My first week flew by. My day started at 7:30am and ended only when I went to bed at about 11pm.
The teens and missionary candidates joined us on Monday after lunch. There was a sense of excitement about the place, but also an anxious feeling among the campers as well as the leaders! But they quickly faded as the week went on.
My main responsibility was to take a class of 5 teenagers, who had a lower level of English, for a Bible class each day for an hour and ten minutes. It was a challenge at first as they were not as willing to talk as I would have liked. But as the week went on and we became familiar with each other and formed relationships, they began to contribute more. And as they became more comfortable, I learned that their English was actually quite good. The main problem was, as is the case with most of the Koreans I meet, a lack of confidence in speaking it.
Throughout the week there has been a theme of “Make us One”, based on the Bible verses John 17:21-23. One night in particular stands out to me in this respect. After our usual daily events, the teachers have meetings at 8:30pm. After a mid week meeting, I went back to the Chapel to experience a Korean worship service. I was only a bystander, observing what was going on. I didn’t understand what was being said or sung. But what I did acknowledge was the passion with which these teenagers and adults worship the same God who is worshipped in Northern Ireland! Fantastic to see! It was a perfect display of the year’s theme. After this service we had snacks and then it started to rain. It genuinely made me happy just to run in the rain with the kids, teenagers and staff, as it reminded me of home!
2 August, 2015
English camp continued this week, without the teens. I thought it would be a very relaxed week with so many numbers lost, but it turned out to be just as tiring.
I continued to lead a Bible study, but this time with another teacher and the class were adults. It offered challenges, but the class were more readily willing to contribute than the teens, so that ultimately made it easier. Their English was also of a higher standard, and they managed to pick up some words used in Northern Ireland that I taught them, such as “dander”, “melter”, and “he/she does my head in”. Here’s hoping we can leave Belfast’s small mark on South Korea through it!
During the week, again with another teacher, I led a small group of Koreans in organising a morning worship service. It went well. Thankfully, one of our members, Sandra, was able to sing, and led the worship, whilst her husband, Joongmok, shared his testimony and talked about the mission work he and his family are planning to undertake in Russia. It was amazing to hear of how God has used him and led him to serve in a country like that.
We visited Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery on one of the days, learning about how the Bible was translated into the Korean alphabet, Hangul, and the work that the missionaries did in Korea, including what is now North Korea, and the lasting impact it has had. When looking at the vast number of different countries represented from across the world in the Cemetery, and the way in which work has progressed, it is clear to see that God has been moving in Korea for a long time.
I hope these small snippets give an idea of what life is like for a short-termer in S.Korea.
I have had an interest in Korea for a few years now, and my time there has helped to grow my passion for the country and its people. I hope to return soon to work alongside these people even more, all the while continuing to see how God is moving in that part of the world. Until then, I will go on praying for Korea, and urge you please to do the same.