It starts with you and me

Compile a list of everything wrong in this world, then place your sacred name at the top

People too often forget that it is your own choice how you want to spend the rest of your life. June 25, 2014

Filed under: Journey/ mission,Life updates,South Korea,YAV1314 — qmason1991 @ 1:00 pm

Hello everyone!

Guess who still alive and blogging! This girl right here! So it has been quite sometime since my last post and a lot has happened since then, so bare with me on this one!

First things first 

I and the other YAV’s are down to our last four weeks here in the land of the morning calm. That’s right folks…oh how time flies while paradoxically standing still. I personally have many mixed feelings now that the time for my departure from this place grows ever closer. One emotion I can clearly identify is that of sadness border line lost. Strange you may think…its not life or death.  I will not be truly losing anything of importance simple because everyone will still go on living their lives once I am gone. But here in my point in the matter, that way of thinking is simply not true. There are  so many people that have made a real impact on my life and vise versa. My time here is almost over and I will now have to leave them. In essence it is almost like a death or some real lost that we all will feel. It would easy for me to say its okay I will see them again someday but I am prone thinking realistically when it comes to relationships.  I know in my heart that for a good number  of the people I have grown to love here in Korea, these last four weeks will be the last we truly see of each other. This seems really pessimistic of me but think about…really truly think about it…..and you will know too the feeling of lost I am coming to know. With that being said I know there are a few friends I have made  that I am more then sure our friendships will transcend the globe. This brings about another point I want to make;what is the meaning of friendship. I will not be the one to claim I know the perfect means to a perfect friendship but what I can say is that ..it takes real work and sometimes one party is not as willing as the other.

Give thanks. 

I can’t help but think of all the times in the ten months when I was asked to give thanks. I also can’t help but thinking about the  times I was not… in fact…. thankful. Korea has been and still is a question of… am I really thankful for this time I spent away from the people I love and the world I knew; I’m I grateful for the apparent sacrifice I made?  In fact yes….I want say yes I am. I am so thankful for everything this year has given me and yet there is still a shadow of a doubt within my mind.I want acknowledge that and  put it out there that is a small part of myself did this year for selfish reasons. I will not lie on that matter. That withstanding I feel that we are all guilty of this sin of selfishness. All to often we forget that a lot of what we do is for personal gain clothed as selflessness. It is within our nature to do selfish things to better ourselves and say sorry later. This is why I will not let myself be full thankful for this year in Korea, not until I can give back twice as much as what this year has given me.

I leave you with this:

I want my words to be like iron in your spine, for there will come a day when the weight of the world will rest solely on your shoulders and in that moment you will know why you still stand.

 

Everything whispers “I love you” April 26, 2014

Filed under: Life updates,South Korea,YAV1314 — qmason1991 @ 6:02 am

Hello again!

It has not been to long since my last post but hey its my Blog and I do what I want too…

 

The stranger in the strange land had a birthday and this is how it went:

Anyway guess who had a birthday…this girl right here. I have successfully made it to another year, some of my friends about there know just how much of a stunning fact that is. On my birthday I spent sometime to myself reflecting on the past year and all of the ups and downs and near misses my 22nd year brought my way. It is strange when I look back,  if I did not know any better I would say it was almost reckless of me. The number of times I truly risked life and limb would not translate to adulthood but it does for me. This past year I brought both my body and mind to its upmost limits and then some. I did this because I wanted to prove to myself that I could rely on myself and others. Let me brake it down, in 2013 I managed to put in axe through my foot, crack my skull, fracture my face, got two small but major burns, cracked my right ankle, managed surviving my last year of Warren Wilson, picking up and answering a call to move to Korea for a little,  and a host of other thing that are not blog worthy. Gosh that is a mouth full. What does this have to do with coming into adulthood, well everything. I will admit it, I really needed all of these stressful and painful things to happen in order to know I could survive. Being an adult is not the easiest thing and too all of the adults reading this right now my hat is off to you. I have had to rely on others and myself more then I have ever had too in the few short years leading up to true freedom.  So yeah. Freedom

 

Leave your light on and call the homeless back home. April 1, 2014

Filed under: Life updates,South Korea,YAV1314 — qmason1991 @ 12:54 pm
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Lil sis again

Greetings again one and all! 

Spring has sprung  in the Land of the Morning Calm and let me be the first to tell you how lovely all of the plum blossoms are. From the last time I have posted thing have changed quite a bit, mostly for the better. There is so much I want to fill you all in on. Lets all take a deep breath and dive right on in:

Never once did I want to brake my mothers heart 

The past two weeks have been a double edged sword for me. I have had to juggle two very important thing is my life. My family and my dreams.  I have just been accepted  into McCormick Theological Seminary on a sizable though conditional scholarship which means I can afford to be a seminarian! Happy dance time! This is all well and good but it came with a price I was not wholly expecting. When I told my mother about getting accepted  and getting a scholarship she was so very happy and proud. I swear she looked like one of those birds of paradise with her chest all puffed out exclaiming to the world…”Look what I made….look at the product of all my years of hard work. I have ANOTHER successful child.” I want to say that my mother is holding her head a little bit higher and standing a little bit tall in the face of those who say her children were second best. This might hold true externally but deep inside I know all to well that I have in some ways, broken my mothers heart.

If anyone could/would had told me five years ago when I got my acceptance letter to Warren Wilson College that upon accepting, I would be placed on a life path that was bound to keep me always at arms length from my family. That by happenstance and job choses it would mean little to no physical interaction with my family for the better part of my late teen and early to mid  20′s; that I will always just be out of reach of my mother love, robbing her of my young adult life,  I am not to sure I would have so readily accepted the offer but even still I am not to sure I would have turned it down either. It is times like these where I really wish I can have a birds eye view into the future so I can reassure myself that I am in fact making the right chose the right path. Since that is theoretical  talk I am going with what has always worked for. I have decided to keep moving forward with the life I have chosen. I know that my mother will no longer try intervene in my life and I also know that its about time I come to terms with the fact that maybe my family home is not where my roots want to lay.

Family  is wholly what you make it.

Now that I have been talking about family I think its a great time to talk about the loving and caring friends I have made while here in Korea. Korea has two major family oriented holidays the first being Lunar New Year or 설날 “Seollal” and the other being the  harvest festival or Chuseok 추석.  Both of these holidays I feel like I have written on but I want to expand upon how they help me come to better terms with my own standing as a year long expat. I was able to go to to the homes of two very different and special people and their families welcomed me as one of there own. It was comforting to know that even though I stood out like a sore thumb I was still viewed as a new child that finally decided to come home for once.  I was asked to take part in very sacred and important rituals. I was welcomed at the table and treated as an older daughter. This might seem strange to some of you that have not been exposed to the Korean culture of sharing but over the  Lunar New Year I shared a single cup with the other people around my age. I know! I know!  It sounds strange but its not and I assure you this family had more then enough cups for the whole family. What I hope you all come to understand is that this showed and extreme amount of intimacy and willingness to view me, the 외적인 (foreigner)  as one of there own. Over Chuseok I was able to bare witness to the reuniting of a family. I partook in an extremely long car ride were mom tired her hand at translating Korean into english so she could better express herself to us. I was so touched and moved, I almost cried when it came time to leave my new family. I still keep in close contact with both families and truly miss the time I spent with them. Leaving to go back to the states with be hard but well worth it. The real point is that this concept of what  “family” is is  transient. My mothers love knows no bounds within this world. I felt the love of my mothers through the two new mother I met here and Korea, the love of siblings too.  Take from simple that family is solely what you make it.

Always!

 

I sometimes wonder how Mary felt. March 16, 2014

Filed under: Justice,Life updates,Religion,South Korea,YAV1314 — qmason1991 @ 8:22 am
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HELLO!!!

Quick updates! 

Guess what! I and the other YAVs are going on our seventh month here in Korea! Oh yeah! SEVEN MONTHS!  Oh yeah!!! “DANCING” SeVen MoNthS “DANCING”  Okay, time to stop playing around and get down to the point of this blog post. We all went to Seoul…again…for five days and it enjoyable for the most part. This time around we were able to explore all by ourselves. I felt like big kid in a candy store. I am proud to say, Bennett and I were able to survive our Seoul adventure unscaved.

I went to the worlds largest Church and heres what I have to say….

Yoido Full Gospel Church, a mega-churches and the largest of them all. I want to give you scale, this church alone has a million person membership. There are seven serves each sunday and  service can have in upwards of 26,000 people. I swear to you, almost very set was filled. They had on the spot translators for a number of different languages ranging from English to Russian.  It was pretty cool. On the other hand, the governing body of Yoido Full Gospel Church is going through some major scandal yet the church as a whole is standing behind their senior pastor.  This is to say I in no way agree with the idea of a mega-churches but I have to admit, it was truly moving to see that large number of people coming together to have a faith experience and I will leave it at that.

North Korea is not what you think it is

We went to the DMZ and it was not that bad. Yeah so I am going to write another post about the DMZ a little later just bare with me.

 I went to a protest in Seoul and ended up in the News paper…..

On our last day in Seoul we had the honor to partake in the the wednesday protest outside of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, Korea. I have written before about the comfort women issue that is an ongoing problem here in Korea and in other once Japanese occupied lands. On that Wednesday it turns out was also another very important day for the protestors.  On this very day a Korean ambassador to the UN spoke on the behave of the Korean government urging Japan to  reconsider their plan to re-evaluate their 1993 apology. Some of you might be asking why Koreans would urge Japan not to re-evaluate  their apology. Well it turns out the current government in Japan has an extremely conservative leaning and they felt the apology given in 1993 was too good. I will let that sink in for a little bit. It would seem that the  Japanese government  is totally oblivious to the needs,wants, concerns, and feeling of the Korean general public. I want it to be known that the Japanese government  has backed away form their plan to change the wording of the 1993 apology but the damage has been done.

As for the title of this section let me tell you it has been a while since I have had that many cameras in my face so there can be any number of photos of me floating around the interwebs.

Be good Always!

“I sometimes wonder how Mary felt; when he took his last breath, to know that her only son was gone.”

If you know more about Yoido Full Gospel Church here some links:

http://www.christianpost.com/news/megachurch-pastor-david-yonggi-cho-convicted-of-embezzling-12m-says-suffering-taught-him-individuals-shouldnt-possess-anything-115178/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoido_Full_Gospel_Church

More on the ‘Comfort Women’

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/14/us-japan-korea-idUSBREA2D04R20140314

http://world.time.com/2014/02/25/japan-comfort-women-memorials/

 

Six months and I guess I am going strong….. February 23, 2014

Filed under: Journey/ mission,Justice,Religion,South Korea,YAV1314 — qmason1991 @ 3:50 pm

Isaiah 6:8

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said “Here am I. Send me!” 

So I admit, Isaiah was a little drunk on the love of the lord when he threw his hands into the air proclaiming that he should be the one that is sent.  He asked God for how long and the big G-O-D said “until”  and left it at that. I too, like  Isaiah, threw my hands into the air when the time came but unlike Isaiah I know when my “until” will be and currently its a little less then six months from now. It is the half way mark for I and the other YAVs and gosh what a six months it has been. Being a Korea YAV/YAV in general has had a pretty big impact on my life, my hopes, and my dreams. There has many days where I actually question my sanity.  With that being said, there has been days filled with rainbows and unicorns  but also there where those days where the whole sky looked like it is going to come crashing to Earth in one fit of hell fire and brim stone.  But since you are reading this it would be safe to assume that the sky is still in it rightful place. Now now too the good stuff shall we……

Coming to Korea has pushed me to the limits of my comfort zones.

I write this hoping you, my lovely reader, has been keeping up my blog post if not it perfectly okay.  Looking back ,it feels as if I came here a life time ago, each week its own month, and each day a week yet I am still standing firm. It seems like my blog has become a place for venting all of the horrid  things that happened in Korea’s past.  The list of ugly goes on and on yet there is still a beauty in all of it. Strange as it sounds out of all the issues I have learned out here in Korea it took until I was  god-honestly tired of hear and learning about the suffering of another peoples for me to full understand what it means to empathize. I felt like I had reached my limit of caring for another calamities. Who would care that had stopped caring. I am just one person and life will go one.  Then it all clicked; someone would care if I stopped caring even for one moment. I had spent so much time reminding myself that I know that other people feel this too that I had forgotten that that is the point…other people have felt this and yet they still pushed for acknowledgment of their cause. Their pain is real, and they care that pain with them every step of the way. Their pain is worth my caring. It is the least that I can do.  The calamities of our lives our not just our own. It is my responsibility as a participant in the human experience to connect to others by any means.

I know there is only a few beliefs besides death I hold to stand True with a capital T. The first is the belief that it’s all building towards something. Everything in our lives, no matter how big or small, well informed or miss guided, left to chance or well thought out,  it’s all for something.  We all know that every person on the face of this Earth  will suffer at some point. We  knew there will be times of unmeasurable joy, love, heartache, and hurt we also know that we will all eventually die. But at the end of the day, its all going to be worth it. The second is the belief that with all that knowledge I will not say “This is not my Life” and nor should anyone else. Our actions have meaning good or bad and it is for that reason that is worth trying to do better.  Always do better. If I had any doubt about my ability to live up to my highest  hopes, that belief in self-worth makes failure an option. I am not looking for an exist anymore, I want to fight like the war just started but  love like it has already ended. I can’t pretend that I can live my life by  philosophy radical honesty but sure will try.

 

Reflections on Jeju-do 4/3. February 12, 2014

Filed under: Journey/ mission,Justice,South Korea,YAV1314 — qmason1991 @ 12:51 pm
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Hello All!

Long time no post! I know, I know…I should be  better on top of m posting but so is the life of a Korea YAV! Anyway onto the more pressing matter of filling you all in on my adventure thus far. So sit back, relax, and enjoy some heavy reading.

Late January I and the other YAV’s were taken to the Korean island of Jeju-do. It safe to assume that this was to be one of the more relaxing group trips, and yes it was true it was relaxing to a degree but there was a shadow that hovered over the whole event. I want to be able to say that this island was spared from mans inhumanity towards man, but that would be a lie.

The collective memories of the native people of Jeju-do paints a very different and graphic image of what life was like circ.1940′s. For those of you who are unaware, during 1948 Jeju-do was the back drop to massive genocide that spanned across the whole of the island indiscriminate of age or sex. What prompted the Korean military’s mass killing of the Jeju people is still disputed; on the one hand, it is seen as an American back “anti-communist” quelling that got out of hand, resulting in the deaths of a substantial amount people. But on the other hand it is seen as what started as the uprising of a number of people whom where angry with the Korean mainland governments disregard for the needs and wants of the Jeju people.

Truthful in my eye the “why”behind the mass genocide of the Jeju people does not matter,what does matter most are those who where killed and those lift behind. I might come off as being insensitive to the plight of the Jeju people but understand, it is not my position to be  siding with the lift or right winged narrative of a peoples history, especially one that is not my own. What can tell say is how the 4/3 crisis effected me and my understanding of what it means to be human.  The 4/3 crisis effected 1/5th the population of Jeju at the time. Doing the math, that means every family on this island lost a loved one over the course  of year. The innocent people were killed indiscriminate  of their age and gender. Pregnant  women and the elderly were not spared from death. Four generations of innocent people were wiped from the earth and what has been done for those who have lost their lives?

The massacre was  largely ignored by the government until 2003 when then President Roh Moo-hyun apologized formally to the people of Jeju. This is was a step towards healing and with the opening of the 4/3 memorial in 2008 all point to the Korea being able to fully except what happened and move towards a better future.  With that being said I still find myself deeply saddened and moved by 4/3 genocide on Jeju but also hopeful. The people of Jeju did brake in the face of genocide and government cover-up; they would not and could not let their collective memories of the massacre die. They waited, the evils and darkness of the past would come to light and when it did the people  of Jeju made sure the mainland Korean government heard their cries for justice to be done. Paul Tillich once said “Decision is a risk rooted in the courage of being free” the people of Jeju made the decision to speak once and this time they were heard.

Well I leave you with this. Think happy and loving thoughts, until we meet again!

 

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls…” ― Kahlil Gibran December 18, 2013

Filed under: Journey/ mission,Justice,South Korea,YAV1314 — qmason1991 @ 3:12 pm

Greeting one and all from Daejeon, South Korea!

This post has been a long time coming and many things have happened in the time since Thanksgiving. Heck, it is almost Christmas! Strange, how time continues to flow even though I have asked ever so nicely for it to stop for a bit, slowing down would do just fine for me too. Anyway that is all for my lament on the progression of time, on to the real fact of the matter. This will be the first of a three-part post spanning from just after Thanksgiving until now so…buckle-up it’s sure to be a blast.

ADVENTURE TIME…Seoul ADITION….

So, we went to Seoul and it was not what I was expecting. Surprise, in all truthfulness our trip to Seoul really rocked by whole world, but before I go to far into I want to give you, my reader, the pretty happy things first. As a whole, the Seoul adventure really did help to open my eyes the inner working of the different denominations of Presby. here in Korea. I have always been one for alternative worship services and while in Seoul I and the other YAVs had the honor of taking part in a worship service that focused on bringing back the traditional instruments and hymns of the Korean people pre-westernization. The service flowed so well, every moment was breathtakingly beautiful. The room hummed with grace.

            Besides the beauty there was ugly on our trip to Seoul. On one of my previous entry I posted a link to a Youtube video telling the story of the harmoni(하모니), more commonly known as ‘Comfort Women’ though who can call the outright subjection and dehumanizing of the bodies of women to fuel the war machine “comfort.”Below I will add links to some useful websites and articles on the plight of the ‘Comfort Women’ if you would like to read more about the issues and how it is affecting women the world over. It is still hard to put into words what I saw at the War and Women’s right museum. The museum, though small, was well put together and and every inch was put to use. It hard to believe that it is only a year old, it seems like it could have stood there forever. Which is not a good thing to actually wish for. It was disheartening to know that this museum had to come to pass but it not to say it worthy of my time. To know that there is a place that houses the collective grief of those who have been used and abused and yet was so open and airy that if looked but not actually see what was there one could mistaken taken the museum for that of a place erected for the beauty that is women. I was thrown aback,  left questioning  humanities ability to lay claim to that title. Mans inhumanity towards man directly undermines any and all validity to our claim to being the dominant species on the planet.

   Even though the things I read and saw were nothing new to my understanding it still felt like I was learning something gruesome and new each step in the museum. The museums focus in not solely for the comfort women of WWII but also for all places and times where Rape was and is used as a valid military tactic. These Harmonies are using themselves, their stories, and their survival as vectors for change. Painting for us a graphically tragic story of survival and quest for acknowledgement and retribution by and from the Japanese government for it War crimes and crimes against humanity acted upon the bodies of women held for the means of “comfort” ie. Sexual slavery. These women put themselves out there, open and exposed for the entire world to see, they face being ostracized and criticized for their actions  but still they fight still they stand. Every time I think of these women and other women like they I find myself thinking of my undergrad work with Paul Tillich and his work The Courage To Be.  I will leave you all with what I have been working with for the past few days:

The courage to be is the courage to accept oneself, in spite of being unacceptable.

~Paul Tillich

War and Women’s Human Rights english Web page: https://www.womenandwar.net/contents/home/home.nx

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_women

Huffpo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/25/comfort-women-wanted_n_4325584.html

18+ trigger warning: Here is a link to the animation dubbed “Herstory,” it tells the story of a Harmoni as it was seen through her eyes. Please understand that I post this only as a means for you all understand better what I cannot put into words. I mean no offense and understand that you do not have to watch this video nor am I asking you to, if you wish to see even the smallest glimpse of what I saw then here is one way to understand what they these women and women the world over go through.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icIPKHicduw

 

 
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