Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dinner Out at Everest in Dongdaemun

There is a restaurant I've been wanting to try ever since I heard about it...probably not too long after my man returned from Mount Everest Base Camp...more than two years ago...called "Everest".  It boasts Nepalese, Tibetan, and Indian food.  We finally trekked over there last Saturday looking for a vegetarian meal.  We were blown away at how delicious it was!  The naans were the biggest I've ever seen and I was digging the laid-back vibe and decor.  Here in Itaewon the Indian restaurants I've been to are all overpriced and too fancy/stuffy for my tastes.  We almost never eat Indian food.  But we returned to Everest again last night!  Two date nights in a row.  It was just so good.

We got paneer butter masala (cheese in tomato something curry) and my personal favorite dal makhani (creamy lentil curry), samosas and butter garlic naan.  It was so good we were licking the bowls clean. 

To get there we took a cab to Dongdaemun, a shopping area in the heart of Seoul.  I intended on walking there but got us going the wrong way.  Finally we found our bearings and arrived.  It was a beautiful night walking around the city and I got a few pics.  

We are already looking forward to going back.  I want to try other things, but would surely miss out on what we have ordered in the past.  Just thinking about the food gets my mouth watering...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Trip To Inwangsan (인왕산)

Today we had a day off school for Korean Liberation Day.  Held every August 15th, it commemorates Korea's liberation from Japanese rule.  From 1910-1945 Korea was a Japanese colony and Koreans were forced to speak Japanese, eat Japanese food, and take on Japanese last names.  And all kinds of horrible things happened.  So Koreans have much to celebrate.

And WE always get a day off school the first week.  It's awesome!  Today the weather cooperated and we had a beautiful blue-sky cloudy day to go on a hike I've been wanting to do for a while!

Seoul is surrounded by mountains.  We typically go to Bukan Mountain, but I recently read about Inwangsan from this 40 Things To Do in Korea article.  I had been trying to find this place forever!  I saw an article about it years ago in a magazine and lost it...and could never figure out what it was, so I was thankful to come across the article a few days ago!  It is known for having beautiful views of the city, and sure enough it was amazing!  You can get a 360 degree of Seoul, and the mountain is smack dab in the middle of the city.  We live so close.  We took the subway today, but could easily ride the motorcycle there.  We can't wait to go back at night time and get some night shots!

My man got an iPhone!  He really likes it so far.  (Everyone we know has one...he finally cracked.) He loved taking photos with it and we love the panorama option!!  We can't wait to use it on all of our travels.  All the other photos were taken with my camera.  It is limited, however, in what it can do.  I'm glad we have his phone for wide angles and quick shots!

The "hike" was totally doable.  It's only 338 meters high.  There are a few ways we could go up.  We went up through a wooded/rocky area and passed by some temples/shrines and a very interesting Buddhist ceremony that was kinda sad.  You'll also notice the empty soju bottles below which were the remains of offereings left for...?   Also a man praying to...? at the top of a rock in the first black and white photo.   We walked back down along Seoul Fortress Wall which will be an easy way to come back up at night time.

We had a great day and were thankful we got out instead of being lazy at home.  We are once again inspired to see more of this beautiful city and country.

Note the largest grasshopper I've ever seen hanging out outside our house.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tomorrow Begins My Eighth Year of Teaching

Tomorrow begins my eighth year of teaching which is just crazy.  It passed so fast but at the same time I can't believe I made it so long. It's estimated that "a third of all new teachers leave after three years and 46 percent are gone within five years".  Sometimes I honestly can't believe I'm still here.

I know for a fact it's the Lord that brought me to Korea and brought me this far.  Nothing in my own strength or smarts or will brought me here, but His alone, and for that, I am eternally grateful.  Work sometimes gets me down because I feel like I don't have time to be "me" amidst all the business, or even find out who "me" is. Sometimes the kids drive me crazy.  Sometimes I don't even know why I'm teaching what I'm teaching...but at the beginning of the school year it's as if the slate is wiped clean.

Just as when I was a kid, new supplies, clothes, teachers, and classes were exciting.  This year I feel it more than maybe ever.  I don't feel the pressure I've felt in the past...because I've done it all before. Every thing seems easier.  We start class tomorrow and I'm not nervous at all.  (Not yet at least)

 This year I made new signs for my class, which I haven't changed in five years...just because I felt something was "different".  I just want this year to be different.  I want it to be fresh.  I want to love what I do.

I am also anxious about this year because I am teaching a new class--eighth grade technology.  Hrmm...there is no curriculum and I'm told I can do whatever I want--which is my kinda my style--but at the same time terrifying.  I am also scared of cross country because I am fantastically out of shape and the kids have been running all summer--there's no way I can keep up.  And it is soooooo hot and humid here.

Probably the most exciting thing about this year is my man's new job.  God dumped it on our plates at the end of the school year last year and it was the last thing we expected but the perfect opportunity for my man.  He's now the middle school chaplin and in charge of the Spiritual Life Department for almost 200 6-8th graders.  An overwhelming task to be sure.  He is perfect for the job.  But that does not mean anxiety does not seep in.  Sometimes I think I am more nervous than him!  The other day he gave a talk to our middle school staff about some of the programs we hold, and he knocked it out of the park.  Everyone responded so well and are so thankful to have him in this position. He is going to be great with the kids and I am so excited to see what the Lord will do through him and in him.  I am so proud of him.

I think my theme verse for this year will come from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
" Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
Our pastor at church today gave a sermon on "The Power Of Love" and talked about this verse.  Jesus is perfect love and does all these things perfectly.  Oh how I wish I could!  But I can't!  So far from it...How though, do I do BETTER?  By knowing God better.  By trusting Jesus and allowing Him to work through me.

So when those days get long and the kids are driving me crazy and standards based assessment is making me cross-eyed and I have no idea what to do in Technology class, God will allow me to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.

This year our school's theme verse comes from Galatians 5:6-"Faith Expressing Itself Through Love".  Oh that I could be that.  Consistently loving towards my students, coworkers, Koreans, and husband.  That they would know Jesus more through me.

The only way is to give it all to Him and allow His grace and mercy to overflow...I'm praying this will be my best year yet!!!!

The photos below are from my classroom after I put it together.  Some turned out horribly due to poor lighting + bad lens but oh well, thought you guys (waaaiiitt...does anyone read this??) might want to see where we live/work.

PS Please take a look at the beautiful succulents while they're still alive.

Our House Plants

A big goal of mine (ours?) this summer was to acquire some house plants to spruce up our living space.  I must admit, we live in the sweetest most lovely second floor of a house in all of Korea and are so blessed to call the space home.  I like thinking of ways to make it more special, but it's slow-going.  Plants were the first step.

We acquired three plants from a teacher pair who left our school last June.  The Heart-leaf Philondendron on the water cooler, the giant lucky bamboo, and what I believe is a Traveller Palm but looks like some sort of indoor Banana plant.  I'm having a hard time IDing these.

We bought the Rubber Tree (I think?) at Costco and I about had a fit when we found a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree at Yangjae Flower Market.  I was so thankful that my man was on board with getting it!  We both love it and the character it brings to the room.  I don't think we'll ever move now. (JK Mom)

The ONLY problem is I've killed every plant I've brought into this house.  There were about 5 succulents we bought at the beginning of the year (everyone online said they were easy to take care of but they are all liars).  Then I bought some small potted plants and they are all either dead or on their way out.  I bought a big beautiful succulent and just as soon as I bought it all the leaves turned yellow and cried real water tears and fell off (a classic case of an overwatering...) So I'm just hoping the bigger ones do better.  We'll have to see.

The big Jurassic Park plant has a leaf that just turned brown and will probably be dead soon...but it also has grown two leaves since we got it.

The Fiddle Leaf Fig also grew a leaf since we got it two weeks ago and every day I check and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger!

The Basil was looking pretty dismal, some sort of bug likes to eat them up but I've tried to go out there and get them off...its really picked up and I'm really excited that I'll probably be able to make some pesto soon!

Sooooo....I'm probably the only one who cares about all my plants so on to the photos. Starting with the dead giant succulent.  (Which is actually still kicking it, just with 80% of the original leaves there).