There are many things about Heaven that make the idea of living there forever enticing. First of all, being in the presence of my Creator, who I live for, and who I love. But far down on the list, one thing that I just know will not be in Heaven is politics. Not election politics, social politics. I have never been good at that game. I very much see things in black and white. Everything in my mind falls very much falls into two categories, black and white. There is no compromise with God's work, no compromise to the Christian's call to live holy lives. You are either in the Kingdom or out. If you are not for God, you are against Him. It is a straight path, and while the grace of God is wide, that in no way blots out our responsibility to try our hardest to live like Christ.
This is why social politics make my skin crawl. If a person does something wrong, their social position should not negate the consequence. Even if someone is in leadership....ESPECIALLY if someone is in leadership, they are held by the same idea of right and wrong that everyone else strives for. I
I was asked semi-recently by an older alumni of my college if I had an opinion as to why the Assemblies of God seems to be headed towards a pastoral shortage. I thought hard about this, and tried my best not to let my opinion be tainted by my then current circumstance. But I just read a message that spurred these thoughts once again, and I have found an answer to that Pastor’s question.
My generation wants to make a difference. We want our lives to count. We want to leave a mark when we go. We are willing to do whatever it takes to bring about the change we want to see. If we feel passionately about self destruction, we will self destruct and convince others to come with us. We will find the best way to do it, and do it will all our might. If we believe that God is the Almighty, and that the world needs to know, we will commit our lives to telling them. I am not an unusual spectacle among my peers. We will find the best way of doing something, and do it with all we have. That is why I felt so deeply that we need to work to remove obstacles that keep people from becoming what they felt called to be.
But, Mr. Pastor, the reason why my generation is finding other ways to do what God asks of them is quite complicated, and yet so simple. We have seen with our own eyes pastors of churches who are not what we want to be. We do not want to be manipulative. We do not want to harass people. We do not want to act like ten year olds on the play ground. We do not want to gossip about her and him. We want to serve God with all of our hearts. We want to be real. We want to effect a change. We do. We do not want to play politics. We do not want to “get away” with things. We want to be held responsible. And we want others to be held responsible too.
I love the Assemblies of God. I am a Missionette (Honor Star to be exact), Youth Group, and Women’s Ministry nut. I speak in tongues. I believe in the gifts of the Spirit. I have seen God heal people. I have been healed. I know that God is real. Not just that He exists, but that He is the real deal. And I want to be that too. I want to be real to a world of lost, hurting people. And I want to make God real to them. I have no issue with organized religion, as long as the organization keeps me, and everyone else, accountable.
I love my home church. Trinity Assembly of God is pastored by an amazing man of God. I have met people there that I know walk with God. They are real. And there, I am free from politics.
I hesitate in using such "overcooked" Christian-ese, but this is truly a blessed day! Imagine, the Christ for which the world has yearned for centuries had finally come. He was crucified, and on that one of a kind morning he proved to all creation that He was, He is, and He will forever be the Savior of mankind!
I can find no words of gratitude that seem fitting. No cliche that is worthy of the moment. I wish there was a language that held a word that would describe how my heart feels for my Lord. But I have not found one. He is my life, my breathe, my reason. I could search my heart, and there is no other thing that I could see doing with my life but living in service to Him.
Korea has proven to be the challenge of my life so far. I know that God has brought me here for a reason, and I will stay here until I finish. It is the love of God for the people that makes me love them. It is not an automatic love, this is no puppy love. The people come off as rude, bossy, uncaring, and cold. That is the reason many teachers develop a drinking problem here. But I know that beneath all of the cultural and historical layers they are a people who want to know God and who are made in his image.
I have had my heart broken again recently by a man in a gray suit. A monk suit, that is. It does not seem right that a person could commit their entire life to discovering inner peace, and yet miss the one relationship that would grant them their desire.
Today was Easter, and with that came more reflection. I was frustrated because I slept in too much to go to church this morning. It is an hour and a half subway ride away, so you have to get up pretty early to go. Then it rained all day, so there was no way to get food. My Easter celebration included some buttered noodles and peanut bread. Which in itself was not bad, but normally the holiday includes ham and all of the trimmings. But I did manage to take it easy, and perhaps that is what I needed more.
May your Easter be filled with love and joy. Christ did an awesome thing for you. And for me. Take a minute and think about the reason why He did it. Yes. For us. But also for them. For the lost.
Today I am home from school with a cut up eye. How did this happen? There is a perfectly logical explanation...it is yellow dust. I have decided that since I have to sit here all day by myself and keep one eye closed, I might as well fill you in on one of the oddities of Korea.
An unusual phenomenon occurs each spring in East Asia. Sand from Mongolia and Northern China is blown into the sky by fierce wind storms. That sand is carried, along with many other viral treasures, to everywhere else, including South Korea. It is called the Asian Dust, or more locally it is known as Yellow Dust. It stays until the monsoon season comes, which will wet the air and keep the sand from blowing. The season has just begun. Later on, most people wear surgeon looking masks and keep their eyes mostly closed while walking about. You can check the daily air quality here:
And you will see that it is not so bad right now. But one of the little snots got into my eye this morning while I was getting ready for work. I rubbed my eye, because I thought that it was just sleep, and *slice* *slice* *slice,* my eyeball got the butchering of a lifetime. I had no idea what was in my eye, so I tried to put some eye drops in to see if they would help and **OUCH**!!
So I walked to school and my director had a Korean helper take me to the eye doctor, who was very good. He took pictures of my eye, showed me the violator-a grain of yellow sand-and removed the sand with a pair of tweezers before I knew what he was doing. After that they gave me some wonderful numbing drops and sent me on my way.
So I officially do not like yellow dust.
And I will forever remember where the Gobi desert is in Mongolia. Grrr…
There is something unnerving about Jesus’ life on earth. I have read the verse about Christ being tempted in every manner of man dozens of times, but today I saw it in a different light. God is so holy, more so than we can conceive. It is his very nature, who He is, is holy. The thought of such a holy God allowing himself to live in the body of a human, whose flesh craves unholy things, makes my skin crawl. I can not fathom the love of God. To be put in a position where he would be faced with everything that is vile and unacceptable to Him, just so that the world could know Him. So that the souls of the South Koreans, and the North Koreans, will one day join in a thunderous chorus of praise to God in every language ever uttered. What a day! My heart cries out for the lost, not just because I fear their everlasting damnation, but because Christ’s heart cried out for them. Christ’s heart was so filled with love for the filth wrought human race that he took matters into his own holy, righteous, hands. How much more should we, the redeemed, take personally Christ’s desire to reach out to everyone, everywhere? That his house would truly be a house of prayer for all nations?
How deep His love is for us.
I keep having these dreams about the subway in Korea. I dreamed that the subway was coming to the end of the line, and I was the only one who got off. The train was headed towards destruction, and I knew it, but I couldn’t tell the people because they did not know English and I did not know Hungul. So I watched the faces unknowingly head off to meet their end, and could do nothing. That is how I feel most of the time in Korea. I want so passionately to know their language.
I meet missionaries Dwayne and Gayle Turner yesterday and they instantly became permanent fixtures in my life. They are the pastors of the international church in Seoul. It is amazing what a small world the AG missionary family tends to be. So we chatted about mutual acquaintances and spent some time talking about the Bible. Jen, Amber, and I went to see a movie with some guys from the church, which was pretty fun. I got to talk to one of them about Christ, as he is still deciding whether he really believes in God or not.
Not much else to say besides an encouragement to spend some time reading about Easter this week. Let it get deep inside. Christ revolutionized the world, and we claim him name.
I finally updated my pictures!
When I think of the romantic missionary era of Hudson Taylor, I can not help but wonder how much things have changed since then. Korea is becoming modernized. Mind you, they have quite a ways to go, but they are making progress. I live in the richest area, among the movie stars and sports heroes, and yet aspects of it are still very raw. I work in a building that is used for international meetings of great esteem and yet there are never paper towels in the bathroom. They are developing cutting-edge technology on the floors above my classroom, and yet one of the lobby doors will not open on most days. So it is hard to form an opinion about my town, because it is full of so many seeming contradictions. But I love the people. I do not understand a lot of what they do, but I know that somewhere inside lies the image of God, and because of that, I love them.
I have twelve kids total that call me Brandy Teacher. Six adorable babies who are 3-4, and six older kids who are around 8-9ish. They number their ages differently in Korea, so I am not sure exactly how old they really are. It saddens me to hear that they are being taught in school that Jesus and Buddha are pretty much the same thing. It makes my stomach turn. I can not wait until I meet with the missionaries this weekend. I think that it will give me a more focused feeling after I know what will become my main purpose here, after teaching, of course.
I leave with this thought for the day: Is there any people on earth that is too far from God to be redeemed? I say no. I say that God is big enough to change the hearts of the Koreans. I know He can. Just watch and see.
Today was orientation day. We discussed the ins and outs of teaching kids past participle and present perfect tense. Yeah. I felt inadequate. But he told us that no one really knows those things off the top of their heads. So I will just have to refresh my memory as I go along.
I found out today that Koreans number their age differently. I will be teaching five year olds, but they are in reality only three. This is because they count the time in the mother's stomach as one year. I suppose that would combat abortion ideology a bit. And then after the new year they are two. So you can become two while only being a week or two old. As three year olds, these kids are becoming bi lingual and holding converstation, reading and doing activities, all in English. The shocker is that they only speak English for those four hours that they are in class. Most of their parents know very little. So the child will surpass their parent's by age five.
I have become increasingly aware that believing God is very much different from Buddah and Allah is not popular here. They actually teach in the class that they are the same. I, however, will do not such thing, and they are okay with that. I think,
I have a roll of uncooked cookie dough from the US that I bought at this import store for way too much that is currently in my computer bag. For that reason, I must get going. There are so many things to tell you. I will update you thourougly once I have internet access in my apartment this week.
Blessings from the God who constantly blows our minds.
I just finished my first Korean style meal. It was, as warned, very spicy, but also very good. I can not believe how many restaurants there are in each building. It will be fun to get brave and try some new, unusual looking foods. I absolutely love Tessa and Kurt, who are my directors. They love teaching children, and I know that they will be able to guide me along my teaching experience. They gave me the rabbit class, which means that I will be their very first exposure to English teaching. That is a lot of pressure, but I really want to develop relationships with them, and love them. There are so many amazing things that I could tell you about, it is overwhelming. I have fallen hard and fast in love with this country and its people. I know that there are challenges ahead, but every single one of these beautiful people are created in the image of God, and so they are worth the effort.
My apartment is really nice. It is a more modern, hardwood floor, glass sliding door, very nice place. The window had a view of the park, which is beautiful. There are huge buildings everywhere. There is not enough room for everyone, so building are built tall and deep. Some of them have stores and restaurants six stories underground. I went to Emart to shop for the week, and I decided that I will not go back there unless I deeply desire to buy cheap cookware. The store has everything, but it is way more crowded than Walmart selling dollar turkeys the day before Thanksgiving.
Oh yeah. Odd Korean tidbit. There are no fire escapes. If, while I am sleeping, my kitchen explodes, the way they have set up for me to get out is to but on this harness thing and propel down the side of the building. All six stories. I can just imagine all of these fire fleeing ninjas decending from a highrise apartment complex. Nice.
God is so faithful!
Last Friday, I was able to attend my Visa meeting, because God came through. I received my visa confirmation number via email at 10:30 the night before my interview. It is such a thrill to see God making sure everything goes smoothly. I must admit that I, being human, did not expect my “plan of action” that I formed several months ago, to work step by step as I saw it happening. Just goes to show once again that God was all over this from the beginning.
My passport came in the mail today with my visa sticker looking all official and important. I would put a picture on here, but I am not sure if you are supposed to do that. Regardless, all systems are a go for Friday morning.
I am ready to work. I am ready to love those kids. I am ready to reach the lost. But only if the Holy Spirit goes with me.
I will try to post again once before I leave, because I am not sure when I will be able to do it again. I will make sure that I get some video on here as soon as I can!!
May God bless you in unexpected ways today!
The Visa confirmation number came in tonight. God has everything under control!
Today had left me feeling like the least spiritual person I know. I was amazed that my transcripts arrived in just three business days, instead of the 7-10 that were predicted. I was surprised that everything has worked out just like dominoes falling down one by one. But today I struggled once again with trusting God. My visa permission number has not been processed yet. Without that number, I can not get my visa this Friday, and can not go to Korea next Friday. I know that even if the trip is delayed, I will still get there and be able to do what God is sending me to do. I just have this attachment to dates and times. I need to know what is going to happen. I can not go to a social function without a possible outline of the evening's events. I know it is sad, but it is how I keep my sanity and know what it expected of me. Unfortunately, I have come to a place where my hands are tied, and I have no idea if my situation will change. I am truely putting my trust in God. I am going to Chicago as planned, and will check on Friday morning before my interview to see if the number came through. I almost know it will be there. God has been so faithful.
It is who He is. He is faithful.
Today is one of those days that leave you hanging on the edge of your destiny. That was probably more dramatic than it needed to be. In reality, today is the day when I wait by the mail box and the computer to see if the important last two peices of the Korea puzzle. I am a little on edge, because if they do not work out, then there will be a delay with all kinds of unfortunate complications. God knows when he wants me to get there, and I trust that no matter what happens, it is exactly what was supposed to happen.
Last night I had a stand off with a cat. Not just any cat, a cat with a displaced anger problem. So there I stood, tired as I have ever been, holding my sketch book and my drawing pencil tin, trying to get by her in a narrow hall. She would hiss at me, give me the evil eye, and after a few seconds of me being still, she would lay down and go to sleep. So then I would try to sneak by. And she would wake up, and we would do it all again. Finally I went down stairs, and she followed. When she went in the living room, I ran by her and darted upstairs, much to her dismay. The cat's name? Grace. I thought it was funny.
Today I went to Belleville, Illinois with Jen and her Dad. That is where most of her family,and what has become my extended family, live. This is the group of people I spent the holidays with when I could not make it home to Maryland. It was nice to see them all again. They had a going away party for us, with cake and barbeque. It was fun! Yesterday we went to the St. Louis Arch and rode the small capsules to the top. Luckily, it was not windly and the arch was not swaying. I don't know how much I would have like it if it had been. And there is a museum under it with talking exhibits. It was amazing.
There really are no updates as far as the progress of Korea. The game plan is to go to Chicago this Thursday. Then it is only a few days before we leave on the 29th. It is really neat that we are leaving on Leapday. I am so excited!
Check out Picture and Video Updates!
Yey! Today I got the information for my plane ticket to Korea! I will be flying on Singapore Airlines. It is a pretty nice setup-TV, Music, and a free pair of socks. I will get to Korea Saturday evening. That will give me the rest of the evening and the next day to get my bearings before starting to teach. My directors are going to help me get set up and figure out all the "complicated" things. It should be great.
I will keep you updated!
Good times. This morning I scheduled my interview with the Korean Consulate in faith. Let me explain. My paper work was received in Korea two days earlier than what they told me. Which is good. Because it will probably not be processed until the 21st or 22nd. That means that I need it to come ASAP because the only two interview openings were on the 22nd and the 27th. The 27th is too late because my plane ticket is for the 29th. There is a two day processing period, and then they mail your passport to you.
SOOOOO....please pray that everything works out. God has done amazing things in the process of this trip. Even the fact that they let me schedule my interview before I had my visa number is a miracle. And the fact that a date so soon was open...near impossible. So, God is obviously working things out. Please pray that I retain my sanity and stomach lining as I spend the next ten days waiting. It will give me some time to catch up on my reading and go explore St. Louis. Either way, God's will will ultimately be revealed to those who are pursuing it.
On a lighter note, I was so bored yesterday after church that I bought a new Nintendo DS game and beat it around two in the morning. It was called Trace Memory. Kinda creepy, but way fun.
I'm off to find adventure...
I am here in St. Louis awaiting the completion of the last couple details before leaving for Korea. The FedEx package that I sent with all of my documents in it arrived today in Korea…two days early!! They are now setting up the final arrangements, and in two weeks, I am going to be on a plane to Bundang.
God has something planned for this trip, He has made this obvious. My only prayer is that I remain humble, open, and willing to do that which he asks of me. My heart is overflowing with excitement! I can hardly fall asleep at night because I can’t stop thinking about what is going to happen and what God might do in Korea and through Daughters of the Nations.
Here is a copy of the route that my FedEx package traveled. My degree is officially a world traveler!!
Cumberland, MD to Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis, IN to Memphis, TN
Memphis, TN to Anchorage, AK
Anchorage, AK to Incheon, KR
Incheon, KR to Busan, KR
I also added some more pictures from my time in Maryland. Check them out!
Today I sent a FedEx envelope full of important documents to Korea. The ball is no longer in my court. Now I get to wait for them to respond, but I am no longer worried. There is not one moment in this whole process that warranted worry, although I am ashamed to say that I did worry. I don’t think that my worries faze God, he is more than understanding. I look forward to learning to trust God more.
I absolutely loved going to The Gathering, which is the young adult program at my new church in Maryland. I actually attended youth group at this church when my church had no youth group. It was during this time that I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and called to missions. In a strange way, I feel connected to them on a level that I have never reached with a group of people so quickly. I actually wanted to voluntarily contribute. I know. Imagine that. I know that God is in the middle of their pursuit to know Him. That makes me very excited.
Saturday morning I am leaving to go back to Missouri to finish the rest of the process. Two weeks from now, I will be walking on Korean dirt. Or sidewalks. I am sure there is dirt somewhere. I will find it, and walk in it. It is funny, because in Africa I spent most of my time looking for pavement in order to keep my feet clean. But I think that I learned that one of the things I miss the most is having red dirt on my feet. Walking where those souls walk. Understanding their journey. I still have a pair of sandals with red dirt on them. My heart lies in that soil. But for now my heart has been called to the pavement and manicured parks of South Korea. It is opposite in every way from what I always pictured my life as a missionary being. But God’s way is perfect, and in that way I will always strive to walk.
Tonight at church we talked about the difference between living your life as a Christian as opposed to having a death bed confessional. There have been times in my life when it has been hard to abide by the standards Jesus set for us. But on the other hand, I would not give a life of the most pleasurable sin for one day of feeling God’s presence. How sad it is to Heaven and to have missed out on knowing the one whose sacrifice provided it for you.
To quote David, and a song, Better is one day in your courts, than thousands elsewhere.
That’s the time tomorrow when a FedEx envelope will arrive at my door. The contents you ask? Two Missouri background checks, notarized by the Secretary of State’s business office in St. Louis. These are the priceless documents that hold the final puzzle piece in the process of going to Korea. When they arrive, I will go directly to LaVale’s "The Mail Room" and pay way too much money to have them sent overnight to South Korea.
Regardless, MY side of the paperwork will be done. All I have to do is try to hold on to my nervous sanity while I wait to hear from the Korean Consulate. Then I will have to go to Chicago and have an interview with them in order to get my visa. Good times, friends.
Things have come together seamlessly. It is very possible that there will be a forth girl coming with us to Korea very soon. SMILE!! God has been working in amazing ways to facilitate this trip, and I know that he must have some amazing things in mind for the future!
The car issue was sucessfully resolved. I did not break it entirely, just knocked the wheels out of allignment. A couple hours at a tire shop, and everything was back to normal.
This morning I scanned and sent a copy of my passport to Korea so that they could buy my plane ticket for me. I think I will be able to tell you when I am going to be leaving by tomorrow. Crazy!!
I will update on exact dates and possible adventures (otherwise known as layovers).
Check out the website for the school I will be working with. It is mostly Korean, so you will probably not understand much. It is fun to look at though.
So, I started this message earlier today, and was distracted by my nephew, Charlie. It seems when I am home and he comes to visit, we have this magnetism towards one another which results in us spending every waking second in each other's company. I honestly love it. I envy his energy and endurance...maybe not so much at bedtime....regardless, he is my buddy. When I think of sacrifice I think of Charlie.
I grew up in an area where most people finish high school, go to college in the area, get married, have kids who grow up and do the same. In order to follow God's call, I broke this cycle by moving away to college and farther away for ministry. Not to give the wrong impression, I am yet to come to a time in my life where I decided that it is too much to ask. But for some people this is a problem. It is simply a step in my quest to figure out the identity of that mysterious thing that keeps so many men and women of God from taking that big step in transitioning from a lay person to a minister. If we could narrow down the reasons why it "doesn't work out" then maybe we could better address those issues before they leave their chosen institution of learning. The more problems such as these that we solve will lead to more people reaching the lost on a full time basis.
Calvanists, take note, I do believe that many a story was left out of the Bible because the man or women that God asked to do something that would change the world was too afraid to obey. God DOES have a plan, and that plan will ultimately suceed. However, we do have a responsibility to live our lives in such a way as to propogate the Kingdom of God. And when we choose for any one day to do otherwise, we are resposible for the lives that were not touched that day.
For me personally, I feel that if I do nothing to help my fellow young ministers "get their show on the road" so to say, I feel I am failing in propogating the Gospel. This is a personal thing, not everyone is called to motivate young Bible school grads into doing something for God.
I have gone on a tangent. I apologize.
Oh yes, Charlie.
God is going to do something with that kids life. I just know it.
Last night I signed, scanned, and emailed my contract to Korea. I officially have a place to work! Tessa, one of the co-owners of the school called me last night, and with teary eyed excitement said that she felt that God was bringing me to her to love the kids in her school.
How intense is that? I have always felt that I was called to love children, and so this is just one more confirmation that I am indeed following God's will. I like that he leaves us little bread crumb trails to follow along the way. God is just so faithful all of the time. It is a constant in our ever-changing world.
Today, however, proved to be a demonstration of another type of God's faithfulness. I was driving through Frostburg, towards LaVale, when I lost control of my car and smashed into a cement barrier on the side of the road. No one in the car was hurt, but something funny is happening with the tires. So...please pray that it is nothing TOO expensive, as I have no money.
And God will be faithful once again, as always.
Well, well, well, it looks like everything has come together perfectly. Last night my position was confirmed!! I will be living in Bundang, Seongnam City. It makes me smile how Korean that name sounds. Bundang is actually a combination of two towns that the Japanese consolidated when they were in Korea. Or so I read from their website.
It is a pretty weathly part of the country, and not too far from Seoul or Amber. So all will be well. AND!! As if orchestrated by God, the couple that owns the school I will be working at are Christians. They said that if I want to teach a class on Saturday, I can teach on any subject that I want!! So I can have a BIBLE CLASS in the school that I am working with!!! God blesses us even when our patience and trust start to wear thin. I am so glad that he understands the way our minds work.
I know that this is where God wants me. I know it deep down. That fact alone will help the next couple of weeks filled with goodbyes, tears, and paperwork to go by without a hitch. It reminds me of a verse that has always stuck in my at times like these....
"...and when we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for He can not deny himself."
For this I am grateful.
So...I just emailed my recruiting company and told them that I was intereted in teaching in Gangnam-gu. I am 100% flipping out!! God has been so faithful in every detail. Men have tried for thousands of years to put this aspect of his personality into words, with no avail. The only word that truely describes the way that He looks after everything for us is "AWESOME."
I will keep you updated on the ins and outs of the position!!
Cold, very very cold. Today I met with the pastor of what is now my new home church in Maryland. It is so nice to have a pastor who believes in missions, and is supportive of those pursuing such things. As I have always believed, much more can be accomplished when people are praying for you. After that, I went for a walk in the snow, and took some pictures. I will definately miss being here in the winter, because it is so beautiful. I put some pictures on the site so that you can see what I mean. God's creativity is astounding.
Cold mornings are a common thing in Maryland. The temperature is currently in the single digits, and you can certainly feel it!! It is only a month until I leave for Korea. I have learned some Hungul, read some culture books, and have prayed a bunch. I know that God is behind this, and that gives me confidence. I am excited about getting to see some of my friends before heading off. I think that on Thursday, I am going to go to the Wisp and do some tubing. I will make sure there are pictures.