Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowy, Sparkly, Korea

You wouldn't believe how beautiful it is here this morning! It has been hovering around -11 lately but last night it snowed also, and it is so gorgeous outside right now. I am the only white person in our neighborhood so the children did something very sweet. Their English is very limited to pretty much - hi! Hello! and a few other simple words. But when I came back to the apartment building there was a snowman built on the doorstep. In one hand it held a sign that said Anya-ha-say-o, which means hello in Korean, and in the other arm it held a sign that said Welcome Home! Very cool kids to think of me too.

Also last night Dr. Jeong did a final check on Harvey and Pearl and now they are ready to get on the plane. This country is excellent for vet care. Economical and good quality. It makes me angry how much American and Canadian vets charge. There are some really good things about Korea.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fry, Baby, Fry...Almost

Well this morning was very scary. If Pearl hadn't kept licking my face to wake me up I don't know what would have happened. As you know we sleep on the floor on a mat called a YO. It is the traditional way Koreans sleep and comes in very handy because our apartment is so small that when I have guests over I can just roll it up. However, the last few days I have been very sick so I have had the heating mat turned on underneath the yo. It is is full-size mat that lays on the floor - 220 volts. Then also because I was so congested last night I also turned on the humidifier: on high. At 4 am Pearl licked me until I opened my eyes and saw that the room was completely white with steam. At first I actually thought that all the medicine the doctor had been giving me had made me go blind so I kind of freaked for a second, but then I realized it was steam. But then I thought I better get up and make sure everything was okay. It was then that I stepped off the sleeping mat and found that the entire floor was covered in water. Because the room is so small I guess the condensation had no place to go and just pooled on the floor. You'll never know how close we came to frying because this was the ONE night that I decided not to turn on the heating mat. I learned a big lesson, but am glad I am here to know what I learned...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

One week to go before taking off...

In exactly one week we will be touching down in America. It has been 10 months since being there and I can hardly wait. Being able to be in my RV again, and get on with some projects that I want to work on in there will be a lot of fun. I am trying ahead of time to buy some things that we will need upon arrival and have them arrive via internet before we get there....less running around and going to stores. Mind you until take off time my apartment is truly an obstacle course. I have two HUGE duffel bags in the middle of it and Harvey's carry cage also. I was redecorating it this week just to make sure he stands out like a sore thumb in the airport as usual. And added to the mix is a huge industrial vacuum that I hauled home from school to suck the air out of my bags so I could fit more in - - bought a few things to take back and didn't realize quite how large they were until it came time to zipper the duffels shut...let's just say those bags won't be able to be opened before they arrive. ;-( Anyways, the countdown begins...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Part 69 - Writing from Korea

Hey hi everyone, :-)
Greetings from icy cold snowy Korea.   Today was a very chilly meeting day.  I didn't know how I was going to make out getting there but it turned out good, and coming home tonight the young brother I travel with and I had a bus completely to ourselves.  I guess it was so cold that everyone else was holed up in their homes. :-)

Koreans DO NOT like the cold, so that is one advantage for HP and me.  We have the huge park almost completely to ourselves these weeks.  However, the cold was particularly bad even for Pearl today.

This morning in the park when it was -11 and snowing I had Pearl wearing her parka and pants but at one point she just gave up.  She rolled over on her back, put all four legs pointing up, and wouldn't move.  So I hoisted the shrimp into my coat and we carried on.  I guess for the rest of the winter the bulk of her exercise will be chasing Harvey and me around the apartment. :-)  ...she'll be the 'chest dog' during our walks.

Speaking of apartments - I thought I would show you how narrow the kitchens are in our apartments.  I often thought it must be about 18 inches because I can't turn sideways or open the cupboards at the end of the wall fully.  However, today I got out the tape measure.  It turns out the width of the kitchen is 12.5 inches.  All our kitchens are the same. 

Since coming to Korea, I have seen some pretty interesting living accommodations...sad actually...people living in battered cargo containers, or in tattered buildings...people with no heat, but today I saw something else.  I was walking the dogs along the canal and saw this water container sitting on the edge.   Suddenly the lid popped off, a man stood up, got himself dressed, fixed his hair, got himself presentable and went off to work it looked like.  There are constant reminders that this is a second world country.

It has been super cold here lately, so this is the latest addition to the family - Mr. Fujimaru.  Apparently it is the latest in economic heating technology, halogen light. So far so good. ;-/  Now I can keep the ondol on low and use Mr. Fuji to keep things toasty.

For all you athletes I thought you might enjoy this pic.  Koreans LOVE golf but don't have golf courses to play on.  This is where they do most their playing.  There are buildings with driving ranges that are about 10 feet long.  I would get bored to tears of this after a short bit but many people spend hours in here hitting at the wall.

Well National Choco Stick day was this month so I have to say that was my favorite holiday, because I received several boxes as gifts.

This month too was when all the parents came to the school to pray to the pig god.  As you can see once again, the pig's head is on the table where the parents put their money before bowing.  Even though many of these parents are Christians, they will do this also just to cover all their bases before their boys write the big test.  As you know the suicide rate is very high here after the national exam day, but this year I haven't heard of any yet.  The president of the country put a gag order on the media telling them not to report them this year so that other students don't follow suit.
Anyways, I hope that all of you had a wonderful month.  In exactly 19 days HP and me are getting on the plane for our holiday abroad.  I am rearing to the duffels ready to pack :-)  We have a very good life here but I find after 10 months I need a eat regular food...see friends and on my travel trailer projects...ride my motorcycle...and listen to native speaker brothers give talks.  I know that sounds odd, but I really do look forward to that.  And this year we are heading down to Mexico so that will be a highlight too, to do some service down there and get to know the brothers and sisters.
Okay, have a wonderful winter! :-)  Lots of love to everyone.  :-)  Don't forget to make your life fun, even in some teeny weeny way...bigger is better :-)  but work with small if you have too - better than nothing. :-)
d  :-)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Part 68 - Writing from Korea

Good morning everyone, :-)
Hope everyone has had a great couple months.  Things have changed drastically weatherwise since last writing.  October 1st the temperature plunged from being in the 90s to the 50s - overnight.  Now it is down even further and we are wearing our down coats and warmup pants.  That is one thing that I had to adjust to when coming here.  Unlike Canada or the US where people wear snowsuits basically on the mountain or snowy days - people here wear them as fashion outfits all, or roaming around town. 

Harvey is a cold little dude these days.  I took him in for a grooming and expected her to do a short shave but she literally shaved him down to his skin.  I think he had more hair when he was an embryo in his mum's womb.  The good part is that he won't need to go back before we take off on our trip this winter to see family and friends. :-)  Will be going to Palm Springs and Mexico to see Joe and Col in Mazatlan.

A group of us got together and went hiking around the Seoul Wall.  There is a wall around my city but this one is even larger.  We hired a guide so he could tell us all the Korean history as we were walking.

I thought this was an interesting picture because it shows that there basically are only three car colours in Korea: white, black, and gray.  Occasionally there will be an odd colour one but not often.  It is SOOOO important for Koreans to fit in with each other that they all try to be similar.

Kimchee making time is very close.  The neighbors are all drying their peppers and other ingredients.

Every morning at 6am I walk through the park with the dogs.  It is very cool I think that these Korea men are always there playing soccer.  Good exercise to start the day.

I can't believe it took me this long to buy a heated mattress pad.  It is just thin plastic that lays under my bed roll on the floor at night, but I love it because now when the room is freezing cold, the mattress...and me, and Harvey and Pearl are cozy warm.  I found that turning on the ondol at night made the floor warm but it also made the room almost too warm to sleep, so this is great.

This is Estelle, another sister from New York that just moved in.  Also we had another brother from California arrive, so it is nice to have more native speakers.

I thought that some of you might find this interesting.  The crime rate is so low in Korea that they leave really expensive stuff laying around.  Here they were setting up for a concert and didn't have enough time to finish so left it overnight in the park UNGUARDED.  I found it when I was walking H&P in the morning.  I am sure all the lighting equipment, keyboards, and speakers would have been gone in a flash if this were North America.  But times are changing here too, so I would expect in a couple years this won't happen anymore.

Meeting days are long sometimes, but we often go for dinner at a little place that serves Western style food before catching our buses and trains to go home.  There aren't many places that serve western food so we were really happy to find it.  Recently, Bethel removed all the Bethel workers from our congregations - apparently the fuel prices make it too pricey to send them.  Gas here is $7 a gallon.  Even though we won't be able to see the foreigners that live there as often as before now, we will be able to get to know the Filippino brothers and sisters more, so that will be a bonus. :-)
Okay, lots of love to everyone. :-)  I am looking forward to seeing as many as possible when I get over there.  Also, very excited to have a steak once again.  My director was telling me he was shocked when he went to the States for a conference a couple years ago because he went to a supermarket and saw that a steak that would cost $50 here was only $4 there.  Anyways,  will be a nice break.  Will probably write once more before going but in the meanwhile, everyone take really good care...and don't forget to have some fun everyday.
d  :-)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Part 57 - Writing from Korea

Hey hi everyone  :-)

I hope you have had a wonderful week.  :-)

I have had a really good week here, with lots going on.  Our Memorial last night went really well.  We had 69 foreigners from the territory show up.  No children, just adults.  And surprisingly 95% of them were men.  I guess because many of the auto factories here import cheap labour from Africa and other parts of Asia to work, and I guess for the most part they want men.  Anyways, we visited and visited and visited before and after the meeting and then keeping with Korean culture everybody took pictures of each other.  When I first started living here I thought that was a little odd but now I carry my camera with me to the hall too just in case a picture opportunity arises because I think it is kind of a nice custom.  :-)

Here Brenda and I are at the Memorial.  I look like Inga the logger here.  It does not rain much in Korea but last night it poured, so by the time I got there my coat and hair were wet like rats.  Then going home the buses stopped running so I walked to a subway station but when it stopped at the main station the buses were not running and the taxis would not pick me up - possibly nervous of foreigners and also there were many other people stranded in the torrential rain.  However, a lone bus that must have been slow getting off its route came by so I jumped on with a million other people only to find I didn't have the right change.  Mind you, a really sweet Korean guy came to my rescue and put money in the box for me.  I was so grateful.  With all the walking and everything I didn't get home until 1am.

Mee Hee is a super nice sister.  She is one of the very few Koreans that lives away from home.  She does so so that she can serve in the English congregation.

This is Benji.  He is an elder in our hall.  He has a very cool job at Bethel.  He makes all the English sign language videos for the entire brotherhood.  Oddly enough his parents suddenly decided to emigrate to the US this week.  They packed everything and chose Atlanta.  They don't speak a lick of English so it should be quite the adventure for them.

If you can't tell, this is one of the many stickers in my home right now with Korean writing on it.  I have labels on everything trying to remember my vocabulary.

This is Harvey in his Village People t-shirt.  He got all trimmed up this week with a short-do for spring and summer.  It is really wierd but this week it went from minus 10 to the mid 70s, so Spring is definitely here.

Of course I had to get Pearl a new outfit too.  She has become the poster child for doggy rehab.  When I was visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Palm Desert they mentioned they bought these new treats for their dogs made of sweet potato.  I thought it sounded healthy so I went and found them too.  I have never seen my dogs become more addicted to a snack in my entire life.  I knew there was a problem when Pearl woke me up in the middle of the night get her one out of the cupboard.  Now i have to tell her no several times a day.  If you double click the attached AVI file you can relive her pain with her.  If the addiction doesn't break soon I will probably have to handcuff her paws to the bed and let her thrash it out.

Anyways, that's it for another week.  The only other thing to mention is that we had a very funny meeting today...but not on purpose.  As I have mentioned before sometimes the things that make the meetings lively are the mispronunciations and grammar errors of the brothers learning English.  Well today a brother was giving an excellent talk and went on to relate a true story of a brother taking care of his wife that was paralyzed from the neck down so the only ability she had for over 30 years was breathing.  However, the brother started out by saying that this sister's only ability for 30 years was "breeding".  "And that her husband didn't care about her inability to do anything else but breed for all those years".  It just struck such a funny bone with me because the brother didn't move on but kept on talking about this woman that was "breeding and breeding and breeding, but happy to do only that".  Anyhooooo, it just added an extra something to the talk.

Please take good care of yourselves.  Love you all as usual.

d  :-)