Coming Home

Our group started getting smaller on Friday when one member stayed in Manila while the rest of us headed to Seoul.  Early Monday morning, one member had to leave an hour earlier than the rest of us….then we were a team of 4, navigating the Seoul airport….my bags were searched and then rescanned…all of our bags (all passengers) were inspected again just before we boarded the plane…bless Kit’s heart, she was pulled aside for an additional pat-down…but her positive attitude kept us happy.  We all agreed that with the latest overseas embassy attacks, we don’t mind being searched.   Upon arrival in Atlanta after a 14 hour flight, we waited for Customs, immigration, bag check and bag transfer, then security. We took the train to our gates ..Kit, Bobbi and Meredith’s flights departed from a different gate than mine, so we waved goodbye as the train left the station.  My flight was on time, but slow to load because of a delay for our flight attendants’ prior flight.  I smiled when the announcer said, “ladies and gentlemen, we’re missing a flight attendant and will begin boarding soon.”. I said aloud, “is she hiding under the seats?”. And a nearby passenger awaiting a different flight erupted into laughter.  At that moment, I thought, it’s good to be on home soil, a stranger caught the joke. 

A few moments later, that same passenger said, “holy cow, it’s pouring down rain.”. I said, “planes have windshield wipers”. He asked, “aren’t you scared?”. I said, “no.  All is well.  We left Korea in worse weather and a typhoon headed toward us.”. He said, “but the runway is slick and cars hydroplane”. I said, “that’s the difference between cars and planes.  God made planes with wings to fly.”.

His tension eased and when I turned around, he was gone. 

I slept on the flight to Charlotte and saw my checked bag on the conveyor belt with no problem.  Jim picked me up a few moments later and we headed home.  I slept like a rock for 3 hours, had a bite to eat and then slept again…hopefully, around 2 a.m., I’ll get sleepy again. 

Thank you again for all of your thoughts, prayers and kind comments.  It has been a joy to share our Ubuntu Journey to the Philippines with you.  More pictures will be posted as they are made available and as we each continue the mission outreach with our sisters in the Philippines. 

If you are interested in being part of the 2013 journeys to Chile, South Korea or Zimbabwe, please go to the United Methodist Women’s Division home page and search Ubuntu.

May you continue to be a blessing to others. 

Janet Morgan
Western North Carolina Conference
Ubuntu Philippines 2012

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Seoul Stop-Over Part 2

Prior to the Miso Theatre show, we met with Dr. Reverend Hae Sun Kim who has been in Korea for the last 5 years establishing the Scranton Women’s Leadership Center.  Such a privilege to have a typical Korean dinner with Hae Sun and her associate Irene and office manager Julia.  The invitation alone was amazing.  Hae Sun also walked us through a Buddhist temple where we saw the simple beauty and wonder of the area.  Then, we witnessed a fist-fight at a nearby store.. and I thought, “fighting beside the temple grounds….that’s not cool.”.

On Saturday, we rode a tour bus to the DMZ and the freedom train stop.  It was the first time Kathy had ever been to this active site of tunnels created by North Koreans in hopes of attacking the South Koreans and destroying Seoul.  4 tunnels have been discovered and we visited the Third Tunnel.  We were vigilant and kept our passports on us at all times. 
(More photos to follow in the coming weeks)

After the half day tour, we were tired and hungry.  Kathy and Susan did an excellent job navigating the city for us and we were able to eat lunch in a small, local place probably not known for its food, bit it was just the place we needed to reassess our immediate frustration with fatigue and hunger.  Alain, our team leader Jeanie brought us together.  Half of the group went back to the hotel and the other half of us walked briefly through a local market. 

We met at 5 pm on the grounds of Ewha Girl’s School and saw the original classroom where Mrs Scranton started teaching as a missionary in the late 1800s.  An American widow from Ohio traveled to Seoul at the age of 50 after her husband died.  Mrs. Scranton’s legacy is visible in so many places.  (More photos will be added next week).

After a tour of the school, we enjoyed dinner of bibipap and walked to see a Korean theatre production of Nanta.  It’s a mixture of Marx brothers, Gallagher and Stomp… Absolutely hilarious.  I was shocked and thrilled to be chosen as an audience member to go on stage to be part of a skit.  The props were a lot lighter than I thought and of course, they were surprised that I was so tall… 🙂
(More photos to follow)

We returned to our rooms to relax,  prepare for devotions and for church the next morning.

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On Sunday morning, we attended the traditional service at the first Methodist church ever built in Seoul.  There must’ve been 500 people in this service alone…and that doesn’t include the full orchestra, and choir consisting of 75 members.  The music was wonderful.  Even though the words were in a different language and not something that I could even pronounce, we sang what we could in English.  The anthems sounded like professional theatre.  We could’ve attended the afternoon service in English, but that would not have been the same. 

We ate gimbap (a traditional Korean wrap) that really “hit the spot”.

Our team leader knows the importance of “re-entry” after a mission trip.  We needed the technology and the coffee shop so that we wouldn’t be bombarded when we return to our own lives in a few hours. 

At 5 a.m. Monday the 17th, we awoke so we could meet the bus that would take us to the airport. 

As I type this, I’m sitting on a plane somewhere over North America with only 4 hours until landing in Atlanta.  This will post after I’ve landed and hopefully have seen my husband. 

Thank you for your readership, your prayers and your positive thoughts for our team during this wonderful mission journey. 

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Janet
8:10 p.m. Incheon Time (7:10 a.m. Eastern Monday, 9/17)

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Thursday – free day & leaving Manila

On Thursday, we began a new process of packing up…and our wonderful volunteers, Apol and Ernest, graciously navigated us through the train stations and riding a jeepney so that we could go shopping for trinkets and souveniers.  We met the executive committee for dinner at Shakey’s pizza in the Robinson Place Mall

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And with that, we piled into vans and headed to the airport.  Vic, our driver from Sunday, is wonderful.  He and I joked like brothers as he navigated the crazy traffic.  Once at the airport, weade our way through customs and headed for a 3 day stop-over in Seoul, Korea.

We arrived Friday morning at 4:30 a.m. still exhausted. 

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Wednesday – Distribution with Asunción Pérez

Wednesday morning, we awoke to the smells of garlic and fish cooking below us…we moved to a room across the hall at Shalom, so it wasn’t as noisy or damp as our previous room, but the 5 a.m. aroma was quite interesting. 

We rode as a group to Metro Manila and the Asunción Pérez outreach center, part of the Methodist church right beside the location where many of our street kids live.  We met for a brief worship service with the families who registered the previous day and even some who did not register.  We gave each family member a bag packed by Julie, Rubie Joy, Kathy and Susan the previous day. 

Wednesday afternoon, we gathered in the Shalom Conference Room and processed all of our activities from the previous week.  So many things went through our minds.  Words like trust, love, acceptance, empowerment  and bonds rang true over and over.  Yes, tearfully, we said our goodbyes. 

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Immersion – Manggahan Part 1

Immersion.  The word alone scared me.  It was the unknown factor.  Sunday night, after devotions, Kit said, “tomorrow is going to be so exciting!” Her exuberance was infectious.  And I was still nervous.  After a week of travel, new sights, sounds and smells, I didn’t know what else I could possibly see.  

Julie stopped by the room that Meredith and I shared and said, “this is a text from Jenn, ‘we have good news and bad news.  The bad news is that there is no power in the village.  The good news is that we get to ride a truck that hauls concrete blocks.'”

It took a short discussion and prayer to alleviate the fears.  Remember our word “depende”? Well that word was coming back again and again.. and I was looking for a bit of structure.  Bobbi’s bible study from a few days prior came to mind and I told Jeanie, Meredith and Julie that “I am so accustomed to being a ‘Martha’..doing, planning, fussing over things, that I am having a difficult time being a ‘Mary’, sitting and drinking-in the wisdom”.

Words of reassurance reminded me that we were all a little scared…yet I was the one crying and being hard on myself.  I was unreasonably thinking that I would be left in a remote area or that we would be stranded and homeless.

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Janet eating animal crackers and peanut butter the night before immersion

The next morning, Meredith, Jenn and I rode with Jeanie, Kit and Bobbi, to a point where we were dropped off so we could catch a taxi.  The taxi driver stopped at McDonalds so we could grab something to eat…

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From there, Meredith, Jenn and I rode a taxi to Harris Memorial College where we met with a local UMCOR (United Methodist Committee On Relief) volunteer named Edward and a former Harris Graduate named Angie who works as a community organizer in the Manggahan community. 

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The chaplain drove us to meet the truck, driven by Angie’s son.  It was like riding in the back of a pick-up truck loaded with cinder blocks, lots of bottled water and a few workers who didn’t speak English. 

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We rode for an hour to Taytay, then when we turned off the paved road, I immediately felt peace. 

After another 3 hours on a bumpy, rutted road, we arrived at the village. 

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Immersion – Camachile

On Monday, 9/10, Jeanie, Bobbi and Kit traveled to a town called Camachile in the Pampanga region (a 3 hour drive from the Shalom Center in Metro Manila) where they were welcomed by Pastor Leslie and her husband who is also a pastor at another church.  Camachile is home to the Ayat  indigenous people and is a beautiful area of the Philippines. The UMW owns property in the area that was destroyed by the volcano eruption of Mount Pinatubo several years ago. 

One prevailing community concern is property development…mining companies want the land for the minerals and resort developers want the land to build luxury resorts for tourism. 

Kit, Bobbi and Jeanie visited and talked with women of the community about their ongoing projects, including the church’s project of buying all school supplies for the community children. 

Additionally, the church hosts feeding programs and a medical clinic for the community.

One church had to raise its roof after ash from the volcano eruption flooded the church.  They started building with no advance funds…they started building in faith  and the money came after the work started. 

What a blessing for our team to witness the rapid growth and continued faithfulness of the community in such a short timeframe. Pastor Leslie and her team saw a need, worked toward a solution and didn’t wait for funding before digging the foundation.  While there may not ever be enough money to be extravagant, there is always enough to continue the Lord’s work. 

Our team was greeted with a worship service, children singing and dancing.  They slept in the church and the next day, visited the oyster mushroom farm.  Profits from the farm go back into the community and to fund school- supply ministry, feeding programs and clinic expenses.  To get to the medical clinic, our team walked up a mountain and across a bridge with more holes than boards. 

Bobbi’s favorite memory is of when they finished talking with the women from church, and started  down the mountain, the skies opened and rain poured down. Two little girls clung to them to keep from from getting wet.  At some point, Bobbi held the umbrella over the little girls and her camera and they slid down the mountain…it was easier for her to get wet than to ruin the camera and for the girls to enjoy a moment out of the rain. 

We will post pictures from Bobbi in a few weeks. 

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Sending Forth

Yesterday, in our home churches across the country, we were each  commissioned as part of a “sending forth”.  Our sister, Bobbi, said this about her service, “
My sending forth service was awesome in every sense of that word. As I stood in front of my church family, I suddenly felt God’s Spirit surrounding me. It was a sudden sense of comfort and well being. At the same time, I felt surrounded by the love and good wishes of my church family
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Kit relayed the following, “the sending forth … truly touched my heart. [My pastor] invited me up to the front of the altar to stand with him while he prayed a beautiful, heartfelt prayer while holding my hand. Then he ended with “Go with our blessing and the blessing of your God.” Members of the congregation came up afterwards and hugged me and told me how they would keep our team in their prayers. I felt bathed in God’s unconditional love! Here’s what appeared in the bulletin:

SENDING FORTH

*SONG, NO. 473 Lead Me, Lord

*COMMISSIONING KIT A FOR SHORT TERM MISSIONARY SERVICE

Along with seven others from the U.S., Kit will participate in the Ubuntu Journey to the Philippines, Sept.2-17. Ubuntu, an African word meaning I am human because you are human, gives women an opportunity to share themselves and their gifts with another culture. They will participate in leader training and help in relief efforts for victims of the recent floods in the Manila area. We look forward to a report upon Kits return! Read Mark 6:7-13, 30-32 for an example.”

My experience was similar to that of Kit and Bobbi. My pastor called me to the front where I knelt at the alter and one of my dearest friends, Pam, stood beside me as a representative of the congregation. Pam held my hand and I found myself suddenly shaking…not from fear, but joy. I don’t remember the words, but I remember words of the charge (my responsibility), “to learn… To share…to love…”. I accepted and felt peace. I answered “I will” with a resolve as strong as the day I said my vows to my husband Jim 10 years ago. Funny, Pam was at my wedding as well…

I am truly humbled and honored to be part of this mission, representing not only my church, but all of our conference.

We have been officially “sent forth” by our respective churches…all of our immunizations up-to-date..last minute items being packed. In 6 days, we will officially meet each other and embark on a wonderful journey.

Thank you for your continued prayers. I look forward to providing updates.

Blessings and peace,

Janet