Our group assembled at the First Korean United Methodist Church in Herndon, VA on Wednesday morning and at 9:30 a.m. three vans carrying 40 pastors and their luggage departed for Dulles airport.
Our flight left on time at 1:30 p.m. and about 14 hours later we landed at the Incheon airport. After clearing customs and retrieving our luggage, we were welcomed by four pastors on staff at Bupyeong Methodist Church. We arrived in Korea at 4:30 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. back in Virginia).
One bit of sad news to report, one of our clergy with a passport from another country did not have the required visa to allow him entrance into the country. As we boarded the bus to leave the airport, a prayer was offered for our clergy friend. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of Bishop Cho and Rev. Won Un, a temporary visa was denied and our colleague was sent back to the United States.
Our first stop after a 45 minute drive in rush hour traffic was in Bucheon to enjoy a nice dinner in a restaurant at a local shopping mall. Our pastor hosts reminded us during our ride that in Korea due to over population, cities must make efficient use of space. All buildings tend to have many floors in order to accommodate the residential and commercial needs of the people.
The mall was five stories tall with many of the shops you would expect in a typical mall in Virginia — clothing stores, fast food, sit-down restaurants, movie theater, electronics, etc. We enjoyed a nice meal and boarded the bus for Bupyeong Methodist Church.
When we arrived, we were greeted by members of the church who applauded as we entered the building. This was quite unexpected but greatly appreciated. What followed was a time of radical hospitality as the senior pastor, Rev. Eun Pa Hong, led a time of orientation and welcome. The staff and lay members went out of there way to make us feel welcomed in their church and country. It was truly something I will never forget.
At 9:00 p.m local time, we went to our rooms to settle in for the night. We had all been awake for about 28 hours by this time and looked forward to the rest.
Well, it is Friday morning here and we are being called to breakfast. I hope you will check back here again for the latest updates.