Spending the weekend at Camp Humphreys to spend time with my battalion chaplains and attend some of their events and worship services, I took some of my free time to go out the “walk-through” gate into the area of Pyeongtaek directly beside the base. I walked up the road in the area affectionately (or not so much) called by the Soldiers, “the Ville.” This is pretty much the main part of town that our Soldiers can get to easily and contains a combination of restaurants, bars and a variety of stores. Here’s a few pictures of my stroll in the “Ville”:
Small and large communities of businesses crop up outside of military bases all over the world and contain their share of nice places and not-so-nice places. The benefit of these business communities is that the military personnel have a place to shop and eat, offering a change from the common on-post establishments. In turn, money spent by these Service Members go into the local economy to help those who live and work in the area.
One of the side benefits of “deployment” is being able to see and experience different countries and cultures. Another “plus” for me is getting to interact with nationals who are in my denomination in another country. I had that opportunity yesterday when I was able to attend the district assembly of the Korea National District of the Church of the Nazarene at Korea Nazarene University (KNU) in Cheonan, South Korea. District assemblies are held annually by each district in the Church of the Nazarene and is presided over by one of the 6 general superintendents. This year, the presiding general superintendent for Korea was David W. Graves, who I already know from several assemblies and other services in the U.S. Dr. Graves and I have a further connection in that his father (Harold Graves) was the District Superintendent on the Southwestern Ohio District where I grew up and received my first District Minister’s License.
Attending the district assembly and experiencing the welcome and hospitality given me was an extreme honor and at the same time humbling. By the way I was treated, one would think that I was really “somebody” while I was the one being blessed and encouraged!
To drive to Cheonan, the location of KNU, would take over 2 hours, so I took the Intercity Train Express (ITX) from Yongsan Station. The public transportation in Korea is unbelievable. You can get just about anywhere in Korea in some combination of train, subway or bus, not to mention the thousands of taxis always available about anywhere you are. Depending on the station you use, you can get a Korea Train Express (KTX) from Seoul to Cheonan that takes just about 30 minutes and 20,000 won or an ITX that takes about an hour for just 9,000 won. The subway is much cheaper, but also makes a lot of stops so takes a lot longer. The subway is often better than driving, but may not be a time-saver. Once I arrived at the Cheonan Station, I was going to take a taxi to KNU but my first Korean national/Nazarene pastor friend offered to arrange for a pastor in Cheonan to pick me up at the station which saved me some time and a few thousand won.
When we arrived at KNU, I expected to be directed to the auditorium where the assembly would be taking place and grab a seat in the back, but instead I was escorted to a conference room where the district leaders and other VIPs were gathering awaiting the arrival of the General Superintendent and start of the district assembly. Once everyone had arrived, we were all led to the auditorium where I was given a seat up front as the pre-service singing had already begun.
Once I was moved to a better seat (with assembly VIPs) and given headphones to hear the interpretation, the service was underway. I’ll post most of the other pictures with brief descriptions under each one.
The KNU Cafeteria where I, as part of the GS entourage, was provided lunch.
The lunch we were given at the KNU Cafeteria. Some of it was good…some of it requires an acquired taste. The soup was yet to come but was way too hot for me to eat.
Following dinner with Dr. & Mrs. Graves, Mark Louw (the Asia-Pacific Regional Director) & his wife and daughter and several district leaders, at a really good western-style restaurant (I was really ready for a good steak!) we returned to KNU for the ordination service where 14 ministers were ordained and 1 was recognized from another denomination. Beyond the thrill of being part of a service of Nazarenes in a country so distant from mine, the joy of watching future leaders of the International Church of the Nazarene enter into the ordained ministry was great. Here are some pictures from the this night.
Old & New Friends
I think that I was a bit of a novelty at the district assembly, not only as an American but as an Army chaplain. Several people asked to have a picture taken with them and I asked a few, too. Below are some of those pictures with a bit of description (as best as I can remember).
(Sort of) Prepared Remarks
Preachers, ministers and chaplains are always ready to speak when asked to. When I’m in a situation when I think I might be called upon to bring greetings or to report, I have in mind an idea of what I might say. This day was no different. Not expecting to be asked to share, but wanting to be ready just in case (I kept being surprised all day), I had this in mind to say:
It is my honor to represent the Church of the Nazarene as a chaplain in the United States Army.
It is my privilege to serve the Army and my church in the Land of the Morning Calm.
It is my joy to be here today with fellow Nazarenes, brothers and sisters in Christ.
While we do not share a common language or culture, we share a common Savior and Lord. I am truly blessed to be with you here today.
It’s normal for many restaurants to open around military installations. Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, ROK is no different. Right outside of the main walk-out gate is an area referred to by the military community as “The Ville.” The Ville is home to many restaurants of various ethnicities including Korean (of course) but also Filipino, Thai, Chinese, Turkish and even American.
Recently my battalion chaplains introduced me to the restaurant nearest the walk-out gate, the Turkish restaurant Nazar Kebab. Jumping ahead in my review of this restaurant, I’ve eaten there several times since then.
Nazar Kebab is a small place with seating for about 25 or so. In the warm weather, there are tables outside in the front. As you walk in, there’s a large menu hanging from the ceiling along with picture menus on the counter. The procedure is to place your order and pay, the find a seat and wait for your order. The don’t have fountain drinks, but do have a selection of Coke products, and other drinks in a drink cooler, if you choose to buy a drink. Along with two meat roasters (one of which is lamb), there’s a nice tiled dome oven. Add to the oven the Turkish workers behind the counter, and it’s a nice Mediterranean atmosphere.
I ordered a Lamb Tortilla “set,” meaning the sandwich, french fries and a drink. I declined the offer to make it “spicy” and paid for my order which was just a few thousand won, got mine drink from the cooler and found a seat. After a few minutes my order was ready so I returned to the counter to retrieve it and went back to my seat.
My experience with Turkish food is limited to the Doner Kebabs we ate regularly while living in Germany. They reminded me of Greek Gyros, but were significantly different and stood on their own as a novel taste. At first look, the Lamb Tortilla from Nazar Kebab looked very much like a Greek Gyro, though they used a tortilla instead of pita bread which, while I think the pita bread would taste better, the tortilla is probably better for you.
I’ll begin with the other items before getting to the main entree. The Coke was in a can, bottled for sale in Korea so instead of high fructose corn syrup that Coke uses in the U.S., it was sweetened with pure cane sugar, so had a much better taste. The french fries were cooked well and had a great taste. The order of fries, while a standard size, were plenty to complete the meal and satisfy my hunger.
The Lamb Tortilla, wrapped in a tortilla, came with the shaved lamb with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, onions and an appropriate sauce. I’m always concerned about not getting enough meat, but there was plenty of meat here. All of the other items were also of sufficient proportions allowing for the perfect mix of meat with the other ingredients. The taste? Delicious! So good in fact, that after my first visit, the next time I was at Camp Humphreys I ate there 2 more times, then again on the next visit. I plan on eating there every chance I get and would highly recommend you try them out if you ever get to Pyeongtaek.