Sunday, April 10, 2011

I think Saturday heard me

Earlier this week, I posted about how Monday has rapidly been becoming my favorite day. I love working with Taesun, and more than one member of my family (Lolly, this includes you obviously) gave me the green light on international child abduction. Or adoption. I'm thus far unclear as to how exactly I will get Taesun back to America with me, but it's nice to know I have a lot of support in my corner should I need to hide from the federal government any time soon.

I think Saturday read that post and designed a counter attack. Yesterday rocked.

The day began as all good Saturdays do: I slept until noon then ate pancakes while I watched tv. I had all these great intentions of getting ready early and running a few errands before heading to Jehovah Jireh. Of course, none of those errands were actually accomplished, and yet I still managed to arrive at Jubilee five minutes late.

After prayer and chatting, we headed off to Seoul Station. As we walked, I discovered that I wasn't the only non-Jubilee-er in the group, and I started talking to another girl who attends Onnuri. Kate works with my friend Shauna, but the most exciting thing was that she's from Dayton! It never ceases to blow my mind when I stumble across people who know how great Yellow Springs is or can commiserate over missing Skyline.

I talked with Kate much of the way to Seoul Station. After we dropped off our coats and bags, we walked back toward the soup kitchen (which I always refer to in my head as the "kimchi kitchen" for alliterative purposes). Seoul is a busy city, and everyone who lives here has gotten very accustomed to dodging others on the sidewalk. As we walked, we wound in and out of oncoming foot traffic and talked about how much we love Korea yet for some reason miss Ohio. The girls in front of us stepped around a man walking in the opposite direction, and we moved to the side to also let him pass. Unfortunately, calmly walking past wasn't his plan; where I swerved, he swerved; where I dodged, he dodged... all with his lips proudly pursed to kiss. I twisted past him and back over to Kate, who was looking on in complete shock, before we both burst into hysterical laughter. Yesterday was the first time I was extremely grateful to have been significantly taller than Korean people; if my face hadn't been so far above his, I think he may have actually achieved his directive.

We arrived at the kimchi kitchen, helped set up the food, and started serving. The hour and a half we spend serving food is always hectic in the most beautiful way, and it usually passes in a blur of smiles, bows, and waves. A pastor and his wife run the kitchen, seven days a week, and various ministries pop in and out to help them serve the meals. They speak almost no English, and most of our team speaks very little Korean, yet every month, I'm astounded at how efficiently we serve swarms of people without being able to linguistically communicate. Eight months ago, I'd have thought it impossible to volunteer with an entirely Korean ministry serving an entirely Korean population, but it doesn't really matter. It's almost as if love speaks a whole different, but universal, language.

(I wish that last sentence didn't sound as cheesy as it does. Oh well.)

In the midst of passing out trays, a man came to the counter and tapped me on the shoulder. He started talking in rapid Korean, but I caught the letters "US" in the middle. I smiled and said, "ne, megook" (yes, American). He looked me right in the eyes and said, "I'm sorry." He walked away, and the team cracked up.

A while later, I was talking with my friend Shauna (who is also stereotypically Western) about how much attention we get in Korea, and a man walked up behind her. She turned around to greet him, and he waved his hands in a curvy, figure-8-ish shape at Shauna's figure. Oh Korea. So inappropriate, yet so perfectly timed.

I left the kimchi kitchen before the rest of the team to go see my friend in the Vagina Monologues. I'd never seen the show before, probably because it has the word "vagina" in the title and most conversations that involve... that... make me indescribably nervous. Basically, I was the target audience for the show, and knowing that, I gladly attended.

On the way there, I had to transfer subway lines. I've done this a million times and can usually accomplish it in record time, but this time, I walked past this:

Curiosity won out over my desire to meet my friends on time, and I loitered in the station for a while, hoping to figure out why these girls were dressed in gold. My waiting paid off!

I couldn't stay for the whole show because I did have to get to the VM's, but I was amused and delighted to have stumbled across some random dance troupe in the subway station. Way to go, Saturday.

When I finally met up with Chris and JoAnn to go to Michelle's show, we bought our tickets then headed out to pick up some kimbap for dinner. On the way to the kimbap place, Chris said that every time he heard the word "kimbap", he started singing "mmmbop".... which inspired me to pull up some Hanson on my iPod. Who doesn't love dancing on the street?

After we picked up our kimbap, it occurred to me that I had never shown my family and friends back home what the Korean equivalent of a PB&J looks like. Therefore, I became "that foreigner" who takes pictures of her snacks (not that I haven't been her before) and took this picture for all of you. JoAnn's going to teach me how to make this, so get excited. Y'all are eatin' some kimbap when I get home.

The Vagina Monologues was, in a word, fantastic. I'm not going to lie; a little of it made me uncomfortable, but I think that was actually a good thing. If you haven't seen the show, I'd highly recommend it. Everywhere it's performed, the money it raises goes to support women in the community. This show in particular gave its proceeds to the Korean Unwed Mothers Families Association. They work with unwed mothers who choose to keep their babies, which is a painfully low percentage of those who conceive. In Korea, 94% of unwed women who get pregnant choose abortion. 94%.

Let that sink in a minute. 94%.

Of the 6% that choose to carry the child, 70% will give that baby up for adoption in the end. 30% of 6% of unwed mothers keep their children.

That's less than 2%.

Korean culture places a lot of stigma on unmarried mothers, and that's what KUMFA is striving to change. But honestly... how do you go about changing an entire culture based on thousands of years of tradition?

God, help us.


  1. Hmmm I think I'm posting this comment right about when you posted it :)

    1. Kimbap looks like a Korean Chipotle burrito in that picture.

    2. When I read Kimbap, I immediately started singing it in my head..."Kimbop! do do do do doooowap diddle aaaaaahhh da doooo wap!" before I read your friend also does that.

    3. I feel like you could get some serious action in Korea if you wanted to. IF you wanted to. It's just good to know, you know?

    4. Auntie Lauren is sending Taesun a present in your package...along with...OREO STUFFED CHOCO CHIP COOKIES! And the snackies you requested :)



  2. 1. to me kimbap looks like a giant piece of veggie sushi and I want to eat it.

    2. I also sang the song before reading about the friend

    3. I just read in the Vagina Monologues and I would have dragged all our friends to it years ago if I had known/if I thought they/we would have gone. I tried to tell Andrew that he also should go via text, because I think it's good for guys even though I think it's especially good for women. He said no, so I sent him a picture of the cookies that were decorated like vaginas. It may not have helped my cause.