Saturday, May 31, 2014

Our Friends and a Trip to Damyang and Mokpo

Twice a year an organization offers a cultural trip for teachers.  They allow about 30 people to sign up and pay for all of us to get out of Seoul for the weekend.  One of our close friends signed ALL of our close friends up on the list as soon as the signups were open, and we were all able to go on the trip together!  It's the first time we've done anything like this here and we had a great time.  One of my favorite pictures is of us by the huge kimchi pots.  We have all been friends for five years now, and I've been friends with the girls for six.  Six years is the longest I've ever known and been with friends consistently, since I moved around so much growing up.  A lot has changed over the years, including my man and I getting married, two cute kids in the picture, my roommate leaving and coming back,  the many jobs of Craig,  but our friendship has remained steadfast.  I am so thankful to God for that.  This trip definitely got me itching for more trips with these people!

We went down south to Damyang and Mokpo.  Busan is on the east coast, this time we headed to the west coast.  They kept us quite busy, moving from here to there.  We had the opportunity to eat a delicious dakgalbi lunch, visit a bamboo forest, see some mini sequoia trees, see where strawberries grow, make traditional candy, visit a temple, go to a maritime museum, go for a hike, and stay in a nice hotel, all for free!!  So kind.  Hopefully we'll be able to go on the next trip, and hopefully all our friends will be there to make it worth it!

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Best Part About Student Mission Trips

The best part of student mission trips is watching them fall in love with serving.  I remember going on servant events and mission trips starting in middle school, and continuing in high school and collage.  Those are my best memories from growing up in the church, and my first trips out of the country (to Mexico and Guatemala) changed the course of my life.  Without a doubt, those trips are the reason I'm here in Korea today.  To this day I love serving, learning from,  and meeting new people who live life differently than I do.

Watching my students, ages 12-14 have these exact same experiences, is so cool.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Jang Island Indonesia Village Stay

On Wednesday night my man and I had the opportunity to stay back with 9 students and participate in a "Village Stay".  While the other students and teachers returned back to our resort at Telunas Beach, we stayed in the village overnight.  I was a little nervous, especially about communicating with the family we'd be staying with, but it ended up being a wonderful experience! My favorite photos are from this night.

We split into two houses, a boy house and a girl house. We had translators who stayed with us as well, so we could communicate with our guests.

We started our evening by learning drums from some of the locals.

Afterwards we took a shower, from a bucket.  The girls really enjoyed it!  It was not nearly as bad as I expected.  The family was kind enough to provide a huge barrel of fresh water by bringing bucket after bucket back to their home, from a well.  (They themselves shower with mostly salt water.)

Dinner was phenomanal!  We watched them prepare everything from scratch, over a open fire in their kitchen. We ate with our hands, as is custom.  We ate fish in many forms, fried fish with tomato sauce, fish balls, fish soup, fish chips, and rice.  The girls inhaled it, and to be polite ate bowl after bowl after bowl until all the food was gone.  We described ourselves as "uncomfortably full".

After dinner some village children performed some traditional dances for us.  Afterwards they invited our students to the stage and they let loose, dancing the night away.  They were full of smiles and laughs and it was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.

We took a little walk after the dancing and happened upon a village wedding.  Apparently they invite everyone in the village, all 3,000 of them to the wedding.  The ladies work all night preparing food for the next day.

At night we slept in the back room, on the floor with the doors open, right over the water.  It was peaceful and beautiful.  (Except for the cat fights, and after when the cats came into the house and one slept on my mat!)

The most uncomfortable part of the night was of course the bathroom.  It's only a (very small) hole in a wood floor, over the ocean.  No matter what type of business you're doing, you just do it right over the water.  They don't use toilet paper (just their left hands), but we did and just threw it right in the ocean.  Hmmm didn't know that.

The next morning the dad made us ramen noodles for breakfast since the girls were talking about how much they loved them (Koreans are obsessed with Ramen).  It was so delicious, I could eat it every morning.

All in all it was one of my most favorite parts of the trip, and an experience of a life time.  Although I've been to many countries and seen many people in different living situations, I've never had the opportunity to stay with anyone overnight.  The girls and I learned so much, and had such an enjoyable time.

It has been a true blessing and joy in my life to learn about different people groups, different cultures, and different ways of living.  I feel as if I'm living my dream.  I'm so thankful to the Lord for that.