Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!!

Daniel and I saw 2009 quite a bit sooner than almost all of you. So far, it's a good year. :-)

New Year's is good for reflecting on things past and hoping for things to come... I've been doing quite a bit of that over the last day or so. Somehow, being in a totally foreign country gives you a completely new perspective on things.

Daniel and I have been married about 3 1/2 years now. In that time, we've had quite a bit of ups and downs. Some of the "downs" were (in no particular order) my Momma's death, the loss of Daniel's grandfather, some pretty rough medical issues and surgery, moving farther away from everyone and everything than we had ever imagined, and some tough times financially. Some of the "ups" were (again, no particular order) getting super close to Daniel's parents (emotionally and physically---a 700-sqare-foot apartment with four adults is nothing to laugh at), Daniel's sister getting married, the surgeries working well, good jobs, good friends, our marriage getting stronger, and moving to the other side of the world.

When I look at everything that happened just in 2008, it's hard to believe. In such a short time, our lives changed drastically a few different times. We moved with Daniel's parents from the apartment to a gorgeous house, I had three different jobs (fifth grade teaching, daycare, and South Korea), Daniel graduated college--YEAH BUDDY!!!!, and we've moved into the future (14 hours ahead of the east coast).

I am so grateful that God has blessed us in so many ways. We have had unexpected blessings time and time again. We have had amazing friendships and a wonderful church family. My health is 100%. We have family that is just phenomenal. We have so many things to be thankful for! :-)

When I think about everything we left behind--family, friends, good jobs, warm weather, etc--I get so upset. I can't even imagine why I would ever move so far away from everything I hold near and dear. But then I think about how many times God has come through for us. He has ALWAYS been there--even in the most unexpected of ways. Sometimes I can't see the good that could come out of leaving everything behind. However, I know that His plans are GOOD. I know that we are here for a reason. I am so grateful for this opportunity.

Please know that I miss you all more than you could imagine. But also know that we are truly doing well--we know this is exactly where God intended us to be, and that this was never a surprise to Him. We are here to be a blessing to others, to learn so much, and to be blessed along the way. I don't know exactly where our lives will be headed in the next year or so, and I know that it might be rough at times. But I do know that we will be just fine, even in the bad times.

God is here, and He knows what He's doing.

Jeremiah 29:11.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fun times!

We are having so much fun so far in South Korea! Daniel and I are getting situated, making friends, and exploring our neighborhood. It's awesome!

We went out with Cedrick today. He had so much fun getting put on random things and standing in the freezing cold snow!! :-)
Cedrick by Lake Yeongnangho.
Cedrick chillin in some snow--literally. Ha ha!
Cedrick on a sign. Look at those gorgeous mountains!!!
Cedrick's on a sign again!
Cedrick even had time to make a snowman!!!
Cedrick and me by the lake.
Cedrick and Daniel... :-) What handsome men! ;-)
Last night, we went to a party at Toni's... She's a pretty cool chick.
Daniel, me, and Toni. Check out the bling on my glasses! Whoa! ;-)

My lovely husband.

Jenga!!!! I rock that game! :-)

Friday, December 26, 2008

getting to work after a blizzard = fun!!!

(sorry for the length of this post, it is worth reading though . . .)

My time to work these past couple of days has been rather interesting to say the least.
I was waiting at the corner and there were about 500 million people waiting there as well . . . and they kept on coming! (because of the snow storm) The bus came and a ton of people got on and there still were a lot of people waiting. People were making the turn down the street/hill where we live and they were coming very close to hitting people, it was SCARY! Then I realized that everyone was walking down the street (against the flow of traffic) to get in front of me to catch any of the cabs! So I started walking and got in front of some people and FINALLY talked to a cabbie. He told me NO! the next cabbie pantomimed to me that I needed to catch a taxi on the other side of the street since he was headed in the opposite direction. So I crossed the street and waited. And I waited, and I waited. I was seriously getting worried (45 minutes of waiting) when an suv stopped and asked if I was going to sokcho! Now for those of you who don’t know . . . the city I live in is Sokcho! It was an suv filled with people that I thought looked like the people I worked with so I got in! seriously, I got in to a car filled with people who I thought possibly maybe looked like the people I worked with. After a couple of minutes of being in the car I realized that I didn’t fully ask them if they were going to my school, and I started to doubt weather or not I worked with these people! I started to freak out a little bit. I thought that the car was headed the right way, but at the same time I had no clue, and the doubts about the people started to creep in to my assurance that we were going the right way to school! At this point the anxiety and stress started to build, and I started to get really uncomfortable with my current predicament. (all this while we were driving down streets where at best there was a solid inch of ice covering the roads at best, and at worst 8 inches of SOLID ICE or so in hilly and mountainess sokcho). We let one person out and kept driving. Then as we were driving the driver spotted someone he recognized and offered her a ride. When she turned her head I realized that she was one of the ladies that I work with in the English department at school! We continued our drive to school, all anxiety now gone, and I got to school safe and sound.
Everyone parked at the bottom of the hill leading to my school. There was a truck trying to get up the hill and it wasn’t working that well. He was pretty much going backwards. . . eek!

That was tuesday . . .
Now for wednesdays adventure . . .

I saw how hard it was to catch a cab on wednesday:
(i wish that picture was true!)

so I left for work even earlier and gave myself well over an hour to get to work. I woke up thinking that I am going to outsmart the weather and the taxis and get to work, not just on time, but get to work early. I leave the apartment at 7:40 with a sense of pride. (I start at 9) I get to the main intersection and start looking for a taxi. I wave some down, but they all have people in them. Then I see Tova walking to work. She left 20 minutes after me! We say hi, and she realizes that I am going to be waiting a while to get to work.
(side note: I would normally ride a bike to work, that is going to be my primary source of transportation to and from work, but with the blizzard leaving at least 3 feet of snow there is NO WAY that I can bike. There are buses that go close to my school, but I don’t know which ones which only leaves a taxi to get me to and from work)
I am waiting and waiting, the whole time almost getting hit by cars, buses and bulldozers (no joke) when a car stops and a women gets out. I HAFTA BE THE LUCKIEST MAN ALIVE! The women who gets out is one of the teachers at my school and she recognized me. She asked if I was waiting for the bus, and I said I was waiting for a taxi or a bus, just something to get me to the school! She said that there were quite a few students from my school waiting for the bus so she asked one of them how long he had been waiting, he said 45 minutes! I thought I had it bad since I was waiting for 35 minutes! He said that he called his parents and his parents were going to drive him to work and offered us both a ride! Seriously, I could not be luckier! (Tova said I should play the lotto!)
Then when I got to work I had to walk up the steep icy hill to get to the school. All the schoolboys, who were lucky to get there, were hanging out of the windows watching everyone walking up the hill. When someone would slip or fall you would hear them cheering! Ode to be 15 again, cause I would be doing the same thing!
So that’s been getting to work in snowy icy Sokcho. I am hoping that I figure out a better way to get to work then gambling on a ride from strangers!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

merry christmas!!!!!

wow. . . christmas this year is very very different! last year we were in sunny florida, we cooked a large christmas dinner, and we were surrounded by family. As much as we love this years christmas it just isn't the same. last year we had a mini (1.5 feet) fake christmas tree and this year we had this: (which stands at a whopping 4 inches and is awesome by the way!)
we had a nativity scene, and this year we had to go mini:
last year we attended church with thousands of people, and this year we attended church on-line, just the two of us with about 50 other "virtual" people.
and that's where the rubber hits the road. as much as we have family and friends who are amazing, it is just the two of us. we don't have family a couple hours away (or two feet away like this past year and a half!) we don't have food that we are accustomed to, all we have is each other. in a sense that is really sad, and depressing (to be honest) but at the same time its a refreshing and reassuring sense of what has bought tova and i together, that all we need is each other, and that God really bought us together and bought us here for a reason.
then we think of all the people that we love, and who love us, who are supporting us through this crazy journey and it helps us to get through times when we are sad to be so far away.
so this christmas, as much as everything is different there are a few things that remain the same
1: our love for each other (which is stronger than ever)
2: the love of our family (which they have shown us has depths that we never thought possible)
3: the love of our friends (we have AMAZING friends)
4: and ultimately no truer words were spoken then the words spoken by the great philosopher linus:
"and there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field keeping watch over their flock by night and lo the angel of the lord came upon them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were sore afraid and the angel said unto them 'fear not for behold i bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people for unto you is born this day in the city of david a Savior which is Christ the Lord and this shall be a sign unto you ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger' and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying 'glory to God in the highest and on earth peace good will toward men'"
so to everyone that we love and care so much about (which is everyone who is reading this and then some) merry christmas!!!!
(ps tommorow will be a funnier post of how i got to work on tues and wed after the storm!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stolen pictures...

I soooo wish I was able to take pictures like these! I stole them from another English teacher in Korea. His shots of today's snow are AMAZING!! (I really hope he doesn't mind!)

Until we get a camera, I have to steal! :-(

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Daniel and I just got a free day to work around the house and plan for school... Yay!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

How awesome is my family???

Look at the amazing detail...


Little Flower:

So cute! They're going to be doing some online dating once we get our digital camera from Dad... Should be fun!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008


we are moving today! we are pretty excited!

here is a quick run down of the apartment which tova has yet to see.

1: it is in a 15 year old building, but the inside was just refurbished not to long ago.

2: its on the 15th floor

3: it has wonderful views of the mountains AND the east sea

4: its furnished, with almost everything (if not everything) in the apartment being only 1 year old

5: its a one bedroom apartment, but has 2 offices

6: it has its own washing maching

7: it has a tv, sofa, microwave toaster combo (NOT JOKING!), rice cooker, a 2 burner countertop burner (they dont have ovens) dining room table and chairs, a bike for me (daniel) to take to work, bed, fridge, water purifier, did i mention wonderful views?

ultimatley, its going to be AWESOME!!!! the people who lived there before took really good care of the place and we are going to be really comfortable. the kitchen is probably the smallest we've ever had, but its going to be really nice! we are looking forward to it.

we may or may not be able to get internet right away. there is some paperwork that needed to get filled out and we dont know if it was turned in in time. if it was we should have immediate internet, if not then probably monday? they set up the internet fast here.

next week is when the rubber really hits the road for tova and I. i will finally be getting my own desk and chairs in my new office (shared office space) i wont be doing lessons until next monday, but i will use all my time next week to prepare for the following week. it will be during supplemental times so i wont have as many students so i can eeze my way into things. i also have to set up lessons for the english speaking teachers as well. i dont know how many i have to do, or what to cover, so next week will be good in trying to nail down those details as well.

well, its moving, unpacking, shopping, and trying to figure out how to get to our jobs from our apartment for this weekend. should be exciting!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dinner tonight...

We tried the green onion pancake tonight, this time specifying NO seafood! We had a chicken strip meal kinda deal, a green onion pancake, and a coke. It was not all we'd hoped and dreamed, although at least there wasn't any octopus!!!

When unsure of a language, writing it down and showing the waiter is a surefire fallback! I wrote it at work, then we tried it out on the waiter. He was very relieved to see that we were prepared tonight, since the last one was a total failure!

Ready for your Hangul lesson of the day?

닭고기 튀계 주세요 -- fried chicken, please

파잔 해울 넣지 마세요 주셰요 -- green onion pancake NO SEAFOOD, please

하나 Cola 주세요 -- one Coke, please

There! Now you're ready for a night out sans octopus.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Last night (Wednesday night)

It's 7:30 am here, which means it's 4:30 pm (and still Wednesday!) for most of you. It's really strange to not even be on the same day as everyone we miss!!
Last night, we had a very nice dinner with all of the EPIK teachers and their Korean co-teachers. It was at a fancy hotel. It was a "Western-style" meal, which meant we used forks (strangely enough, the fork felt awkward!) and had a salad at the beginning of the meal. On the buffet table were supposedly Western items like sushi, fried rice, and many Korean side dishes. (Come to think of it, maybe it was supposed to be a mix... The only Western thing was the salad, though!)
The supervisors in the Ministry of Education put on this dinner, and one of them gave a very nice talk at the beginning (translated by a Korean teacher). It was a lovely evening. :-)
I'm sure, like my need for a fork, the craving for Western food will go away in time. Right now though, it's pretty painful! Korean food seems to be much healthier in many ways, but Koreans place high value on being able to eat like a fiend. They "love big eaters"! (Our coteachers told us this on our first night.)
Yesterday at school was great. Daniel got a half day, so he left school around 1 o'clock. Pretty sure he didn't do much, other than going through lesson ideas. My day was equally as exciting--I sat at my desk till around 10 then ate a Korean snack (VERY interesting). Then I sat at my desk till 11:40 then ate a Korean lunch in the cafeteria. Then I sat at my desk till 2 then drank Korean sugar coffee (YUM!!). Then I sat at my desk till 3:30 then went to two classes with the teacher I'm replacing.
It was sooooo funny! The girls were AMAZED at me and did lots of "OOOOO"s and "AAAAA"s. It was so cute! Then I walked around to talk to the girls while they were doing projects. Every time I talked to a girl, she would laugh! I asked C about this, and she said they're nervous because they're not used to the way I talk.
I think I'm really going to like it here. I have some HUGE shoes to fill--C is amazing, and very much loved and respected here. I hope I can live up to the expectations everyone at the school has for me! I leave for work again in an hour--I don't think I get to observe any classes, but I do get to go to EMart to help buy supplies for lessons tomorrow. Should be fun!
Have a great day. Daniel and I miss y'all so much!!!
(My wonderful father is sending D and I a battery for the camera, so expect pictures starting next week!!!)

Monday, December 15, 2008

1st day of school

so yesterday was our first day of school!

we are in a transitional period in the schools on two fronts:

1: the teachers we are replacing are still in the schools and,

2: its testing time, which means the kids don't have classes and just have tests all day

so we went in and met our respective vice-principals and principals. story of the day:

my principal asked where i was from, and i said florida

he asked where i went to university and i said greenville illinois

he asked me why i traveled so far to go to university, and i said that i was born in chicago

my principal said "i know chicago, obama from chicago"

no matter your personal feelings obama has definitley captured lots of peoples imagination.

we then learned about our placements some more, tova met her students (they were really excited and called her mrs. america!), mine were testing.

then we drove to get our alien registration cards. its really interesting to think of us as aliens:

apparantley we cant get anything done without it, so its pretty important. we then checked out cell phones. we are probably going to get cell phones since they only cost 15 bucks a month.

then we tried to go out to eat by ourselves. we ordered what i thought was a green onion pancake. but instead it came with all kinds of sea food, which i am not a fan of. octopus legs and other things were on top of it, and i couldnt eat it :-/ at the very least we also ordered fried chicken and it was very good.

all in all pretty interesting day, learned a lot, and knew new ways to order food!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Things I will never get used to...

1) Hotel rooms with shower rooms. There is no curtain on the shower, the walls are made of stone, and the floor has a drain in it. It's designed to be a super-steam shower, but because it's winter and there's no heat in the bathroom, it stays ridiculously dripping wet and cold. It was kinda cool at first to have a sauna and shower at the same time, but now I'm just tired of the toilet paper being soaked.

2) Heated floors. You can't put much on them! Electronics would get zapped!
3) The time difference. Okay, maybe I will get used to that, but around 4 pm, I start getting ridiculously tired, despite having slept a full eight hours the night before. Tired to the point of getting nauseous and dizzy. Please, dear jet lag, go away!
4) How amazingly awesome it is that we're ACTUALLY in South Korea!!!!! Who would EVER have guessed that Daniel and I, the super-scheduled, super-old, super-predictable people would move halfway across the world?? I love it!
5) Korean game shows. Enough said?
Today's been a really nice day. We bought some gifts for our coteachers, vice principals, and principals at E-Mart. We had lunch at Popeye's that was REALLY gross (a cold chicken cordon bleu sandwich??). We got our computer stuff organized.
It's been fun!
Have a great week!!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

first full day

so yesterday was the first full day in sokcho! i dont think that tova and i have had a day like yesterday in a looooooooong time.

first things first we didnt set an alarm, and just woke up whenever we felt like it. (tova actually slept longer than i did! first time EVER! not kidding) then we did absolutely NOTHING!!!!

the floor is heated so we used that to our advantage and dried our clothes on the floor.

at around noon, we got an unexpected visit from one of the teachers in our area and the english speaking teacher who is our go between to help us with anything we need. we felt bad that we didnt invite them in to our hotel room, but we had all of our clothes spread all over the floor where you couldnt walk without walking on our clothes!

we then got geared up to go out for a walk. here is a picture of what is right outside our hotel:

we are not kidding when we say that we actually walked on that path! we walked around and checked out some of the sights. then. . . big news. . . . are you sitting down . . .
WE BOUGHT AN IRON!!!!!! i know, its hard to believe! all of our clothing is so wrinkled from being packed and then getting wet, it was an investment we had to make :-p we went to the local hi-mart (think best buy without the cd's) and got to use our very very very rudimentary korean.

we then went home and got geared up to go out to eat with our district coordinator and some of the teachers in the area. when we got to the place it was very different from the other places we have eaten, it had a table and chairs. the other places had very low tables and you sat on the floor.

then people started to pour in! we didnt realize how many english speaking people are in this area. they all seem really nice, and supportive, and had nothing bad to say about the area.

after hanging out and talking for a while, we left and went back to our apt (almost getting lost, thankfully we have the tower as a reference point)

we will be moving in to our place in friday (we think) they told us the apartment has a wonderful view of the mountains AND OCEAN!!!!!

when we get settled we will update you!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

In Sokcho...

...which is pronounced soak-cho.
Wow. Daniel and I are in Korea. It's been AMAZING so far! We're staying at a hotel for the next week. There was a mix up in when we were starting and when the teachers we're replacing are leaving, so basically we get a "free" week to stay in a nice hotel and look around. On the 19th, we move into our apartment and start teaching high school soon after.
Things I've learned:
1) Airport people really don't care about your luggage at all. They don't really mind if ALL of your things get soaked, leaving you to take everything out and leave it on hotel floors to dry. What fun! :-) Thank God for heated floors.
2) There are much fewer English-speaking Koreans than what I'd thought. There are much fewer English signs than I'd thought. There are many ways to get frustrated.
3) Korea is far more beautiful than ANY pictures have shown. The mountains, the lakes, the ocean, it's indescribable!!!!! We're going walking today to explore some of the scenery.
4) Korean food is amazing. It's sometimes delicious, sometimes ridiculously hot, sometimes gross, but always amazing. I have tried things I never thought I'd try! I learned last night that "Koreans love big eaters", and that even if I'm stuffed I have to eat until everyone is done. That was a painful lesson!
5) Koreans are so welcoming!! They've been so nice to us!!!
Daniel and I will meet our respective principals and see our respective schools on Monday. Each Guest English Teacher (GET) is paired with a Korean English Teacher as coteachers when they arrive. Daniel and I met our coteachers last night. Daniel works with a guy at a boys' high school and I work with his wife at the girls' high school. They're roughly our age, just had a baby a year ago, and are the sweetest people EVER!!! I think this is really going to work out well. Hopefully we'll be getting paid soon so we can live off more than bread, water, and bananas. :-) Oh, and Goober Grape, which is apparantley "America's favorite". :-) I miss you all, and I can't wait to send pictures once we get settled in our apartment and get the camera set up!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


We are officially leaving on this CRAZY adventure tomorrow at 4 a.m. Our plane takes off from Jacksonville at 7:30, takes us to Atlanta, then we fly straight to South Korea.

It should be exciting! We are mostly ready...

We are taking a special guest with us on our trip. His name is Cedrick, and he will be the star of some pictures. Cedrick was Daniel's birthday gift for me this year to take with us. :-)

Here's Cedrick beside a Panera fruit and yogurt parfait and a Starbucks sleeve.

(by they way, this might be the last post for a bit as we don't know when we will have the internet. have no fear though, we WILL be traveling and having fun!)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Goodbyes stink.
So, because I'm sad, here's a picture just for fun.

I'm going to miss you all! Even though I may not see many of you on a regular basis, it FEELS different. I am so grateful for all of the absolutely amazing family and friends that Daniel and I have in our lives. Thank you so much for everything!!!!!!

in virginia

so here are a list of states that we have visited in a whirl-wind tour of family and friends:
1: florida
2: georgia
3: tennesse
4: kentucky
5: illinois
6: south carolina
7: north carolina
8: virginia

in all we are going to be traveling over 5,000 in just 9 days. crazy? yes. necessary . . . yes

tova and i both had our last days at our jobs. said good bye to a lot of people that we are going to miss A LOT!!!

i was thinking that i am not all that excited. in all honesty i am way too busy to be happy. way too many things that are on my mind that need to get done. this is also shared with me being sad. part defense mechanism, part reality. if i dont think about missing everyone, then it won't hurt right? :-(

anyways . . . we are chilling in virginia, then tommorow its driving back down to jaksonville, but making a stop in south carolina , and a stop in ponte vedra to see people before getting to my house seeing my 'rents and sister and brother-in-law.

busy busy busy, should get everything done :-p

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

We're actually going...

It's sinking in. By this time next week, we will be on the plane to South Korea.

This is a strange feeling. Very surreal! Daniel and I have moved away from people before. I know it's going to be just fine. Really, you won't be able to tell much difference. I can't see people as much as I'd like, and will probably see them just as many times when we're in Korea.

I have so many things to miss. I have a GREAT relationship with people at work. I love the kids I work with--I'm going to be a wreck tomorrow! I will miss my Jacksonville friends so much. I'll miss my church and the sweet kids there. I will so miss my family too!

Even that doesn't seem as tough as I'd expected. Getting used to a whole new country just seems daunting right now.

As stressed and as sad as I am, I am almost equally excited. I can't WAIT for this new adventure! I can't wait to learn more about a new culture, grow as a teacher, and be independent. I am so excited! Most of the people Daniel and I have talked to about this have been super excited--some of them even jealous! It's going to be fun.

All in all, I'm really excited. I can't wait until Daniel and I can post FROM Korea with pictures and information about our new life.

Thank you all for coming with us on this adventure.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

back in jax

so tova and i finished our 1st tour of the u.s. after 2320 miles (not inluding the 1000 miles we put on the other car since we drove up both cars)
we got to see quite a few people, drove a ton, but it wasnt too stressful and we got some rest!
we got our visas yesterday and they are LAME!!!! all it is is a sticker. . . yes a sticker. not all that cool. i was hoping for something cooler, but thats one less thing to worry about. we are buying our plane tickets today, it looks like we are leaving the tenth at 7:30 am!

we are hoping to get everything done by tommorow (unlikely) so that we can semi-kinda-sorta-pseudo-not really-relax before we head on out. the cool thing is that we are going to be going to the zoo with my sister and brother in law. nothing says good times like going to the zoo acting like a kid and giving a gorilla a noogie:

or saving my sister from a killer anaconda:

or wrestling an alligator:

or feeding lorakeets:

or surviving their vicious attacks (natalie, you know its true)

now, if you look closely, the bird drew blood! but the zoo is fun, and that's all for my ridiculous post of the day. for more serious posts i leave that to tova!