In the city of Suwon, not far from the Hwaseong Fortress where I take Soldiers new to the brigade, is the Suwon Hyanggyo Confucian Temple and School. It “is one of the Confucian temple and school[s established] to teach local students in the Chosŏn Dynasty period (1392~ 1910). The Suwon Hyanggyo houses the memorial tables of Confucius, Mencius, and twenty-five notable historical Korean figures. The structure was originally built in the 22nd year of King Wonjong’s rule during the Goryeo era (918-1392) by Hwaseonggun, but was moved to its current location when Hwaseong Fortress was constructed.”1
I stumbled across it on one of our trips when I walked a different direction, trying to explore other areas of Suwon. I wasn’t able to go into any of the buildings the day I was there, but took several pictures of the buildings and art.
“Korean artists of various specialties such as writers, painters, actors, architects and musicians constructed the cultural town of Heyri. Within this community there are residences, workrooms, art galleries and museums. Artists make a living by opening exhibitions, trading or selling their art. Currently, there are about 40 museums, exhibitions, concert halls and bookstores, and around 30~40 more are expected to be added. Currently about 10 cafes and food courts are included in these buildings for the convenience of its visitors.
“Heyri Art Valley was constructed to blend in with surrounding structures. The local construction regulations require all buildings to be no more than three stories tall. Just by glancing at these buildings you will admire their artistry since architects constructed each building with its own unique characteristics.” 1
This was a really neat village that we drove through. We didn’t take time to to get out, but it would be a fun village to walk through, enjoy a tea or coffee or maybe lunch…with so much art and crafts, though, you would need to be sure to bring plenty of cash! Here are some pictures of our drive through, but I noticed later that I probably should have cleaned the windshield a bit!:
Gyeonggi English Village (경기 영어 마을)
We just drove by the English Village, but it’s such an interesting concept that I wanted to mention it and share some pictures. According to their website:
Gyeonggi English Villages are for the residents of Gyeonggi Province and the Republic of Korea to experience the English language and the cultures of English-speaking countries. It is our intent to provide strong support for the public and private English education system of Gyeonggi Province and for Korea as a whole. In addition to learning and studying the international language, we want to instill in students a better sense of their role in the global community. 2
Dinner in Paju City
After a all of the site-seeing and walking through Lake Park, we had gone hungry to the they took me to dinner at a restaurant in Paju City. It was a neat place, with several buildings in a “compound.” We had a traditional Korean meal with several sides, hot soup, and grilled beef to eat wrapped in leaves/lettuce. While there, I learned that Koreans are the only ones who actually eat the leaves of the sesame plant, which was on the plate of “wraps” for the meat. Here are a few pictures for dinner, all take by Pastor Kim’s wife, except the one that she’s in (I’m not sure why I didn’t take any pictures here!):
It was a long day, but a really great time spent with friends and seeing Korea. I’m really thankful that I met Pastor John Eun Yup Kim and his wife, and for all of the kindness they’ve shown me while I was in Korea!
Following the worship service at Tree Planted by the Water Church of the Nazarene, Pastor Kim and his wife took me on a tour of the area. One of the sites we saw was Ilsan Lake Park, which is one of the largest man-made parks in Asia. “The park offers visitors a lot to see and do including the Riverside Square, artificial islands, a 4.7 km bike path, children’s play ground, natural experience site, musical fountain, 100 species of wild flowers and a dense forest with 200,000 trees.”1
It was a beautiful day to walk through the park where there were many families enjoying the park and nice weather. Around the lake is a walk/bike path with several areas to enjoy as you walk. We didn’t walk around the whole 4.7 km path around the lake, but we saw much of the park. Here are some pictures of from our walk, the pictures that have me in the were taken by Pastor Kim’s wife (thanks!):
John is showing me how to play Yutnori, which is “a board dice with four wooden sticks, is one of the most popular traditional games of Korea and is usually played on the first day of the New Year by two players (or teams). Each player (or team of two players) takes turns throwing yut sticks. Each stick has two sides (round and flat), which makes the stick roll. Five combinations are possible with yut sticks: do, gae, geol, yut and mo. A player achieving a yut or mo is allowed to roll again. If a board piece lands on a space occupied by an opponent, it is returned to the start and the player goes again. If a piece lands on a space occupied by one’s own team, the pieces can go together (counting as one). The combinations determine how the board pieces are moved, and the team which moves all four pieces around the board first wins…”2
One of the attractions of the park is a small cactus display in a nice greenhouse:
The stone lion statues have been regarded as symbols of power and dignity in China, so they used to be displayed in front of residences of the upper classes (above the 7th grade of feudal bureaucratic system) and government offices.
Among the common people, the statues were used to decorate incense burners, houses and pavilions. In order to expel devils and avoid misfortunes they are usually exhibited outside the gates with their majestic airs, as the sign of wealth and prosperity.
Stone lion statues are usually displayed in couples. The male lion steps on the ball by his right forefoot that symbolizes power, while the female lion sets her left forefoot on the small lion, that means prosperity of descendants and the fact that there must be a prominent leader among them.
These stone lion statues are presented for Koyang city from Binzhou Prefecture in People’s Government of China in commemoration of the World Flower Exhibition Koyang, Korea 1997.
The city of Qiqihar in Heilongjiang Province, People’s Republic of China, has constructed and is donating this Hakgoejeong (a traditional Chinese pavilion), to its sister sity of Goyang in Gyeonggi Province, Republic of Korea, to reinforce the friendly relationship and to celebrate the opening of the World Flower Exhibition Goyang 2000. “Hak” stands for Danjeonghak which is the city bird of Qiqihar, “Goe” stands for roses which are the city flowers of Goyang, and “Jeong” for a pavilion. This Northern Chinese traditional style pavilion represents the long history of cultural exchanges between Korea and China at the same time. The pavilion, situated in Lake Park surrounded by beautiful flowers, symbolizes wishes of peace, happiness, development and prosperity for the both cities of Qiqihar and Goyang. The granite stylobate of two steps shows the friendship of the two cities is as firm as a rock and the paintings of Danjeonghak and roses decorating its eaves amplify the splendor.
It’s not often that the Brigade Chaplain prays at a company-level Change of Command ceremony (except for the brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company), but one of the brigade’s battalions is currently without a chaplain, so I was called on to offer the prayer. Company Change of Command ceremonies are enjoyable for me as I watch young captains hand over -or take on- command often for the first time. They have much of their Army careers still ahead of them, so it’s an honor to pray for God to bless and help them to be courageous, honorable and Soldiers of integrity.
Here are a few pictures from the ceremony, though it’s not often when there’s a picture of the chaplain praying. I’m not sure if that’s because the photographer pauses to pray so doesn’t take a picture or because the prayer is just peripheral to the main event.
With me no longer having the responsibility of a congregation on post, I was finally able to attend a local Korean Church of the Nazarene, in fact, I had the opportunity to preach. “Tree Planted by the Water” Church of the Nazarene is a bit north of Seoul and is pastored by John Eun Yup Kim. I first met Pastor Kim on Facebook before I moved to Korea when we were commenting on the same post. Since coming to Korea, he has been very helpful in connecting me to the Church of the Nazarene in Korea and has become a good friend. I was honored and excited when he invited me to preach at his church.
Tree Planted by the Water Church of the Nazarene has just been in their current location for a few month. They own the third floor and roof of a three-story building which has businesses and stores on the 1st and 2nd floors. This building configuration seems odd to someone from the United States, but is quite common here since space is at a premium.
The church uses the roof for children’s activities and picnic cook outs. When the weather is nice, it’s a great space. The third floor has the sanctuary, two rooms to the side (could be classrooms) and a small room which glass in the back of the sanctuary. There is an entry way with literature and book racks, bulletin boards and other information. There were enough things posted and on the racks that were familiar as being Nazarene, that I felt “in the right place.” The welcome that I received from the church people made me feel very much at home.
The church’s name, “Tree Planted by the Water Church of the Nazarene” is longer than usual and reflects its exciting vision, which is “to see the fullness of fine trees of righteousness in this world by planting the fine vision of Jesus Christ in the broken hearts of this nation.” Their goal as a church is displayed as “3W” representing Worship, Word and Witness: “Worship the Lord, Teach the Word and Go in His power to the world as a witness for empowering the next generation.”
The order of worship was common, though in Korean, and the movement of worship was familiar. While I couldn’t understand what was being said, I sensed God’s presence and experienced the joy of the congregation in being in God’s house to worship him. Pastor Kim did well in taking my text and sermon and tying in the music to form a theme. There was wonderful participation from the congregation throughout the service, including the special music sung by Pastor Kim’s wife and her two brothers. I was blessed by the song they sang realizing that it can be “well with my soul” wherever in the world I go because wherever I go, God is there.
Here’s a snippet of “It is Well With My Soul” sung during the worship service
I’ve only preached with a translator one other time, when I was in Argentina on a Work and Witness trip, so I had forgotten how difficult it is. Having to break after every paragraph makes it difficult to maintain momentum and keep flowing. It’s times like these when you really have to rely on the Holy Spirit to do his part. I prayed for an Acts 2 kind of experience, not that there would be a miracle of languages necessarily, but that the Holy Spirit would help the congregation hear what God wanted them to hear. Since that doesn’t rely as much on me, I can trust that God will come through every time! I decided to preach on the Temptation of Jesus found in Matthew 4:1-11. Had I felt God’s leading in a different direction, I certainly would have gone that way, but wanted to use this message for a number of reasons: 1) I believe that as we consider Jesus’ temptation, we can learn how to resist temptation when it comes our way. 2) I had preached from my outline on this passage 14 other times over the last 14 years, so it’s familiar enough that I could put my best foot forward as a guest preacher. 3) There is some excitement for me preaching this message in Korea, since I have preached it in other countries and several states in the U.S. It seemed to be received well, at least the congregation was very kind to me!
The introduction to my sermon translated by Pastor Kim. This video shows the difficulty in getting into the “groove” of using a translator
Another small portion of my sermon being translated by Pastor Kim
Another couple minutes of my sermon, talking about being safe in the center of God’s will.
After the service, the congregation always eats a meal together. Usually one of the family prepares it for everyone. Today, it was provided by the pastor’s wife’s brother who was visiting from China where he’s the Korean ambassador. It was a good meal, though I’ve found that some Korean food just doesn’t work for me and some of it was too spicy for me, though everyone else was eating it fine, with nothing to drink. Pastor Kim arranged it so that those who could speak English sat at the table with me, so we could enjoy conversation. The others sat at another table- one where they sat on the floor. so I was thankful I was at the “English” table! After the meal, we were served a few other goodies, cherry tomatoes (which they grew on their roof), a chocolate covered treat from Japan and a filled cake from Beijing; all of this along with a small cup of coffee as we talked together. Fortunately, all of the men at the table spoke English so we were able to communicate. There were several questions asked, by me about them and their culture and many from them about my experience in the Army and the United States.
A short time after eating, they have Bible study, since many of the members drive from a distance to attend, coming back for an “evening” service would be a lot of driving. I sat in on the Bible study, though other than a couple of pictures and an English word or two that Pastor Kim put on the white board, I didn’t understand any of it.
.It was a great day with family. It’s true that wherever you go in the world, you can find family in the Church of the Nazarene! I was blessed by the time I spent with the congregation of Tree Planted by the Water Church of the Nazarene and humbled & honored by their welcome.
Here are a few more random pictures of the church and service:
Following the Bible study, Pastor Kim and his wife took me on a tour of the area including Lake Park and Paju. I’ll share information and pictures of that in my next post…
It’s the 4th of July, Independence Day for the United States of America. Here in Korea, you wouldn’t know it from any other day (unless, of course, you’re on a U.S. military installation). But with the benefit of the Internet, there’s no escaping it…though personally I wouldn’t want to. I celebrate with millions of other Americans our hard-won independence from Great Britain 240 years ago.
Much of what I’m seeing in my Facebook feed, however, is not a positive response to it being the 4th of July. I’m not judging, but from where I sit, many of those posters seem to be speaking from their holier-than-thou ivory towers to us lowly patriotic souls who are in need of their superior spiritual insight and understanding of the mind of God. Let me explain:
First, they condemn our fight for independence as contrary to the scriptural mandate to be obedient to the powers in place over us as being instituted by God. They view the situation on the American continent of the 18th century through 21st century glasses, presuming to understand the situation our political forefathers and mothers experienced better than those who were living it.
Wherever a chaplain is assigned, in addition to his/her assigned duties, they are expected to also be involved in religious support to the garrison where they’re located. Often this means being part of one of the on-post worship services. This has been the case for me while in Yongsan, South Korea. I have been the pastor of the Traditional Protestant Congregation who worshiped at Memorial Chapel on Main Post, for the year that I’ve been in Korea.
I’ve mentioned before about the movement of U.S. forces from all over Korea to USAG Humphreys near Pyeongtek. This is beginning to impact religious support at USGA Yongsan as there are fewer chaplains to support the multiple worship services. Today (26 June 2016), this impact became real for the congregation I have been pastoring as we celebrated the final service of this congregation which has been active in Yongsan for over 25 years. Beginning next week, the attendees will begin attending one of the other remaining services on post.
Here are a few pictures of the final service and the fellowship brunch we enjoyed together at Greenstreet at Dragon Hill Lodge following the service.
After the service we went to one of the restaurants at the Dragon Hill Lodge on post (Greenstreet) and enjoyed the Brunch Buffet:
Here are some other pictures of Memorial Chapel where the Traditional Protestant Congregation has worshiped for over 25 years:
Here’s a short video showing the sanctuary changing from Catholic to Protestant worship
Hail and Farewell gatherings are a long-standing tradition in the military to welcome Soldiers just coming into the unit and say “farewell” to those who are leaving. The Army doesn’t have a prescribed ceremony or format for Hail and Farewells, it is up to each unit to decide how often to have them and what they will be composed of.
The brigade I am leaving tried to have them every other month or so, so there was never too many being hailed or farewelled. Coming up on PCS season, however, there are a lot more changes, so they started farewelling people farther away from their actual departure than normally would be done. I was farewelled a full three months before I was scheduled to leave!
This Hail and Farewell was held at a massive buffet that had a variety of Korean, Chinese, Western and all sorts of types of food to include breads, fruits and desserts. There was too much to chose from, but it all looked good. Of course, one of the criteria for picking the location is that they have a meeting room so that we can be separated from the rest of the restaurant guests.