Sunday, March 6, 2016

2015 In Review: Part 1

We are now in our third month of 2016, but I still think it is an ok idea to review 2015. It was a crazy year for me. With some pictures, let us look back at 2015. This will be a very picture heavy post, enjoy!

It  started out with multiple attempts to get my visa at the Korean Embassy
Then on Febuary 21, 2015, I left for Spouth Korea on a 15 hour plane ride.

I saw the sun seting for hours because we were chasing it in the plane as we flew.

From there I took an hour long taxi to Yonsei University

The smog was very bad that day.

I tried sweet potato pizza for the first time.

After getting lost, I finally found my university.

I explored traditional homes.

I took awkward pictures by beautiful landmarks.

I learned what a mega city meant.

I went to a skyscraper cafe!

Experienced art

I walked down foriegn ally ways.

Danced in puublic.

I played soccer with people from over 9 different countries!

Met some celebrities, kinda.

I released my inner nerd!

I found bridges both personaly and litteraly. 

Cherry Blossoms!

I visited cool temples, and touch the pacific ocean for the first time.

Enjoyed new heights on the Nam-sang Tower. 

I enjoyed a fantastic school festival that lasted a week.

I met a nice budist monk.

I made a dream come true......

and it was beautiful!

I climbed another tall tower!

Took classes at a forign institute!

I went island hopping.

I also found ruins of an ancient korean naval defense fortress.

I climbed a volcano.

I went to a theme park just outside of Seol. 

This was........

....... another dream come true!

I also forged to start off my final year at college.

To be continued..........................

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The More You Know

Hey friends! I hope that last post was not too heavy. As I am writing this, I am preparing
for my last(hopefully) doctors appointment about my ear. I am still deaf in my right ear, but the pain is gone! That is awesome. Anyway, I wanted to talk about stuff.

That makes sense............

I mean, I want to talk about the stuff we call familiar. For example: I like ginger ale(Canada Dry), and I like my wide open areas. What do these things have in common? Well, they are not here. We become so familiar with "stuff" that we don't realize how familiar they are until they are gone. Back home in Chesterfield, VA, you would notice a great deal of wide open areas of woods, farms, and plenty of decent shopping outlets. I like that. I am familiar with that. Even in Norfolk, VA it is not too hard to find these places(You don't get more wide open than the Atlantic, just saying.) Here in Seoul, I have not seen this at all. Is it bad? No, it is just different. Therefore, the "stuff" i was used to is now gone. Well, not all of it, but you get my point.

What point?.....................

I will confess, I miss that wide open area. I miss my mom's mashed potatoes and her spiced apples. I miss the swing set across from my home in Norfolk. I miss, I miss, and I will keep missing things. Constantly doing this is not only useless, but it can be unhealthy. Many a people in this world dislike change greatly. I was like this up to my senior year of high school. This is when I first learned that change is very important. I took a little trip to Europe. Italy, France, and Greece to be exact. That trip changed everything.

What changed?.................

I learned for the first time that the U.S. was not the world. My view of this whole world thing changed radically. I saw a place that was not my America. It was different, but oh how it was beautiful. This inspired me to go and live radically different. I gained a global perspective. That the actions of our lives do in fact have an impact. I tell my friends that I want to change this world. I hope it is through love and peace. Right now, this seems to be a naive idea. It is a hope that many no longer think is possible. I have a much different opinion. I believe this can still happen. It will be hard work, but it is something worth fighting for. I want to change this world through serving and loving others. I want to see hearts changed.
Me at the hospital

Why is this important?......

This is my hope, but the way I came to it is first my faith then understanding others' view points. It so much easier to love others if you know how. If you learn what is familiar to other people, then you can serve and love more effectively. I understand that sometimes it is much more difficult, but it is a place o start. So, yah! The more you know.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What Was That?

       Well, it has been more then a week since publishing a post. I am sorry about that. It has been one of those weeks. Let me catch you up a bit. I have been able to find a great church family here. New Phili has been great. I just want to give them a shout out for all of their help. I also want to shout out Emmaus. They are a student organization that is part of New Phili. I have been to Gangnam and many places and Seoul. What a great four weeks it has been. I have met many people and seen many new things. That is an incredibly short version, but what i wanted to talk about is the reason this has taken so long to get to you. I have been trying to debate whether or not to explain in detail what has been going on, but I think it would be good to share with you all.

       Two weeks ago, I awoke deaf in my right ear. "Wow Ryen, that escalated quickly!", I hear you saying. Well, that is how this whole thing started. So naturally, I waited a few days before going to the university doctors(in which I was thoroughly scolded for). When I got there, they did a quick examination of me and told me to go to the hospital. This was because they did not have the right equipment there. Ok, that is fine. I made an appointment for that Monday and went about my daily life stuff. On Monday, I went to my appointment. This is where things became a little more interesting. I would come to find out that I have advanced inner ear infections in both ears. I'm like, "Ok, this is fine. Infections happen all the time right?" The doctor then proceeded to explain how i needed to get brain scans. This is the turn that started to scare me. The docs thought that the infection was going to spread to my head. They said it was to early to make a decision on my deafness issue yet. This past Tuesday, I went to get my brain and ears checked out. In between, I was taking medicine to stop the infection. The CT scan results showed that the infection DID NOT make it to my brain, but they did tell me how close it was. Ok, one crisis avoided, but "lets see about them there ears." I jokingly said. However, it turned out to be no joke. The test came to tell me I was in fact deaf in the right ear. Mind you I had a decent idea, but knowing this is a lot more serious made me take a few moments to think. I asked if it was a temporary thing. They said it was to hard to tell. They wanted to wait until the infection was gone. An infection that I still have. They told me not to give my hopes up. There is a large chance from looking at the results that hearing would not be restored. "The infection comes first. Then we will try what we can for your ears." Now I am in a place where I am not very sure what to do. I go back next Tuesday to see if the infection has cleared.

       How am I taking this? I think I am doing well. I am taking life one stride at a time. However, listening to a single person is hard. If I am struggling to pay attention, I apologize. I am thankful for the one ear that still works ok. I do not intend for this to hamper my spirits at all. I am going to enjoy the limited time I have here in Korea. In the end, I  still have the other ear. However, I am well aware of the frustrations yet to come. Thank you all for your prayers and aid during this odd time in my life. I love you all! Also, don't worry about me! I will be just fine. So what's next for me? I am not sure. I guess I will just see where this path takes me. My hope is in the Lord, so I think I'll be just fine no matter the results. Who knows, God could have a valuable lesson to be learned.

       So thank you all for reading! Honestly, it is awesome to see the amount of people who have read the blogs. It is awesome to know that others are engaging with my journey. Again, I just want to thank New Phili and Emmaus. Also, I really want to thank my friends and family who have come around me in support of this rough time. So, thanks you amazing, beautiful people. Remember that old saying, "You never know what you have until you lose it?" Well, come to find out it is very true. I know this weeks blog was a little heavy, but know that I am on the upward swing. There is still some hope that my right ear can be restored. Therefore, please pray! I love you beautiful people.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Moment Finally Came

       When we as humans go through a major change, we don't fully realize the situation until a few days after arrival. Well this realization finally hit me, but before I go through that, allow me to catch you up. I am doing well. They tell me it will start warming up any day now, but that has yet to be seen. Classes are great, and the proffs are not half bad either. I found a church family and an international campus ministry! That is pretty cool. I walk quite a bit, and this is not a flat campus as ODU is. Hills are everywhere! you cannot escape them. I guess it will help my efforts for getting in shape. Thank you for all the prayers and support. I think I finally got over jet lag. It was very hard this time. I still get very confused on how to read signs, but I am now learning proper Korean! Well that is a QUICK update but I really wanted to get to the main topic I wanted to talk about.
       Last weekend I went with some new friends to a place called Sinchon. Here is where people go to eat great food and just have fun with friends. It was fantastic! I enjoyed some good food, and we went to a Korean styled karaoke! It six of us in this room singing badly but with no shame. I have not had this much fun in awhile. In that moment, time seemed to slow down. While the others were singing away, I came to an interesting realization. "Holy crap! I am in South Korea!" This was the thought that occurred to me. You could say, "Ryen, you have been there for 2 weeks now." You would be correct, but that does not really mean anything. What matters is that I am now understanding just how incredible my situation is. I am going to university in South Korea! It was a moment in wich a much needed reality check was presented.

       This was good for me to experience. I understand that this would normally come much earlier, but this time was different for a reason I could not pin point. Then it hit me. I was just going to school. It did not feel very different because I was in the mindset of going to school. It was just another semester for me. It sounds dumb, but it is actually a routine i have gotten into. Every fall and spring I get ready for more school. However, this moment of reality helped me understand that this was way more than just a simple semester. This was an adventure like no other. Finally, my mind is ready to take this on!

I know this post was short. I have another coming out soon. I has just taken some time to work on it. Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dreamers Will Dream

Ok, today I am going to address a question that has been popping up these last few months. That question  being, "Ryen, why do you do it? Why do you want to travel so much?" The only response to that is why not. If the opportunity to experience something new comes my way, I will not shy from it. This could be described as fool-hardy, reckless, risky, or even naivety. Those allegations may not

be incorrect. Many of my choices do have plenty of risk involved. I might even be naive when it comes to certain things, but one thing I won't be is ignorant. I will be filled with such knowledge and understanding that can never be achieved by sitting still in the U.S. God was a creative and innovative creator. Some who read this may not be Christian and that is ok, but hear my plea. GO AND SEE THIS BEAUTIFUL WORLD! My faith has only made this place a more wonderful creation. Through the looking glass that is the Gospel, I see hope for this world. Why would I not want to see that world up close?!

If you are thinking about being a traveler, understand one thing........... you should not go only for the site seeing aspect! Those who have traveled their fair share would agree. The main reason to go to a place should not be the place, but it should be that place's people. Without people, there can never be culture. Without the culture there would never be any of those pretty buildings and temples. Mind you, those things are fantastic to visit and see, but what is the point if you miss the people who made history history. Yes, the Great Wall is amazing, but what about those who died building it? What is their story? Where are their descendants? Was it worth the sacrifice? If all you do at these historic sites is take pictures, than you have missed the point entirely, and should not be there in the first place. So please, please do not be just another shallow tourist! Being one only makes a mockery of the places you visit. Instead, where ever it is you travel, go there with the mindset of wanting to be part of the story taking place. Trust me, if you do this, the experience you take with you will feel genuine and fulfilling. You will make true friends in other, far off lands, and you will be part of their stories wich turn into their history. I may only be a footnote in the places I have been, but the people I have met and the things I have seen is an incredible part of me. They are now parts of my stories, and will be part of my legacy.

It is my belief that we are all meant to be travelers in our own way. If that is only walking to the person 2 feet away from you, then may that be a great journey. However, if you are called to cross oceans and cultures, my friend it is indeed a noble calling. Though that calling may be great, know this truth very well. It will call you to make sacrifices of yourself and those in whom you care about. Your time is not your time. To travel is to be selfless. The truth is, if your calling is to make such large leaps of faith, then you must understand that you welcome hardship. This is just something that comes with the territory. I can unpack this all day, but I think I will leave this for another post.

In an upcoming post I will cover my various inspirations, but that will take some time to shift through if I am honest.

To travel, love, serve and to embrace this world through the Gospel is my calling. What is your's?

P.S. Share your calling down below with a hand drawn picture! Let's get creative now guys! As always I love you guys!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

First Moments: Ryen's Guide to Winging It!?

       Hello everyone and welcome to my first blog since I have been in South Korea. So, for this blog I would like to tell you how I am doing. However, first things first. Many have wondered how my flight went. Well, it was boring. That might sound bad, but please here me out. The take off was fun and exciting. It was a culmination of months of hard work, and it was finally happening. To be honest, though this moment was very special, it was almost ruined. To my friends on the east coast, they understand just how bad the snow storms have been. Just before take off, a massive snow storm came and delayed boarding by 2 hours. Then once boarded, we were stuck infront of the runway for another 3 hours. This just added to the total length of the flight that was already going to be 15 hours long. I am not one to complain, but this tested my resolve a bit. Despite these setbacks, the plane did take off and it was an enjoyable flight. I was treated with respect. I like that. Hard work has taken flight.

       Now I am in Seoul, S. Korea. I am so excited but very, very tired. Once through customs, I caught a taxi to my hotel. I am fairly certain I was ripped off, but I had no way of challenging the prices. I was able to get to my room with no issue, and the room was quite nice. I slept well and was able to have enough energy to get to my dormitory after a very long taxi ride and getting lost for an hour. With the help of some new friends, I was able ti check in to my dormitory and be able to explore Seoul some. I went out for dinner that night with my new friends, and for the first time I had Korean food. It blew me away. It was just fantastic. I am not sure what it was, but it was good. I went to sleep in S. Korea that night with a mind blown with the fact that God's plan actually led me here. "How on earth did I get here", I keep asking myself. Blown away by all that I have seen, I can't help but just lay in my bed amazed at the truth about my situation. I am in S. Korea! I am a student of one of the greatest universities in the world.

     I awoke up the next day to a trip to see the city some more. I went to a traditional village untouched by technology. Then we went to the Koran War Memorial. Talk bout a sobering trip. Then we went to the heart of the city. How grand it was. I have yet to be in a city so huge as this. It is very intimidating, but now I seem to have a handle on things.(Perhaps self-deception?) Anyway, Classes start tomorrow. I am not sure how to feel about this, but, to be honest, it does not really matter how I feel. This is still college, so, I have no choice but to go to class. That is just how it is. I am excited to get busy again. Many say college suck, but learning for me is a fun experience so it is not much of a chore that a awesome privilege. Thank you all for reading, and expect these to come out every Friday
or so. I love you my beautiful people.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Fond Farewell

     Hello friends, It's Ryen again and it looks like you found me! This post will catch you up, and will include a farewell from me. Let start by apologizing. I had to skip last weeks blog due to me moving out of my house and paper work logistics going all weird. So, my visa was finally approved and I was able to sign up for classes. These two things are answers to prayer. It has been months to get these things figured out, but I owe some great housemates, friends, and family for the encouragement I have been receiving. I am abundantly blessed by them.

      I will be leaving on the 21st of February on a fairly large plane. I am excited, nervous, and everything in between. I am still working on the packing, and if anyone has any ideas please let me know. I am very much open to suggestions. This was a long time coming, and it has indeed been a bumpy road. Now, I am only a few weeks away from stepping on a plane to an adventure that will surely change my perspective forever. I am thankful for my advisers at Old Dominion University. Without their unyielding support, this journey would not be a reality, and if you are reading this thank you so much for everything. It really has been amazing working with you, and I want to let you know that you made this process very smooth for me. When I get over to S. Korea, I promise that your investments will not be in vain.

     Now here is that "Fond Farewell" you saw in the title. Last week there was a great deal of "goodbyes", and it was a very bitter sweet time for me. It was a rushed week, and was not able to say goodbye to everyone. So, goodbye everyone. I love you guys so very much. There is no way to truly say the goodbye that is in my heart because I cannot hug you through this post. However, I really just want to properly say goodbye to all of you. This goodbye is more so for people at ODU. This is because some of them I won't see again for a rather long time. Many of you I will see come august, but I wanted to do a heartfelt farewell to those few that I won't be seeing again for awhile. For those back home, I will be seeing you for the next two weeks. You guys are the best. Thank you guys for helping me make this happen.

As always, please share this with all of you friends. The youtube channel is set to launch this week Friday night. Lets get the channel on to a good start.

Thank you my beautiful friends you,