Tuesday, December 5, 2017

African Christmas Joy

Advent and Christmas greetings!
My church in Toronto is a very diverse church where people from many different cultures make home and enjoy each other's company. We are celebrating the season of Advent and Christmas each Sunday in December with various cultural flavors. Our members from Africa presented their music, dance, stories and food on the first Sunday (Dec 3). What a great joy and blessing! 
It was one of the best Sundays I have ever had. Next Sunday will be led by our members from Asia. The members from the Caribbeans and the Latin America will lead the following Sunday. I am looking forward to each celebration this year. 

아프리카 출신 교우들이 주일 예배를 인도했다. 아프리카의 흥겨운 노래와 춤, 크리스마스 스토리, 그리고 전통음식. 정말 신나고 즐거운 예배시간이었다. 아프리카의 뜨거운 열정이 그립다.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

My friend and elder James Nyawuto Sr.

My friend James Nyawuto passed away on Aug 5th in Accra, Ghana. He was one of the elders in the church and a good friend of mine for the past 12 years. I flew to Accra and led the funeral service for him Sept 22.
Here is a memorial for the late James Nyawuto Sr.

Elder James Daniel Kwame Nyawuto was born in Togo, West Africa in 1941.  He and his family later moved to Accra, Ghana where he spent his formative years. He enjoyed his life there and spoke fondly of his upbringing.
But he was adventuresome.  He applied and was accepted as a student at McGill University in 1963 and graduated in 1967.  His father died during his third year but he continued his studies supported by his mother, Rose. He was very close with his mother of whom he spoke very fondly.  
James became a Canadian citizen in 1974 and he worked in Canada until his return to Ghana in 1976. During those early years in Canada he began to attend University Presbyterian Church and became active in church activities as well as the Ghanaian community.
He returned to Canada in 1992, leaving behind his wife Patience and only son, James Jr. James renewed his membership and activities in University Presbyterian Church and he was delighted to sponsor to Canada his son, James Jr., who is himself this September enrolled in the Master of Divinity Program at Knox College, U of T !
James was a genuine, sincere and faithful Christian who loved the Lord Jesus Christ. To that end he was a tireless church and community volunteer.  He was inducted as Elder into the University Presbyterian Church Session in 2007.  During these last 10 years, he served as Treasurer at a pivotal time in the life of the church and was a Chair of the Property Committee.  He loved Christian music and raised his bass voice as a longtime member of the UPC choir.
James was nominated and served at first as Alternate and as Representative Elder to the Presbytery of West Toronto, a post he held for nearly 5 years.  Despite his failing health, he faithfully attended, often using the TTC even in inclement weather to attend general and committee meetings and seminars.

At the same time, he became the Tenant Representative for his Toronto Community Housing building.  His crowning achievement was advocating with the City constantly until the City finally agreed to the beautification of the entire driveway and grounds of his building so improving the morale of all residents.  
James was a principled man and he stood for what he believed in, no matter the outcome. He would not “side with the crowd” because it would be popular to do so nor “bend to the wind” whenever issues he believed in were concerned.  His “Yes” was “Yes” and his “No” was “No” and this came after thoughtful soul searching.
James’s life embodied the scripture “Love your neighbor as thyself.” This compelled him to invite many to UPC who still are members of UPC.  He helped many in difficulty with advice, money, goods and support. For those reasons, he was loved by many.
Despite a worsening of his serious illness, James continued to participate as best he could in church and community activities.  Against all odds and advice and with his belief in life everlasting and faith that God was with him, he travelled to Ghana alone a number of times to be with friends and family.  It was there, that James, just as he was about to fly back to Canada, became gravely ill and passed away peacefully in his home Country of Ghana with his family near. 
And God said welcome “good and faithful servant”

May the Lord Bless him with eternal life.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

My Camino Day 31 (final day)

Day 31(final day): Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela (20 km)

I started the day with mixed emotions. “Yes today is the last day and I will finally be in Satiago de Compostela in 6 hours.” I was happy to finish the walk and yet sad to end my whole journey. I entered the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral square with Joy and other pilgrims whose names I don’t know. Once I sat and lied down in the middle of the square I realized that I don't have to walk again tomorrow. It will be a new and different day. 

After spending some time in the square Joy and I went to the pilgrims office to get the last stamp on the pilgrims passport and the Compostela (certificate). The stamped pilgrim’s passport (Credencial del Peregrino) is proof that you have walked more than the 100 km necessary to obtain the certificate. I had more than 30 stamps on my pilgrims passport; each stamp from every albergue I stayed in on the way.  

There was a long line up (1-2 hours waiting) at the office. I looked for my pilgrims passport inside my backpack but could not find it. I searched every where in panic but my Camino passport was nowhere to be found. I realized I might have left it at the first cafe on the way where I had breakfast. (maybe in the bathroom). I asked one of the staff at the pilgrim’s office to contact the café. He tried but no one was picking up the call…

I went to a small chapel next to the office and sat down on the pew. I closed my eyes and prayed to God offering thanksgiving for every walk I have walked since a month ago. “Receiving the certificate was never a purpose of my journey.  I lost my pilgrims passport with all the stamps but it does not matter. My Camino is in my heart.”  I was completely fine after the prayer.  

I stayed at albergue Seminario Menor in a single ROOM (not a bed)! It was really nice to be able to spread out my belongings  

Next day: I got up 5:30 am in order to pack and get ready for a morning flight. Guess what I found as I was reorganizing things in the backpack. “The Camino Passport!” It had been hidden behind the sunscreen lotion in the top pocket. “My pilgrims passport was lost but now is found” I laughed  God is funny.  At the airport, while waiting for the flight Joy drew the last stamp on my Camino passport for me. 

I thank God for everything: my backpack, shoes and socks, poles, all my family, friends & church members praying for me, my Camino friends, and my God. There will be more stories to come from my Camino experience.  Buen Camino!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My Camino Day 29 & 30

Day 29 Palas de Rei to Ribadiso (26 km) 
Day 30 Ribadiso to Pedrouzo (23 km)

Day 29: “Don’t try to take an easy way. Just follow the signs, accept whatever path is before you, take the challenge and walk  it.” This is what I said to Joy when she asked “why don’t we take a taxi to the next town. It will only take  20 minutes to Ribadiso by taxi instead of 7 hours!” It sounds like a plan. However, that is not the Camino. The young pilgrims in my team sent their backpacks by carrier service to Ribadiso. Each paid 3 euros for the service. They walked without the backpacks today.

Most pilgrims on the Camino carry their backpacks whether it’s just a small one or a big one. You throw all your stuff in this one backpack and carry it to the next destination.  To me carrying my own backpack is important. The backpack is my responsibility and the challenge I need to take to get myself to the next point in my life. Now I feel that my backpack becomes a part of myself and I don’t want to take an easy way out of this challenge.

I hope and pray that all my family members, friends, members of my church and community may gladly carry their responsibilities and face the challenges to the next level of their journey as faithful pilgrims. 

Day 30: In the morning I asked Joy to carry her backpack and challenge herself to see how far she could endure. I knew that she had an ankle problem since yesterday. I used my beloved duct tape to make an ankle support for her.  She continued walking with one flip flop on and finished her walk today. Carrying her backpack all day!  I am glad that she did it. Buen Camino. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

My Camino Day 27 & 28

Day 27 Sarria to Portomarin (22 km) 
Day 28 Portomarin to Palas de Rei (25 km)

The young and new pilgrims got up so early. 5 am! Maybe they could not sleep well last night because it was their first night sleeping at the albergue. Sharing the room and bunk beds with new people must have affected their sleep quality.   We started walking around 6 am. It was a 37 degree day but they walked really well. They had no problem walking 22 km on the first day!

My backpack was so heavy with extra stuff Joy brought from Toronto: running shoes, camera kit, and some instant food. We walked 6 hours today. Tomorrow will be another 37 degree day. 

On their second day of walking the young  pilgrims had a difficult time. It was certainly a very different day from yesterday. I tried to give them as many stops as possible but walking with their heavy backpacks was too much for them. And unfortunately, everyone except Chaereen had an upset stomach from the dinner last night. Poor kids.. At the end of the day all of them decided to send their backpacks to the next town for tomorrow. We stopped at a private albergue in Palas de Rei. The evening sun was so hot that we could not go to bed until after 11 pm. 

Today’s walk was all about my new team. The whole dynamic has changed. I now have to consider them as I plan for tomorrow. It’s an interesting experience to walk as a team. It reminds me that we are individuals living in community.  Three more days until Santiago. Buen Camino!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

My Camino Day 25 & 26

Day 25 O’Cebreiro to Triacastela (21 km) 
Day 26 Triacastela to Sarria (19 km)

In Triacastela, I found a quiet albergue with a small but nice kitchen. So I decided to cook my own meal today. I went to the market and bought a small bag of rice produced in Italy,  Japanese soy sauce,  tabasco sauce, onions & green pepper, eggs, pork ribs, and morcilla (I still don't know what this is). I made steamed rice with egg for lunch and stir fried pork & onion for dinner. It was delicious!! I have been missing a spicy food. The tabasco sauce provided sufficient hot spice for me.  I am going to carry the tabasco sauce and the Japanese soy sauce in my backpack. The food I eat each meal time during the Camino always makes me happy and satisfied. It's something I have never experienced before. Do you give thanks for your daily food?

Today (day 26) I woke up early because I was excited about seeing my daughter Joy and my nephew Jee-Hoon, and nieces Jee-Young and Chaereen in Sarria. Joy is my oldest daughter finishing high school. She is going to study architectural science at Ryerson Univ in Toronto from September. Chaereen is from California who just finished her second year at University of Pennsylvania. Jee-Young and Jee-Hoon live in South Korea. Both of them are studying at Yon-Sei University in Seoul. Jee-Hoon finished his masters program in psychology; Jee-Young in her third year in economics.   

Back in January this year, as I was planning for my Camino I invited them to join me to walk the Camino as a fundraiser for the Jane Finch Reaching Up building project. They accepted my invitation and flew from Toronto, California, and Seoul Korea. 

I arrived in Sarria an hour ahead of my planned schedule. I must have been walking so fast today. I had lunch at one of the restaurants in the town center, found an albergue right next to the restaurant and waited for them. They took a train from Madrid and arrived in Sarria around 1:30 pm. And finally we met! It was so nice to see them, my family. 

I am so privileged to receive support and prayers from my family; both my side and Lydia’s. I give special thanks and praises to God for all my family members. They are always in support of my work and ministry and pray for me everyday! Buen Camino!

Friday, June 23, 2017

My Camino Day 23 & 24

Day 23: Molinaseca to Villafranca (32 km). 
Day 24: Villafranca to O’Cebreiro (29 km)

I began to walk at 6:40 am and took a short cut to Ponferrada only to get lost in this relatively large town (pop 69,000). I had to ask three different people for directions and  finally found other pilgrims who started walking much later than I. (I won't take another short cut) 

I was met with a thunderstorm on the way but it cleared up later in the afternoon. I was exhausted after walking 32 km today. I usually walk the best for the first 2 hours passing everyone. However after the first 2 hours I was  passed by everyone. 

I arrived at an albergue in Villafranca around 4 pm just to be told they were full so I went to another one which turned out to be one of the best albergues. No bunk beds!!!   First time in 23 nights I am sleeping in a single bed

I met Chris from Bulgaria, a young man who just finished high school and is walking the Camino before he starts university in September.  I was impressed by his deep thoughts and knowledge.   I love it when young people are not afraid of challenges and become adventurous. I want my kids to travel the world with their backpacks and experience all different cultures, traditions and people when they finish high school. That’s why I bought a backpack and a pair of hiking shoes for Joy’s graduation. I plan to do the same for my other girls, Jane and Jubilee. Three more days until I see Joy and my nephew Jee-Hoon and nieces Jee-Young and Chaereen in Sarria. They must have arrived in Madrid today. 

On day 24, the last 6  km to O’Cebreiro was the toughest hike I have ever done in my life. The hot temperature and the steep slope gave my knees a lot of trouble. However when I reached the top, the view was unbelievable. I am so glad I came this far! Buen Camino. 

My Camino Day 22

Day 22: Rabanal to Molinaseca (26 km)

La Cruz de Ferro..  I have been carrying a small stone since the first day  of the Camino. The stone represents my church, Jane Finch Reaching Up, family, friends, and the Jane and Finch community.  It was given by Jessie, my dear friend & sister in Christ, an elder at UPC.  This small stone is all the prayers, wishes, hopes, and dreams of all people I know.. 

I placed it at the foot of the cross, La Cruz de Ferro, a cross built at the highest point in the Camino..
After placing it there I prayed for all my friends and family. It was a very hot but  joyful day because of this spiritual connection that I have with them.

Love you all, UPC and Jane and Finch. Buen Camino!  

My Camino Day 20 & 21

Day 20: Villar de Mazarife to Astorga (31.5 km) 
Day 21: Astorga to Rabanal (20.6 km)

One of the best experiences of walking the Camino is meeting wonderful people on the journey. I get to meet new people everyday and learn a lot from them. Today I got up so early at 5 am, went downstairs for packing and saw a lady doing her routine stretching. She is AJ from Minnesota. I followed her and thanked her for the stretching tips.

When I stopped for breakfast I met Chiara, a 20 year old girl from Germany. I shared my story and work. She asked whether she could come to Toronto and help with the Jane Finch summer camp as a volunteer. I told her that she can stay at my house.  We also talked about faith and God. I hope she felt the presence of God and is open to God’s leading for her life.

On my way to Rabanal I met Carlos again! He is suffering from multiple blisters. Carlos and I shared a bunk bed on the second day of the Camino. He does not speak English at all. I don’t speak Italian at all. But it does not matter. We can still communicate.

As soon as I arrived in Rabanal around 12:30 pm I left my backpack along with many other backpacks in a long lineup for a bed at the Gaucelmo albergue. This popular albergue operated by a church takes only 40 pilgrims each day. I was number 29. I attended a special meeting with one of the priests serving at the church. I had a blessed time learning all about the spiritual significance of the Camino. The main message was that the purpose of walking the Camino is to meet Jesus through the life and work of St. James. 

Yes, it’s a spiritual walk each day for me. I should never forget that. Buen Camino!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

My Camino Day 18 & 19

Day 18: Reliegos to Leon (26 km)
Day 19: Leon to Villar de Mazarife (22 km)

Again I am walking the way alone today.  There is something very special in walking alone in the open field as the sun rises. I feel the wonder and mystery of God. 

On my way leaving Leon I met a Korean couple who were giving bottled water, snacks, coffee, and cup noodles to all the pilgrims walking in the morning.  Mr. and Mrs. Lee have taken two weeks off to come all the way from Seoul, Korea to the streets of Leon. The only purpose is to serve the Camino pilgrims in the name of God. 

Mr. Lee was diabetes. He lost his eye sight because of it. However he wanted to move on and live his life sharing God’s love. He is grateful that he can do something for others in God’s love. What a beautiful life..  I received a cup noodle and enjoyed it very much in the evening.

Brother and sister let me serve you..  Yes, we are pilgrims helping each other.  Buen Camino!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

My Camino Day 17

My Camino Day 17: Moratinos to Reliegos (42 km)

In the early morning I met Walter from Italy. He is a retired medical doctor who walks the Camino every year. He told me that he walked 52 km to Burgos in one day!  He does not even use trekking poles. After the conversation with Walter I had this urge to challenge myself to walk an extra distance today. So I did really push myself hard and set a record of 42km. The best part was walking on the Meseta during the hottest time of the day (2 -5 pm). For almost 3 hours I did not see anyone at all. I finally finished the walk to Reliegos, checked in at the albergue around 5 pm, and passed out. It was a tough day physically but the best day mentally. Although I once regretted the decision, I am glad I did take the extra mile.  Thank God. Buen Camino!

My Camino Day 16

My Camino Day 16: Carrion to Moratinos (29 km)

Today’s walk from Carrion to Moratinos was peaceful. I chose to stop at Moratinos because it was a very small town. Only five people stayed here. I shared a room with four people I have never met before. It’s always interesting to meet new people. Thank you Lord for today! Buen Camino.

Friday, June 9, 2017

My Camino Day 15

My Camino Day 15: Boadilla to Carrion (26 km)

I woke up at 5:30 am and left the albergue in Boadilla at 6:35 am. It was a bit chilly but a beautiful morning. I heard many birds singing different songs. I was walking alone but never felt lonely. 
Yesterday's Camino blue's gone. God comforted my heart and encouraged me by showing all the beautiful flowers, trees, sky, and singing birds!

When I arrived in Carrion I found a good albergue run by a church in the village. To my surprise Augustinian nuns led a singing time for the pilgrims at the albergue. It was a lifting time for me. My soul was quenched by the Spirit.  I shared my story with others and prayed for a lady who was walking the Camino for her son who died five years ago. Today was her last day of her Camino. 

The songs were very touching and inspiring. I attended a prayer service for the pilgrims and received God’s blessing and anointing later in the evening. What a joy to worship God together. God is good. Buen Camino!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

My Camino Day 13 & 14

My Camino Day 13: Burgos to Hontanas ( 32 km)
My Camino Day 14: Hontanas to Boadilla (27 km)


I left the albergue 6 am, ready to walk again after an one day rest in Burgos. I filled my medicine bag with different kinds of compeed, antibiotic cream, antiseptic ointment, and more band-aids. I also bought a new sunscreen lotion. All for the famous walking in the Meseta region.  The Meseta is the section between Burgos and Astorga (180 km), flat plains on the plateau of central Spain known for heat and heat and heat... Some people skip that part. My friend Noel who walked the Camino last year strongly suggested that I should not skip the Meseta at all and buy enough supplies before leaving Burgos. That's what I did. 

I walked 32 km to Hontanas. The next day from Hontanas to Boailla (27 km). I was lucky to have wind and rain which I prefer to scorching heat. On the day 14 during my walk from Hontanas to Boadilla I experienced the Camino blue. I felt down and lost appetite. They say the Camino blue is a part of the Camino. I had a community dinner with other pilgrims. Although I could not enjoy the meal as I would like to, I thank God for daily food. Buen Camino!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

My Camino Day 12

My Camino Day 12: Burgos:  a Rest Day

I took a bus to Burgos, a relatively big town, found a municipal albergue and took a rest to take care of my feet today. I should be able to hit the road tomorrow. Here is my daily routine.

I get up 5:30 am in the morning.  I wash up, pack up, fill my two water bottles and hit the road by 6:30 am. I walk between 1.5 or 2 hours before taking a breakfast break. If I can find a café I stop for a coffee and either tortilla or croissant. I spend 15-20 minutes for the breakfast break and then I walk another 2 hours before a break for snacks. I become so hungry that I need to stop for snacks. I eat fruit or peanuts and drink enough water. 

I continue walking until stopping for lunch between 1- 2 in the afternoon. For the first week I had a very light lunch to save money but now I eat a full lunch because I need real food to maintain energy in my body. After lunch I walk the final stretch to reach the destination, my albergue before it is full. When I arrive at the albergue, I check in, pay the fee (5-10 euros), and go to my assigned bed. They assign a bed number for me at each albergue. I was given the top bunk bed 11 times out of 12 nights so far. Now I am more comfortable sleeping on the top bunk bed. 

I leave my backpack by the bedside and settle down a little bit.  I take a shower, wash my clothes, hang them outside (I am so glad that I brought 8 clothes pins), and take a nap for about an hour. When I get up from the nap around 4-5 pm I work on my daily video clip. 

Some people asked me how I make the video clips for my blog. Here is how I do it.  I use my phone to take pictures and video shots, edit them on the phone to make a video clip and upload it to YouTube and my blog. It takes only 20-25 minutes to do all this each day and I use only my phone and a selfie stick that I borrowed from my second daughter, Jane. (It’s very handy and easy to carry. Fits in the side pocket on the belt) I usually take 20-30 pictures each day and use 10-20 of them for the video clips. I save them on my phone and upload them to my blog whenever there is strong wifi available. I sometimes go 2-4 days without a good wifi signal. 

I eat dinner around 7 pm. Most of the time I eat the pilgrims’ menu either at the albergue I am staying or at a local restaurant. The pilgrims’ menu is a set dinner for the Camino walkers. The price is 10 euro. I originally planned to cook my own meal every evening but decided not to because it’s taking too much time. I spend the rest of day in reflecting and praying before going to bed around 10 pm. 

This is how I spend each day while walking the Camino. It’s simple but meaningful. I am enjoying this simplicity as I pray for my church and the Jane Finch community. Buen Camino!

Monday, June 5, 2017

My Camino Day 11

My Camino Day 11: Santo Domingo to Belorado (21 km)

I got up and started walking at 5:30 am. The blister on my right foot was not getting better in the morning so I decided to start the day early and walk very slowly. It was another beautiful journey with gorgeous morning sunlight and quiet wind. I thought about my relationship with God a lot today as I endured the pain on my right foot. A fellow pilgrim once asked me one of the most common questions we have: why does God allow pain in our lives? How would you answer that?

When I finally arrived at Belorado and settled down at the small but cozy albergue I learned that  I would need to take care of my foot in order to finish the Camino. So I got rid of my ego and decided to take a rest day tomorrow in Burgos. That means I need to catch a bus to Burgos in the morning and won't be able to see all my fellow pilgrims whom I met on the first day in Orrison. I will be one or two days ahead of them and they will not be able to catch up to me. I hope to connect with them one day in the future, but for now I am praying for God's blessings for each one of them: Reiko, Jan, Sam, Marilyn. Buen Camino!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

My Camino Day 10

My Camino Day 10: Najera to Santo Domingo (21km)

I was the last person to leave the albergue in Najera because I didn't think I was able to walk today due to the infected blisters. I checked bus schedules to the next town and went to a pharmacy for antibiotic cream and some supplies. However I decided to walk instead and I did. 
The scenery was so beautiful and I met some wonderful people on the road. A couple from the Netherlands was making a heart by the sign post. That was their prayer for all the pilgrims.
Buen Camino! 

My Camino Day 9

My Camino Day 9: Logrono to Najera (31 km)

I walked the longest distance today. I somehow missed the main route and took a side route to Najera which added an extra 2 km.  As I began the walk this morning I asked God to show me something beautiful so that I could be released from all the bad things from yesterday. God did show me many beautiful things on the way. Thanks and praises to God! 
Buen Camino!

Monday, May 29, 2017

My Camino Day 8

My Camino Day 8: Torres del Rio to Logrono (22 km)

Rain, Bed bug bites, and Blisters!  It was raining with thunder all day. The bed bug bites became more irritating. And the blisters under my right foot got more severe. I was soaked, bitten and blistered! BUT NOT defeated. I dried all my clothes, sleeping bag and backpack in a hot dryer machine over an hour to kill any bed bugs, went to the pharmacy to buy a spray to cover my body, and purchased a needle/thread kit and a patch to deal with the blisters. I will not be defeated! Buen Camino! 

My Camino Day 7

My Camino Day 7: Estella to Torres del Rio (29 km)

What a day!!! It was a very long, exhausting, and depressing day. Yesterday, I was very happy with the albergue but this morning I discovered many bug bites all over my body. I thought they were just mosquito bites because the window was open all night. Six other people who shared the room with me did not get any bite, just me!...

When I arrived in Los Arcos (about 21 km walk) I could not find any bed. The albergues were full. So I had to walk 8 km to the next town, Torres del Rio. When I left Los Arcos I forgot to refill my water bottles! Walking in the hot afternoon for 8 km without water was not fun at all. I almost died. And the bites from the last night became very itchy and swollen. So this night, I am suspicious...  One of the biggest fears that I have.. Bed bugs!  God help me..  Buen Camino

My Camino Day 6

My Camino Day 6: Puente la Reina to Estella (21.8 km)

A lot has happened at the Puente la Reina albergue  over night. I couldn't sleep well because the heat. Many young people stayed up late drinking. I didn't like the albergue. I stayed here because of the price ( 5 Euros) which I regretted. And  guess what? This morning, twelve pilgrims who stayed at the same albergue discovered that their personal belongings including phones, cash, and wallet, were stolen! I still do not know how it happened. I asked them to make a written report to the police. Everyone got up around 5 am because of this unfortunate incident. When I arrived in Estella I found a better and a more expensive albergue  (13 Euro). It was clean and quiet. I am satisfied and look forward to having a nice sleep tonight.  Buen Camino!

My Camino Day 5

My Camino Day 5: Pamplona to Puente la Reina (23 km)

It was a very hot day. 36 degrees! I pushed myself through the hot day and made it to Puente la Reina.
One of the most  famous stops for all pilgrims is the Alto de Perdon. ( the high place of forgiveness). The early Christian pilgrims believed that their sins would be  forgiven as they reached this place on the mountain. Today, it's a must stop for pictures.  Buen Camino!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

My Camino Day 4

My Camino Day 4: Zubiri to Pamplona (22.8 km)

I have not had Internet connection for the past two days until now. So I decided to take advantage of the WiFi service at the albergue Jesus and Maria in Pamplona, uploading three posts at the same time.
This one is the last and the most fresh post, Day 4. Yes, that's today. It was 32 degrees in the afternoon and I was cooked. Today's Camino was the most challenging walk. At the end of the day I was so exhausted that I just lied on my top bunk bed. I prefer the lower bed but have no choice. The receptionist assigns  the bed number to each pilgrim who enters the door. I was assigned the top bed two nights in a row. I have no complains at all because I constantly remind myself that I am on a pilgrimage. Buen Camino!

My Camino Day 3

My Camino Day 3  Roncesvalles to Zubiri. ( 21.5 km)

Today was the hardest so far. The road from Roncesvalles to Zubiri has continuous uphills and downhill. Going downhill was way harder than going up. I saw several pilgrims get injured coming downhill. One guy almost broke his nose when he fell. A lady slipped and cut her face. Another man sprained one of his ankles. All these happened when they were walking the last downhill road to Zubiri. 
What is the lesson for me?  
 "So. if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall"    
(1 Corinthians 10:12)
Buen Camino!

My Camino Day 2

My Camino day 2 Orrison to Roncesvalles (19 km)

I crossed the Pyrenees mountains (French and Spanish border) to Roncesvalles today. What a beautiful walk! This route is known for steep uphills and downhills through the mountains. It was drizzling and foggy all morning hours while climbing up. Once I reached the top ridge above the clouds I could finally see the sunshine that created an unbelievably beautiful and  picturesque scenery. The clouds and moisture were temporary once you rise above them! I need to say, it was not an easy walk when the visibility is about 5 meters. However when I hiked up through it, there was a wonderful gift waiting for me: the beauty of God’s creation. 

We all have storms in our lives, which continuously beat against us. We are hard pressed and depressed. However at the end of the storm we face this moment and  something beautiful welcome us with a bright sunshine. It will beat our expectations. Buen Camino! 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My Camino Day 1

Day 1 Saint Jean Pied de Port to Orisson (8 km)

Should I go all the way to Roncesvalles or stop at Orisson? I could not decide until this morning. My original plan was to walk to Roncesvalles (27km), which was considered the hardest part of the Camino. When in Toronto,  Jan and others who had walked the Camino before advised me to take it easy and stop at Orisson (8 km). I finally made my mind to take a short walk for the first day of the Camino. I left SJPDP around 9 am. It was a steep uphill walk from the start and I was very glad that I listened to Jan’s wisdom. It was a strenuous but a beautiful walk. 

I met many pilgrims on the way and was surprised by how easy it is to become friends on the road. I arrived at the albergue Orisson before noon! After a pate sandwich for my lunch I washed my clothes and laid in my bed for a bit.  The albergue was full! (approx 60 people). During dinner time everyone got to introduce themselves. They are from Germany, Italy, South Korea, Japan, France, India, USA, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Swiss,  and Canada! It reminds me of the Jane and Finch community. Diversity is a gift from God. No matter where you are from, every person deserves God’s love. Buen Camino!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

My Camino Fear Two

My friend, Yong Beom brought the insect repellent.
 Another fear that I have while preparing to walk the Camino are bed bugs. I hate to be bitten by any bug. My skin is sensitive and can become very itchy by any bug bite. I have heard many horror stories about bed bugs from other pilgrims and that makes me worry a lot!

I did some research about bed bugs and learned that I just need to pray more before I go to sleep and be cautious. As a part of prevention I asked a friend of mine who lives in the USA and was on his way to see me in Toronto the week before my departure, to bring a Sawyer brand permethrin to treat my backpack and sleeping bag. This is the brand of permethrin many people recommend which I could not find in Canada. I sprayed the backpack and the sleeping bag inside out. It dried very quickly without leaving a chemical smell. They are good for a month against any bed bug intrusion into my vulnerable skin. 

It's my prayer and hope that in the name of God all bed bugs will never touch my skin! 

벌레 물리는 것을 나는 아주 싫어한다. 다른 또 하나의 걱정은 순례자 숙소에 가끔 출몰하는 빈대? (Bed bugs) 이다. 침낭과 배낭에 일단 방어벽을 쳐 놨지만 기도 많이 해야겠다.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Camino Fear One

As I prepare myself for the Camino I confess that I have worries that I have not yet told anyone. My biggest fear is that I might have to give up the Walk because of my foot pain. Five months ago I was diagnosed with 'Freiberg Foot Disease'. I had had pain in the front bottom of my left foot for many years, and I did not think seriously of it. The pain near the head of the second metatarsal became severe so finally I had to see a specialist last December.

He told me that it's Freiberg infraction, a rare disease most commonly seen in teenage girls. It surprised me because I am not a teenage girl! Soon I learned that my love for soccer and golf over twenty years caused repeated microfractures on the left foot and as a result I have this Freiberg disease. Now the pain can get severe enough that I cannot walk on hard ground without supporting cushion in the shoes. 

I told my specialist that I was going to walk the Camino in five months so he should fix my foot for me. He told me to learn some skills to treat the pain and live with it. He recommended a rocker-bottom shoes for me to wear all the time which I have not done so far. I have planned to walk the Camino for many years and  I cannot give it up now because of this foot disease. I am going to use an anti-inflammatory gel and take pills and see how it's going to work. As long as I can endure the pain I should be fine. 

BUT still, I confess my biggest fear at this moment is giving up the walking due to the pain on my left foot.

왼발바닥 통증이 가장 큰 걱정이 된다. 통증을 이겨낼 수 있기를 소원해 본다.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My Final Packing List

my ultimate packing items 

My final packing list is here! It's the most updated version of the  items I am packing completed just two hours before my departure from home! 😄
1st row (from left):
Casual shorts (for sleeping),  2 t-shirts (with Jane Finch Reaching Up logo), poncho ($5 from Canadian Tire), water bottle, 2 dry-fit towels & bandana (my daughters laughted at me wearing it), 2 socks (I am going to wear toed linen socks underneath Marino wools, absolutely no cotton)
2nd row: 
2 hiking sticks (I purchased these right after I suffered from the first practice walk, unfortunately I never used them because I didn't do the second practice walk. I will learn how to use them when I start the Camino walk), hat (waterproof), scruba (what in the world is scruba?? It's a bag for washing clothes), toiletries, sleeping bag.

3rd row: 
Swimming trunks, camera, 2 underwear, selfie stick, Jan's cross & Jessie's stone (Jessie, a church member, gave me the stone to carry during the Camino. I didn't ask other church members for stones because I don't want to carry 10 pounds of stones 😉), phone charger & adapter, fork-spoon, duck tape, sunglasses, rubbing gel, sunscreen lotion.

4th row: 
Wind jacket, pen, hand made insole (I used my favourite duck tape to create a unique insole for my feet), sleepers, 45 L backpack. 

Not in the picture: Hiking boots, 2 pants (zippers), Sweater, passport, iPhone. 

최소의 물품으로 배낭을 꾸렸다. 집을 떠나기 두 시간 전에 작성한 물품 리스트인데 한 두가지 더 빼야 할 것같다.

               my final packing items   

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Camino for Hope

 My Camino is for the children and youth in the Jane Finch community. Toronto is one of the largest multicultural societies in the world, and its diversity is especially apparent in the Jane and Finch community, whose residents comprise of 80 ethno-cultural groups, speaking 112 different languages. For decades this community has been a welcoming home to new immigrants. As with all families, people seek happiness, peace, and prosperity, and they come here with the intention of providing the best for their children.

Unfortunately, the Jane and Finch community has a reputation for being a place of crime and poverty. Many children are exposed to social and financial impoverishment, gun violence, drugs, and teenage pregnancies. This environment increases children’s likelihood to drop out of school, and it limits their ability to achieve, excel, and be heard. 

In November 2007, I formed a group called "Anti-Poverty Working Group" to develop relevant programs to help children and youth in the Jane and Finch community. In 2008, Jane Finch Reaching Up Homework school was launched, followed by its Music school a year later. A full day summer camp started in 2010. Today over 100 children and youth are participating daily homework programs and weekly music programs. Well over 80 children come to the five week summer camp during the summer break.  You can find more about their programs here. www.reachingup.ca

I will be wearing custom T-shirts during my Camino to raise awareness and support for the Jane Finch Reaching Up. At the last board meeting I was given the T-shirts!!! Jen, the chair of the board, presneted the gift to me. Blessings! 

토론토 제인핀치 지역의 청소년들을 위해서 순례의 길을 떠난다. 제인핀치 리칭업의 후원자들을 많이 만날 수 있기를 기도하며...



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Guatemala Mission Trip #2

Congratulations to you Amy and Bryan!!! Amy and Bryan who have been going out for two years are finally engaged. Bryan took Amy hiking through the jungle hoping to find a waterfall. He was looking for a very romantic place where he could propose to her. They walked for an hour. Bryan carried the guitar that he borrowed from me. The trail was so rough that the bottom of one of Bryan's shoes fell off. He could not find the waterfall but it didn't matter. He had Amy. He finally proposed to her, had a wonderful time, came back as the happiest man in the world. I am now doing pre-marital sessions with them. What a beautiful couple! They want to visit Guatemala again next year. They should! Maybe for their honeymoon? May God bless you.

교회 청년인 에이미와 브라이언이 약혼을 했다. 브라이언이 청혼을 했다 그것도 과테말라 산중에서!!!  잊을 수 없는 추억을 축복한다.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Guatemala Mission Trip #1

A team of ten members took a ten day trip to Coban, Guatemala (April 18-28). The main purpose of the trip was to help build a dormitory room for indigenous students at a local theological training school. Most of the students travel from afar to attend classes and need a place to sleep for the next day classes. They are the aboriginal people of Guatemala (the Mayans). Our team helped level the ground for the foundation of the building and participated in the ground-breaking ceremony. Although physically exhausted each day they experienced a heavenly joy of serving others.

과테말라 코반이라는 마을에서 열흘 동안 원주민 (마야) 학생들이 쉴 수 있는 기숙사 방을 짓는 일을 하고 돌아 왔다. 육체적으로 힘들었지만 모두 큰 보람과 기쁨을 느낄 수 있었던 시간..

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Can you imagine what your life and purpose would be like if death were the end and there is nothing beyond? Good Friday is not the end. Before His resurrection, the cross was known only as an instrument of horrible death, rough wood soaked with human blood. So terrible was this form of execution that the Roman Empire prohibited the crucifixion of Roman citizens. 
When people saw the cross on the mountain Calvary 2000 years ago, they saw despair, suffering, pain, brokenness... and that was the end. 

Easter reveals the ONE BIG BLESSING for me. It is the NEW LIFE that I have in Christ. I took the Good Friday painting home and painted an Easter hope found in the resurrection of Jesus. Happy Easter!

십자가에서 모든 것이 다 끝났다면 정말로 슬플 것이다. 하지만 부활이 있다. 소망과 기쁨의 삶으로 바뀌였다. 

Good Friday Art Service

I drew on a canvas Jesus' crucifixion during the Good Friday service. Church members transferred each burden, pain, anxiety, and sins in red  unto Jesus' death on the cross. It was a symbolic but powerful moment. One sacrifice for All...  

성금요 예배중에 주님의 십자가를 그렸다. 성도들이 한 사람 한 사람씩 나와서 자신의 고통, 걱정, 죄.. 를 빨간색으로 십자가상의 주님에게 내어 드렸다. 상징적인 표현을 통해서 은혜 충만을 경험할 수 있었다.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Practice Walk #1

I survived!!!  Buen Camino Jane Finch! 
I left my house at 7:05 am for my first practice walk. The goal was to walk 25 km with my 8 kg backpack. I have never walked that long in a day in my life. The start was great! I really enjoyed the walking for the first 10 minutes. I was ambitious, energetic, and cheerful. The backpack felt very light. It didn't feel like 8 kg at all. Maybe 0.8 kg??  but that didn't last long. I started to feel the weight after 30 minutes in the walk and it became heavier and heavier as time went by. By the time I got home after 9 hours and 30 minutes the backpack became 80 kg! I literally felt it. 

My legs and feet were killing me for almost 8 hours and I became a very different person at the end of the walk. It was a very humbling walk. I learned some lessons.

One) The backpack was way too heavy. I will need to get rid of at least an additional 2 kg. 
Two) My legs and feet could not handle the 25 km walk at all. They were just embarrassing! I need to work on my leg muscles
Three) I lost confidence in myself. The pains really humbled me. I now have a great respect for every person who finished the Camino no matter what. I need to put more time in practice. 

I am grateful for the lessons. I am also glad that I managed to use only my phone to take pictures and videos and edit them on youtube. I used only my iphone for everything. It worked!!

To make it short, it was a very good practice walk that taught me a lot today.

Enjoy the video I edited in 10 minutes.
Buen Camino Jane Finch!

즐거운 마음으로 자신있게 집을 나섰는데 9시간 후에는 정말 겸손해져서 돌아 왔다. 정말 힘들었다. 그래도 여러가지 배울 수 있어서 감사했던 하루 😄😄😄