I was living the message and driving by faith, forging forward by grace, praying, recalling Scripture, and enjoying my time with the Body of Christ.

I felt like I was on the Korean TV show known as 2 Days 1 Night in America where the regular cast heads out driving in vans for various destinations throughout Korea where they have fun playing games for food and shelter, all the while seeing beautiful locations. One of the regular features in many Korean TV road trips is a stop at a highway rest stop for food, drink, and a bathroom break. I had seen it many times, but our first rest stop allowed me to experience one of these Korean roadside eateries firsthand. 

Dongsu's mother bought me a delicious fresh juice and I bought some Hall's cherry cough drops in the convenience store, since I had been coughing more and more. By now, I was fairly certain I had bronchitis and was trying not to be annoying with my cough.

We drove in the bus lane for a while since we had the minimum number of required passengers to give us that privilege, and we made good time getting out of Seoul and out into the less populated countryside. Although I knew that Korea was mountainous, it was driving through tunnel after tunnel bored through mountains and over bridge after bridge erected between mountains that I realized the Korean ingenuity that enables roads and railways to pass through and over all of this terrain.

We arrived at the church we were were going to do some ministry. We discovered some blackberry bushes as soon as we got out of the car.

Hannah eats a blackberry.

We found that we could climb some stairs to the roof of the building adjacent to the church and we began taking pictures of the countryside and playing games.

The country church.

The view of the farmland from the roof.

Dongsu is the monkey in the middle.

Hannah always seems to enjoy herself.

Tain began cooking a Thai dinner for us travelers and the pastor and his wife to eat on our first night together, so I wandered up and down the country road and began taking pictures of whatever took my fancy.

Before we ate, we had a service with the pastor. Pastor Steve preached, the Koreans led worship, and Pastor Tongbai sang. The pastor led many songs for his congregation from a hymnal.
The platform of the church.

Part of our group before the service began.

The pastor speaks.

The ladies stayed in some rooms at the pastor's home and the guys stayed in the local community center where we slept on the floor.

The community center. It was foggy most mornings as you can see below.

Our daily routine was to wake up and head over to the pastor's house for breakfast and a devotional time with Pastor Steve and then head out for evangelism. The pastor wanted Dawn and I to go door to door with him, and we had two Korean ladies with us too who were amazing witnesses to the elderly people we met. It is a sad fact that many of the country villages in Korea have mostly older, lonely people living in them, some who say they are just hoping to die soon, like the two ladies in the pictures below.

These are hard working people whose labors have gone to support their children's education and provided them with places to live in the big cities. Some say their children seldom if ever come to visit them. The older men in the photos said they could not come to church because they had to go drinking with their friends or because they are buddhist.

This man said I was very handsome! (He must be losing his sight.)
After evangelism, we would go somewhere to eat and then go see some of the sights in the area.
Yummy cold noodles.

Dongsu puts on his swimming goggles in the restaurant in preparation for a trip to the beach.
We drove to the beach in hopes to dig clams at low tide, but the tide was in. I was miserable with bronchitis, so I slept the entire time at the beach and only one photo.

That night, Pastor Sejun took me and Pastor Tongbai to see and doctor. The doctor injected me with antibiotics in my derrière and treated Pastor Tongbai's infected foot. I also had a prescription filled at the pharmacy next door. The cost for our visit to the doctor without Korean insurance? Less than $10, probably because the doctor was a believer.

On another day, we made a trip to a famous swinging bridge where there was some sort of legend involving a tiger and a dragon.

Samuel, Hannah's brother, in peril!

Scenic view
We also visited a garden near to the office where Pastor Sejun's brother worked. We prayed for his new accounting business and his upcoming marriage, and then visited the garden filled with lovely lotus flowers.

On my way out of the park, I spotted this little guy who insisted that he push his stroller rather than ride in it.

Korean children are adorable as all get out! We went to a nearby restaurant...

Where's Tain?
where I tried most everything but the fish.

Then we headed out to visit a royal palace that is part of a museum. From what I understood, at one time, there were several co-existing kingdoms in Korea, each with its own palaces. This is one of them.

Part of the fort that protected the palace.
By the end of my wanderings through the palace, I was hot and sweaty. Fortunately, I found a sculpture outside the museum that looked like the cross section of an eggshell, so I lay down inside of it shadowy coolness and rested for a bit.

When we returned to the church, we went out for some more evangelism with the pastor. After visiting some homes, he decided to take our little group out into the boondocks where he had some land where he raises bees for honey. Here are some pictures I took of the hives.

He also treated us to some watermelon and cherry tomatoes he had growing there.

Each night we ate dinner together and had a service in the church for the local people and our own. Each night and each morning, the pastor's wife gave me a thermos filled with a tea she had made to cure my cough. It was made from ginseng, jujubes, and her husband's chestnut honey. It was not pleasant tasting, but I faithfully drank every drop she gave me. Before I left, she gave me a big jar of the chestnut honey as a gift, hoping I would eat a spoonful each morning and evening to keep me healthy. When it was time for us to leave the country, I asked one of our ladies to thank her for the honey and her care for me, and then I asked if I could hug her. She agreed to a hug and then began jumping up and down and waving her arms with a big smile on her face, exclaiming that this was her first hug with an American. She asked if I would hug her again, so I did and we took this picture together.

The sweet pastor's wife.
We got into our vans that morning not really knowing what impact we had made on this community. The pastor had said he was disappointed that we all hadn't come every day for 4:30 AM prayer and that his church attendance had not grown as a result of our visit; but a day later we heard how much he missed us all, so I think our ministry there was simple spiritual edification of him and his wife.

Next, we headed for the city of Busan...


  1. We miss you Mr. D but I can tell you're totally having the time of your life!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Blue Christmas

Before We Call, God Answers

Friends Like Jonathan