Saturday, May 16, 2009

Surround Yourself With.... Pt. 2

Saturday May 2 Matthew had found a sermon by David Assherick on youtube and so we decided to watch it as our sermon. It was called Eyes Wide Shut and was talking about faith and how faith is “seeing as God sees.” In three ways. Seeing as God sees 1) yourself 2) others 3) the world. I cannot explain it fully but as I listened I felt the prompting again. How would God see the time I spent with movies? And I knew He wouldn’t approve.

After the sermon I was doing my devotions and I wrote in my journal. “God. I need to make some big changes. Why do I hesitate to do them here? Jesus, I want to live for You. To devote myself for you.” And I broke down crying. Praise God for the Holy Spirit’s continual work. By God’s grace I said to Matthew, “I have to stop watching movies. I don’t know if forever, or what kinds, or what, but for now I can’t watch anything.”

The next day I was in the ER for my appendix. Since then I have had lots of time. Time that I, honestly, would have spent watching movies. When you are sick, you don’t feel like doing much and movies or TV is something common for sick people. As I lay in the hospital bed I thought how amazing God was to have broken through my stubborn heart just before a time where I’d be tempted to watch lots of movies. Not all movies are bad...but so many of them are a waste of time. I believe that God had me come to that conviction right before my surgery so that He could have more time with me.

As I’ve had this time with God I’ve been so blessed. Why do I fill my life with meaningless things…? Probably because it seems easier, but I know for a fact that God is calling me to something more. During my time of recovery I have to walk and there isn’t much room to walk in my apartment so I walk back and forth but God nudged my heart to use that time to sing to Him. So when I walk, I use my hymnal and sing to my King. Could I ever express how my heart has been lifted to Him? I have more time to do my devotions and can take longer with them than before. When I need to rest my abdomen I can lay in bed and read Prophets and Kings by Ellen White. I feel like I’ve been through detox and my body is clean and my head is clear.

God has continued to encourage and strengthen me in the decisions I’ve been making. On Tuesday May 12th I went to browse Eric & Leslie Ludy’s website to see the list of books they recommended. I wanted to find some good books to read that would spiritually uplift me when I got home. I clicked to go to Leslie’s Set Apart Girl website and found her online magazine. I decided to read her article and was blown away by her opening sentence, “About three years ago, I felt a gentle whisper of God’s conviction as I was sitting in a movie theater…” Eagerly I read the article and felt God whisper to my heart, “You see my daughter, I am calling you to more of Myself. To a better life. Lay it down, lay it all down and come to Me.” And so another step was taking, another part of my heart opened as I saw that this was indeed God’s calling. He was calling me away from the world, to Himself.

What really struck me about the article was not only that it talked specifically about movies (with which I had been struggling) but the idea of looking at what we are doing and ask, “Does this bring me closer to God?” “Is this in harmony with the teachings of the Bible?” I know that many of you reading this may saying, “Beth-Anne’s become a fanatic.” But if I really claim to be a Christian, if I really believe that Jesus is coming soon, what am I doing wasting all my time on things that don’t draw me closer to God and don’t have harmony with the teaching of the Word of God.

Leslie writes: Christ makes it clear that we cannot love both Him and the things that charm and ravish this world. We cannot be dazzled by the images of pop-culture and captivated by the King of all kings:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.
(I John 2:15-16 NKJV)

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
(James 4:4)

This is not a choice of both. It is either or. We are not called to mediocrity but to a radical lifestyle for Christ.

The people I admire most in life are those who don’t do things like everyone else. Those who live a set-apart life for God. Those who are bold for Jesus and don’t care what others think. Why is it then that I care so much what others think and am so weak to be different even from my own selfish desires?

As I have tried to focus myself less on what the world tries to surround me with and more of God I have found myself listening/watching sermons when I am too tired to do much else. Once again I was blown away by God’s timing. A day or two after reading Leslie’s article I was listening to a sermon that was done at GYC and it was entitled “Because of Those Who Sat”. The sermon preached was about peer pressure, how we are so afraid to do the right thing because of how others will see us. Even amongst our Christian friends we are afraid to be “too religious”. Beloved of God…how can we be too wrapped up in our Savior? If we really believe the Bible how can we live the lives that we do?

I have so much to grow and so much to learn. But I know that God has set aside this time of physical healing for me to heal and grow spiritually.

I was reading in Prophets and Kings about the time of Elijah and how “in anguish of soul he besought God to arrest the once-favored people in their wicked course, to visit them with judgments, if need be, that they might be led to see in its true light their departure from Heaven.” (p. 120) Through that chapter and the next I read about how God only sent the punishments He did to awaken the dulled minds of the people. Then one night as I lay in bed before sleeping I thought about myself and my situation. Could it be that God allowed me to have the appendicitis, or even caused the appendicitis so that I could have this change in my life? Could I have suffered the pain so that I could have freedom and peace in my soul? I thought to myself, it doesn’t matter if He caused me to have the appendicitis because what is the temporary pain compared to the eternal salvation I will have? I used to have a hard time thinking that God would send punishments to people but as I may have experienced a small part of that situation I praise God! I feel so blessed that He would do that for me. His ways are perfect and right. I’m not saying that God sends bad things to people and causes them to suffer all the time. But isn’t it worth it to have a temporary suffering to have eternal joy? Like a mother in labor has intense and terrible pain for a time but then there is a baby. And then all the pain is forgotten in the joy of the child. How much more so, is it for our eternal souls for a better relationship with Jesus?

How can I explain the freedom I feel now? I have much to grow and much to sacrifice but it’s worth it. Over and over it is worth it. This feeling is something only to be experienced I suppose by living it yourself. I want to encourage you, to plead with you to lay it down. I don’t know what you are holding on to or what you refuse to accept but please open your hearts to God. It’s not easy. It has not been an easy journey for me nor do I expect it to be but it’s worth it.
God is calling us to something more. Something so much more than this world yet we refuse to let go of our “pleasures” of this world. Let it go. Let it go so you can really live.

Ask yourself, what do you surround yourself with? Is it more and more of the world, or is it Jesus?

Surround Yourself With... Pt. 1

The phrase, “You learn something new every day” is so true and so for the next couple of blogs we’d like to share what God has been teaching us. Please pray before reading them. The next two blogs are by Beth-Anne.

Recently on Yahoo there have been advertisements for getting more about your favorite music artist. The slogan is “Surround yourself with _____” You fill in the blank. And there is a picture of some girl happily smiling as her favorite artist swirls around her head.

And it struck me as another reminder of something God has been teaching me.

My junior year of high school was a pivotal year for me spiritually. I’d just come from the prior year where I’d felt that I had been rejected by the church and therefore God, and decided to be agnostic. I could not deny that God existed but I didn’t think He cared. Spring of my junior year I was miraculously blessed on a mission trip and felt God touch me and call me His own. Following that mission trip different things in my life began to change. These were not quick or easy changes, many of them I struggled with over months with tears and anger. God sent others to be messengers to help me in my growth, but I wasn’t always appreciative—just ask my brother. But God continued to work on my heart and I decided to listen to only Christian music, change my dress to be more modest and considerate of those around me, be careful what movies I watched and I decided to save my last first kiss until marriage. Each of these changes came about in a slightly different way and some of them were easier to tell others about. Not everyone understood my decisions or supported them. I had friends that ridiculed me for things I was doing but by God’s grace I made them. I was in love with Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and would do anything He asked me, even if it took some struggling with self to do it.

Since that time I’ve kept the decisions I’ve made since then. Of course they have altered and changed with sometime but the principles remained the same. Or so I thought.

Coming to Korea in August 2008 was an adventure in many ways but it was also like going to jail for me.

I couldn’t speak the language, I couldn’t get away from the city, and no matter where I went I was starred at and pointed at and talked about. This has cured any desire to be famous I ever might have had. I cannot wait to be “normal” again. I felt trapped here and missed my family so much that even thinking in my head, “I’m here in Korea for ten months” almost physically hurt. I realize that many missionaries have it much harder than I have it but that didn’t comfort me. I wanted to read books but it was difficult and expensive to find English books. Besides, after teaching all day I wanted something to “veg-out” with. And so movies seemed the perfect thing.

When watching a movie, I can escape. And not only can I escape into the world of the actors and actresses but I can pretend that I’m home. That I’m only a drive away from friends and family. It’s amazing how easy it is to say, “Let’s watch part of a movie while we eat” or “We can watch just 30 minutes now” and how each day a large part can be spent in front of a screen.

However, while this was a nice escape-ism I also was feeling convicted that I was watching too many movies. Now I want you to understand that I am really careful with what I watch. I use to check out ratings and stuff, plus I’m afraid of most movies so that helps. =P But whenever I was reading my devotions and I read anything about living totally for Christ, I would pray, “Please Lord, whatever I need to give up to be totally yours, help me.” And then I’d know, even as I was praying, that the answer was movies. I felt like God was ripping my life support from me. I thought, “I’m here in Korea. Isn’t that enough that I spend time teaching and giving Bible studies? Can’t I just enjoy a movie or two a week?” But the Holy Spirit is persistent. So finally I talked to Matthew and said that I needed to limit the amount of movies I watched. So we decided that once a week we’d watch a movie. At first I felt relieved. Phew. I’d done the right thing. I had a clear conscious again.

I was wrong. Again, I’d be reading in my Bible something that prompted me to pray, “Please Lord make my life completely Yours.” Boom. I’d feel the conviction. Movies. I felt frustrated and angry and unable to give them up. I struggled and just felt so unable. I talked to Matthew again, and I praise God for such an amazing husband, and so now it was every other week. As I type this it comes to me that you might think that this was over a short period of time. I assure you that it was not. The time between watching lots of movies and then going to once-a-week-movies was a long, long time. And then it was another lengthy period of time until we watched a movie once every other week. This time I felt better, like maybe this was the step I was supposed to take.

But I still struggled inside my heart. I knew somehow that I wasn’t willing to really give up movies. I kept telling myself, when I go home, then I can do it. Then I’ll have friends and family to be with and do things with and I won’t need movies anymore.

Steps to Christ says on page40, talking about confessing of sins, "To every acknowledgment of his guilt he adds an apology in excuse of his course, declaring that if it had not been for certain circumstances, he would not have done this or that, for which he is reproved." That was me. I was making excuses for the decisions I was making.

Yet, even when I made these excuses when I looked at my life, I was the church of Ephesus in Revelation of which Christ says, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” It wasn’t just the fact that I couldn’t give up movies. It was so much more. There was a core issue: I couldn’t find that first passion I had when I came to God. I would weep in my devotion feeling the failure of my Christian walk, the hypocrisy in which I taught my students. Who was I to call them to a relationship of surrender to God when I had lost my first love?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Namsan Seoul Tower

Friday, May 1st we took a trip back to the Main Seoul Institute to meet up with one of Matthew's friends from Southern, Brian, who has come to Korea to teach! We thought it would be fun to eat lunch together and see the N Seoul Tower. We'd never been there and since it was fairly close to the main institute we figured it would be a good activity.

This beautiful arbor is where we had our lunch. God's beauty is so amazing and completely thrills our souls.

Walking to where Brian was staying I spotted this McDonald's delivery motorcar and snapped a picture. Yes, McDonald's delivers! This is what the delivery vehicles all look like.

After a lunch of homemade bread and hot dog spread we ventured onward! We got sort of lost a few times, got off on the wrong stop, went up the wrong set of stairs, but soon(er or later) we made it!

This was to be our mode of transportation to the tower. Did I mention I have a fear of heights?

In Korea, there is always room for one more. So as we piled into the cable car I hoped we'd be on the next one, but the man motioned us in. There was a bar at the top of the car and I gripped that like it was my lifeline. Logically if the cable car fell, that wouldn't help me, but I couldn't let go... =P So the whole ride up I clung to it.

At the top was a pretty area with some cultural things. These are smoke signal chimneys.

It was a big smoggy that day so the view shots aren't the best.

Matthew and Brian.

Namsan Tower!

When we got to the base of the tower we found that there was a type of cultural festival going on...for China! I love when we go somewhere and something extra fun is happening. We watched the Chinese men for a while before buying our tickets. While Matthew and Brian got the tickets I sat down. I didn't know it at the time, but this was when my appendix really started to kick in.

It was amazing to watch and I felt proud to watch it because I'm 1/8th Chinese.

At the base of the tower there was an observatory type of deck and all around it's fence were thousands of locks and key chain type things. I didn't get to ask why they were there but from what we gathered Namsan Tower is trying to have a "Love Forever" type thing and so during this year you buy a key chain or lock, write a love message on it and leave it there. I'm not sure if later on they will have a ceremony where everyone comes and gets theirs. It was interesting.

Here was an English one Matthew found.

Then it was time to go up, up into the tower. We didn't go to the top level because that was a really expensive revolving restaurant and we weren't allowed to go up there unless we ate there.

Here's a video of the elevator. It was really quick.

Around the observatory top where we were they had different places listed and how far, from that direction it was to get there.

Of course I wanted my picture taken with the one toward New York as it is closes to my home!

I had to sit a lot and rest during this trip but I had no idea that surgery would follow in a few days! Here Matthew is chillin' with me.

Before we went back down Matthew searched for which place we were the furthest from. And there it is! Argentina!

Too soon it was time for our decent on the cable car. This time though we were able to wait and be the first ones in the next car.
Here goes the previous cable car.

Here comes our ride!

We had front row seats for the ride down and great opportunity for pictures and videos. Matthew's video turned out the best so we'll just post that =)

I was happy to have a seat to sit on for the ride down!
We took Brian back to Hoegi and then took the subway home. We were both exhausted from the walking but I felt faint and so we were extra glad for seats on the subway. Looking back at our trip out, I feel so blessed that God was watching over us and keeping my appendix in a reasonable state of pain so when I did have to go to the hospital we would be near our apartment.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Baseball Game - Evening

After our fun morning at Wolmi Park we met up with Kelly Ann and some of her students to go to our first baseball game in Korea! We were so excited!

This is the group we went with. After this picture some other people wanted their picture with us. It's weird how often we get requests to take pictures with complete strangers.

This is the entrance to the baseball stadium. The right of the people on top says "bibidi-bobidi-bo". When I was in the hospital I heard that little song on the TV a lot.

There's an E-Mart advertisement. E-Mart has been well represented to us today...hehe.

Baseball in Korea is different for many reasons. First whatever team you are for, you sit on a certain side. In the following pictures you can see that the SK Wyverns side (red color) was much fuller. They are the Incheon team and also the Champions for last year. So that was fun for us because we are in Incheon and so we got to root for that team!

We each had these inflated red things that we hit together instead of clapping and would use them to cheer. This was the most interactive baseball game I've ever been to.

Whenever SK was up to bat we'd all stand up and cheer. We even had a "cheerleader" to help us cheer on our team. That man has SO much energy. He was a blast to watch and follow.

We didn't always know what they were saying but the students helped to translate. In some ways it was really distracting because you couldn't always see what was happening but it was so much fun. Hitting those things together was really energizing!!

As you can see in the pictures and videos one side is filled with people with red and the other side of the stadium is almost empty. That's the other teams side and the SK side. When I told the students how in America we all sit wherever, they were shocked, they couldn't believe that we would mingle. But this is the country that has assigned seats in the theater.

Other fun things about a Korean baseball game. Food. It was definitely Korean. There were many many bowls of ramen noodles and lots of dried cuddle fish and squid going around.

They also allowed us to bring in our own food so we snacked on potato chips.

The bathroom signs were interesting... =P

It was really a fun evening. It reminded me of going to baseball games when I was younger and we just really enjoy ourselves. The students made the game a complete treat for us and we were so grateful for their kindness.

SK won and for the longest time it was 4:1 but in the last inning the other team hit a home run and scored two more runs! We were hoping for overtime so then SK got the third out. It was still a great way to end the game.

This is us jumping for joy!

As we left we talked about wanting to go to more baseball games and soccer games. Since surgery I don't know if I'll have the energy and I thank God that we were able to go at all. It was definitely one of our best memories!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wolmi Park: Morning

Sunday before term break, April 26th was a busy and really fun day. It will be posted in two parts: morning and evening.

Our friend Debbie was leaving for her home in Canada in two days and she had wanted to go to Wolmi Park. So Cleo, Ruth, Debbie, Matthew, myself, and one of Cleo's students all gathered together to go.

At the bottom of the park there was an area with traditional games. So we spent some time having fun =)

This is a traditional game where you throw the sticks and based on how many sticks are faced up with Xs on them your piece moves. You can bump peoples markers off the board like Sorry and whoever gets back to the beginning first wins.

Hacky-Sack aka Korean Traditional Game.

I was very excited because there was the seesaw thing we'd played with at the Folk Village.

Ruth and I did much better this time. It's a lot of fun and I wish I could have one!

After playing around we decided to hike up to the top. We'd been to Wolmi Park with our students our first term and it had taken about 40 minutes to get to the top. So we were in for a hike and then we saw this lovely set of stairs! It cut out tons of time walking but it was a long set of stairs.

Finally we made it to the top and the observation tower!

Only a few more steps to go!

Here is a plane landing at the Incheon Airport. The view from the tower was really clear that day and so it made for some good pictures.

Can you see E-Mart? That's the one we go to =)

Wolmido Island is a port and so there are huge ships and lots of different cargo to ship off, especially cars. This ship is huge-- see the tiny car driving past near the right side?

We took this picture in remembrance of our first trip to Wolmi Park. We have a similar picture with Regina, her friend, and Neo in this same spot. We took that picture about a month into our stay in Korea and here we are about a month away from going home. Life is in circles!

At the bottom of the tower was this funny garden area and so we spent a bit of time there playing around with the statues.

This dog reminds me of my Newfoundland dog, Frodo and I miss him so much! I wanted a picture with it because it's just about as big as my dog and looked similar.
Walking down from the park we took an additional set of stairs and walked through another garden area on the way out.

The translation for "Danger" in Korean is "We-hum". That's the pronunciation for "danger". For SDA teachers this is particularly hilarious because of a lesson in our pronunciation book. To remember that 'we-hum' is 'danger' think of a group of people humming with a large piano falling toward them. We hum...DANGER! Get it??

It was nearing lunch time and soon Matthew and I had to be back to meet Kelly Ann at the station so we wanted to eat. Happily China town is nearby so I suggested going and we went!

We ate delicious food and then went on our way to meet Kelly Ann for our second adventure of the day!