Spring is here...FINALLY!

 I just realized it's been a MONTH since I last posted!!!  After receiving some inquiries as to why I hadn't been writing, (sorry!) here are my latest adventures, thoughts, and blessings-

I had a wonderful time last weekend when I went on a trip with Adventure Korea. This company organizes various excursions for foreigners at a very affordable price.  It's a great way to get away, de-stress, and meet new people.  Believe me, I had my doubts when, at 5:30am on Saturday morning my alarm was buzzing and I felt like I couldn't peel off my eye mask and sit upright, much less climb a mountain.  But alas, I dragged my weary body out of bed and to the bus station. 

After 4 hours on the bus, including a stop for lunch, we arrived at Gayasan National Park.  The hike up the mountain was pretty, and Kerry and I paused numerous times to allow for photo ops.  Due to these minor detours, we were in the last group to make it to the top, but that was fine by us.  The weather was perfect for hiking: sunny with a cool breeze.  After we reached the top, we relaxed for a bit and took some more pictures, wishing we had packed snacks for the summit.  Next time :)

Kerry and her infectious laugh <3

Emek & Briza

On the way down the mountain I walked with two girls I had met on the way up, Emek and Briza, who were also at the caboose of the hike ;).  They are both in Masters programs at different universities in Korea on scholarship.  Emek is from Turkey and Briza is from Brazil.  I really enjoyed talking with them about their experiences in Korea and asking them questions about their hometowns (as I am always curious about what life is like around the world).

After the hike, we walked about mile down the road and came to Haeinesa Temple, which is one of the more famous Buddhist temples in Korea. They were setting up for celebrations that will take place on Buddha's birthday, therefore, the grounds were a little cluttered, but it was still very interesting and beautiful.

That night, we went to a traditional Korean village which is used to having Korean tour groups who want to experience a traditional lifestyle stay for a night or two.  We formed groups of four and were assigned to different houses.  We put away our things and gathered together for dinner and a bonfire.  It was wonderful to mingle and talk with so many new people who are in similar situations and to share advice and encouragement with each other.

Our house

The next morning, we got up early and went to the Daegaya festival, which is named after the Daegaya Kingdom in Korea during the 5th century.  Of course, activities at the festival were centered around this time period and included pottery making, traditional instruments, museums, crafts, and even a dying experience that my new friends and I took part in.  You were able to put on the traditional funeral clothing and everyone was placed inside a separate wooden coffin and enclosed for 3 minutes!  I'll tell you, it was most definitely a reflective experience...

holding the will that I wrote, awaiting my fate~
death was actually a pretty nice guy, haha

Me, Camille, Briza, and Emek about to be buried...

Briza, Lisa, and Camille in traditional dress
view of the festival grounds from the hill

traditional rice porridge

The next stop before the long bus ride home was organic strawberry picking!  We each received a container to fill with delicious strawberries and we were instructed to eat as many strawberries as possible while we were picking - a request which we all gladly obliged :-)

This past Saturday was just wonderful...when I got home from a day walking around Yeouido, (which is an island in the northern part of Seoul, bordering the Han River) I was so refreshed.  I wandered around all afternoon with Siu and Jia, looking at the cherry blossoms, taking pictures, and soaking up the beautiful sun.  It's amazing how those little rays of sunshine can completely warm your mind, body, and soul and have you smiling from ear to ear.  At least that's what they do for me :-)

so pretty <3

sweet Jia :-)

Siu, me, and Jia enjoying the sunshine~

view of Seoul skyline from Yeouido

along the Han River

so many people...

the National Assembly building

a nice old man who took our picture ^.^

Yesterday was a wonderful Palm Sunday! I received a message that seemed to be meant for me. It was about being weary and tired, and how Jesus Christ, the son of God, the uncreated one, was even weary and tired at times. However, in spite of this, He unfailingly fulfilled the works of our Father in heaven.  It's easy to have a giving spirit when we are full and joyful, and when all is as it should be.  However, God also calls us to give when we have little.  During times of hardship, of depression, of darkness...we are called to serve the Father.  In our times of weakness, there are countless individuals who can be ministered to if we will be obedient and make sacrifices.

I can't stop listening to a song called 'Hosanna.'  Many of you may have heard it, but the words are my cry and prayer as of late.

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

I was reminded that, in order for the Lord to work in our lives, we must make faith-based decisions.  If we leave no room for God to direct our paths, we leave no room for Him to bless our lives. I had been praying for answers to a few questions that have been weighing on my mind lately, and the Lord has revealed to me so many answers over the last few days! A weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, and although they weren't the answers I had originally hoped for, I feel such a peace knowing that He has it all figured out, so I don't have to.  Thank you Father, for continuing to draw me closer to you~

After church, I went to lunch with Briza and her friend Nikki.  We walked along Karasukil in Gangnam and found a delightful little parisian cafe.  We spotted a little table outside on the front patio, and it was a little piece of heaven.  I spent a lovely afternoon with new friends having great conversation.  I know we will frequent our-little-piece-of-Europe-in-Korea as often as possible!


Nikki & Briza

That evening I met up with some current and old coworkers for Turkish food.  We hit up the photo booth on our way home and, when I got on the bus to go back to Bundang, my friend Jee Eun, whom I met a few weeks ago on the bus, was on the bus heading home as well!  We made a coffee date for next Saturday morning so we can walk around another park close to us which also has a lot of cherry blossoms.  It was the perfect way to end a perfect day <3

photo booth!

Thank you family and friends for your constant love and support~

All my love,

Miss Jones