Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oh, What a Difference One Letter Can Make...

Today and Monday were both test days. I gave all my students their monthly test. Some did quite well, and others did awful. Now, I know how my teachers felt grading my tests in grade school. The amazing thing is how much of a difference one letter can make. On the phonics section of one test a little boy was supposed to spell "rope" and ended up spelling "rape". Another kid wrote "dike" in an attempt to spell out "bike". I am very busy now grading all the tests, recording the grades, and then sending the progress reports out to the parents.

Thank you for all your prayers over me finding the church on Sunday. I can't say that I found it without any trouble, but I got there with God's help. I made it to the right subway stop, but then I had no idea where to go because the directions were pretty awful. After about 10 minutes of wondering around, I found two Korean guys on their smoking break. I asked them if they knew where the church was, and they took me into the store where they looked up directions online. As if it wasn't nice enough of them to quit their breaks for me, one of the proceeded to take me all the way to the church. I guess they saw helpless lost puppy look on my face, haha. Another amazing thing, is that I did not get upset over not knowing where I was going. It did not freak me out a bit, which is not characteristic of me. Anyhow, the Korean guy and I chatted along the way to the church, he was really nice, I wanted to give him a hug, but felt it might cross some kind of cultural boundary line. I am so thankful for all the gracious and kind Koreans I have come across in my first week here. Praise God for His provisions!

OH, and it is my one week anniversary for being in Daegu, South Korea. One week ago, I arrived in this city, and to this studio I live in. I was tired, lonely, and scared. It is amazing to see all the things that can happen in one week. Praise the Lord!

My new picture is of two drawings that my students made me. They are both sketches of me, or should I say, Teacher Julia. = )

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I am Teacher Julia

Today was my second day of teaching. It surprises me a bit to say this, but I love it. Maybe after a while passes, the excitement will fade, but I think that this is going to be right up my alley. The reason why it surprises me is that I always said that I would never teach. At this point in time, I think I will only stay for one year, but after this year, I might get my TOEFL certification if I really enjoy it. God has blessed me with kids that are behaving. I am so happy that they are listening to me and haven't checked out yet. The only annoying thing is that my boss will not give me a break. His critiques should be for someone who has been teaching for a few months, but it has only been two days for me. He comes into my classes and observes them. After the class is over, he tells me everything I did wrong, and what I have to do next time. I am trying to be patient with him, and learn from his experience but it is already getting under my skin. Honestly, no one in the office likes his feedback which should speak volumes to him. On the first day of classes, I got in trouble because I talked too much in my advance speaking class. This class only has three girls, they are all painfully shy so it is like pulling teeth to get them to talk. They also have questions about the text we read together, so I try to explain the American idioms to them. Every time my boss walked by, he would see me answering their questions. He told me that it was not important for them to understand what they are reading. I almost laughed in his face, which would have been very disrespectful and unprofessional. My question for him is how can you read something you do not understand? Sure you can pronounce the words, but they hold no value, so there is no point in reading them. I will try to get them to talk more, but I am not going to stop answering their questions. I think it also scared him because the text was discussing moral situations, and the girls had to answer questions about the moral situations. It was cool because God opened a door for me to make sure that the girls know that no one is perfect. I think that perfection is highly valued in this culture, so my boss probably did not like that. I hope that they remember it, and do not forget it. It is amazing how much pressure these kids are under to perform well in everything. They go to school, and then they come to our program, which is essentially more school. Some of the kids have classes until 9pm. I think I am going to start praying over my students before class, that God will tug at their hearts.

Another fantastic thing is my co-workers. I love Chloe and Andrew, they are wonderful. They have been willing to help me figure out everything I have had questions about over the past few days. I am also learning more about Korean food, and I love it! There are some things I will probably never crave, such as dried squid, but for the most part it is all pretty good. The past few days I have been adventurous and tried dishes with seaweed, kimchi (I don't know how to spell it), and other things that I cannot even begin to spell or pronounce. Most of the food is really spicy, I love spicy food, so I feel like I am in food heaven right now. At the end of year, I know I will be wanting my American food back.

Tomorrow is the end of my first week. Thank you for all of your prayers, they are felt and continually needed. You can still be praying that I would be the gospel to my co-workers, students, and other acquaintances. Finally, that I will not get lost trying to find the church I am attending on Sunday. I have to ride the subway to get there and then walk, it should not be bad, but I am directionally challenged so we will see what happens. Love you all, and would love to hear how you are when you have the time. = )

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It all begins now

I am finally in Daegu, South Korea. My plane flew into Seoul yesterday night and I was taken to a guest house for the night. This morning, I took a bus to Daegu. It has already been an adventure in these past two days. On the bus ride I met a Canadian man and his Korean wife. He gave me the run down on Daegu, but to be honest, I don't really remember much of what he said. Most of it was about how Daegu is very different from China or Japan. They were both God's grace to me, because when the bus got to Daegu there was no one there to pick me up. They let me use their phone, and waited with me while the whole process got straightened out. The Korean wife's relatives showed up to pick them up, they also helped straighten out the mess. My favorite part of it all was the fact that a Korean lady that I had only known for 2 minutes yelled at them over the phone for me because they were not there to get me yet. As soon as my ride came to get me, they took me over to the school. Today, I observed classes through jetlag, and tomorrow I will begin teaching. Now I am in apartment, or room I should say, haha. I was shocked when I first walked in, but the more I look at it, the more I know that I can live here. God is already stretching me, and it is only day 1. I met all of my co-workers today, they are great, but none of them are believers. I know this will be a great opportunity for me to minister to them, but right now I really miss having community around me. They say that you experience shock when you leave college and go into a job that is not minstry based because you are surrounded by non-believers, and it's true. I had friends in Lubbock that did not know the Lord, but I did not spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with them. All I can say now is pray for me. Pray for quick adjustment to jetlag, that I can be a light to my co-workers, and I can find community to pour back into me while I am here. Love you all.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I have the visa

After months of craziness, and two days of running around town like a chicken with its head cut off, I am ever so thankful to announce that I have my visa! Tomorrow or Sunday I will be flying out of Houston. My adventures in Korea start in just a few days. When I get a chance to, I will update the blog. I don't know when I will have internet, but I hope it will be soon. Thanks for all the prayers, they are felt.

Monday, September 1, 2008

What do you hope in?

So my journey and struggle to get to South Korea continues on. My recruiter does not understand that I did everything necessary for my criminal background check. I have an uncle who called the capital for me, did research, and asked around. They told him that I did everything right. Now I have yet to convince my recruiter of it. Patience is a virtue that I am learning, some people are surprised that I still want to go to South Korea, but I suppose that I am stubborn. It is also probably the Lord pushing me towards this end. What a crazy ride this whole thing has been, and I am learning sooooooo much. One of my friends said that all of these things may be testing of my faith. I didn't really like that statement because it is hard to take in. It means that there is probably, indefinitely, more hard things ahead of me. Not a fan of that, but at the same time, I know that my friend is right. There is no choice in my situation but to trust Him. All these circumstances have brought me to my knees, but there is no place I would rather be. New things are coming to life, and words on pages are no longer words, but life. I thirst for Him on a daily basis, in the deepest recesses of my soul I know that I cannot make it through the day if I do not hear from Him. I see that my hope can be built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. Dear friends, please make Him your hope in these days, because nothing else can sustain or satisfy.

On another note, I went out this weekend with my sister and some friends for her birthday. We went to this one place where some sleezy fellas tried to hit on us. One of the guys insisted that he was not hitting on us, he was just there with his friends. The only reason I mention them is because it was so sad. One of them was older, and highly innapropriate, I will not repeat some of the things he told me. The only reason he told me these awful things was in an effort to impress me and the other girls. I can only feel pity for this man because he feels that his worth is defined by the things he has done, the money he has, his social status, and his job. Maybe the things he said were all lies, but that is what he thought would make him impressive or worthwhile in our eyes. How tragic, that so many people feel that they aren't worth something without all the excess. I hope that one day someone can tell that man, when he is sober, that someone loves him as he is. There is a God who knows him without the money, the job, the status, the relationships, the popularity, and the prestige. This God loves him without it all.

My last tidbit for today is to let you all know that I have a tattoo. I got it yesterday! It is the greek word agape on my wrist. I will post a picture of it soon.