Friday, July 06, 2007

West Texas Karate Kids

Have I mentioned that I have been training in Tae Kwon Do? Jeremiah and I started training together in April. It has been a lot of fun. We are both Yellow belts now, having passed our Orange and Yellow tests. For our tests, there are 3 parts. The first part is Poomse. We must demonstrate the required forms (Jeremiah is 2 forms ahead already. I'm having to slow him down so he can remember which one he will test on!). We must also demonstrate proper form on kicks, stances, and punches as part of the forms.
The second part is called Gyoroogi. In the second part, we spar to show proficiency in fighting. It was funny because for my sparring match I sparred a man 4 belts higher than me. Grand Master Sang Kim thought it would be funny to let us spar for longer than normal...needless to say that I could barely move afterwards! I held my own very well. It wasn't a win, but I could have been destroyed and wasn't. Jeremiah LOVES to spar. He sees it as a fun competition/game. Most of the kids he has sparred are higher belts, but they take it too seriously and end up crying. The other kids see it as a fight (usually) and take it very seriously. Jeremiah sees it as two friends playing together by reigning blows down upon each other. It's so much fun to watch him because he is just loving it. He spends too much time watching me to see if I'm watching, though...oh well.
The third part of the test is called Kyuk Pha, or breaking. And it's simply that: breaking boards with your hands and feet. During our last test, Jeremiah and I had to use our hands. He didn't do so well with his hand. He hit it and it didn't break, so the blow was absorbed by his knuckles. After that, he didn't hit the board hard any more. I had to break two boards, and actually moved the instructor (I hit the wood off-center and knocked the instructor into the wall). My wood didn't break, either, but my knuckle felt like it broke. We both ended up using our feet to break the wood. I learned my lesson, though, and will be successful next time.
In the mean time, two great things have happened. One is that Jeremiah and I are sharing a hobby that we both greatly enjoy. The second is that I have built a relationship with the Grand Master, Sang Kim. He was the US Olympic TKD coach in 1984 and again in 2000. He has great influence in the TKD world and among the Koreans of our area. We've been working with his wife on her English skills, and I have been working on his TKD web site. He has given me the title of Spiritual Advisor to the dojang. Last month I had the opportunity to lead 14 students to Christ. It was pretty awesome. Be praying for us as we continue to build relationships there. Pray for more opportunities to share and see people come to Christ. Pray for our knuckles!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Life On The River

So, we're running the Rio Grande River just Southwest of Taos, New Mexico, in a section of the river called The Box. I've split the youth group into two boats, a guy's boat and a girl's boat. And it turns out that I am in the girl's boat with our 8th grade girls. As we approach the next set of rapids called Power Lines, our guide informs us that this is a Class 4 rapid. Now, if you didn't know, rapids can have a grade of 1 - 6. A Class one section of river is just a smooth flowing easy ride. Class 6 is unraftable. Our guide, Tony, is telling us about how we're going to set up for the steepest drop on the river. It drops 18' over the course of about 100 feet, and is a funnel that we have to slip through or we'll high side (get squished agains a huge rock where the water will trap us and we'll be stuck). We've worked all morning on listening to our guides commands and being able to work as a team. We're setting up to slip into the channel when all the other girls freak out and lean in instead of digging in and rowing forward as the guide commaneded. I, on the other hand, dig in with my paddle and steer us off course because I am the only one paddling. We smash the big rock, take on a huge wave, get slammed into the other side, and out I go. That's right! Out I go into a Class 4 rapid. I emerge from the 35 degree water and assume the white water rescue float (feet first on your back looking for the raft or the shore. I see both, but neither are close, so I just ride it out to the screams and yells of the folks still in the raft. They were no longer working their way through the rapid even though the guide was still barking commands. My exit from the boat distracted the team from the task at hand. Eventually, I see an Eddy (a still place on the shore where the water is not flowing) and manage to float into it. All is well, and I'll soon be back in the raft. But there were a couple of spiritual moments for me (aside from begging God to spare my life!) that happened along the river following the "incident," as we now call it. The first is that it's vital to follow the commands of the guide, just as it is vital for us to follow the commands of The Guide. Doing so can be the difference between being in the raft, in the water, or in even greater peril. There's no guarantee that we would have navigated the rocks successfully. We can look back though and see that we stood a better chance had we been doing what the guide wanted. That thought brought me to another thought...I was doing what the guide commanded us to do, but the rest of the team wasn't. The result could have been much worse. As the Body of Christ, we need to all be attentive to the commands of The Guide so that the team doesn't suffer. Yes, it's important to get team members back into the raft, but not to the detriment of the mission. As Jesus talked to His Disciples in Luke 15, he talked about some lost things that were sought after by the owners (sheep, coin, and son). If our team doesn't keep it's focus on the mission, we can become real busy trying to keep the 99 in the boat and miss the mission of our lives. So, that was my rafting trip epiphany. Listen to The Guide and stay focused on the mission. It was a timely message for the Bishop Family as we dig into the summer duldrums of collegetown, USA. Listen to The Guide and stay focused on the mission. Everything else will be fine. Peace, Jase