Wednesday, October 5, 2011

IEC retreat and Cosmos festival

On Sunday we had church as usual and my friend Kyle decided to join me. It was her first time there and I hope she didn't get overwhelmed. After church we usually just go to lunch or something, but this weekend was a 3 day weekend (we get Monday off for liberation day or something) so the church decided to have a family retreat.

After church we loaded up in cars and a church van and drove out to a pension on the other side of the lake. I had never been that far from the city within Jinju limits. I had no idea that the lake was as big as it is either. There are actually 2 dams and we went past the second one to get to the pension. It is basically a large house, split into multiple rooms. The bottom floor housed the single guys, the top floor had rooms for families and a room for the single ladies (all the single ladies). I wasn't staying the night, so I didn't bring anything, but a fair amount of people did stay. The house was above the lake with a really nice view. It was surrounded by trees, so you can't really see how nice it was in pictures.
View from the porch of the pension. Told you there were lots of trees blocking the view.
Persimmon tree grove on the opposite side of the pension. They kind of look like tomatoes on a tree. I do not care for them (at least not the larger variety that you eat in the summer).
View of the orchard and the roof of the pension on the start of our walk to the festival.
We had some snacks made by one of the women who also just stayed for the day, Katie. Her husband works for Lockheed Martin and they've been in Korea for a few years now. They have 2 younger kids (a teenage boy and a girl who I think is around 8). She made sugar cookies and hummus - both of which were awesome. Then the group went on a short walk to a huge field filled with flowers for the Cosmos Festival.

I am pretty sure Korea has more festivals (especially for random things) than anywhere else. This looked like someone's backyard and they had a bunch of flowers so were like, screw it, let's have a festival. I had never heard of cosmos before, but they are basically like the wildflowers growing in the middle of the highway. When we got to the festival, first you had to walk through a tunnel with hanging vegetables. They looked like zucchini, but according to the Koreans in our group, they are called sponge gourd. (After doing some research, I found out that they are luffa. or loofah plants that actually make sponges). According to our group, they are good for the throat.
Ilani and Kyle standing in front of the sponge gourd tunnel with some statues.
Hanging gourds. There were some random ones that looked like butternut squash and some that looked like little pumpkins too.
Most of the group who went to the festival. This was about half the people who went to the pension.
Long tunnel full of luffa.

After walking through the tunnel, you come out into a huge field filled with flowers - all cosmos of various colors. It was almost like a corn maze - you could walk through the flowers and get lost in some sections. There were a few areas where the flowers were over my head. Kyle and I walked all around the field and missed the group picture, but it was worth it for the walk. We only stayed for around 45 minutes, but it was enough to get to see everything.
Me with a statue before walking into the flower fields
Me in the flowers
Fields of cosmos
We had a discussion about how they are really pretty weeds and that calling it the weed festival would probably have attracted a totally different type of crowd.
When we came back from the walk, the Koreans made dinner and we talked for awhile. Then we had dinner - bbq pork, bulgogi, ham and hotdogs. They also had salad and vegetables that we dipped in leftover hummus. After dinner we cleaned up and went upstairs for a devotional meeting and to talk. After that we ate grapes and Korean pears and drank coffee.
Almost the whole group who went on the retreat. The man in front of me is one of the Korean church deacons. The white couple in the front bottom corner are Brandon and Jamie.
Then we played some games. A large group went downstairs because they didn't want to play, and the rest (about 12 people) were split into 2 teams. Jamie had designed and borrowed some "Minute to Win it" type games and we did 14 (I think) of them. Some groups required the whole group; others just needed 1-2 members. I did 2 solo games - one where I had to blow a ping pong ball across the floor into a cup (I won) and won where I had to "fish" for paper clips using a "rod" made out of chopsticks and another paperclip that I held in my teeth (lost a close one). Our team ended up winning by 2 but everyone had a lot of fun.
Me versus Lance at ping pong blowing
After games we talked for about another hour and then Brandon drove a group of 5 girls home. It was a very fun time and I'm glad I decided to go to the retreat instead of drinking with my usual group of friends. I would have had fun either way, but I really enjoy spending time with the people who were at the retreat and I don't often do that outside of church.

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