I am still in Seoul. And it is cold (-5C). But thank God for my warm office (thanks to my portable heater) and so much more!
While I am still preaching through Isaiah 9:6 (I should preach on Sunday on “Prince of Peace”) I find it easier to borrow from someone else than to write my own Christmas thoughts (I may have more to say on Saturday evening, but that is kind of late :)).
Great points and hard to argue with the man!
Here are some of my favorite lines:
“I think we have it all backwards. We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic family situations enjoyed around stocking-strewn hearth dreams. Christmas is for healthy people who laugh easily and at all the right times, right? The successful and the beautiful, who live in suburban bliss, can easily enjoy the holidays…Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness. Jesus came for daughters whose fathers never told them they were beautiful. Christmas is for those who go to “wing night” alone…Christmas is for prostitutes, adulterers, and porn stars who long for love in every wrong place…Christmas is really about the gospel of grace for sinners. Because of all that Christ has done on the cross, the manger becomes the most hopeful place in a universe darkened with hopelessness. In the irony of all ironies, Christmas is for those who will find it the hardest to enjoy. It really is for those who hate it most.”
This is a heavily edited interview with Bhatti in Seoul, Korea. The editing was done mostly by a student from TTGST. For the interview I had about 5 written questions, but I also asked him some random questions when I did not forget what I wanted to ask! 🙂
Here I am at United Hospital (any relationship with Manchester United is probably intentional) overlooking the Yang-jae intersection (about 15 minutes walk from my school and Onurri Church). I can see exits 6 and 7 of the Yang-jae subway station and KFC from my window on the 7th floor! Wave if you happen to be there! 🙂
I haven’t been in a hospital for about 30 years (I was in the hospital in Romania for hepatitis in 1982 or so). For less than two days (right after the operation) I was in a two-person room, but I was moved yesterday in a six-person room. I am told that my insurance covers this!?
It seems that the hospital experience is a family experience in Korea. Under my bed there is another bed that can be pulled out and used. One person in my room has his girlfriend (?) staying and sleeping there and one has his mother.
When I was in the two-persons room (I was mostly by myself because the other bed was empty) a new patient came. His mother, father, grandparents and sisters (?) also showed up and they filled the refrigerator (I only had some water and juice) probably feeling sorry for me for having so few things in the refrigerator (?).
It seems that family members can come and leave any time they wish (at least here; this is an orthopedic hospital).
There is no doubt that this society understands well the importance of family in the healing/comforting/encouraging process.
How sad that the church misses many times the importance of community/family in the healing process. It is never too late to learn and apply!
Isaiah didn’t want to visit me in the first day because he was very sad that his dad was in the hospital. When he heard that I was feeling better, he couldn’t wait to come the second day. He came the second day and did not really want to leave…but I needed the rest! 🙂
I finally feel that the toes to my right leg are fine…that is an improvement!
Is it difficult to be an “expat” in Korea? It depends.It certainly isn’t for me. And it hasn’t been from the very beginning.
Why is that? Is it because I am an “international freak” always on the move, and unsatisfied unless I experiment something new? I do not think so (though I may be rightly classified as an “international freak” – I lived in 4 different countries so far J).
I think one of the answers is COMMUNITY.
More specifically, it is CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY.
As soon as I arrived in Korea I was surrounded by a loving Christian community. It wasn’t only at the school where I teach, but also at the church that I started to attend with Dr. Steve Chang (New Testament Professor and Pastor of this ministry).
There is much to be said about this community, but it is simpler to offer a clip from our last Christmas party. If a picture is worth 1000 words, a video clip (even though it is very short) must be worth thousands of words. Here you will see a “mixed multitude” singing a Christmas carol.
Korean Americans educated in the United States (lawyers, dentist, teachers etc.) rub shoulders with Canadians (the blonde guy is British-Canadian J) and Americans married to Korean women. Single Americans from the South, Manitoba, and the Midwest (most of them teachers) will sing carols with English speaking Koreans (engineers, counselors, workers etc.). There is even a Romanian-American-Canadian (born in Romania and with dual citizenship) living and teaching in Korea J.
Expecting mothers enjoy the company of recent young mothers. Small children are playing together, and a Korean American mother is holding a Romanian-American-Korean baby (that is how the clip ends)…
It is not all perfect and “heaven-like” (we are still on earth after all), but Christ is in our midst, and we sing for His glory.
What better way to celebrate Christmas?
No – it is not difficult to be an “expat.” At least not where Christ has been proclaimed and a Christian community was formed.
For where Christ is, there is love, joy, and forgiveness. And most important, the presence of the Holy Spirit is promised. And the fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace … (Galatians 5:22). I pray that these fruits will be evident in our lives.
P.S. Feel free to add your comments about the Christmas party, our community, and everything else you would like to add.
Blessings and JOY,
*HEM stands for Hallelujah English Ministry: http://hem.hcc.or.kr/.