Monday, October 6, 2014

Seoul -- last day and on our way to Tokyo.

Last night before we went to sleep we saw a crane outside out window in the hotel. There were a few men who climbed onto a rectangular small cage. As they were lifted into the air by the crane, the rectangular cage was moved and manipulated by the men. The next thing we knew it was a flat bottom with sides -- and then a sail was lifted up -- it became a boat! All of a sudden, the men fell off -- they were on ropes -- and "bubbles" -- huge bubbles emerged around them. They were swung around the grounds of the City Hall (we are across the street from there) -- and then a huge ball with a man inside was "floated" across the top of the crowd --- like a beach ball at an Angels game in Anaheim. I didn't know until the next morning, talking with Edna, that we realized that it was performance art of the wreckage of the Korean Ferry. At the Civic Center there is a huge memorial to the victims which I talked about in my post two days ago. Very sobering, indeed.

On Sunday morning we woke up early and got ready to go to Church at St. Christopher's. Fr. John Ri, who come to spend time with us in Los Angeles, picked us up at the hotel and we headed over to the church.

The Church doesn't look like a church at all -- it is a converted home that was added onto -- on the top floor -- to build a sanctuary. We got there an hour before the service was scheduled to start -- that was cautionary as the Asian Games were over yesterday and traffic to that area (on the way to the airport) was expected to be horrific. Also, there was a threat of road closures.

We took a walk around the neighborhood -- it is in transition from being an area that works in metals (fabrication) to an artists colony. It was a wonderful way to start our time at St. Christopher's. Fr. Ri was glad to show us around, and as only he can do, he made me laugh. When he was with us I referred to him as "Crazy Deacon". Now that he is a priest, it is "Crazy Priest"...and I wouldn't change him for the world. He is a joy to be around -- full of God's love for all.

I met the Rector who does not speak English. We sat through the Service (all in Korean). I was asked to say a few kind words at the end, and to give the closing blessing, which I did. I asked Fr. Ri to come forward, and let the congregation know my nickname for him, and that he is my friend. He appreciated that, as did the congregation.

Ella, our friend from yesterday, was there (it is her parish). She presented us with lovely gifts -- images of ourselves she painted in watercolor the night before after having met us and spending some time with us. She painted Steve and me skydiving together....hmmmm.. I wonder what that means? At any rate, after the service she asked us to meet with her youth group. On the way to meet with them, we met Amy, a 22 year old who was adopted from Korea as a baby. She comes from Minnesota, and was here to spend some time in the country of her birth. She is living with a family who comes to the church, which is why she was there. Because she doesn't speak Korean (but has learned some), we asked her to join us with the youth group. I asked them questions and spent a bit of time with them. One of Fr. Ri's daughter was in the group -- so sweet.

Amy ended up in our room for lunch (they separated us in a special room (take your shoes off and sit on the floor). A delicious meal followed. I asked Fr. Ri to make sure that Amy, in the future, is cared for by the congregation. It is difficult for those returning, trying to discover their heritage and perhaps their birth parent(s) with limited or no language skills. I can't imagine the impact on the ones so young to be taken from a language and life (even as newborns) that is familiar and to come to a new country with unfamiliar language. I am praying for Amy and all those looking for where they came from and who they came from.

After lunch I did my usual round of trying to meet everyone and talk with them. I ended up in an area where the women who had made the prayer bracelets we were presented as gifts were making bracelets and rosaries. I ended up buying four more rosaries -- and encouraged them to sell them at the EAM gathering next October (2015) in Seoul. They were ecstatic at the idea, and so was I. We talked and laughed. It was good to be with them!

We all piled in the car at 2:00 and, because of the Asian Games, headed to the airport although our flight wasn't until 6:40. Fr. Ri drove, along and his wife and daughter joined us in the van.

We were on three different flights -- our little band of Episcopalians -- headed to Tokyo. Ronnie Nagata coming from Hong Kong, Steve, Ada and me on an Asiana flight from Seoul, and Anna Olson on a Korean Airlines flight from Seoul. We all made it in to Tokyo (a VERY rough ride given the typhoon) and landed within half an hour of each other. We bought tickets and got on the 10:00 pm bus to the Tokyo Main Terminal on the TCAT bus. Chikako was there waiting for us at 11:00 pm when we arrived. Steve and I got in a cab and Chikako, with Anna, Ronnie and Ada in tow, were behind us. We got to our hotel, Chikako made sure everything was set for us (and gave us juice, water, and beautiful grapes). She took the rest to the guest house and we checked in at the hotel.

After 1 am we finally got to sleep -- the storm started raging. The airport was getting ready to close down. Schools were already cancelled for Monday morning. We were in a typhoon. But, we were safe and cared for.

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