Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Little Things

Isn't it strange how a person starts to develop routines? Every day after work, I stop at the chicken stick stand. I buy two chicken sticks with mustard sauce. The first bite is always the best. I breathe in the mustard and it stings my throat.

I like to get food from the corner market, and I always buy some chocolate, but I can never seem to wait to eat it. So I fumble with the grocery bag until I find the chocolate, and then I eat it while I walk back to my apartment.

I have finished the text book in a couple of my classes. I told the students I would write them a story to read next time. So I wrote a story about some school kids that meet a monster. The monster becomes their friend and later saves them from a Bad Guy who is trying to steal their ice-cream. The story ends with the students getting to school and falling asleep in Ryan Teacher's class. I wrote it all in "play" style. Each kid reads the lines for a certain character.

Apparently it was a hit because they wanted me to write another one. I asked them what they wanted it to be about... they said "Two princesses, a prince, a snake, a thief, two magicians, and a hunter." So I got to work, and I created a tale. A thief steals a magic choco-pie from two magicians. While he is escaping, he decides to hide the pie inside of an Isaac's sandwich. Later, a prince accidentally eats the pie and turns into a snake. After a lot of adventures involving a fire-swamp, a sword wielding princess, a hunter that knows a secret, a violent dinosaur attack, and clever dialog, the prince eventually locates some magic lotion. He puts it onto his nose and turns back into a prince. The story ends when the magicians use their magic to make a playground sized pizza and everyone goes on a picnic.

Random thought... Strangely, I am not homesick at all. And I don't really miss anything from home. Except one thing... I miss riding my bike.

What do you see when you look into the mirror? Do you see love? Do you see joy? Do you see peace? Do you see patience? Do you see kindness? Do you see goodness? Do you see faithfulness? Do you see gentleness? Do you see self-control? Do you see beauty? Do you see God's child?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Reflections on a Day (or Two)

Recess at a local school...
The Art Gallery Quest...
A Bookstore (and the amazing 'poop' book)...
Late Night Basketball and Korean-style Freeze Tag...
A couple of thoughts... just a couple... okay, maybe threeish...

I was asked... "Ryan, why do you do good things? Why do you help people? Why are you kind?"

Time stopped for me. In that frozen moment, a few thoughts bounced around my head... "Do I know why I do these things? Really, why do I feel compassion? Kindness? Gentleness?" But then I thought, "Yes, you know why... It's that Christ-life inside you the Lewis guy is always talking about. Maybe (most probably) it's one of those mysterious things the Holy Spirit does for you."

Following this internal conversation, time resumed, my mouth and heart (I think I can honestly say, heart) spoke... "I act this way because God tells me too... God said, 'Love me. Love people.' And so I try to."

So simple. So difficult. So possible with help.

A wiseman once said, "Iron sharpens iron..."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I entered my favorite classroom (the special elementary speaking class) only to discover that the five girls had tied their feet together using a karate belt. I have no idea why. But they insisted on conducting the entire class tied together. Quintuplets.

So when I gave them their choco-pies, I told them that they were not allowed to feed themselves.

Try and imagine five giggling, elementary girls smashing choco-pies into each other's faces. I couldn't stop laughing.

Sigh... Today I studdenly realized that I miss hugs. I can't actually remember the last time I was given one.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tricks up my Sleeve

I decided to try some experimental ideas in my speaking classes...

[1]complete the sentence survey.
The students filled in the blanks. For example: "Tomorrow I will..., I love..., People say I'm..., I wish..." Each student read their responses and then the class would ask questions to get more details. This excercise was extremely successful and helped the students practice asking and answering questions.

[2]on the spot speech.
I filled a bag with pieces of paper. On the paper were various words. Each student randomly selected two words and then had to speak about those words for 45 seconds.

[3]For my elementary class, I changed things up a bit.
I played a version of Taboo using the bag of words. Each girl had a minute to try and describe three words. If the other girls could guess (figure out) three words before the minute was up then they would get a point.

I said that if they got ten points, I'd buy them choco-pies.
I have to buy them choco-pies.


Tony (I asked him to make a silly face)


So Much to Say, So Little Space

Well, I've got all kinds of stuff to story about... this may, in fact, be the largest blog entry ryan has ever attempted. So here goes...

This week was "finals week". Basically, lots of of tests. However, one class finished their test early. So I was forced to improvise...

I created a quick pictionary game. I wrote down a dozen or so words from the test. A student would then choose a word from the hat and illustate it on the board. Whoever guessed it correctly got to be the next "artist". The game was a hit.

Out of the blue, Jean came in and asked if the students had finished their test. Apparently, Sally's mom was waiting to pick her up early. Sally stood up slowly and said something to Jean in Korean. Jean said, "She doesn't want to go."

That made my heart warm... when a student has the chance to get out of my class and doesn't want to take it... wow. That's cool.

Story number two... I was bored one night around 2am...

Story number three...
At the Isaac's sandwich shop, I met a woman named Mi-Suk. She and Ms. Lee tried to tell me about some kind of food I should buy. I just couldn't figure it out. Suddenly, I found myself agreeing to meet with Mi-Suk and her family on Saturday.

It was awesome. I met Jae-Bum (Mi-Suk's husband) and their son Mark. After shopping for awhile, I discovered the afore mentioned mystery food was instant rice that you can microwave... a bachelor's dream... it was a food gold mine.

Then we ate donuts, drank coffee and talked. I had a great time. We've made plans to visit Everland together(it's like Disneyland)in a month. I look forward to it.

I also spent a lot of this weekend with my new church family. We practiced a skit, ate food, played games, and generally had a great time. Then on Sunday, I helped the church celebrate its two year anniversary.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Letter

Patrick and Kathy sent me a wedding invitation. So cool!!!

Sadly, I can't make it.

The Joy of Stinky Socks

I think I could probably create an entire blog using only stories about Annie and Joy from my elementary class.

The other day... while preparing for an interview... I glanced over. Joy was playing with the mic stand. She was holding the circular base like it was a steering wheel. And she was making all of the appropriate bus sound effects. I couldn't believe it. She was supposed to be practicing for her interview.

Suddenly, she noticed I'd spotted her. She looked up with a big smile and innocently said, "What?"

I could only shake my head and laugh. Whoever gave that girl her English name should be applauded.

You know. I felt like I just had this amazing deep thought I wanted to share, but it simply disappeared. Maybe I'll think of it later.

On a side note... I forgot to do my laundry for the week. Dad, don't freak out... but I had to wear the same socks two days in a row.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Peace (Rest)

It seems to me that everyone is looking for a little peace. And by 'peace', I don't mean a halt in all violent action (though that would be great too). No, I mean peace as in rest. That quiet feeling inside, when your spirit gives a happy sigh.

Today I woke up (which is something to celebrate) AND my thoughts were in turmoil. I hate when that happens. I've learned that if you stay in bed, things don't get better. So I decided to get an early start. Nip this thing in the bud, so to speak.

On the way to work, I thought it might be smart to ask God for a little peace. When I got to work, I discovered I was the first person there and the doors were still locked.

I wandered around outside looking for a quiet spot to read my Bible. I thought maybe that might help straighten out my thoughts. Except I discovered something. It can be really hard to find a quiet place in Korea. I couldn't even find a bench to sit on.

So I went to the nearby YMCA. I don't know why. Maybe because I'd never been to one in Korea. Halfway up the stairs I had to stop. About a thousand 4-year-olds were coming down. Each one had a pair of rollerblades strapped to his back. And they were moving about 1 mile per hour. I waited patiently. Then it started...

One little dude said, "안녕하세요" ('an-nyong haseyo'...which means 'Hello'). Suddenly, all of the little kids felt they needed to say hi to me. Not all at once, but one-by-one as they slowly passed me. It was sweet. I felt cool. I felt peace.

After swimming through the flood of children, I returned to work (it was still closed) and sat in the stairwell. It was quiet there. I read my Bible. Actually, I mostly just held it open and prayed. I had been given some peace. It was nice. I think I'll ask for it more often. Seems like the smart thing to do.

Sunday, April 8, 2007


It was a beautiful day for a walk, cherry-blossoms, photos, decorating eggs, and ice-cream.

I also read some C.S. Lewis. Once again... please allow me to share...

"When we have understood about free will, we shall see how silly it is to ask, as somebody once asked me: 'Why did God make a creature of such rotten stuff that it went wrong?' The better stuff a creature is made of (the cleverer and stronger and freer) then the better it will be if it goes right, but also the worse it will be if it goes wrong." (CS Lewis)

"Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person--and he would not need it." (CS Lewis)

"A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can to some extent repair itself. In the same way a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble--because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out." (CS Lewis)

"The central Christian belief is that Christ's death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start." (CS Lewis)

the ice-cream hunt

a spider web to catch kids

Friday, April 6, 2007

Easter II - and One

(The "and One" is a basketball reference.)

So these past two days... every third class the children decorated eggs. The other day, I realized that I would have egg decorating with my wildest class... which actually made me very happy... I immediately thought, "Thank you, God! I don't have to try and teach them a lesson. We can just play."

In other news... I was recently amazed by the natural leadership displayed by my student Sally. After a vocab test, I often give one hint. The students get to select the word they want the hint for. Usually, I have to go through a painful selection process that involves a few upset kids. However...

In this case, Sally gave some rapid fire instructions in Korean... something like "raise your hand if you want number 1, number 2, number 3, etc.." It was decided in seconds. I almost stuttered over the hint I was so amazed. I could have said, "You go, girl." But somehow, I don't think she would have understood.

For some reason "the folks upstairs" decided we needed to video tape some of our classroom lectures. I was actually a little nervous. But it worked out okay.

Jean busted in during the last 5 minutes of class.

"Ryan Teacher, can you repeat the last part of the lecture for the video."
"Ummm... Jean, we only have five minutes left. I'm not sure we'll have time. I guess we can try though. What do you think, class?"
"Yeah, we can do it!!!"

Then because I'd already gone over the lecture, the kids had all the answers. It made me look like a pro.

The kids often comment on my "red face." I get pretty excited in class sometimes... I end up jumping around and waving my arms a lot. I get really worked up... then my face turns red. They delight in pointing this out to me.

Today, I had to explain what "piece of cake" meant. I had used the term several times and one of the little girls had no idea what I was talking about. So she asked me.

Anna wrote "Jesus is revive" on her egg.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


What is Easter all about?

The kids at school decorated Easter eggs. Because it's an "American" cultural thing. But is it really?

Someone asked me, "Don't you think you are compromising by mixing Christianity with a pagan holiday? The pagan holiday came first."

I didn't know how to explain what Easter means to me. I stumbled my way through an explanation and felt like I'd given a totally wrong impression of myself.

It's so frustrating. I hate when I don't have the words to express what I know and believe. I hate when the person I talk to thinks I believe one way because I did a poor job of explaining.

Anyway, I did some Easter research. I learned that Easter is actually deeply rooted in Christianity and Judaism. The passover and Christ's resurrection being the big parts. Some awesome stuff. There is a good article on if you type in "Easter".

One thing I found interesting was the idea that the word "Easter" might have its beginnings in the German word for "sunrise". Seemed poetic to me.

I'm going to think more about this whole Easter thing.

"Little MerEgg" (with trident accessory)

My brothers and I always enjoyed a special family tradition. My mother would hide Easter baskets filled with candy (and a pair of shorts) around the house. It was our job to find them. I've never heard of anyone else giving shorts on Easter.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


I was on the bus. My stop was just ahead. I reached for the button that tells the driver... but before I could push it, someone else did.

I froze in shock. For a second, I was really sad. I like pushing the button. Especially this one, because it lights up and even makes a cool sound.

Suddenly, I took a stroll down memory lane. I remembered riding the bus to pre-school when I lived in Ashland, Oregon. They didn't have buttons in those days. Nope. They had cool hanging strings that you pulled on. I always got excited when my mom let me pull the string.

I think, possibly, I was addicted to the power. The power to stop the bus any time I wanted. (Any time my want coincided with my mother saying it was okay.)

One time, on the way back from pre-school, the bus driver didn't see me because I was a short little kid. He closed the door after my mom stepped out. I found myself abandoned. Left to eternally travel the streets of Ashland. Immediately, I started pounding on the door and yelling. I think I really freaked out. Also... I think I might have had a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich in my hand.

A bus accident I documented

A wiseman once said, "Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

Monday, April 2, 2007

Lyan King

The latest classroom tactic... (I dug deep into Lyan's toolbox.) I busted out the "lateral thinking" puzzles of my past.

The children became detectives. You know, like Sherlock Holmes. I provided the clues, and they solved the crimes.

Crime 1: Bill and Ted
[1]broken glass on the floor
[2]a wet spot on the carpet
[3]Bill (the killer)
[4]Ted (the victim)
[5]there isn't a mark/injury on Ted's body
[6]Even though Bill is the killer, he did not get into trouble

What happened?

Answer: Ted is a goldfish. Bill is a little boy who accidentally knocked over the fish bowl... killing Ted in the process. Case closed.

The kids seem to love it and one class asks for a new crime each day.

Self-Portrait using the timer (Lion King poster in back)

Do I get cool points for just being in this picture?

Red Shoe and Roses