Sunday, January 23, 2011

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (19 December)

Today is my first, and probably only, Christmas party in Korea.  The Canadian couple who live near me have invited me to join them at the Christmas party hosted by their church in Jeonju this morning.  It’s the first time I’m going to Jeonju since I arrived in Korea two nearly three months ago.  It’s somewhat ironic that I’ve been to Seoul several times but I haven’t yet gone to Jeonju which is a mere 45 minutes away from Gunsan and considerably cheaper.

I once again attempt to walk to their apartment and, once again, can’t figure out which road I’m meant to turn down again.  Thinking that I’ll have to take the longer route once more as I try to figure out where I went wrong, Connie phones me to ask where I am.  It turns out I’m at the intersection that leads straight to their apartment complex and this is where they meet me on their way to Jeonju.  The drive to Jeonju is over too soon as we chat about all types of things.

I’m still not quite sure what I expected but the church doesn’t look like a church to me. Churches don’t all have to be cathedrals but I’m definitely used to churches that are housed in individual buildings and usually only really have one floor or maybe a balcony second. This building looks just like any other building except for the presence of a red cross on a steeple which looks rather odd.  Inside, we take the stairs to the second floor where the rows of pews confirm that this is, in fact, a church.  The Children’s Church section is literally a soundproofed room at the back of the church. 

While everyone else bustles around me in their preparations for today’s service, I stand self-consciously in a corner looking for something to do.  It’s a rather unique experience suddenly being surrounded by so many English-speaking people – foreign and local or other Asian countries.  Before long, it’s 10:30 and things get started.  Today’s service is more of a talent show with various members of the congregation performing songs or traditional dances that show how they celebrate the holidays in their own countries. Everyone is so friendly and approachable that it’s comforting being here for a few hours.  After all of the performances, we share pizza, chicken, cake, drinks and various other party foods while everyone mingles and I meet several new people.  When it’s time to leave, I’m amazed to discover that it’s nearly 14:00 already and that I’ve actually spent most of the day in Jeonju – it feels like it’s only been an hour or two as we head back to our little town of Gunsan.

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