Thursday, March 29, 2007

Slightly Sad News...

My apartment internet is temporarily offline. We are renewing the service so they have to disconnect and reconnect us.

This means there may not be as many posts on here as usual for about a week or so... until the service gets reconnected.

I just didn't want anyone to worry that I'd disappeared... gotten sick... gotten hit by a bus... been mobbed and kidnapped by a rogue classroom of children... eloped... forgotten how to speak or write English... got stuck on a bus headed for nowhere...

must go...

until next time... grace and peace to all of you.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Compliments and Puzzle Pieces

New class interview assignment... compliment your mom.

Sounds easy, right? Wrong. There are four basic "complimenting levels".

[1]Complimenting a person on their possessions. For example... "Your glasses are super cool." (This is the easiest, most common, and least meaningful type of compliment. They can be used as conversation starters or casually between friends. This type of compliment is usually forgotten soon after it is given.)

[2]Complimenting a person on their physical appearance. For example... "You've got lovely long hair." (Often these are given without much thought, unfortunately they are sometimes the most desired.)

[3]Complimenting a person on their abilities. For example... "You are the most amazing soccer player I know." (These compliments are deeper and require some knowledge about the person.)

[4]Complimenting a person on their character. For example... "You are as dependable as the coming of the tide." (This is the most meaningful and most difficult to give. It often requires intimate and long term knowledge of the person. This kind of compliment is not easily forgotten.)

(I think Papa HAC told me about these. I have defined and expanded on them.)
Next time you give someone a compliment... think about what kind of compliment you are giving. Do you want it to be deep?

Thoughts while in church...

God promises rest.
"What is the greatest worry that is keeping you from God's rest?" (A question asked by Jin).

In a previous entry I quoted Jesus. "You must lose your life to find it." My brother asked me "Have you lost your life?"

I started to think about this question while sitting in church.
Have I lost my life?
It hasn't been stolen.
It hasn't been forgotten.
It has slowly... piece by piece... been lost.

It's like a jigsaw puzzle. You know when you get out your favorite puzzle... you put it together... and suddenly you realize that a piece is missing. Then you notice that a piece from a completely different puzzle has appeared.

Well, that's my life. Each time I take my life out of the box to have a look, I notice that more old pieces have been "lost" and several new pieces have been "found". One day all my old pieces will be lost and I'll have a totally sweet new puzzle.

So my answer is... Yes, I have lost my life. And I will continue to lose it.

old and new

A wiseman once said, "Christians talk about their future eternal life... and don't realize that it has already begun."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

Joyful Speech

So these past couple days have been "speech contest" days at Ewha. Students from all different levels compete.

As a teacher, I was a judge and scored each "victim" (as Jean liked to call them).

My special TOEFL classes also participated. They weren't competing for the prize... they were just demonstrating their skills.

I asked Joy, prior to the speech contest, to share her answer to the "T-Rex" interview question. She covered her face and cried.... "Ohhhhhh nooooooo."

Tough luck kid, that's what you get for being the best. :)

The next day I was surprised when she asked me to correct her speech. (I thought she would simply use her old answer.) It was brilliant! Joy added all kinds of great stuff. She began with... "Today we will go to an imaginary place..." and ended with "So come to my t-rex barbeque." And it was all very well written.

When I returned the corrected speech to her, I let her know how impressed I was. Her face beamed... and then she started clowning... she put on her best "hello, my name is Joy, and I'm awesome" face and started posing. The other girls decided they could play too...

"Teacher, we wrote the speech... not Joy. When you were gone she said, 'Write my speech or I will punch you.' We had no choice." Joy was shaking her head in protest and trying to speak, but they wouldn't let her interrupt. It was so funny.

The other girls did put their talents together and created Joy's poster, so she could concentrate on her speech. Each contestant was graded on their speech as well as their poster.

When it was Joy's turn to present, I scooted to the edge of my seat and waited.

I caught a glimpse of what it must be like to be a proud father. I could hear no mistakes. I could see no faults. She was perfect. And I had a big silly grin on my face and clapped till my hands hurt.

Please note the classic "Annie behavior" in the right corner. I believe she has a scarf wrapped around her head.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Text a ZEC

What do South African jerky (a tasty gift from Carmen's mom), Korean ritz crackers with peanutbutter, and a cellphone (handphone) have in common?

Nothing really.

Except I just ate the ritz and jerky while simultaneously sending a text message using my new cellphone (handphone) that the guys at church helped me get.

I suddenly thought... "Look at yourself, Ryan. This is amazing... This is blog worthy!!!"

So I snapped some quick glamour shots.

I guess I'm kinda silly sometimes. But being silly is fun.

My cool factor went up like ten points after I got this baby. Doesn't matter if I don't know how it works... just holding it... that's the important part. (Check out the sweet sliding action. So cool.)

"Silly is as silly does." (I'm not exactly sure what that means but it sounded good.)

Thoughts at Night

Have you ever tried to go to sleep, your eyelids are heavy, and then suddenly some thought comes to mind? And then you have to write about those thoughts just so you can go back to sleep? Seems to happen to me often. Here are some thoughts from the night...

I want to be a wiseman. But then I started to wonder... What exactly is a wiseman? Is it a person who has neat little things to say like... "The greatest warrior is the one that can change his enemy into his friend?"

No, I don't think so.

I imagine a wiseman as someone who has a calm patience. A peace. A man who knows how to answer questions with questions. Questions that help the quester find the answers for himself. Because an answer is more powerful when it is found through struggle.

I want to be a young wiseman. But I don't think that is possible... is it? Sometimes I feel like an old soul trapped in a young body. And other times I feel as though I shall never grow up.

Why do I want to be a wiseman? Is it so I can feel proud of myself? So I can help others? Because wisemen know God? I think of the many men and women of the Bible that I consider wise... and the many unwise choices some of them seemed to make. Is there really such thing as a wiseman?

I think Enoch must have been a true wiseman... that's probably why God took him. He simply walked off this earth at God's side. Sometimes, I think that maybe if I love and understand God like Enoch did, then someday I too will get to simply walk with God and be no more. That is one of my secret dreams.

I realize I am a fool. But that's okay. Better a fool in God's court than a king on this earth.


"Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."
But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child,' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD. --(from the book of Jeremiah)

I feel like Jeremiah. Like me, he has fear. Fear of inadequacy. And like me, he has also been given a promise. A promise of rescue.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Two Brave Girls & a Pineapple

Life is full of fun little things. I think my jolly mood (do people say jolly) is a result of the sunshine, warm weather, and dozens of children running around. Have you noticed that children skip everywhere?

On my way to the bus stop, I was accosted by an 8 year old girl. She asked my name. I replied and asked for her name. In the process, I discovered her English was awesome. Better than some of my middle school students.

I sat down near the bus stop and waited. Soon the same girl and one of her little friends began to creep toward me. They thought they were so sneaky. I could tell I was their target. They inched closer... and closer... and closer. Suddenly, I whipped out my camera and said, "Sa-jeen?" (which means photograph/picture). They shrieked, covered their faces and ran away giggling (I didn't get their photo). They continued to play nearby until my bus came, then they shouted good-bye and went searching for adventure elsewhere.

From the bus I watched a man sell pineapples. He cut a sample and gave it to a woman crossing the street. His strategy worked... she ate the slice and gave him her attention. Then I watched him convince her to buy a whole pineapple. I smiled at how she'd been "tricked" into buying something she hadn't been looking for.

Sally, Clara, Holly

Clara, Holly

Jesus said, "One who has been forgiven much, loves much."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

King of the Classroom

I thought I might briefly outline "Lyan's classroom techniques".

"Attention Getting Maneuvers"
[1]Talk quietly.
[2]Pretend you are bored.
[3]Pretend you are holding something in your hand. Proceed to silently stretch it, bounce it, eat it, etc... I have found this to be highly effective. Kids are curious. I use that against them.
[4]Whatever you do... do not say "shut up". For some reason, this is a huge "no no" in Korea. It's like cursing at a child. I have never said shut up to anyone in the last 15 years. I think it's because my mom never let me (wow, I continue to discover how much power my mother had in the "shaping ryan" project).
[5]Make all students stand up. Give them directions... everyone point at the floor, everyone stick out their tongue and touch their elbow to their knee, etc...
[6]Speak rapidly using as many "big" words as possible.
[7]Begin writing "HOMEWORK" on the board.

"Disciplinary Measures"
[1]"You have two choices... Option 1: stay seated and listen. Option 2: leave the classroom. What do you choose?"
[2]"Oh, you have chosen to stand by me. Please come up to the front of the class."
[3]Seperation of the trouble makers. Sometimes I make the misbehaving boy sit on the girls' side of the classroom. This is embarassing for the boy.

***It is almost always the boys that cause the problems, never the girls. My grandmother would say, "Girls are cute... and then they grow up."
***I have never had to send a child out of the room. They always choose Option number one.

"Diversionary/Entertainment Maneuvers"
[1]The patented "Ryan's disappearing coin trick".
[3]Pretend tearing the paper trick.
[4]Can you do this? Hand tricks... the double jointed thumb, finger gymnastics, and the broken finger trick (I actually got some of the little girls to squeel in horror with this one).
[5]Do a hand stand trick.
[6]Tell a funny personal story trick.
[7]Create a "monster" on the board trick. Ask students what to draw for head, body, arms, and legs. Ask them to name it. Ask what it eats. Ask where it lives.
[8]Create a story trick... ask the students Who? What? Where? When? Then quickly fabricate a funny story using the children's details. I actually get requests for this one.
[9]Quickly draw a maze on the board trick. Ask for two volunteers. Student number one holds the marker and closes their eyes. Student number two guides the hand of student number one through the maze.
[10]Throw a paper airplane at the student you want to read or answer a question. They throw it back when they are finished. Then you throw it at the next volunteer.
[11]Tell the kids that when you smile you are angry... and when you don't smile you are happy. Then try not to smile. It's tough, man.
[12]Start singing.
[13]Empty your pockets and explain how each thing saved your life (I actually just thought of this one, but now I'm definitely going to use it.)
[14]Many of my tricks are created as needed... for example, we were reading about losing teeth. Before class, I took an eraser from the supply box. I also took an exacto knife. Then I carved a beautiful fake tooth. As I walked into the classroom I "accidentally" slammed my face in the door and "lost" my "tooth", to the amazement of my students.

A wiseman once said, "It is better to be respected than cool."

Pain and Joy

Recently read some thought provoking stuff. Please allow me to quote it directly...

"Robertson, why does God let us get old and weak? Why must I hurt so?" she asked.

After a few moments' thought McQuilkin replied, "I think God has planned the strength and beauty of youth to be physical. But the strength and beauty of age is spiritual. We gradually lose strength and beauty that is temporary so we'll be sure to concentrate on the strength and beauty which is forever. It makes us more eager to leave behind the temporary, deteriorating part of us and be truly homesick for our eternal home. If we stayed young and strong and beautiful, we might never want to leave!" Where is God when it hurts? - Phillip Yancey

Are we missing the perspective of the universe and of timelessness? Would we complain about life on earth if God permitted a mere hour of suffering in an entire seventy-year lifetime of comfort? Now, our lifetime does include suffering, but that lifetime represents a mere hour of eternity. - Yancey

A wisewoman once said, "There are no good-byes. I'll see you here, there, or in the air."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Around the Block B&W

"You must lose your life to find it."

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Choco-Pie Experiment

So I had this amazing idea. What if I gave each of my students a choco-pie and instructed them to give the pie to a stranger? For their interview, they would need to tell me who they gave it to... how that person responded... and how they themselves felt about it.

I thought it was a great idea. Some of my students didn't. Mostly, I think they were just being chicken.

I got some interesting responses as usual. (By the way, I gave each student two choco-pies. One for them. One to give away. This was to hopefully prevent them from eating the choco-pie and then making up a story about someone they "gave" it to.)

Jane gave her choco-pie to a boy at one of her other schools. He mumbled thanks and took off. She was so disapointed with his response that she bought some chocolate and tried again with someone new. This time she chose a girl at the school. The girl said thank you many times. Jane thinks they might become friends.

Annie couldn't find anyone she didn't know. I'm sure all of Korea knows Annie. However, she ran into her old third grade teacher... who suggested she give the choco-pie to one of the security guards where she lives. According to Annie, the guard said thank you repeatedly and shook her hand forever.

Some students gave the choco-pies to their siblings' friends. Other students picked random people or children on the street. One student had to explain to a mom that the choco-pie wasn't poisoned, it was a homework assignment. The mom said "Oh, what a fun assignment. Who is your teacher?" and gave the choco-pie to her son. The mom probably wrote my name down in her black book... "DON'T send junior to school with Ryan Teacher... he gives FUN assignments."

Many of the students said they were nervous, but enjoyed the strange assignment from the crazy Ryan Teacher.

If you read the Korean, it actually says "cho-ko-pa-ee".

A wiseman once said, "Two choco-pies are better than one."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

No Wedding, but some Donuts

So I missed the wedding. My bus got stuck in traffic and I was late. And I was sad. And I couldn't find anyone. So I left.

This means I must get a cell phone to prevent such a horrible thing from happening again.

To make myself feel better. I rode the bus around. Eventually, I ended up at Suwon Station. Which happens to contain a large mall. I made a beeline for the bookstore. I grabbed two fiction books and a Korean language book.

On the way out of Suwon Station... temptation struck... a large colorful sign that goes by the name of "Dunkin' Donuts" called my name. I tried to run... but it was too powerful. Not only did I give in... but I bought three donuts... and ate two of them immediately.

My name is Ryan. I'm a donutaholic.

I had my first 'nora-bong' experience. It was great. We rented a luxury room. It came with two giant screen tvs, two microphones, couches, and a giant book of songs. You select a song and input it into a little keypad thingy. Then the music starts and the words appear on the screen.

I sang "Dancing Queen" in honor of Rymack and Namky. I was awful. But that's okay. The point is to just sing really really loud.

I'm sad to report there are no new photos. Weather has been bad lately, which has limited photo opportunities. But have no fear... I will build my own studio if I have to. The show must go on.

A wiseman once said, "For I am convinced that... nothing... can seperate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

To Kill a Dinosaur

Sage came in to get interviewed. She had a huge scarf wrapped around her neck. I asked, "Are you cold?" She said no. "Then why are you wearing that scarf?"

Her answer... "Lego hair."

If you are confused right now, then you know exactly how I felt.

"Lego hair? What's lego hair?"

"My hair style is lego hair."

"And you don't like it so you hide it with the scarf?"


"Then why did you cut your hair that way."

"My teacher cut my hair. All girls must have lego hair."

And that's when it hit me. All the girls have the same hair cut because it's part of the school dress code. And calling it lego hair totally made sense... it looks like the hair you put on a lego man.

It snowed today. I watched a dude bean a girl with a snowball. She made a snowball... walked up very close to the guy... and threw... he was so slick... he ducked at the last second and her snowball went over his head. It was awesome. Then she started to squeel and punch him.

Girls are the same all over the world.

I came up with a new question for my interview classes... "What three things do you need to kill a T-Rex?" Here are a few answers...

[1]a helicopter
[2]a bomb
[3]a strong shield

[1]a flying broom
[2]a magic wand
[3]an invisible cloak

[1]a flying object
[2]a bomb
[3]a cell phone to call the army if the bomb doesn't work

[1]a cannon
[2]nuclear weapon
[3]weed killer... to kill all the plants, so all the animals die, and then the t-rex will starve to death.

But I don't want to kill a T-rex. I want to train it and keep it as a pet. But maybe it will want to eat me even though I don't have much meat. So I would have to kill it. I would dig a deep hole. Then I would have the t-rex chase me and get it to fall in the hole. Then I would fill the hole with kindling and light it on fire and kill the t-rex.

[2]a knife
[3]a canabalistic tribe
-These are Annie's three, of course. That girl cracks me up.-

[1]a long pole
[2]color my body green
I would color my body green and hide with the long pole. Then I would push the t-rex's hip with the long pole so it falls. Then shoot it in the neck with a gun. Then I will call my friend superman to grab a building and drop in on the t-rex and then I will burn the building.

-The rope is to break the t-rex's teeth so it can be a pet.-

[1]big stones
[3]a big bag
-The big bag is to carry the head back to Ewha to prove she killed a t-rex.-

[3]a megaphone
I need wisdom to come up with a strategy to kill the t-rex. I need luck because strategies are not 100 percent. I need a megaphone to overpower the t-rex.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A Daisy in the Field

In one of my classes, there is a girl named Daisy. She is sweet and gentle. And sometimes she forgets to do her homework.

Today she got into a lot of trouble because she hasn't been doing all of her homework. I believe she now has two penalties (three penalties and you have to leave the hogwan).

I saw her sitting in the main office area. Her face was sad and she looked like she was about to cry. I smiled at her, but she just shook her head.

As I began to leave the teacher's office for my next class, I noticed that Daisy was still out there. Still looking sad. And now her mom was there talking with one of the Korean teachers.

I just couldn't help myself... I slipped the girl some chocolate as I walked past.

I know... I know... I was undermining the disciplinary system. But I just couldn't take those sad eyes anymore.

Two periods later, I had her in class. When class ended, the children streamed by in a mad dash for the elevator. All the children except Daisy. She stopped in front of me (with her sad gentle face), bowed deeply, and then followed the other children out.

Instantly, my chocolate decision was validated.

At church I met an awesome Korean guy named James. I asked, "How did you become a Christian." He laughed and said he first went to church for a choco-pie (it's sort of like a Little Debbie).

A wiseman once said, "The way to a man's heart really is through his stomach."

Sunday, March 4, 2007

A Walk and a Talk

This weekend, I journeyed with a group called "Adventure Korea". We traveled to a small island in the south. While there, we stayed with a Korean family, did some hiking, played some games, ate authentic food, and went deep sea fishing.

Oh yeah, and I ate live octopus... It was the strangest thing... We caught the creature and then (the brave ones) bit off its legs. Those little tentacles didn't want to be eaten either... they stuck to the inside of your mouth and fought like crazy. I have to say that it was extrememly weird eating something while it was still alive.

I also made it onto Korean TV. They were doing a special program to promote this village and to attract more tourism. Somehow, I was in the group that the camera man followed around all day. They even filmed us eating. At one point, the director said "Ooh. I will get a shot through the window. Okay now, everybody laugh." It was just such a ridiculous and fake request that we all started laughing for real.

Late at night. I took a walk alone. And after a time, I found myself sitting on a cliff overlooking the sea. A full moon smiled on the area, and the roaring silence filled my ears. I decided to speak with God... out loud. Something I hadn't done for some time. I'd forgotten how scary and how awesome it was.

I was careful to choose my words with some thought. I mean, I was talking with God, I didn't want to say anything stupid. We had a good chat. Mostly about life. About how some people feel lonely. About the importance of community. About girls. About obedience. About purpose. And about people I care for and think of often. He listened carefully.

It felt good to just talk. I wasn't asking for any favors. I wasn't asking for a miracle. I wasn't begging or pleading. I wasn't crying. I wasn't yelling. I was simply sharing. Sometimes, when I think about it all (how easy it is for us to talk with God), I get goosebumps. You know, like when you hear a certain song or story that speaks to your soul.

I'd also like to say... boys all over the world love camp fires and fire in general(see pics below).

The village where we stayed (population 150).

God says, "in the silence I am listening not abandoning." (from a poem by Bradley Hathaway).

Friday, March 2, 2007

Lots of Walking...'s good for your skin.

March 1st. A day to remember. A holiday in Korea. On this day in 1919, Koreans began non-violent protests against Japanese occupation.

Today I visited an old Japanese prison, a palace, and a giant shell.

During all this, I learned more about the people from church. And of course, I told them a little about myself. Sometimes, I think I talk too much. Suddenly I get into storytelling mode, and I can't stop. It must be annoying.

Either that or I'm very quiet and not talking at all. But my mind isn't quiet. I'm searching for good questions or absorbing the conversation around me. Because I know these people have lived amazing lives. And I really want to hear about them.

I was asked if I would consider marrying a Korean girl... and I have to admit that I've thought about it. And I think I would, if the circumstances were right. Of course, I'm not getting married anytime soon... so don't freak out. Plus, El has to do my wedding invitations, and she's in Bolivia right now.

Please enjoy the photos from my adventure filled day. And maybe you will catch a glimpse of these new people I hope to call my friends.

A wiseman once said, "When in doubt... just play the dumb foreigner."