How Psy Misled Me…And Other Adventures from Life’s Path

31 Dec

So, about Christmas. I got the whole week off, which meant lots of free time! Christmas eve day was spent relaxing, watching A Christmas Carol, and attending church. The service was oddly similar to the smorgasbord of free-wheeling praise and entertainment I’m used to at home. There was the children’s song and dance which participants took on in varying levels of seriousness (ranging from the keener who knows every action to the kid who does nothing more than to stand right were their parent plunked them). There was the requisite touching song sung in sign language, made interesting since this was Korean Sign Language. There was the church choir with lovely harmonies (low on men, which I take it is the worldwide standard). There were skits put on by middle- and high-schoolers, full of laughs and confusion (mostly on my part). There was the black light and neon dance portion…wait – that’s not typical, is it? And neither was the Christmas dinner that followed: ordered-in pizza, bucket chicken and dokboki (globby smoushed-together rice in a spicy/sweet sauce). Oh well; ho ho ho!

What I loved about that evening was the sense of belonging I felt. It dawned on me somewhere in the middle of the circus service that I am right where I should be. In months 2-3 of my time here I was questioning my calling to Korea (a situation not helped by my boredom, which I think was a symptom of a rare breed of culture shock). Month 4, however, finds me well-adjusted, unquestioning, confident, and content. I no longer struggle with the “daily grind” feeling I had for a good month there, and I’m 100% sure this is where God wants me right now. I’m building joyous relationships and growing every day in my understanding of myself and of our ever-mysterious Heavenly Father. What more could I want from this year of serving and learning? The goal is to stay on this track as long as possible (until, I’m told, culture shock hits me again).

After the service, all was merry and bright. Doogii and I went home to packages to open, and that elevated our already high spirits even more. Thanks SO MUCH to those of you who took it upon yourselves to send me something this Christmas (whether it was material or not). You know who you are.

If it has to be spent away from home, Christmas Day is no better spent than Skyping with your family, sniffling alongside kindred spirits at the movie theatre, and visiting and playing games with a hospitable stand-in family.

Les Miserables was a great mid-morning musical escape, made even better since I had three friends to see it with. (Doogii and I still have Red and Black stuck in our collective musical brain, though the lyrics are admittedly jumbled. Me: Red! Doogii: The colour of angry!)

A right feast!The afternoon was spent with Kyong Jung’s family and a handful of other church folk. We snacked on nachos and dipped into the Werther’s and M&M stash I got from one of said packages. We puzzled over one-year-old Bomi’s new game of taking every book off the shelves one at a time. We played 3 card games: Phase 10 (I lost), Dutch Blitz (I won), and Set (wherein I came out somewhere in the middle). We gorged ourselves with roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and mandarin oranges. I also discovered my new favourite pop EVER: Milkis. Like, whoa.

It was a stellar night. Yes, I missed my family at times, a short pang of longing that abated when I looked around myself only to realize how awesome I’ve got it here. I’m so thankful.

Boxing Day (which isn’t a thing here) was travelling day for Deborah. I got up at 7, left the house at 7:45, and bussed south for the next several hours. 2pm-ish is when I finally made it to Alex’s community.

All the people at “Dandelion” welcomed me with open arms. It was the perfect time to visit my fellow SALTer, since the kids at this alternative middle- and high-school are out on break, and all the full-time teachers were in year-end meetings she wasn’t required to be at. So we filled our days with early breakfasts, walks around their small picturesque farm village, snacking, playing with animals, streaming movies every evening, and embroidering.

Embroidering? Yes, to classical music, no less. It was all very lady-like and old fashioned. Why? Because Dandelion has many ventures besides just the school. They also have chickens and goats, a bakery, and an arts center. I may have been on vacation, but Alex was not. Her work for those three days (which I gladly joined in on) was embroidering in the arts center. Our mini masterpieces will apparently be turned into cutesy notebooks sold at the going rate of no less than fifteen bucks. I’d say I was pretty profitable to them, since I managed to finish three!

Snow catsI’d only planned to stay two nights, but lo and behold! We awoke to snow on the morning of my planned departure! There was no way out of this tiny bus-less village: I was snowed in. Alex was ecstatic, since snow is, like, her favourite thing. The sense of fun soon rubbed off on me. It was great to veg for one more day, play with the cats who live there, and generally enjoy the beauty. Later, it got me thinking…

Ways Snow Reminds Me of God:

  1. It’s white and clean. It covers the muck and dirtiness of the landscape, just like his grace covers the muck and dirtiness of our sin.
  2. It makes everything seem quiet and still. The world spins madly on, but it’s a recurring theme of scripture that the Lord speaks in whispers, that great things happen when we wait in stillness, and that we are to soberly ponder his power.
  3. It messes with our plans. I’d planned to go home that morning, but the weather had different things in store. Turns out God is the same way. Sure, he knows what’s gonna happen, but rarely do we ever get to find out what that is! All we can really know is, through leaning on and listening to him, we will be led through to the fullness of his great plan.

Snow day

And speaking of messed-up plans…

When I finally did leave Dandelion the next day, I decided to take a bus through Seoul, rather than the way I came (through another big city, Daejeon). In theory, this was supposed to get me home faster.


I arrived at the Seoul bus station no problem. But then they told me I had to go to a different station in order to catch a bus back home to Chuncheon. Thinking back, I probably made it way more difficult on myself than I had to. But, it’s basically a law of nature that if you’re lost – especially in a country where your language capabilities are rather pathetic – continued aimless wandering in the wrong direction is the first step to finding your way. Not asking directions, no, of course not!

Then, for some reason, I got it in my head to go to Gangnam station. I was only one stop away, and I was pretty sure one of the people I “talked” to at the original bus station had muttered something about it. (Plus, if it’s featured in a pop song it must be important?) So I wandered about there, looking for a bus stop that didn’t exist and feeling decidedly un-Gangnam style…which you can take to mean ‘frumpy’. I was in my travelling sweats, bulky leg warmers, second-hand parka with the hood up, and growing less and less enchanted with the notion of my walking about a metropolitan and much-sung-about part of town as this. Meanwhile everyone around me is glamorous, done-up, high-heeled, and seems to be happily laughing in that slow-motioned way rich people sometimes do in the movies. (On the plus side, no one was doing the horse-dance.)

Here’s the kicker: I should have been looking for Gangbyeon station; a subtle but important difference, made even more maddening since it’s only 2 stops from Gangnam. I ended up taking the subway the whole way home, which took a whopping 2.5 hours instead of 1 hour on a bus! I could sit here and blame myself for not asking for help, but in the end I choose to blame Psy. Sigh! If only he had turned Gangbyeon into the world’s most incessant earworm, them maybe I wouldn’t have wandered for so long. Still, I’ve gotta count my blessings. Korea is as diverse and unique as they come, and I got to see more of it.

As we leave behind 2012, what I can definitively say is this: I’m where I need to be, and I’m closer than ever to becoming the person I want to be. I might never get there, but the point is I have a destination in mind. In life we get lost, we don’t bother to ask directions, we get more lost, and somehow He still allows us a path home. But blessed are those who stop to ask for directions! So much the better it is to have a straight and narrow path to follow.

Blessings as you walk into a new year. My prayers are with you.



2 Responses to “How Psy Misled Me…And Other Adventures from Life’s Path”

  1. Stef December 31, 2012 at 12:21 PM #

    Oh, I think this is such a beautiful post Deborah. I’m so glad to hear you had a good Christmas in Korea and are feeling settled and confident that you are exactly where God wants you. And thank you for citing Bible references in your list of how snow reminds you of God, I appreciate that.
    Love, Stef

    • Deborah January 2, 2013 at 6:12 PM #

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Stef! God bless, happy new year!

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