Thursday, November 28, 2013

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan

Lately I have been really loving the old, less common Christmas tunes, like Good King Wenceslas and Lo 'Ere a Rose is Blooming, those types. So here is a really nice version of one of my current favorites, In the Bleak Midwinter by The Honey Trees.

The lyrics to that song are pretty neat:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, 
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; 
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, 
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain; 
heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign. 
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed 
the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ. 

Angels and archangels may have gathered there, 
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air; 
but his mother only, in her maiden bliss, 
worshiped the beloved with a kiss. 

What can I give him, poor as I am? 
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; 
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; 
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.

(Gabby, doesn't the last stanza make you think of Minch during Chloe's goodbye party when we were in Malawi? I still have that video of her somewhere, hehe!)

Though the version I posted doesn't include it, I love the second verse the best: "Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain...In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ."

It's kind of the message of Christmas in a nutshell. The Greatest of All can't be contained, and yet still entered the smallness of our tiny timelines just for us. Eternity enters time. How cool is that?

I think I wrote last time about being upset because I couldn't translate a poem. Well, I tried again and was able to come up with something! I know it's probably not even close to the original, and I did some definite paraphrasing to preserve some cool poetic spacing. The poem was actually handwritten on a piece of paper and given to Kate at the art market outside of our church in Hongdae. The girl who gave it to her said she was giving away Korean poems to help spread appreciation for them. From what Kate could understand, her vision was that by translating poems, Korean learners would have to think deeply about them and would then see their virtue. Kind of a cool idea, actually! So here is my humble little attempt at translating: 

Suppose that me loving you                                                    
Means putting myself outside                                                  
Of my own being                                                                  
The self-transpiration of the pomegranate                               
The weariness of things that breathe—                                   

Those who have discovered the redness of the wild cherry    
let us become                                                                           
wild cherries scattered over the countryside                         
complex and complicated.                                                     

--Ham Sungho      

가령, 내가 너를 사랑한다는 것은   
 나를 나의 바깥에 두고있다는                                                              
 석류가 저절로 벌어지는 것은
 숨을 가진 것을의 피곤함--

산수유 열매가 붉은 것을 알게
바깥이 온통 산수유 천지다
복잡하고 복잡해라

 --함 성호
Community News:

* The new projector arrived! We watched Human Planet: Jungles and it was so clear and bright. Luxury viewing.

* The heat in the teacher's room might be fixed today! Soon we will be popsicles no longer.

* Papearl sells a pretty nice variety of cheap but good yarn. The Christmas Knitting Machine now doesn't have to travel to Dongdaemun for supplies. Yessss


Quotes from the Community:

* "Put that in the video: we don't bash kids here." --Michael's public relations advice.

* "The shoemaikarh" --Nayeon Impersonators all over the office. (The Connexus video is going to be pure gold, everyone).

* "Makgeoli isn't alcohol, it's culture."--Yongjin

Quotes from the Classroom:

Joy: "Do you have any Love or love?"
Love: "I have one me and a lot of love."

 "I love Anna <3 <3 but you love me?"--Anna's student Youngeun makes a confession.

"Snow snow please comeing faster! I want to meet you! I love you snow!"--Cindy's precious journal, incorrect spelling and all.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

We welcome December with tireless hope

It's a balmy 50 degrees fahrenheit and I'm still so cold. Serious winter wimp right here. Anyway, I've held out long enough, so our first Christmas song of the season is Sleeping At Last again because right now I am just all about poetic lyrics. Please listen to the gorgeous song: Snow by Sleeping At Last.

Fall is known for being a sensitive time for people over here, but I think for me personally, the end of Fall and beginning of Winter is when I start thinking more deeply and feel more introverted (if that is possible). Cue time for poetry reading and listening to Sleeping At Last like an addict. 

Along with thinking more comes worrying more...and usually about things that don't need worrying about. Case in point: my most recent cry was because I couldn't translate a poem from Korean to English. At the time it felt like evidence that I wasn't getting any better at Korean and that literature, one of the things most dear to me, was forever inaccessible to me in another language. A.K.A. Major Drama Queen Moment...but actually one that kind of still worries me just the tiniest bit.

Winter in many ways is a time for patience, a time for "waiting-and-seeing." The truth is that most things in life take time, more time than we imagined: learning languages, relationships, buying more yarn to finish that scarf (still haven't gone yet...). The question isn't whether we'll have to wait or not, because we will. The question is what will we do with the waiting? Will it only be that squiggly line between times and dates (November 23~June 2014) or will it be something of substance?

I also don't think "being of substance" is about doing doing doing either. Maybe getting too deep here, but a metaphor I've been thinking about lately is that of the flower bulb. It doesn't do a whole lot actively, but it's the result of a plant slowing storing up strength for itself. It's a kind of rest, but an active rest that prepares the plant to flower when Spring comes again. So that's what I want to use my Winter for. For waiting-and-seeing and storing up strength. 

Community News:

* Prayer for Sunny appreciated! Her baby was looking like he was going to make a rather early arrival, so now she has to be on bed rest...tough to do with two other little people in the house.

* Projector bit the dust, but there is a new one on its way! Of course, there is a donation box, if you would like contribute to our movie watching.

* The Great Season of Cookies is on our doorstep. In order to give two cookies to every attendee of our Connexus Christmas party, we calculated that we will need to make around 800 cookies. That's right. 800. It's going to a factory up in this joint for the next couple weeks. 

Recently Watched

* Home Alone 2. Those robber should have been dead. It's like Looney Tunes. Also, I miss having a TalkBoy.

* Human Planet: Artic. I guess I should be thankful it's not that cold here. Next up a little more steamy with the Jungles episode!

Quotes from the community

"Michael, you are a really good friend. Your being, your laughter, your smell." --Yoonseo

"Sybil is a serious babe." --Heather speaks the truth

Quotes from the Classroom

"How many kilos does your mom weigh?" ---Sarah's students grill each other on the nitty gritty stuff.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Nearly half-past November

There are few bands that sound more November-y than Sleeping At Last, so this time the blog music is a current favorite by them: Needle and Thread. 

It is beginning to get seriously chilly here people. The leaves are making one last effort to hang on to the trees this week, but I think they will give up after we hit the third week of November. I'll miss them, but I am getting so excited for Christmas that I'm sure that will distract me.

It's hard to feel too sad or wistful these days for me, even if my favorite season is ending. Not only has Aurie finally made an entrance, but as many of you already know, I snagged a pretty great boyfriend, Yoonseo Park. It would take far too long to describe his good points, so I'll just reassure you all that he is kind, thoughtful, and hilarious; the very best of eggs. I appreciate your prayers for us!

This week is a fun one at Connexus because of prep for the filming of our Christmas video. Each class chose something to perform or introduce on film and we will compile the clips of all of them in one big video to show at our Christmas party. My Phonics babies will be singing part of their alphabet song, Blue 5 will perform a scene from The Magic Cooking Pot, Yellow 7 will introduce five members of the Connexus staff, Blue 6 will talk about what they like at Connexus, and Green 2 will perform a puppet show rendition of a scene from The Fisherman And His Wife. I'm pretty pumped to have something to show everyone that shows a little bit of the Connexus classrooms. I also can't wait to see the bloopers. Nothing like a good blooper reel. 

Outside of teaching, I've been knitting up a storm...Christmas is coming and presents must be made! I've nearly run out of yarn though...time to make another trip to Dongdaemun.

I have also been thinking a bit about wisdom. I'm reading James these days, and chapter 3 talks a bit about what God-style wisdom is like: pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. That's a pretty extensive list...kind of like reading Galatians  5:22-23 and realizing you're quite a few cherries short of the fruit salad. The one that really has been sticking out to me these days is "considerate." My style is to go with what seems like the most practical or logical decision, but that isn't always the most considerate one. I want to become better at watching and considering the needs and feelings of other people when I act and make decisions. 

Well, take a look at these little tidbits as well:

Community News:

* AURIE IS HERE. She is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen. No joke. She also looks so much like Lomie...The Cute-O-Meter in this place is off the charts.

* The Teacher's Office is an icebox. Even the KOPI office which has no official heating is warmer with its space heaters. Fingerless gloves 주주.

* Me and Sarah's TOPIK results come out in two-ish weeks... yipes!

Quotes from the Community:

"I really love this chemical combination!" --Sarah's thoughts about McDonalds non-dairy ice cream cones.

"I'm just deciding what I want to do with my life. Give me a second." ---Kate

"I kind of like the way leg hair glitters in the sunlight!"--Anna

"Our anthem is too slow...we need like a hip hop one: 'We had a war, we had a war, 1950, June 25, now we still hate each other.....Shoot.'" --Yoonseo's idea for improving Korea's National Anthem.

Quotes from the Classroom:

Joy: "Teacher my mom say you are Sexy Baby! Face is baby, body is sexy!" 
Abby: "................tell your mom I say thank you.....?" 

Abby: "What are they eating?"
Jerry: "Stew and fish and bread and water and air and water vapor."
Abby: "........yep."

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Remember Remember the 6th of November

Today was a super day for various reasons, so why not remember it? I am resisting big time putting a Christmas song as my blog music, since I am currently listening to Sleeping At Last's fantabulous Christmas album right at this moment, but instead I'll give you some more Rooftop Moonlight (옥상달빛), my favorite song by them: 수고했어 오늘도. 

This past Friday we had our Thanksgiving party at Connexus. It involved making turkey hands (classic...and kind of cliche in the USA maybe, but not here woohoo!) and eating a motherload of snacks. I was seriously feeling like a beached whale by the end of of the day. We also had some awesome decorations--tons of paper leaves and a gorgeous table arrangement created by Karen and Kaia. It was so much more fun than doing some Halloween thing which is the expected thing to do in English hagwons. I made some sweet autumn paper cuttings too (basically paper snowflakes but with some leaf designs in them).  Sometime soon I will post photos...I need to switch the hard drive in this computer to the one from my old one so that I can edit them up a bit. 

What else is up? I've been laughing a lot in my classes lately. My students have been so hilarious. My 6:30 class in particular is too much fun. We started a new storybook this month, the Fisherman and his Wife, and they love reading the book with crazy voices. This time their magic fish prince voices and Fisherman's voices were too good. The fish was sounded like he had egg in his throat and the Fisherman sounded like a sultry woman. 

I've also started being a little firmer on some of my classes. Two of my phonics babies were kind of  crazy today and wouldn't stop playing with each other when it wasn't their turn to answer, so I made them sit separately right in the middle of class. I felt like a little bit of a jerk, but they got the message and were well-behaved the rest of class. 

In the God department, I'm learning to trust more, learning patience and learning to cancel fear...I've realized that I've let fear prevent me from growing in a lot of areas in the past, and I don't want it to shape the decisions I make in the future. So here's to being brave with Jesus! 

Things are good :-) Seems almost like the new year is here. 

Community News:

* Severe lack of Aurie...come on baby!!! I want to meet you so bad!

* Seriously detailed Connexus video in the works. It is going to be hilarious and awesome.

Recently Watched:

* Captain Philips. I cried. Bottom line? Everything wasn't going to be ok, Irish.

* Downton Abbey season 2 episode 7. Branson and Sybil 4eva. 

Recently tried:
* Hot Grapefruit juice/tea. So good!

Quotes from the community:

"Wow Michael, good thing you have go-go gadget arms!"-Heather

"People returning to their burps is so much better than dogs returning to their vomit." --Kaia.

Quotes from the classroom:

Cindy: "If you were an elephant, what would you do?"
Eileen: "I would eat Connexus."

Me: "What do you see in the picture?"
Hyesu: *points to a character's butt* "Teacher! so big!"
Me: ......."so it is..."

Thanks for reading!