Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Let the Children Come...

"Let the children come to me, do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

Yesterday we went on a field trip to a sweet potato farm. We had a blast with the kids. They got to pick pears, sweet potatoes, and radishes! Here are some of the pictures of our little darlings!

Polly and her precious findings!

Blake found a ginormous radish! Radishes are pretty much eaten with every meal in Korea!

The Dolphin kindergarten class! There are four different kindergarten classes: Giraffe, Tiger, Koala, and Dolphin. Dolphin, is by far, the biggest kindergarten class.

Ed being his typical mischievous and silly self.

Grant's little buddy: Noah!

More pictures to come...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Month Mark

We have made it through a month now, only 11 months to go!
I can't believe how fast it has gone by. Time is so very fleeting. Sooner than you think, we'll be on our way back home! We have found out that we are staying put until November. There are not any apartments in the city open until then. Which is fine with us because where we live right now is very nice and accommodating.

The Korean culture has a reason for pretty much everything they do! Especially when it comes to cuisine. Even if something doesn't taste very appetizing to them, they eat it just because it is healthy. In convenient stores and gas stations you can buy Aloe Vera juice or straight up Vitamin C juice! In the US, I've heard that Aloe Vera juice is a hard to come by unless you go to a specialty/organic store. Our friend Chris was joking the other day that everything in Korean food is meant to help you live until you are 175!

When we were going to go out for Grant's birthday. Our Korean teacher friends wanted to go to a pizza place called: Mr. Pizza. Well when we got there, they wanted to go somewhere else because they had already had a lot of bread that day! Therefore, we went to a Korean barbecue place instead. How many people in America would actually take that into consideration? I probably wouldn't have until now. I love bread and would probably have wanted more bread for dinner. Living here is teaching me a different way to live and eat. The Korean teachers tease me that I need to eat more meat and less sweets. Probably true. We had some Jasmine tea, the other day, from a Chinese restaurant here. It was so tasty! Also, Grant tried a chicken foot at his birthday celebration. I couldn't do it! I'm a huge texture person, and I knew that the foot was not going to make it down my throat without a violent fight with my taste buds. Grant thought it was ok. Bianca and Ashley, two of the Korean teachers, were eating it because one they enjoyed the taste and also they told us it was good for you skin, it gives you extra collagen. Even though it's really good for your skin, I have to draw the line somewhere.

Spas over here are a huge deal in the Korean culture. Some spas you can even sleep at, weird, huh? Apparently they have a ton of different sauna choices, massages, baths, and even facials. I love getting facials, and they are pretty cheap comparatively. I guess I'll have to try one eventually ( : In addition, going to the doctor over here is dirt cheap! You pay about $10 or even less to go to the doctor is this is without insurance(this would have been nice to know when we were both sick). From what we've heard, Koreans go to the doctor right away when they get sick to either get medicine or a shot. Antibiotics are very inexpensive over here as well.

Grant's birthday was a blast. First we went to a Korean barbecue place and had delicious barbecue, not at all like a Texas barbecue. Basically they have two grills at your table and you wait for your meat to be finished cooking. Koreans are huge on side dishes. Grant's and my favorite Korean style is where they have large leaves(sometimes bamboo leaves or seaweed) and you wrap the meat inside and put stuff some of the side dishes on top and wrap it up and voala! After the Korean barbecue, we went to another restaurant where we had some tasty cake with fruit on top! At the restaurant, they had this congratulatory song in English, instead of a birthday song, it was quite humorous because everybody in the restaurant was singing and clapping. Grant looks like he is about to crack up in this picture to the right. Their cakes over here are very light and a little bit less sweet than our cakes. They make their cakes with buttermilk, I think.

For Grant's actual birthday, I had previously had some things planned that we were going to do, but he was still sick so we decided to rest and watch the rest of season one of 24. And of course, we had some more cake, this time it was chocolate! Behind Grant is Camp Humphrey, it kind of looks like a prison from this point of view. It was a very relaxing birthday.

We finally made our first meal here! It has been hard to find things at the grocery store that we can either read or distinguish what it is. For our first meal, I made some spaghetti with some toast and pears. I know what a big meal, right? It was very simple. The sauce was extremely different. It had a sweet tomatoey taste to it.
The next day, Grant made some french toast. It was yummy. We can't wait to make some Jop Chae. Jop Chae has the clear noodles with vegetables in it. However, we need somebody to help us find all of the items we need to make it. This is very random, it was so cool the other day we bought about 15 apples in a bag for $2! What a deal!

We are now just running into some big cultural no-no's. While I was teaching a few weeks ago, the curriculum was talking about using the dialog: "Come on." Well in the US, we use our hand to often signal someone to come on and that is what I was showing my students as I was saying the words. My kindergarteners all started giggling, I didn't think much of it because they laugh about the most random things anyway. However, after class one of the Korean teachers came up to me and told me that when you signal come on and wave your hand a certain way it is of the gravest insults to Koreans. To them it basically means like you are motioning or calling a dog to come here. So, I definitely won't be using that gesture anymore. By the way, eating dog over here is a rarity. Only older generations eat dog. Most Koreans have dogs as their pets. There is a pet shop on almost every other street.

The kids here are so funny. Last Tuesday, one of my students, out of the blue, asked me if I like to eat "Mad Cow Meat." I tried to explain to her that not all cows from the US have mad cow disease, but I'm not sure she understood what I said. It just struck me as funny. A lot of Koreans are deathly afraid of our meat. There is only one place, that we know of, that uses our meat in their food.

We have been trying a lot of new places to eat. We found the most wonderful Indian restaurant. Their herbs and spices are just tantalizing, and their nan bread is just mouth-watering! We are going to try and go there at least once a week. If anybody ever comes to visit us, we are definitely going to have treat them to this restaurant. Also, we got a taste of home when we got to go to PIZZA HUT! To me, the pizza here at Pizza Hut is much better than back home. We split the three cheese pizza with herbs and spices. We both LOVED it! The crust was made with wheat. They also had a very large salad bar. I love salads and a lot of places around here don't have salads, so it was definitely a treat!

Grant is having a blast with his Warcraft 3 game, thank to the Boatwrights for sending it to him on his birthday! He is definitely enthralled by it. I'm having a fabulous time exploring creative possibilities. I feel as if art awakens my heart and soul! I love it so much. Here is one of my photoshop creations. Grant gave me a very wonderful gift when he gave me photoshop as a wedding gift! I am also having a blast taking pictures of all sorts of things in Korea! I need to get back into sketching, I miss it dearly. I already have a project in mind that I am creating for Grant! Should be fun! I was so excited the other day when I found a little art shop with a few art supplies! Now I only need to find a place that prints out pictures...

We have made some very endearing and real friends here! Next Friday, we have a holiday so I'm going to go shopping in Chan with some of the girls from work! I'm so excited. Also, next Saturday we are going with Chris and Jewa, our amazing friends from church, to Seoul to see some sights and visit the 2nd largest church in Korea! I think we are going to stay at The Dragon hotel in Seoul on Saturday night. I can't wait! We haven't been to Seoul yet, and I've been itching to go!

Of course we still miss everyone, but we are adjusting well!
Until next time...

Sa Rang Hae Yo(I love you in Korean)!

A beautiful tree at our park close by! The weather is changing fast. We are both loving the change of weather, especially Grant! The leaves are also starting to change.

This is our American influence over here by the base! There are a lot of adult clubs and strip joints by the base ONLY, all in the name of entertaining the military base.

Until then...

Until I get the chance to actually write an updated blog(which it will probably be a long one), here is one of our students. She started singing this song immediately and automatically when we were talking about farmers. So cute...she has the most precious little voice! This is one of the reasons why we LOVE our jobs!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oh Korea!

We are having a blast watching some of the commercials in Korea! They are some of the zaniest/funniest commercials I have ever seen. This is only a TASTE of what their commercials are like!! You WILL enjoy this! I know both of my brother-in-laws will just LOVE these commercials, especially the dancing ones!

Here's one of my favorites: It's Korea's way of cracking down on smoking!
This kids are my favorite part! They are so precious!

This guy is hilarious! You will either get a good chuckle out of this video or think "What the heck?"
This is the first Shake, Shake Chicken commercial we saw on TV! They call this tecktonik dancing. You should look up Korean techtonik dancing on YouTube for some more good laughs!

I love the chicken hiding in the bush!
Let me know what you think of these videos!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Growing Immersion

The past two weeks have gone by terribly fast. We have thoroughly enjoyed becoming lovingly enthralled with our new culture. It is so exciting to learn something new about Korea each day. It's like being able to do a very in-depth, immersed study of one culture for two course classes in college. The differences of our cultures continues to wow me. For example, at their weddings, everyone who attends puts money down to pay for the reception food afterwards. Also, there is so little crime in Korea that the police do not carry guns. In school, as a teacher, you don't have little fights or children intentionally trying to physically hurt another child. It just doesn't happen. Which I think is very refreshingly nice.

But why I wonder? Grant and I have talked about this a few times, and we think it is because they have a very works-based culture/religious views (Confucious views). In their world system, basically if they mess up once, it's over for them. In our country, it is very sad to say and even I have been guilty of this before, we take advantage of our freedoms especially grace. In the states, we live in a very grace-filled atmosphere, where a lot of times, we get a second chance. We are overly blessed in this way. God's grace is so wondrously and beautifully precious, but is not something we should take for granted. This is something I feel like He is continuously and probably will forever be teaching and showing me.

I'm sorry that I haven't written in awhile, I have been sick, and now sadly I've gotten Grant sick as well ): It was only a little cold or something. Just a slight fever with drainage. We have also been busy exploring our new world and trying new things. I've definitely tried some things that I'm not a fan of. I have officially tried sushi food and am not an advocate for it in anyway. However, I do love a new dish that I've tried: Bi Bim Bop! I love the name. It is a vegetable dish with a sunny-side up eye on top. It is very fresh and tasty. We have officially tried the McDonalds restaurant in Korea. The portions are a ton smaller. Poor Grant was disappointed by the size of his cheeseburger. I had some spicy chicken tenders which were really good. I feel bad for Grant because there are a lot more things that I don't like in comparison to him who likes pretty much anything!

I can delightfully say that we found a place in town that sells GELATO called Ti~Amo which reminded me of Abby and Zach and their many and recent travels in Italy! It is so very rich and tantalizing! I almost had a heart-attack while eating it(Grant got a kick out of watching me enjoy it).

We also have found a really nice shopping district with shops like Merrell, Nike, Adidas, Head, and a two-story North Face store(which I love). Apparently in Korea, they love their sports stores. We also made a big purchase(at least a big purchase for us right now)we bought yoga mats. We both really enjoy doing pilates and yoga, but we couldn't do it until now because all of our floors our wood. They have a ton of cute clothes for very cheap prices here in Korea. It will be fun to go shopping sometime soon! Hopefully, when we get paid!

We had to get a physical last week for the Korean government. They had to take blood, urine, sweat, and tears from us or least that is what it felt like. They had to test for AIDS and drugs and all that jazz! We also went to the dentist during our physical, and the dentist was inside of the hospital, very weird. They determined that Grant had one of his fillings come out, therefore, they had to re-fill his tooth.
We are enjoying our daily commutes to school but are looking forward to moving to the "city"(As you can see in our photo). Last week we started going to a new church. We really enjoyed this church and felt very warmly accepted into it. We met some new friends, a married couple: Chris and Jewa(probably not how you spell it). They are wonderful Christians and very real people. We went with them to a Gospel Hip Hop Concert at the Osan Air Base which Chris hosted. It was very special and a lot of fun. There was a rapper there that used to open up for Outkast. He was an amazing rapper, it was really awesome to see how God has worked in his life! Chris and Jewa also have amazing testimonies how Christ has totally changed their lives around. There was a gospel choir, dance ministry (the picture to the left), rappers, poetry readings, and astounding testimonies!

Teaching is still going very well! I LOVE my kindergarten students! They are so much fun! The only downside of our jobs is the lack of creativity in the curriculum, however, the plus side is that we can do pretty much whatever we want teaching-wise as long as it gets the kids talking in English. This opens the door to multiple possibilities and various creative lesson plans. This is probably the easiest teaching job that I will ever have in my life! I'm loving it!

We miss you all very much! Please keep in touch as much as possible! Though our new adventures are very exciting and enertaining, we have not forgotten any of you! We think of you all very often and love you very much! We would love to hear how you are doing.

Until next time...

Here are some of my most recent and favorite pictures:

1. An adorable coffee shop by Osan Air Force Base(I love the name)
2. Students acting crazy!
3. A beautiful park right by our home.
4. This ones for Alicia aka Leech: It made me think of you!
5. This is what I feel like after a LONG day in the city!
6. Here is one of my favorite gates near our place.
7. Itsy bitsy spider climbed up... ain't it a beauty!
8. My favorite gate once again.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

And The Teaching Commences...

As our boss picked us up at 11 am on Monday morning, we were a bit anxious and excited to jump into teaching since we truly had no idea exactly what we were about to encounter! While Ryan dropped us off at the front we walked up to the second floor of the building and were greeted by Korean children with precious smiles and
adoring hugs! Children were running around everywhere acting as most children do when they allowed to be free! It was definitely controlled chaos. Many children curiously came and introduced themselves to us using their English names that they had been given. The two other English speaking teachers immediately showed us the ropes!

Before we started teaching, we had a lunch break. During our lunch break, Cari and Andrew(the English speaking teachers) showed us their apartment so that we could decide whether or not we wanted to move closer into the city. We love the convenience of walking to school and the convenience of having so many more choices of restaurants. And we also found a gym right next to the school. YEAH! So we will moving eventually! It will be at least 10-15 days before we move!

We came across an adorable bread shop while walking back to school. The scent of the shop was divine! We had heard that their bread here is made fresh and is quite delicious! So we went in of course. My eyes and nose were wonderfully stimulated with all of the fresh bread, cakes, desserts, and treats. Since Grant and I have the biggest, and when I say "biggest" I mean gargantuous sweet tooths we bought some pastries and cookies! They were wonderfully tasty.

After lunch, we started our first classes! Our basic goal in teaching: is to get our Korean students to use their English correctly in conversation. It is a very laid-back and fun teaching atmosphere. The discipline is totally different here. Their are NO liability issues, apparently people don't sue each other in Korea. Basically, if a student runs into a metal poll on the playground it is their fault(Obviously, some of you might laugh at this, but this same situation happened at my school last year). If you run into the street and get run over by a car, it is your fault not the drivers. Also, you can pick up kids and touch them without the fear of being sued! As far as discipline goes, it is a little bit more lax then I am used to. In Korea, when they are young, they want the children to be carefree and enjoy their childhood but yet still be held responsible for their actions. These Korean kids are very goofy and very much allowed to just be themselves which I think is a very healthy environment for them to have!

Our first classes went very well! Grant had a very quiet class while I had a very cheery and somewhat loud class, you might say. Grant had a blast playing hangman with some of his classes. We have about 30 classes a week. In one of Grant's classes they called him "giant" while in another classroom they kept wanting to touch his big muscles. In one of my classes they spoke very little English, therefore I had them repeat after me the text we were reading at least 5-10 times. After finishing the text they continued to mimic and copy what I was saying! It was hilarious. Our classes' English skills vary from speaking zero to no English(which is a very small minority of our classes), to speaking and reading full English sentences and paragraphs. The kindergarten students I have right now our speaking and reading better than the kindergarten kids we had at my school in DeSoto last year. They even know how to read phrases like: pencil sharpeners, veterinary, sometimes, early... They sometimes read full and lengthy paragraphs. They are crazy smart and advanced! I was pretty much dumbfounded and utterly stunned at everything they knew! In addition, their temperaments are very caring and loving. They love to come up and hug you and know your name. I am falling in love with these children! They are just darling!

It has been continuously raining the past two days. It seems like big cities smell soooo much worse after it has rained. Pyeongtaek is what most Koreans consider a small to medium sized city. To Grant and I, it is HUGE! As far as land goes, it is probably around the size of Dallas but with double, maybe even triple, the amount of people and buildings! It is crowded. While walking the streets, people definitely do stare and whisper the word: Waegu(which means foreigner). However, the upside of the city is that it has some very nice parks with exercise machines including things like chin-up bars and gazelle-like exercise machines. It has some very nice restaurants some which have menus in English. We went to this place called VIPS the other day. They had imported American beef so our steaks were much thicker than our original meal we had with our boss at our first Korean meal. The salad bar was pretty much to-die-for! It had so many choices. I also tried this prickly fruit with a thick outer shell, you have to cut it open and then pull out the seed. It kind of tasted like a grape. They told us that this fruit is from China. Grant made me try some smoked salmon. He reassured me that it didn't taste fishy even though it was pretty raw. So, me, trying to be the trusting wife, tried it. I almost gagged, the texture to me was very slimy and the taste extremely fishy!

The people we work with our very amicable and helpful. The native speaking Korean teachers are remarkably wonderful and very pleasant to be around. Julia, one of the Korean teachers, has been a godsend. She is a Christian and a sweetheart. She took us to the market yesterday and helped us buy groceries. Her mother showed up and helped us as well. Julia's dad is a pastor, and she has invited us to church on Sunday. After grocery shopping, Julia and her mom wanted to treat us to dinner. The food we had for dinner was QUITE spicy! Grant and I both were sniffing and asking for more and more water. They brought out a huge skillet full of pasta, vegetables, and a little bit of fish tossed in a red/tomatoey sauce. It was VERY good. Some of the noodles were made out of sweet potatoes. The noodles made out of sweet potatoes were completely translucent and clear. They were very weird looking. We also had some Kim-bob which is basically an appetizer consisting of rice and vegetables. Also, I have started to improve in my acquisition of chopstick eating skills. Julia complemented me on my "great" skills! We feel extremely blessed to have acquired Julia and her mom as our friends.

This is Ed one of the sweetest yet goofiest students I have!
He likes to try and give me raspberries on my stomach!