Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Impressions of Korea: It's Huge.

I had an awesome trip to the Motherland, Seoul, South Korea. I guess it has changed a lot since the last time I was there, some 26 years ago. Allow me to say that 20 hours on a plane is brutal. No matter how comfy the seats, or if you have "300", "Zoolander", and the "Matrix" on the I-pod, it is just a long, long time to sit. Here are Papa and Mama Song chillin' on the plane before take off.

22 hours later...

We landed in Incheon (about an hour outside of Seoul) Sunday, about 4 pm (our flight left Saturday morning about 6 am). There were several of my Dad's siblings (my dad is the first of 10 kids) waiting for us. It was neat to get to meet some of them for the first time that I can remember.

We were wisked away to a church service at the president of the convention's church. I was absolutely exhausted, and don't remember too much about that night. I know that I was really happy to get to my hotel room.

The morning we got up and went to the pharmacy district so that my dad could purchase some books about Herbal Medicine. I took the chance to walk around a bit and check out the city a little bit. If you include the entire metro area around Seoul, the city is 20 million people. There are people and cars and buildings everywhere. It truly is massive. There are vendors on the streets that sell things like plants, and food, and bread.

This is more of the East Gate district of Seoul.

I guess this is a good time to explain the reason we went to Seoul in the first place. The Korean Christian Churches/Churches of Christ were celebrating their 75th anniversary. They have a conference every year, kind of like the North American Christian Convention for the Christian Churches here in the states. My great-grandfather started the Christian Church/Church of Christ movement in Korea along with the first Christian College. It was bizarre because there was no American Christian Church missionary or anyone that came over to evangelize Korea. My great-grandfather just read the scriptures and decided to simply call his churches, "Christian churches." Years later when the Christian churches sent missionaries to Korea, they were informed they already had some christian churches (you already have some? They say they already have some. Yes, it's very nice). It is interesting as well to point out that the practices of the Christian church there, are almost identical to the Christian churches in the States. Water baptism, communion every week, etc. After my great-grandfather passed, my grandfather continued to plant churches and pastor the first church my great-grandfather started. Anyway, the 75th anniversary was a big deal, obviously, so they wanted to celebrate the legacy that my great-grandfather had left behind. They asked the my Father and I be there to accept a commendation on behalf of the Song family. This is my dad at the Hotel before the ceremony.

Of course before the ceremony, we had to eat some korean food. I ate korean food all week and wanted more! Every where I went I asked if they served dog, as I was determined to eat dog while I was there. Every time I asked I was looked at with a worried look, as if the mere question was insulting. Whatever, I know they have it somewhere, but I never got any.

This is the opening of the 75th anniversary celebration. It was pretty awesome.

This is my Dad accepting the "major award" on stage. He was so proud.

Later that night, we skipped out on the Robert Shuler sermon (I was already thinking positively) and went to my aunt Hyun-Sook's house. She has an art shop on the first floor from which she sells pottery and ceremics which she makes. She is very talented.

The next morning I was going a little crazy because I hadn't had a chance to explore Seoul. So, I woke up early, strapped on my backpack, and started walking in the rain. It was incredible, even though I couldn't find an umbrella! The fourth picture there is a coffee shop I stopped in to get dry, drink some warm coffee, and ring my socks out (the workers were excited about that). I also took a moment to read the old bible and the day's letter that Holly gave me when I left.

This is a picture of one of the Budhist Temple's in the city. I felt sorrow for the many, many people that are in the bondage of worshipping a false God. I took a moment to pray for them and the many westerners that come to visit places like this every year.

Mmmmm... diet Coke.

The last morning of the convention, Wednesday, both my dad and woke up at 5 am. We just talked about our week and started to talk about why my Aunt Doki hadn't come to see us. My dad is the first son, which means that the younger siblings are to seek him out. And my Aunt Doki hadn't even so much as called. I knew that there was something going on, so I asked him about it. He told me that Doki and her husband (who were now pastors at my great-grandfather's original church) were really upset at the convention because they said that he didn't start the first christian church 75 years ago, but rather 80. They wrote letters to newspapers and were boycotting the ceremony because of it. They also informed my one of my aunts that if my dad came to be a part of the ceremony, that my Dad would be considered an enemy. My dad told me that he was just excited that someone wanted to recognize the legacy of the Song family, and that a number wasn't really that important. He went and took a shower, and while he was in the shower, he was praying that being the last day of the conference, if God wanted him to give him a chance to speak, he would be open to speaking. After he got out of the shower, he received a phone call from the convention, asking if he would want to come and speak later that morning. The picture above is one of the many that he took after he got done speaking.

After the conference ended about noon, my uncle Chungee rented a van, and we took a tour of Seoul.

This is Yoido, Full Gospel Church. The largest church in the world. They claim 200,000 + a weekend. That 9 or 10 story building is their children's ministry area. They have another behind it for the teens.

This is the campus of Seoul Foreign School, the school my mom taught at. I spent the first 2 years of my life living here.

This is Seoul Christian University. The president of the school offered me a free scholarship to get my masters and doctorate if I wanted to.

This is the hospital I stayed at when I had Spinal Meningitis. I was 3 months old.

This is the Chosun Dynasty Palace. This palace was built in 1310 and the Chosun Dynasty lasted until 1910.

This is the Ramada Seoul, the hotel we stayed at while we were there.

The next day, we got up, and drove to the airport. 20 more hours on a plane, and I was home.

The end.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I'm Home, sort of.

Sleeping patterns are all jacked up.

Good to be home. Trip was awesome. Will have pics and a post about said trip soon.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I've been at camp and getting ready for Korea, Sheesh!

Alright, so maybe nobody has said anything about my absence, but I figured I should explain anyway.

I leave to go to Chicago with my Dad tonight so I can get my passport tommorrow. I am excited to get this journey started. I will have lots of pictures when I return!