Diary and reflections on Cheon Il Guk
A church brother from Mobile, AL
Kang-whe, Cheonwon-Gun District
February 28, 2003
I had the privilege of living in a small Korean house in a small country
village with the local pastor's family. Eju-hun is an 8 year old boy and
runs to the computer every day he gets back from school. He dominates his
older 13 year old brother, Eju-hwan, only because the older lets him.
11 year old girl, Emin-choung, loves to study and is very artistic.
To the cue from their parents, they respectfully say goodbye to me
as they depart for school and greet me again as they return every day.
The pastor's wife is the first to rise in the morning to prepare breakfast
for the little ones. The entire family is a joy to be with and a living
testimony of God's love manifested.
We're up for 5 am HDK every morning. This morning gave us a tearful Rev.
Lee Mong Young pleading Heavenly Father. Thereafter, he and his wife,
Yoshida Sachiyo Lee, would read Korean text and I English for 1 hour.
With 3 native Japanese sisters and one other Korean brother, we
successfully organized 3 public meetings: one in Kang-whe, the second
in Kang-ne and a third in Puyong-all in the Cheongwon-gun district.
Friday, Feb 10, 2003:
With partners in arm, I went through the approach book in English and
partners would translate to a captain/manager of a local agricultural
bank. We asked him to sign an application form and took photos together.
We went to a senior citizen center. Older Korean men were huddled
together on a warm floor playing cards. Some were sleeping, some smoking.
Eventually our conversation got the attention of one very large Korean
man who reminded me very much of John Wayne, the American cowboy actor
who often times plays the role of a gruff and tough independent type who
often gets into fist fights. This man was loud, expressive and in the end
was kind. One could sense that he thoughtfully contemplated our words.
He signed up with the rest of the men.
Tuesday Feb 11, 2003:
The captain/manager from the agricultural bank we met yesterday brought
a large box of miniature apple juice cans as a congratulatory gift
to the parsonage. This was just in time for our first public meeting
where Rev. Jea Seok Kim gave an introduction and translated for me as
I read the congratulatory remarks in English. We followed the agenda
items in our program and Rev. Lee spontaneously gave an inspired and
impassioned talk for approximately 1 hour speaking from his heart and
using no notes whatsoever.
We went visiting after our seminar to our second senior citizen's center
where I met Clint Eastwood's Korean counterpart. With full head of
white hair, he was rough, tough, outspoken who after showing the typical
resistance, was the first one to sign the application form and then
commanded the other men to sign as well.
We went to a County Manger's office. He graciously took us up to his
executive meeting room, served us warm miniature bottles of tea and took
We visited our third agricultural bank and met a very important senior
captain/manger of the bank who signed the application. I relished in the
kindness of these people that appears as a universal social consciousness,
grace and national identity.
An interesting side note that was of course intended only for me to
experience was that Mrs. Lee's voice reminded me of my mother's voice. It
was uncanny how when she would laugh, sing, or talk with her children,
I received flash memories of my own mother when she would laugh, sing
and engaged in conversations. And though a bit smaller in stature than
Father, Rev. Lee reminds of Father when he was younger.
Feb 12, 2003:
We had our second public meeting in Kang-ne where over 50 guests attended.
This was a good showing for a small town. I gave the same abridged
version of congratulatory remarks and the program followed as usual.
We greeted guests with big smiles and handshakes and escorted them to
sit around a large kerosene heater that was in the middle of the large
meeting room which was very cold in the morning. Grandmas and grandpas
huddled together to warm-up as we hung our banners on the wall.
It was in this seminar that Clint Eastwood's counterpart and his
compatriots attended. They were very happy to see me as I was to see
them. Even without speaking the Korean language, these people felt
the love and concern given to them and returned it many times over.
They were very genuine and sincere.
After our second seminar, we went to a cultural center where Rev. Lee just
burst into a practice performance of a Korean drum dance. He passionately
introduced me as a famous miguk. He is a natural born salesman and asked
the dance and drum performers to perform for me and they did. It was a
loud and wonderful expression of Korean folk dancing in preparation for
the lunar celebration that takes place throughout Korea at this time. The
dance was led exclusively by women who were hitting away at the drums and
dancing happily in a circle. It was great. I like Rev. Lee's style:
he makes no appointments. He simply goes where he wants and dominates
the environment and conversation.
We visited another senior citizen's center. The candy I brought over
from the US was quickly consumed by all. They loved it and thereafter
signed the applications. Thereafter we visited a Catholic church where
the pastor politely received our material.
The highlight for me was at the end of the day. We visited an elderly
church couple. The elderly man was Rev. Lee's pastor and father to
Byung Ho Soon. The elderly man was unfortunately hit by a truck and is
now recovering. We were whisked to his bedroom, sat on the warm floor,
served tea and coffee with sweets and small oranges. We sat and talked
together for approx. 45 minutes. It dawned on me that the exchange of
our Korean conversation is so very similar to the way Italian families
talk when they visit one another. They serve guests, emotionally share
with each other with full spectrum of tonality from soft to loud voices.
This sharing is so very healthy. Whether in a seminar or in a social
visit as this was, Rev. Lee always introduces me as the great miguk
architect who contributed to the design East Garden, UTS grad, etc. and
treats me as royalty as is very sincere.
After 2 weeks in Korea, I made a new determination to study Korean
language. I rediscovered how Korean language is very similar to Italian
where people unabashedly express themselves with full spectrum of
tonality and passion which I find very refreshing. I listened, enjoyed
and understood how in conversation, one empathizes with a particular
comment and uses it as a starting point to help the commentator expand
on his statement with a lot of emotional and verbal support until the
initial speaker feels that he is understood, supported and at one with
those around him.
There is life in words. There is healing in words. Understanding comes
from hearing and hearing the Word... the full resonance of life-giving
words that illuminates for me the "Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound"
that comes from the Word of God.
Thank You Heavenly Father.