The East Asian Conference (EACON) officially began on Tuesday, July 22. I am trying to recall if this was the first time I rode the subway by myself anywhere in Korea. I know that I was bold enough to venture alone down into my local station at Bonghwasan and purchase a subway debit card and load it up with enough money to get around for a while, but I cannot recall when I figured out that the way to the conference was two stops down Line 6 and then a transfer to Line 7 for another three stops. 

The Korean subway and train system is amazing and covers a lot of territory. It is also relatively inexpensive and it saves the hassle of traffic jams and parking if one is willing to do some walking, some standing, and some climbing of stairs. Sometimes I feel like an ant making his way down underground into his anthill, emerging with other ants out of the mouth of some other anthill after an subterranean journey.

Anyway... All of us conference attendees moved into our temporary home - the dormitories of Korean Bible University.

The women had their own floor and bathrooms and the men had their own too. Each floor had a meeting area just off the elevator where there were refrigerators and couches, and this is where we prepared and ate breakfast and had times of informal fellowship. We also had use of the school cafeteria, which prepared lunch and dinner for us. (The Koreans said the food was not very good, as far as Korean food goes, and complained enough to get the price knocked down.) Our meetings were held in a lecture hall in another building on the third floor. Besides having to sit on wooden seats at desks for the services, we also had the inconvenience of not having use of the elevator at times, which was a hardship for the older people and people with mobility issues.

The first night I slept in the dorm, I used an inflatable pillow that we were all issued in addition to a blanket for sleeping on our bunk beds. I was uncomfortable that first night because it was very hot in the room and my roommates would not sleep with the fan or an air conditioner going. Because of the heat, my head and face were sweaty, and I tossed and turned, sleeping first on my right side, then on my left, then on my back, over and over again. In the morning when I awoke, I looked into the mirror to see how tired I appeared and how messy my hair was, and I got quite a shock. The right side of my face was as red as an apple! Was it a heat rash? Was I allergic to the pillow? I looked and saw that part of the left side of my face was red also! Did I need to see a doctor about this? I touched my skin to see if it was warm or sensitive, and the tip of my index finger turned red. I touched my face again and drew it over the skin of my cheek and left a line there. The red on my face was some substance - it was the red, fake velvet coating of my pillow. Knowing that I had slept on my back, I checked the nape of my neck and found that it, too, was covered in red fuzz. I found a dirty sock and wiped as much of the red off my face and neck as I could before leaving my room to eat breakfast. As far as I know, I am the only person that this happened to.

One of the teens joked that I must have looked like the comic book character Hellboy. To prevent further incidents of this kind, I was given a gray inflatable pillow, a pillow case, and a room with two of the Korean teens, Dongsu and Young Jae, who didn't mind a little cool air, and I woke up looking more like a heaven boy.

The conference theme was The Just Shall Live By Faith, and by faith I gave an introduction on the first night of the conference. I don't think it was very good, but it was what it was, by God's grace, and God hasn't taken me home early to spare people from having to hear me speak again, and Pastor Steve didn't send me home on the next flight out of Seoul. Dawn Doorenbos sang Cornerstone acapella as special music that same night. I think that turned out a little better than my message. Pastor Steve spoke a series of messages on the theme of living by faith throughout the conference, and he got us all saying "Without the Word of God in my life, I will die (spiritually)." "WIthout the grace of God in my life, I will die." "WIthout prayer in my life, I will die." "Without the Body of Christ in my life, I will die." To live by faith, I need these four elements in my life. It was simple, yet profound and powerful, and it built up our faith for the healing service on Friday evening.

There was beautiful music from the Chinese, Korean, and Filipino worship teams in every session, and Pastor Tongbai and his son Grace performed Spirit-filled songs in Thai that had us all hoping for more. Pastor Clyde from Manila and Pastor Samuel from China also spoke and shared in rap sessions. I was the moderator in a couple of the raps (another first for me) 

As the week went on, I got to know some new people. One of my favorite new friends is a young man from China named Frank. His father spoke an introduction at one of the sessions. Frank is not a Christian yet, he said, but that made me love him all the more. I am praying for him and I hope to see him in China in October. He was one of the guys I went with to a swimming pool on the Friday of the conference with the youth with the other young people who asked me to come. The pool was crowded and I was somewhat of an anomaly among all the Asian faces bobbing in the water. I enjoyed myself immensely, but got myself a good sunburn (not Hellboy bad, but close enough).

Saturday morning I woke up very late, probably due to all my sun exposure, and had almost no voice. I was supposed to be leading singing in less than half an hour, so I threw on some clothes, ran to the meeting hall, and drank several cups of warm water. Dawn and Sarah Wilson 

were going to sing with me, but Sarah ended up having to play piano at the last moment for two of our songs (thank God for Dawn and Sarah's quick thinking and action to pull the music together). WIth my deep croaking voice, I managed to lead us all in Your Grace is Enough, What the Lord has Done in Me, and Alleluia. Looking back, those songs perfectly suited my situation - God's grace was enough, alleluia, for what the Lord had to do through me.

Saturday afternoon we went to the church and had a baptism then went to a Korean restaurant for gamjatang, pork bone and potato (or what has been nicknamed "dinosaur bones") soup. 

It was our last meal all together as conference attendees. I went home to do laundry and prepare for the next big adventure - the Korean Missions Road Trip. It was great to come home and hear Esther say that she had missed me.

This was my second EACON and I can say that it is worth the time, effort, and expense to come worship and fellowship with our East Asian brothers and sisters in Christ.


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