Tuesday, November 30, 2010


On a separate note, we have received several of our boxes!

It was fun to get some of our personal items (one box of Caleb's toys and one of deoderant, vitamins, medications etc).

Even though we packed them, it was fun to get a little tiny bit of "home" over here....we are looking forward to getting the other boxes and can't wait for them to get in! 

Kimchi Making Part 2

Today was the second half of Kimchi making.  I didn't get to help out nearly as much or spend as much time as I would have liked because I had Caleb (yesterday was Steve's day off so he had Caleb while I went to help participate.  Today he worked so I had Lil C and it is a lot harder to do anything with him in tow!).  But I did take a few pictures and learned some more about the process, should I ever decide to make my own (not yet likely, although I'm still holding out that I'll learn to enjoy it....It is really really good for you).

You can't see it too well in the picture but today they mixed everything together.  They laid down plastic and mixed all the shredded Korean raddishes (from yesterday), the green onions, hot pepper sauce, and fish sauce (which is the biggest thing I have against kimchi, if it weren't for the fish I might be okay....but I hear there are other kinds so we'll see).

Ingredients waiting to be added and mixed in.

After everything is mixed together, they take the cabbages (green things in the middle of the pile) and stuff them full of the mixture....Then they package it and it is ready to go.  I think it has to sit for a while to ferment/pickle but that is basically it (as far as I understood).

I learned today that the kimchi they made (with rice) will be enough to feed 400 families in need through the winter!  That's incredible.  One of the pastors explained that as long as needy families had kimchi and rice, they could make it through the winter.  The kimchi provides vegetables and fish (it is rich in vitamin C, as well as a number of other important vitamins).  I also learned that this church has been doing this every year for 21 years!  That is faithful service and was really cool to learn about, hear about and (kind of) participate in (although I'm sure I was more of a liability than an asset!). 

Thanks for learning with me!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kimchi Making

Today was a fun day.  Every year after Thanksgiving (end of November) the Korean side of the church spends two days making kimchi to give away to those in need or without food.  Everyone is invited to come help prepare the kimchi and every hand willing to help is needed for this huge undertaking.  I thought it would be fun to check out and I was curious as to how to make kimchi so after I put Caleb down for his morning nap, I headed over to church (Mondays are Steve's day off so he stayed home with lil C).  Nothing could have properly prepared me for this Event.  It was mass food production meet church potluck at its finest.

Think over 3,000 heads of cabbage, hundreds and hundreds of (pinneapple-sized!) Korean radishes, pounds and pounds of sea salt, bunches of green onions and garlic, mass containers of hot pepper, and a fire truck to provide all the necessary water!

The above picture is what I saw when I first approached the church.  Being by myself and having never experienced Kimchi Making Day, I immediately thought the church was on fire and something had gone wrong.  I almost turned to go home but then realized nothing was burning and everyone was hard at work.

I approached slowly, tentative and not quite sure how to proceed.  It appeared to be a well organized assembly line, everyone with a job and working quickly.  Seeing as my Korean is limited to "hello" and "thank you," I wasn't quite sure how this was going to work.....

Thankfully, someone noticed the unsure American standing on the outskirts and invited me in.....I was given a blue full body suit (think decontamination suit) to put on over my clothes (keep the kimchi out) and I was sent inside to sit with over 40 other women on mats.  The floor of the church basement was covered in plastic sheets and everyone sat around chatting and grating large Korean raddishes (these things were huge! Although similar in smell and taste to the typical radish you think of, these things were ginormous.  Like I said earlier, they were about the size of a small pinneaple).  Our task was to shred them and there were hundreds.  Each lady was equipped with a large plastic bag to grate into, a grater and a mat.

Thankfully, they directed me to sit next to a lady (Grace) who had spent several years in the States with her husband (one of the Korean pastors) and she spoke some English. She was able to explain things in more detail to me and also shared some helpful things about Korea in general...Like where to buy my meat and which days the market has the cheapest prices. 

Can you pick me out of the picture above?  That's me, sitting with Grace and some of the other women...And yes, that huge bag of grated Korean cabbage sitting in front of me was my morning's work!

This is how it works:  The pictures above (outside) are where all the cabbage and raddishes and other veggies are washed.  The fire truck is hired to come spray their hoses and wash everything down.  Then the cabbages are cut and placed in salt water.  The clean raddishes were brought by basketful into the room we were in, chopped in half by several people and sent down our way to grate.  At the end of the day, all the cabbages will be left overnight in the salt water and then tomorrow everything will be mixed together, the spices added and the cabbage will be stuffed with all the other ingredients....and that (in a nutshell) is how kimchi is made.

Or at least how I understood it....It was a lot of fun, even though I didn't always understand all that was said.  I was glad to sit next to Grace who spoke some English and talked to me, explaining things as we went.  Occasionally someone would come by with a hot rice cake or some coffee or a bottle of "vitamin water" to "keep us going."

And around noon we all stopped for a lunch of rice and (you guessed it!) kimchi, with some fish soup (I think that is what it was anyway....).  Caleb and Steve came to check it out after Caleb's nap and Caleb was a hit with the ladies.  Everyone loves blonde hair out here (because it is so rare) so he is an instant hit.

Caleb even tried a little piece of raddish...I do have to say that I didn't think I liked raddishes much but after grating them all morning, I tried one and it was surprisingly cool and refreshing with a little kick...not too bad.

And that, my friends, was my introduction (and perhaps yours as well) to kimchi making....Hope you enjoyed my long winded post about fermented Korean vegetables....I enjoyed helping (sort of?) and enjoyed meeting some new friends.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

We must have accidentally stowed some MN weather in one of our bags because last night IT SNOWED. 

First snowfall of the year here in Korea and early at that. 

I woke up in the middle of the night and noticed it falling peacefully, covering everything below.

I don't usually enjoy winter but I do enjoy a pretty snowfall now and then, so maybe Korea and I will get along after all....

Apparently the temps don't drop as low as in MN and the snow comes several times but doesn't last long. 

By 9am this morning on my walk to church, it was already starting to melt some

and when I left around 2pm it was warm and sunny again.

Oh and PS here in Korea they really do have "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" in little roadside stands that you can stop and buy along your way. 

Happy Christmas Time!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Caleb figures out his "new" toy

When we arrived here in Korea, several people from the church had stocked Caleb's room with some new to him toys for him to borrow while we get set up and while we wait for some of his toys to arrive in the mail (for those of you who don't know, we did not bring many of our things with us due to the cost of shipping a container.  Instead, we mailed some of the more important things and stored the rest in a shed in Steve's parent's backyard--Thanks again!)  We sent most things as "space available mail" and "media mail" because those are the cheapest ways to mail things, but it also means we have no idea when our things will arrive!  Anyway, we were very blessed to have some toys in Caleb's room when we arrived and he has been thoroughly enjoying them all!

This particular toy really intrigued him but took him a while to figure out.  You have to put the ball in the hole on top and hit it fairly hard to get it to go in and down the track, coming out the bottom hole.  Well, he finally figured it out last night and it was fun to watch him learn something new.  I think that is one of my favorite things about being a parent:  watching (and helping) him figure life out. 

Good Job, Caleb!

Dad, Caleb and Football

"Oh no you don't, mom! Uh-uh...You stop right there!"

"Can't you see we're watching The Game?!?"

"Fine."   *sigh*   "I guess we can smile real quick, as soon as it goes to commercial...right Dad?"

"Okay, can we watch our game now?"

My Little Boy

I'm starting to get a little sad (already) that Caleb is 10 months old next week and that is sounding awful close to a year....How did my little 9 pound baby boy get so big and change so fast on me? 

My little mama heart is stuck way back at around 3 months and has not had time to catch up and (keep up!) with my Little Man.

  I can't even wrap my mind around the ways he has changed and the things he has learned in only 10 months, let alone process it!  He is turning into a little boy right before my eyes.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Subject: Hey Sweetie

For the first time in our marriage (2.5 years) we have felt too busy to spend a lot of time together connecting and just spending time together.  Between taking care of Caleb, being sick (for about 3 weeks now two or all three of us have been sick and we woke up  this morning feeling something new coming on!), packing, moving, living in other people's homes, running around doing errands and getting set up with life here we have just felt really busy and felt the strain of not being able to spend quality time together.  Even though we have seen each other each day and been together, we feel like we've hardly really connected.  That's been hard.  I miss him! But we know there are seasons of life when it is just like that and we are committed to working through it and MAKING time.

Steve had to run into the office this morning for a pastor's meeting and then stayed after to get some things prepared for his parent's meeting this Sunday....I checked my email while he was gone and had one waiting from him.  This is what it said:

Subject:  Hey Sweetie
I love you like grass loves the rain
I love you like a horse loves oats
I love you like a tight rope walker loves his tightrope
I love you like a parachute jumper loves his parachute
I love you like electronics love plug-ins
I love you like Caleb loves his puffs
I love you like Posey loves people food
I love you like you love spreadsheets.....No I love you like Dan Schmidt loves spreadsheets!
I love you like Koreans love Kimchee
I love you like kids love being popular
I love you like shoppers love black friday
I love you like millions of people love facebook...I'm addicted to you. Smile
I love you like I love YOU
I love you like a sick person loves helpful medicine
I love you like Christ loves his church..... I would give myself for you to live.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy First Thanksgiving, Caleb!

And here's to wishing each of you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving from the 3 of us!

We are truly thankful for each of you and very blessed to have you in our lives.

Love & Hugs, The Housers

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Different Things

Today was probably one of the best days since we've been here.  Things are normalizing out some, our sleep is adjusting to the 15 hour time difference, Caleb's cold seems a little better and he got two good naps in today, Steve had a great day of planning and meeting with his boss, and I got all of our stuff unpacked and put away.  Now we still have about 20 boxes of things we mailed (mostly books!) that we'll be getting at various points (hopefully) in the next 6 weeks (we shipped most of it media mail or space available mail to save the church some money), but for now I have everything put away and all our clothes organized etc.  That felt pretty good to get that all done.  I also did a lot of cleaning and that felt good to get done as well. 

Here are a few random pictures we snapped along our day:

Me an' Lil C making toast for breakfast....using the broiler, since we don't have a toaster. 

I am also getting used to having a gas stove....it takes some getting used to but overall it isn't too bad...things sure heat up faster!  No wait time.

Getting used to our Korean thermostat, thankful for our cheat sheet that one of the bilingual ladies in the church made for us.

We got our home phone set up...

Batphone anyone?

After work we went for a walk in a different direction than we have gone before and explored our first grocery store.....For the most part, it was like any other grocery you might happen upon, except it was all in Korean, there was a lot more fish and seafood than you might normally see in a store in the States, and most fruit and veggies were shrink wrapped in saran wrap. 

On the way home, we saw this common (in Korea) sight...they park vehicles half way up on the sidewalk.  I guess since space is limited and streets are already narrow....just something different I guess.  Not a sight you are likely to see in St. Paul!

On the way home we enjoyed the sunset.


Steve's Vision and Goals

Steve spent most of the day today meeting with Pastor Nelson (his boss man, the head English pastor) and working through a vision for the youth at SCBC and expectations for Steve's role as Youth Pastor.  Steve said it was really cool because when they sat down together Pastor Nelson said he had some goals for the youth but wanted to hear Steve's goals first.  Steve listed out five goals he had and some of his vision and heart for the youth and as it turns out 4 of Steve's 5 goals were the exact same as Pastor Nelsons (and Steve had touched on the 5th one as well while they were talking).  It just felt like further confirmation for both of them that Steve is the right fit for this position and this youth group. 

Ultimately, Steve wants the youth to Cherish Christ, Connect with Christ, and Change for Christ.  Five specific goals he has set as he begins his ministry include:

- Building a volunteer team of adults to work with the youth and alongside Steve
- Involving the youth already attending the church
- Reaching out to youth outside the church
- Connect and involve the youth group with the broader church body
- Set out a calendar of service activities and events for the upcoming months

He has a lot of other goals and visions but this is where he is going to start and the things he is going to initially work towards.

I'm so excited for him as he sets out to begin working for the Lord and for SCBC and the youth/their families here.  I am so proud of him and so in love with the heart he has for the Lord, for others, and especially for the next generation.  Please keep him in your prayers as he begins this ministry.  I know we are both humbled by what it means to be in a position such as this and to be leading others.  It was fun to see his excitement as he came home today but along with his excitement he had weightiness and a burden for the responsibility set before him.  Thank you for your prayers and your support!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nov. 23, 2010

I have no creative title for today's post and no pics either, sadly.  But I thought I'd post a quick little update about our day while Steve gives Caleb his evening bath (yes, we DO have a bathtub!! We had thought we wouldn't but one of the many good surprises we had regarding our housing situation was that we do have a bathtub.  It's small but it's a tub!).

Today we went to a town called Suwon, about 30 minutes from the town we live in (Songtan).  We went to Suwon because we had to go to the closest Immigration office to apply for the equivalent of a green card.  Steve is here in Korea on a missionary/working visa and I'm here as his spouse and Caleb as his son (makes sense, right?) but in order to get paid, set up bank accounts, get cell phone accounts, get driver's licences etc we need to have this green card.  So Pastor Cho drove us to Suwon Immigration Office and helped us through the process.  Thankfully it didn't take long but now we have to wait 10 days to get our green cards....Here's to hoping it doesn't take the full ten days because that's a long time to wait to get all the other things in place!

On a separate note, this  morning was Steve's first morning in the office.  He got his desk and got his computer and internet working.  He sent me an email from work that said "I already love this job."  I'm so proud of Steve and so happy for him that he can finally be doing his "dream job" and what he feels called to do....I feel he is so gifted in this area and it has been fun to see him at work already, meeting people, loving people, praying for people, and leading the youth last Sunday.  He has jumped right in and is so excited about the youth and also about the men's ministry here at the church.  Besides loving the youth and wanting to declare God's faithfulness to the next generation, Steve has a burden for men and seeing men sharpen and encourage one another to be Godly, faithful men and leaders.  I know he feels that burden for himself and he looks forward to his fellowship with the men of SCBC. 

Lastly, you can keep Caleb in your prayers....he is sick =(  He has a horrible barking cough and a very snotty  little nose.  I feel so sad for him, watching him being sick.  No fun at all!  I'm praying his body fights it off and he is feeling better soon.

And as for me?  I think my adjustment here is proving harder than I had expected.  I know this is where we are supposed to be and I'm so excited for Steve but at the same time, I'm really missing home right now and all our friends and family and I'm struggling to adjust and aclimate to a number of things here.  I'm thankful, though, for the community of believers here and their outpouring of love and care for us.  I'm thankful too for all of YOU and your love and care and support of us too in this transition.  You are missed!

Much Love, Sarah

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Steve and Caleb playing in Caleb's room last night.

On the topic of Caleb, he is now talking!  Well, kind of anyway....he says "mama" "dada" and "num num"....and he says them at appropriate times or points to us when he says them so we are fairly certain it is more than just random noises strung together!  Pretty fun.

It's all Korean to me!

We went for a walk this afternoon around town....here are a few pics that we took along the way.
This is the Chruch (Songtan Central Baptist Church or SCBC) 
This is the English minsitry building (where we go to church)
This is Steve and Caleb outside of our apartment building (we are on the 3rd floor)
Walking up our staircase....to the 3rd floor
Outside our apartment door (#303)
Thanks for joining us on our little walk around town....Hope you enjoyed the pictures!