Today was so lovely to sleep in. I actually slept until 9:30, which doesn't happen often. I am usually up around 7, due to the light coming in my room. But, I suppose the Advil PM last night was probably a factor...
I had committed to going to church with Sean and Casey, my coworkers. But, I also needed to write last night's blog. So, I decided that I would meet them there. They go to Korean class before church, so they leave an hour earlier than necessary. That gave me some extra time to get ready.
I caught the bus at 1pm (church begins at 2pm), and it was simple to find my way. Casey gave me good directions. When I got to the street the church was on, it was only 1:15. Yikes! I had some serious time to spare. I decided that, having skipped breakfast, I would treat myself with a Chai Latte. Their availability here in Seoul is hit or miss, so I just poked my head in each coffee shop I saw (which was a lot).
The area the church was in, near Hoegi Station, had something different about it. I'm still not sure what it was; maybe a more suburban feel than where I usually go. But I liked it. It felt more homey. The sidewalks were not set so far back from the streets, and storefronts were easy to look into as you walked past. I think I liked it so much because it reminded me a small bit of London. Not all of London, but the neighborhoods, where life is calmer. On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed my walk through the area.
After looking in several coffee shops with no luck on finding Chai, I spied one called Choi Espresso. It was the cutest one I'd seen, and the lady sweeping the porch gave me the best smile and said "hello!" So I walked in to check out the menu. I saw Chai Latte!! The younger girl at the counter had good English, so I discovered they did not have my usual preference in my latte: soy milk. Oh well, it was cheaper than any that I'd had in Seoul thus far, 4,400W for the iced version. I sat down in the comfy chairs, and she delivered my drink on a platter. Fancy!
They even had WiFi, and I spied a basket of blankets patrons can use during the cold winter months. It was so quaint, and the staff so friendly, I felt right at home. It was probably one of my favorite times here in Seoul thus far. Usually, I am attempting to find my way somewhere difficult in the midst of tons of people, stressing about time, or making sure Tab is happy (that's just my personality - nothing she does!), and when I am alone, it's usually in my apartment. It was relaxing just to sit in the coffee shop, play on my iPad, and enjoy my time.
Eventually I headed back out to get to the church. It was up the road about 100 yards, and I called Casey when I got there. She was still in Korean class, and didn't answer. I waited in the front entry of the main building for a while, then heard some English coming from the open windows of the building in front of me (there were about 3-4 buildings the church seemed to own). I sat on a bench outside the smaller building and waited for a call back from Casey.
She called and came out of the big building, explaining that their Korean classes are in the main building and the English service is in the small building. As soon as we met, a group of people started talking to us. Casey is apparently a big deal in the church. Probably because she is so sweet and outgoing. I was introduced to about 3 people, the only one whose name I remember is Elizabeth from Indonesia who is a master's student here. Wow.
We walked up the stairs and into the main room where the service would take place. I was greeted by so many people, and I felt really welcomed. I even signed in as a visitor and at the end of service they announced me and I had to wave to everyone (there were about 40 people).
When worship started, I could tell it would be good. They had a drum set, some kind of bongo-type African drums, an electric piano, 3 vocalists, and an acoustic guitar. Almost everything they sang, I knew. It was great.
I don't know about anyone else, but I love worship. As I sang with the truly international crowd, I got tears in my eyes. "Remember your people; remember your children; remember your promise, oh God" - there were people from Kenya, Nigeria, Indonesia, Hong Kong, America, Mexico, and I'm sure many other countries. And we are all His people, His children. It's such a beautiful thing, to experience a moment when the vastness of God's love is revealed to you. It's one thing to hear about churches in other countries, see videos of congregations in Africa or other places, but to be in a room with nearly every race, all worshiping the same God, each of us proclaiming the love of Jesus; what an emotional experience.
We had worship for about 40 minutes, then the sermon. I am not sure what I expected, but this guy was great. I took notes on my iPad, and he spoke about hearing the voice of God; why it's important, and how it is possible. It was short and sweet. He spoke for maybe 15 minutes, and I felt like he made all his points with as little diversion as possible. He used the Bible, and I didn't have to hear stories about his points. He simply spoke the word of God, explained how it applies, and I believe it was enough.
To me, his message reminded me of the importance of the Church in my life, and surrounding myself by Christ followers. The importance of speaking with Him on a daily basis and being willing to listen in response. To open my heart to His words, to the Holy Spirit. It was a like a drink of water on a really hot day. I feel like I've been putting my relationship with Christ on the back burner lately, in response to the overwhelming experience of moving here and getting adjusted. But, if I really want to be successful, not only at work and in my social life, but also my emotional and spiritual life, I need to invite Him in everyday.
Wow! Well, it was a great experience. Like I mentioned, after the service they had announcements and I was "formally" introduced to the congregation. They also announced that there would be a wedding between 2 of the members of the congregation in 2 weeks' time. And they invited everyone! Apparently the couple rented a charter bus to shuttle everyone to Daejeon (another city) and back. Casey asked if I wanted to go, and I nodded emphatically. What a neat experience, a traditional Korean wedding! Casey got us signed up so we would have a spot on the bus.
After everything was over, Sean went to swing-dancing lessons, Casey went to fellowship and small group (which I would like to get involved in at some point), and I headed to Tab's area to meet up with her. I just felt like being around a friend without any major plans or stresses to think about. We had overpriced Pizza Hut (which was very good regardless), and walked around the mall in her neighborhood. When I got home around 8pm, I cleaned the apartment somewhat. Well, picked up would be more appropriate. I also hung some of my prints that I got in the mail yesterday. The only bummer was that the pushpins I got to hang the yarn with didn't go into the wall. I had to use these hanger thingies that you have to permanently stick on the wall. So I can't even make it longer or more of a line if wanted. :( But I love them!! This is about 1/3 of the set I got, another 1/3 are going to school for my desk, and the others will be hung when I get more yarn/hangers to put another row below this one.
Tomorrow's mission: open a Korean bank account. YIKES!