Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Week of Lasts

My current jams are those from the Inside Llewyn Davis film soundtrack. Here's a favorite, Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan's cover of Peter, Paul and Mary's 500 Miles.

Well here it is. My last Korea blog post! I feel like it should be extra special so I'm feeling some pressure...let's see what I can do.

It's been a few weeks since, but I suppose the beginning of the end started with Kate leaving. It's hard to see a good pal slowly taking their figurative steps out the're confronted with a parade of lasts, where it's kind of hard to figure out whether you should feel something different or behave differently because it's the last Teacher's meeting together, or the last bible study, or if you should just embrace it as a Teacher's meeting or a bible study, with the fact that it just happens to be the last as a side note. I guess it's even harder when it's your own turn to do that...I'm working out how to best do it.
At any rate...I miss you Kate! I can't wait till we get to meet again stateside. Soooon!

In the last month I've been trying to do some fun things, and make last time visits to places. One of those places of course was Gangneung, Yoonseo's home town! We went together to visit his parents for part of the weekend, driving in late on a Friday night and driving home late Saturday night. Last time we visited, I let the pressure of it get to my head and did a very poor job of being friendly, trying to speak Korean and just be an all around normal and polite person. So I was glad to have a chance to kind of redeem myself and also get to know his parent's better.
It was a fantastic visit. After a welcoming late night snack of fruit and delicious cookies, I got to sleep in late and have a delicious breakfast..even though I was a little embarrassed about how bad I still am at eating grilled fish with bones with chopsticks. You would think that after a year I would have gotten better at it, but no, not really. Haha.
We went to visit Yoonseo's grandparent's tomb after breakfast. I helped his mom pick out some new faux flowers to put next to the graves, and then we drove out to 옥계 into the country. The area around the tombs was just absolutely lovely! We had a little snack of cake and tomatoes, and I wore a huge straw hat/visor that Yoonseo's mom lent me. I secretly loved it. He he.
After visiting the tomb, we went back to Gangneung by route of the most beautiful seaside drive I've ever seen. The water was seriously almost azure blue, with huge brown/black craggy rocks sticking out everywhere. The contrast was one I could have looked at for a long time.
When we got back to the house, Yoonseo's mom taught me how to make Japchae, a Korean noodle dish that I have been wanting to learn how to cook. It was such a neat time, because even though I can't speak Korean very well, we could still communicate and have a time to connect with each other.
After eating some of the delicious japchae, Yoonseo and I went on what we thought was a short bike ride, but coming back we met his dad coming out on his bike, and he wanted to show us a bridge that he likes to bike to, so we turned back around and went back out for over an hour! My bum was not happy at the time, but afterwards I was so glad we had gone for a longer ride. It was so nice, biking while watching the sunset, and seeing huge fish leap out of the river to catch bugs in mid air. It's one of my favorite memories from the weekend.
We left after dinner and got in pretty late Saturday night, and the next day we headed out early again to Paju to Hanjoo's parent's house for a church service/barbecue. It was pretty hot, but there was a nice platform gazebo thing that many older houses have built as a sort of outdoor shaded work area, so we sat underneath there for church. We had the most interesting communion I have had to date: sponge cake and Makgeolli. Taste and see that the Lord is good! hahaha.

Lots of changes at Connexus of course. New students have come and new teachers as well. So excited to have met Michaela and Michelle and spent some time with them. They are  going to be BRILLIANT. I am so excited for what's ahead for Connexus and them. We also have a new vice principal, since Yoonseo is headed off to the U.S., Jae's brother Jaesung is taking over. It's been great to have him around to help us out. He will be invaluable to the next batch of teachers.

I just realized I always refer to the incoming teachers as the "new batch." Maybe I should say "fresh batch" to go even more into the cookie metaphor. Yes. Michaela and Michelle, you are fresh and delicious cookies. ㅋㅋㅋ.

One funny story from the classroom: the Backpack songs are notoriously fast for the kids to try to sing along to, and some time their garbled attempts to keep up are pretty hilarious. The Green 3 song line "that tall man is my grandfather Bill," proved hard for Sungyeon, who belted out "That tall man is my grandbrother Mill!" We had a very long laugh in class about that. Oh man. Still cracks me up.

Before Michelle came, we also had a great birthday party at Jaesung's house for Omonim. The highlight of the evening was definitely Heather's gift of a homemade Miss Korea sash for her to wear, and when Abonim told her to show off her legs and she hiked up the leopard print. Oh man, I wish I had a video of that. Too funny.

Before leaving, I had my 4:30 class over. I gave them a queen's tea! They loved the scones and lemon curd but were less enthusiastic about the tea and cucumber and egg salad sandwiches. No problem for me though, I just ate them for lunch the next day. We played halli galli and labyrinth together and they danced to some EXO and AOA songs. It was fun to have one last special time with them!

My last saturday, we went to a soccer game in Suwon. Now, Korean soccer is a little low-quality compared to the stuff we've been watching during the world cup, but I love watching a sport where I can understand all the rules. Not to mention the gloriousness of eating cold fried chicken and drinking Cass.

Leaving Korea was a whirlwind and a half. I taught the last day I was there, went to eat with my host family, and then was in the car on the way to their airport after saying goodbye to everyone outside the apartment. Surreal. It was hard to even really internalize it all on my last day: this is the last time I see Joy and Hyemin. This is the last time I see Sungyeon and Eun (Joy). This is the last time I see Susan and Eileen and Cindy and Christina. This is the last time I see Yoobin and Yoochan and Jiwon and Dongwon. This is the last time I see Daniel and Dohyeon and Raphael and Juyun. This is the last...this is the last... It's tricky to know how to really understand it in your heart. How could it all be over in one day? And yet, there it is.

Even after arriving here in the U.S. it feels like somehow Connexus is just around the corner, or in a city several hours away. I feel like I should be able to walk long enough in Waynesboro and find the street with Mcdonalds and Moa and the Apple Man and Daiso...but that's not how it is. So it will be hard. Right now it just feels good to be home, to see the people I love, to cuddle our cute animals...but I know the tough time is coming, when my heart is breaking because the people I love are so far away from me.

The good news is that Jesus is the same here as he was in Korea, and I am resting in the truth that he's going to take me through the rough patches here just like he did there.

Anyway, here's some last quotes from Korea, with one from America too!

Quotes from the Community:

"He's standing beside a statue without a head...He's so cultured!" -Anna

Abby: "I don't feel like teaching today."
Sarah: "Yeah, my mouth feels dry."

"I predict that in your future there will be more chickpea." -Anna's parting fortune-telling for Kate.

Anna: "Peace Camp sounds really cool."
Sarah: "I bet your children would go."
Anna: "My children?"
Sarah: "Yes..."
Anna: "My children in my body?"

Sarah: "Ok, who has done Yellow Review?"
Heather: "Uh...You and I did!"
Sarah: "Oh..I did?"
Heather: "Yeah you wrote the backpack lessons!"

"Oh shoot my hair...I went to the salon this morning but now it's like Omonim's." -Yoonseo

Abby (after walking into Jaesung's office): "Oh sorry! I forgot the copy machine isn't here anymore.."
Jaesung: "It's ok. I can do it for you with handwriting."

"Oh man. My underwear is downstairs. First world problems." -Mom

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