Greetings from Korea!
Hello everyone! I realized that lately that I have been having trouble keeping my church family up to date with my activities and life here is Korea so I apologize. As of late, Korea has continued to show my lots of love as well as lots of confusion and frustration. My largest barriers have been the language and cultural norms that, as an American, I have trouble getting used to. Korea is constantly surprising me in its’ ability to mesh Eastern and Western customs. For example, I was in Seoul last month visiting with fellow missionaries there. One of my Korean friends told me I could stay as her home so I wouldn’t have to stay at a hotel. (Anything to save a buck 😉 When I arrived at her home I realized that she didn’t have any beds but small mats on the floor that she slept on. This is very common in Eastern culture but I had never actually seen anyone slept on a hardwood floor every night. But, I was astonished because (unlike me) she had wireless Internet, a perfect mesh of east and west.
My mission work is going well though and I feel like I’m really forming relationships with the girls who live at the center I’m working for. I feel as if my actual job is hard to describe because there is no word for the type of place I work for in English but I will try to explain. Similar to the American system, the Korean foster care system removes children from homes where they are not well taken care of or where the child is being neglected. The Happy Youth Center that I work for is a group home where the national foster system will put girls from 12 to 18 if they are removed from their homes. Often times the social workers will show up with the girls and give them a “trial period” to see if they actually like this new place, are willing to go by a strict schedule, and to test if they will behave appropriately. Unfortunately, some girls come here and are such a behavior problem that the teachers have to send them away to live elsewhere. Other times, parents will win back custardy and the girls will go back home. It’s a revolving door of girls and social works but you get used to the pace of things.
The most heart wrenching part of the job is actually when the girls first arrive. Some of them scream and cry as if they were small children throwing things and yelling. Others are scared out of their minds, staring at the floor and curling into small balls. Two of our most recent additions came to us very malnutritioned. They were skin and bones and horrified of the white teacher who was speaking to them in broken Korean and English. However, within a few weeks they started to transform into new people. They began speaking and smiling, participating in class, as well as getting proper weight. The transformation is a true testament to God and the amazing work this center does for the girls who live there. There is great joy among these girls but don’t get my wrong, they’re teenagers and at times they put me to the test as one of their teachers. But I love them all the same and I’m so honored to be a part of their lives everyday.
I hope to write again soon and update my blog more often but for now, I hope everyone is enjoying his or her last bit of summer.
Some photos to enjoy 🙂
eating with other teachers:
photo shoot in traditional Korean clothes:
Enjoying Korean baseball with new friends:
At the Korean War memorial in Seoul: