Happy New Year friends and family! I ended 2008 in Seoul with some friends. We went to their New Year's church service, it was amazing. First, we played this traditional Korean game called Yut. The basic idea of the game is that you throw four sticks above chest level and depending on how they land, you will either move forward or backwards. The sticks are flat on one side, and curved on the other. If you get all the curved sides up you move forwards four, but if you get all the flat sides facing up, you can move forward five spaces. You want your four game pieces to get to the end of the game board before the other team, and then you win. Our team was 3rd out of 16, not too bad, and I think I am starting to learn how put a good spin on the sticks when you throw them. I also met more new people, as I always do at this church. It is really fantastic, I clicked with one specific girl I met, she said that she wished we lived in the same area. I told her to move to Daegu. = )
After Yut, the awesomeness really began. The worship was moving, it prepared my heart for what came next which was 40 minutes of intense praying over our family, friends, churches, countries, the economy, the government, and the lost people in our lives. The way the pray in Korea rocks my world. It is a bit strange the first time, but after a few times you get used to it and are very blessed by the whole experience. When the person up front says, "Let us pray." everyone starts to pray out loud at once. I don't think I've ever been in such an intimate prayer time in my life. Usually, you get distracted after 10 minutes, but this was 40 minutes of focused praying, no distractions even though everyone is praying out loud. There were tears, rejoicing, repentance, and realization. The man who led us in the 40 minute prayer session said one specific thing that struck a chord in me. He read a scripture that talked about prayer being a joyful thing, not some boring chore, as we tend to make it.
Next, we counted down to the new year and started 2009 with the doxology. Praising God was the right way to start the year, and it was just exhilarating. Pastor Dave gave the first sermon of the new year after that. It was so good, he talked about how the new year will hold many trials and hard times, but we must embrace them so we can go from milk to solid food spiritually. We must become mature in our faith. The trials may be painful, but it is out of Christ's kindness and grace that He allows us to go through them. He loves us so much that He is willing to hurt us to bring us out of the less than fulfilling places we are in to Himself, which is love. We closed in prayer and then left. Being here has been a blessing as always. God has given me the pleasure of getting to know some of the coolest people here in Seoul. I now have close friends apart from my old high school friends here. Today, I hung out with people I met last time I came here, and then Sunny joined us all for dinner at night. I love the women here, we can relate well, and they speak truth into my life even though they have only known me for two weeks barely.
Praise God for His provision, and that He even cares about our vacations. Praise Him for the New Year, and what He will accomplish in it through us. My prayer now, is that you all will be living a prayerful life and following where He leads you next year, even if it is into a hard place.
Love you all, let me know how you guys are doing when you have the time. Welcome 2009!