Palace and Protest

Palace and Protest

On our last day in Korea we had a chance to do some sightseeing. We had seen numerous neighborhoods in Seoul throughout the week which each one looking even more different than the last. Our last day was spent in the Jongno-gu neighborhood where we spent the morning at the Gyeongbokgung palace and museum. Most of the original palace was destroyed during the Japanese occupation and the Korean War but the restorations of this palace are nothing less than remarkable. Despite the blazing heat as we walked around the palace I still found it to be a very charming place to be. There were many people dressed in traditional Korean Hanbok and taking pictures with their friends and family. It was wonderful to see people embracing their history and culture so beautifully.

Within the palace there is a history museum that is free for anyone who visits the palace. We spent sometime looking at the exhibits to beat the 95 degree weather.

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After the palace and museum we walked over to the Japanese embassy to witness the Halomi protests. I was in awe of how many young people there were. Many Halomi have died already but the younger generation has decided to take this issue into their own hands and raise their voices on behalf of their elders who were treated so horribly. While I am unsure about how the Japanese and Korean government will work on this issue, I am humbled to see so many individuals willing to sacrifice their time and energy to keep this injustice relevant to both governments.

I have had this trip on my mind a lot recently. There is a lot we can learn from the Korean people and the PROK. I pray we can be a church and a people who continue to strive for justice for all of God’s people.

Blessings,

Fiyori

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The DMZ

In the middle of the trip it was important to take a day to better understand the context of the Korean division and why the churches in Korea are so focused on reunification. We had the opportunity to visit the actual site of the tension between North and South Korea with a full day tour of the demilitarized zone. We traveled by bus north of Seoul and visited a number of sites including a site where the South Koreans found a tunnel coming into the country from the north and the actual border where negotiations take place.

While on the one hand, it was clear that the tragic war between the two sides has taken so many resources and lives even to this day, on the other hand, it was important to see that alongside these military sites there many memorials and hope for peace.

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This month they will bring 180 North and South Koreans together – families who were divided by the war and have never been able to meet until now – for the first time in three years. These meetings are signs that perhaps peace is on the horizon.

Pray with us that Korea will be unified and all of its people allowed to live together once again.

Cathy

Visiting two migrant centers – Spanish and English

Primeramente, a Dios gracias por la oportunidad de visitar nuestros hermanos y hermanas Koreanos. El sábado 4 de agosto 2018 fue un día muy especial que transformo e impacto mi vida, pude ver como Dios es fiel y proveedor. Tuvimos la oportunidad de visitar el Seongnam Migrant Commnunity Center, fuimos recibidos con especial atención y amor. El centro ofrece servicios a inmigrantes y no inmigrantes de la comunidad. El centro se distingue por proveer servicios educativos como clases de: Korean Class (Lecture, Visit), Yoga Class for Prenatal Education, Computer Class, Cooking Class, Driving Class entre otras. También ofrece servicios ocupacionales, ofrece espacio para madres con niños, tiene una pequeña biblioteca y algo importante son los servicios legales que ofrece a todo inmigrantes que este indocumentado en Korea que en su gran mayoría provienen de China.

Ese mismo día también visitamos el Seongnam Migrant Center este centro es un Shelter el cuan fue bien emotivo ver la pasión que tiene el personal por ayudar a los más necesitado. Este centro conquisto mi corazón al escuchar historias de los hermanos y hermanas que están refugiados en este centro. Unos por violencia doméstica otros por accidentes de trabajo que por no estar legal en Korea son referidos a este centro para su acogida. La bienvenida que nos dieron en este centro fue impresionante ante lo poco que podían ofrecer, me hicieron sentir parte de ellos, el amor y la pasión que se sentía por parte del personal del centro por ayudar a los más necesitados es incomparable. Todavía recuerdo cara expresión y cada cara de cada uno de los que nos recibieron, la expresión de alegría y el deseo que nos lleváramos un grato recuerdo de ellos. Este centro lo llevo en mi corazón y siempre estará en mis oraciones para que Dios envíe a este lugar recursos económicos que tanto necesitan y provea voluntarios a para ayudar a las labores diarias del centro.

¡Ustedes serán inolvidables!

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First, I thank God for the opportunity to visit our Koreans brothers and sisters. Saturday August 4, 2018 was a very special day that transformed and influenced my life; I could see how God is Faithful and our Provider. We had the opportunity to visit the Seongnam Migrant Community Center; we were received with special attention and love. The center offers services to immigrants and non-immigrants from the community. The center is distinguished by providing educational services such as: Korean Classes (Lectures and Visits), Yoga Classes for Prenatal Education, Computer Classes, Cooking Classes, and driving classes among others. It also offers occupational services, offers space for mothers with children, has a small library and something important is the legal services offered to all immigrants who are undocumented in Korea, the vast majority of whom come from China and the Philippines.

That same day we also visited the Seongnam Migrant Center, this center is a Shelter. It was very emotional to see the passion that the staff has for helping those most in need. This center touched my heart as we heard stories of brothers and sisters who are refugees in this center. Some for domestic violence others for work accidents that because they are not legal in Korea are referred to this center for their reception. The welcome they gave us in this center was impressive given how little they could offer, they made me feel part of them, the love and passion felt by the staff of the center to help the needy is incomparable. I still remember face expression and each face of each of those who received us, the expression of joy and the desire that we take a pleasant memory of them. This center I carry in my heart and will always be in my prayers for God to send to these place economic resources that are so needed and to provide volunteers to help the daily work of the center.

You are unforgettable!

Abi

Seminaries and Temples

Today we had the blessing to visit Hanshin Theological Seminary. If I’m being honest this was the part of the trip I have been most excited for. I am always interested in learning how other countries school systems work and what training programs exist for pastors around the world. We didn’t get to meet with students because it’s summer vacation but we did meet with Dean —(I didn’t get this card)— and enjoyed comparing Korean seminary systems with American ones over lunch and coffee.

The campus is nothing less than exquisite. There was a lot of thought placed into its design. It is a peaceful campus that has intentional quiet, meditative spaces.

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Afterwards our group visited two different Buddhist temples, Hwagyesa Temple and Jogyesa Temple. Both temples are still fully functioning and had lots of people praying and working.

I’m consistently in awe of how aesthetically pleasing everything in Korea is, but the temples took my breath away. The color patterns, intricate designs, and attention to detail within these temples was humbling to see. Although I was not able to read anything on the walls or understand the prayers being shared I still felt God being present in these places. I am so blessed and humbled to be able to visit these places in person. Blessings,

Fiyori

Seminaries and Temples

Today we had the blessing to visit Hanshin Theological Seminary. If I’m being honest this was the part of the trip I have been most excited for. I am always interested in learning how other countries school systems work and what training programs exist for pastors around the world. We didn’t get to meet with students because it’s summer vacation but we did meet with Dean —(I didn’t get this card)— and enjoyed comparing Korean seminary systems with American ones over lunch and coffee.

The campus is nothing less than exquisite. There was a lot of thought placed into its design. It is a peaceful campus that has intentional quiet, meditative spaces.

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Afterwards our group visited two different Buddhist temples, Hwagyesa Temple and Jogyesa Temple. Both temples are still fully functioning and had lots of people praying and working.

I’m consistently in awe of how aesthetically pleasing everything in Korea is, but the temples took my breath away. The color patterns, intricate designs, and attention to detail within these temples was humbling to see. Although I was not able to read anything on the walls or understand the prayers being shared I still felt God being present in these places. I am so blessed and humbled to be able to visit these places in person. Blessings,

Fiyori

Worshiping with our sisters and brothers

This Sunday August 5, we visited the Kangman Church. It was an unforgettable experience. Beginning with the Bible Sunday school for children, it was wonderful watching all the children worship in Korean and English.

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The general service was a blessing to be able to worship with our Korean sisters and brothers. The message preached by Rev. Yongseok was very truthful for the moment. His message was based in love and it made us reflect on our actions. The most inspiring and spiritual moment was to share the Lord’s table with my Korean brothers and sisters. It is a moment that will be unforgettable. My heart jumps with joy at seeing a living and fruitful church serving the community. In response to that service, the church has over 2,000 members. To God be the Glory for centuries! Korea will always be in my heart and prayers.

Abimael Betancourt

Reclaiming HERstory

Today was the first full day of our time in Korea, and we started out strong. We travelled with two PROK workers Rev. Frank Hernando and Rev. Im to My Sister’s Place, a domestic, sexual, and dating violence prevention and intervention program in Pyeongtaek. The building itself is still under construction; however their work began in Pyeongtaek years ago. There is a U.S. military base in the city and nearby are bars that are full of trafficked sex workers. These women have been taken to this area with the promise that this work will providing income for their families or that they might be able to have a “better” life. In reality, these women are stuck in high risk situations with very little possibly of leaving. The largest percentage of women in this area have come from the Philippines. Workers from My Sister’s Place have been present in the area for over 5 years providing all kinds of support (medical, financial, emotional) for these women and giving them opportunities that they wouldn’t be able to get on their own. As their building finishes up construction I know that My Sister’s Place will continue to be a beacon of hope for these women and give them the strength and tools to get out of their situations.

Afterwards, we traveled back to Seoul and spent some time at the War and Women’s Human Rights Museum. As we listened to the audio guide explain the exhibits I could not help but reflect on the strength and resilience of women throughout history all over the world.

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The majority of the exhibits focused on the Japanese military attacks on women in WWII. A large number of Korean women between the ages of 13-25 were kidnapped and brought to bases to be used as sources of “comfort” for the soldiers. These ‘Comfort Women’ were brutally beaten and raped repeatedly for years. Many women died during these times and if they survived stayed silent about the abuses that they endured. No one spoke up on behalf of these women, so in 1988 almost 50 years after the first women were taken they spoke up for themselves. To this day people protest the Japanese Embassy in Korea in the hopes that these injustices are recognized and the museum was built for others to understand how much was truly taken away.

Today was an emotionally taxing day.

I was constantly reminded of how broken our world is. However I’m grateful and humbled to know that there are individuals who are working for women’s equality and making sure that their stories are heard.

Blessings,

Fiyori