Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lesson(s) Learned

As I'm wrapping up my experience living and teaching in the country where my parents and their parents were born and raised, I walk away with countless lessons, experiences, memories, and relationships. I remember thinking a year ago that I might be a very different person after this year was over. Perhaps I've become stranger, even more opinionated, and more certain about who I am and who I am not. I definitely have a more comprehensive understanding of my cultural heritage as well as my parents' personalities and how the two go hand-in-hand.

Actually, maybe all that does make me a whole lot different from Joyhanna 9 months ago.

I've realized that I have big eyes (figuratively, of course). I want to accomplish great things in whatever new endeavor I embark on. However (and it took many months for me to admit this), I have a weak heart. I know that my heart quickly becomes involved in these new passions and I am unable to differentiate between the two. So, when I walk away, I inevitably leave a piece of my heart.

So it is with you, Korea 2011, that I leave a piece of my heart.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I see God in you.

The last couple of weeks have been some of the most physically, emotionally, and academically-challenging weeks I've had in Korea. Physically, battling sickness and hormonal rage is not easy while simultaneously managing to isolate yourself from those you care about most because you have to study for a four hour-long exam that may determine who gives you the "yes" and who will give me the thumbs down. All week, I've been wishing I had dedicated myself to a few more all-nighters during my undergraduate years. Maybe then, this stupid test wouldn't mean so much. Whatever, it is what it is. Good news is I managed to make health a priority (with the occasional late night Twizzlers) and start my days off with some Psalms. I've really been experiencing firsthand the emotional consequences of a consistent prayer life and reading the Word with actual intent on LISTENING to what the Lord has to say. Times like these, I realize a lot about myself and those around me. It's an amazing thing when you can actually see God in people.

Test day is tomorrow! Next week is my last week of work! Next month is my last in Korea!

Absolutely loving and enjoying fall for the first time in my life:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Screaming into Pillows

I can't be the only one feeling this. Even as I type, someone out there is feeling this.
That there is something inherently wrong with us. Yes, INHERENTLY.

And no amount of advice, airports, destinations, work, journal entries, food&drink can pacify my desire to scream into pillows 24/7. No, no love, lust, even laughter, can satisfy our desire for more.

Only you, God. Yes, GOD. Up close and personal, not abstract. Physical and emotional elevation. An extremely bright light at the end of this mystical and elusive tunnel.

I just want to crawl into that nook under God's arm. That must be what David had in mind when he implored God to "hide me in the shadow of your wings." Actually, probably not, but that's what I mean. My spirit always feels at ease there.


It's quite an interesting transformation when you forget the fear attached to falling in love again.

Ah, Love. How I avoided anything of you for a very long time. When you love yourself really hard and really selfishly for long enough, a numbing effect soon takes place.

His gaze instills me with a strange fear (yes, fear) that this man may actually love me as I am and not as a projection of his own inadequacies.

"Your biggest fear will be the rescue of you."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2 books that are changing my life

...other than the Bible.

These 2 books that are forcing me to grapple with very tough questions.
I'm finding a new respect for DOUBT. and FAITH-based action.

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller


Erasing Hell by Francis Chan

Thank God when complacency is out the window.
Learning to surrender every day.
Thank God for internet, a support system, prayer, and the Word.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Reins of Time

I haven't felt this much like myself since I was 18 and lost in Paris or the times I used to sit and read in that hidden cafe on the loft of a used bookstore in DF or even those awkward rides home from Retiro to Belgrano. If today was a photography exhibit, its title would be "Remnants of Europe." Think El Zocalo (DF), Buenos Aires, old Catholic churches in major Latin American cities, Pelourinho (Bahia).

Don't misunderstand. There is nothing European about Korea.

Today just feels different. It's probably the fact that it's Sunday, all the walking, solitude, no concept of time. That's it!!! No concept of time! What a beautiful thing: time to walk, time to smell, time to stop and watch children play, time to wait for the bus or to just keep walking to the next bus stop, time to give solicitors the time of day, time to write, time to listen to music, voices, footsteps, traffic, time to think about the very next step/moment and not tomorrow. I've become such a mess that I actually find comfort in writing about tomorrow. That's why lists of any form, ranging from To Do and Grocery lists, bring me so much comfort. That's sad. Thinking about the past, namely my grandma, conversely brings about pain and all its intensity.

I was born into a culture that praises work, money, status, security, retirement. Yes, both cultures.

That is why this today-the enjoyment of the now-is so nice. Paulo Coelho once wrote that we control time. While on a practical level, it's difficult to agree with him, I think I'm starting to get it.

In Korea and finally settling into my apartment, my life here, and my own skin.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Brigada, Senhor Coelho

I have to share this passage I read from Brazilian author Paulo Coelho's The Pilgrimage. It's just completely sums up what TRAVEL means to me:

"'When you travel, you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don't even understand the language the people speak. So you are like a child just out of the womb. You being to attach much more importance to the things around you because your survival depends upon them. You begin to be more accessible to others because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. And you accept any small favor from the gods with great delight, as if it were an episode you would remember for the rest of your life. At the same time, since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them, and you feel happy to be alive.'"

*"You are like a child..."
*"You begin to attach much more importance to the things around you..."
*"You begin to be more accessible to others..."
*"...an episode you would remember for the rest of your life."
*"...since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them."
*"...you feel happy to be alive."

What a beautiful passage!

The last couple weeks have been filled with lots of drip coffee/americanos, work, gym, thoughts of Grandma, cooking, different movies, the homie Jordan, FB stalking my sister's pictures of the boys, thoughts of Sebastian, and the book of Psalm.

Any terribly new developments? Umm...I got paid. I got a bike from a friend's friend who left Korea. I am cooking a lot more and am pretty proud of a few dishes. Umm...umm...my gym has an amazing jjimjilbang (Korean for public bath house) in it that makes me want to work out even harder. It provides soap, toothpaste, scrubby gloves, face lotion, hair dryers, Q-tips, towels, you-name-it! It's amazing. I take the bus 3 times a week and it lets me see parts of the city I wouldn't otherwise be able to see. It's really quite romantic (reminiscent of the K-drama Winter Sonata), and then the driver makes a sharp turn to wake you from your daydream and give you motion sickness. Haha. Ooh, I'm also working on making more Korean friends and making my small place a bit more home-y.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oo-yoo fancy huh?

I'm pleasantly surprised to find that the number of followers on my blog has entered the double digits. Woo-hoo!

I felt like I had to share with the cyber world that my day today in my real life has been extremely good. Yes, extremely.

The sun came out to play! Yay for 56 degrees as opposed to 30!

I rearranged my furniture last night. My neighbors are probably so annoyed with me for making a lot of noise, but it's not my fault they got me a bedframe that is made of real (HEAVY) wood and fit for a queen. Literally. It's exorbitantly large and princess-like. Basically, it's hideous. Before and after pics of my place to come. Be excited.

The taxi ahjussi (senor) chatted it up with me and told me that my Korean is great. He wasn't sure if I was Korean due to the fact that he heard me speaking English on the phone. Boom baby!

The students in my new adult class pretty much love me. My kids at the hakwon tell the Korean teachers that they think I'm funny. Maybe they meant funny-looking since they think I look like a raccoon. I'm not sure how to respond to that one. Oh, how many things get lost in translation. Raccoons are kind of cute, right? I will just let myself believe they love me, too.

Never mind that my keyboard is feeling sticky right now. I'm on cloud 9.

This tropical granola I bought yesterday from Home Plus (HK Market meets the mall) is delicious! (Thanks, Jordan!) However, (YOU DON'T WANNA MISS THIS), the "Go Calcium" Milk I bought makes my tummy hurt like the milk in the States, while "Seoul Ooyoo" does not. What the heck?! Seoul Ooyoo ("ooyoo" Korean for milk) is so much tastier, too. Slightly sweeter. Mmmm...

Oh yeah! Also, I ordered a long-desired trench coat off of GMarket (Korean version of Amazon) and lo and behold...guess what is sitting on my desk when I get to work this afternoon! My trench coat. Yes, my trench coat. I ordered it less than a week ago! And get this, FREE SHIPPING! Amazon usually takes anywhere between 3 weeks and 50 years to get me my stuff. Yes, I had my trench sent to work. And yes, I kind of felt like Harper when he's told he can't have his dessert until after dinner. My entire shift was the dinner. I got home, and it was just like the picture. Ladies, don't you just love when that happens?

I learned a new Korean slang word today: "bbung!" It means "J/K." A lot K-slang as well as outburst words are really starting to grow on me. "Heol!" (oh crap) "Dae-bak" (awesome) "Ah-i-ssi)" (Aww man OR aww darn)

Two of my classes were conducted in Konglish. I taught one of my classes the word "poop" (hey, they asked) and they sang pop songs to me. What a great day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Justice for North Korea

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My first day with JFNK has come to a bittersweet end.

The directions were pretty straightforward: Anguk Station Exit #6. I call my Facebook friend who I have never met face-to-face. His voice is pleasantly and somewhat unexpectedly optimistic. His directions are walk straight into the famous street of Insadong. I have no idea what to expect.  I suppose having no expectations serves as my ally in situations like this one. As instructed, I wait outside the corner convenient store and the insanity of the crowds make me feel somewhat at home. I figured I’d wait for my soon-to-be friend or be on the lookout for foreigners. I finally muster up the courage to ask a small eclectic group of individuals if they are here with JFNK. Sure enough, they are, and they are all extremely down-to-earth. The director, Peter, introduces himself and doesn’t even mention he is the director. He seems very sincere, curious, concerned, approachable, and it’s hard not to like him from the beginning. In fact, it’s hard not to like everyone with JFNK from the beginning! As another group (including my friend) approaches us with their awesome posters, Peter jumps into action. They briefly discuss where the campaign will take place and who will do what. Initially, I feel confused about my role and even question the necessity of my being there, but those thoughts are quickly pushed aside as we are equipped with informational handouts to pass out.
Many of us are hesitant at first because most of us know all too well just how obnoxious soliciting can be in Korea, but this was what we came for. As I start passing out the handouts, the real fun begins. In the midst of the diversity of touristy Insadong, I was a student of social anthropology for a couple hours. I can’t help noticing that many Koreans are commenting about the large number of foreign JFNK members (ones who don’t look Korean) who are involved in the campaign and some even ask each other why “they” would care about North Korea. One thing that really stands out is seeing adults so moved by the movement, adults who are accompanied by their children. Watching their parents take some time to listen to the speakers, to donate money - what a great impact that can make on young minds! Also, giving Koreans a different perspective of foreigners as not just some people who teach their children English during the week and get drunk at expat bars in Hongdae on the weekends. Another notable thing: seeing Koreans’ reaction to foreigners and native Koreans working together for a cause that we all care about.

The level of concentration and determination by the leaders (Dan and Peter) and everyone’s overall desire to help out on a chilly Saturday afternoon was a real inspiration and did not disappoint my first time working with JFNK. It was amazing to be in the midst of all sorts of people: people that cared a lot, people that had no clue what was going on in their neighbor country, older disillusioned Koreans, and even people who didn’t care at all. In fact, many Koreans seemed apathetic. Perhaps they think it’s too extreme to be affiliated with such a politically charged theme as “North Korea,” but we just see this as a human rights issue. Even the term “human rights” is politically charged. Maybe we just see “North Korea” as people, a people whose voice deserves to be heard by those with the freedom to use it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Waking up to music

Fresh beginnings. Phil Wickham sings about God the way I feel about Him ("I wanna live, I wanna breathe, to search out Your heart and all of Your mystery.")
I need a second cup of coffee.
A lot of developments to share with you all.
I have been going to Seoul (about 45mins-1hr subway ride) every weekend to see parents, meet friends, wander, etc.
This weekend, I will go up to attend a justice campaign concerning North Korea.

I'd really like to find a group of believers, still.
Last week, I visited a church here in Ansan and was in complete shock. I got on a bus and wasn't sure where to get off, but of course more than half the bus got off. The church is HUGE. 10 stories tall and I have no clue how wide. A row of ATMs outside its doors. Its own section of bicycle racks. It was reminiscent of a mall. Nonetheless, I walked into the English service (conveniently on the 10th floor) and the first worship song was "Hosanna." I felt immediate relief, joy, overwhelming motion, and God's goodness. Oh, how I need to get connected!

Fast forward to yesterday.
I had a troublesome student. I actually have a handful of those, but this kid was really disrespectful.
Without going into too much detail, I'll have to see what's going to happen with him.
Off to work!
Praying for patience, love, and for my buddy Chris to get to Korea ASAP! (He's a really talented teacher!)

Hope everyone is being showered with blessings and continuing to ask those tough questions.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Seoul-searchin'-Weekend Edition

I love how many puns can be created with "Seoul."
This weekend, I went to go see my parents in Seoul. They're busy, busy. And popular.
My friend Kory is also here from NorCal and she will be teaching in a city about half an hour away from me. It's been a huge blessing to know that I have a friend from home in Korea.
It was nice being surrounded by so many English speakers. I felt like I was in an expat bar in Europe.
It's also quite interesting to see how Americans differ from Canadians. Haha.

On Sunday, I went to my dad's church yet again, and despite my frustration, I "wrote" this on my iPod:
-It's truly an overwhelming feeling to be reminded of almighty God's love for me. It's that feeling of not only being beautiful in the eyes of someone you love. It's the feeling of being somebody to the only Being who matters. It's the feeling of "Yes! I could seriously die out of complete joy and overflowing love!" It's the love of my mother. The kind of love that is so patient and gracious and understanding that it could only come from a mother. Or the perfect Father. The sort of love that changes your perspective on insecurity, crying babies, and materialism. The kind of love that feels like an enlightening secret; it permeates your entire perspective. It's love whose necessary reaction is sharing it with others. It's the realization that you've just tapped into the world's greatest discovery, the solution to all conflicts and hunger, the cure for aids and cancer!-

I never completely finished my train of thought, but you get the picture.
It's getting cold here in Korea, again. I miss 80 degrees in Carrizalillo.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Frustration mixed with optimism

I don't like that I'm starting to eat so fast (at work). There's something wrong there, in my opinion. I feel the need to scarf down my food so I can move on to my next task. See?! Yikes...I just called eating a "task."

I played "Brown Eyed Girl" for my students yesterday and today, and they liked it for the most part.

Thank God for podcasts, ay? (I get to listen to Sunday sermons at Redemption). And technology. Namely, Skype to see many beautiful faces.

I'm making my first real effort to not be a homebody. This cycle of planning lessons, coming home, and watching Korean dramas has to stop. I like Week #1 better when I started my day off with a cup of coffee and my ESV study Bible.

This weekend...Hopefully, I get to see two friends who are also in Korea teaching English. And my dad. Also in Korea.

Off to teach!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

UNforgotten God

I pray I will not say or do anything to quench the Holy Spirit. I pray that although the going gets rough, that I will not stop to healthily dedicate myself to my work (because I am only accountable to the Lord).

I pray I will not say or do anything to bring shame to the universal body and more importantly, to the Lord of heaven and earth.

I pray I will find solace in the presence of the Holy Spirit and the fact that He is constantly interceding for me. May homesickness not have its hold over me!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Resson Pranning.



So, my experience so far has been great! So many ups and downs already.
I got sick. My place is tiny and old. And cold. The water never gets hot enough. My sink faucet is about to detach. I’m freezing my butt off.
But, seriously, I have learned to not only appreciate what I have back home, but to appreciate what I have now. Here in Ansan! I really feel like this increases my awareness of the need for God and I believe He is totally answering my prayers that I would grow increasingly dependent on Him and His Holy Spirit to guide me as He sees fit.

I’m lovin’ it. What I’m not lovin is this panza (aka food baby aka ddong bae aka muffin top) that I keep seeing. (See my FB photo food blog.) It’s hard to P90X it up in this tiny studio with my mom here. I don’t wanna accidentally sidekick her during Kenpo.

Oh, man, speaking of Umma. She has been AH-MAZINGGGG. I feel like I’m in first grade again and she’s sending me off to my first day of school. Even she said so! I love how culturally acceptable all of this is.

For those of you who are still reading this, I hope all of you are having amazing things going down/on in your lives. I go into my first lesson tomorrow, and your prayers will greatly help me!

I miss my nephews!!!
And Sebas (you’re in my 1st lesson, haha)
311-Love Song <3

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blog #1 from Korea. Well, sort of.

Currently on plane #2 from Narita airport in Tokyo to Korea.

Feelin’ pretty sick to my stomach.
Nothing like the artificial smell of rubber-y beef, turbulence, and this nonstop nausea.
Layovers really are no fun at all.
Just went through two security checks, two airports, two planes, 3 very different movies, at least ten cups of water, and countless bags of honey roasted peanuts.
We’ve endured over 17 hours of this madness.
It’s 1:12am in Los Angeles and 6:15pm in Korea.
My babe is probably asleep. Listening to 311 & thinking of him.
Man, I’m praying that I don’t get sick. I was judging all those Japanese girls with their masks on, but look who might be catching a cold…me!
Right now, I feel like I might puke…and probably feel much better after.
Praying for patience and preemptive healing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Get carried away by the right Person.

The idiom of the day: (to get) carried away. It means to lose control.
Idioms are a funny thing. They are so frequently used that their novelty and importance are lost.
No one appreciates idioms anymore.

Strangely enough, I equate this to God and last Sunday's sermon at Redemption on Luke 7: 36-50.
For those not familiar with the story, Jesus is invited to this pompous religious guy's house and this poor, dirty prostitute begins to wipe Jesus's feet with her tears and hair, KISSES them, and then pours ointment over them. Tying it back to idioms, I think that (like the religious man) we often use God without knowing it. We use Him to make ourselves feel better, purposeful, advantageous in some way. We use him in this manner so much that His novelty and importance are lost. We lose sight of His gorgeous grace and His unmatchable sovereignty.

I will be the first to confess to this, but in all honesty, all I could think during that sermon was, "I was that woman. Dirty, poor, and sinful." And like her, I aspire to get completely carried away, just utterly lose all control in Christ.

I think of so many of my friends, many of whom will be reading this post. It just hurts to see a generation of young people who can't seem to lift the veil from their eyes. They are absolutely convinced that their next purchase or their relations with that guy and their friends is the reality of their future. Young people are smart, so we know in the back of our minds that there's more to life, but peer pressure and fear to take action prevent them from pursuing their curiosity.

I will end with this. It doesn't really matter whether YOU believe that God exists or not. The simple fact is that He does. I just hope that you can come out of your comfort zones to explore the personality of Jesus Christ, who He was, and what He means to so many people. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tardy reflections on a very important year.

I made some friends. I lost some friends.
One person very close to my heart passed away.
I fell in love.
I experienced reconciliation with God.
I made a very right decision.
22 is easily one of my most memorable years.
Filled with extreme nostalgia.
Going from chameleon to self-awareness.
The meaning of sanctification.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Psalm 56

The verdict is in! (Confession: I actually had to Google that idiom. Yikes.)

I'm going to KOREA (Ansan, to be exact) to teach English. (Engrish?)
I'm listening to Casa Verde and feeling intense nostalgia for Mexico.
A song, a photo, a smell...the slightest of things take me back to everywhere I've been.

To be completely honest? Going to Korea absolutely terrifies me. Not because I can't read or write it as well as I'd like, not because I am way too tanned for Korean standards, not because I have body piercings (more reasons for judgment by my fellow Koreans), not because I look like a baby trying to play teacher, not because I know I'll cry myself to sleep from long distance couple fights or missing my 5-yr-old nephew.

I'm terrified that this experience won't be all that it's supposed to be. Every country I've been to has absolutely blown me away. I'm afraid of being fearful and not representing my Father well. I'm not sure what to expect at all. The homogeneity of my own motherland freaks me out more than the misunderstood places that I have come to know and love. The only thing that keeps me going: knowing that growth is inevitable.