Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kimchi Making, take 2

You all know that song, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....."  Right?  I'm sure it's playing in your heads a lot these days, with Thanksgiving done and over and Christmas screaming from every store.

Well over on this side of the world, it goes something more like this:  "It's beginning to smell a lot like Kimchi, everywhere you go....."

This time of year is kimchi making season and the smell of fermenting cabbage, onions, garlic and red chili peppers is permeating the air.  Not exactly peppermint and pine, I know.

Remember this?  We had our all-church, 2 day kimchi making for the needy in the community again this year.  We had a good time, check out the pictures below and you can do your own comparison from last year!

Since I somewhat knew what to expect this year and I wasn't reeling at the sight of more cabbage and raddishes than I ever knew to exist in one place at one time and since I knew more of the people this year, I actually gleaned a lot more information on kimchi making than I did last year.  I'll impart my new found wisdom, in case there are any aspiring kimchi-makers reading.

Piles of cabbages stacked high outside the church, each needing to be washed, chopped and salted.

The red container is full of salt, salt is added as a preservative to help as it ferments.

This is Josh, one of the youth.  His dad is a pastor on the Korean side but he spend the first ten years of his life in the States while his dad attended seminary.  In many ways, he is American although his citizenship is Korean.  Now he is back in Korea, figuring out the whole TCK thing. Many of the young adults Steve works with are in a TCK (Third Culture Kid) type situation, where they are partly Korean or partly American or partly both in some way or another and/or they've moved around most there life and feel they are really from "nowhere." It's a tough place to be, I can certainly relate to that.  Anyway, during Kimchi making he played several key roles, one of which included sitting on top of the kimchi pile (yes it was high enough to climb up and sit on) and throwing lightly tossing the cabbages down to the ladies below who were chopping.

Above, ladies peeling and cleaning green onions.

That's a lot of raddishes, folks!

"Uh, mom.....lots of onions!"

"I need to step outside and take a break to process all that green stuff....."

Fish soup for lunch break.

And "Pop" (Korean for rice)

That's red pepper, not blood, no worries.

Above you can see the bags of veggies waiting to be mixed with the pepper fish sauce

Mixing the ingredients (above) that will be stuffed into the cabbages (below)

Pictured above is Rock.  You can pray a thousand blessings on Rock's head.  He has been truly so kind and so good and so patient and so gracious with us.  He has been the one person from the church who has seriously helped us do about everything - from setting up our internet, to getting bank accounts, to getting phones, figuring out what our bills and mail mean, calling our landlord, running us around to do visa things etc etc etc.  He is so patient!!  Bless him, we are thankful for him!

Then the kimchi is portioned off and placed in bags and then packaged into boxes (where it ferments)

And is delivered by cute delivery boys.

Christmas & July

No, not Christmas IN July.

Christmas AND July.

A sweet Christmas Tree frame from Mom Houser and a sweet memory from our trip home in July - Caleb getting down to play with Sammy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mailing home

I always have really good intentions of buying little things (or cards) to send to all ya'll back home, to let you know we think of you and miss you often....but it tends to get stuck somewhere either in the idea stage or in our apartment and never quite makes it to the post office. At least not as often as I'd like.  We finally mailed some things home....Just so you know, one of the reasons it takes so long to make it happen is the huge process it feels like to mail something.  I know, I know, it could be worse but it's not as simple as sticking something in our  mailbox or a blue collection mail box close to home.

To mail something, we walk a fair distance, carrying everything, up crazy hills and around odd walkways like this:

We sit in long lines, buy odd packaging that has to be used, and sit writing out addresses and our Korean return address like this:

There is usually a lady guard who watches over us, with a gun strapped to her waist.  No joke.  I have no idea why - the bank doesn't have armed personnell but the post office?  Watch out!  No stealing envelopes around these parts, that's serious business.

And Caleb usually has ample time to practice his patience....

Then we take a good 20 minutes of trying to explain to the lady behind the desk that no, we don't want to pay extra insurance on the already expensive shipping rates....usually it takes her adding it all up and us telling her "no - too expensiva" and her getting confused, checking it all, trying to give us the price again with us again saying "no -too expensiva - no insurance - cheap, cheap" and then her re-adding it all up AGAIN without the insurance price.

It's usually quite the ordeal.  So I know, excuses excuses, right?  But now if you get something in the mail, you know how it got to you!  =)  We usually get a good chuckle out of the whole ordeal by the time we head home.

Monday, November 28, 2011

In case you need a smile

Saw this on our walk the other day

Korea is all about rocking the matching clothes, underwear and pj's for couples.

If you want a matching set....let us know! 

We do have a certain wedding to be shopping for in the not-too-terribly distant future.....

Last Leaves & Persimmon Trees

 Enjoying the very last of the leaves....

And enjoying my kitchen window view:

And speaking of the view from my kitchen sink....
This sweet bottle serves as a special visual hug every time I look at it.
Sits right there on my kitchen sink,
Practical Love sent from my friend Meggy.
Miss you, friend...I loved it....
long gone, but sits there to remind me of you and your thoughtfulness!

Conference follow up

We've had a number of people ask us what we thought of the Hope for Orphans conference we went to several weeks ago in Seoul.  We really enjoyed it.  We really liked the organization Hope For Orphans - check them out!  We learned some good information, met some other couples in Korea who are trying to adopt (it is really, really hard to be non-military, expat/living in a foreign country and trying to adopt.  If you happen to know a lot about adoption and have any good information or loopholes or knoweldge to impart, please email us at!).  We feel really open to the possibility of adoption and wanting to explore it further, both informationally and with our families.  Right now, we are still just really praying over it and asking the Lord for wisdom on it - it's a big decision.  Please keep us in your prayers in this regard! 

First Sleepover

What's cuter than a little boy in PJ's?  TWO little boys in PJ's!

Caleb had his first  sleep over last week!  His friend Lawrence (who is around his same age) came over for a few days.  His mom and dad went up to Seoul to have baby #2 and we enjoyed getting a taste for 2!  Let's just say, I'm pretty sure I wasn't designed for twins!  Two toddlers kept us on our toes.

The boys enjoyed themselves though!

And actually slept quite well (in separate rooms, of course)!


We had lots of questions about what we would do for Thanksgiving, which  made us feel very loved.  Thank you for your love and concern for us.  It's always hard to be away from family but the holidays are one of the hardest - especially with the little guy!

We ended up celebrating with an all church dinner the Sunday before Thanksgiving and then on Thanksgiving day we went to an ICS staff dinner and a dinner with the Chapmans.  Below are some pics from our celebrations.

Church Feast

Steve speaking at the Feast

Time of Worship

Caleb singing

Just about the most I saw Steve that day! =)

Children's Orphanage that joined us

Time of Thankfulness

Caleb and his buddy "Miss Teal"

As a family, we did a Thankfulness Jar during the month of November, adding slips of paper with thanksgivings written down throughout the month (and not sharing with each other) and then reading them all together at the end.  We had Caleb "write" on a few himself and then we also asked him what he was thankful for and wrote it down for him -- he actually listed off quite a few of his favorite things (things like "pancakes" and "riding in the car" and "Shell's van" and "DADDY" and "coloring").  It was a fun tradition to start.

This year has been a year focused on cultivating a spirit of Thankfulness.  I've read and lingered long over my favorite blogger's book "One Thousand Gifts."  And I continue to find myself failing and resloved again to be ever-thankful.

Reading from Ephesians 5: 15-20 this morning - What is the will of God?
"Look carefully then how you walk, not as the unwise, but as wise....but understand what the will of the Lord filled with the Spirit, addressing one another with psalms and humns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Little Things

Caleb seems to really enjoy when I read him poetry (even though there usually aren't any pictures).  Tonight we read one that seemed fitting to share in the Thanksgiving Spirit!

Dear God, please give me
A Thankful heart for little things --
For sunshine on my kitchen floor,
For news the postman brings;
For memories in the making,
Things the children do and say,
That I will smile about, perhaps,
Some future, lonlier day.

Grant me appreciation
Of the small joys that are mine --
The children's birthday parties,
My honeysuckle vine;
The clean, fresh smell
Of clothes just washed;
The ivy on my wall,
The children's thrilled delight
To wake and find the first snowfall.
For robins in the springtime,
And autumn's crispy weather --
For leaves that cruch,
Friends in for lunch
And laughter shared together.

Give me enthusiasm
To greet each brand new day
With an honest joy in living
As I go my simple way;
I do not ask contentment
That would ambition stay --
But let me love the little things
I find along the way.

~ Helen Lowrie Marshall

Friday, November 18, 2011

Steve's trip to India

This is a summary of pictures and video from the mission trip Steve went on this summer. Sorry, I know this is really late in getting posted.  Steve and several youth joined with the broader church team to travel to India.  They painted and fixed up a local orphanage, hung out with the kids and Steve and Pastor Nelson spoke at a Pastor's training conference.  It was an exciting trip.  One of the things that touched Steve the most was seeing how far many of the local pastors traveled to come hear any type of training.  You see, unlike many of us who have access to the internet, books, audio sermons, and virtually any information we want with regards to studying the Bible and growing in our faith, many of them have nothing.  They do not have regular access to training, books in their language or Desiring God conferences to attend or listen to online. Most of them were lay pastors, leading small churches with little instruction and they came quite a distance just to be trained and learn from other pastors.  He also fell in love with the children in India and his heart went out to so many without parents. The youth that went on the trip are still talking about it and were greatly impacted. The very beginning is a little long but it's worth the wait!


Exactly one year today, we landed in South Korea.  Caleb was 9 months old, Steve had never lived outside the U.S. before and I had never been to Asia in my life.  Our little family made one of the hardest transitions we have made thus far - moving across the world to a new country, a new home, a new job and a new church.  At the time, we really weren't sure what we were getting ourselves into or if we were making one of the biggest mistakes of our lives.  We couldn't shake the feeling that this is where the Lord was leading us and this is what we were meant to be doing but we also had moments of extreme doubt:  we had just left almost all of our "worldly possessions" behind, all our family, all our friends, one of the best churches a person could ask for, a job I loved, and everything else familiar and normal!  Even now, it sounds a bit crazy.

Before moving, Caleb almost 9 months

Not gonna lie, the first months were really rocky.  Nothing was as we had imagined.  There was a steep learning curve.  Korea was a lot more foreign than we had prepared for.  We didn't have heat in our apartment for several days (and it was freezing outside).  We didn't end up getting paid or reimbursed for our move for almost a month after we moved here (meaning all we had was about 12 U.S. Dollars to our name those first weeks).  Our washing machine didn't work for several months (meaning we washed our clothes and cloth diapers mostly by hand in the bath tub).  We didn't have a broom and our floors were covered in grime.  We didn't speak the language, we didn't have any close friends and we didn't know our way around.  The list goes on.  

Things did eventually get better.  A lot of things are still hard.  A lot of things are really great, better than we ever imagined.  We have some close friends and a solid community and Church.  We are beginning to figure out our way in Korea and how to get around and get the basics of life done.  We have heat, we have a nice washer and dryer, we have a broom and some days we even have clean floors!

In some ways, I can't believe we survived and lived to tell about it!  In many ways it feels like we have lived here 5 years, instead of just one.  I can not believe all that has happened in just one short year.  Our lives have been busy and full.  We are on the adventure of a lifetime.  In many ways, as I reflect, I can not picture our lives had we stayed living in MN.  I can't imagine if Steve still worked a desk job and had been doing the same old same old for another year.  I can't imagine not being home with Caleb and getting to watch all the learning he did this year take place or if Steve hadn't been here to have countless good conversations with young adults figuring their way in this world.  I can't imagine had we not moved here and met this Church or these youth or this community.  I can not imagine if we hadn't had the chance to learn the subway or metro or bus systems, if we hadn't taken Caleb to the CoEx or if I didn't spend my Wednesdays enjoying beautiful fall days at the Korean Folk Village with my 21 month old son.  I know this is exactly where we are Meant to be, this is exactly the place the Lord has for us right now.  Is it easy?  Often times no - there are many hard things about it.  Is it good?  Mostly, yes - there are many great things aspects people about it.  We are on a great adventure -- life is full, life is meaningful and life is exciting.  You only live once, right?  And man will we have some stories to smile over as we grow old!

Tonight, exactly 1 year later

Steve's top 2 biggest lessons learned this year:
- God will sustain you and will be with you wherever you go.  I love that this truth is something being in Korea has taught me.  And that God is the same God wherever you are!
- My wife and my son trust me wholeheartedly to lead them wherever we go and home is where ever we make it!

Sarah's top 2 biggest lessons learned this year:
- Contentedness, contentedness, contentedness (still learning.....but have come a long ways....)
- Live in the present, count your blessings, take one day (or one hour) at a time, keep big picture in mind

Caleb's top 2 biggest lessons learned this year:
- Talking (non-stop, mostly English and some Korean)
- Running (always)

Korea on the map, come find us!

To sum it up - WE SURVIVED!!! And we're doing okay, mostly well.
We thank the Lord for sustaining us, we thank our families for supporting us, we thank our church for caring for us, and we thank all of you who have loved us from afar and kept in touch - it means more than you know!