observatoryOne thing above all other things we have noticed here on our trip to Korea – the repetition of appreciation. Almost everyday we have been here, someone offers praise to God and thanks to us as Americans for sending missionaries to Korea at the end of the 19th Century and bringing them the gospel of Jesus that saved them from sin. Then, they will thank us for the sacrifice of our troops: 38,000 giving their lives and over 100,000 wounded to deliver them from the crisis of Communism. That meant a lot more as we toured the Unification Observatory today and looked across the river into North Korea. There was an overwhelming sadness and grief that came over me as we could see from our brief look, a place with almost no trees due to deforestation because of fuel shortages for heat or no electricity for cooking. People living within houses with no roofs because the Communist government could finish guard towers but not the homes of its people.

We stood in a modern facility with a multi-lane highway to our south that was filled with cars. Across the river were three, humble workers carrying rice straw on their backs from the field they were working.

How have we seen a repetition of appreciation? I think of our group’s singing in the Sunday service. We were seated about midway back into the sanctuary and stepped forward to sing. The entire time we marched up to the front the congregation applauded. It took us quite a bit of time to get up there and form the five rows of singers. The applause never lessened or wavered. There was no pause like it would have been in America as the last row or two took their places in awkward silence, everyone getting more nervous as we waited to sing. No, the applause was sustained until we began to sing.

We have seen this repetition of appreciation as the associate pastors would all welcome and receive us at the church when we pulled in late in the evening. We saw it in the respectful bows and greetings we received from thousands here. We tasted and saw that their appreciation was good as were treated to delicious meal after delicious meal. We saw the repetition of appreciation that was shared by those who cleaned and ordered our rooms each day. Everything was perfectly refreshed and waiting for us whenever we returned.

Pastor and Mrs. Eun Pa Hong were wonderful leaders in this repetition of appreciation, as were the elders, and the other leaders of Bu Pyeong Methodist Church. The grace of God was clearly and repeatedly demonstrated to us. They have blessed me and all the participating pastors of the Virginia Annual Conference. Thanks go to our Bishop, Young Jin Cho and I thank all of you that helped me participate in this trip. Let it bear fruit for years to come.