Saturday, June 30, 2007


Living in a smaller town in Mexico means a completely different lifestyle than the one I am used to in Portland, or in Korea. The Korean lifestyle means staying up late and getting up a little later in the morning. My schedule in Korea meant going to bed about 1am, getting up about 9am, going running, and then working 4pm-10pm. Here in Mexico, however, I am now in bed most nights by 10pm and up at 5:30 or 6:30, depending on if I'm running or not.

The different lifestyle also includes people dropping by, and the unpredictability about what might happen in a day. This morning my parents left for San Diego to pick up two groups (which was planned), and will be gone today and tomorrow. This means I'm the boss (jefe!). We have one group that left this morning, one that is here until tomorrow, and a new one arriving today. Aye! This morning I tried to oversee breakfast, and afterward said goodbye to one of our groups. Leonel, a friend of Welcome Home, was here to say goodbye to the group he had worked with during the week. David, another friend, then stopped by to try to see the other directors, who are also gone. Both boys ended up staying- David helped Cande (our cook) with some chores, they ate breakfast, and Leonel and I spent a good part of the morning looking up music videos on the internet. I hadn't planned to spend my morning this way, but it was a welcome visit because I actually don't have much to do. They just left, and it's almost lunchtime!

I was also going to have my friends over tonight (hey, the parents are gone!), but those plans fell through, and that sort of thing just happens, which is fine. I'll probably watch Rabbit-proof Fence tonight, a movie my mom has and recommended. That, and some reading, and I'm good! Mom and Dad and bringing back these two groups, one of which is from my home church. It will be good to spend the week with them, since I only saw them once when I was back in Portland.

My camera has decided to have a lens error, and so I have no pictures :( I'm hoping it also just decides to fix itself. And soon.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Los Ninos

I figured it was about time to show off some of these adorable kids that are at Welcome Home. This goes out to Stephanie, who will recognize our Diegito. Isn't he big now?

Nayeli and Diego:
I mean, really, could they get any cuter?

Denise adorned my mom with an extra earring:
Cande (our wonderful cook), and Dulce:

Dulce took a picture of me with my camera and it turned out like this:

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mas Mexico

Well, I don't have much news from Mexico, but I do have pictures! Last week we had the group from New Hope, in Portland, who left on Saturday morning, but Saturday afternoon Manny (a WHO board member) brought down a few guys to check out different ministries in the area. Last night another group from the same church came in and they are doing a VBS this week, together with the teachers here, in one of the camps.

It was a busy weekend with lots of plans. Andy, the current intern, is leaving tomorrow and so the youth from the church have been having some get-togethers. We went to the beach Saturday night, and to a church member's house after church last night. Saturday afternoon we went to a quinceanera, the celebration for a girl's fifteenth birthday. It was for Tony's daughter. It was the first quinceanera that I'd been to, and I'm glad I went.

Pictures from the beach, including this wrong-side-up stingray we found on the sand:

Don't get too jealous- the beach here is COLD.

Sunday afternoon we went over to the teachers' house to watch the United States and Mexico play for the Gold Cup. Friday morning, when we found out about it, we all started teasing each other about who was going to win. Quien gano? Who won? Los Estados Unidos, that's who. The four of us also decided it would be great to show up with painted faces.

Today starts a new week in the crazy life of Welcome Home. The Kindergarteners are graduating today, so I'll probably have pictures of that. For more information about Welcome Home (for those who have been living under a rock), go to their official website.

And for a parting shot, I got to hang up my first load of Mexican laundry. What a beautiful blue sky.

This post is dedicated to Renee, who told me she reads my blog during her workday. Hi Renee!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Here you go, Eddy! Your favorite restaurant! And here I was, in Redding, sitting at your favorite restaurant, eating a hamburger that you are no doubt craving. Sorry, Eddy!
Being here in Mexico this time around is quite a different experience. The first time I came here (winter/spring of 2005) I knew no one and had no car. I spent a lot of time by myself, but also a lot of time with the teachers and their friends from church. Last year Stephanie and I came together, which was a little more entertaining because we were together and had a car! So we did more things and went out more. We also had a couple groups in, which spiced things up a little bit. My parents moved down here at the end of that stay and were still in transition when I left.

But NOW!! Now my parents facilitate groups who come through and do ministries in the community. My dad helps direct groups to build houses, my mom organizes everything, and they both help with odds and ends of different projects. It's such a different atmosphere here, now. For the few years I've considered this a place I love, but having my parents here really makes it feel like a second home, and I'm grateful for that. I have all sorts of luxuries here that I didn't have before! My parents have pop in their refrigerator and I'm baking cookies, and they have the internet in their apartment, which I get to use! Life is good. Haha.

It's also fun seeing my parents interact with people they've lived and worked with for a year now, people that I have known for a while. They know the kids and their stories, the interworkings of everything. You can't explain those things to people (even though I might have tried when they moved down here), you have to learn it first hand. It's so fun to be able to tell the kids that Steve and Jackie are my parents!

Speaking of my parents and the kids: My dad put on his cowboy outfit and walked into the cafeteria for breakfast and all of the kids started yelling "Vaquero! Vaquero!!", which means cowboy. Here's dad in his outfit!

One thing I have been amazed at is my Spanish! I assumed that my time in Korea had erased a lot of my memory of Spanish. Stephanie and I would occasionally say something to each other in Spanish, but only small things. Well, it seems not much of it has gone away, and even when I have forgotten words on my own, I have heard words that I didn't know I remembered, but I knew the meaning of them! I know a lot of words, but I suffer when I try to make my own sentences. But, last night I went to church and listened to a whole sermon and caught most of it! I was so surprised, I couldn't believe it. It has reiterated the idea that I've had that I need to really study and learn more Spanish, because I might actually be good at this!

Life in Mexico is busy, but it's really, really good.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mexico, Mexico

Well, Mexico is the fifth country I am visiting, and luckily for me I get to stay here for an extended period. After traveling for basically 3 weeks, it feels good to be somewhere for a while. Today I even started putting away clothes in a dresser! That feels like some progress.

Friday I left Portland with my friends Natalie, Brendan, and Amanda. We drove in Brendan's car. We left late Friday morning and drove and drove and drove. We drove through the night and into the next morning and finally arrived in Los Angeles, and then San Diego. For those of you from other places, Portland, Oregon to San Diego is about 1,080 miles! Fun! We were pretty tired throughout the night, but I love taking road trips and I guess I must take after my father. We got into L.A. early on Saturday morning and we drove around Hollywood and Bel Air, which is always a reality check. Hollywood is NOT a nice area, no matter how much it's talked up in the media.

Here are some pictures from our trip southward. This is Mt. Shasta in Northern California, although I believe I took the picture in Southern Oregon:

A closer picture of Mt. Shasta:
Lake Shasta?

We met my parents in San Diego late Saturday afternoon. I was anxious and so excited to see them after being away in Korea. We had a nice night of relaxation, and then woke up Sunday morning to meet a group from New Hope church (for you Portland people), to drive into Mexico.

Here's the huge, Mexican flag in Ensenada:

Driving out to La Bufadora (The Blowhole), along the Pacific Ocean:

So here we are in Mexico! The group from New Hope is here, building a house. Here are some pictures of the house they are building, and the pictures include my parents, for those of you who know them:

And this picture includes Tony, the construction foreman who oversees our housing projects:
Here is the view from the house they are building, facing out to the Pacific Ocean:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Jiggety Jig

Well, being home certainly feels normal and so writing in this blog has not been on the list of priorities, mostly for the fact that being at home doesn't feel exciting or new. But, I forget that some of my friends (of the Korean persuasion) don't know much about my home life and so I do want to share some of that with them.

Being at home (home = portland) mostly means relaxing and seeing friends and family for the time being. It means shopping at Target and eating at favorite restaurants, hanging out with my friends, and enjoy the greenery. That has been most of the extent of what has happened since I've returned to the States. Not that exciting! However, being at home feels somewhat different because I am entirely dependent on my friends and family to help me, and that feels strange since I was not this dependent before I went to Korea. I have no car or cell phone and I am sleeping on my friends' couch :)

Last Thursday I got on the train to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and nieces in Southern Oregon. The train ride is kind of long (about 7 1/2 hours), but relaxing. The train is almost ALWAYS late, as it was both times I rode it. But, the scenery is spectacular. I didn't take any pictures from the train because I'm too embarrassed to do so. But, it's mountains and forests, etc. etc.

I had a really great visit with my family. My brother and sister-in-law just purchased a new home, which as we say a "fixer-upper", meaning it needs a lot of work. But, they are right for the job! It was fun seeing their new place, my brother taught me how to drive a stick shift, and I got to hang out with these cuties:

They had moved out of town and have a bit of land. Here is the beautiful view from their front door:

A few posts ago I did a "Facts about Korea", and now I'm going to entertain the other half of my readers with a "Facts about Oregon"!

Oregon is yes, the state above California. It is pronounced "Ore-eh-gun". It is almost divided in half by the Cascade Mountains. The western half is lush and green and ends at the Pacific Ocean. The eastern half is like a desert with pine trees and ends at Idaho. Because of this major difference, climate differs throughout the state. Its population is somewhere around 3.5 million, with 2.1 million living in the Portland metro area. Oregon became a state on Valentine's Day, 1859, and Portland got its name from a coin toss (if the other person won it would've been called Boston). More fun facts about Oregon (like how the state beverage is milk! I knew I was an Oregonian!!) visit wikipedia.

And for your viewing pleasure, here's a picture of a place I love, the Columbia River Gorge:

I leave for Mexico on Friday and we're driving there. I'll try to take lots of pictures and write about our trip :)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

For Eddy

Okay, Eddy. You said something about me taking a picture of my first American meal. Well, I'm too ashamed of my first meal on American soil to even tell you about it, and I forgot about taking pictures at other meals (such as a bbq last night). But, today I visited what is probably my favorite restaurant, and I remembered. This is a Portland restaurant called the Taco House. It's not really authentic Mexican (they call it Southern California style), but I have basically grown up on their food. So here it is, Eddy Choo. Eat your heart out.

By the way- I had to go to the bank today because on the two occasions where I've tried to use my debit card, all of the pin numbers I have tried to use have failed. I couldn't remember what it was. So, I began talking to the bank teller about how I couldn't remember because I've been out of the country. She wanted to know where I had been, and I told her. She proceeded to tell me about how she loves watching Korean dramas! She mentioned her favorite- something with a title about a Prince. Do you know what she's talking about? She mentioned 81 episodes. Whew!

Anyway, I decided that I should try to see some Korean dramas now since I would be able to find them with English subtitles :)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Tokyo and home!

Well, I have finally made it home. It was a long trip and frankly kind of exhausting. Including the bus ride to the airport and all of the sitting-around time at airports, I was traveling for about 24 hours. I was really, really ready to be done with my huge suitcases and thinking about where to go next.

But, first: here are some pictures from Tokyo! I stayed with Alina, a friend from college. She has been living in Tokyo for about 9 months now. She came and met me at the airport and we set out to explore Tokyo. First we went to a Buddhist temple. We came around the backside of the temple and saw this:
Inside the temple:
Outside the temple:

A small alley by the temple:

I have a friend (hey Candice!) who lived in Japan for a year before moving to Seoul, and I remember her saying "you will definitely notice the differences between Japan and Korea right away". I didn't think it would be that big of a difference, but I was wrong. This is a very obvious difference, but I had to get used to seeing a whole different language all over everything. Even though I don't understand or speak Korean, I got VERY used to knowing the alphabet and sounding out things when I wanted to. Reading Korean became something that I just did while I was on the subway or otherwise just out in town. Well... I can't even sound out this stuff:
The subway system seems a thousand times more confusing than the Seoul system. For all of you in Korea- be thankful for the simplicity and ease of the Korean subway system. Tokyo has a ton of different lines, which are run by different companies. This means that when you transfer lines you sometimes have to leave the turnstiles and buy a completely different ticket. How confusing! Not to mention that there are different speeds of trains (local, rapid, express), so you have to know what train you are getting on. AND it's expensive. Alina has lived there for almost a year and we had to guess about a few things, or it took us a while to figure out what line to get. Wow!

Well, I've never eaten sushi before and I decided the best place to try it would be Japan, of course. Alina always eats sushi when she is with her friends, and doesn't get it at restaurants, so we decided the best thing to do was to buy some at the grocery store, and take it home to try it out in the privacy of her apartment. This turned out to be a great idea because I didn't end up liking it. Here's the spread- the two dishes on each side are the sushis, while the other things are just miscellaneous sides:
Eyeing the food:
This was the sushi topped with octopus. Alina took the picture and had perfect timing because right after this it came out of my mouth and promptly landed on the plate.
This is the one I didn't eat, those orange balls being fish eggs and me not exactly wanting to eat that:
The sushi that resembled gimbap (the Korean style sushi that has no fish, but it is a roll) wasn't bad, and had raw fish in it and was covered in sesame seeds.

So that was my sushi adventure. It was short-lived and not that fondly remembered.

Alina's neighborhood is SO cute. One thing I noticed about Japan (at least her part of Tokyo) was how green it was. The planning of her little town was done with lots of greenery in mind and it was so nice.

Cute motorcycle in front of the post office:
Tuesday night we went into Shibuya for a concert. I had planned to go to Tokyo to see one of my favorite bands play on their Japan tour. The concert was wonderful, and probably made even better by the fact that I hadn't seen a concert in 8 months. Both bands were great and it was exciting to see them play in a different environment. Anberlin opened, and Copeland was the band I really went to see. Alina and I were able to talk a little bit to James afterward, which was nice.

Shibuya is a very popular area of Tokyo. Lots of clubs and nightlife. Alina told me that the Shibuya crossing is often shown in movies when it is placed in Tokyo. I didn't end up taking a picture of the crossing, but I found this one online:
This is a picture I took of a side street in Shibuya:
One night Alina and I were just out looking around and went to a thrift store. Japan seems really big on the vintage thing, and so there were hundreds of old t-shirts in this store. I kept seeing shirts that reminded me of random people.

Like my dad:
Or my extended family, the Kellys:
Or my friend Will, in Korea:

One of Alina's co-workers is a Thai woman who is married to a Japanese man. Her mother-in-law is Japanese and also works at one of Alina's schools. They invited us over to a real Thai meal, which was very cool:
It was so much fun to be with Alina in Tokyo. I loved visiting her classes. For those of you that know Alina, you should SEE her with her kids- it's SO cute. Her kids absolutely love her, and it was really sweet to watch her interact with them. That was one of the highlights of being in Tokyo with Alina.

I had a GREAT time in Tokyo.

Thank you Alina!
Thank you James!

Well, after a lot of traveling, and a lot of sitting around, and a lot of being mad at my huge suitcases, I finally made it home to Portland. I think I probably stunk, and I needed to brush my teeth, and I was tired and hungry, but I made it! My aunt picked me up at the airport. This is the kind of picture I wanted to show my friends in Korea. This is Mt. Hood, which you can see from Portland on a clear day. I actually took this picture while we were driving out of the parking garage at the airport.
I even stepped out of the parking garage elevator and said loudly: "It SMELLS like Oregon!"

It's warm here (in the 80s), and I'm off today to go shopping!