So, I’ve finally gotten to officially break in my new hiking boots and go on a proper hike. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a trip planned to go to Busan. I was able to follow through on the plan and get a lot of hiking and exploring done. Busan is definitely one of my favorite places to be in Korea. Cheonan is the closest I have ever lived to the ocean, and previously I have lived many hours away from any major bodies of water, so being able to regularly or even conveniently go to a beach is a new experience for me. Busan has some nice beaches (though, as with everything else in Korea, it can get crowded – that’s one thing I definitely won’t miss about Korea when I finally leave, the crowds everywhere I go) and lots of good hiking and restaurants. Busan isn’t terribly far away by train (about 4 to 4 1/2 hours by regular train, 2 hours by bullet train) and it has its own style compared to Seoul. It feels a lot more relaxed and easygoing and the weather generally seems to be better than up north. So yeah, I got to do a few of the many hiking trails in Busan both along the coast and in the Jangsan valley (there’s lots of mountain trails that I haven’t tried yet).
The first trail I traveled went along the coast and had some beautiful views of the ocean and forest. I took lots of really good pictures, and then got to go further up the hill (back into town) and see a few more of Busan’s many sights (including a Mystery Literature Library, though unfortunately most of the books seem to be in Korean, a sand art festival on Haeundae Beach, and an unfortunately overrated costal temple – too many people and bad transportation access).
My second trail took me through the Jangsan valley, which provided me with some gorgeous views of a river and some waterfalls. I got to do lots of off trail trekking and a bit of minor climbing and you will see the fruits of those labors in the photo album and video that I’m going to link to in just a bit. I should also take the time to mention that I got to have breakfast at a favorite Irish pub of mine (yes, they have one of those in Busan, yet another plus) both mornings I was in Busan, with bangers and mash (of course) on the first day and shepherd’s pie on the second. Anyways, the sites were beautiful and I greatly enjoyed getting to go through the valley and see all that they had to offer. As it turns out, this hiking trip was much more of an exploratory venture than a final trek, as I failed to comprehend just how many hiking trails they have in those mountains. If you’d like to see more of my Busan adventures, you can go to the photos here and the video here.
Now, for the final bit of my update: as far as pastoral-type ministry is concerned, I’ve taken a big step back towards the ministry. I’ve mentioned being a part of a small group in some of my previous posts and maybe even about how I’ve gotten to teach a few lessons, but a lot of that has been fairly light work and stuff that just needed to be done. However this last weekend I was in charge of the spiritual side of a retreat for my small group. For the past few weeks I had been working with a few friends of mine to help create and lead a retreat of rest, relaxation, and renewal for our small group; others were in charge of the logistics and organization, but I was in charge of the spiritual parts. For me, this was a huge deal, as I had to plan a prayer walk, a homily, and create an atmosphere and a tone that would impact how the weekend functioned for its participants spiritually. This level of responsibility and spiritual leadership is the closest I’ve gotten to anything “pastoral” in the last two years as far as what I do with my time and energy. Thankfully, the retreat seems to have been successful and for someone as rusty as I am, I didn’t seem to mess up anything too badly, so I’m extremely happy that I’ve been able to take these steps back towards the ministry. Given that two years ago I had a hard time even going to church I feel like I can be pretty happy with my progress on that front (being involved in a small group and church community, applied and accepted into Nazarene Theological Seminary, and taking responsibility for and being involved in the spiritual growth and mentorship of others). Anyways, that’s my update for now!