Turkey at the Haven

01 Dec 2008
Posted by Jordan
Jordan's picture

Yesterday we went to the Haven Baptist Church, a small church started in the late 1960's to minister to the Gunsan Air Base personnel (currently numbering around 5000, though the number has shrunk continuously since the war); somewhere along the line English Teachers found out about the church, and the congregation seems to be dominated by them now.

The church has no website, but they've got "hit men," so they don't really need one: one day while Marisa was standing at her bus stop waiting for the bus home a Korean man stepped up and gave her a business card for the Church. We called the number, spoke to pastor Stewart (who has been in Korea for over 30 years), and bam! on Sunday a van came by and picked us up.

The church seemed surprisingly small considering the size of the base (somewhere around 50 people I would estimate), but a nice size considering that everyone was quite friendly. We met the air base chief, as well as a number of English teachers around our age (most of them teaching at private hagwans, rather than public schools), and were invited to an English teacher Christmas party this Friday.

One of the best things about our visit was the food: aparently the congregation eats together every Sunday, and they eat stuff besides Kimchi! Don't get me wrong: I like Korean food quite a bit, but considering that it's all we eat at school, and all we can make at home due to what's available at the supermarkets, a little change is nice. This Sunday we ate "left overs" from their Thanksgiving diner; I'm not sure how much food they had originally at the diner, but if they hadn't told us we were eating left overs I never would have guessed: turkey, ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes with brown sugar... the works. After a month of kimchi, it was a bit like heaven.

Cool opportunity - it's great

Cool opportunity - it's great that you can have a Thanksgiving dinner, way out in Gunsan.

What's a hagwan? And who are these English Teachers? Are they American? Young like you guys? Have they been long in Korea? Do they eat kimchee whenever they aren't eating turkey, ham, etc.?

And do you know if there are any Korean churches in Gunsan? (Though with few foreigners, I don't suppose they would translate into English.)

Thanks for keeping the great posts coming.

That itchy feeling on the back of your head

...Is me directing concentrated envy rays at you from Chungju. At any rate, I'm glad that you've finally broken into the foreigner community---it seems that you've got a much larger ex-pat population in Gunsan than I do in Chungju, as there were more foreign people at your church service than there are in my whole city!

@Mr. Magnuson: I can make an educated guess that most of the foreigners are from Canada, and that Gunsan is full of Korean churches that would have absolutely no idea what to do if a foreigner came walking in. And a hogwon, hakwon, hagwan, hokwon, hokwan, and etc. is a private English teaching school of the type that I worked at in Japan, except that in Korea they're usually small businesses (and sometimes are kind of shady).

Hagwons, etc.

Well, Matthew pretty much answered your questions. I like how Wikipedia defines Hagwon: "a for-profit private cram school." That's basically what they are: students go to them after regular school to get more English education in smaller and better organized classes. You can make more money teaching at a Hagwon, but the price you pay in return is odd working hours (afternoon to night), and teaching a lot more classes than at a public school.

Most of the English teachers here do seem to be around our age, though there are some notable exceptions, including a couple at the church in middle life with six kids who just moved here to teach at a Hagwon. The majority of teachers are indeed form Canada, though at the church the US has the edge.