Welcome! Learn. Let's Grow!

All I can say is, "It's been a while." For five weeks I was living in China helping friends establish a school there. At one point last spring, I was the person who was going to move to China and be the principal of this school which would be for Chinese elementary and middle school students and any students from any other nationalities who want to learn or to improve their English. But God had other plans, so here I am in South Korea for another year serving the wonderful people of the Grace Mission Church in Seoul.

I returned to Korea in mid-July and two weeks later I was on a flight to China with two suitcases, one filled with textbooks for the school and the other filled with my clothes. I arrived on a Sunday afternoon to discover that the keys to my Airbnb rental were unavailable and that I would have to find another accommodation for the foreseeable future. I ended up staying in a hotel for three nights before I can could into my Airbnb place for the next seven nights. After that, I slept on the couch in the teachers' lounge at the school for the remainder of my stay. It was a lot cheaper and my commute to school was...well...no commute at all.

Putting a school together in three weeks from almost scratch was a challenge. We were starting the school in a four storey townhouse villa, so there was much work to be done to convert the building from a large home into a small school. When I arrived, the school lobby was already in place and there were some new desks and chairs upstairs along with some Ikea bookcases and a few rugs.

Over the next three weeks, workers installed new LED lighting in the classrooms, wired the building for Internet, phone, security camera, and intercom systems, installed safety features, installed whiteboards, and delivered cafeteria and art room tables and stools and many other pieces of furniture which I enjoyed helping assemble.

I gave my two cents of advice on school uniforms, wrote a parent-student manual, a teacher manual, made schedules and a calendar, got the student information system up and running, and took a one day trip to Bangkok, Thailand to purchase books we needed to have before school opened August 22. We worked days and nights pulling things together, stopping to eat lunch and dinner together and to attend church services. Some of those church services I was the substitute pastor since the head and assistant pastors were either out of the country or out of town on a missions trip. I also taught Bible Survey 1 for three hours on each of the last two Fridays I was there.

I remember the message that Pastor Schaller spoke called "I Can't, I Can," which I repreached here in Korea last spring. We saw so many things that we could and could not do in China as we worked on the school, but we turned to God time and time again and said, "God, You do it. This school is yours. By faith, we will go forward knowing that nothing of eternal value will be accomplished here by us unless you are doing the work and we are resting in Your ability."

It seemed like a miracle that the school opened on time and that we survived our first week. God sent us three beautiful middle school girls to be taught by the teacher God hand-picked and called from America who loves these girls to pieces and labors to engage them spirit, soul, and body in their daily schoolwork. God gave us two boys and one girl, each one adorable in his or her own way, to be our first first graders, and their teacher has been being groomed and trained by God for such a time as this for many years, and she creatively captivates their attention each day with her lessons.

I seriously do not know anyone who could have better filled the leadership position that I was supposed to have than the Finnish dynamo that God convinced to take the job. She is a good leader, has organizational and communication skills, and she can also teach math, music, and physical education! She and our Chinese school admin (who we have nicknamed Wonder Woman), are a team that gets things done and keep the school running, learning as they go forward by faith.

Our other staff include our Chinese language teacher who also teaches elementary physical education and monitors lunch and recess, our middle school Bible teaching team, our beloved art teacher (the first graders think she is SO pretty), the faithful ladies who prepare hot lunch, and our smiling cleaning fairy who appears at the end of the day to make our building look and smell fresh and clean.

Like other works of God, this school runs on faith that works by love. It is a small school with only six students and a handful of staff members who have taken up the challenge to impart the life and love of Christ to students and their families five days a week, eight plus hours a day. Remember in Luke 8:46 when the woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of Jesus' garment and He said, "Virtue has gone out of me?" As a teacher, virtue is going out of you all day long to the students, and the prince and power of the air is always trying to wring you out, to leave you virtueless, relying on your own strength and resorting to the energies of the natural man. It is a spiritually as well as a physically demanding job to be a teacher in a Christian school. Please pray for God's power to strengthen and encourage our school staff members in China.

As for me, the pulpit and the Bible college ministry here in Seoul are back on my plate again. Pastor DeVries leaves tomorrow for two months in America with his wife and family members. He will be teaching a Bible college via Skype here two days a week starting September 28. I start teaching my class on the 26th. The English Bible Study at the Sanggye Paik Hospital in Junggye will continue on Wednesdays and the English Bible Class will resume on Fridays after the Chuseok holidays next week. I hope to be able to edify the teachers at KONIS in Pyeongchang-dong soon too on a Monday afternoon. Someday, perhaps there will be a Greater Grace school here in Korea. You can pray for that too, if God puts it on your heart.

Unfortunately for you, I cannot post the many pictures of the staff and students that I took while in China for the sake of protecting our school. I do have a photo of any empty classroom you can see to help you visualize as you pray:
This was taken before the teacher arrived and decorated the room to make it warm and welcoming.

The only other pictures I have worth showing are from the English Bible Study group's party of our president, Dr. Chung who celebrated his 60th birthday and of an interesting chair I discovered "growing" in our neighborhood last week.
Dr. Chung is wearing the blue tie in the center.

Here's to another year of growing by grace through faith wherever God has planted us!

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