Our first official Korean meal was quite tasty. Our boss Ryan took us out to a very nice restaurant in downtown Pyeongtaek(which was our first time to go downtown). The first thing we had was an ice-cold herbal tea with radish in it. It was very cold and unbelievably refreshing! Then me being the "lady of the house"(which is what my boss called me), was given a salad with a light yet sweet cucumber dressing. I loved it. The only utensils on the table were chopsticks and one spoon. So guess who had to learn how to use chopsticks? Grant vigorously tried to teach me how to use them. Everyone, including the waitress, got a huge kick out of my attempts to eat with chopsticks. She kept giggling at my attempts. At one point, I dropped some lettuce into my tea. The waitress was very gracious and brought me a fork after seeing me pitifully struggle to eat. I WILL learn how to use chopsticks before the year is over! I'm not going to leave SK until I do!
Then we were introduced to Korean beef. In the middle of our table, we had a grill where they put the meat down and let it cook. After it cooked, Ryan showed us what to do next. We dipped our small pieces of beef into some sea salt which made it VERY tasty! After that, we dipped our next piece of beef into a bowl that looked like soup(see picture to the left). The dip was kind of garlicky and had onions on top of it. While we were enjoying this new phenomenon, our waitress was preparing for us a piece of meat and sprouts wrapped in seaweed. This was probably one of my favorite things to eat throughout the whole meal. Grant and I also enjoyed what they call "Korean Pancakes." They are quite zesty, not sweet. They are tiny pancakes filled with vegetables and some peppers. One of our next courses included fried mushrooms which were pretty much to die for! Grant really loved the mushrooms! Next, I decided to be brave and eat some jellyfish which was definitely one of the most interesting things I have ever eaten in my life. The texture was kind of like sour-punch straw, but without the sweetness and sugar. The taste was sour and fruity all at the same time with a hint of bitterness. Suffice it to say, I did not eat another jellyfish the rest of the evening. Grant tried some, but from the look on his face I'm pretty sure he didn't enjoy it.
The next course was an actual soup with steamed rice. You're supposed to get some soup first and then with your spoon add some rice. Our boss told us that the soup was kind of hot, so I decided to take it slow the first bite. Therefore, I took two what looked like chives from the soup and added some rice and took a bite. My mouth immediately swarmed with an extreme burning sensation. What I thought had been chives was actually peppers which were very hot! The rest of the soup wasn't that hot just the pepper-chives (: For dessert, we had a divinely delicious plum tea and some grapes. Grant and I both decided that we really need to find some plum tea!
We had some great conversation and fellowship with our new boss. He is very friendly and hospitable. We got the chance to talk about his newborn baby girl who was born a month ago and his new wife. He had asked us what we had done the past two days. We got the chance to tell him everything we did. He was VERY surprised when we told him about going to church. We told him that we were Christians. He told us that he had once tried to be a Christian, but somehow it didn't workout so now he is trying to be a Buddhist. Please pray that God will work through us and that Ryan can see something different about us. Also, please pray for boldness in sharing our faith. We greatly appreciate your prayers. Much love!
Sunday morning, we decided to go to a church that we had seen in town. It was called Lighthouse Baptist Church. We did not know what to expect as we walked up the three flights of stairs to the church upstairs. We were greeted by Americans who spoke English which was very refreshing to hear. We enjoyed the message and the ole' hymnal praise and worship. It had been awhile since both of us had been to a Baptist church (since we're both non-denominational). The preacher talked about glorifying God in everything we do, and how we are called to live a life of praise. He reminded us that "whether you eat or drink or whatever you do that you can give glory to God" taken from one of my favorite verses in the Bible(1 Corinthians 10:31). The way the message was preached wasn't necessarily the style Grant and I are used to, however, the potency of the message was definitely conveyed.
After church we met some delightful people who answered many of our daunting questions about where to go for groceries, how to get a transmitter, where to eat, what to eat... The church family invited us to lunch. We ate soft tacos with some Daisy sour cream(which was a treat since they don't sell things like that in SK only on base) and some yummy brownies. I haven't had any chocolate in a few days, so I was definitely missing it and craving it (: Our new friends Dan & Patricia showed us around the square and gave us tips. Dan & Patricia both are military and live at Camp Humphrey. Dan said he has been stationed in at least 3 other countries, not counting SK, and he said that he has never felt safer in another country like he does in SK. We were definitely comforted by his words. However, he did recommend for me to stick close to my husband because of the lack of American women in the area because there are a lot of lonely American soldiers roaming the streets at night.
After a long and somewhat uncomfortable flight, we made it to our new destination! As we arrived we were cordially greeted at the airport by Mr. Kang who held a sign with our names neatly written on it. Mr. Kang, though amicable, did not speak much English, he pretty much spoke to us in two word sentences. However, we broke the language barrier through kind but swift gestures. He helped us get on the bus to Pyeongtaek, our new hometown.
We drove 2 1/2 hours to our new city. It was a very scenic ride with little, rich farms plush with crops to gargantuous buildings in Seoul. We saw familiar places like: 7-Eleven, Hooters(surprisingly), Samsung, and Subway on our way. As we finally arrived in Pyeongtaek we were met by our boss: Ryan. He picked us up and took us to our new abode. It was very dark when we arrived. We were actually very surprised when we got to our new "home sweet home" because it was a duplex that was right next to Camp Humphrey rather than an apartment next to the school(which we originally thought we would be staying in). Ryan has assured us that if we want to move to the apartment that is close to our school that it would be no hassel whatsoever. Here is a picture of our home right now: It has three bedrooms inside and is much bigger than we expected. It is still up in the air whether or not we will stay here or not. However, the decision is completely up to us which is very nice to have.
Saturday, we slept in and rested as long as possible, so that we could recover from jetlag. After waking up, we were quite famished so we decided to go find a breakfast place to eat maybe a brunch. Consequently, after walking the streets near our home, we come to find out that most Koreans don't eat breakfast. And if you do by chance find a place that serves a Korean breakfast it usually consists of cold fish, seaweed, and if you're lucky an egg. Therefore, we decided that it would be best to either buy some food for breakfast or make our own. After traversing through the winding streets, we found a convenience store called "Kosa Mart." We found the basic necessities: chocolate cereal, of course,(a kind of like Cocoa Pebbles, but spelled in Korean so I don't know the official name), milk, orange juice(which is tantalizingly amazing), and some more water.
We decided to explore our small side of the city. Pyeongtaek is huge! We walked the streets of their small town square which is directly across from Camp Humphrey, the US military base, therefore, the restaurants and shops were very much geared towards Americans. It was quite enertaining seeing the names of some of the shops. One of the shops/club/bar was named: James Dean and had a cowboy hat next to the title. We found a place to eat after finding a friendly army soldier to recommend a place called: Puffins. So we decided to give it a whirl that evening.
On our 3/4 of a mile trek back home, we came across a quaint, little playground with vivid playstations. At this playground, we noticed several unusual contraptions to the side of the play area. After messing around with the objects, we found them to be outdoor exercise equipment. It was really fun testing them out (:
The following evening, as we walked are trek down to Puffins, we saw at least ten older women working out on the machines above. It was quite shockingly humorous and very encouraging to know that somebody actually uses those machines. We are coming to learn that Koreans are very much NIGHT people. The night life is hoppin'. You go out during the early morning and early afternoon and you don't see very many Koreans. While dining at the very Americanized Puffins restaurant, Grant had some zesty enchiladas while I had some very tasty quesadillas(actually the tastiesquesadillas I've ever had). They used a ton of spices which of course I love! On top of that, I had a Mudslide drink, it was definitely up to par! The waitresses at the restaurant were so wonderful! They were trying so hard to pronounce and use their English correctly. It was quite endearing and precious! They also taught us some Korean or at least tried to teach us (;
On our way home, we stopped off at a dvd store and bought 3 dvds for $10!! They even had the movie Wall-E out, of course they were bootleg copies. We quietly jaunted home and enjoyed relaxing while watching a movie before bed. Korea has a very advanced recycling system. This picture is taken from a street recycling center where all of the recycling is divided and sorted in different bags. Jillian you would be so proud! This is the view from our front porch!
The past few weeks have been filled with moments of serenity, pandemonium, tears, giggles, stress, blessings, and many joys! We have been moving from our little "Love Shack"(our first lil' home) in DeSoto to the Boatwright Homestead, packing up all of our precious wedding gifts, getting our visas, prepping for South Korea, and going to all of our doctors check-ups. Oh yeah, I also changed my hair color to an auburn brown color! I like it, I'm still getting used to it! I think I have shocked a lot of people with the drastic change!
We have been blessed with being able to live with Grant's parents the past few weeks. They have been so encouraging and uplifting about our impending adventure! Last Friday, we got the chance to visit with some of our family and friends at a goodbye-get-together dinner at the Boatwrights.
The following Sunday, we got the huge blessing of getting to go to the Spiral Diner in Ft. Worth for some organically amazing pancakes(the best I've ever had in my whole life) and to the Kimbell Museum in Ft.Worth to see the Impressionist exhibit from Chicago. It was such a good idea that Jillian and Jonathan had! Jillian and Jonathan were so thoughtful and treated us to breakfast. Also, my mom, Jarrett and Jacob got to come with us. Some of my favorite paintings were Degas's: "Yellow Dancers" and Renoir's: "Woman at the Piano." While walking through the exhibit, I got goosebumps at seeing all of the beautiful, exquisite paintings that I had always studied and dreamed about getting to view. It was very hard to say goodbye to my family.
After going to the Kimbell, we had a delightful visit with Jabrielle, my dad, Jillian, and Jonathan. We ate some vegetarian pizza from a local Italian restaurant. It was scrumptious! It was really great getting to see Jabby for a short awhile and getting to visit with my dad. I love my family so very much no matter the distance or what happens in this life. I am going to miss them terribly. The Ragsdale Family: Jillian, Jonathan, and Isabella. Jillian also prepared a homeopathic first aid kit for us to take to Korea. She has been such a blessing throughout this whole process of going to Korea. She and Jonathan have created a wonderful green life for their family. I am proud of how she lives her life in such a healthy and organic manner. Here is her blog: http://www.ourgreennest.blogspot.com
As far as Texas goes, you can't beat the sunsets of Port Aransas! Gigi(Jillian, my big sis) and Miss Isabella! As you can see Isabella is already ordering from the menu because she is so brilliant, apparently a child prodigy!
Gettin' swimmy with Jabby! We are so silly sometimes! My poor husband got injured while playing tennis at the beach, so he had to ride in a wheelchair one night! He is not still completely healed, so please continue to pray for continued healing!
Before we left for South Korea, we got the joy and delight of hanging out with our families on a ranch in Hamilton, TX and on the beaches of Port Aransas, TX. While at the ranch, we got some much desired and needed quality time with Grant's side of the family. They are a blast to be around and just wonderful people. I'm so blessed to have married into such a giving, friendly, and loving family! Sadly, I do not have any pictures from the ranch to show because my camera was having some serious hiccups.
After the extravaganza at the ranch in Hamilton, we headed seven hours down to Port Aransas, one of my favorite childhood vacations. We had an exquisite time hanging out with my family, which included: playing a ton of tennis, Grant and I almost dominating in shuffle board(except when Jacob and dad beat us), riding the rocky waves, getting to see my niece Isabella play with sand for the first time, making dinner, and eating out at some favorite coastal places. I'm so glad we got to have a vacation with both our families.