Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Thorn

I have this problem... It crops up every now an again, sometimes as a twinge, sometimes as a nearly crippling pain. It often deals its worst blows when I'm spending time with my friends from Korean church. What is this problem? you ask. Self pity.

I've always been rather capable of pitying myself, but in the past few months, I've been pummeled by staggering pity parties. Today, for example, during practice for my Korean praise team (We're singing next Sunday, and my proposal, which I mentioned in my last post, appears to have been completely chucked out the window.), I was haunted by insidious, self-pitying barbs like, 'It's days like this that makes having Korean friends feel too much like work.' or 'How can I contribute here? They don't care about my efforts, even my baked goods got a rather cool reception the other week.' or 'I don't get it. What's the use of trying to be their friend? No one ever really talks to me, anyway.' while enviously eyeing the girls whispering together. I was close to letting myself cry, but for the fact that doing so would just bewilder them and I really wouldn't be able to explain without looking/sounding pathetic/needy. I am pathetic and needy, let's be honest, but what I need isn't to get attention from my Korean acquaintances. I need to focus my attention on God. Sounds simple enough, right? Maybe? It isn't. I did eventually cry a few tears during the closing prayer time, but these were tears of repentance, not of frustration, pride, or pity. I remembered that Christ lived among people who didn't understand Him, who felt uncomfortable around Him, who were intimidated by His being different, who thought differently from Him. Who am I, that I should not have to endure what my Lord did? I recalled a quote, "God is all you need, but until God is all you have, you will never know that God is all you need." Is this my lesson? I feel much too young to learn this, though I should be thankful that I'm learning it at such a young age, at least to some degree. Now, to actually learn and apply the lesson...

I've begun reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It was recommended by WORLD magazine (which I highly recommend, btw), and it has been challenging and encouraging. The author tells of her journey to give thanks for all things, in all things, in a specific, particular manner, not simply a blanket 'thank you for everything.' Reading it has also made me realize/recognize/remember (and I'm sure many of you will shake your heads, 'My, she's so young.' when you read this, but I'm a willing admitter.) that life does not magically become wonderful and everything beautiful and all problems resolved when one marries and has children. (And here you nod wisely.) However, if I now learn and practice these things which the author learns while married with 6 growing children, I will be in much better stead when, Lord willing, I am married with children. And so, here are some things I gave thanks for today:
- Rare root beer and summer making a perfect combination
- Dongsaengs (younger siblings/friends) who polish their shoes (Remember that friend I taught to polish his shoes? Those shoes were looking very nice today.)
- Friends who make an effort to translate songs for me
- Family that is dear, even miles away.
- God's family, which is close at hand, if not as emotionally close as my natural family
- Brightly colored shirts which proclaim God
- Brightly colored eyeliner and eyeshadow to match the shirt

Well, it's a start.

Pray for me.

Signing off,
Miss Chatters

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Lesson in Humility

     So... the theology at my Korean church isn't very deep... I hope that I can encourage my friends to learn theology, to study the Bible carefully, to grow deeper in their understanding of God. (Not that I don't need all of that, too.) I thought I had a perfect opening to help my friends learn theology a few weeks ago, when my praise team was discussing our next turn...

     I'd learned in advance that we would be discussing our next theme at this meeting (the Saturday after Children's Day), and as we'd discussed Job a bit at my house (/apartment/'one-room'), I created a theme and a proposed set list centered around rejoicing in the Lord, even in difficult times. They liked it, and even though the list needed some tweaking for flow, etc, it was well-received. Recently, (beginning in the last rotation) the teams have had to create 'preview' videos for their team, which show at the end of the service the week before their team's turn. We discussed this as well at the meeting (okay, they discussed, I got some parts translated here and there...), and they decided on a fairy-tale-esque video. Since I am somewhat gifted in writing (and humble??), I offered to make the story. My first one was a script, which I sent to my designated translator the next Friday. However, they weren't looking for a script, they wanted a narrated tale, so I revised some more and sent the revisions in the next Friday (as in, Friday a few days ago). Now, it did not take me a week each time, I was just rather lazy... I did feel that I had submitted good work with strong, solid theological content, which would hopefully encourage my teammates redirect their thinking toward God in different circumstances.
     Today, my designated translator and the team leader came up to me during small-groups time after church. "We have bad news." I was told. "You're not going to use my story, are you?" I guessed. I was right. They said something about it being too hard to make into a video and too little time, etc. Next time, they promised. I hadn't envisioned a grand work for my story - just photographs and a voiceover, which I tried to explain, but it didn't work. I was more than a little ticked off. How could they not use my story?? It had such strong theological content, too!! I didn't make much effort to disguise my irritation and frustration, and turned away from them back to my small group. They were just then opening their Bibles. To what passage? Isaiah 55:8 (I read a little farther, too, through verse 11):
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
            declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
   come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
   without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
   so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
   It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

     What could I do, but repent? Indeed, who am I that I should have presumed so much? Frankly, I don't know what purpose God has in me attending my Korean church. For that matter, I don't know what purpose God has in me being in Korea, but that does not excuse me from trusting Him, and His perfect plan. Will I continue to seek opportunities to encourage and teach my Korean friends? Absolutely. Do I need a healthy dose of pride-killing humility? Only one dose? I need a daily vitamin for it.
     Pray for me, that God would continue to kill my pride; that I won't feel like an outsider/foreigner around my Korean friends; that I won't feel lonely or homesick; and that I will recognize the opportunities God gives me to give an answer for the hope that is within me.

Signing off,
Miss Chatters

Friday, May 6, 2011

Exceeding abundantly beyond...

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, ..." Ephesians 3:20 (KJV, since that's how I learned it...)

Today was Children's Day here in Korea, which warrants a holiday, and so, I had the day off! Last week, I invited my praise team from Korean church to come over to my house on Children's Day, but, after having two similar invitations (with other people) fall through at the last minute, I was a little wary. Even when I issued the invitation, I counted on the fact that not everyone would come (20ish people simply would NOT fit into my studio apartment.), but as the day grew closer, I tried to mentally prepare myself for a poor turnout, or no people at all. I was told on Wednesday that there were to be 13-14 people coming to my house, but I was still bracing for the worst. (I even had a deal with myself for the budget of tomorrow's shopping trip to Myeongdong (One of my absolute FAVORITE places to shop!!) - if no one showed up, I could spend (approximated from KRW)  200 dollars, if 2-4, then 190, and so on...) I told myself, 'This time, if no one comes, I will go home and cry.'

So what happened today? Well, I got to the zoo (which we were scheduled to explore before returning to my house, a good hour+ away by subway), and there were 4 others (from my team, the place itself was packed) there, then 5, then 6. Me: Okay, well, they're not even coming to the zoo outing, how lame is that, so I guess I'll only have a few at my house. After getting in (btw, the zoo is DIRT CHEAP!!! It's only 3,000 won (>/= 3 dollars) to get in! 2,000 (>/=2 dollars) if you're a student (and several wore their old high school uniforms to take advantage of that deal).) and seeing a few exhibits, 3 more team members joined us, and, after strolling around for several hours (interspersed with frequent breaks... like, way more than I would have taken!) we exited the zoo to find 2 more members waiting to join us, and I'd learned that one was going to come to my house separately. I. Was. Excited. !!!! I convinced them that, instead of eating at the zoo, (we'd had some food, including corndogs, Korean-style... meaning that the hot dog part didn't really taste quite like hot dog) we could go straight to my house and have an early supper. By the time we'd arrived in my neighborhood, they were ravenous. (This did, in fact, confuse me, but I suppose I'm a lighter eater than I thought I was...) Now, the plan had been to order in dinner, but yesterday at lunchtime (at work), I was asked if I could use some of the leftover spaghetti. Come to think of it, yes, I could. (But I gave the sauce to my co-teacher, it was too sweet for my tastes...) Last night, I doctored up some canned spaghetti sauce into amazing spaghetti sauce (in my humble opinion...). When we arrived at my house, I creatively re-heated the spaghetti (I don't have a microwave, so I put it all in my largest available pan (one was busy warming the sauce), a deep and wide frying pan, and added some water, then stirred it up... a lot... It worked!) and sauce, then served them as soon as both were suitably ready. Well, the first serving (carefully rationed so that all 13 plates received equally) only whetted their appetites. I thankfully had additional spaghetti noodles on hand, which seemed to take forever to cook, but once the seconds went around, the groans of 'I'm hungry' (in Korean) were traded for groans of 'I'm full!'

After the spaghetti disappeared, the dishes were soon washed, and the baking fun began...

Anyway, to make a long story short, it was a great time of fun and fellowship, that so far exceeded my [meager] expectations I wanted to cry from happiness as I returned home after walking them to the subway station. God is good. He has richly blessed me today, and I thank Him with all my being.

Highlights from tonight:
- Getting the keypad on my front door to finally work, with a little help from friends. (who read and comprehend Korean)
- Being told that my Korean listening comprehension is really good.
- The cries of 'Wow! It's really delicious!!' (in Korean) while sampling the fruits of tonight's (baking) labors.
- The happy feeling of contentedness I get when a bunch of friends are together having a good time, and I'm totally part of it.
- The complete lack of protest/issue when I requested, at the end of the evening, when we had a short prayer meeting, that the prayers not be in tongues. (The reason why was never really aired, but I do not pray in tongues, and it's frustrating to me to sit in on a prayer meeting in tongues.)
- The team leader asking for prayer for me (as one of the prayer focuses) in the prayer meeting tonight.

He is AMAZING!!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


A few posts ago, I mentioned my new oven. I like it very much. Very, very much!! I enjoy baking cookies and quick breads and sharing them with my friends at both of my churches and at work, and my friends certainly enjoy eating them!

Tonight, I am making my first attempt at yeast bread. It's quite exciting, believe it or not. I also made a batch of brownies, blond brownies (which I added about 3/4 t too much salt to... yikes!! Thankfully, they're not overbearingly salty.), and there are 4 pans of shoofly cake waiting to go into the oven when the now-baking bread comes out. I can't wait to see how it turns out!!

On Wednesday, I began a sourdough starter (I learned how here.), and, because the author suggested that a starter is like a pet, and because I am a slightly nerdy writer, I named my starter Prestwick, which is, I believe, the name of the international airport at Glasgow. If I need to make a new starter, I'll name it Prestwick II (the second), not Prestwick 2, since Prestwick is a preppy name, in my opinion. I will hopefully make my first sourdough loaf within the week.

I've been 'redeeming the time' (to use a Christian-ese phrase) while baking by listening to an audio version of The Holiness of God by RC Sproul. It's quite good, I recommend it!

I'm going to get to bed late, unfortunately, 'cause the Shoofly cake requires a good 45 mins in the oven, and only 2 pans will fit in at one time... Sigh.

The loaves are out!! They look very nice, especially since I rubbed them with butter. (I definitely need to get a pastry brush next time I go to E-Mart, since my fingers are not happy with rubbing the butter on themselves...) I hope they taste great! I'm not sure what to provide with it, since bread by itself is not very satisfying... perhaps I will bring along the jam I have... along with a butter knife... hopefully someone will have a bread knife... I need to get me one of those...

Lord willing, my Korean praise team will be coming over to my house/apartment on Thursday. I'm warily excited - wary because I have had two similar plans with others fall through recently, excited because if it does work out, it should be a LOT of fun, right? I'm banking on the fact that not everyone will come, since my studio apartment is on the small side when you stuff 20 people into it... even 10 would be pushing it... Anyway, I hope they'll come over and we can make some cookies, and order in some dinner, and maybe go to noraebang (karaoke)! We'll order in dinner because I have very little confidence in my dinner-making abilities. And we'll go to noraebang because I love noraebang! (I've only gone a few times, since it's one of those things you do with friends... and I live rather far away from my friends... so I haven't been to noraebang since February...)

Anyway, I need to hang up my clothes to dry, and then it'll be about time to pull out the first round of Shoofly cake.

Signing off,
Miss Chatters