It's 6am in the morning here in Seoul, but 5 in the afternoon Knoxville time. Our bodies have no idea what time it is, but I was wide awake at 4:30am here.
Last night Songwhan and Miran treated us to dinner at a little restaurant near our hotel. Miran described this area of the city as a "place where the young people like to come." Because it was raining, we drove to the restaurant, but the narrow streets were swarming with young people, just as Miran had said. And no Chacos or Mountain Hardware rain jackets here! Every person had a brightly colored umbrella. With the neon signs overhead and moving circles of pattern and color that filled the streets, it was visually stunning.
And I absolutely loved dinner. The spicy kimchi was much better here. This was served followed by a large wok filled with broth on a burner in the center of our table. We added bok choy, oyster mushrooms, slices of pumpkin, and other leafy greens into the broth, followed by rolls of thinly sliced beef. There was a lemony dipping broth and a sweet and spicy pepper sauce as well. We had to finish all the vegetables and meet in order to clear the broth for the final course of thick noodles, which I think were rice noodles. By the time the broth had cooked with all the vegetables and beef, it gave the noodles a deeply rich flavor. I felt like I've never eaten so much in my life, but the food was all so light that I still didn't feel stuffed and full like I do after a typical American meal.
The evening concluded with a trip to a market for last-minute supplies for tomorrow and then our team found a spot in the lounge of our hotel to assemble all the goody bags and notebooks for our English lessons tomorrow. We went to bed early here, 10pm, but our clocks told us it was 9am in Knoxville… 29 hours since we left!
Yesterday, I was so glad to get to sit next to Miran on our bus ride from the airport to the hotel. She told me a little about their church, about how it was mostly all young families with little children, how there are no singles yet (but they are praying for them to come!), and how they can only meet once per week because the members are scattered across Seoul in different places, some traveling more than an hour to get there. She said the men work long hours, getting home very late at night. She showed me pictures of her sons, whom she home-schools. I asked her if most of the families in her church home school as well? She said probably about 60%. I told her that I too had been homeschool all the way until college. She said her boys are old enough now to be self-governing for the most part and she is able to spend more time caring for the women in their church. They meet once each week for a Bible study, about 7 women.
Today will be another long day since we all were up early, before 5am their time and the English camp will be over at 9pm tonight. We are all praying for some miracle to allow us to communicate with the children effectively and that the day will fly by, scheduled and filled with opportunities to connect relationally. Miran said we will have around 60 children. We would definitely appreciate everyone's prayers for the next two days!