Thursday, December 29, 2005

Melly Chris-suh-mas-suh

Merry Christmas!

It was definitely a great Christmas out here in Korea. Sorry to disappoint any of you who anticipated that I'd have a crappy and very lonely time...I didn't!

Kiki flew out Christmas eve, so I was able to finish my last Saturday of work ever (yes, you heard right, I now have weekends free!), and I was home in time to meet with her and one very delighted brother along with Matt to enjoy some of the Christmas eve festivities.

Christmas day was probably one of, if not, THE most relaxed Christmas days I've EVER had in my life. Kiki was up at the crack of dawn, and by that I mean the crack of 7:30, which on a Hagwon teacher's schedule is like regular people waking up at 3am and hanging out. Anyway, we got up, had some coffee with Gingerbread Syrup from Starbucks in Canada, relaxed and then went up to Rob's apartment to do it all again with Rob and Matt. We had gifts for each other and gifts from home all of which I was very excited about. I was even able to have some biscotti to go with my gingerbread coffee!

After gifts and after filling up on cookies for breakfast (thanks to the Mom's back home!) we went for some real food at a Korean restaurant. It's nice in Korea that everything doesn't close down for Christmas cause only half of the people celebrate it and even if they do it's not really such a big deal and it definitely doesn't take up the whole day.

After lunch we went for a walk by the tiny branch of river that we have running through Chang-dong. We were freezing, so we went to my apartment to watch the Trailer Park Boys Christmas Special that I had downloaded earlier in the week.

To conclude our lovely day, the four of us attended a very western meal at none other than Outback Steakhouse. It was the first time that I'd ever been there, but we decided to splurge on some western food for the holidays and do it right. We did, it was a lot of fun.

I really did have a very relaxed Christmas, considering that my holidays consisted of one day, the Sunday that I had off for Christmas day, it was surprisingly chill and I was very grateful for that.

I miss you all at home. Now that Christmas has come and gone I have two months until my contract is up. We have some really significant changes going on here at Plus Academy, so if those who remember could pray for the current situation that would be ideal. We have been recently downsized and almost everything is changing over the course of the next few days, so it's a stressful time to be at work. Rob, lucky guy, is off on vacation for this entire week because Kiki is here. I'm very jealous.

Anyway, love you, miss you, give me a call, or get going on Skype already!


Here are some of our Sears-style family photo out takes from Christmas day!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Weekend Blitz

TK was here this past weekend, which made for a lot of great hangout times, and a LOT of running around and going out and enjoying the company of many great friends.

Thursday TK got here and a bunch of us went out for galbi dinner.
Friday we went to the Jimjillbang (bath house) and TK was let in on the secret of Korea. I'm still not sure how he really felt about being around a few hundred naked Koreans and hanging out in saunas all night. But hey, you've gotta experience culture right?
Saturday was my long awaited gathering in Chang dong and we all had a pretty good time. We had loads of wine and cheese and created what looked like a fairly mature party, that is, until TK started making a war zone with the appetizers. He created a battlefield with gummi bears, toothpicks, cheese and crackers. It was pretty funny. Me, Rob and Matt.

Sunday was a rude awakening after spending all night hanging out till all hours of the morning me, TK, Jamie and Jennica made our trip to the Demilitarized Zone, the North/South Korean border. It was pretty cool to see, but also the weather was deathly cold. I just wished that I had dressed a whole heck of a lot warmer. It was cold, but also clear, so we had a really great view of the North Korean villages, albeit that they were "propoganda villages" built by good 'ol Kim Jeong Il to let South Koreans see their "prosperity".

Hey Mr Kim, you're not fooling anyone.

According to the South Korean soldier who debriefed us, the buildings in the propoganda villages don't even have floors and were never intended to be inhabited by people.

Good job Kim Jeong, that's why your people are starving to death! Concede already!

The above pictures are some shots taken from the DMZ. The last one is my favorite, the North Korean mountains as taken from my moving tour guides van and from behind much barbed wire.

Anyway, after Sunday's tour, TK and I braved more cold weather to shop in Dongdaemun so that he could bring back copius amounts of faux Puma shoes. When his suitcase was packed to go home, he could have been bringing them back to sell. Ebay anyone?

It was a good time, but I'm utterly exhausted at this point and today's usual six class in a row day was a struggle for sure. All I need to do now is catch up on a little bit of sleep before round two when Kiki gets here on December 24th. Can't wait!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

All caught up

Happy Belated US Thanksgiving. I was lucky enough to have a US Thanksgiving dinner on the Yongsan Military Base in Seoul. It was so awesome and I don't think that I've ever eaten so much food in my life. It was great and we had a lot of really cool, really fun people who came too. I'd estimate that there were a little over 200 people there from our Church (which is why we were there in the first place). Anyway, I'd have to say that my personal highlight of that night was encouraging my table to compose a poem, because clearly at things like this they need a way to choose table numbers, and then I read said poem to the room. I didn't even think about what I was doing, I just wrote down everything that anyone said, then ran to the front. Once I was up there I realized...holy crap, there are a lot of people here....and then read the poem and OUSTED the team ahead of me who's number was called...and recalled...after table 15's performance.

The Yongsan Military Base Santa and...Andrew.

Brother Yun and his interpreter, who was an old Finnish man who spoke English and was fluent in Chinese!

The day before this dinner a man named Brother Yun came to speak at my church. Brother Yun is an incredible man from China who essentially initiated the movement in the Chinese house churches. He was imprisoned and severely beaten for his "crimes," but has survived and now travels around the world telling his story and working on new projects with those still in China. However, he can't return there because he can assume he will be excecuted.

Anyway, listening to this man speak after reading his book, The Heavenly Man, was incredible. The night at the church was really awesome. Y'know when you just sense that God is there, I mean, sometimes you know that he is, but you can't always believe that it's true? Well, on this night he was there and I think that everyone knew it. Not because of Brother Yun, because lets be serious, the man doesn't have Jesus in his pocket and let him out when he preaches. But I think that everyone in the room was there with an expectiation that God would do something because most if not all of the people in the room had read his story and knew where this man had come from and what he had been through and so we were all beginning to understand what God is capable of. It was just a truly incredible night and I'm so glad that I had the privelage of going.

In other news, Dan Olson came to my apartment 2 nights ago and ripped a 700 page book in half! I am not even kidding here. He made the claim and Rob wanted him to back it up so he went and found a novel that he had just finished and...well, Dan followed through. Actually I have the event on video, it's wonderful.

It was actually quite impressive to see it all go down. Can't say that I've witnessed it before..

Anyway, it snowed quite a bit here last night and I know that a lot of you in Vancouver have been complaining about the snow there, not like my Ottawa friend who has been in snow like conditions for weeks now...I think she wins.

Anyway, it's cold here and I expect that it will be cold like this and progressively colder until I leave, which happens to be less than 3 months from now. Sometimes I can't believe that I've been here for that long, or that my contract is coming to an end. In many ways I'm ready to go home, but when I think about the reality of my situation: going from living in my own apartment for a year to living with the parents with no car, no job and not much on the's a little intimidating! However, I do have plans to hit up Europe with Kiki in September 2006 for a couple months, so I am pretty stoked about that. I figure that if I don't do it now while I'm young and single and with this money that I've made, that I will regret it forever. So that's that. I'm going.

This picture is my "Korean Girl" picture because every Korean girl has a camera phone and takes pictures of herself on the subway, at work, wherever she can as if to just check her hair.