Wrapping Up and Wondering

This was me last Saturday morning.
I was squatting down beside the waist high wall that separates the driveway outside our apartment building from the garden plot next door. I wanted some bricks in the background while I recorded the presentation of the GGCA graduating class of 2015. Pastor Barry Quirk and Nate McFarland both contacted me via email that morning asking me to do this, so I shaved and put on the spiffy shirt and tie you can see in the photo below.

I managed to make it through the three-minute speech without coughing, which was good for me, since I had been fighting a battle with a chest cold for a few days at that point. Respiratory ailments are my Achilles heel, and it is by the grace of God that I have had only two major bouts of illness in my time here.
This is me yesterday at the doctor's office, yet again, breathing in some sort of healing vapors before heading next door to the pharmacy for some more medication.
(That reminds me that I need to take my evening dosage now, a cocktail of little pills...
...and some cough medicine that I squeeze into my mouth for a plastic package, like the kind that ketchup comes in. Please excuse me for a moment while I medicate myself.)

Okay. I'm back from the dispensary, better known as the kitchen where I washed down everything with orange juice. William and his Korean friend Eric are here doing some friendly bickering at the kitchen table about schoolwork. Eric is staying overnight so that he can be on time for Saturday detention.

Eric was late for detention last week, so he has it again this week. He has Saturday detention because he was late to school too many times. I think it's funny that he's staying here so he can be on time to attend detention at school. William and Eric graduate next Thursday, but still have another week of school after that.

Tain has finally returned from all of his travels and he and William have been working on downsizing their possessions here at the apartment, because they need to move out next month. William is moving on campus to study Korean beginning in June, and Tain is moving because the apartment is being sold and is no longer available to rent. Little by little, furniture, clothing, books, and other things are being taken out to the curb to be collected as trash or recycling.

In my own way, I have been downsizing my few possessions too. Some of the clothes I brought here have become ragged or acquired kimchi stains that I couldn't remove, so they went into the used clothing bin in our neighborhood. I packed a big blue duffle bag with cold weather clothes and some odds and ends and brought it to Pastor DeVries' house yesterday, because that is where I will be living when I return in July.

Tain and I will be staying in that house while Pastor Steve is on sabbatical leave. I am thrilled knowing that I will be living in a house with a clothes dryer and a working oven. The house is outside downtown Nogyang and rice and other crops are being grown across the street. While I was being given a tour of the house, I heard roosters crowing nearby. Perhaps I will nickname our home Green Acres.

This past week was a time to say some goodbyes. On Monday, I said goodbye for now to Burger to Burger, the hamburger joint near the church run by believers.
On Tuesday, Pastor Steve and I drove to the airport in Incheon to bid farewell to Tom Staalesen who flew home to Baltimore on a flight that left at 1:20am. Pastor Steve is wonderful about taking care of those of us who come and go from far away places. He'll drop me off at the airport bus stop on Monday when I go.
Tom considers the lilies in the airport
"I'm leavin' on a jetplane..."
Earlier that same day, Tain, Dawn, Petros, and I traveled north to Gapyeong to revisit the site of this year's East Asia Conference at Green Camp. We wanted to see what it looks like now that it is actually green. Our last visit was during the winter when the wind cut through us like a knife and all was brown and frozen. Here are some photos I took.

By July, it will be even greener and the ornamental garden will be in full bloom. We will be baptizing some people in the river, cooking out, and singing around a campfire. This will be much different from the last two East Asia Conferences I attended which were on college campuses in Seoul.

Wednesday I took these two photos at the church to remind myself that we need to update them, since there is no Friday night Bible study. Our Bible college classes meet mornings and evenings four days a week, so the Friday night Bible study has gone by the wayside. Wednesday was my last time leading worship for a while and I said goodbye for now to some people I knew I wouldn't see on Sunday.

Thursday I had to say goodbye for now to the students at Yeomyung school. We sang Bless the Lord O My Soul (10,000 Reasons) with great gusto, banging on the tabletop at the part of the song where the bass drum usually boom booms. The school gave me a little travel towel with the name of the school embroidered in Korean on it. I rode the subway back to Nogyang and went to see the doctor.

I was surprised on my first visit to the doctor last week when she asked me if I was anorexic. I almost laughed, but told her that I eat three meals a day. My second visit, the doctor asked me if I had been eating regularly, and I assured her that I was. Yesterday on my third visit, I told the doctor that as soon as I was finished seeing her, I was going out to lunch. Koreans are big proponents of three meals a day and frown on skipping meals. Good food is good medicine and good health in Korea. I went to the Parana sandwich and bubble tea shop right next door to the doctor's office for my lunch, so I could take my medicine. The woman who runs the shop is nice and has a friendly smile.

Today was another warm spring day here in Nogyang. 
I met Pastor DeVries and the director of the Uijeongbu International Christian School at Camp Red Cloud, a U.S. military base a short walk down the street from here. We ate lunch and discussed the possibility of me filling in for Pastor Steve as part of the director's advisory committee while he is away. I had a reuben sandwich with potato salad for my meal. It seems that the trials and tribulations of a Christian school director in Korea are not so different in essence from those faced by a Christian school principal in Baltimore. I would be happy to serve as an advisor if I am approved.

On my walk back from the base, I snapped some photos of the athletic facilities I passed.
Baseball field with an ice hockey rink on the right behind it


Stadium for soccer and track and field events

View into the stadium

A big gymnasium
People were jogging around, riding their bicycles, working out in the weight rooms, playing tennis, and other athletic activities. I was walking and trying not to cough and spit too conspicuously.

Tonight I am wrapping up my first year in Korea by writing my last blog entry here for a couple of months. I will continue posting entries while I am in America, because I want my Korean friends and friends that I have made in China, Japan, the Philippines, and other places to see what my time in America is like and to meet my family members. I hope to show pictures of people and places (and food) in Maine and Maryland and to tell what God is doing in my life while I am away from Asia.

I'm still not certain where the road that God put me on will pass through. Only the final destination is certain. Why has he brought me to the opposite side of the globe from where I lived the first 52 years of my life? I'm not complaining and I'm not stressing out about this question. I'm simply curious and wondering. What awaits me in America? What will my life be like in Korea when I return and Pastor DeVries is no longer here guiding me through the week? Life is interesting, isn't it?

I am relying on God to be faithful to His word, especially the promise He gave me when I decided to move here:
He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it. 
--1 Thessalonians 5:24 ESV
If the work depends upon me to get done, let's just say shucks and go home. But if God is going to do the work, then I can have some confidence and look forward to seeing what He has planned to do. God can do His work despite my health issues and all the other things I know are lacking in me. To God be the glory whenever great things are done and somehow I am a part of them, because He is surely doing it out His great faithfulness. Surely, it is not I, but Christ. Like this little guy below, I hope to bring the Light of Christ with me wherever I go.


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