...my Seoul Searching...

..from the beautiful yellow crispy leaves of Fall in November to the lovely pink and white cherry blossoms in April - I was so excited to experience my 3 firsts in Seoul...

.. it was at the height of the tension between North and South that time when newsfeeds flooding about the impending nuclear attack of North Korea over the South Peninsula. Perfect timing for my first mission/solo/cherry blossom experience. But I told God, nothing can stop me now, "have Your way, Lord." 

The Mission

I haven't really thought of "Mission" as a BIG word until I got a call from my sister pleading me not to push through with my trip due to the worsening tension (or should I say exaggerated news) that time. Few weeks before the trip, everyday I would subscribe to the CNN newsfeeds just to keep abreast with the latest situation in South Korea. True to my heart, I said whatever happens, I was ready. Mission-ready, that is.

with sis Carrie, one of the graduates, a teacher in Seoul
with 2 of my idols in service - ate Shemae and nay Bell
I felt blessed to have the chance to serve with the couples (CFC) in our Christian Life Program mission in Incheon. With me, were ate Mae, nay bell, ate Milove and 2 couples, Kuya Elmer and Ate Miyen and Kuya Mond and Ate Shermin from Singapore to join the Korea team. It was a month-long preparation - fasting over colored drinks (which I admit I shamefully forget every time) and the prayer novena for the participants and service teams. Thankfully, we got 6 graduates. As Tito James said, "it's not the quantity but the quality of the harvest that matters". One of the highlights of this CLP is my first time to share my own testimony on Growing in the Holy Spirit.   

I praise God that with the leading of the Holy Spirit, we were able to carry through our respective roles. I also had the chance to meet such passionate servants in the persons of Tita Fe, Tito James and Tita Petty who all inspired me to give my all in service. I am happy to share this experience with people who share the same passion as I have in my heart for mission, that is, to walk a mile or 2 to let every man and woman experience Christ. 

I thank God for this call to service.

The First Solo Trip

@ Sejong Inn Hotel
Flashback of this story, I arrived 2 days before the mission. Yes, I was so looking forward to my first time traveling alone overseas. Notwithstanding the situation that time, the excitement just grew bigger as each day comes near. I offered a prayer for the trip, I asked God to just be with me. That's all I needed. So yeah, when I got there, there was a heavy downpour with a temperature of 12 degrees. And my oh my! I was underdressed. Dressed thinly that the freezing coldness seemed to have penetrated my bones to shiver from time to time. I took the bus ride to get a view of the city along the way. I was elated as the cherry blossom greeted me. When I arrived at the hotel, soaked in the rain, I told the receptionist, "can I get a city view room please?" It turned out that it was just a 3-storey hotel. LOL. "#Ambisyosa!", I told my self. The room wasn't that bad. Small but clean and comfy. I was just amazed because instead of a cooling fan, I had a heating fan in the room to warm me up. Cool!!! #ironic.

Myeongdong Cathedral
So on my first day, I went around to master the train stations. Haha! Since it was raining and I can't go outdoor, I opted for a ride of their MRT instead. But right across the street from my hotel was my first stop - the Myeongdong Cathedral. Inside, I looked around and said a prayer. Thanking Him for bringing me to that moment. Before Him. In a different place. As I looked across the isles towards the Altar, I just heaved a sigh and couldn't help myself imagine. "It would be the day", I told Him. And yeah, I thought I can see Him wink at me.

At 2 pm I felt hungry and delighted myself to try my first Korean meal - Topokki - made of rice cake noodle with spicy red sauce. Yumyum!

After a couple of hours of confusing myself with the stations (and nose-bleeding over asking for directions from locals who don't speak English), I ended up walking around the Myeongdong Market at night. Oh how I love the market at night! So full of life and stuffs to see (and buy!). Really, with that sight, you wouldn't mind the 10 degrees temp at night! Haha!

The Lovely Cherry Blossom

The following morning, I told myself, I have to be dressed adequately! So yeah, I put on my winter coat, my mustard leggings and my warmer inside and off I went to meet my cherry blossoms up close. Only to sweat profusely later. Turned out I was overdressed for that day! Que horror! I said to myself, "hinde, kailangan panindigan ko nato! Outfit kung outfit!" Haha! I got the city tour so I'd get to see different places at each stop. First stop was the Deoksugung Palace just in time for the changing of the guards ceremony. Inside is a nice view with the mix of pink and green trees. Another highlight of the city tour I would say is the Changyeonggung Place which is the biggest and the most preserved in terms of land area which houses a number of big temples. 

Inside is the Secret Garden which has been only opened for public viewing in the recent years. I liked that place where the king takes his queen for a date. Just a sweet thought. Amazing how these palaces were preserved to these days along with all the stories and memories. You can just experience being a royalty for a day.
Where the King would take his Queen for a quiet time alone

Towards the end of the day, I can't help but be thankful I am able to marvel at these amazing sights. Oh well, I was just on my second day but seemed like I've seen a lot already. But wait! There's more said He.

One of the ponds that caught my attention inside the Namsangol Korean Town

one of the oldest libraries inside the Changgyeonggung Palace

In the evening, I went to meet my co-missionaries. (Yes! the term!) Now I have someone to eat (and make gala) with. Haha! That night, we had a sumptuous dinner over authentic Korean Barbecue and some veggies. So nom nom!
Shopping and Gala at Myeongdong market
Korean Bbq

Love Myeongdong at night more!

on Saturday morning, we had a short visit at the Namsan Seoul Tower to see more of the white and pink trees. True enough, the place is one sight to behold! Voila! It was surrounded with Cherry Blossom trees. There was also this little lovers' locks bridge like that one in Paris. Some of the locks are just too old - made me wonder if the lovers really ended up together in the end. :)

Lovers' Locks

I had a number of unforgettable memories from this trip. And yeah, I actually got my 4th first - first time sleeping in a motel - and take note ha it's with the SFC and CFC couples pa. Haha! Kalurkey! The motel giveaways, the default channel, see-through shower room, the sticky floor and most of all - the noise at the room across - all made it a night to remember! Haha! And ang panalo, the look of embarrassment in the receptionist's face as he instructed the cab drivers to bring us to church (from the motel! haha!) Maybe that was a first for him!

I loved the FOOD: Korean Barbecue, Paris Baguette pastries, street food; SHOPPING: Myeongdong, Dongdaemon (Facial Products are so cheap and clothes and bags are nice buys!); CHERRY BLOSSOM; COLD WEATHER; and of course, THE PEOPLE - Kuya Elmer and Ate Miyen who were like our daddy and mommy during the trip; Kuya Mond and Ate Shermin who were as makukulit as us parang SFC lang din haha; ate Shemae whom I honor for her gift of touching a person's heart by the first encounter - madami akong natutunan sa kanya - pati yung secret ng household na-share na niya saken. Haha! And lastly, nay Bell whom I was happy to be with on this trip - ang kulit! thanks sa tips sa pagempake at paghelp rin talaga sa pagempake nung ngarag nako. 
Try the street food! Go for the adventure!

Overall, thank You Lord for this experience. Indeed, it was an enriching and blessed Seoul Searching. :)


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