Friday, October 10, 2014

Trip to Korea (September/October 2014)

Namsan Tower and Han River
I traveled back to Korea in September. It was my second time in 2014. Kristin chose to stay in Rwanda due to hardships she suffered from prolonging jetlags related to earlier trip to the U.S. Also, she knew the travel schedule will be quite tight.

The purpose of this trip was mainly two-fold: 1) to attend the 3rd BAM Consultation in Mt. Seorak and 2) to teach a class "Microfinance for Sustainable Development" at Handong Global University in Pohang.

But I arrived in Seoul a few days earlier and spent time seeing my old friends, such as Yoonduk Suh, Young Jun Kim, Myung Ken Lee, Changho Lee.

It is always joyous to see old friends and hear their life stories. Moreover, it was a pleasant surprise to see Dr. Tae Dong Han who taught me Church History during the Medieval Times at Yonsei. He is over 90, yet remained strong and healthy. What a  blessing to have learned from him and to see him again!

Another routine joy of visiting Korea is seeing Shalom Bible Study members. This time, almost 10 people gathered together with one coming all the way from the south: Hayan Lee. Also in attendance were Jooheum, Sungeun, Ji-Hyun, Isaac, Junghwa, Youngsub, Yoonbum, Keunhwa. Lovely people who love and want to serve God through their lives on earth.

With Dr. Tae Dong Han and Yoon Duck

Jenny and Young Jun Kim
The BAM Consultation was productive and informative as expected. It was a bigger group than in 2013 and I met many people whom I had not met before. They include Jae-Jung Jang from Philippines, Ju Dong Yoon from Brazil, Danny Kim from Haiti/Madrid, Peter Kim from Nepal, Kwon Choi from Shanghai, Ihn Koo Khang from Korea, Seungwon Lee from Korea, Il-mo Lee from Philippines etc. Also I met Caleb Shin from Korea who is leading BAMCO seminars and running several businesses for mission. Many old faces were also a delight to see again, including Dongho Kim, Sunki Bang, Jae Chul Jung, Hyung Gook Lee from Thailand, Harry Kim and his church members who have worked so hard to make the event fruitful. Several people came from Mainland China, adding more international flavor.

I shared the BAM model with microfinance and also presented an effective BAM model.

Mt Seorak was ever pretty and green. This time, the weather was clean and clear. I managed to climb to the top of Kwon Keum Sung mainly via the cable car but on foot at the summit. It was spectacular.

Jae Jung Jand and Mrs. Jang

With Danny Yongjae Kim

Seungwon Lee, a great tenor
Initially, I planned to stay in Sokcho for two days before heading down to Pohang, but I had to change the schedule to meet with Mr. Sung Eun Hong who made an arrangement with Mr. Sang Hoon Shin, a former CEO of Shinhan Bank.

The trip to Pohang was via a KTX or Korea Train Express. It took only two hours and 20 minutes from Seoul. Picked up by a taxi driver, Mr. Suh, I settled in a guesthouse room inside the Handong Campus. A studio apartment was to be my residence for the next two weeks.

The class began on Monday and lasted for four days in the first week and another four days the following week. It was a total of 30 hours of teaching for 26 students from 18 countries. Wow... it was a great combination from all over the world. Three from South America, 10 from Asia and 13 from Africa. Most of them were working for their governments and some were lecturers at certain institutions.

I thoroughly enjoyed the teaching and my interactions with all students. They were sincere and some were quite bright. The students included three from Rwanda and one them, Yvon, was constantly among active participants. Commendable.

With 26 students from 18 countries

With Professor and Mrs. MS Doh

While I was teaching, I also met with a lot of people, some old, mostly new, including Soon Heung Chang, President of Handong Global University. The new people whom I met included Seil Ahn, Hyunmo Sung, Chaewon Rha, Isoo Joe, Sungjoon Kang, Byungduck Kang, Haneul Song, I also saw Simon Kang, Yong Lee, George Kim, Kay Lee, Youngsup Kim, Myung Sool Doh, Dosoung Choi

Also I was asked to deliver a special lecture and I covered Technology for Development.

Kay Lee asked me to talk about Introduction to BAM at her class of Mission. So I did.

Over the weekend after the first week of teaching, I traveled to Gimhae, 2 and a half hour drive by bus, to share the Word at Gimhae First Church where Rev. Joseph Yongshik Ahn is the senior pastor. I was a member of Emmanuel Mission Church that Rev. Ahn founded in Los Angeles. It was a joyous reunion with him and his wife. I stayed at their guest house and their hospitable treat was beyond my expectation.
Rev. and Mrs. Joseph Yongshik Ahn

One day, Joonhan Park, a close buddy of mine from the high school, drove from Jinju for three and half hours to meet up. We spent some time catching up. It is always joyful.

Overall, the time spent in Pohang for two weeks kept me quite busy

After Pohang, I traveled back north to settle at my parents house in Osan. On the first day, October 3, I had to drop my luggage at my parents house and continue to travel to Seoul to join a group of friends whom Mr. Sung Eun Hong invited for mutual introduction. Amb. Kwang Dong Kim, CEO of The Better World, a Christian NGO, Amb. Jong Kyung Hong, Vice Governor of Kyungsang Bukdo, Inhan Kim, Elder and CEO of a Christian TV station in New Jersey were still waiting when I finally arrived at the restaurant one hour and 20 minutes late. I had to take six modes of transportation to get there from Pohang, including taxi, KTX, subway, another taxi, bus and another taxi. But I thanked Mr. Hong for his kind arrangement with his friends for mutual introduction in offering assistance for the underprivileged people in the world.

In the evening, I met up with old college friends over dinner. They were Pyung Ku Lee, Moo Young Lee, Chan Joong Park. They all retired from active job duties but are engaged in some activities to help out firms or people. It is always fun to see them and exchange jokes freely.

On Saturday, October 4th, I attended a wedding for Minjung Kim, who is a member of Shalom Bible Study. It was a surprise for her and I prayed for God's blessing upon their wedding.
With Minjung Kim
With former KOICA people met in Rwanda

I spent time with Changho Maeng, my high school buddy, over lunch. He completed his doctoral study in social welfare and is now teaching at a few universities. We shared many things in common so our gathering is always live and active.

For the following two days, I spent time with my parents in Osan. My siblings came down to Osan on Sunday and we dined out at a seafood restaurant. My brother could not join us but sent his two children in his behalf. So we were excited about the opportunity of gathering together.

My father was better in shape than earlier this year when we celebrated his 90th birthday, but he was suffering from severe coughing that appeared to have been caused by post nasal drip as I suffered the same way. My mom at 84 was still strong and joyful, but could not deny the reality of her weakening in body strength and to a certain extent her spirit in taking care of my father. But our time together was full of joy. My father managed to attend the Sunday worship service together despite his challenge of moving around. My parents felt uncomfortable about my staying in Africa, rather than coming back to Korea or even coming closer to Korea. But it all depends on what God leads us to.
With my parents on Sunday... 84 and 90 years of age
Overall, my travel to Korea was quite busy and packed with people to meet and things to do. But I came back safely to Rwanda and I am grateful for the travel mercy that I received. On the way back, somehow I contracted the shingles and had to be put on medication with Valaciclovir, an antiviral medicine, for seven days. Outch... The pains are quite different and severe. But it was a blessing to detect the symptoms early and start taking the medicine before it spread too much. Thank you, Lord, for that! It is always great joy to return to routines from travel only for a while before the next travel looms up on the horizon. - Jeffrey

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