Sunday, June 2, 2013

Vignettes from the past two days

Lots of of fun and interesting things have happened in the last two days, so instead of trying to write a captain's log style thing, let's go with episodes. Here's some music to go with it, because I rediscovered this song today and remembered how much I like it:

Episode 1: In Which Abby eats samgyupsal for the second night in a row and talks language with Imobu's Korean American friend

Well, as described, after work on Friday, Imo was again doing some reconciliation work, so this time me and Imobu and Yoonhyung and Imobu's Korean American friend from seminary (I didn't ever catch his name, not surprising here where everyone goes by titles mostly, so I only know him by Samcheon, which means Uncle) went to eat samgyupsal again. Just as delicious this time, if not more so. It was nice talking about about good old' 'Merica with Samcheon, who also gave me some hints about learning Korean, since he had to do the same thing when he came to Korean 15 years ago. He also wrote an English/Korean textbook, of which Imobu had a copy of, so after Samgyupsal, Smacheon came over and walked me through the textbook and how to use it, so I think I might use it to study now! The focus is on figuring out how to get down the use of relative clauses in Korean, which is one of the hardest thing to get, and until you do you are stuck with tons of little sentences. We talked about how language learning takes a lot of humility, and he pointed out that the way God addressed humanity's pride at the Tower of Babel was to make it so that we had to learn to speak other languages if we wanted to communicate, which I had never thought of. Feeling like a baby shouldn't be something to avoid here; it's someways it's almost an exercise in the spiritual discipline of humility. That was pretty encouraging to me.

Episode 2: In which Abby goes with the other Connexus teachers minus Sarah to Chuncheon for Dalkgalbi and Patbingsoo

On Saturday, after a delicious lunch of pancakes (cranberry and chocolate chip!) at the apartment complex where the other Connexus people live and a healthy dose of Lomie baby worship (seriously that baby is the cutest  thing ever), we headed off to Dosim subway station for the long ride to Chuncheon.
The nice thing about Deokso is that it is relatively easy to get anywhere you would like to go, and cheap too, but it just takes a while. The subway ride involved mostly reading, reading, reading, snagging seats like vultures to a carcass and then giving them up again to the old people (darn). Also involved trying not to laugh at a man eating a bottle cap and humming to himself right next to me, or the man trying to sell socks from a big plastic bag (illegal in the subway, but still done all the time. Selling in general that is, not socks in particular). Once arrived, we met up with their friends Deborah, who is currently working with KAC through SALT, and then went off for Dalkgalbi, a Chuncheon special. Basically, it's like spicy chicken with vegetables and rice cake all cooked together in a big flat pan on your table and is one of the best things I've eaten here...right up there with Samgyupsal. The restaurant was so nice too, the little floor cushions things were actually like little chairs, and had backs, which was nice for my weak Western back. We got some free service Pepsi and Ice cream too!
Then we taxied it to the other side of the town for Patbingsoo, a shaved ice and ice cream with red beans and fruit and whatever else you want to put on it (taxis here are MAJOR cheap, especially if you are sharing...basically as cheap as the bus). Think a mix between Ritas and a Sweet Frog. Basically heaven in my mouth. Also, all this was just super fantastic because I finally got a chance to hang with the other teachers and all my worries about getting along vanished in a flash. These of the race that knows Joseph. They would probably get that reference too. We are planning a book club woohoooo!

Episode 3: In which Anna Accidentally Gets on the ITX and it is hilarious
Coming back from Chuncheon was a little more of an adventure at first. I told my host family I would be home at 9:30, so we wanted to try to get the ITX (faster subway train) but usually you have to reserve seats on it. So Anna and I ran ahead to see if we could catch it. We got to the ticket machine only to find that unlike most others, this one had no English option and though we can both read Hangul, that doesn't really help with knowing what words mean. We wasted about a minute and then asked someone for help, who said that the train was leaving in one minute, but that we could buy tickets on the train. So up the stairs we dashed, taking them like three at time, and Anna stepped on board what looked like the ITX to ask and make sure it was going to Deokso. As she turned back around, the door slid shut, and off she went by herself to Deokso. It was one of those things you see happening dramatically in movies and what you're always afraid of happening to you when traveling with friends where you've never been before. But instead of being scared, I just burst out laughing because it was just so absurd. So I just walked back down into the main station and by then the other teachers and Deborah had caught up with us, so I just went back on the regular subway with them and only got home 15 minutes late and finished The Hobbit in the meantime.

Episode 4: In which Abby goes to Chuncheon again, this time for church

My host family and I loaded up into the car to go church this morning, and it had me smiling the whole time, because there were so many similarities to the crazy family life I've experienced. The kids of course dawdled and ate slowly and finally we pushed everyone out the door into the elevator, only to have Yoonhyung laugh and point, saying that Yoonsang was wearing her shirt. He was, and of course now he wouldn't wear it since it had been pointed out to be a girl's shirt even if it was blue, so at the bottom, Imobu and Yoonhyung and I got off and Imo and Yoonsang went back up to change. On the way, I mostly looked out the window at the beautiful scenery. The mountains are just gorgeous! they're always a little misty at the top, and go on for as far as you can see.
Church was a little tiring, mostly because it was all in Korean, although one member (actually one of the original founders of the KAC) fluent in English tried to translate as best as he could for me. But everyone was so friendly and tried speaking as much as they could to me in English. It was house church style, so the "congregation" was very small, but it just felt like a small group back home. We all ate together afterwards, a delicious and refreshing noodle and bean paste soup. Apparently it's a dish that even many Korean's don't care for, so everyone was surprised that I liked it. After church, they were going to meet to talk about churchy business, so one of the members took me, Yoonsang and Yoonhyung and her kids back to their lovely apartment. Her daughter had just graduated highschool in the U.S. so she had just come back from there about the same time I did.  On the way, we stopped to buy ice cream, and then more fun things happened, such as Yoonsang barfing on the supermarket floor (third time that day...he had some kind of food poisoning from something he ate at a friend's house). I was the one closest to him, so I asked a supermarket dude for help, but I felt so bad for him, because it was pretty gross. Thankfully that sort of thing doesn't phase me too much. Yoonsang was fine after that though. The rest of the afternoon was so relaxing. We just crashed on the couch and watched Laws of the Jungle, a Korean reality show, and I tried to understand as much as I could. The recently graduated daughter was home though, and she was pretty much fluent in English, so it was just kind of nice to sit and watch something and make comments about it in English and have someone respond to them. All in all though, the day made me want to hurry and learn Korean fast.
The ride back was even more pleasant. The kids fell asleep right away, Yoonhyung leaning on my shoulder and I settled back and read The Great Gatsby on my kindle. Imo and Imobu talked the whole ride back, taking breaks to sing along to old kpop songs (like from the 80s/90s) on the radio, and ask me questions about my upbringing in the church. I would just like to say that on the way to Chuncheon and back, Imo was holding the Oh Crap Strap in the car just like Mom does, so that's an intercultural mom phenomenon.
We stopped by Lotte Mart on the way home and bought food...more meat! Seriously people I am going to get so fat. But it was so delicious. We just finished eating a little while ago, actually. Now I'm just kind of putting off going to bed because I know I'm just going to lay there and worry about tomorrow and my first day teaching....please keep me in your prayers!

Hopefully I will have something good to report....eeek!

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