Saturday, October 25, 2008

Blasted Pollution

I have conveniently discovered that the pollution that floats over from China, is what has made me sick. My tiny illness has turned into a sinus infection. There is some info online about sinus infections, and I wanted to look and see what they suggested for cures. The website said that sinus infections are caused by irritation of your sinuses due to allergies, or pollution. I have not had any allergies here so far, this leads me to the conclusion that my infection stems from the lovely pollution produced by China. My friend Bhavani, used to work in a pharmacy back in Canada, and she told me what I should take. Now, I just have to translate that into Korean. The good news about Korea, is that you do not have to have a prescription to get the meds you need. This could be bad news for drug abusers, but in my case, it works out. I do not have to get an appointment with a doctor, I can just go to the store and buy the meds. I hope they are cheap. The sad news about my annoying sickness, is that I have to miss celebrating my friend Ryan's birthday. Everyone is dressing up 80's theme, it will be hilarious, but I will not be there...I will be at home, try to let my body recover before a new week of teaching begins. I think being around all the smoke downtown would be bad for me as well. I am going to try to make it to church tomorrow, and stay for their Biblestudy afterwards, I am hoping my body will let me do that.

On another note, the weather has finally started to turn here. Today, the high was in the 60's, it's about time, especially since October ends this week. The trees in the mountains are starting to turn colors as well. It is really quite beautiful to stop and to look at them from my window, or whenever the pollution is not blocking them while I am in the city. I will take a picture of them and post it on here soon. I am looking forward to the colder weather. I love the fall. The crisp, cool air, the smell of fire wood, and a cup of some hot tea/cider makes my heart glad. I wore my fall coat for the first time today. I just wish I had a fireplace. One day, I plan on living in a city that has fall/winter weather, and my apartment/house/studio/flat will have a fireplace.

Hope you are all finding yourselves in good health physically, and spiritually as this month of October comes to a close. Love you guys. Thanks for all the prayers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday, half way through the week already! wow...

This update was inspired by different events that occurred from Sunday till now. I will start by letting you all know that the board game was a great success. Here is a picture of what it looks like at the top of my entry. All the kids love anything where they can compete, throw dice, spin something, etc. Today, they all asked me if we could play again. I am going to create more games since this one was such a big hit. The next thing I should let you all know this that I made cookies last night, with a toaster oven. YES, friends and family it is possible. They taste normal, they are actually softer than they would normally be. I took the cookies to work today, and everyone liked them. Even the delivery man who brought us dinner took one. When he brought me my food, he saw the bag of cookies and the biggest smile broke out on his face. I gave him a cookie, and he left with a smile on his face. The man brings us dinner every night, and I hardly ever see him smile, so that was nice. The third thing I wanted to mention, is that I always buy food from this corner store near my school. You know that you go to a place a lot when the store cashier notices that your hair is different. Today, I did my hair curly again because it was raining outside, and the cashier says, "Oh, you have different hair style." I say, "yes." Then he says, "Well it looks nice." Hahaha, I think I win one of the awards for most loyal customer.  My fourth item of discussion, is one of my students. Her English name is Alisha. She is my most advanced speaking student. I look forward to class with her every week, because all we do is speak English for 45 minutes straight. Since she is so stressed with everything academic in her life, I always ask her what she wants to talk about. Her day begins at 9am with school and the schooling doesn't end until 10:30pm. This girl is burnt out! Last week, she wrote my co-worker, Chloe, a journal entry about her schedule. Through the broken grammar, you could hear her anger, her exhaustion, and her plea for a break. She is only 11 years old. Her journal entry ended something like this, "My God, don't you think it's about time someone gave me a break!" As I was reading her journal entry today, I almost broke into tears. I wanted to take her away from all of it, and let her know that she is worth so much more than what she achieves in school. I am thinking of ways to make my class with her a safe place where she can talk openly, and rest at the same time. I want to meet her parents and tell them that they are crazy! I will only do the first thing mentioned, since the latter is not possible. I want to tell her that there is someone who does not expect her to be perfect, who knows it is not possible and because it is not He took on all her mistakes. He defeated them all, now, through Him, she can have perfect peace, worth, and meaning. That is the end of my soapbox, for today at least. 

I think I am getting sick as well. I will spare you all the gory details except to say that my head is kind of stopped up, and my throat has a tickle in it. Pray that it goes away soon, that it stops at this and does not get worse. It was hard enough being in one of my classes today, standing for 45 minutes when I felt so weak. I try not to let the kids know, they would just take advantage of the situation, at least that is what they did when Chloe lost her voice. She is still sick too, so pray for her as well. It comes in waves, for example, right now, I feel fine, but, in an hour, it might be feeling really weak.  

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One month Anniversary

This is my fourth week of teaching here in Daegu. I can hardly believe it. Sometimes, I still feel like I will be leaving soon, and that this is some kind of summer job. Now, that I am a bit more settled, know my way around, have a bit of a paycheck, and have cleaned out the old stuff I did not want in my studio/apartment/flat, I feel like I should dive into the culture more than I have. I want to get to know the language a bit, I know that I will never be fluent. It is so different from any European language, and that drives me crazy! A new alphabet, and different accents in each city so that I have no idea what each person is saying to me. I was way more motivated, and intrigued when it came down to learning German, Spanish, and even a bit of Italian over Christmas break last year. I am also learning that some of the people who scowl at me everyday when I pass by them, might not be angry, that is just their face. What a sad thought. Anyhow, back to the point, I want to make an effort to communicate with the Koreans in their own language, and not just expect them to give me grace because I am an English teacher (foreigner). I hope to make some Korean friends soon, maybe at my church, that will help me with my Korean, and if they want, I will help them with their English.

The line up for this weekend is a bit interesting for me. Friday night, after work, I have to go out with my boss and co-workers. It's like a work social time outing, but it is mandatory, haha. Honestly, the last thing all of us want to do is go out with our boss on a Friday night. He says we will not be out for long, but last time he said that, he ended up drunk off of soju after 2 hours. The only thing he would talk about while he was drunk was work. I am hoping he does not get drunk again tomorrow night, I do not want to sit through another rant about how we are not perfect. I hate to burst his bubble, but we never will be, haha. That is another thing that drives me crazy here. The standard is always be perfect, which, inevitably sets everyone up for failure. The whole country works crazy long hours, and send their kids to school for at least 12 hours a day. I have yet to meet a child who does not go to some academy to learn more after regular school ends. These long hours of learning are paired with a dependency on their parents until around the age of 18 or 19, which equals I don't even know what. I am shocked and amused at the same time whenever I analyze this situation. I know there are normal kids who do turn out well in this country, and I hope some of them will come from our school, but only God knows what will happen to them. Sorry for that rabbit trail, back to the weekend. Saturday, after mandatory bar outing with my boss, I will go hang out with my friend, Tammy. I met Tammy at the first church I visited here in Daegu, and I am so excited! We are going to paint, she was an art education major in college, so we are already clicking. It's been a while since I've painted, so I am looking forward to a little artist expression. On Sunday, I will go to church, then probably go home and create a board game for one of my classes. Yes, the class is so boring that even I fall asleep during it, so I am attempting to make it more lively with a board game. I have never made a board game before, but I will let you all know what kind of a response it gets.

The week of Halloween we are having lessons purely about Halloween. I am so excited, that means that I get to teach the kids whatever I want about that holiday. We are decorating, carving pumpkins, wearing costumes, and handing out candy. It will be so much fun. I will post pics after it happens.

You guys can be praying for my health, and my co-workers health. This is the time of year when everyone gets sick. Pray that we stay well, Chloe is already sick, pray that she kicks it soon, and is back to a normal energy level. Hope you all are well. Thanks for your continual prayers and words of encouragement. Love you!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bad Night

Tonight, I was out having dinner with around 8 other english teachers. These are the majority of the people I have suedo "gotten-to-know" over the past 3 weeks. Near the end of dinner one girl starts to bash Christianity, and then another one joins her. It was heart wrenching. I know there are moments to speak, but I didn't think this was one of them, especially, since she had been drinking. If I had said something, I felt like I would have been attacked by everyone at the table. The only positive to this situation is that I saw my co-workers tense up when the dis fest began. I felt one of my co-workers watching me out of the corner of my eye. I am guessing they knew that it bothered me, I don't think they know the extent to which it hurts me. Tonight, I am grieving once again, for the english teachers in Daegu. All things that were said about Christianity were clear evidence that these girls were only seeing religion, rules, and fallen people. They are missing the whole point, the good news! I pray that get a chance to tell them, and that they will listen. I pray that my life will be a testament to it, so even when there are no words, my actions will speak for themselves. I knew something like this might happen eventually, but the reality of it is so sad. I also think that sometimes people work so hard to disprove Christianity, because at the end of the day they want to feel good about the way they live their lives. No one wants to feel guilt, or be told they are wrong. I ask again, that you join me in praying for the english teachers of Daegu. The greatest thing is standing right in front of them, but they refuse to see it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Lord does not waste time

Welcome to a new week, and a new turn in my year long adventure in Daegu, South Korea. This is the third week I have been here. Things are starting to feel more familiar. You know that you have almost completely adjusted when Korean no longer sounds like a foreign language, even though I still have no idea what anyone is saying. I no longer notice the way that all the Koreans stare at me when I walk by. The transition to teacher-hood is in full swing as well. You know that you are a teacher when you start to correct all the emails people send you. Yes, in my head, I put in commas, and replace words. My English has improved, and will be amazing when I leave here. My job is a blessing, even on the hard days. At the end of the day, it does not even feel like work. That is a good sign to me. It's not that I do not work, I work hard for 8 straight hours Monday-Friday, trying to help children comprehend the difficult English language. It feels more like fun, or playing sometimes. My one wish, is that I had more classes with advanced students who could understand the words coming out of my mouth. Back to the point of this post. This week one of my students is on break. I have three classes with her in the week, they are all cancelled. As a result, today I had a break with one of my co-workers, Chloe. She is going through a hard time, so we talked for an hour. In that hour, I told her a bit about my life, and then about the guy who hit on me at the bar last week. She asked me what my high-standards are. I told her, that any guy I date, has to have a personal relationship with God. I explained that it is not religion, but a relationship. She did not let me elaborate enough to share the gospel with her, but I am hoping that it will happen in the future. Now, she and Andrew, both know that I have a personal relationship with God. I am praying that their hearts will soften, and they will let me be vulnerable with them. I am praying that the gospel be heard, and not fall on deaf ears or hard hearts. Please, pray for them with me. It is only week 3, and God has already paved the way for me to share with both of them. He certainly does not waste time. Also, pray that my life, and the things that are unspoken, would be a testament of God's glory, gospel, and goodness. Thank you, for your love and prayers, they are felt here so often. They are needed so much as well.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

God has a sense of humor

Here in Daegu, South Korea, it is a tradition for all the English teachers to go out on Wednesday nights. 95% of us do not start teaching until around 1:30, so we can afford to stay out a little later at night than the average crowd. Wednesday nights are designed with the purpose of seeing friends, relaxing, and forgetting the first half of your week. This was my first Wednesday out with my co-workers, we went to Commune. It is a bar that has open mike night each week. I think Andrew, Chloe, and I will do something one week, I am excited about it. Anyhow, so last night I meet this guy at Commune's, or I guess I should say he found me. He introduced himself and did not leave my side for the rest of the night. One thing that annoys me about guys, is that so many of them feel that they have to brag about everything in front of you so you will think they are amazing. The random guy continues bragging about how he knows everyone in Daegu, blah, blah, blah, and then he starts to tell me that he is not afraid of committing to a relationship. He says that he is not a big hook-up guy, and has very high standards. I tell him that I do not do the "hook up" thing either, and that I have high standards as well. Naturally, he asks me what they are, so I tell him that any man that I am in a relationship with has to have to a relationship with God. He is stunned, so I ask him if he knows what that is, at this point in time, he still has a blank look on his face, which compels me to explain what I mean. After I explain to him what a relationship with God is, he says, "so I guess I am not up to those standards," and I said "no." The funny thing is that that did not deter him from trying to get my number, and asking me to hang out this weekend. He did not leave my side the whole time, then I left, and thankfully he did not try to follow me. That is why I am thankful for Andrew, he makes me feel safer in strange situations here. He knows that I value having him around. So I say that God has a sense of humor, because I never thought that something like that would happen. There is one thing that makes me sad. Today, I realized that what I value, and hold dearly: the gospel, and my relationship with God; is all foolishness to my co-workers. I am praying that it will become life, and that they will yearn for the Lord within the deepest recesses of their souls. Pray for the english teachers in Daegu, the harvest is so ripe, but there are so few workers.