Sunday, September 11, 2016

Exciting Stuff!

Oh MY it has been too long. Listen to this great tune from Sing Street and Let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up:

Here’s some of what has happened since I last wrote:
*Construction on the Coffee Shop--nearly finished!
*Conversation Games in my classes helped boost fluency, but now we are in need of more games...a few classes are starting to get lazy!
* Restorative Discipline helped my 6:30 class start to treat each other more civilly.
*Got Engaged officially! This one needs some more explanation, so I will write more below.
* Peace Camp in Jeju was a great experience. I made great friends, learned a lot about the history of Jeju, participated in an anti-naval base protest, walked in the Grand March for Life and Peace, and ate abalone porridge made by some of Jeju’s famous women divers.
* Making little mailboxes and writing encouraging notes to each other has helped a student in my 4:30 class gain confidence and begin improving in her language skills
* Teacher transition finished It has been a bit strange and sad  to say goodbye to so many: Michaela, Karen and Matt, Christina and Ben. But  the arrivals of Mark, Graeme, and Amanda, with Anna and Austin has helped ease the pain. I guess I always feel pleasantly surprised at how friends can be made so quickly. Looking forward to a year working with these cool cats!
* Have felt both challenged and encouraged about my Korean speaking ability.

Some further explanation of the most exciting part of this blog:

So…. yes! Engaged officially! Yoonseo asked me to marry him early one morning at the end of July. He wanted to wake me up and surprise me, but I was already awake...trying to catch a mosquito in my room. He asked me, and right after I said yes, the mosquito buzzed by and we both reached out to grab it and squashed it together. Unromantic? Yes. Hilarious and completely us? Yes! Haha. I’m feeling so excited, even though we’ve known for a while that we were planning to get married at the end of this year. I guess with a proposal it feels more real to me...I guess it’s a cultural thing. So, in the midst of wedding planning! A lot of work, but it’s kind of fun too. The date for the celebration in Korea is December 3, and it is looking like the celebration in the U.S.A will be January 1st. I’m so excited to share this happy time with friends and family across oceans! Please pray for us as we prepare for a wedding, look for apartments and most of all, prepare for married life!

I will try to be better about posting blogs and photos...busy busy here! But, at least since it has been a long time, I have gathered quite a few great quotes from the community, so enjoy!

Recently Reading:
The Waves by Virgina Woolf
H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

Recently Watched:
Jiseul ( A film about the Jeju Massacre)
Rise of the Guardians
Brooklyn 99
Jason Bourne (2016)

Quotes from the Community:

Matt: “I love rabbits in clothes!”

Ben: “What about me! I want to look like a young democrat!”
Christina: “You’re drinking powdered deer horn?”
Sojeong: “Because I’m sick…”
Christina: “That isn’t a logical leap for me.”
Christina’s student talked about “Past Tense Friday” instead of “Last Friday.”

Mark: “Sometimes I like to pretend that I have an alien hand when I’m alone.”

Abby: “Ok Sandy, it’s your turn!”
Sandy: “Who are you and why?”
Woochan’s riddle:
Woochan: “I get older but I stay same size. What am I.”
Abby: A pen?
Woochan: “Trashcan.”

*after reminder that we aren’t going to pretend to shoot each other in class*
Abby: “Hyundo! Please no shooting!”
Hyundo: “Teacher this is glue gun.” *mimes putting in a glue stick.*
5 minutes later:
Abby: “Hyundo! Please no shooting!”
Hyundo: “Teacher! This is drill!” *mimes drilling into table.*

Abby: “When you grow up, where do you want to work?”
Hyundo: “I want to work in….a camping car!”

Shopping for a baby shower present:
Abby: “They don’t have many baby books here…”
Yoonseo: “Then buy the plastic dinosaur like I said.
Abby: “But babies might try to eat that, it’s dangerous.”
Yoonseo: “No, dinosaurs are healthy food. It’s ok.”

At Peace Camp:

Yoonseo: “Victoria and Christal, do you remember me?”
Victoria: “Yes.”
Yoonseo: “Good memory or bad?”
Victoria: “Good! You are funny guy!”
Yoonseo: “Not anymore. I got old.”
Victoria: “I got old too!”

Yoonseo: “Jeju is actually supported a lot by Chinese tourists, so it developed a lot.”
Wang Ying: “Oh! Then we better go shopping, to prove we are Chinese!”
Yoonseo: “Every question is a shopping ended question for you!”

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Jangma is here!

Well folks, the rainy season (Jangma, 장마, for you people who want to learn some Korean) is upon on us. Daily rain, perpetual sticky, and more mosquitoes than usual. I went to the basement store a little while ago and picked up a net to put over our window as an extra precaution, since somehow they seem to get through the screen. Nothing is more anger inducing for me in the summer than waking up feeling like I took a bath in some honey because of the humidity, having a fresh mosquito bite and the tell-tale whine of another on its way.

Last week I finished writing June's report cards, powered by the music of Hamilton, so here's a favorite from the musical's soundtrack: Dear Theodosia.

So, let me tell me how those "upcoming events" went!

CELT Conference

For those of us who have a tendency to try to be "susie-on-top-of-it" with God (*coughmecough*) it seems like He let's us get good and stressed out until we finally say..."I guess I CAN'T do it by myself..." Then He shows us what He had in mind.

That happened during the presentation. A few days before, Yoonseo gave me really helpful feedback on the powerpoint, but as a result I was going to have to pretty much redo the entire thing. Stress City. He was kindly going to help me out by taking over the brief intro to Punitive Discipline verses Restorative Discipline part of the talk, but we hadn't had a chance yet to practice together.

By the morning of the presentation, we had both been up very late finishing the powerpoint, and I had only talked through the presentation once by myself, and that was not a great rehearsal: full of stutters, awkward transitions and long pauses where I just said..."Uh, and, next we will talk about, uh..." Needless to say, I was feeling really unprepared on the drive there. But as we parked and met up with some other presenters and talked with some of the conference goers, I felt some excitement start growing, and confidence that we would have something of worth to share. We had about 15 attendees to our session, which was great considering it was 9 am on a Saturday morning and there were two other sessions happening at the same time.

So then it was time, and I pulled up the powerpoint and then off we went, and people, a miracle happened in the lecture room. Abby didn't stutter, Abby did make awkward transitions, Abby didn't forget information or speak obtusely. I felt as I was speaking as if I had practiced this presentation like 10 times. How cool is that? God is good.

After the presentation (we only went over time about 5 minutes too, which was great, I thought!) lots of people came forward to take pictures of the Restorative Discipline posters we had brought and the books and other example resources we brought to give people an idea of where to go for more info. One Korean teacher even took a set of the posters for her classroom since they were written in Korean. One teacher said that it got him thinking about how he might use Restorative Discipline not only in his classroom but as a parent too. I came away from the conference feeling so blessed and thankful. What a great experience! It was so wonderful to present with Yoonseo too, and see a little bit of what his world is like as lecturer. So grateful that he agreed to do one more lecture even though that's what he has to do every week. Good egg, that one :-)

So after the presentation, we got right on the road to the

Family Gathering 

There was quite a bit of traffic, so it took us almost twice as long to get there as it usually would. When we arrived in Dunnae everyone had been waiting for us for a while. I felt a little nervous and awkward at first, but one of his aunts greeted me with a big hug and kiss, so that helped ease my tense feeling right at the beginning, hehe. After eating a little, we joined many of his family members in a big van and rode to the the river to catch some fish for Maeoontang, 매운탕, spicy fish soup. We drove a while to find the best spot, without any other people, and then we parked a little ways from the bank and started clambering over the rocks to get to the water. There were two sets of waders, one Yoonseo donned and the other his Cousin put on. After a while, the path to the water got too wet for those of us not planning to go into the water, so me and Yoonseo's mom and his youngest Aunt and his 1st cousin-once-removed just sat on the rocks and ate snacks together and chatted.

I think that time to talk with a smaller group was really helpful. I felt a little self conscious at first speaking to a big group in Korean, but having a little practice with a smaller group first helped me get my feet wet, so to speak. It started to rain after a while, so we thought it was a good idea to get across the rocks before they got really slippery, and go up to the bank where we had parked. It was a good idea otherwise too, since from where we were sitting on the rocks we couldn't see the guys fishing, but from the bank we had a great view. It was fun to watch and laugh with each other up there, and guess whether they were catching a lot or not.

Turns out they caught probably like 20 or more little fish and found a big bag's worth of whelks too. We drove on home, and then I went with Yoonseo around back of the restaurant/house to watch the Uncles and Cousins gut the fish. They did it so quickly! The fish were tricky too; there were two kinds and both had something to watch out for: one had sharp serrated fins, and the other seemed like they had a poison spine of some kind, because they had to hold it with a pair of pliers while gutting it. I also got to see their huge potato garden and other crops. They even grow their own mushrooms, since to buy as many as they would need for the restaurant would be too expensive. Talk about fresh and sustainable food!

The fish and whelks were taken to kitchen for the spicy fish soup, and we started bringing out all the side dishes. It took almost about the same time to set up the table with everything as it took for the soup to be ready, I think we only waited ten minutes or so after sitting down. We nibbled on the side dishes and then out came the soup! it was delicious. River food has a different taste to it than sea food, and I think kind of richer...or maybe just Yoonseo's aunts soup is like that, I don't know. Anyway, it was excellent--made your nose run and lips burn, but the flavor was incredible. I still have trouble figuring out how to debone a fish with chopsticks, but that was the only thing slowing me down. I ate way too much.

I also got a formal introduction by Yoonseo during the meal and served everybody some soju. At first I felt really nervous about it, not sure if I would do it right, but everyone laughed and told me which order to serve in, so it ended up being fine.

After dinner we played badminton, drank some beer together with lots of laughing and chatting together. I felt really welcome and was really grateful for all their kind hospitality. It was great to have people that I knew already too there--Yoonseo and his parents really looked out for me and helped me feel a part of things. A great first meeting of many more to come.

Well, this blog post is already super long, so I will end here, and leave the Connexus update to the quotes section, haha. Always fun and challenging here!

Quotes from the Community

Abby: “Yeongkyung, if you have magic, what will you do?”
Yeongkyung: “I will have magic eyes and see through anything.”
Hyundo: “Teacher!!! This is dangerous!! Clothes!!”

Woochan: “I like Woochan because Woochan is delicious!”
Hyundo: “You say you are delicious?!”
Woochan: “Food Woochan is delicious.”

Abby: “If Snow White and the Prince have three children, what will their names be?”
Liz: “Lemon Yellow, Sea Blue, and …. I don’t know.
Sandy: “I think they have two children: Snow Black and Snow Orange.”
Jin: “I think it will be Snow, Snow Wh, and Snow Whi.”
Abby: “.....”

*every other day*
Liz: “Teacher! Jin has new love story!”
Abby: “Oh goodie!”

Matt: “Minji, Open your eyes!”
Minji (student at Connexus): “I cannot.”
Matt: “Why?”
Minji: “I am Helen.”
Matt: “What?!”
Minji: “Helen Keller.”
Matt: “Oh my…”

*practice with the pattern, 'that's a nice _____, where did you get it?'*
Liz: "That a nice little cute face. Where did you get it?
Sandy: "From my mom and dad."

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Well...there went June! apologies for not updating more often. I guess less updates usually mean for me that I am busily being part of life here, so it is a good thing for me, but not as fun for people in different parts of the world who want to know what's up. I'll try to give a bi-weekly update from here-on out!
This morning Michaela-the-dear is making pancakes and I am contributing by playing this concert as cooking music. Hooray for 1.5 hours of Studio Ghibli music! (definitely have put this on my blog before, but seriously...never gets old!)

Ok, so what happened? Let's go back in time to May 28, Gooshik and Youngsook's wedding day!
Morning of, the deck and outside were a disaster from late night construction. It was one of those moments where I took one look and decided that it was pointless to try to estimate whether or not it could all be taken care of. Just jump in, all together and see what we could do. We sweated and hurried, but by golly, many hands do make light work! It looked beautiful and it was such a lovely ceremony. I also had the honor of being chosen by Youngsook to catch her bouquet (this photo is staged in Korean weddings). I felt a little shy at the time, but I was so glad to be a part of the ceremony in that way! Not related to the wedding too much, but I sat behind the cutest baby during the ceremony...who I later found out is the daughter of one of the KOPI members!

Fast forward to June 6 weekend when all the teachers, Yeoreum, and Yoonseo piled into Yeoreum's dad's big van and left at 7 in the morning to head for the east coast to Yoonseo's hometown. Minjeong and Yoonseo were are tour guides, and I can't believe how much work they put into everything. We stayed in an incredible guesthouse that was so cozy and comfortable and full of succulents. I basically want to recreate all the decor in my future house. Just my style! There was even a little indoor courtyard!
While we were there, Yoonseo and I of course went to visit his mom and dad. It was my first time going back since I left Korea the first time. When we pulled up and I saw Yoonseo's dad'd great "Dr. Seuss" style tree it was like a 'homecoming' feeling--a moment of recognition of something that I loved from before still there. It was wonderful to see them! Every time I visit there I feel a little closer to them and feel the atmosphere get less formal. You can continue to pray for my language ability--I am really feeling a big desire to be able to talk to them more and understand conversations better and it can be frustrating for progress to happen so slowly. But I always feel so welcome :-)
Other highlights from the trip--beach, beach and more beach. The water was so blue! It was a little chilly, but that meant that it wasn't totally crowded, so I was fine with that! We ate so much good food too....samgypusal, famous Peter and Mary burgers, watermelon from Yoonseo's mom on the beach ( Minji hacked into it with a plastic knife! beast!).
We also visited the home of two famous siblings, the brother a novelist, the sister a poet. It was lovely, and really interesting to me...I am really curious about Korean literature. The novelist is the author of the very first novel written entirely in the Korean alphabet. It's called "Hong Gil-Dong Jeon," or "The Story of Hong Gil-Dong." I would really like to read it; according to good ole' Wikipedia, Hong Gil-Dong is kind of like a Robin Hood style character.

Another highlight: Free-Range rail biking at the lake...Michaela and I took a little side by side two seater, and the rest of the teachers and Yeoreum piled into a six seater. Collectively we proceeded to break all the rules by accident, passing people, changing drivers while moving, etc. Oops. Michaela and I tried to at least use our horn to warn people we were passing, but scratched that idea pretty quick when it turned out that our horn was not that pleasant "awooga!" but instead the shrill shriek of a dog-toy style squeaker. No thanks. I think we were laughing loud enough that people knew we were coming though, haha.

We wrapped up the trip going to the famous Danoje Festival along the river, which part huge outdoor market and part country fair. Yoonseo bought me Cotton Candy, so that along made the trip a ten in my book. We left from there, making the long slow trip back due to holiday traffic. I wanted to give Yoonseo a trophy for his long-suffering in that driver seat. What a champ!

Other fun things that happened this month:

Trip to Hangang with Lomie and Aurie--Yoonseo and I took Lomie and Aurie to the Han River Park one evening to see the flowers and the cool Lego Kid's Garden. It was so much fun! Lomie and I played together and Yoonseo and Aurie played together mostly. Lomie and I made the Lego peope talk to us, and we named the biggest one Bob. "Bob" told Lomie to look for the blue flowers when she walked further down the path, and to look for something special there too. The special thing was a giant whale topiary, but I almost had a cute attack as we were coming back, because Lomie saw the Lego Park in the distance and said, "Hurry! we have to tell Bob that we found the blue flowers and the special thing!" TOO MUCH FUN. Then we all went to McDonalds and had some sundaes together. Loved it.

Starting language exchange--I am doing language exchange/dinner with Hyesun on Wednesday evenings and I love it! Thanks for putting up with my broken Korean, Hyesun! We've only met twice so far, but already I am feeling motivated and encouraged. We were able to have an intelligible conversation (I think...) about Feminism in Korea and introducing our families last week, and I enjoyed it so much. I'm so glad to have a friend to practice with!

Connexus Stuff:
Learning Styles--This month our Teacher's Workshop was about learning styles, (mine are Visual and Tactile primarily) and how they affect the way we teach. This month we are also trying to figure out what our student's learning styles are, and next month's workshop will be about ways to change/better the way we teach based on what we observe are the learning needs of our students. It's been harder than I thought! some students are obviously one things or another, but other students seem to struggle in all areas, unfortunately, so it's been a little tricky to peg down what they need. It keeps me very engaged in class though! I feel like every activity is an experiment, "will this engage So-and-So? or will this listening activity work better?"

Balloon Cars--We made balloon powered cars this past Friday, and it was a blast! I expected there to be some power struggles, since we were trying build one car each per class, and there are some strong personalities in the mix, but there were no problems at all! I loved the great ideas my kids came up with. It is going to be a ton of fun next week when we race them! We'll have different categories of awards, kind of like the pinewood derby we used to do in pioneer clubs at Fairview Ave.

CELT conference--Yoonseo and I will present this coming Saturday, June 25 at Yonsei University!! I still haven't finished the outline for it, but hopefully will have it all put together by Tuesday evening at the latest. Pray that it goes well, and that I am good at watching the time especially. I'm glad I have a veteran lecturer helping me out :-) Directly afterward we will both be heading to...

Yoonseo's family reunion--This will be my first time to meet aunts and uncles and cousins! I feel a little nervous, but I'm looking forward to it a lot too. I worry most about language fatigue, so pray for stamina for my brain! I spent the day today with church members from Grace and Peace and had a lovely time, but by dinner time I couldn't understand what people were saying to me any more because my brain felt so tired from interpreting. I don't want that to happen on Saturday though! Whatever happens though, I think it will be a good time.

Quotes from the Community

Karen J: "Sojeong, I cheated on you this morning. I did language exchange with Soyoung."
Sojeong: *gasp* "I feel empty inside."

Lomie: "I pway games with my gwandma in Pennsylvania. Sometimes I win and sometimes gwandma wins. But I like it more when I win!

Minjeong: *gasp* "Justin Trudeau is my Oppa!"

Michaela: "I think my soul is still at the Jjimjilbang."

Monday, May 23, 2016

Two + weeks in...

My good pal Gabby is in the midst of making some goodbyes herself, and reminded me of a great song by Rend Collective that encapsulates a lot of the feelings and thoughts that we've both had about big transitions in our lives. Have a listen! The Cost by Rend Collective.

Settling in somewhere is always by increments, until one day you wake up and realize, "Hey...I feel at home!"
I am not quite there, but I think the freedom that comes from knowing that I won't be gone in a year has helped me to do the little things that make a place feel home for me. In the past two weeks I bought three succulent plants for the window by my desk in the teacher's office, and I bought a soap dish.

I've realized how much physical environment effects me, in the "making something my own" side of things. Actually as I write this I realize that I need to do some things to my classroom to make it my own. I think that will help me settle in there well too. Decorating time!

The past two weeks have been a lot of fun as well as Hope was here for 10 days, from May 9-17. I can't speak for her, but it was such a feeling of wholeness to have a piece of the people of I love in the U.S.A here together with the people I love here. I hope more chances like that can happen fairly often in the future! I was so thankful to everyone here for making her welcome, especially Yoonseo and Jae and Karen. You guys are wonderful!

Two highlights stand out for me from Hope's visit--the first was at the Jjimjilbang, the public baths. When you visit the public baths, they give you a locker to put all your things in while you are bathing, and the kiey to the locker is on a little bracelet that you wear so that you don't lose it. It also serves as a mini credit card of sorts if you want to buy anything at the bath shop (shampoo, soap, scrubbies, lotion etc) or in the common area at the snack shop. When you leave, they scan the little key and you pay the tally off. It's generally a good idea to not misplace it, so naturally I did. Somewhere between my last rinse off from the sauna and going to my locker, the key disappeared from my wrist. Standing clothes-less, I thought perhaps when I took off the sauna clothes, I had also pulled off the key. Cue digging through the laundry basket. No dice. The lady from the bath shop came over to help, and still we couldn't find it. Then I remembered that I had put it in a different laundry place. The bath shop lady fetched a master key in the meantime and let me into my locker so that I could stop searching in the nude, and then sent me and my friend Anna down to the basement and out into the parking lot to a spot where laundry was dumped. We search through the small pile of laundry there but the key again eluded us.

By this time, I was just planning to pay the $20 ish replacement fee and be done with it, but as we were preparing to leave, the bath shop lady suddenly asked me the number of my locker.
She held up a key with the matching number that had been on the bath shop counter, probably brought in by someone after it fell onto the ground. She told me to put out my hand and she gave me two smacks. It was hilarious and I definitely deserved it. So ended the saga of the missing key.

The second highlight was our trip to Insadong to the Poop Cafe. As many already know, poop is cute and funny here, not gross, and is fair game as a theme for a cafe, or decoration on notebooks or erasers or anything. I had heard about the cafe from Michaela, and looked up some pictures. It looked pretty fun, so off we headed on Saturday morn.

 It did not disappoint. Poop hats for crying out loud!

Also a mint chocolate latte in a toilet bowl mug. Classy city.

Another really great time was visiting Yangpyeong and Dumulmeori, the same place I went in the winter with Josiah the last time I was here. Yoonseo took us after church on Sunday, even though it was kind of rainy. It was still beautiful and we had a really nice time together the three of us. Later that evening Hope and I went to Dalkkalbi together, and then Yoonseo picked us up and we all went to see Captain America: Civil War.

The next morning Hope was set to go to Gimpo airport early in the morning to get to her 9:25 flight, and was planning to just take the airport bus there, but Yoonseo volunteered to drive her there, which was a really amazing gift. I was able to come along and see her off that way. I thought I would do pretty well, since I've been saying goodbye a lot recently, but goodbyes never really get any easier. I was glad Yoonseo was there to cheer me up.

On the Connexus side of things, there have been both really heartwarming times so far and some struggles. One class was were able to work through some conflict with minimal input from me. My 5:30 Blue class had a disagreement over a game before class started and so during conversation time when I asked "How are you?" they both said "Annoyed."
"Do you want to talk about it before class?" I asked them. "Do you want to talk about it with a different teacher, Minji teacher?" I thought maybe they might want to speak in Korean, and I wasn't sure if I knew enough Korean to facilitate a good conversation.
"Yes talk, no different teacher."
So I decided to just have them each tell their side of the story, which they did in a mix of English and Korean. They had been playing a dice game, and had added the numbers differently. I wasn't sure what to say, so I just said,
"So you thought of different numbers, so it was annoying because you disagreed? But, it's ok if we think of different numbers. We're all part of the same class. We can play again tomorrow and try to get the same number."
After that I asked how they were feeling, and they both said, "Not annoyed." So we started class, and it went very well! I was really proud of them that they were willing to talk about the problem instead of just staying annoyed. I was also amazed and thankful that the mish-mash of English and Korean was enough to communicate well.

My 6:30 class is struggling a little bit with the two boys in that class going overboard with jokes and being too rough with each other. Hyundo and Woochan like to play pranks like hiding behind doors to scare each other, and daily rush the door, pushing and shoving each other. At first, I thought they had come to a good compromise. Hyundo, the older of the two, suggested they do rock, paper, scissors to decide who gets to go out the door first. I thought that was smart, and I was glad to see his leadership in that. However, it became apparent to me that there is underlying annoyance going on there. We tried to have a little talk about it in class today, but it seems like trying to get to the bottom of it only made them more annoyed at each other. The atmosphere in class is starting to get tense. I think I will need some help with this class soon to try to ease the hurt feelings. They both told me today that "they don't want to get closer" to each other, which was really sad to hear, but I think born out of being totally annoyed at each other for the pile of not-so-funny jokes they had been playing.

So those are some things that are happening here! Also:

Community News:
- Prep for Yoon Gushik's wedding on Saturday is going well, but there is still a lot to do. We've done a lot of construction and landscaping projects. Pictures to come of the sweet new lawn area by the parking lot!

- I'm starting language exchange with Hyesun next week...we will meet on Wednesday evenings! 기대할게요!^^

- Karen and I are hoping to start Bible study back up...really in need of that, I think!

Quotes from the Community:

Miseon: Lomie, how well to you know Abby imo?
Lomie: I know everything. She even came to Pennsylvania with her mom to my gwandma's house and had a tea party.

Yoonseo: Aurie, do you love me?
Aurie: No.

Yoonseo: There is a Korean saying that all the the food you don't eat you have to eat in heaven...
Abby: That's not really a problem, since you would have forever to finish it.
oonseo: Then with poop on top, how about THAT?

Hyundo: Teacher, what is your ideal type?
Abby: I like a funny and kind man. What is your ideal type?
Hyundo: My ideal type is ramen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Korea 2.0

Well, well, well....Look what we have here! Since I have now returned to the land of Morning Calm (misnomer at times...although from the third floor up, we're above a lot of the noise!), it is also time for the revitalization of this blog.

Since this time around it is more like a every day life blog as opposed to a "let me document this year abroad blog" the format might change. But for now, I will continue with the tried and true format. So here's the blog music, which I have been humming as I unpack and get settled. As I will mention in this blog post, I feel especially like welcoming Jesus in with praise to my life here in Korea after the events that happened on the way here: Here For You by Matt Redman

So let me begin with painting an image for you: 5'8" young woman in a large straw hat and knee high boots sitting on the floor of an airport with a guitar and overloaded carry-on suitcase bawling her eyes out because of a flight that has been cancelled.

Not my best moment.

I arrived in San Francisco to discover that my Singapore Airlines flight to Seoul, the one that would get to Korea in time to be there for a dear friend's wedding, had been cancelled. But how did I find this out? I randomly met an old Korean man who looked as lost as I was looking for the international terminal. Turned out he was on the same flight as me (God Moment No.1). He asks me as we got onto the shuttle together, "Did you get the text message about the change for the flight?"

No I had not. I would also not get any communication personally until after the time that the flight would have been taking off, so unless I had met this man, I wouldn't have known one thing about what was going on at all. Jesus likes to outdo himself sometimes in the whole "miraculous meeting" arena.

We arrived at the Singapore airlines counter to find that the flight had been cancelled and the next Singapore airline flight wasn't until the next morning at 8:40 am, which would mean I would miss Sarah's wedding. They also seemed reluctant to look hard for another flight from a different provider. Cue tears, lots of them. Thankfully, Yoonseo was still awake, so I was able to let him know about the problem, and Josiah and Ana were available as well. Josiah called me and prayed with  me, and set about looking to see if another airline or airport nearby had any flights. He found one right away, and with those specifics in hand, I was able to ask if the airline could get me onto that flight. It took some waiting, but soon a woman came back and said that they had booked me onto a flight to LAX, and from there to Incheon (God Moment No. 2). I would arrive at 6 am Saturday morning, giving me six hours to get to the wedding in Cheongju. It was possible!

All the running around in Airports (can you say going through security THREE TIMES) got me so whooped that by the time I was on the Korean Air flight in LAX at 11:55 pm, I was almost completely asleep before takeoff. I have such a hard time sleeping on planes, but this time I was able to sleep 5 whole hours (God Moment No. 3). This meant that when Yoonseo picked me up at the airport, I had plenty of energy for the wedding, and didn't feel unbearably tired until around 9 pm, which was an ok time to sleep. I ended up sleeping straight through the night, from 9:30-5:45am...a good 8 hours of sleep (God Moment No. 4). On Sunday I took a brief nap in the early evening, but again was able to sleep the whole night. Not having to deal with bad jet lag has been such an incredible blessing.

On Monday, Hope also arrived in the evening, and I didn't realize what I good thing that would be for me, even though I wondered if having a visitor so soon after arriving would be stressful or not. Having someone to "show around" has enabled me to revisit all the places here that I knew and loved, and somehow through that I feel like I've 'rediscovered my roots' in a way, just by walking the ways I used to, and doing the things I used to do.

For instance, today I bought a bag of apples from the apple/fruit seller who always was outside the old Connexus building. It still cost 5,000 won, and he still gave me an extra apple with a smile like he used to. I know he didn't recognize me, but I knew him, and that was a really happy thing. I felt the same way going back to my favorite stationary store, Papearl, and seeing that the same guy worked there.

So adjustment is going well, I think, but I know that there is still more ahead, little by little. Today's added adjustment is my first full day of teaching. I feel ready!

Nothing yet, but will start El Deafo on the bus to Jamsil tomorrow morning!

Plans with Hope:
Wednesday Evening: Dalkkalbi or Samgyupsal and maybe 2nd Floor Cafe
Thursday morning: Jamsil and Olympic Park
Thursday evening: Dalkkalbi or Samgyupsal
Friday Morning ???
Friday Evening: Jjimjilbang with Anna!
Saturday: Hongdae, Insadong (?) (subject to change)
Sunday: Yangpyeong (?) (subject to change)

Community News:
* Sarah and Noah stopped by with Sarah's family on their post-wedding tour. They brought hugs and chocolate!!
* Plan is in the works to visit Gangneung (Yoonseo's hometown) with Connexus teachers in early June. I have heard that a zipline will be part of this. Cue fanfare!
* Gushik Yoon's wedding is on May 28 (Mom's birthday!), so there are a lot of wedding preparations going on. It looks like I will be a co-MC with Yoonseo to do the English translation of some of the wedding (don't worry, it will be from written material--my listening comprehension in Korean is not even close to that good haha).

No community quotes yet, but they'll be here when people start saying funny stuff. *hint hint*


Monday, March 7, 2016

Korea May!!

The title says it all!  It's been in the works for over a year, but I realized that many of you might not have heard much about it, so I'd like to fill you in so that you can be in prayer for me as I make a big transition!

Questions you may have....

No official leave date yet, but it's looking like the first week of May I will be on a plane to South Korea!

How long?
Definitely a year, and most likely longer!

What? will we never see you again?
Of course not! I hope to be able to make annual visits back to the U.S. I'm also always open to visitors and South Korea is a super fun place to explore...not to mention how good the food is! *salivating already*

I'll be working as an EFL teacher again back at Connexus Language Institute in a small town in Namyangju. I'm connected to Seoul by subway and can get into the city easily, but will live in a more slow-paced area. This time I'll be moving into Connexus's new building, which also houses the Korean Peacebuilding Institute, Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute, a coffee shop, and our living quarters. That's right, I can shuffle right down from my bedroom to my classroom lickety split! I'm really excited to teach again, and to continue to investigate more how language education, restorative practice, and peace education can work together. 

Aren't you pretty chipper even though you're leaving us all behind?
If I told you I wasn't trying extra hard to focus on the positive, I'd be lying. In reality, this is a huge step, since it isn't just a one time thing, and there isn't really an "end date" this time. I will miss you all so terribly, I know! I know that some of you I might grow apart from, too, and that is really, really hard to think about.

But I am also excited for what is ahead, and I also know that God is faithful, and that he takes care of us--I experienced that first hand in Korea the last time I was there. I was fearful I wouldn't make friends or fit in; but I did! I'm still a little fearful of that this time around too...and feel fearful of the pain of losing fellow teacher friends who leave Korea while I stay on. But I also never have felt the draw to go back to a place like I have experienced with being a teacher in Korea. So I'm going to follow God's nudging, and trust that he will provide again. I'm also pretty pumped at the thought of being in the same country with my best guy and support, Yoonseo. :-)

How can we pray?

* Pray that I will be able to go well--to have the chance to say good bye to all the people I'd really like to in person, and spend some last meaningful time with my family before heading of on a new adventure.

*Pray for a great transition back to life in Korea. Pray especially for the ability to learn to speak (not just read!) Korean quickly and to make a great group of friends who will be around for a while.

 *Pray for Yoonseo and I as we transition into being the same place again after a long time apart. Pray that our relationships with each other and with Jesus are strengthened and deepened by being together again.

* Pray for opportunities and places for me to be spiritually fed in English. I want to be fluent in Korean, but that is going to take a little while, so I want to be sure that I get spiritual food that I can understand well.

* Pray for finances and opportunities to come and visit friends and family back in the U.S. once a year.

How can we contact you?

Facebook, Whats App, Kakao talk, email, snail mail, carrier pigeon etc. The snail mail address is:

Abby Long
1st Floor Korean Peacebuilding Institute
25 Goongchonro, Wabu-eup
Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-do
South Korea 12269

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Friends for the Journey part 1

 I am inspired today by Carolyn's post about living with some good people, and it's got me thinking about some of the fantastic people who I've shared living space with throughout my life, and the goodness they've put into me. So here's a song about friends that is just the level of cheese I like; 1980's cheese: That's What Friends are For by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder.

The first thing that puts life into you when you're young is play, I think. And nobody knows about that better than my siblings:

From my brother I learned that bunk beds make good fake mole burrows, and that Legos, stuffed animals, rubber reptiles and Star Wars action figures are some of the very best toys. You know it's good times when we actually tried to record ourselves with the tape player while playing because we wanted to experience those those games again. We would end up laughing so hard we cried playing games like these,: The Ghost of the Broccoli Spirit, Bob and Larry and the Mario Mansion, Han Solo and the Wrench of Love, Newt Gunray the Annoying Junior Skiff Operator, or the running joke, "Oh, you're a beer bottle? No, I'm a person and my name is Anakin!" (Ok, so we were weirdos).
None of these fancy guys when we were young.

 Just stick these three together and you've got yourself a beer bottle...I mean baby!

We perfected our aim throwing stuffed animals through the window of the "reading cubical" (aka little carpeted cubby hole that could be a fort or whatever else you wanted).
As very youngins, we had the running games of Belly Button Man and Captain Pants-Fall-Down, as well as the chipmunk pal pair, Chippy and Nuttly, who went on to have their own self-produced Chipmunk Radio Station created by yours truly using a TalkBoy. We also had a game called "George and Bobby" in which we were two middle aged men who lived together and argued a lot so that they had have "fights." Basically an excuse to put pillows in our shirts and crash into each other. (I bet you can guess that Josiah invented all of these).

As my sisters and surrogate siblings Gabby and Fickett boys well know, at least 50% of the time we
were outside, maybe more, we were mice, or other rodents. That's just how it was. And every day was National Rodent Day which meant extreme feasts made from "resources."
We learned the code of the outdoor kitchen:
Sand=flour/vanilla flavored things. You want a vanilla cake? use sand. But watch out for cat poop...gotta sift that stuff.
Dirt=chocolate. The dirt pile in the back yard was "chocolate mountain." The finest varieties meant that you spent at least a half hour sifting the dirt through an old window screen. Wet days meant hard times for sifting. But the smoothest chocolate mousse was only possible with the sifted stuff. The sheen on the mud wasn't quite right unless you had it.
Soft, dry rotting wood=chicken. You could finely shred it for a salad, or just use it in chunks. It was especially gourmet if you drizzled it with Black Walnut Sauce, procured in this method:

Recipe for Black Walnut Sauce
1 old dog's water bowl
3-4 blackened and slightly wet black walnuts from the ground
Enough water to cover said walnuts

Soak the walnuts in water for a few hours, until they turn the water a rich red brown. Use to add delicious rich flavor to all your favorite wood-based dishes!

(my mind it tasked like pork adobo sauce, ok?)

Other common Rodent Day fares: sourgrass salad, or wild onion soup (if you chew the stem your spit turns green!)

We also cannot mention outside games without these three important factors:
Ours had significantly less depression.
Shanty Town: the little shacks we built using Dad's odds and end of lumber and window and old doors from the shed. Our own personal Hooverville, conveniently located right across from Chocolate Mountain and just a few steps away from the Daffodil Patch.

The Sump Pump Spigot: cooking for Rodent Day involved some water needs, and the creek was just too far, and the hose was too twisted. So the our ally was our frequently flooded basement and the sump pump that channeled the water out into the yard. We were pros, listening for that tell-tale gurgle that signaled that a gush of water was coming. Quick with the buckets!

Livestock: When you have three dogs of different sizes, you need to make use of them. Obviously you have a goat, a horse, and a cow. You can herd the around with a broom and feel pretty productive. Sam was pretty small, so I guess he ought to have been more of a pony than a horse, but cow was spot on for Goldie, the fat and rather vapid golden retriever, who conveniently ate grass quite often. Gabby the shih tzu brought up the rear as the baby goat.

Outside games also didn't paint over the harsh realities of growing up. I won't forget the day that I realized, after cracking my head on the same branch three times in a row, that I was too tall to play under the lilac bush anymore. I like to think my feelings echoed those of the early settlers--sadness about leaving the old homestead, but resolute that "the country was gettin' too crowded!"

So we went West. To the back corner of the yard to the grove of tree and bushes. No more playing bent over or in a full squat! This move probably saved me from growing a hunchback.

So my siblings are the first "friends for the journey" in my life. Next up...the Adventures of Abby and Gabby. Sounds like a book series waiting to happen. I claim that right now, nobody better steal that idea!

Thanks for reading!