Road Trip!

3 May
Let's get our road trip on!

Let’s get our road trip on!

Alternatively titled: Actually, strange-person-I’ve-never-met, Stuart Murray is not my father.

Many moons ago (actually, only about 2) Kyong Jung put a bug in my head, promising that if he could find accommodations for me, I would be coming along on the ’round-Korea road trip planned for April 22-26. Stuart Murray, the Briton who wrote The Naked Anabaptist, was here for two weeks, on a tour that took place in three major cities. This was my chance to see more of Seoul, Daejeon, and Busan! And on the KAC’s dime! I would be there primarily as book-sales-girl (so not totally off-duty), but I still REALLY wanted to go. Long boring story short, I obviously got to.

Seoul

We visited a mega-church (Samil) and the Seoul Theological University during our two days in Seoul. Stuart used this time to talk about   Post-Modernity, and how this affects our views of church and the gospel. I found his discussion about what makes a church attractive quite interesting – especially since our most reliable info about this seems to come from what church-leavers are saying! (Sad, but true.) The second day focused more on Anabaptism, which is then basically what was discussed for the rest of the week (for the sake of brevity I’ll just recommend you pick up Stuart’s book if you’re interested).

deathbeds

My experience was not very romantic.

We only slept in Seoul on Monday night, and I’m sorry to say it wasn’t for very long. We were put up in a fabulous guesthouse that a pastor and his wife use for returning Korean missionaries’ debriefing. It was a great place because (unlike the usually decoration-void Korean home), it had books, wall hangings and knick-knacks from all over the globe. Plus, my bed was SUPER comfy (as in, it had an actual mattress on top of the box-spring! Wonder of wonders!). Unfortunately that night I battled a mysterious illness, which was accompanied by alternating mental images of Beth March and Gilbert Blythe on their sweaty deathbeds.  Temporary scarlet fever plus over-active imagination did not make for a good night’s rest, even despite a proper mattress. What a waste.

Daejeon (pronounced like the mustard, but with an “ay” instead of “i”)

Here we stayed for two and a half days, and three nights. We stayed with a really great family who was happy to open up their country-side home to us. I shared a bunk bed with their high-school-aged daughter. I didn’t get much opportunity to speak with her, as most Korean high-schoolers are typically at school from 7am or 8am until 10pm (and I am not exaggerating!). The few tiny conversations I did have with her, however, were great! Her English was really good, and she was more than willing to share her space and hair dryer with me. The only downside was that her father liked to listen to music. Constantly. And in fact, he never changed the CD. So I heard the same handful of songs for 3 days straight.

The highlight of my time in Daejeon has to be the time we spent at the Baptist Seminary there. Everyone was super friendly, the men actually shook my hand (as opposed to shaking all the other men’s hands and then simply nodding in my direction), and the campus of that school and the neighboring Hannam University made for beautiful walking! The weather was iffy, but we got bursts of sun.

This leg of the journey also presented a bit of time for tourist activity. We visited some Buddhist places as well as a natural history museum (definitely geared for kids). Oh, I should also mention the very embarrassing experience of eating at a new Asian-foods restaurant exactly when a TV crew decided to come in and interview people. Unfortunately I think I’ll be making a very uncool foray into local Korean television soon.

Busan

After a looong Friday morning drive we made it to the beautiful ocean city of Busan. The highlight was getting to see my first-ever roommate Jinju! She visited that evening’s lecture and I got to visit with her for a short time before it was time to retire to our hotel. She came bearing belated birthday gifts of seaweed, rice krispies, and a book about birds. She knows me well.

Friday night we stayed at a hotel, which meant I got a room to myself again! Luckily by this time I was no longer dying, and I totally took advantage of the place by flicking between the TV’s 2 English channels. How glorious! But it turned out the only shows were a manic cooking show called “Kimchi Chronicles” or everyone’s inexplicable favourite, “Game of Thrones” (seriously, guys, I don’t get it). Luckily I had a pretty good book going.

Saturday, we headed back to Chuncheon right after breakfast (straight across the country, in less than six hours!). Copious amounts of snacks consumed, MP3 player officially defunct, and two novels completed, the road trip portion of this little adventure concluded. I definitely needed a day or two to recoup from so much constant moving. I suddenly got a cold (you know, instead of mysterious aches and pains and fever), and only at writing this about a week later am I really starting to get better. Side note: I don’t know what it’s been about this year away from home, but I can no longer count myself among the elite “I never get sick”. At most, I usually get colds once per year. In my eight months in Korea I’ve been sick five or six times. What gives?! Moving on.

Gapyeong

April 29-May 1 was the much-anticipated intensive-learning retreat everyone at the KAC got to attend. Again, Stuart taught much on various aspects of Anabaptism, post-Christendom, and the church today. I was particularly interested in Anabaptist understandings of Christology and Missions. Despite already listening to lectures the entire previous week, I still learned a lot from these three days. More fire for future biblical studies was fueled.

It was also good to meet and spend time with new people, and both my housemates/co-workers/friends. Once again, I was struck by how small our world is – at this retreat happened to be two of the founding members of Vancouver’s Sherbrooke  Korean Mennonite church!  It’s not that surprising, since Korea is tiny and so are its Mennonite circles, but it was still pretty neat that I occasionally get to rub elbows with people who know Vancouver. Sherbrooke is literally a couple blocks away from the church I grew up in (Culloden MB). Cool, right?

This Weekend

Things are back to normal. Except there’s much to anticipate! A group of students from Virginia’s Eastern Mennonite University will be visiting Korea on a learning tour this month. On Sunday we will host two people in our home, for their week of language training in Chuncheon (which I hope to sit in on a few of). Next weekend also promises to be interesting, as we get to accompany the students on their trip to Seoraksan National Park and the DMZ tunnels. Should be entertaining!

Thanks everyone for sticking with me this long, even if you just come to skim and look at the pictures (shocking!). Further exploits shall be explored here. Stay tuned.

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One Response to “Road Trip!”

  1. alyssa301 May 4, 2013 at 12:21 AM #

    Sounds absolutely fab. I’m glad you didn’t die like Beth March.

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