Thursday, February 26, 2009

home . . .

so sorry it's taken a while to update -- it's been busy!

here is a quick recap and we will give more details about each thing in soon to be published posts

1: last week was english camp. a select 34 students were chosen from my all-boys high school to take full days worth of different types of english classes for the whole week. it was a lot of fun!

2: the english camp lasted monday through saturday, there was an overnight friday night where there was a cooking competition, ski(r)ts, and singing

3: right after camp we had to attend orientation in another city. school begins here in march, so at the beginning of the school year they have an orientation for all new teachers. since we didn't attend an orientation we attended this one. lots of fun, many pictures, will update fully later

4: the orientation lasted until tuesday around noon, then we got home and started back to work on wednesday, where we only have 3 days to prepare for the upcoming new year. craziness. but on our way back to sokcho it got me thinking about home

home . . .

its a very interesting term. you hear a lot of times that a house is a house until someone makes it a home. the bible uses the terminology of us being a temple for God to dwell in, and kind of makes the same kind of statement when it states we aren't who we need to be until God dwells in us, also just like a home needs people in it to be a home, a building needs people to be The Church.

this term "home" has been really tough to get a handle on here in Sokcho. when we first arrived, we lived in a hotel for a week or so and knew that was temporary. when we got to the hotel room after work there wasn't a sense of calm when we went through the door.

then we moved in to an apartment. we did not choose the apartment, we didn't choose any of the furniture. the only things we brought with us were our clothes, computers and that's pretty much it.

it has been very hard to to make our apartment our home for two reasons:

1: we don't know how long we are going to be staying here in Sokcho (no esl teacher really knows!) and

2: it's hard to make a place your home when it's other people's stuff in it.

we tried to get past this feeling by rearranging some of the furniture, and getting some pictures from home. this had a really good effect on Tova. she really felt that it was becoming our home. it has been a big goal of ours to try to make it feel like home. but i still haven't had the sense that it was home

last weekend we had the aforementioned english camp followed by orientation in another city. we left our apartment friday morning and didn't return until tuesday afternoon. we've never spent a night outside of our apartment since we moved in. i was really antsy to get home because there were a lot of things to do at the apartment. i felt a tug to go home just to get things done, nothing else.

the strangest thing happened though on the bus ride home . . . as i was looking out the window as we entered Sokcho i saw the "skyline" of Sokcho, anchored by the expo tower and its weird sibling brother. i had this sense come over me that was almost like when i saw the skyline of chicago while driving from madison, or when i saw the dames point bridge driving back to jacksonville.

it hit me HARD. was/is sokcho becoming my "home"? am i feeling so comfortable here that my body feels relaxed when i see its skyline? i am still trying to comprehend these thoughts. there is/was a part of me that felt like this would never feel like "home" because i knew that it would be temporary. there was a part of me that felt like nothing so foreign (literally,figuratively, every sense of the term!) could even come close to resembling "home" but i guess in some way it feels like home.

when i got off the bus and realized where we were in the city it felt . . . right. and when i opened the apartment door it really felt like i was back "home".

someway, somehow over the past couple of months this little korean city has grabbed a piece of my heart and has claimed it all for its own. it's made me feel comfortable, it's made me feel like i can call it home.

that got me thinking about how we are supposed to feel here on earth as Christians. the Bible says as Christians we aren't supposed to feel like this (earth) is our home, we aren't supposed to get comfortable cause this really isn't home, we're moving soon, and in the end God has some pretty cool digs for us to move in to, and a Real place to really call home, and plant some roots cause we wont be moving for quite a while! (i took my own personal liberties with the exegisis, sorry) there is a pull within us that says "this is good, but there's something better" "just wait, cause 'you ain't seen nothin' yet' "

that's kind of how i am viewing Sokcho as a home now. yes it is home, but i know it isn't. i feel comfortable and all that, but i know that there is something more for me. for the time being i will love this little town and enjoy everything about it, til God calls me to another home.

now, this doesn't mean that i am staying forever, and will never leave. all i am saying is that i don't feel totally like a foreigner here. i feel somewhat accepted as part of my cities community, and i feel like i can come home, and everything will be ok. now, all i need is Charlie to great me at the door, some good arroz y gondules with extra salchichon (i know i butchered the spelling) to smell up the apartment (in a good way), that would be the final touches to home :-)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day!

Holidays in another country are interesting. You have a set pattern of what you do while you're in the States... Maybe it's Olive Garden, maybe it's getting flowers, maybe it's cookies. There are just unspoken expectations on what a holiday will look like. In Korea, we have discovered that holding expectations will only result in disappointment. We realized during Valentine's Day weekend that we need to talk through what we'd like to do on each holiday BEFORE it happens. The nice thing is it's all an adventure -- we're having a blast, no matter what we wind up doing! I think the highlight of our Valentine's Day had to be pork soup. There's a restaurant by my school that I've been trying to take Daniel to for a long time. We finally went for Valentine's Day! Pork soup is AMAZING. It's pork (on the bone) in a semi-spicy broth with onions and other vegetables. They bring out a bowl for the bones, a bowl for you to put the pork pieces in, and a sauce for dipping the pork in. It was AMAZING... Daniel wants to go for pork soup every day -- it's really that good!!!! We took more pictures of food. I know I promised to blog about something more meaningful after my last food post, but I am again blogging about food. My apologies.

This is pork soup, in all its delicious awesomeness. Yum! The pork is on the bone, but it literally falls right off when you stir the soup. Amazing!

Some of the side dishes -- the silver bowl is for the bones after you remove the pork. The green stuff is delicious -- cold, spinach-y, garlic-y. Above the green stuff is radish kimchi. It's good! Above that is Daniel's meal -- he's removing pork from the bone after taking it out of the black pork soup bowl. There's a small bowl to his right with the amazing dipping sauce. (Yes, that's a Coke. Yum!) The dish to the right of the green stuff is cabbage kimchi. It's all delicious!!!!

The silver bowl next to Daniel's black pork soup bowl is rice. Usually, unless it's a rice dish, you get a small portion of rice. Underneath that, in the small bowl, is a soy sauce for the mandu. You can see the mandu to the right of the sauce. Next to the soy sauce is something -- not sure what it was!! Underneath that is a white bowl that looks like it has nothing in it. It's actually a clear broth with ice in it -- it's a cold, bitter soup-type thing. To the left is the cabbage kimchi from earlier.

This was the biggest mandu I've ever seen. It was SO GOOD!!!!!!! There was way too much food, but it was an excellent Valentine's Day feast. Daniel wants to go get more today... :-) Not a bad idea...

Thursday, February 12, 2009


so here is a re-cap of our water fire festival experiences! it was fun!

Friday the 6th: Randomly walked right up to the opening parade!
it was quite an experience to say the least. Many people saw us as oddities which was rather interesting/cool. many photographers from newspapers (we think) took pictures of us watching the parade, and MANY of the people involved in the parade waived at us. we do stick out like sore thumbs around here!

we then walked to the festival, took in some opening ceremonies, saw a concert type thing, went to eat with friends, then went back to check it out at night. all it all, AWESOME
Saturday the 7th: we saw some of our friends pictures who stayed later than us at the festival . at the festival a giant bonfire was lit! We totally missed it. Tova and I were determined to see it before the festival was over.

Sunday the 8th. We took a circutous route around the lake to get to the festival. along the way we took a ferry across the water to get to the C-Bridge. Took manh pictures of the bridge that literally goes no where and proceeded to the festival. We arrived too late to get pictures during the day so it was at night, and we wanted to walk on the temporary dragon pier (yes they had a temporary dragon pier. when we got there the guards were kicking people off the pier. we noticed that everyone was gathering RIGHT where we were standing so we stayed put. we waited for 30 minutes, the whole time people were piling behind us now 10 deep! a HUGE light/lazer show started RIGHT IN FRONT OF US! we seriously had the best seats in the house.

after we experienced the fireworks after the lazer show we watched some women drummers and then watched them light the small bon-fire. we were experienced out, so we decided to go home and try for the big bon-fire the next day.

Monday the 9th: this time we made sure to leave in time to get to the festival to make sure we didnt miss the big bon-fire. the only reason why we went today was to see the large bon-fire. we tried to decipher the schedule of events and surmised that they would set it on fire around 9-10 o'clock. it was 3:30, we had time. we walked around a bit, walked on the temporary dragon pier and decided to get some food. we had enough time since at this time it was only 4:30. we went to the theater so we could get some hot dogs. the hot dog place was closed so i had popeyes! it was awesome. we decided to head on back to the festival and saw that people were running towards the large bonfire. it was only 6:30 at this point! we decided that we had to run as well. right when we got there they started the ceremony to light the large bonfire. WE ALMOST MISSED IT!
the drummers who had the ribbons on their heads started to march around the haybale structure. they were followed by the 2 person costumed lion that we saw in the museum. they marched in drumming and regular citizens who had torches followed them around the haybale structure. they made a large circle around the structure and slowly but surely made smaller concentric circles around the structure as more and more people with torches filed on in. there had to be at least 200 people with torches!

when they finally were done they all stopped. an announcer counted "hana, tul, set" and on 3 (set) everyone with a torch lit the structure on fire and started to RUN!!!! they ran right towards us AND PAST US!!! we almost died.
in less than a second the whole structure was up in flames and the heat was indescribable!

i started to walk back a bit since it was pretty hot when all of a sudden the structure was shedding some of its LONG embers and they started to head right towards me! we were down wind so all of it was shedding right at us! some of the embers were falling around me, and some hit my coat and neck. i almost was set on fire. the firemen came and started dousing the ground with water, so that made me feel like if, no wait, when i caught on fire they could drench me and i would be ok.
tova by this point was really scared since she lost sight of me for a bit when everyone ran away. i was scared cause i almost was set on fire and almost died AGAIN. luckily we only lost track of each other for 10 seconds or so (tova thought it was 12 years, it definitley felt that way!) then there was a fireworks show!
btw: we have video of this whole experience, but its 30 minutes long, and dont have video editing software :-(
we couldnt believe our luck over the festival. we literally stumbled upon EVERYTHING!
we are so grateful that we could experience a part of our cities culture.

we took tons of pictures, if you dont have the link to view them let me know . . .
ps: tova took all these pictures, i stink at night photography, and according to my dad i also stink at madden!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Food in South Korea

Life in South Korea is absolutely amazing. There are so many wonderful things about living here, but I think one of the best things has been getting healthier. The food here is fabulous -- always interesting, to say the least!!

Friday (Feb 6th), Daniel and I went out to dinner with some of our friends in Sokcho. We had bibimbap at a restaurant here. It's a rice dish with tons of different ingredients -- mostly veggies and seaweed -- mixed with a partially cooked (sometimes not cooked, sometimes totally cooked) egg on top. You're supposed to mix all the ingredients together and add hot pepper paste. There are also several side dishes served with the bibimbap.

It was delicious!! I've had at least three different kinds of bibimbap so far in Korea. I love them all! :-) Here are some pictures for your enjoyment:

This is the bibimbap. Here, it's served in a very fancy fashion! It was all wonderful and delicious. Sometimes, the ingredients come on top of the rice, sometimes the egg is totally uncooked, and sometimes there are different ingredients. It's always a surprise in Korea! :-) You can see a couple of side dishes above the bibimbap. The one on the top left is a sweet, mayo-ey corn and veggie mixture. The top right is a white kimchi.

Ahhh, the bibimbap spread! You can see the white kimchi and the sweet mayo-ey corn thing. To the left of the corn is regular kimchi -- I know you're jealous, JL! :-) To the left of that is a dyed fermented radish, I think. Above that is a hard-boiled egg. To the right of that, I really have no clue. The small round bowl right under that is the hot pepper paste. To the right of that is a DELICIOUS cold noodle-y thing. Yum!

To the upper right of the cold noodles is a tofu thing. Under that is a tray of three things to add to the bibimbap. Pretty sure they're different kinds of seaweed. :-) To the right of that is my Coke! Yum!

Daniel loves his bibimbap! He's stirring away!! :-)

The stirred (and mostly eaten) bibimbap.

Food (and exploring new foods) is such a huge part of our life here! Next time, I'll post on something more meaningful. Just thought you might enjoy a culinary excursion today. :-)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

temporary post (UPDATED)

so here is a quick explanation of the videos that are posted below.

we were at the water fire festival for a 2nd day (we went 3 days!) and witnessed something pretty cool.

during the water fire festival they have fires out on the lakes, there are many displays, lanterns lining the lake, and they also light these bon-fires.

we were watching a concert-type-thing and when it was over the crowd walked towards a pyramid type thing. some drummers started to walk around it, and they set it on fire.

the structure is about 10-12 feet tall, fyi. people tied ribbons, or papers along the edges, and you can see some people tying them on while the drummers are marching. we assume that they have something to do with luck.

while its on fire, you see people throwing things in to the bonfire, and those are lit candles. dont know why people were doing it, but people all around were doing it. all in all it was pretty cool.

later we will post a video of the big bonfire where we both almost died in multiple ways!

first part of the lighting ceremony:

2nd part of the ceremony:

Friday, February 6, 2009


there is a festival going on over the weekend called the water & fire festival. they burn wood in the lake to revitalize the lakes minerals.

tova and i were going to go for a long walk (ended up being over 7 miles!) and we noticed that a main intersection was closed off. we were wondering why when we looked down the road to our left and saw the festivals opening parade!!!!!!!! seriously it was awesome, and its only about 5 minutes total:

here is the 2nd video:

we will give more updates, and throw up some pictures later on today, we just HAD to put up the videos, it was SOOOOO COOOOOOOL!!!!!!!!!!

the torch at the front was the main fire for the festival, and it was awesome. sorry if it was a little shakey, i tried to keep it steady, but i was too excited!

well, its really late so i am going to go to bed, i will update more in the morning!

Monday, February 2, 2009


ok, so it looks like we are moving. not to another city, but to another apartment in Sokcho.
we dont know any other details other than our lease looks to be up. we will keep you updated.
we dont know how we are actually going to move our stuff, but then we went walking today (downright miserable, 40 degrees and rainy, lied to us :-( )
and we saw this:
aparantley sometimes when you move you hire these guys to help you:

there is a platform that goes up to the windows from the outside. then movers put your things on the platform and lowers it to movers on the gound:

it seems very efficient!

if this what happens when we move its going to be cool to watch it! we would have taken a video but it was rainy and miserable :-/

we'll keep you updated!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

vacation . . . week 1

so vacation started pretty cool with lunar new years. we went to the sokcho museum and displaced persons villiage. it looked something like this:
here we got to learn a lot about the history of our city, and then eat some traditional korean new years soup which looked like this:

the broth is very basic, the white things are rice noodles which are yummy, and the green things are seaweed. it is very good and they gave it to us for free! you cant go wrong with free :-p

it was an amazing experience to be here during lunar new year and learn more about the culture that we are living in. there were a lot of people who moved here from the north during the korean war and the museum had a displaced persons villiage which showed what the conditions were like for the people who were displaced. they lived in places that looked like this:most of the places were just single rooms, very sobering.

it was probably the coolest thing that we have done so far. we are loving our vacation and are looking forward to go on many more walks. last week we went on 3 walks? each walk was 5 miles. quite fun!

we have quite a bit of pictures. we cant put everything up on facebook or on this blog so if you want to see them just send us a note and we will send you the link.