Chapter 14 Update #10 - June 23, 2013
I have made it safely to Busan, Korea. It has been a challenging few days. I flew from Uganda to Addis Ababa, to Beijing, the then to Korea. Along the way I experienced so much culture shock that it overloaded my senses!
I had to spend almost 5 hours in the airport in Addis. It was very interesting as the culture there was much different than that of Uganda. To be expected on a flight to Beijing was a huge group of Chinese people. One of the flight attendants even asked me what nationality I was. I said, “Japanese” and she said, “You look different.” Plus I was wearing my African clothes so I am sure that confused her! She actually commented on my clothes and really liked them. Funny, I am not sure she understood that I was an American. When I was leaving the plane she said, “How do you say goodbye in Japanese!” Ha! I at least knew that much but explained I was an American. She still wanted to know! So I also told her goodbye in Luganda! I think I became a friendly face on the flight for her.
Even in Beijing there was a pretty good size group of Africans that were flying onto Busan. There was a representative from Korean Airlines waiting for us as we came off the plane. I was the only non-African among the group. As she walked us through the airport I immediately noticed her pace was fast...too fast. I had a hard time keeping up. There was only one man ahead of me trying to keep up too! As we went through passport control, she looked at me and said, “Do you want to go on ahead? I think you can find your way.” So I went ahead of the group...got a little lost...but finally found my way to the international connection desk. On the way to the gate I actually found a Starbucks! Did it ever taste good to have a latte! I made it to the gate and it was already time to board.
The flight to Busan was only a couple of hours. By time we arrived in Korea it was close to 10 pm. But by time we got our bags, went through customs and found the shuttle, it was close to 11 pm. Once on the shuttle I heard my name, “Eydie!” Turns out it was Esther, a District Governor from San Francisco! They had come on a completely different flight but we ended up on the same shuttle!
Winding through the streets of Korea was quite the experience. After being in quiet, peaceful Uganda it was difficult to be faced with the night life of Korea. We went through a downtown area that had signs lit up like Times Square. It was so busy even at the midnight hour. It was hard to see even where we were. We finally arrived at my hotel around 12:30 am.
Waking up the next morning I was finally able to see where I was. Hallelujah, I am right across the street from the convention center (and a Starbucks!) I love when everything is within walking distance. We seem to be more in a financial district than in a downtown area. I ventured over to the convention center the next day. Everything from the International Night Show tonight (Saturday) to the plenary sessions to the registration are all in the same center! I don’t have to go too far for anything.
I still have a cold and a cough. I found a pharmacy less than a block away. It is interesting to go into a pharmacy overseas. You tell them what is wrong and they give you over the counter medicine that is all in a different language. I have had to trust that what I am taking for my cold is ok! I have no fever, just the pesky cough and running nose. These are the times I long for a Target! Ha!
There must be a new name for what I am experiencing. Normally when I return to the United States from Uganda I deal with reverse culture shock. Those around me when I return have seen how I need to stay low and quiet for about a week in order to re-adjust. But to come to a completely different culture has been very difficult. The pace is fast & the language barrier is interesting, I have spent much time in my room the past 2 days after venturing out in the morning. Supermarket shopping is a very interesting experience. It is kind of like going through Costco with all of the vendors trying to get you to sample their food. But imagine it intensified three fold! It is crazy. The first day I wandered through a department store that had all of the high end brand stores that you would see on Rodeo Drive in California. Seemed so strange again after having been in Uganda. Prices and the value of their money (WON) is very similar to the United States. But it is hard to walk up to look at anything because the people walk right with you to help.
I actually had a problem in a local bank with an American who I think did not know I spoke English. He began talking saying unkind things to me. So I ended up back in my room to lay low and rest. My cold really has taken a toll. I have had to sleep some during the day in order to be well this weekend.
Spending 4 weeks in Uganda not watching TV was great. Now that I am in Korea I have turned the TV on just to see what is playing. It has been fun to watch the Korean commercials and some of the shows. The day I had the problem in the bank, I came back and found Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian on TV! It actually helped to watch it. There are a couple of channels in English with Korean subtitles. There is also CNN so I can keep up with what is going on in the world. Seems like they like NCIS too as that is playing over and over.
I met some nice Lions from Kauai on my first day out of the room! They were at breakfast and I saw their Lions vests with Kauai on it. Turns out they know my Aunty Maryanne who was the former Mayor of Kauai! We have quickly become friends! They said the next time I am in Kauai they want to have me speak at their club!
I have seen a few friends since arriving. Tonight at 6:30 pm is the International Night Show. This is where I expect to see most of my friends for the first time. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are the start of the Plenary Sessions. According to the schedule I work from 10 am- 1:30 pm approximately each day. Please be in prayer for me that I would be well as I work. I heard today that there are 55,000 Lions registered for this convention, largest ever. That does not include visitors! Wow!
So in the midst of loud voices and the fast pace, I am finding solace in my little room! I have heard from the team as well as they are adjusting back to American life. Please keep them in your prayers. Pray for my home in Uganda as we are dealing with a slight staff change just for a few months. Pastor Gerald is helping us out which we are so thankful for.
I appreciate your prayers for the next few days. I fly home on Wednesday! It will be good to get back home with family & friends!