Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hello Again from Seoul…

After not being able to sleep this Sunday morning, I decided to get up and work on lesson plans and some school work.  Upon sitting down with my laptop, I realized that I really didn’t want to work on school work and would rather blog.


Let me catch you up on some of the events of the past couple of weeks. 


First, we had our opening week of school at SCS and many teachers used that week to prepare students for some of the academic hardships they were facing this semester in their various classes.  This year, I am teaching a new class…SPEECH, which I am enjoying thoroughly, but I am not sure my students are yet.  Aside from our robbery, the week at school passed rather uneventfully.


Second, on the last day of that first week, Matt and Aaron Collier came to present some material for the camp they would be overseeing here in Seoul.  Our students were going to have the opportunity to experience camp as it is in America! 


During the second week of “school”, the teachers became counselors for a wonderful (if tiring) week of camp.  The students, while still students, were able to find out what American camp was all about.


You have to understand, these students do go to camps here in South Korea.  These camps though are more military and regimented than the WILDS, Southland, Northland, Co-Be-Ac and the like.  Talking out of turn can lead to severe, very extended punishments such as the “drop and give me 20” or prolonged calisthenics. 


The time is usually devoted to intensive study, Bible or otherwise, and other free times are devoted to all kinds of other…less wholesome activities. 


Imagine the surprise of these students when their teachers started screaming and cheering!  It took a LOT of effort to get them all into it at first, but they eventually came ‘round and I think we all had a fun time…well maybe that is not completely true.


I think it was good for our students to see us as counselors as I hope that they will be able to approach us much more easily.  Many of them made wonderful decisions and I look forward to what the Lord is going to do for the next couple of months in their lives.


This brings me to my third point.  It seems that many of our students and teachers fell ill.  There has been some talk that some of these cases were H1N1 and some of those that did get sick, got really sick.  However, while none of them enjoyed being sick I am sure, all of them recovered with the unfounded fears of the H1N1 virus!


While the level of work this year has been extraordinarily high this year, it has been wonderful to have the school full with the students again.  God blesses by giving more than we can handle and then taking care of those things we cannot!


More to come…

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Well, I was Waiting for Something to Blog about…

…and it would appear that I have something now.

School is in full swing with almost an entire week under the belt. The students are not exactly excited about being here, but I have been enjoying them just the same!

From the hat I pulled Speech (Very Excited!), Life Science, Geometry and Algebra 1. I can honestly say that it may be a very tuff year! However, I am very excited about the new subjects and cannot wait to fully sink my teeth into teaching them.

Charity is teaching 4th grade this year…well, that is if she can get over her laryngitis and get her voice back. Unfortunately, she has been sick and unable to recover completely yet from being sick. She has not been able to teach all her subjects and has spent much of her time helping in the office or cleaning our almost always messy apartment. But now I am getting ahead of myself…

I was sitting down this afternoon enjoying my chicken mayo and discussing this afternoon’s boy’s PE class with Mr. May, when Charity came up to say hi and ask whether I had picked up a board game at home. A little puzzled, I asked why she would ask such a question. Her response is the true beginning to this post:

“Because I went home to get something and the door was unlock. Did you forget to lock it back up when you went home this afternoon.”

*Long Pause*

“I didn’t go home today,” I said, “I have been here the whole time.”

Upon these words I knew already what had happened. Still, I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions and assume. Charity and I took the long semi-run home (well it seemed like a long way). Upon walking in I noticed items had been thrown around, stuff was out of drawers and it appeared that our stuff had been thoroughly picked through.

We immediately came back to school to call the Police. The Police came and dusted for finger prints as one of the officers and I filled out a report of what was missing. I noticed that they left my home computer, speakers, TV, PS2, Charity’s iPod and many other valuable items. Both Charity and I had our laptops and I had my iPod, so the things that help us communicate and get our job done also was in no danger.

It seems that they only came to get the Won that was in the various locations in our house. Sum total was about 600,000 Won, which appears to be about $500.00 US. A large financial loss, but aside from some small jewelry for Charity, there was really not much else, as near as we can figure, that was stolen.

The only thing that is really affecting us now is the thought of safety. Still, a couple of things that set my mind at ease and calm my spirit is the following facts.

1. God knows what is happening, has happened and will happen.

2. I cannot be separated from His love in any way (Romans 8).

3. He has been taking care of us so far and will continue to take care of us in the future. (Luke 12)

4. My treasure is not here on earth and cannot be stolen. (Matthew 6)

So here it is in a nutshell. It was scary to think that someone came into our house, invaded our privacy and stole from us. However, God is controlling the situation and He will watch over us.

Let me also say that we are not in fear of this country or of Seoul. This is still a very safe place to live and we are still enjoying it very much.

As always…

More to come…

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Time to Spare?…Time to Blog…

So with the special edition “Debt Free” blog last time, I didn’t get a chance to tell you about all the other things going on in our life for the time being.

First, yes the many rumors are true; we did get a scooter…two in fact. The first one is a little piece of junk Daelim (Honda) 50cc Tact. It is a nice little light runaround, but I had to have some repairs done on it to make it “road worthy.” For a short, small shopping trip it is great…for anything else, at least for this hefty bro, it is a little too small. That led us to look around for another one. I found a 100cc (102.3cc to be exact) Honda Beat (aka. Lead, SCR100) model that is designed to carry two people. Still a little underpowered, but it gets the job done.

Now you might ask why a scooter. Well, it really is a great way to get around. It is a simple machine that also operates using only a twist of the wrist and a clench of the hand. A motorcycle would be more fun, but to have to deal with the many, many, many, many stops and starts here, it is simply more problem than it is worth. As for being underpowered well I have some solutions for that! Probably not for awhile yet though…and will probably have to be used.

Ok, no motorcycle, but why not a car? Let me tell you! With a scooter, you don’t wait at the traffic lights in back…with the other vehicles. You can—and I think sometimes you are expected to—go all the way to the front of the pack and charge ahead of the cars right before the light turns green. It is also a great way to explore on a budget. It costs about 7,000won (around $5) to fill the tank and that will last for about 250km on that 1.5 gallon fill up.

Here are some pics of the scooters

Second, along with these highly economical means of transportation, we also finished up our level 1 of Korean. It has opened us up so much more to the culture and language surrounding us. This does not mean that we are proficient at all, but I can understand and speak enough now to not seem like a total newbie. Still we get the “I-am-smiling-because-I-can-only-partially-understand-what-in-the-world-you-are-talking-about” looks from the Koreans…still a long way to go.

While we enjoyed our classes, I happy that we are done with the summer classes. While we were only in class 6 hours a week, the amount of time that goes into study for that time was huge! I could easily spend 10-15 hours outside of class just in independent study.

Third, with the end of the one thing, begins the next. We will be starting school within the next couple of weeks and it is about time. =) While we have enjoyed the “time off”, it will be nice to get back into the classroom with the students and fellow teachers. I can honestly say this is probably the first time in my life that I can say that I am excited about going back to work!

Charity is starting to get ready for her new position as a 4th grade teacher. I think certain aspects of her new job make her nervous, but I also think the prospect of working with the younger kids make her very excited.

Tomorrow I will be filling in for one of the teachers at our church at Moongyeong Middle school for a couple days at their Summer English Camp. I am looking forward to it!

Well, as always…

More to come…

Monday, July 27, 2009



I know that this should be a “all things Korea(n)” blog, but I can’t help making this announcement.


Last week on Wed. I submitted the last payment of about $3,500 to Sallie Mae thereby fulfilling that last of Charity’s school bill only a year and two weeks from being married.  To say that Charity and I were ecstatic would quite the understatement! 


However, in the midst of my elation, I was struck with the fact that Charity and I have had a painless move into debt free land was really a testament to our circumstances, families and planning.  As a testament to our God and to His goodness to us this post is dedicated to this journey.


First we’ll start with Daniel. 

So I could begin my story with my family very early on.  My parents took the time to give me a good education at home and push me to accept the challenge of college.  From K5 to 12th grade and a little beyond, my parent taught me at home.  This may seem a little strange to talk about my earlier education but my being able to go to college hinged on the support of so many people.  Now my parents were willing to not only encourage me to go, but financially supported me in my endeavors. 


Our family has a long history with BJU and as a third generation student (still thanks to correspondence!) I had quite the example in those that had gone before me. 


When I graduated from high school, I spent the next 18 month working and saving for college.  I had been saving before the end of high school, but then I devoted myself to saving for college.  Even with a good job and living at home rent free (again thanks to my parents for putting their money where their mouth is and proving what they believed) I was only able to save about a year’s worth of college.


When my money ran out, my dad was their to catch me financially and kept me out of debt.  I know the sacrifice that was involved in that, I don’t know that I can totally imagine the amount of work involved in it.  It meant that he was working his regular 40 hours a week and then working on the “gutter truck” for the rest of the week.  I am not sure that he even recognizes the 5 day work week.  In the following two summers I worked my heart out to pay for college but sum total, I doubt I paid more than half of my school bill if that. 


Upon graduation, I stood on that stage in front of all those people and I owed that school absolutely no money.  Yet my parents took it upon themselves to get a loan and they paid it off.  I reaped the benefits of their sacrifice. 


But, to say that it stopped there would also be an understatement.  After meeting Charity at school and realizing that I was hopelessly in love with this sweet girl, I also realized that I needed to get busy about taking care of her and getting ready for our eventual wedding.  Once again, I was back home and again living rent free. 


I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I did get a really nice job.  Free health and dental along with a fair amount of other benefits and a suitable paycheck provided me with great savings potential.  However, it was when the company sent me to Toronto, Canada that I could really start saving.  Between the per diem they gave me and the taking care of all the expenses there that I could basically save all my money from my regular paychecks and had saved something like $6K by the time I finally came back home.


For another full year, I saved and starting using that savings for certain…necessities.  After paying for a car, a diamond ring and some other items, I still had a substantial savings.


I would need it too.  Because the girl I was marrying would come out of school in May of 2008 with around $23,000 worth of school debt.  I don’t want to steal all of Charity’s thunder in her section, but I will say that she worked hard to get it down to about $22,000 by the time we were married on July 5th, 2008.


We went back home to Kansas City to start setting up our lives there.  Till we found a place to live, Mr. Rehn kindly let us stay at his beautiful house in Blue Springs.  Again, with the stipulation that I would keep the property up and work around the house, I wouldn’t pay any rent. 


By the way, if you are reading this and cannot see the hand of a gracious God, then I have to wonder if your eyes are open!


We then went looking for houses.  Two things bothered me though.  The first was my watching our little savings dwindle slowly but surely towards nil.  You see, I wasn’t making an exorbitant amount of money, but it didn’t seem like it was going to be enough to get over the school bill financial hump. 


God had a plan though, because I never would have thought of doing it, but the opportunity to come here to Korea to teach came up and we started considering it.  Two weeks after that, we had the applications filled out and the acceptance to come. 


Right before we left for Korea, I put the last of the savings we had on one of the school bills on a credit card thereby paying it off.  We left the USA with about $15K still to go.


The Lord truly blessed here in Korea though.  Between school, summer school, tutoring, low cost of living and a bit of denying ourselves, we put the last of our debt baggage on the “Goodbye Forever” express and at the point of writing this are completely in the “black”. 


So, if you were paying close attention, you will see that we went from almost $23K to $0 on the debt meter in about a year.  My encouragement to anyone else is that there is a way to do it and you can be completely debt free.  It may take a little time and it may not be the most pleasant life for awhile, but it can be done. 


More than all of that though, it is important that God get the glory for this.  Some people could look at it and say that it is a bunch of “favorable circumstances” but I will tell you that this was providentially set up before I was.



Now for Charity’s part:

Now for my turn to explain how I managed to accumulate so much debt.  Honestly though, its was very little debt compared to what I could have stacked up. 


From the time I was of working age (I think that was age 14 – yeah for babysitting jobs!), I knew that I would have to pay my own way through school (when you are one of ten, this is kind of a given).  I had older siblings that managed to convince me that the best thing to do would be to save every penny I made in high school for college, and that is basically what I did. 


Two of my sisters sat out a year after high school graduation to work to save for college, just as Daniel did, but I decided to take a leap of faith and try to make it through at least a year of college on my high school savings.   Miraculously I made it through the first semester without getting a loan with the help of a 25 hour work schedule.  The second semester was when I had to get my first loan.  Every semester after that took a miracle to get back to school, but somehow I made it back every semester until the first semester of my junior year.


I took that semester to take some correspondence classes, work full time and take a class at a community college. I was determined to graduate on time despite missing a semester of college. 


Once again miraculously I made it back to school and graduated on time!  So many times i have wondered how this was possible because we are talking around $60K to go to school, and I graduated with $23Kish debt, so that is around $47K that was paid off by working summers and Christmas break (it just doesn’t make sense in my mind, so I have to just label it a miracle).  I did have a help along the way with some anonymous gifts put toward my school bill, as well as 2 grant/scholarships.  Also, part of my school debt was sitting on a 0% APR credit card my last semester that my Dad was paying the monthly payments on until I graduated.  My mom also saved up her “tutoring money” and helped me pay for my school books.  Still, when you add up all of this, I am still amazed at how much was paid off by my senior year. 


I’m even more amazed at how quickly we were able to pay the balance off as Daniel mentioned.  All I can say is that miracles do happen, and prayer changes things!


Well that is all for now.  As always…


More to come…

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I Could Keep Apologizing…

…for my long absences from these postings, but I think I will simply post and be done with it!

As I was thinking of writing this post, I was struck with the concept of how much Charity and I have changed in the last 6 months.

They say that so much changes in your first year of marriage. Let’s see how true that is. I am writing the first rough draft of this post as we head to 속조 (Soekcho being the best translation), a little city on the eastern coast of Korea. The specter of Seoul shrouded in the mid-morning fog mutes and blurs the sharpness of the building lines as we slowly leave it behind.

I sit next to my traveling companion and best friend. She sits quietly, sweetly listening to her iPod and passively soaking in yet another hundred new sights a minute. My biggest blessing is in human female form.

What’s more I sit in a wonderful seat. The seats on this bus are ample, comfortable and—compared to those in the US—worth three times the price we paid of 20,000 won (about $17). I will say that the seats are quite necessary as the roads are nothing to speak of…

How have things changed, you may ask. Thanks for your question. First—and most obviously—I am winding my way through mountains 7,500 miles from the Lower 48. I am constantly surrounded by a spoken and written language which I only understand the most basic, rudimentary aspects of…forget speaking fluently!

Second, I am in a new job which is both challenging and wonderful. However, teaching is completely different from the Financial Services industry I was in only about 6 months ago.

Third, I have been eating food that I would have never thought to even try. What is more, some foods that I didn’t enjoy at home, I now find myself yearning and craving. We were invited to Chinese food by one of the students last week. As strange dish after dish was placed before us, I hesitated several times. Amazingly though, the food, although foreign to my taste-buds, was a delicious and wonderful experience.

I guess fourth would be the addition of a dog to our duo. She barks in Korean so I really have no idea what she is saying. Also we have to put 김치(Kimchi) on her dog food or she won’t eat it… In all seriousness, Mia has become Charity’s favorite new distraction. I have never seen a person go from “dogs are gross” to “ISN’T SHE THE CUTEST THING EVER!!!." *Gross!*

All this and more has changed since we have been here. But I won’t lie, there are times when I thought “Are we crazy?” and “What are we doing here"?” I also would be ready and willing to admit that our lives have become both harder and easier in different ways. There are moments when I desperately want to be home among those I know and love. Times when I think of SSBC back home and long for that local assembly. Then there are times on holidays that I really wish I were home.

On a separate note, Charity and I have been plugging away at the Korean Language classes (한국어 for those who can read it). Both of us wish we could speak as well as we are starting to understand and write. To give you an idea of some of out complications, let me bring a small dawn of light on some of our struggles. The most confusing aspect to date has been the number system. In order from 0-10 is 공, 하나, 둘, 셋, 넷, 다섯, 여섯, 일곱, 여덟, 아홉, 열 in the native Korean system. The problem is there is a use of the Chinese system as follows: 공, 일, 이, 삼, 사, 오, 욕, 칠, 구, 십. Now don’t worry about the pronunciation, the simple fact that the numbers have different symbols will tell you that they sound differently. The native Korean is used to count things like meals and other small things. The Chinese numbers are used to count money amounts and phone numbers to name a few uses.

Here is where it gets confusing! To say 3:33 (a time) you have to say 세시(시 meaning “Hours”) 삼십삼분 (분 meaning minutes). So for those that have taken the time to read this far, you can see that there is a use of one number system for the hours and another for minutes. Let me just say: “AAAAAAAaaaaahhhhhhh!”

Well, there is more to say, but it will have to wait…

More to come…

Friday, June 19, 2009

저는 단 이에요…

…But you already knew that didn’t you? 


I know that it has been a long time since I dropped my meager ripple in the information super-puddle, but I am back, if only for a mist-like moment.


Lets do a little math.  During the school year there are 8 hours of on site work.  Most of the time is devoted to teaching or preparation for teaching.  My role is very heavily laden with in between class questions, grading and teaching.  Interestingly enough, I also seemed to be taking a lot of my work home in the form of grading.  By my calculations I spend 8 hours at work per day plus perhaps another 30 minutes a night for a total of 42.5 hours of work a week. 


Fast forward to the last two weeks.  I spend 4-6 hours a day at school with perhaps an hour or two per week for preparation.  So lets say 26 hours—about half that of the normal school week—and then add to that 6 hours of class plus study time and that still puts me about 10 hours a week less time than during the normal school year. 


Mathematically, I should have more free time, but somehow I have been feeling busier than ever before.


By the way, the title of this post is “I am Dan.” “저는” means I.  “단” is literally Dan as it is easier than saying Daw-nee-ael.  The nearest approximation of “이에요” has a basic meaning of “is” or “am.”  So the literal translation is actually “I Dan am.” S DO V.

I think the sad part of the above is the length of time it took me to memorize how to say that as well to write it correctly.  I am a loooong way from using this language correctly!


Well, there is little else at this point to say other than we would love to hear from you!


More to come…

A New Feature!!!

If you look to the top right on the blog page or the left hand side on my Facebook page, you can simply click on this box:

and start typing IMs to me when you can see I am connected.

Thought it would be another good way to stay in touch!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Our Trip to America…

Well sorta…


How bad off are you when Taco Bell sounds awesome?  How long have you been away from your own country that seeing Chevy, Chrysler and Ford vehicles make you stop and stare?  How far from home have you been that hearing English being spoken in a bowling alley by the majority of the local clientele seems strange and a bit wonderful? 


I don’t know that I can answer all those questions, but thanks to a wonderful military couple from church, the Dooleys, my wife and I were able to appreciate all the oddity of being in America in the middle of South Korea for a short period of time on Saturday the 30th.


First, it should be pointed out that the Army base there in Ichon does constitute American sovereign soil and all that it entails.


Second, Mr. Dooley is not Army.  He is Air Force.  Nothing against the Army, but I just feel it should be said that he is an Air Force man.


The Dooleys invited a few of the teachers to come to Ichon and visit them on base.  The activity planned was bowling!  I haven’t bowled in over 8 months and found the time to be incredibly cathartic.  I sat there and allowed English to surround and envelop me.


Once done there, we also had the first Taco Bell meal in 6 months.  Also, so very good and somewhat odd that we missed it so much.  Needless to say that we all chowed-down heartily and everyone left the table with a very full stomach!


When then had the opportunity to tour the base a little and it looked and felt, for the most part, like we were back in the States.


This is my thank you post to Mr. and Mrs. Dooley for the generosity throughout the day as well as their kindness in inviting us.  We appreciate you all so much!


More to come…

Friday, May 29, 2009

As Promised…

We are back on the blog. 


Let me see if I can bring you up to speed. 


First, Daniel’s birthday was the 14th and in celebration many of the teachers went to On the Border for a Saturday dinner.  Not much of a cultural shock but I thought I would take a few minutes to publicly thank so people for the gifts.  Thank you Mylinda and Lisa for the Korean/English Bible and the other cool little things.  Thank you to Linda, Merilee and Holly for the ₩!  Thank you Jason for the Gift Certs. for Outback.  Thank you Joanna for the coffee, tea and mug. Thank you Jessica for the variety of teas. 


I also want to thank all my students that worked so hard to surprise me on my birthday as well.  Thank you to the students that posted their notes and well wishes on my door.  Thanks also to Kevin for his gift of aftershave.  Also, thank you to my wonderful wife for all that she did on my birthday to make it special. 


Second, Charity also celebrated 23 years on this earth one week later on the 21st.  We had the opportunity to go to TGIFridays, really good to have American food once again, and enjoyed yet another wonderful birthday of fellowship with our new friends here. 


For Charity’s birthday, I suggested a day at the spa.  Mylinda, Charity and two of the other teachers went to Spavis, a really nice water park and spa resort thing.  The ladies all said they had a wonderful time relaxing at the spa.


Third, we had graduation here at school.  It was a bit of an odd feeling.  I really didn’t know many of the graduates well, so on one hand I wasn’t too sad.  However, I  saw amongst the attendees and the graduates emotions and sentiment that reminded me of my graduation day and I was a bit affected by it.


I should keep with the spirit of this blog by telling you some of the more interesting happenings that night.  As honor to the molders of the children’s minds, the parents took the teachers and administrators of the school to a really nice buffet restaurant.  Now, buffets, I am pretty sure, were started and have reached their epic proportions through good old American adoration.  American’s love buffets.  However, there are very few buffets here in Korea (or at least in Seoul).


The food there was good!  They had American classics such as prime rib, salad, french fries and fruit bar, but they also had a sushi bar, a desert menu that included do it yourself cotton candy and dduk and a couple varieties of kimchi.


Aside from the food, I noticed that none of the fathers were at the meal.  I am not sure why.  It may be culturally based but it might have been as simple as they were not off work yet.


Ok, there is more I can say, but I think I will save it for the next post. 


What you can look forward to in coming posts:

  • Updates on Mia.
  • More on summer school
  • Korean classes, fun or failure?
  • Summer day trips…


More to Come…

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sorry For the Long Absence…

But Charity and I have been busy and although this blog is important to us, it is hard to put it above other things going on in our lives right now.


Fear not though, I have many things to share and need only the time to sit and write (there is a good chance that is coming this weekend!)


So fear not, this will…









Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Looking Back…

Ok, so this has been an only marginally interesting week.  I say marginally because we have been in school in the routine for most of it, but we did get Children’s Day off.


I cannot say that we really did much on Tuesday.  We did go to Yongson to get a power supply for one of the other teachers for her laptop.  What you have to love about Yongson is the ability to ask on “flea market” style vendor and if you don’t like the price, simply barter.


One cool thing we saw (and I couldn’t resist trying) was the “Kkultarae” (꿀타래).  You can see it being made in the video I found on YouTube below.  It is basically honey that has been fermented and then pressed with a small hole made in the middle of the “pancake” which is then pulled like taffy and folded.  Unlike taffy though, the individual strands are kept separated by malt.  The finished little cushion of fine strands is wrapped around nuts and sesame seed oil which makes a wonderful treat.


I can’t say that we have done much interesting since then.  We both have been getting ready for summer.  That may sound like a simple statement, but it involves the installation of a air-con for the apartment, reading up on Hangul, figuring out our Master’s degree correspondence classes (yes we are both trying to get our Masters in Education) and preparing for summer school.  It has been a little difficult to know that we are only going to get a week or so off before we have to be back and teaching again.  Also, the week school is over is the same week that our Hangul classes start at Seoul National University (aka Seouldae or 서울대).


So, we are looking forward to a pretty busy summer! 


Also, pretty soon on the horizon we are going to be “debt free.”  What a blessing it has been to be here in Korea!  I am doing what I love in a new country while experiencing new aspects of the culture and all the while I am paying off debts back home.  I am profoundly at peace with the world it would seem.


Ok, so may 10th was Mother’s Day.  I thought it would be good to talk on the differences between Korea and America on this important holiday. 


First, Korea has new true “Mother’s Day.”  Tuesday was Children’s Day and Friday (which is actually carried over into Sunday) is Parent’s Day.  Now I think to understand Children’s Day fully, you would have to understand that Christmas in not nearly the marketing mayhem that you have there in the States.  It is actually very low-key and sedate comparably.  Children’s Day is comparable to Christmas in that Parents will spend most of the day with their children.  Also, this tends to be the time of doting and presents. 


For us, we went to Outback (I know it sounds a little strange, but Outback restaurants are quite prolific here) and they gave us “service” (ie something free) of those mini brown bread loves with their signature butter in extra tubs. 


Parent’s Day is actually Mother’s Day evolved.  I have been told that in Korea “every day is Father’s Day” and now so is Parent’s Day.  The holiday is geared more to the mother and the father does take a back seat.  The usual gifts are a carnation along with some other small gift like, *snicker*, a necktie for dad.


I wish I had more to say, but if there are any comments or thought, please drop me a comment on the blog for all to see and I will respond accordingly.


Otherwise, more to come…

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Is This Really Necessary…

So I let my wife go shopping with her sister and this is what she comes back with.  Now, I have had many dogs and they all came with a natural way to keep warm.  We call it fur, but hey, maybe she does need a little something to keep in fashion…yeah I don’t think so either.


Went to a little place called “Buda's Belly” in Itaewon tonight and had some wonderful Thai food.  Other than that, there is little else to say so I will say goodnight and talk at you later…


More to come…

Friday, May 1, 2009

We Are Still Here…

Nobody worry, we are still here.  I am sorry that I have been remiss in updating as I should, but I think the “honeymoon” stage of our acclimation period is on hold for awhile as we settle into the last few busy weeks of school.  I think one of the teachers said we have about 19 days left in the semester.  Sometimes it feels as if we have been here always, while other times I am still the lost sojourner at Inchon Airport.  Life is full of surprises and living here is no different.


While I have little news, I will say that Charity and I are signing up for Hangul (Korean script) classes for the summer and while we are excited about formalized teaching, I can say that it is a most frustrating language for my English tongue to learn.  I never really truly empathized with the missionaries attempting to learn a new language in adulthood till now.  While my need to learn the language is not an absolute necessity, it would be wonderful to walk into a business, restaurant or even church on Sunday and have even simple conversations with the wonderfully kind local people. 


Something that I just noticed recently, as not knowing Korean is much akin to a language cocoon, by trying to use Korean, they assume that I know waaaay more then I can actually say.  I can simple say in my best pronunciation “한국어 조금 이해하다” which, as near as I can make out, means “I understand Korean a little” (literally though it is “Korean little understand).”  Then they shoot down another lengthy list of Korean words as I repeat over and over again that I don’t know Korean in Korean.  I then have to finally say “I don’t understand” in English and that usually ends the matter.


What is worse, some Korean words pop into my head at the wrong time and the right ones won’t come, no matter how hard I think.  It is very awkward to say thank you when you should be saying hello…


A couple of quick items and then I will have to touch in with you all again later.  First, I was asked and had the privilege of leading Bible Study last Sunday.  It is a little daunting to be opening the Bible in front of the local body as I have not really done this before and because many in the local body have very strong faith and knowledge of the Bible already.  My plea for prayer comes on two fronts.  First, that I would not be the center of the teaching time and Christ would take preeminence.  Second, that I would have enough time and diligence to properly prepare. 


Second, this week has been insane!  With the absence of one of the teachers this week, Charity and I have been picking up the other classes and while I initially thought it would be no big deal, it has been quite hectic!


All that to say that we are still here and I know I have been remiss in my posting, but I will try to get back to it shortly…


Until next time,


More to come…

Friday, April 24, 2009

All Tied Up in Knots…

To start my next post, I should say I had very little to do with the preparation for the wonderfully performed SCS Spring Concert.  That duty and privilege went to two other teachers who worked (and continue to work) excessively hard to bring out the talents of those students. 


However, I did have the honor of preparing and coordinating very small parts of the program.  It is humorous in that I have a communications degree which would lead some to believe that I prefer the spotlight.  I however have little to no desire to be in the public eye.  I think it is because of my training that I prefer not to be in the public eye.  For me, working in the background is where I prefer.  No piety involved, it is really just my propensity towards the hermitical.


Two days before the Spring Concert, one of the lady teachers here asked me to take the boys in choir and band to demonstrate how to tie a…tie.  SCS purchased regular ties for these young men to wear at the Concert and I assumed, errantly, these young men knew how to tie a simple tie knot.  I also assumed, erroneously, that all I was showing them was how to tie a Full-Windsor knot, which is, of course, the sharpest way to tie your tie.


Was I surprised!  Only about three out of thirty knew how to tie a tie and only one of them knew the Full-Windsor.  The teaching lesson that ensued was as telling as it was comical.


Before I can get to this, I must explain my qualifications for my being able to teach this daily task to these young men. 


I learned how to tie the Full-Windsor from my father sometime between the ages of 8 and 10.  He must have been a good teacher because I have used it on and off for the last 15+ years.  Subsequently, I learned several other knots but have always returned to the Full-Windsor as it is the nicest and cleanest knot.  After years at church, formal events, performances, being a student at Bob Jones and later roles as employee has necessitated my tying the Full-Windsor upwards of 5,000 times.  In fact I have done it so often that I have created a permanent neuromuscular facilitation (muscle memory, consider your vocabulary expanded!) which allows me to create the knot with no thought at all.  I let my fingers fly through the knot as my mind ponders the coming day.  This statement will come into play a little later.


Flashback to the teaching session.  There I stood on a makeshift podium with collar up and tie draped over neck.  Across from me stood about 30 mirrors of me, sans podiums, waiting expectantly for the first cross of material.  For the next HOUR my hands and voice labored in vigorous attempt after attempt to teach the basic concepts, techniques and movements needed to attain a suitable Full-Windsor knot.


However, after about the fifth time, halfway through the sixth knot, I could not remember the next step.  My brain as well as my hands went into lockdown and I stood there dumbly.  Worse, I tried from the beginning—letting my hands do all the work—and I still couldn’t remember how to do it!  So there I stood floundering in something I have done automatically an average of five times a week for the last 15 years!  While eventually I did recover, I still felt silly trying to remember something so habitual.


I would like to say congratulations to the many young men and women that participated in the program as it was very well done and encouraging to me.


Also, to preview what might be coming in future posts:


Some of our favorite foods in “I Just Ate What?!?!?!?”

The progress of our current Korean lessons in “I Never Meant to Imply…”

A recent poll among students about our fairness in “Teeeeacherrrrr, You So Meeeeeean!”

Or Charity and Daniel’s many trials training a puppy in “Those Were My Favorite Shoes…”



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Also, I would like to say that my thoughts and prayers are being sent to the family and friends of David Anders.  I worked with Mr. Anders for several months and we both travelled to Toronto on the same business trip.  The shock of his sudden passing has brought back the sobering reality that we all have very little time on earth and even less time to waste.  Rest in peace

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --


More to come…

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Part 2 At Lotte World…

Ok, as promised, I will fill you in on the activities of last Friday (4/10/2009).  I know that I am over a week late, but I totally underestimated the business of the first week back to school.  If you go to the Map that I created here.  You can see not only the many paths of our travels in and around Seoul, but I also updates as we go on our little excursions.  Take a look around and especially take a look at the satellite view of Lotte World, it is pretty cool.


If you would like to see a few pictures of Lotte World, then check those out here


So first impressions?  It was like walking into Disney World—without the super-long waits for rides and super-long walks from one ride to the other—right down to the cartoon characters and teenagers running a majority of the rides. 


It was a blast!  They officially have one of my top 5 favorite rides.  It is this giant swing with a rotating disk on the “seat” of the swing.  Here it is at the apex of the parabolic movement. 


Also, the vast majority of rides and places to get something to eat or drink are actually inside! 

The dome in the video is actually the indoor section of the amusement park.  It is quite the sight to see! 


I thought I might be uncomfortable in some of the rides due to my size, but found most of them to be quite nicely sized.  Lotte World is not a Six Flags, Worlds of Fun or Cedar Point, but its rides are slightly better then those I remember at Disney.


As for the other entertainment, I dropped about 8,000 won at the midway games to win about 3,000 won worth of prizes.  It was a bit of fun to shoot a gun that looked remarkably close to a an AK-47.  I am not in the West anymore! 


Also, there was show on the main stage of the interior part of the park.  I really couldn’t understand what was being sung and said, but Captain Hook, Peter Pan, Snow White, some bears, a few Dutch people and a couple of guys in shiny shorts and glossy pants were all singing and prancing around on stage.  I love Korea…  Koreans love English words and they did say and sing a little in English.  What little English came through seemed they were singing about believing in yourself, having confidence and being positive as those things will give you a wonderful life…or something.  Very strange and a little comical.


Otherwise, it was a very fun day. 


Ok, I can’t leave this post without stating a few contrasts…  To understand the first contrast, you would almost have to see the men here.  While there are many women here who take great time to make sure that they are well put together.  You can see these ladies, young and old alike, pull out their mirrors every couple of hours to make sure their face is still perfect, hair is all in place and that their clothes have not rumpled incorrectly.  The humorous part is that the men here are equally if not more concerned about their appearance.  After every ride, I would get off and slowly stroll to the exit as I became spectator to this odd phenomenon of everyone else taking 5 minutes to check how they look in the back of iPods, cell phone screens (called hand-phones here) or nearby windows.  As one, they participated in this little ritual before continuing their day.  All this really brings me to another point. 


I would call them “pretty boys” back in the States and would probably look upon them as less than a “true man.”  However, they are considered very attractive here.  Too my Western mind though, I find it difficult to not look at them like vain peacocks.


Second, Korean couples love to dress alike.  Here they have “couples outfits.”  Couple outfits usually have a saying on one shirt that is finished on the other, cartoon characters that are the same or picture that complete when they stand next to each other.  While this is somewhat silly on its own, it does speak to the simplicity of their love.  They appear to simply enjoy the other person completely.  This is only an external, public observation so I am hesitant even to say that.  However, they do seem to have a wonderful time in each other’s presence. 


Well, I should probably wrap this up.  I will say that I am about a week or so behind and will be making a valiant attempt to get caught back up in the coming weeks.  The one nice thing about being behind is what I will call the preview factor.


So what can you expect in the next couple of blog posts?  At school we had the Spring Concert and I have a few thoughts I would love to share on that.  Also, I Charity and I are looking at beginning our studies in educational Masters degrees and there are some interesting thoughts I have on education in general.


But as you can probably guess,


More to come…

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Part 1 From Suwon…

In an effort to add a little interest to this blog, I will be doing a small two-part mini-series on some of the events this week.  When you take either an entire day or most of a day going or doing one thing, it should be recorded.


On Wednesday, we went to meet a former teacher and friend of one of the current teachers.  So Charity and I along with another teacher, Charity’s sister and her sister’s roommate went to meet up with this lovely lady and her young (toddler age) daughter.  The interesting part of this first leg was really the trip itself.  We rode the subway to Sadang and hopped on a bus to head to the specific part of Suwon we wanted to go.


The subway is never really that interesting except for the crowded conditions.  The bus on the other hand was very interesting.  First, they have what appear to be washable covers for the seats.  While it may not seem like a big deal, if you assume that there are 48 million people in Korea (give or take a few hundred thousand) and that somewhere between 10 and 11 million of them live here in Seoul (again give or take…), it can be a little disturbing to know that you are sitting on the same seat as so many other people.  Now to all the mysophobes out there getting ready to spray their Lysol indiscriminately, please realize, in order to go anywhere greater than 10 km—and most often way less—you have to ride in some form of transportation and having your own car is a luxury beyond our desires and means.  Besides, germs are a good way to build immunities…right?


The next thing I noticed is how warm I felt.  In fact, it is true of everywhere I have been in the last week.  It is HOT!  But no Korean seemed phased by the oven created in the bus full of human BTUs and the solar oven created by the metal bus with the glass windows.  I may be overstating it a bit but it was really hot.  All we needed was an open window to help cool off.  For the first few stops I was standing and had no control over the windows.  Here I stood in short sleeves and jeans in the midst of Koreans bedecked in sweaters and woolen hats who didn’t even seem warm in the least.  Needless to say, my window was opened as soon as I got a seat.  By the way, total trip time via public transportation is about an hour.


Ok, so we got to Suwon with little issue and met up with this former teacher and her daughter just fine.  We settled on Outback for lunch.  For those who may not know, South Korea has many American restaurants but if you want something with a nice atmosphere which also has good western food, Outback is a natural choice. 


A minor side note here, if you look in the menus of at Outback, they are full of wonderful dishes.  With each dish containing meat they include the country of origin for every meat product in the form “Pork.France” or “Beef.Australia.”  Evidently there have been “Mad Cow Disease” scares with American beef and as a result, no self-respecting establishment will be found without the country of origin for their meat.


After nice meal of chicken and ribs, we headed out for the city of Suwon at large.  I cannot say I know that much about Suwon.  However, what I do know is that it was a main battlement and historically a place of refuge.  I was able to find some info about the structures, but it is hard to find a lot of concrete history on the place.  I suppose I will have to continue to look.


I guess a few things struck me as interesting there is Suwon.  First, the city is like this growing/morphing organism that expands outward while constricting itself inward.  The old fortress walls barely stand out against the ever encroaching new buildings.  As you look out you can see the old battlements beside new, shiny constructions.  Also, I think advertisers must overwhelm the public at large.  If there is a way to advertise on it, it will have a poster or flyer or some other form of promotion on it! 


I have posted some pictures here on Facebook.  Also, you can check the map of our travels here.  I might be adding some info to this map as we go and if you would like to follow along at home, feel free to use this map.


Well, that is all I have for the moment.  Please post questions in the comment section if there are any and I will do my best to answer.


So until next time…


More to Come…

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Little 미아, a Little Splattered Paint and an Egged-Faced Teacher.

Thought some might get a kick out of this short movie of 미아 playing one of her new favorite games; Flick the Food! 


As for the splattered paint.  One of the wonderful teachers here at SCS had an epiphany for an activity to kick off Easter Break.  PAINTBALL!!!


It was somewhat interesting to note that almost all the students disliked the idea of playing paintball.  The opportunity to shoot your teacher with an exploding sphere of dyed glycerin propelled by a heavy *puff* of compressed air. 


It was amazing to see the ferocity that arose in sweet student and teacher alike.  The battle cry of one of the teachers as he stormed an “enemy” trench.  The drawing of battle lines.  The shots lucky to hit at a distance and the pain of the paint shot at close range.


While we all are probably still bearing the scars of the event, I believe that everyone had a wonderful time.  I even think we maybe planning on doing this next year perhaps.


Now for the moment you may not have known everyone was waiting for…


While everyone has an April 1st, it seems that Koreans don’t place as much significance on the “Fools” part of that day.  So one of the teachers here helped them learn the full meaning of April Fools.  If you think that teacher was me, well, think again.  I did some nice and easy April Fools jokes and basically had a good-natured laugh.  Little did I know that my day would get…interesting.


I started the 9th grade class just like any other but halfway through—when I was writing something on the board—three of the boys stood up—turning over a desk in the process and creating a huge crash—and started posturing.  This is an important juncture to point out that I probably outweighed all three of these boys and probably also outweighed any two of them combined. 


When I took stock of the situation I immediately treated it as I would two dogs fighting—I went for the scare off.  I slammed the ruler that I had in my hand down on a desk and proceeded to explain—in volumes none to quiet—that if one punch was thrown that I would be the one throwing the rest.  Looking back, I am not sure that was the best action but live and learn…  Two sentences in both boys had their tails between their legs.  I then told them they both had detention for the next two class days.


As I went back to teaching, one of the girls raised her hand and told me “Mr. Moorehead, I am sorry, but you have just been punked!”  Of course, there at the door was the other teacher laughing hysterically. 


So consider this my bow to the fact that the other teacher spent her whole class period planning. :o)


I am sure there will be,


More to come.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Another Man’s Trash..

Ok, I might have spoken about Doosan before and how we walk through the apartment complex either walking the dog or on our way somewhere.


What I might not have talked about is the garbage system here.  It seems silly to talk about, but it is a distinct part of living here. 


There are several types of waste depositories.  First is the “food” trash.  This is for anything of an edible nature.  I believe this trash is taken to composting for the local farms.


Next is the recycling.  To say “recycling” though sounds a little to simple for the complex nature of Korean recycling.  There are trash cans for every aspect of that recycling—glass, Styrofoam, plastic, metal, cardboard, paper, etc—and supposedly, everything is put in the correct bin. 


Third is the “everything else” trash and it is anything that doesn’t fit in the previous categories.  In American terms, this is the garbage in the kitchen. 


The last, and I consider the most interesting, type is the larger items needing a special sign so they get picked up.  This sign means “free to a good home” in my American brain.  So far we have picked up (literally) a computer chair, a computer, one umbrella-holding “kimchi pot”, one nice white faux-leather chair, two Korean tables (low to the ground for eating at the floor level) and now an older model—but still in great working order—TV. 


No I said in one of my last posts that people throw this stuff out as a way of promoting their status (ie “If I can throw it out, I must be rich”), but it can also be attributed to the lack of a U-haul rental location or the fact that it costs soooooo much to move an apartment to a new location here in Korea.  I think buying new things is as cheap if not cheaper than moving all the stuff.  Plus, who wouldn’t want to completely furnish their new apartment with new things?


For those of you keeping Charity in your prayers, thank you so much.  She has been feeling much better and as yet we have not gone back to see the doctor. 


Next week is our spring/Easter break and we are excited to have the time off.


More to come…

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Sights, Sounds and…Smells?

With the recent poll on the blog I thought I would be the eyes, ears and nose of of your experience here in Korea.  I really can’t give you the whole experience, but I can give you a small *snicker* taste of Korea.


From rolling out of bed to breakfast there is really no difference here than in America.  However from moving from breakfast to the first step into the cold shower does bring its surprises.  You see, the floor in the bathroom is one of only three places in the apartment that doesn’t have floor heating.  The only comfort from cold feet is the seemingly endless hot water pouring from the shower head.


Again, nothing really new or exciting between the shower and getting dressed. 


Upon opening the door to our apartment onto the stairwell, the first smells hit.  Sometimes it is the smell of fish and rice being cooked from across the hall.  Sometimes it is the musty odor of all the wet ads laying on the floor close to the entry way.  Yet other times it has no smell at all (which I find in some ways to be very comforting).


Stepping outside the apartment for the first time in Korea almost made me gag.  If you haven’t lived in a city then you don’t know what kinds of smells are associated with city life.  I lived in Toronto and got used to many of the smells locally in Toronto.


Korea is no different.  However, the smells here have different mixtures behind them.  Everything from the cleaning products to the foods, even to the containers products come in play their roll in cornucopia of aromas meeting the nostrils.  The open sewer at the road in front of our apartment always brings its own major wave of smells. 


The walk to school is a short one, but the road is far from the even, nicely paved roads on the highways and suburban streets  in the US.  It is an uneven, pot-hole-ridden walk to school (or to any traveling over non-main roads). 


Now a walk down the main road is a slightly different story.  There is nothing inherently wrong with the sidewalks.  In fact a stroll down the main road provides many sensory stimuli.  The smell of the squid, octopi, shellfish along with various other fish being sold at the fish market.  The smell of diesel fuel hanging in the air lingers in the nose(most of the cars seem to be diesel).  The sound of the scooters and extremely small delivery “trucks” passing on the road as they dart and weave through traffic.  If you ever have the opportunity to smell silk-worm larva being cooked (they seemed to be eaten much like popcorn…) you will never forget the musty, sickly-sweet smell. 


Also, an interesting thing happens as people in Korea pass each other.  Now, Koreans drive on the right side of the road as does US.  The crosswalks likewise are marked to pass each other on the right.  The funny thing is many Koreans naturally want to pass each other on the left.  This gets awkward at time for yours truly.  I find it best to simply stay towards the left and hopefully there won’t be this “no-touch” dance as we figure out how to pass each other.


Last, but certainly not least, is the subway.  I will attempt to pull all the stops to describe the complete helplessness that comes with participating in the subterranean, human mass-transit system.  Now, please don’t think it is like this all the time, but there are time its seems the green line (the subway line through Bongcheon) is this crowded.  I don’t think I will ever forget stepping onto the green-line subway one day and completely losing—for about twenty minutes—any preconceived personal space boundaries.  I stand between 6’ and 6’2” depending on what shoes I am wearing that day and how tall I decide to stand.  Needless to say, I am Goliath to about 11 million Davids.  I stand easily a head and shoulders above the average Korean.  This height difference makes for an interesting ride as I attempt to keep my face out of the head of hair in front of me while also keeping my 230 lb. body from turning the people closest too me into the first to fall in a long line of human dominos and making sure that I do not take up more than my allotted space and encroach upon the boundaries of any other person on the subway.  Fun, fun. 


Honestly though, it costs usually no more than 1,200 Won (currently, less than a dollar) to go from Bongcheon to anywhere else in Seoul.  Also, if we didn’t use that mode of transportation, then it would be nearly impossible to meet some of the nicest people Korea has to offer.




I would like to take a break and ask those of you that pray, that you would pray for Charity.  She has had some difficulties adapting to some of the food and lifestyle changes and somewhere along the way has picked up an ulcer in lower opening of her stomach (at least that what Dr. Cho said when we went to visit him).  I do not believe it to be a serious health risk, but it is giving her no end of grief and he pain is my pain (or at lest I wish it could be…).  There is a chance that she will have to go in for an endoscopy and I think the thought of that procedure is more frightening than it actually is.  For those that have been reading this blog regularly (and even those that haven’t) I would ask that you might leave a comment of encouragement to her as I know that would mean a lot.  Besides, I always love it when people leave a comment on my blog. :o)



Lastly, I would ask for your prayers over our testimony.  I do not know if all my students are saved and those that are, may not be living up to their full potential (who really is).  For some of them, I do not think there is a desire to even seek after God.


More to come…

Monday, March 23, 2009

떡… or Rice Cake to You and I…

The Korean above is pronounced "ttŏk" or “teok” if you say it with a hard “T”.  To call simply rice cake is like calling chocolate a minor form of candy.  Just like chocolate has so many forms and so does the Korean rice cake.


Now, according to the recent poll that I added to this blog, the two top things the readers want to read about are customs and foods.  Well lets just say that I plan on answering. 


I am not able to tell you all about the many types of , I will tell you about the ones that have left the greatest impressions on me.


To start, you must understand that while comes in many different forms, there are really two main types that are prevalent—at least in our area that is. 


First up is a dessert .  There are loads of dessert rice cakes out there.  Some of the main kinds either look like some form of doughy candy or in other cases like white colored fruit cakes.  The first time that I had the dessert form of , I really thought that living in Korea was going to be tougher than I once believed.  It had the consistence of slightly cooked bread dough and a taste like sweet rice.  I immediately missed my mom’s cake…  However, I have tried many other forms of and have grown much more fond of a few of the other types. 


I currently have two favorite kinds.  Both of them have red-bean centers and both have some form of color palette and coating.


This is an example of my new favorite.  I really have no idea what the powder that coats them is, but I know they taste really good!   Each of the colors has a slightly different taste.  For instance the yellow ones taste distinctly lemony and the green ones like lime.  


My other favorite looks just like the others only bigger and coated in coconut.  Both types have a red bean (Azuki bean) mash center.  It sounds a little strange, but it creates quite the taste experience.  


A couple of others in the desert category are 호떡 (Ho-tteok) which is basically a pancake with the syrup on the inside and the one I will never purchase again…green tea .  The reason I won’t is because when you put them in your mouth and bite down they pop like oversized caviar.  I do like green tea by the way, but those seriously put a damper on my desire.


Now lest you think that rice cakes are relegated only to dessert foods, let me tell you that rice in this form reaches far and wide. 


One of the most popular dishes in Korea being sold at every street corner (or so it seems) is  떡볶이 pronounced “tteok-bok-ki.”  It is better not to think of it as only one dish, but rather several dishes made from thick, short rice noodles.  I have yet to acquire a taste for this dish even though it is really spicy hot and I do enjoy a mouth burn every once in awhile.


Sadly, I can think of very little else I know about these dishes and I have been borrowing heavily from my reading on some of the 떡 that I have not have. 


By the way, I do not use Wikipedia as my only source, nor do I think it is always the best source.  It does, however, provide its information freely and it usually can give some info about whatever I am trying to talk about at the moment.


FYI: I am adding a google map on the right side of the blog that shows you some of the places and interesting markers that you can see about life here in Korea.


So, until the next time. 


More to come…

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

미아 – Mia…

Ok, for all of you dog/animal lovers out there…I know there are a few, I am devoting this short post to the diminutive defecator of all thing dear to Daniel. Yes you guessed it, I will be talking about that little, loveable, annoying animal Mia.

Don’t get me wrong, I will absolutely love this dog when it learns to use the facilities or learns to squelch her nocturnal whines.

She is cute though. It is sometimes hard to punish her for using the bathroom in the wrong place when she looks up with the large black eyes. *sigh* I suppose I shouldn’t expect too much when she is still only about 2.5 months old. She has been doing better now that we have a semi-solid routine of going to bed, waking up and getting fed, going outside (emphasis on the going) and finally coming home and waiting patiently till we return from school.

Speaking of school, I found out how to make Mia’s name phonetically in Korean. It is “미아,” which unfortunately means “Lost Child” in Korean…

Ok, I know you have been wanting to see some pics (or more pics) so here they are:

miababy 005 This one is of Mia and Mya (Mya is Mylinda’s new kitten). While they are not the “best of friends,” they do seem to get along reasonably well.

miamommadaddy Here is our “family” picture. Sorry for Mia’s immodesty, she is still a work in progress.

miababy 043Here is Mia and Charity.

Ok, now you have seen her. Expect to hear little snippets about Mia peppered throughout this blog as she has become one of the family, but don’t expect her to take as much space as she has today.

I am thinking of doing a small ongoing series on foods, customs, mannerisms or places. Please vote in the poll towards the top of this page and I will see what we can do about getting more information out.

Lastly, I am going to attempt to post three times a week. Hopefully I will have a longer post over the weekend and then two small posts during the week. Please don’t hold me to it as I have been somewhat unlucky in having frequent or for that matter, consistent posts.

Thank you to all that are reading and:

More to come…

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Puppy, a Train and New Found Friends…

First, let me say that while I thought about giving to you the reader and mega-post over the events of the last week (yes it has been that long since the last new one), I held back and decided that I will try to update you in several smaller posts. Call it the blog equivalent to a mini-series.

Last time I checked in Charity and I were on our way to pick up our puppy. I am happy to say that not only were we able to get that sweet-natured little ball of fur but that she has also become quite comfortable turning our entire apartment into her own patch of terra firma and all that entails.

But we need to get back to Saturday…

View Larger Map

If you take a look at the map I provided, you will notice how far away Pyeongtaek is from Bongcheon. Needless to say, when you have to use the least independent method of travel it also tends to be the most cumbersome. While I was in Toronto I got a taste of how hard it can be to understand train schedules. Now imagine having the complexity of understanding both the express and the regular lines but in Korean.

Well, I wish I could say we traveled from our apartment to Sadang and then to Geumjeong, the train junction and finally to Pyeongtaek. While we were extremely good at making the switch at Sadang and we did make it to Geumjeong, we hit a bit of snag at Geumjeong. I included a map of the basic distances involved:

Between the confusing schedules and our misunderstanding we got on the wrong train and headed away from Pyeongtaek. After our distress became evident to those around us, an extremely nice, English-speaking lady on the train who told us to get off at the next stop and pointed to the right platform. Friend #1.

After waiting for about 10 minutes and being informed…I think…in Korean that the next train was the one we wanted, I stepped onto the train and was rescued by voice saying, “No, no!” It turns out the train I was getting on was the express that wasn’t going to be stopping at Pyeongtaek. Friend #2 or Carol as she told us in very good English. By the way, her Korean name is 서 지영 (pronounced “Seo Ji Young”).

Carol explained the trip schedule to us and stepped onto the correct train with us. She was heading in the same direction to meet her boyfriend and In fact, she wrote out in both English and Korean what train we needed to get back on to head home. To say that we were grateful for her help would be to understate the fact. She basically saved us from wandering aimlessly on the train system for hours.

Also, she gave us some great information about various Korean meals and activities there in and around Seoul.

Therefore, I would like to dedicate this post to 서 지영 and all her help.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The New Arrival…

Okay, by the headline, you might think that we are expecting a baby.  The answer is no.  We are however eager to get our new puppy.  She is an absolute mutt and I am very happy to say that we are adopting and not purchasing from a pet store.


We found her, which according to Charity we will name her Mia, on ARK.  I hope you can agree with me that she is a pretty cute little thing:


If you would like to read the story about them check out their direct link on the ARK website:

The Three Amigos!


Well, we will have to be up at a reasonable time so we can make the trip to Pyeongtaek.  That is only…28 stops away…about two hours by subway.  *sigh* 


This should be interesting…


More to come (I am sure including the new “addition”)…

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Stats for this page...

Well, this is not going to be the normal post as I am writing this from my email…more or less testing the abilities of the blog.

However, I hope this is not without interest. In a recent post I informed all that read the blog that I have signed up with Google Analytics. Basically it allows me to track non-private information such as the city and country of origin of hits to my blog as well as tracking the number of hits and how visitors stay on the page. Lots of fun for my nerdy side…

So for the countries with the most hits? Well, I would figure that would be a no-brainer but the USA of course! Here is the breakdown:

United States

103 Visits

South Korea

50 Visits


4 Visits


1 Visit


1 Visit


1 Visit


1 Visit

While the top three don’t surprise me at all, I thought it was interesting to see Malaysia, Netherlands and Germany on the list.

Also, there are 15 states in the Union reporting in and I am also not surprised to see Missouri and Pennsylvania topping that list.

While I do love to play with the numbers, I am more appreciative of the people that have taken a few moments once or twice a week to “check in” on us and see how we are doing. We also really like to have feedback on the blog! Please leave us a comment (takes moments) and you don’t need an account, simply comment under the “Anonymous” account and then sign it with your name. Or don’t, it really matters little, I simply like hearing the thoughts of those that read this minor accounting.

More later…

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Little of this…a bit of that…

With very little of interest to write about, I thought I would give a a couple of things that I think Korea does better than the US and a bit of the activities of the past week and weekend. 


While I could describe more colorful events of the week—especially Thursday, I am much more interested in giving you a glimpse of living in Korea. 


For instance a simple thing like a toilet paper holders all over Korea look like this: TP Anyone

While it looks minor, I can’t tell you how handy the metal flap is to tear off your next needed section of tp…  Come now, who hasn’t gone to get a few sections one-handed and had most of the roll spin off to the floor?  Now these are used all over Seoul and I am guessing Korea.  Maybe a small thing, so let me see if I can find something better.


Next for your consideration, the shower:

Wide open range...Ok, ok, I might be new to the whole apartment living and this may seem like a terrible inconvenience-to have the shower in middle of the bathroom-but it is wonderful for the actual taking of a shower.  I am 6’2'' (186 cm for those on the metric) and weigh upwards of 235lbs (again, 106.6 kilos) getting into smaller showers are…inconvenient.  Needless to say, I love it!  It does leave the floor wet for most of the morning, but I consider it a small thing for the luxury of space!


As we move from the bathroom lets look at a much more complex item:

Does Korea do it better 003 Now, I know the US has these, but lets face it, most people are used to a man-sized tank.  This here is a tank-less hot-water heater.  When you turn on the hot water there is a little click and in second there is super-hot water.  I will not lie, there are several drawbacks, but it is nice to have hot water almost instantly.


And directly in front of that item is:

Does Korea do it better 002It may appear to be a new HE washer that almost every woman in America has been wanting (my mother included…although she actually got one!).  In fact it is a single unit that does both the washing and drying of our laundry.  It does seem to take a long time to actually finish the entire cycle of washing and drying the clothes, but it is kind of nice to through things in and not have to do the switching…


Ok, again, I might not be able to definitely say that this is a Korean invention or that America does not have these, but the next item is still very convenient:

Does Korea do it better 001

Due to the lack of a dishwasher—or am I the dishwasher…—and the lack of counter space, this rack comes in really handy.  Basically it is hung underneath the cabinet and we can put all of our dishes on it with no problems whatsoever.  With a two foot by two foot counter top this makes so much extra space.


Having momentarily run out of items to talk about, I thought I would discuss our last trip to Costco.  First though, you should check out our wheels:

Does Korea do it better 009

This is the school’s “bus” for all purpose transportation.  I know what you are thinking, ‘What do they call it?’ and ‘Where can I get me one?’ Sorry, you can’t because I don’t think anyone else in Korea has a van this vintage and totally awesome!  Yes, it is on the old side, but it is really fun to drive.  You might remember me telling you from a previous post that I drove this the last time to Costco, well this time I let Linda drive as I will be taking the second half of the group of teachers at SCS back to Costco on Tuesday.  What is the best about this vehicle is that it was made for a Korean and as such, I have to cram the stick (it is a manual transmission) deep into my patella just to get it into 1st gear.  Then I have to grind it against my femur to get it locked into 2nd before being able to find the relief gear of 3rd.  Not as much fun as you would think.


The Costco run again proved the single-mindedness of the culture here.  Cars cutting each other off all over the place.  Others driving on the shoulders (even on the freeway!!!) simply to go a car or two further up in line at the next stop.  I think what is most frustrating about it is the sheer lack of understanding.  Most people simply do not gain that much from their erratic driving nor do they foster goodwill.  Before coming, my assumption about the spirit here is that people would be more generous.  While that seems to be true for some things, the ego-centric attitude is what creates a problem.  BTW, they treat lines at Costco like traffic lanes and carts like cars.  Chaos to say the least.


After Costco, some of the teachers gathered at Linda and Jessica’s apartment (they have the biggest and nicest apartment ergo they often will host when more than 6 people are involved).  On the way there I found this:

Does Korea do it better 016


On the way back we also found this:

Does Korea do it better 017 Both were found at the “curb” and both were great finds.  After a little cleaning we now have a nice computer chair and a small “coffee table” (it is actually a dinner style table…even though it is on the small side).  This brings me to my musing.


While most American’s look at items like these and see salvageability, most Koreans would look upon minor defects as too overwhelming to accept.  Please notice that this is all being filtered through an American’s eyes and therefore tinted in shades of red, white and blue.  Bongcheon, where we are living, is not known for its extreme wealth.  In fact I would be surprised if the majority of people living here are much above what American’s would consider the poverty level.  The truth is that disposability is a way of showing status.  if I can throw it away, then I must be rich. 


Americans may be wrong on many things.  Believe me, when you get a little change in perspective, it is easy to see some flaws.  Please don’t get me wrong, I love the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’ but it isn’t perfect.  Still, it saddens me that there is so much needless waste here.  If these people would take the time to see how ‘one mans trash is another mans treasure’ then perhaps Korean national debt would be on the decrease unlike its current state.  Just a few thoughts, really nothing more.


According to the program I use to post, I am now almost to 1,200 words and climbing so I think that I will stop for now.  After all, who wants to read this book of a post?


More to come…