Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April, come she will

You might have thought it would have been a little S&G for the blog music due to the title, but I think I already used that song, so instead have a listen to my currect favorite worship song, introduced to me by Susanna Miller. Thanks Zanna! Oceans by Hillsong.

Sarah Jill's wedding in March was just lovely and a great time to see everyone. It was very interesting too, quite different from a typical Western wedding. One difference is that people don't bring gifts, but instead bring a certain sum of money that covers their meal plus a little more, which will go to the parents of the bride and groom, who usually pay for the wedding. Another difference is that there wasn't any time of saying vows. The bride and groom actually didn't speak at all. I know there is a more traditional style ceremony that sometimes follows the sort of modernized Korean style wedding where the bride and groom wear hanbok...perhaps there is more speaking done then, I'm not sure. So that was one of the biggest differences between the weddings I'm used to and this one: no speaking done by the bride and groom.

After the wedding, I went with Yoonseo to meet his parents...yikes! It was the first time I had met them since Chuseok last year, and my status was now 'girlfriend' so it was a little nerve-wracking. I shouldn't have been so nervous, because they were extraordinarily kind: they told me I could come and visit them if I miss my family, wanted me to learn Korean quickly so they could talk to me, and his mom said she would teach me to cook Korean food. I hope I can do as they hope and learn Korean fast...it was hard to focus for just the brief time we were there, trying to catch as much Korean as I could. But it helped to further solidify my determinedness to get better. It's kind of a pain that language learning takes so much time...what I wouldn't give for a Matrix chip in my brain...

We then headed to a retreat with our Conneus and KOPI staff, which was so wonderful! My two favorite parts of the retreat were organized by Kaia. One was a writing exercise where we paired together in twos and walked around to different pieces of paper that had certain words written on them, like "Blessing" or "Family" or something like that. We had to write what came to mind when we read that word, or what we associated with that word, and got to share a little with our partner. I was paired with Hyesun, one of the new KOPI interns that I didn't know well yet, so it was so neat to spend some time with her and learn a little about what is important to her and what she thinks about certain topics. I also loved going to the beach as a group and walking along and talking through a semi-organized Stroll-And-Chat, again with people that you didn't know well yet. It was a sort of safe and non-pressure way to spend a little quality time with people.

Actually through the word writing exercise, I discovered something about myself. One of the papers had "Needs" written on it, and after the visit with Yoonseo's parents where I hadn't be able to communicate like I wanted to, I realized how important good communication is to me. I'm really bad at 'sensing' the situation and knowing how people are doing without them telling me, or knowing how to help somene without them communicating it to me. I feel frustrated when I feel in the dark about something that I feel I should know, or if I can't adequately express myself to someone when it's important; so I wrote "Good communication" on the paper. While I can't change how people interact with me, I want to work on this in myself, becoming someone that people feel they can communicate well with and who listens well and expresses themselves instead of staying silent. This of course ties right in with learning Korean better...everything seems to be coming down to that these days...

As for this month, this past weekend I had a fun visit with Janae, a pal of mine from Messiah who went to Oxford with me and who I roomed with one semester. It was awesome to catch up on our lives and share my experience in Korea with someone from back home. We had some great adventures to the National Museum and to the Hanok Village in Namsan where we tried on some Hanbok, which was something I had been wanting to do! Thanks Janae for being such a wonderful guest and for the great chats! Not to mention watching some America's Next Top Model....totally hooked on this season now he he he.

On the Connexus side of things, I wanted to report that my 5:30 class came through Enrichment month stronger academically and they are able to keep up with the Green level work! Yoochan still is lower in pretty much everything, but I really hope he will continue to study the Phonics 2 stuff at home so that he can catch himself up. Nevertheless, so far he is also doing ok and doesn't seem overwhelmed by the work. But the thing I am most delighted with is that the attitude in this class is really different, especially in Yoobin. The other day in class she asked to borrow some notebook paper from a classmate to write down new words I was teaching without prompting from me. After struggling to get her to even sit up in her chair, that felt like a water-into-wine style miracle. She also hasn't missed a single homework assignment this month when she used to be one of the biggest offenders in that area. Huge answer to prayer!

But of course, (here's the pessimist coming out) things don't stay good too long...right around the time 5:30 class was shaping up, my 6:30 class started really getting out of control. I have one student, Raphael who is more than a handful. He does not close his mouth from the moment he gets in class and will not respond to requests to be quiet or wait his turn. And he isn't speaking English most of the time. He's making dinosaur noises, singing, or what have you. He's also not in his chair. He is hiding behind it, or on the floor in front of the board, or under the table. Or, as a recent development, he is taking off his clothes. We've met with the class several times for some restorative discipline and he always is very subdued and knows the words to say...but right after he is right back to it.

It's definitely stemming out of problems at home. He's come to Connexus several times very upset because his mother hit him at home before he came...if she is hitting him, I'm sure he's getting verbal abuse too. If a little guy like that feels totally out of control of what happens to him at home, you can bet he is going to try to take control where he can, and at Connexus is one place where he can make the entire hour revolve around him if he wants it to. I feel really badly, because I feel like there isn't really much I can do to help him...he needs counseling. Seriously. Even our grammar teacher Juyoung can hardly stand to teach him. Man. Tough stuff.

But mostly, since I've written last, there's been a lot of blessing, so here are some sources of blessing lately:
1. Yoonseo. Thanks for making me smile and laugh every day! I'm so glad I have an optimist around who always helps me not to brood like a hero in a Victorian Gothic novel.
2. The Bible Study Gals: Kate, Kaia, Anna, Sarah and Karen. Your support, listening ears and wisdom are pure richness for me.
3. Beautiful weather and cherry blossoms blooming everywhere.
4. My cutie students. There are ones that misbehave and stress me out, but most of them are just so much fun!

Quotes from the Community:

"I'm just trying to print this...it's moving at the speed of...constipation." -Anna

Heather: "Lomie, do you like big corporations?"
Lomie: "Yes!"
Sarah: "Lomie do you like Mom and Pop stores?"
Lomie: "No!"
Sarah: "Well, don't tell your mom that..."

"Please think of Sarah's face...and save it."-Anna

"Michael, I wish and I wash. I'm not wishy-washy." -Heather.

"Let's go shopping!"-Michael.

"Go to whatever rest stop you want. Pee gracefully."-Jae

"There is birth, there there is death, there is another birth. This is from the Holy Spirit and is called BowChickaWowWow. How biblical!" --Yoonseo gives a lesson in theology.

I was in my school talent show! I rapped...about chess. ...but I'm way cooler now!" -Anna

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