News From Korea – Day 2

I think today must be Wednesday.  Its easy to get mixed up in these circumstances.  It was the second full day of the conference, but we didn’t make any of the sessions till the late afternoon.  Pastor Joseph Kim picked Geoff Roberts, Daesop Yoon and myself up at our accommodation and drove us to the Kazakhstan Embassy.  We are so grateful for the prayers of people about this matter of visa.  It has been a regular saga.  We tried to get one through their embassy in Singapore but the people there kept on finding reasons to reject our application.  So we switched the plan to visit while we were in Seoul.  The problem about this was that as I arrived a day later than planned that only left two full days for the visa to be processed.  When we rang the office this morning the guy told us the embassy was closed for the day – but he remembered a phone conversation I had had with him from Canberra.  I told him the reason for my delay and he became very kind and considerate.  Amazing.  He said if we got there by 11:00 they would agree to receive it and process it.  We also found out that the address I had from the website was wrong.  So we set off for the quite long journey to a the part of Seoul where the embassies are and finally fount it.  Even though the Consular manager reminded us that it was highly optimistic for us to expect that they could process the application in two days, it seemed more like he was just making us realise that he was doing us a favour.  We were appreciative.  Jacob and Geoff were also praying for us the whole time we were doing the bits and pieces necessary.  When we were leaving Daesop asked the lady who was working in the reception whether she thought we would have a good chance of getting the visa she was pretty positive about it.  We have to go back on Friday to pick up our Passports – and hopefully the visa.

Since Geoff had not seen any of Seoul we drove down to the centre of town and had a walk along the stream that they have reclaimed in the centre of the city.  It used to be a horrible smelly sewer-ridden stream that ran under buildings and roads but the mayor at the time had this vision for creating a beautiful clean stream with nice surrounds.  This was in the nineties, so its not too long ago.  It was highly controversial and very expensive but they managed to build this very picturesque long walkway with ultra clean water running along.  We wandered along there till we came to a cultural centre that was an amazing piece of architecture – as you can see from the photos.
We had lunch in this very ordinary cafe –  it was beautiful traditional Korean food and very reasonably priced.
On the way back to the Conference, we called in at the FEBC headquarters to meet up with a mate of Daesop’s (and Jacob Kim’s).  He has worked with the radio broadcasting organisation for years but is now the presenter of a daily radio program designed to support and even rescue defectors from North Korea.  There are many organisations, but he runs a sort of Network of them all.  He was really interesting to talk to, especially because we had heard that gut wrenching testimony from the North Korean lady during the Conference session the previous night.  I think I will do some interviews with him on Skype for my radio program in Canberra.
We were back in time for the last of the elective sessions in the afternoon but didn’t attend any.  We just talked to different leaders who were hanging around.  We met a guy from Japan who I had met years ago with Ian Shelton.  He has a church near where the tsunami took out the nuclear power station.  They have been doing all kinds of stuff in their community as a result.  We also met up with David Cho who will be coming to Australia next Monday with a few others for the Breakthrough Conference in Sydney starting next Wednesday.
We had evening meal with the large group of leaders who were having a “discernment meeting” regarding the evening session.  It was great to see how they work –  very relational and with wonderful hearts to send the right message by what they do and how they do it.  Tonight we had a great worship time.  So much energy with a thousand plus young people.  A rap group doing some terrific songs and then three guys sharing twenty minutes each:  A missionary working in North Korea – would you believe – cant give the details but amazing favour and a genuinely bold but wise operator.  The second was a young guy from Japan and the third a pastor from Mongolia.  All of them were terrific.  Such a change from the big name people sharing big name messages.
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