Beginning a Good Work, I Hope

The past month has been a time for me of settling into life here in Korea without Pastor DeVries and some of the other constants that were in my life last year. During this new beginning, I'm still trying to figure things out. This afternoon I took a break from preparing for Bible college classes to have an adventure of sorts. First, I drove to the gas station to put some LPG (liquid petroleum gas) into the white van. It was my first time buying gas in Korea. Next, I drove to the local Costco store. I made a few wrong turns, but my visual memory and general sense of direction got me to the store where I purchased my first Costco membership card.
Having purchased the card, I did some shopping with the little money I had left over after buying gas and the membership. I bought cinnamon raisin bagels, cream cheese, and orange juice, then treated myself to the hot dog lunch special and a honey almond sundae. Satisfied with my purchases and my meal, I set out to drive home, but I was cut off by a bus at a right turn, so I wandered for a while before I found myself in familiar territory and was able to get back home. Driving isn't easy when a lot of the signs are in another language that you cannot read very well.

I am home now alone. My housemates, Pastor Sejun and Tain, are out of town, or, in Tain's case, out of the country. Since Sunday night, I have had this house all to myself. I found the vacuum cleaner and cleaned the floors, did some laundry, and will soon hang a new shower curtain in the bathroom. The dehumidifier is running constantly to keep the humidity down in the house, because it seems prone to dampness, water damage, and mold if not kept dry. Summer here is humid, and we have had a few downpours with thunder and lightning. I took some pictures during a recent storm. In the second one you can see how the rain water was pooling on the front porch. You also can see that from the front door, I can look down the stone stairway and across the street where rice is growing.

I had to take a trip to the Philippines last week to get my D-6 religious visa in my passport. I flew out of Incheon on Sunday night after church and returned the following Friday afternoon. Pastor Clyde de la Calzada met me at 2AM with a brother and sister from the church and got me to my hotel. Such servants! I was able to meet up with Pastor Clyde and other members from the Greater Grace church in Manila for some food and fellowship.
One of the brothers in the church in Manila is very interested in starting a Greater Grace Christian school. I think there is a real need for Christian education all over the world as parents everywhere grow more and more concerned about what is being taught and modeled in non-Christian schools. Christian schools that train up educated disciples are not common, and teachers who are Finished Work, grace-oriented believers are rare gems.

I attended a wedding last weekend where the daughter of my first Korean family, Jin and Esther, was the beautiful bride.
The couple is in the spotlight and you can see two men in black, one a photographer and the other a videographer. To the left, below the video screen, you can see the father and mother of the groom sitting on the platform. The parents of the bride, Jin and Esther, were sitting out of frame on the right.

 The wedding took place in a wedding hall, a specialized facility that hosts weddings. The couple has the use of a chapel for a set amount of time, an hour I think, and it comes with photographers, videographers, lighting and sound people, and women who stage manage every moment. In the final picture, you can see one of these women waiting for the perfect moment to throw a handful of rose petals for a romantic photo.

Wedding halls include large reception halls where guests pay to eat buffet style along with guests from other weddings taking place in the facility. Guests can choose to eat either before or after the wedding service. The food at this reception buffet was varied and delicious! One of my favorite moments in a Korean wedding is when the friends of the bride and groom sing a special song for them. The couple hold hands and face the singers during the song. Another special time in the wedding service is when the newly married couple pay their respects to their parents who have been sitting on the platform throughout the service. I love the honor shown in that moment.

I have been preaching on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. So far, so good, I think. I enjoy preaching more than I thought I would. On Sundays after the morning service, we eat lunch together, and then I spend an hour with the young people having a rap before heading back into the chapel for the adult rap session. I'm learning.

Monday, August 24, will be our first class of the new Bible college semester. I am teaching Church History 1 live two days a week and on another two days of the week, I am facilitating the online video class Practical Ecclesiology taught by Pastor Brian Lange. September 2 marks the first meeting of a new season of English Bible Study at a local hospital with some of the doctors. We may end of reading through C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity together this year. Perhaps that same week, the English Bible class at Yeomyung School will resume. The fall semester begins in September sometime. With Bible college, Bible studies, and church services, my life will be full enough for a rookie pastor.

I'm hoping to go to China at the end of September for a week to visit some people there.

Pray for our church and for the nation of Korea. Korea sends out almost as many missionaries as America does even though it has one-sixth of America's population. Just like any modern, industrialized country with big cities, Korea has great needs that can only be met by Jesus Christ and His all-sufficient grace. I'm counting on God's faithfulness, God's goodness, and God's all-sufficiency to keep me going in the year ahead.

Perhaps while you are sleeping, I will be walking down my street past the gardens where red peppers grow so that I can catch a bus to the subway which will take me to the church or to the airport or wherever God leads. Pray for me before your head hits the pillow. I need all the prayers I can get!

Red peppers drying in the sun down the street from where I live.

The view from my seat on the bus to the subway station. I was the first passenger that day of the wedding.

Waiting to board my flight to the Philippines.
And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.
Philippians 1:6, Amplified translation


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