Sunday, December 31, 2006


Happy New Year from Seoul, as it's already almost 1am on January first. New Year's in Seoul involves thousands of roman candles that are ridiculously distributed to the public. I fear that many will go to the Emergency Room tonight because those things are dangerous. We stayed at a friend's place tonight and you could see the main happening area from the window of his place. New Year's in Seoul sounds like "GONG GONG GONG", and a Korean guy singing that Josh Groban song "I am strong when I am on your shouldeeeeerrrs".

My church puts up video of all the services. You can go to my iwe dot com and see our services. The one of most interest is the Joint Christmas English service, held in one of our sanctuaries on Christmas day. Very fun, especially the Heritage Choir. Go to that first page of the IWE website, and click on "12/25 AIM Korea: Joint English Service" under "Internet TV" on the right.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Well, Christmas has come and gone. We were really busy with a number of things.

Last Wednesday Stephanie and I went over to Lotte World. Lotte is a big company, I think mostly specializing in being a department store, but it's a huge brand here that is all over many items. They also have the Lotte Mall, and attached to that is Lotte World, an amusement park. We went over there at night. Half of it is inside and half outside. We stayed inside and went on some rides, like the carousel, the small log ride, and a couple of rides that were very similar to Disneyland, where you ride around the inside of some caves and see fake pirate-esque characters.


The inside of Lotte World, a little on the dark side:

Also, we had our Christmas party for the 20s group at our church. It was very busy and hectic, but we had fun. We sent them out on a photo scavenger hunt, where they had to get pictures of certain things, and pose like lawn ornaments or the nativity scene. There were some great pictures in the end. We ordered pizza, exchanged gifts, and then some people spent the night. It was all held at our friend Brian's place.

YunSun, Carolina, Mark, Cody:

Me, YunSun, Kathy, Steph:

A bunch of us. There were more people, but many had to catch the subway home. Here are the people left over at about 9:30.

Monday morning (Christmas) we got up, hung out a little, and then headed over to the church to tape down some fliers for the Christmas service, as directions. There was a huge joint English service provided by all of the English ministries in the Seoul area. It was a really neat service. As soon as it gets put online (my church puts everything on the internet), I'll share the link with you. There were some great choirs, and some cool kids, and it was just neat to be there with all of these other English speakers.

All in all, a very busy weekend. Back to work this week, and then New Year's is coming!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

O, Christmas Tree

Here it is, in all its glory. Our cheap, 2 dollar Christmas tree, and the tiny decorations we bought, and our Christmas presents under the tree! Very exciting.


I bought a glass ring about a month ago. It fits nicely, but when it's cold it tends to slip off of my finger. Tonight, while waiting for the subway, moved my hand quickly and flew off of my finger, rolled, and headed toward the subway tracks. I let out a "noooooo!!" and ran after it.

Thank goodness it stopped and I was able to retrieve it. Subway tracks are dangerous business.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Here it comes!

Hello my lovely readers.

This past weekend was incredibly busy with church things and christmas activities. There are many things that make this adventure worthwhile, and so I'll tell you about some of them :)

Saturday we went shopping with some of our church friends. We mostly spent our time wandering around the main shopping areas and sitting at a coffee shop. We then had rehearsal for singing for our Christmas eve program.

Here is a picture, from the building we were practicing in, of the main sanctuary and the Christmas tree they have set up. The church is so large that I think they have more buildings than Warner.

And this is about an hour later:

Afterward we went down to the Cheonggycheon river to see Christmas lights. The river once ran through Seoul in older days and was a place of socialization and life for the Seoul citizens. In an effort to modernize the city it was paved over (i think in the 70s) and made a very wide road to accomodate traffic and the soon to be bustling business for the area's shoppers. A year or so ago they completed a renovation wherein the stream now runs again, and is a place where Seoul citizens can walk and enjoy. It's really quite cool. Stephanie and I took a tour on a double decker a couple weeks ago, but we walked down there from church, with friends, and looked at all the Christmas lights Saturday night. I stopped at one point and looked at the pictures of the history of the area. It's amazing... the pictures from the 50s and 60s, and even 70s show a very different Seoul. This city (and country) have modernized at such an amazing pace. I could hardly believe the dates on the pictures, where the area where we were standing looked like shanty towns, and reminded me very much of Mexico.

So here are some pictures from Saturday night. Keep in mind that you can always click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Steph and me:

The main square by Gwanghwamun:

One of the small bridges that cross the stream:

Very cool people: (l-r) Charlotte, Stephanie, Candice, me, YunKyung, SooYoung, JunQi, and Brian.

It started snowing late on Saturday night (which would explain why we were freezing our feet off while looking at Christmas lights!), and we woke up to this view out of our window Sunday morning:

Other side of the church, Sunday morning:

And we found these girls, gathering snowballs, at church:

Today when Stephanie and I left the building we took the back door out of our apartment building, and there were people mopping. I don't know why anybody thinks it is a good idea to mop slick tile on a morning when it is 24 degrees, but someone thought it was a good idea, apparently. As we started down the small slope, Stephanie slipped and fell (she's alright). I was laughing hysterically, and as we crossed the small alley I was still laughing. Stephanie was laughing as well, and tried to throw a snowball at me, and I yelled. We turned around to find one of our security guards smiling at us, so we laughed and waved.

These are some of the things that make this worthwhile.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


It's been a little while, hasn't it?

I can't say that very many exciting things are going on. I think I've reached that "just past honeymoon" phase, and things aren't quite so new and different. When that happens you stop noticing all the new and different things, and you settle into normal, every day routines and attitudes. My Grandma just recently said to me, on the phone "I don't know how you do it". After the intial culture shock and getting settled in, it all becomes VERY normal. Even having people stare at you on the subway is normal. In fact, you can almost gauge WHEN a person is going to stare at you. Or how they will do it.

In fact, when Stephanie and i are in our apartment building's elevator, this happens a lot. A person will get in with us, or on at another floor, and look down at the floor. Very soon they will look at me (for instance). They will glance once, quickly. Then, they will glance a second time, just to make sure they saw me correctly. And then they will look over at Stephanie to see if she's white, too. It's quite funny because it's the same thing every time. I just have to smile.

Most of all I like smiling to kids on the subways. Kids stare the most and why not? This country is very homogenous and when you see someone out of the ordinary, you want to look, and kids are always the most curious. So you just smile back until they get too shy. I smiled at a girl the other night on the subway. She sat in a seat a couple away from me, and her dad ended up sitting next to me. When I got off at my stop, I leaned over, touched her, and then got up and motioned for her to sit in my seat. She smiled so nicely, sat down, and leaned over to say something to her dad while looking at me. As I stood at the door she shyly waved. These are moments that I love.

I have new classes as of the end of last month. This is the third week of new classes. They are actually quite good and I am enjoying teaching them. Three out of four of my classes all seem like motivated students who enjoy learning, or at the very least do their work in class and participate. I am enjoying this term much more than the last and I feel like a seasoned veteran by now.

Stephanie and I are in the midst of many Christmas activities for church, and in fact, we seem to spend most of our weekend at church or with church friends. Some of us are singing for the Christmas Eve service. Stephanie and I are planning the Christmas party for our 20s group, so we are making lists (and checking them twice). It seems very, very busy. Although, when we are around our apartment I get bored quite a bit. I feel like I need a hobby besides reading.

We took this picture last Saturday. This huge lighted "tree" is at our church. Soon I will remember to bring my camera and take more pictures of church.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Stephanie and I decided we needed to get out of the city. A look at the "dashboard" on my computer, and a reading of 25 degrees told us that it was a perfect day to go to the ocean! So off we went on the subway all the way out to the ocean town of Incheon. It is a port city where the international airport is located. On a good traffic day it takes about 1 hour to get from the aiport to Seoul. On the subway it's a bit longer.

So off we went, bundled up in the cold. We went to their Chinatown, which is mostly just a lot of Chinese restaurants.

We walked up through Chinatown to Jayu Park, or "Freedom Park". Incheon is the site where General MacArthur led troops in to defeat the communists. In the park there is a Centennial War Memorial. Why it is Centennial, I have no idea, because the war happened about 55 years ago.

We then walked over to the statue of General MacArthur. It's quite a display.

You might be able to read this plaque if you click on it, and it enlarges, though I'm not sure.

Scary pigeons in the park.

Out of the park - the monument built in the early 80s to commemorate 100 years of Protestantism in Korea. The three people are the three missionaries who brought the Word.

Not quite grown up.

We watched a lot of TV in our hotel room, because we don't have a TV in our apartment. We switched back and forth between news channels and the one Korean "global" channel that had some things in English (such as an English quiz show for Korean schoolchildren). So, we watched BBC and CNN and now I am all caught up on all the news events, which were the same things over and over. Will Castro show up for the final day of his birthday celebrations? (He did not). They are protesting in Beirut. There was a huge typhoon in the Phillipines. The Russian spy died of poisoning and now his wife and assistant are also sick. Hugo Chavez is up against Morales in the Venezuelan presidential election! Chavez has helped the poor, but Morales wants to do new things! WHO WILL WIN!? (Chavez). Those were the main stories that played over and over. Now you know.