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Monday, August 29, 2011

A Little Bit About Korea

Just a quick update from Korea. I’d really like to write in detail, but I’ll just touch on some highlights for now.
It’s down to our last few days; we finished our last performance yesterday and we go back to Hawaii in 2 days! Korea has been awesome! I’m not sure exactly why, but I like it better than Japan. It’s just MORE than Japan, the people are more friendly, everything is more decorated, the food is more delicious, and the churches are more huge! I’ll just touch on what I’ve loved in Korea: the people, the shows, the food, the shopping, and the friendships.

The people are incredibly hospitable. Almost every church we’ve stayed at had gotten huge banners for us. There was a church with a huge hotel-style mission center we got to stay in, one that had been preparing for us for 40 days, and one that spent $4000 on promotion and lighting effects and confetti cannons.

The two most meaningful performances would have to be Gampo and the cancer ward. Gampo was a small fishing village we went to our second or third week in Korea. It only has one or two small churches and is largely Bhuddist and Shamanism. You could sense the spiritual darkness; even the weather was dark and muggy. Honestly I didn’t really enjoy or stay there at first, but they lady who had arranged our visit was so excited to have us. She is a former YWAMer and our visit brought her an answer to something she had been praying for 7 years for. We also met a man who managed a nuclear power plant in the area. The next day we toured and also went to a beach where they practice Shamanism, witchcrafts and exorcism. We did our Korean drums, worship and prayer there. It was really powerful. We were later invited back by the same guy and performed at his church toured some famous burial sites and museums. We also went back to the same beach. The sun was out and it felt much lighter, like what we had done had made a difference.
The other standout performance was at a hospital cancer ward. That was a really emotional show for everyone, but well worth it. I think we were all in tears by the end of the show. I prayed for a tiny, shriveled grandma and a baby. It was so heartbreaking.

Korean food is pretty stinking delicious. It always involves rice, and kimchi, which is strong but good if you use it like a condiment.  One of my favorite things is actually the Korean Chinese food. I love the mondu, (steamed or fried dumplings) sweet and sour pork, and fried rice and black noodles are pretty yummy too. Korean food-wise, bulgogi and Korean BBQ are definitely the best. Korean BBQ is pork or beef that you grill yourself at your own little table. (Which is very low and you sit on the floor.) It comes with rice, lettuce; sesame leaves, (amazing!) garlic, onions and sometimes other side dishes. You dip it in sesame oil and salt and this red sauce. It’s incredible. The other brilliant thing is that they cut all their meat with kitchen scissors. It’s so much easier. I’m pretty sure I don’t know how to use a fork anymore; it’s all chopsticks all the time here. Some good snacks are tempura-ed shrimp, squid and veggies and dukboki, like we had in Hilo. I must admit I’m getting sick of all the rice, and the seaweed and strange fishy things. They sure know how to use rice here, there are rice cakes, and chewy rice things, dried rice scrapings, rice drinks, rice desserts, and rice flavored ice cream. Speaking of ice cream, they have lots of good ice cream here: gelato, dippin’ dots, and these wonderful melon ice cream bars that are like 50 cents. They love melon flavor here, I’m totally going to miss that. They also have a lot of French pastry shops and cafes in the cities. The best is formaggio gelato on fresh liege waffles. They have it everywhere.
Korean BBQ!

There is great street shopping, though I’m told we haven’t seen the best street market yet. There are sparkly and fluffy hair accessories and earrings everywhere, mostly for under $5! There are these super comfy Asian pants with crazy patterns on them, and Asian socks with little adorable characters, (I got pink pandas!) chopsticks, fans, man capris, and iPhone covers with bunny ears! Everything is super adorable here! I like the fashion for the most part though, there is a lot more detail put into the clothes, and the guys are way more fashionable. And into pink; it’s totally common to see guys with pink cell phones, clothes, you name it. There are some really swanky malls too. I even managed to see Harry Potter. Also, bathhouses/spas are incredible. There a totally Asian thing. they have saunas, showers and pools. The people usually go to them about once a week and they’re great. We’ve been really spoiled and it’s hard to believe we’re on a mission trip sometimes. God has really blessed us in both Japan and Korea!
Korean flip-flops
Ugly spa pajamas

I’ve been blessed with friendship like I never thought I would. Ever since our first week in Korea, I’ve been bonding and making the best friends of my life. It’s like God is giving me things I never even knew I wanted, like just girl-bonding-slumber-party kinds of things. I’ve been roomies with Victoria almost every place we’ve stayed and we’ve gotten really close. We can just talk for hours about anything. The week of my birthday I was surprised to make a really good friend in Bri. (Not that I didn’t think she was a good friend, just I hadn’t spent that much time with her.) We were roommates and we bonded over peanut butter (yes, $7 a jar, but I missed it so much!) and crackers and One Tree Hill and talking. I love all these people so much and it will be so sad to say goodbye to them this week. We all already have plans in the works for visiting each other. Fortunately several of us live in the same area, so it won’t be too hard!
Salad party!

There have definitely been challenges too. We’ve had a lot of shows to do, sometimes with very little rest. Some nights we just sleep on the bus or the spa. (Don’t ask me why there are overnight spas.) We’ve only had actual beds once or twice the whole time we’ve been on outreach. There have been times when I was sick of following directions I didn’t understand and wearing my Heartbridge t-shirt, and rice!
We can sleep anywhere

There are times when I’ve wondered if we’re really making a difference, coming to a country that’s already so churched, and performing at churches. But I think we’ve made an impact. It’s definitely been hard to find time for reading my Bible, prayer and worship. It always pays off when I do though. A lot of parts of outreach I’ve felt a little checked out, I think partly just from exhaustion. I had a bit of a wakeup call when the staff told me that some of my dances weren’t up to par and if I didn’t improve I would be taken out of them, and then I was told that they don’t think I’m ready to do Heartbridge staffing. (Which Maria had invited me to in Kona.) It was humbling and I had been getting a bit lazy without realizing it. I’ve been really trying to work on serving other people. It was also a relief in some ways to have the option of Heartbridge removed. I was debating between that and going home for a year or two, and it made my decision for me.

So I’m officially coming home, for at least a year! I’m still considering a secondary school in peroforming or film arts in the future, but not this year. I’m excited to spend some time with my family, (and getting to know my new little brother) starting an Etsy shop, probably working, and dancing. I got the parts I’ve always wanted in our Christmas production of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and I’ve also been invited to join a dance company. There are some other arts opportunities I want to pursue at home and I’d also like to do some more traveling and maybe live in Portland for a while. I don’t know, we’ll see where God takes me.

So that’s my quick note from Korea! I can’t wait to get home and see everyone! Love you all!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review: One Tree Hill....Sorry not an update

So my current roommates were watching One Tree Hill tonight. And I just couldn’t resist the urge to blog about it. I'll get a real update up here soon. 

One Tree Hill strikes me as your typical WB-turned-CW-or-whatever-combination-of-W’s-and-other-letters show. It includes a cast of roughly 10 characters, several teenagers (though you wouldn’t know it to look at them, all the actors must be about 25) and their parents. Most of them are named gender-neutral, preppy names like Spencer and Payton.

All the girls have matching eyebrows, and shiny hair cut in layers a few inches below their shoulders. Their makeup is kept to a nice palette of beiges with slightly red tones, much like the rest of the show. Their lips are a rosy color just light enough to not be considered red, topped with just enough gloss that the audience has no doubt that they keep their lips moisturized. Bear in mind, the episode I watched was from the first season, so the fashion was more than a little outdated. But seriously, Donkey from Shrek must’ve had a talk with these people, because one thing they all love is LAYERS. No outfit is complete without a turtleneck, topped with a long-sleeve tee, and then finally a jacket, but it better not have a hood. There is clearly an unwritten law in Tree Hill against hooded clothing. Each outfit is limited to approximately four colors: gray, khaki green, maroon, and beige. Also, since this was filmed around 2001, the girl’s shirts must end one inch above their waistband.

The lighting and set decorations are of course in keeping with the muted, neutral colors. The only glimpse of real color we see is in a photograph from a vacation, kept to remind a couple of when their marriage was happy.

The plot is essentially a glorified soap opera. Curly-Hair (placed there just in case anyone thought the casting staff was hair-ist) kissed Blonde-Hair-Boy in a vulnerable moment, (hereafter referred to as BHB) who happens to be dating her best friend. Meanwhile, BHB’s half-brother is dating BHB’s best friend, and she’s concerned that BHB will start dating Curly-Hair again. BHB’s father’s wife is leaving him, because he flirted with Sexy Beach House girl next door. Everyone’s parents are pressuring them to excel in sports, because they’re dreams were crushed as children. (I like to call this classic movie and TV plot “No Mom/Dad, this is your dream.”) Lies and secrets between mothers and fathers, brothers, sons and daughters are revealed. “No, that knee injury didn’t really ruin my sports career, Dad, but I couldn’t take the pressure, so now I’m doing the same thing to my kid.”

Meanwhile, the high school coach is retiring and wondering if he made enough of a difference in live. Half-Brother tries to convince him that high school sports are important.  The episode closes with a nice littler montage, showing the situation between Curly-Hair, BHB, and Best-Friend-Girl remaining unresolved, Blonde-Mom leaving BHB’s dad, BHB’s real mom coming back into town to date his uncle. Throughout the episode, emotional songs by artist like Mat Kearney play in the background. Just when we think it’s ended, BHB and Uncle are driving to pick up Brunette-Mom, and crash into BHB’s Dad. Uncle is okay, but BHB has to be removed from the car, (despite the fact that he clearly has neck/head injuries) rushed to the hospital and carried into the emergency room in his father’s arms, only to be whisked off to an operating room where the episode closes.

Needless to say, I realize why I’ve never gotten into any of these teen-drama shows.