Saturday, March 28, 2009

Missionaries*

My wife asked me if I would make a “guest contribution” to our blog. I accepted. Specifically, she asked me if I would write about my spiritual experiences here in South Korea. It’s easy for these types of posts to grow in length as there have been many blessings whilst we’ve been here, so I will tend to the brevity of this post as best I can.

I will begin by sharing with you my previous experiences from when I was a Student Missionary on the Island of Yap, three (3) years ago.

While on Yap, I had a very difficult time in feeling that I was making a positive impact on the lives of the students. Most Student Missionary’s prayers go something like this, “God, don’t let me be ineffective as I try to serve You.” My prayer went something more like this, “God don’t let me negatively affect the students, rather, let me be, if anything, ineffective in their lives.”

So my first year out as a missionary wasn’t so much a year of triumphs and spiritual conquests, but a year of spiritual struggle.

To cut many words into few, this year has been a total reversal from my other experience. It seems that spiritual blessings are boundless and countless. The following paragraphs are short examples of people who have been blessed by God while we’ve been here.

Nearer to the beginning of our time here, I prayed a prayer along these thoughts and words, “God, send me someone my way whom I can influence for You. Amen.” Within the next few days, one of my students asked for Bible Studies.

Wow! How many people come up to you and ask for Bible Studies? Does it get any easier? So during the past few months, my wife and I have been studying the Bible almost every Saturday with a young man and his girlfriend. They are our friends and they trust us. As a result, it is much easier to share with them what the Lord has shown to us in our lives. And it seems that every time they ask a question, the Lord supplies us with answers straight from His Word. We have been able to talk about many things: Where do people go when they die? Is Hell eternal? What guidelines should we have in music, movies and media in general? And many other topics.

What’s very positive is that when we talked about how there should be an apparent difference between Christians and non-Christians, they totally agreed! Paul, the student who asked me if he could study with us, said that there’d be no point to being a Christian unless there was a difference! This attitude makes many topics very simple to discuss. Many people want to hold on to all of their current practices (and sometimes, understandably so), but Paul sees that living for God should, and does, bring positive life changes. He is honest with the difficulty of making life changes, but he is also excited to continue walking with God into healthier lifestyles – mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

In addition, we just plain, ol’ enjoy spending time with them. It’s a blast to spend time with a young Korean couple discussing various life topics and how God has great plans to give us more enjoyable lives. In the next few weeks, we hope to see a movie with them, go to a park, and possibly go to an amusement park called Everland.

Another man in his mid to upper 30’s was in one of my English classes. He made it very clear during the term (a 2 month period of study) that he had no interest in God, but, rather, was more of an Agnostic or Atheist. I tried my best to share evidences and logical theories which bolstered the existence of God and the authenticity of His Word, while showing some weaknesses in such beliefs as Evolution and Atheism. The term came to an end. I could do little but hope and pray that God had influenced his life and planted some seeds. So I was excited when, looking at the list of students in my religion class for the following term, I saw his name.

As this second term went along, he had no problem sharing with me that he frequently got drunk. This is a very normal and common part of Korea’s culture and society. However, a large portion of our religion class dealt with wine in the Bible. (Did Jesus make wine? The short answer is…no. Jesus made “wine,” but wine, when translated in the KJV time period, could have multiple meanings – a fermented grape drink, or unfermented grape juice.) So I shared with the class evidence which suggested that God doesn’t actually admonish wine, but rather deters its use. Whether or not this portion of the class persuaded him, he recently told me that he had given up drinking. He said he felt much healthier, had more money, and had more time to spend with his family. He really liked not getting drunk! What’s more, he told me that he was thinking about God more and maybe believing in Him.

I don’t know what the future holds for this man and his family, but it is very positive to see someone willing to consider the advantages of alcoholic abstinence.

In my most recent term, a well-learned (as far as English goes) woman was in my class and frequently asked questions, especially about the daily Bible verse we discuss for the first 5 minutes of each class. This one class and verse in particular had her asking many questions. As I tried to accurately and logically answer each of her questions, she gave no indication through facial expressions, emotions, or answers, as to whether or not she agreed with what I was saying. Thus, I came to the conclusion in my mind that she was probably upset with my answers.

At the end of the class, she approached me with more questions. I again answered her questions as best I could – balancing truth with tact. Though, as previously stated, I expected her to show frustration or disagreement, this was not the case. She shared with me how God seemed more clear, and how the answers made sense to her. With this, I swiftly ran to my locker to make the most of the opportunity (I frequently run to my locker to grab a particular book which I hand out as often as I can). I ran back to her and handed her a book, Steps to Jesus. This is the Korean-English, simplified adaption of the book, Steps to Christ. She seemed delighted.

A few weeks ago, before the end of the term, I asked her if she had had a chance to read the book. She said she had, and, in fact, she had read it the night before, and a particular phrase, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” (obviously said by Jesus) had jumped out at her. God is watering those seeds.

Examples like these happen almost daily it seems. It has been really wild. My wife and I wonder if America isn’t really like this too, but untapped. Maybe one of the reasons events like this happen here so frequently is because we make the most of the opportunities we have instead of letting them slip. Perhaps we do this because we feel it’s our job as “missionaries” to talk more about God. Whatever the reason, we want to take this mentality with us wherever we go. It’s a true adventure to see what God has been doing here in South Korea.

*The term "missionary" within the Christian church seems redundant. Shouldn’t a Christian, by default, be a missionary? How have we come up with this term? What exactly defines a “missionary”? Is it getting paid less money? Is it traveling overseas? If we use these determiners, we could almost classify “vacation” as the same. This is a job. I believe we should all work with the same energy to bless and influence those around us – no matter where we work.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Food = Very Important & Frusterating

Anyone who knows Matthew know that he loves food. As his wife, I really wanted to do my best to impress him with my culinary skills. Most of my own cooking was done last year in my Southern Village apartment with my beloved roommates Kristin and Emily. Kristin and I made up a saying that goes, "If it smells good...it must taste good." It was our way of testing out new seasonings and hoping for the best. My mother and father are both great cooks and so I felt pretty confident as we headed off to Korea.

Cooking food in a foreign country (those of you who have done this already understand) is somewhat frustrating. Okay, actually it was really frustrating at first. All the labels are in Korean and honestly the picture doesn't always match up with what's inside. To complicate matters we are vegetarians and wanted to stay that way so finding food was a challenge.

One time I got a package of curry. (This was curry that we'd looked up on the internet for ingredient and found out it was vegetarian. This method was very common for us when we first came here. Find the web address on the food, look it up, change website to English, and find the ingredients) I was really excited that day. We had been in Incheon for only a short while and so that day I finished my classes and headed to the open markets. Now I am very familiar with these markets, but this was the first time I'd gone by myself. I proudly purchased the necessary ingredient and even happened to find some extra wonderful goodies! I was so excited to have a new and filling meal for my husband when he came home from work.

I cut the vegetables, gently cooked them, cut tofu and baked it, and set the table. All this took longer than it took to type it and so soon I heard Matthew's key in the door. Pride filled my heart as he exclaimed, "Wow! It smells good in here!" I smiled broadly and said that we were having curry! It would be a few minutes more but that would just give him time to put his things away. Happily I opened the curry package and squeezed out the sauce onto all my hard work. At first I stared in disbelief and squeezed the rest of it out, just to make sure. And sure enough-there were chunks of beef. I called Matthew over to see the contaminated sauce covering all my beautiful and hard work. He said we should just get rid of it. Now, at this point we had not been paid yet. We were very careful with our money and it made me feel terrible that I'd wasted money and all that work. To think about throwing it all away was too much and like Meg when her jelly didn't "jell" I burst into tears and went to our bedroom. Poor Matthew. I have such a wonderful husband though. We ended up washing the curry off, and I tried to make my own sauce (it wasn't good but Matthew said he liked it) and we ate. To say I was disappointed is an understatement.

Anyways, that whole week was like that. The ingredients were different than I thought or the oven (which doesn't have degrees labeled on it) would cook things wrong, or I'd just mess up. It was a bad week. This video is from the end of that week.

video

The only success I had that week was my bread. And even that was weird and different. I didn't have whole wheat, so it was all white bread and the yeast is different here and was overpowering.



This is me before I realized about the yeast flavor. I was so excited to make my own bread and have it rise and everything!



But I did make a mess of the kitchen while I did it.

I've had failures in food here in Korea that are very frustrating but I've learned a lot. For instance, I never made my own crust before, but since they don't have anything like that her in Korea (and no shortening) I had to learn to make my own.



This is my first attempt with crust and a veggie-pot pie. It doesn't look pretty but it actually tasted good!



Plus, Matthew liked it...and that's the whole point! Healthy and delicious!



As time has progressed (and I've tried other recipes) I've gotten better. I made this at Christmas for some guests. I'll admit that it's not the prettiest crust, but it's so much better than it had been.

A teacher here, Ruth, is a great cook and so I've learned to ask her about ingredient and whether or not Korea has them. She's been really wonderful to teach me how to make from scratch certain things like condensed milk. I've also just experimented with things. Thankfully I've been able to experiment more successfully because seasonings and spices I'm use to have been sent to me from America =)




One day I wanted to try making lettuce wraps. If any of you have been to PF Changs and had the lettuce wraps you'll know how delicious they are! This was our version. It was decent...but nothing like the real thing.

The things I've learned here have been wonderful for me. I've learned to make more from scratch then I'd ever wanted to know...but now I'm glad that I have and can. I enjoy experimenting with recipes. www.allrecipes.com is a wonderful spot for me. But family is the best place for recipes.




Omelet without cheese but with tomatoes and green peppers. Cheese is really, really expensive here. Actually anything dairy costs a lot so we've learned to not use it in a lot of things or use less.


There is some veggie meat here, you can see our previous post about our expedition to get tons of vegeburger... But when we went to visit Palau we were able to bring back some food that we couldn't get here. Whole wheat, dried beans, seasonings, cream of tartar, and veggie meat! This video was taped the day after presidential elections.

video


I still fail at making things correctly (choplets were my recent, not-so-good-cooking-experience) but at least now it's not like I'm wasting all the food we have and just spent our last few dollars on food that is now ruined, as it was with the curry experience. =)

There are some good food things about Korea. One that I'd like to share is about ice cream. For about a pint of ice cream it's at least 6,000 won. Anyway, it's much more than it's worth. However, for a bar of ice cream its only 700 won. But...it get better. During the winter most stores sell ice cream for 50% off. So it's only 350 won per ice cream bar. Or (if it was a good exchange rate) 35 cents. We decided to take advantage of this one day...




We still have some left but now spring is here, so I think the 50% off is going to be gone soon. But with spring we're going to try and not have ice cream and instead make fruit smoothies more! Fruit smoothies are our newest love! Matthew says, and I quote, "I think they taste as good, but I like them better because they're healthier." Now that something!

As we have previously posted, eating out is also and adventure and one time we went with two other teachers to a restaurant that we'd heard about but hadn't gone because it was expensive.



VIPS is the name of the restaurant and above are Ruth, Kelly, and myself. We were very happy with this place! It was a buffet and had a better variety than we had seen previously for vegetarians. Taco makings, pizza, create your own pasta, salad, fruit, whole wheat bread, mozzarella cheese w/ tomatoes, and the list went on. mmmmm It was lovely. We did this over last term break to celebrate and have a good time.


But as much as eating out is fun, home food is better.

video


This video is of us enjoying a food gift from my grandparents! Yay for ChilliMan!


As our love for smoothies as grown we are in a greater need of fruit.




This is the bunch of bananas Matthew got for 3,000 won. It was a great price. Matthew says it were at least twenty bananas!!




When you see beauty in even the way fruit is put together I am convinced over and over that there is a Divine Creator and His hand is in our lives.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Shopping

Today's blog is about...shopping. Here are a few of our shopping experiences.


This is E-Mart. This is similar to a Wal-Mart and it takes about 15 minutes to get there by bus. To get a cart you have to put a 100 Won coin in the handle of the cart and it will unlock. When Matthew and I first came to Korea we thought you had to pay 100 won every time but you get back the money when you put the cart back. The first time we got a cart and then put it back we were both surprised when our coin popped back up! I think it's a rather ingenious idea.

Inside it's laid out in different departments and there are two levels. The following video shows how we go from one level to another with our cart.

video

I think that this too, is a marvelous idea. =) A flat escalator for carts, how awesome is that?! We think that because everything is built up or down here (lack of space in Korea) that these were invented to make moving carts easier.

While E-Mart is similar to Wal-Mart there are some distinct Korean influences.



As you can see, these are dried cuttlefish. They might be squid, but we're pretty sure it's cuttlefish. Anyone for a snack?

But E-Mart has been very good to us. When we first arrived in Korea, it was the only place we felt semi-normal. Plus, they have free samples if you go at the right times, and when you are starving and have no money, it's the place to be!
E-Mart has also been a place to get the new and improved! We are staying in the apartments furnished by the SDA Language Institute and some of the stuff has been around for a while. Please observe the following improvements.

The old ironing board left rust stains on our white clothes and different wrinkled marks because the board had lines in it and it was very frustrating. Especially so because we don't have a dryer in Korea and I have to iron just about everything. We got this early on, so these are old pictures (obviously as I have long hair). The new ironing board is so wonderful, plus it looks more cheerful! However, carrying that back on a bus with arms loaded full of bags is not something I want to repeat.



Also, courtesy of E-Mart is the iron. When we got to our apartment the first night I scanned for an iron because all of our clothes were wrinkled from being in our suitcases. Our coordinator, Cleopatra let us use hers but helped us to get this snazzy new iron. I was very proud and plus the two matched =)

Here I want to insert a video of the washing machine. When it is done it sings. You might have to turn up the volume but its funny so check it out =) The first time I thought it was someone's cellphone and then I figured it out and it cracked me up.

video


Whoever moves into our apartment next should be very grateful because we've helped to update the place. One day when Matthew came back from school, and I was cooking lunch, he said, "What's that smell?" Now this was not in the positive sense and so we tried to figure it out. Sometimes there are just random nasty smells that waif through our apartment from the outside, but soon we realized that it was our rice cooker. It was old and just reeked when it cooked rice. So we told the school our situation and then we got this...



The new one is really high tech and makes little beeping sounds so you know it's done cooking. There are a lot of buttons on it but we only know that start and stop button.


The next purchase we made was fairly recent. Our frying pans are old, one even has a melted handle and everything sticks to them. No matter how much oil you put it's terrible. So last time we were at E-Mart I was staring at the nice new frying pans and Matthew said I could get one!!



The one of the left is the new one, it might be hard to see which is better, but the new pan is very, very wonderful!



Matthew has a very lovely pose, don't you think? =P


Once a term (every two months) all the teachers go together to Costco. We pile in the blue van and off we go. Costco has several layers and here is a video of us going down into Costco's parking.

video


The first floor in Costco is everything non-food related, second floor has food. It's pretty simple to get around and a great place to get things we can't find at other stores.


Sometimes when we are leaving Costco, we find that our van has been blocked in by another car. When this first happened I thought, "Oh no, now we're going to have to try and page the person to have them move!" But no one else seemed concerned, instead a couple people went to the car and pushed it out of the way! The car had been put in neutral for that exact purpose and we just pushed it out of our way, into someone else's way, and loaded up and left. Nothing to it... I wished I'd had my camera that first time, but luckily I had it another time, so here's a video of that situation. Our vehicle is the blue van.

video


E-Mart and Costco are our biggest stores but there are many other little shops to get food at. You have seen some of those places in a previous post. We buy from local stores quite often and fresh tofu is one of our staples.




Here is a fresh block. They have it laid out in a huge rectangle and then these squares are cut up and put into a bag for you. It is a lot of tofu and we usually freeze 2/3rds of it.
If you are feeling adventurous there are always a variety of sea creatures to eat.



These are called "sea squirts" - at least that's what we were told. They look like a rubber ball with triangles on them. Eat up!
Sometimes when one might feel lazy about shopping, shopping can come to you! While riding the subway there are many opportunities to buy things. Stockings, back supports, music, walnut openers, gloves, etc. Here's a sneak peak at one of those situations.

video
This is one of the hardest sales pitches because you have to make it, sell it, and keep moving within about two minutes. That's how long it is between stops and you have to try and convince the current riders very quickly. My personal favorite is the walnut opener/peeler/cutter because they demonstrate it and I find it fascinating to watch. Apparently whoever lived in our apartment thought so too because we have on in our drawer.


I wanted to throw this picture in here. I saw this when we were going to meet up with on of my students for her birthday. It's an ad for a store.




When all is said and done and it's time to come home, we have four floors to ascend. In hopes that you will sympathize we put up a video of our ascent.

video
Thank you for reading! =)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Students

We have just finished up our third term and I wanted to show you some more picture of our classes. Unfortunately Matthew didn't think about taking pictures of his classes until part way through party day, so there aren't very many of him with his students.



This is a picture of Matthew's level four class. Starting on the left and going clockwise: Chris, Olivia, Shiny, Bo-Ram, Violet, Jennifer, Orchid, and Sue. They really got into the Scrabble game! =)

One of my students, Judy, was quite the creative cook. She made things for me on both of our party days that were really fun.



I translate this to be, "Beth I love your smile."



I cannot make this picture turn the correct way so you can just look at it from there. These were chocolate bars with a bottom that was kind of crispy and carmel like. Matthew really enjoyed it. I just thought the whole thing was really sweet of her to make.



This is my 7am class going clockwise from my left in the picture. Jim, Karen, Judy, Alyssa, David, Evan, and myself.

For my 10am class they took Matthew and I out to lunch at Ashley's. He had taught most of them the term before so it was a good time for them and him to spend time together. Back row from left to right: Jenny, Jessica, Kate, and Julianne. From row: Sarah, Sophia, Sunny, and myself.


Right before he took our picture he turned around and took one of himself. All the girls laughed, and so I thought I'd post it for fun. =)


And now...for some junior classes!



This was one of Matthew's more active and involved classes. When that happens you can have a lot of fun. =)



This is my "Yes I Can 1" class and they were a lot of fun. The teacher, Joanne, in the back is not only my co-teacher, but both Matthew and my friend.



We are not supposed to have favorite classes but this was my favorite class for SIX MONTHS. I was so blessed to have them for three terms and so I was really attached to them. They are brilliant students and the teacher, Wendy is amazing as well. Left to right: Nana, Lily, Annie, Moon, Steven, Tommy, Poohti, Alice, and Sarah. I am really missing them this term but I pray for them and wish them the best.



This picture is of my "ABC Hunter" group. These children are pre-K and Kindergarten age. I signed up for this class just to see what it was like. I was actually nervous that I wouldn't like it. Those of you who know me, know that children just make me nervous and I'm not totally sure around them if I don't know them well.

This class changed my whole perspective on teaching and children. They won my heart over and I'll never be the same. I signed up for them this term so I'm excited to be teaching them again. Below are some videos of my class time with them. Last term we sang songs to learn different English words and vocabulary. I will put the words underneath the videos. I had to link the videos from my facebook, so if this does work you can try to view then via facebook.



Hello Teacher, Hello Friend
Good to see you everyone
Happy, happy, happy is the time
When we have ABC Hunter
Let's have fun, fun together (x2)



Teddy Bear, Teddy bear jump up and down.
Teddy Bear, Teddy bear touch the ground.
Teddy Bear, Teddy bear shake your body.
Teddy Bear, Teddy bear turn around.



I will...
Swim, swim, swim like a turtle
Walk, walk, walk like a duck (x2)
I will...
Hop, hop, hop like a rabbit
Jump, jump, jump like a frog (x2)
I will...
Run, run, run like a dog
Fly, fly, fly like a bird (x2)


So that is just a sneak-peak into our classrooms. We have a lot of fun teaching here in Korea and have also learned a lot. We pray that we are being examples of Jesus to them in big and small things.

23rd Birthday

For my birthday, on February 20th I woke up to my husband making me breakfast! It was a lovely meal and then he gave me flowers that were from my Daddy!








Aren't they beautiful!


Then I went to go and teach but my 7am class surprised me with a cake! They were so sweet to remember and do that for me.




As a reward we spent the class just talking with each other =P Left to right: Evan, me, Judy, and David.

Since my birthday landed on a Friday Matthew took me to a restaurant for lunch. mmmm. We went the the Chinese restaurant we had been to once with our other teachers.




Check out my birthday on the wall!

Chinese food brings me joy, like salsa brings Jason joy. And even though this was Korean-Chinese food, it was still Chinese food!




This is my friend Mr. Dragon-Statue-Man.

Then we went to E-Mart because Matthew said I could pick something out for my birthday, I didn't find anything that day, but I wanted to show you some of their amazing cakes.



Look at the cow and the shoes below it. All edible. Incredible. =)

That night we had our famous chilliman, garlic bread, and grape juice supper. Family tradition.

But for a surprise Matthew brought out a cake for me!! I was really surprised and happy.



video


It was strawberry and what made that extra special was that my mom always makes me strawberry cake.

video


It was a really good birthday and Matthew did everything to make it special. It was a "weekend" birthday and so I got to have all my favorite foods and got to pick what movie I wanted to watch and different little things like that.

I also received some packages for my birthday from my Aunt Shari, my mom, and our friends Brooke and Justin. My grandparents also sent a package but it got sent back to them, so now I will get my birthday even more extended! Thank you to everyone for their love and birthday wishes!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Friends

At this point I will insert an out-of-order post.

During Lunar New Year we were invited to Paul's apartment and then his girlfriend Mary would come over to cook for us. We were very excited and this was our meal.



It's all about presentation. But it was good as well. The only negative part was that Matthew ate fish accidentally. He says, "I don't understand why people eat meat."

After dining, we played jenga! We also sort of learned to play a Korean game, but Mary and Paul said it was usually used as a gambling game. It was fun though =)







video

When we returned from Colorado in February we wanted to thank our fellow teacher for all the extra work they did for us. So we invited them over for supper one Saturday evening. After eating and playing some games we had a raffle. Matthew had made up numbers and put them on pieces of paper and I drew out the number and would read it off.

The following video is the intense excitement as I read off the numbers. hehe.

video

Sunday, March 1, 2009

No Regrets

The Sunday we returned from Winter Camp, Matthew and I slept very soundly. The next morning there was an urgent email from my Dad asking us to get online as soon as we could. I was worried that something had happened to my Aunt Teresa who is currently dealing with leukemia. I was not prepared for what he told us. He told us that my grandpa had died. Even now, as I type those words my heart aches and I want to cry.

But there wasn't time to do much of anything, except head out to school. We had classes to teach. When Matthew told the teachers they all were so kind and offered to take my classes or do anything they could to help. But all I wanted to do was be with family. Grief is something terrible and strange but all I knew was that I needed to be with family.

So I looked up the policy on funerals and found out we had five days to go home. And so we packed. It was a flurry of the next two days of teaching and packing. The teachers that we teach with are amazing. They didn't complain at all, as they all took on extra classes so that Matthew and I could fly to Colorado for the funeral. It was Monday and the funeral was to be on Thursday. My Grandpa and Grandma Sarah live in Fort Garland, Colorado so we would not be flying to our home in the East Coast but it would still be America.

There was a mixture of joy and intense grief as we prepared to go. We were excited to be in America again, to see part of our family, yet the reason for our travel was heavy on our hearts. However, we were so busy preparing to travel and then traveling that the grief came in waves. Sometimes the waves were bigger than others. The biggest waves hit when we had to leave everyone and come back to Korea.

Here are some pictures and more details to our journey.



Matthew is now a seasoned traveler so he was prepared for our short trip to the USA with just carry-on items. The Incheon International Airport is very familiar to us now and it easy to get around. We're kind of proud of our airport.




Since Bear-Lee is my comfort bear, I had to bring him, even though we were trying to be careful with how much we were bringing. He was worth the extra space. =)




This was our plane that took us from Korea to America. Incheon to San Francisco. We were even able to get exit row seat and had wonderful leg room! If you are tall you will understand how truly amazing this was. Especially for a 10+ hour flight, and that was with a good tail wind!




Happiness was ours as we landed in America. I had a similar feeling to what soldiers might feel when they get back to America. I would have kissed the ground if I'd been outside right away =)



After using my cell phone (hooray for cell phone usage!!) to call family we were off again to fly to Nevada. As I slept Matthew was able to take pictures of some beautiful mountains.



We landed in Las Vegas, Nevada and I thought it would be a good time to show off my Adventist tee shirt. In the picture I'm pointing to an airplane that has "Las Vegas" written on it and to my shirt.

The air seemed so clear and all the details were sharper than in our polluted city. Our last flight to Denver was bitter sweet. We were excited to see Jason (who was waiting for us) but sad about what else awaited us the following days.

Getting off the airplane and wrapping myself in Jason's hug was so good for my heart. Family is so important.

Of course...the boys were hungry and Taco Bell was beckoning to us.




Here Matthew proudly stand by the Taco Bell emblem and then later happily ate his food.

We were all exhausted but managed to stay awake for the 3 1/2 hour drive needed to get to Fort Garland. Daddy was waiting up for us. What is it about grief that makes us appreciate what we have all the more? All of our hugs that day were extra special I think.

The following morning we woke up groggily and went to eat at Grandma Sarah's house.



My two of my aunts were there. Aunt Karen and Aunt Linda. Uncle Albert (who is only one year older than me, so he's more like a friend or cousin) had also flown in from his school in the East Coast was there and the first one I hugged. It was so hard, knowing that we were there for only a short time and yet we were all there to grieve together. I feel at loss for words as I write this blog.


The beauty of the mountains surrounded us that Thursday as did the bright sunshine. It was a beautiful day and the majesty of God's nature was oxygen to our souls.



We spent time that day together. Sometimes crying, something laughing. Always loving and always remembering. And for me I was learning. Korea has already been teaching me what is most important, but this was etching it into my heart.

We prepared for the memorial service/funeral that afternoon and dressed in black. I still can't believe my Grandpa is gone and I miss him. So very much.



Here is something my aunts, uncle, and dad wrote.

"Bill’s great loves were his family, country, community, and baseball ... in that order. He served in the United States Navy during the Korean War and played for the Navy baseball team. The thread of baseball ran throughout his life whether he was playing aboard a U.S. Navy carrier, on a semi-pro team or simply watching one of the many kids he loved to support. His love for baseball was only surpassed by his love and dedication to his family.

Bill was a man of strong convictions, had a quiet faith, and deeply loved his family and his fellow man. He eternally had a tender spot for any and all in need, and for all living creatures. He tried to see the best in all. Bill loved to support young people in whatever activity they were currently involved. "



This picture is from part of the service where the children could share thoughts, poems, etc. Matthew and I read some poems that my Aunt Teresa wanted us to read on her behalf, because she could not be there. Jason's prose was particularly moving.



During the service there was a portion where anyone who wanted to could stand up and share about Grandpa and how he was a part of their lives. Grandpa gave to people even when he couldn't really afford to help them. Grandpa was a person that everyone trusted and knew would be willing to help them out. He lived out the Golden Rule. I am proud to be his granddaughter. Not everyone was able to speak but in this little town where people came in jeans and t-shirts to the funeral you could see that they loved him and respected him. It was not just the words that were spoken that showed this, but the fact that there literally were not enough seats for everyone. The potluck room had to be opened up to let enough people into the church and the doors were opened for people to listen and pay their respects.

Because Grandpa was a veteran there was another ceremony done for him by the VFW. It was very touching and a flag was given to Grandma Sarah.



After all this there was a fellowship meal. People could be heard around the rooms telling stories about Grandpa. Many people came up to me and my family telling us how great of a man Grandpa was.





This is a picture that was taken years and years ago. It's a favorite picture of mine. This is in front of Grandpa's antique shop. I'm the baby girl on the right side sitting on Mama's lap. Jason is sitting to the left. This picture was on display at the fellowship meal and I'm glad it was.


The night grew closer and it was time to go our separate ways. Some of us gathered in the hotel rooms and talked, spending time together. Some of us even went and ate dinner later on. But the most important thing was spending time together. To have those moments. The hug, the smile. Memories that are being stored in our hearts.



Friday morning came all too soon and Matthew and I had to prepare to leave that day. Our flight would leave early on Saturday so we couldn't stay that night. But Friday was a special day for us.

First we all had breakfast together.



Then we made our way to the Indian Creek Cabin. A place of huge significance in my childhood.



On the way there was saw some mule deer. This kind of nature is special to see even in America, but for Matthew and I it was spectacular.



It was so hard to see all the beauty around us and know that we were going back to concrete walls and polluted air.


This is the cabin that my grandparents own. It's a small place but when we go to visit them, we always stay here.


This picture is of my first real visit to Colorado. In the back are my Dad and Grandpa. Then it's Jason, myself, and Albert. Those were wonderful summer memories.


This picture will mean nothing to most of you but it's the kitchen of the cabin and so many memories are tied up in this house, especially in this room. Late night card games and laughter. Growing from children to adults.

We spent time there and then went down to Grandpa's antique shop. All of us have loved the antique shop. To look through things and ask Grandpa what it is and see all the people coming in and out of the shop. But now it was empty. Cold with the sign on the door stating Grandpa's death. Quietly we walked around the shop, picking things up and looking at them. Seeing where he sat and the papers that cluttered on his desk. Death is not when we expect it.


That evening we ate at a restaurant all together. The meal was actually a gift from someone, in honor of Grandpa.


Matthew is in the back, then Uncle Jim, Beth-Anne, Jason (brother), Daddy, then Aunt Linda, Grandma Sarah, Uncle Albert, Aunt Karen, Sarah's sister and another relative.

We ate dinner and then had to leave. We had a decent drive back to the airport and hotel for a quick sleep and then onto the airport. Leaving that night was harder than coming to Korea the first time. It was hard to know that I was making the choice to go back to a country so far from my family. Matthew's strength for me during that time was God given. I am blessed to be with a man like him.

We arrived and returned the rental car but then ended up going to the wrong hotel, on the wrong shuttle. We were frustrated, exhausted, and beyond emotionally drained. But we arrived to the airport on time and began our journey back to Korea.



This is the screen on our last flight. California to Incheon. Worlds apart.



If you look closely you can see the tops of mountains. This is Russia.

It was a long trip. Not only because of the distance but for all the other reasons that I can't even begin to describe. Some people would say that we shouldn't have gone, that it wasn't worth the time and money. But we have no regrets. We went for family.