Sunday, December 31, 2006

We're Back!

Just a quick note to let everyone know we got back to Seoul safely. We loved Thailand and had a great time. We both can't wait to go back! Bangkok was a bustling and busy city with insane traffic and lots of backpackers like us on the famous Khao San Road where we stayed the first few nights. The last few nights we were on the beautiful island of Ko Samet with it's white sandy beaches and clear water. We're missing that balmy weather now! When we arrived back at our apt this morning at 7am it was literally about 35 degrees inside our apartment since the heat was off for a week. Needless to say, we both slept double layered with clothing, socks, gloves and hats! We were quite the sight...I hate I didn't get a picture. Speaking of pictures, we took tons in Thailand so I'll be sure to make a post as soon as they're uploaded. Now we're deciding what to do for New Year's Eve! We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!! It's almost 2007!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Our Classes' Christmas Carols

THOMAS'S CLASS


Joy To The World



Jingle Bells


LESLIE'S CLASS


I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus



All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth

It's Almost Christmas

We had a wonderful week at school celebrating Christmas as our theme. Each kindergarten class had to learn 2 carols along with dancing, and this Friday each had a performance. It was lots of fun watching all the classes! After the singing we had lunch, then Santa came! After Santa we had a party in the classroom and the kids got cookies an cakes. The cakes were so pretty as you can see.

The Kids See Santa

Cutest Birthday Present Ever

Well, it's hard to believe Christmas is only 3 days away! We're going to have a little celebration with our friend Catherine tomorrow night, complete with presents, a roasted chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, and green beans. We even plan on watching "Christmas Vacation."

Then Sunday about 3pm, we're off to Thailand for a week! Woo Hoo! We're going to spend the first few days in Bangkok and then a couple days on an island called Ko Samet. We're looking forward to the warm weather and relaxation. Please pray for safety while we're away and traveling. We look forward to posting after our trip and hope to have lots of great pictures to share! Have a very Merry Christmas! We miss everyone!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Time in Seoul

Here I was thinking there would be no Christmas bonanza in Korea...boy was I wrong. There are tons of lights and Christmas music and cute cards galore. Last weekend we went to the Jongno/City Hall area and saw a nice light display along the river. We enjoyed soaking it all in. Did I mention it's COLD?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Elevation Update

We started attending meetings for Elevation Church last Fall, 2005. There were about 6 families that had moved to Charlotte to start this new, contemporary church. We had our first Sunday morning service in February of this year and there were about 100 people there I think. I just wanted to post a note saying that last Sunday, there were 973 in attendance and 55 people were baptized! Isn't that amazing! God is so good. Praise him for the miraculous way Elevation has grown over the past year.

If you're interested in reading more...you can go to Elevation's new blog at www.elevationinformation.org

Monday, December 04, 2006

What up...

Just wanted to give a shout out to Eric. He's suited up for his birthday party. You should have seen him on his actually birthday, he had on a tux suit with tails. But no tie. It was cute. This outfit was a full on suit, complete with red tie, vest and matching scarf.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Happy Blogger Birthday!

This was a good, albeit a COLD week here in Seoul. I'm still up and it's 2:45am and the temp outside is a whopping 18ºF! It's almost a miracle that I ventured out today at all. Well, it's officially been 1 year since we started the blog and I just wanted to note it. Yay!

Thanks to Monika for her surprise package this week! It was very cute and decorated and contained such goodies as a small artificial Christmas tree, some lights, ornaments, fuzzy socks, and yummy American snacks! Thank you SO much! You're the best college roommate ever! I'm so glad we got to hang out this Summer before we left for Korea. I really cherish our friendship and all that you've meant to me over the past 6 years. I'll never forget all that you've done for me and how you've been there for me. You're a true friend. :)*

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Weekend

Koreans have their harvest holiday, Chusok, in October. So needless to say, they don't observe the American Thanksgiving holiday. Thank the Lord there are lots of foreigners here what with teaching and the whole military presence. Saturday night Thomas, Catherine, Shawn and I had a delicious Thanksgiving turkey dinner at a restaurant in Itaewon called Suji's. Along with the turkey we had dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed veggies and cranberry sauce. It was SO good. We were totally stuffed afterwards, but still had room for pumpkin pie and warm apple crumble. Yum!

My Birthday Flowers and Cake From GKI

I Got My Nose Pierced!

Friday was also my 27th birthday! Woo Hoo! Cough, cough...OMG I'm almost 30!? What!? All the teachers went to Outback Friday night for dinner. We got steaks, cheese fries and even a Chocolate Thunder. Saturday night after dinner Catherine, Shawn, Thomas and I went and I got my nose pierced at Body Enjoy at the Ewha University Station stop. It didn't hurt too badly! After that we went out dancing at a hip hop club in Hongdae. We had lots of fun! It was a great weekend.

We missed you all for Thanksgiving! It's definitely not the same to be away from your family and your home country for your own holidays. Thanks for all your prayers and support over the past 4 months. :)

Christmas is Coming Soon!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, we had squid today for lunch. Whole baby squids. Which I had to cut up with the kitchen shears before I served it to the kids. It was lovely. Yum. Needless to say...I had some soup and rice. We are going to go to a "home cooking" type restaurant Saturday evening though for a turkey dinner, then we may go dancing for my birthday. We wish we were there with everyone and visiting family! We miss you guys! I'll let you know how the dinner is Saturday.

Leslie

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Krispy Kreme

So, we've been seeing people with Krispy Kreme donut boxes here and there but we hadn't seen an actual store yet. Until a few weekends ago. This was the biggest Krispy Kreme I'd ever seen! 4 stores tall! As you can see the HOT sign is on and the line is out the door and across the sidewalk. We walked by it again a few hours later and it was still just as long. Just a little taste of good 'ole NC for Korea! I'll have to let you know how they taste if the line ever goes down when we're back there again.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hillsong United Concert

Well, we're still alive here in Korea! Sorry we haven't written in so long. The weather is getting colder here and we've both been battling colds for the past few weeks. This past Saturday we went to an amazing Christian concert with our co-workers Catherine and Miriam and some people from Miriam's church. It was an amazing time of worship! The concert was held at a church on the other side of Seoul from where we live, and it was HUGE! I think we were told it seated about 3,000 people, and it was packed. For those that don't know, Hillsong United is a praise band for a youth group in Australia. They write their own songs and are great performers so they've easily become popular around the world. You've probably heard their songs before and just didn't realize it. We had a great time and the people from Miriam's church are really nice.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Halloween at GKI

Our school really went all out for the Kindergarten students this Halloween. The school was fully decorated with spiderwebs, witches and ghosts galore. All the kids dressed up on Tuesday along with the teachers...Thomas was a soccer player and I was an angel. Betcha didn't see that one comin. Ha. Traditionally, Koreans don't celebrate Halloween, but since we're an English language school, it's fun to celebrate the tradition. All day Tuesday was a big Halloween carnival where we took our classes from room to room and did something different. After lunch there was a "parade" around the park with the parents in tow taking tons of pictures and video. Then we came inside and had a fashion show. Awards were given for the best homemade costumes. There were some really nice ones too, we were surprised they put so much into it. You can tell Koreans really dote over their children, these kids are spoiled! They're SO cute though! It was a fun day. PS: Monika, this is for you! haha
Eddie, Tony and Eric

Leslie the Angel

Thomas, Catherine, Jack, Kim and Spidermen

Lindsey's Homemade Costume

Parent Paparazzi

Monday, October 30, 2006

Snow White

Last week Thomas's class theme was Movies and Cartoons. So he decided to undertake filming a movie with his kindergarteners. The decided to do Snow White. He recorded it on our digital camera and I pieced it all together for him into one continuous movie. It turned out pretty well, see for yourself! It's really cute.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Mountain Trip

Last weekend we went to Seoraksan National Park in the mountains off the north east coast of South Korea. It was a 3 hour bus ride to our hotel which was only a short walk to the beach. We walked out to the beach and watched people shooting roman candles off all over the place. By the time we arrived it was about 11pm so it was dark and very cold! We got up early the next morning and drove to another park that had a spring. Apparently it's the thing to go drink this water. Which is what I'm doing in this picture to the right. It tasted like Sprite almost! Very much like minerals and also a little like it had soda bubbles in it. Weird. Then we were off to the National Park. One of the Korean teachers named Rira went with us so she could meet her boyfriend, so we were lucky enough to have him drive us around all weekend!
Rira, Catherine, Me, Miriam

Two of the most interesting things inside the park was a huge Buddha statue and several Buddhist temples. The temples were very colorful and ornate. Thomas and I felt so sorry for the people who were going inside to bow down to the Buddha idols.

View Inside One Of The Temples

We figured we walked over 10 kilometers that day. We were so tired that night! After the park we had the Korean meal of sam gep sa. They brought so many side dishes, our table was quite the sight!



One of the nice things we've discovered about Korea is service. This is free stuff either a store or restaurant gives you when you buy something from them. They just give it to you and say, "Service, service!" So, Saturday night we went back to our hotel at the beach and shot off some Roman candles, for our purchase we received some sparklers as service. It was fun playing around with them, they were really long! Sunday morning we only had a few hours before we had to catch our bus back to Seoul. We went for breakfast at a local Korean restaurant and had...yes it's true...spicy catfish soup. For Breakfast! The fish in the soup was cut into about 4 large pieces, head, bones, tail and all! It was actually pretty good. I was surprised! Then we walked down to a Salmon festival that was being held nearby. There were lots of stands selling various fish, one of which was WHALE! We didn't even know you could still kill whale anymore. But there were quite a few stands selling it (click on "Our photos" on the side to see a picture of it). We watched some belly dancers shake it on stage. Our bus ride back took six hours as opposed to the three it took to get there! Lots of people leave Seoul for the weekend, so apparently the norm is for it to take almost double the time to get back on Sundays. I guess everyone else wanted to see the leaves too!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Kenya...


You can take the boy out of Kenya, but you can't take Kenya out of the boy.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Gathering Chesnuts


Our second field trip with our kindergarteners was to the mountains again so they could "gather chesnuts." It was pretty funny because the whole thing was staged! The school bought a whole bunch of chesnuts and had some men come spread them out in strategic locations and then we led them there to "gather." Haha. They had fun running around and seeing who could get the most in their bag. Then we had a nice lunch out at a creek. It was a nice break during the week.


This weekend we're going to the beach with adjacent mountains for some hiking. Should be beautiful with the colorful leaves and the ocean at the front door of our hotel. We're excited to get out of Seoul for the weekend and see a new area of Korea. We'll take lots of pictures! Please pray for safety as we travel 2 hours each way by bus. Also, please pray for our health as we're both battling colds! We think the clean air outside of Seoul will be good for us. We love you!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Posting Comments

Just a little FYI to those of you who would like to leave comments but don't want to start a Blogger account. I changed the settings so anyone can leave a note without the hassle. Woo hoo! We'd love to hear from you guys! – Leslie

I miss designing

Friday, October 13, 2006

October in Korea


It's hard to believe that we've been here over a month. In some ways it feels like we've been here a long time and in others it feels like we just arrived. Our weeks really fly by. We're so busy at the school each day that we never have time to stop. So it's 7pm before we know it and time to go home again! We're starting to get a better handle on being teachers and are controlling our classrooms with more authority. Now I can sympathize with all my girlfriends from back home who are teachers!

This is a Korean meal at a restaurant in an area called Gangnam. It was a hot soup with lots of different types of mushrooms, greens, pumpkin and onions. We're starting to learn that food here is either pretty spicy or bland. This was a dish that was sort of bland. At least we had lots of vegetables with it though. Usually our vegetables with Korean food consist of only different types of Kimchi.

The following photos are just a bit of what the shopping experience is like on the streets in Seoul. You can buy about anything from a street vendor. Food, clothes, drinks, shoes, jewelry, underwear...

Headbands

Dog Outfits

Cell Phone Trinkets

Earrings

Shoes

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Birthday Party Video

Ok, this is our first attempt at putting a video on our site. It's not really that great, but you can hear the kids singing Happy Birthday in Korean and it's cute. Now that we know this works, we'll try to make some more interesting videos!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I didn't think this would happen...

So, we've only been here a month. And I'm already attached to the kids! One of my favorite students, Billy, had his last day of school on Friday. His parents are moving out of Guri and into Seoul, so he'll have to attend a different school. I was SO sad to see him go! I think I even teared up a little bit! What am I going to do in when we leave them all for good? I'm so emotional. Thanks a lot Sheila! haha

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Happy Chusok!

This week is the Chusok holiday here in Korea. Chusok is sort of like Asian Thanksgiving, celebrated on the 8th full moon of the year they enjoy the harvest and pay respects to their ancestors. They also wear traditional dress, as pictured above, which is called Hanbok. The boy in the bright pink top is one of Thomas's favorite students, Bradley. He's so funny!

Last week we had parent teacher conferences with our kindergarten kids' parents. That was interesting. We were paired up with each childs mother for about 10 minutes each, along with a translator. The meetings went well for both of us! All of the mothers thanked us at the end for teaching their child!

Saturday our school had a small Chusok festival for the kindergarten kids. There were different booths they went around to with food and games. Thomas had the station with the game called To-ho. It's a tall basket that you stand two yards away from and try to throw long chopsticks into it. The kids love it. My station was one with some Korean candy that looked like long white sticks. They had to break the stick in half and count the number of holes. Mine was not as exciting as Thomas's. After the festival our friend Shawn went with us to Technomart where we purchased a cell phone! Technomart is a site to behold let me tell you. This place is 10 stories tall, 6 floors of nothing but electronics like cameras, cell phones, computers, washers and dryers...anything you can think of. The other 4 floors or so are clothing shops, a hair salon, home furnishings, jewelry and purses, along with a massive food court. We're glad to have a phone in case we get lost, now we can call for help!

After Technomart we explored a different area of Seoul called Hongdae. It's close to Hongik University which is known for their great art school. It definitely reminded us of a college town in the States. Lots of young people, restaurants and trendy shopping areas. We had a great time.

We worked again on Monday, our only day to work this week. All the kids wore their Hanbok to school. We had class the first part of the day and the rest of the day they played games and ate lunch. Then we had our elementary classes from 2:30 to 7pm. After school the Korean teachers took us out for a Korean dinner, Sam gep sa. It's where you cook these thick pieces of pork, looks like thick bacon, on a metal grate over hot embers. You also cook some kimchi, onions, garlic and spicy bean sprouts. After it's all cooked, you take a piece of lettuce and roll it all up together. It's really good! When we were finished with dinner, all the English teachers went to a Noori Bang, which is a Karaoke room! Thomas has been boycotting it since we got here, since he's basically tone deaf and refuses to sing. We had a good time though, I sang (like a rockstar!) along with everyone else, except Thomas! I'm sure we'll go back again.

If you look at our pictures, there are new ones from the past two weeks, Chusok and another birthday party. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Field Trip

View Of Seoul From The Mountain
Last week we took the kindergarten kids to a National Park just outside of Seoul. There was hiking and a picnic afterwards. The kids' parents packed us all lunches too! Thomas and I had sushi, fresh grapes and pineapple. One parent even packed us beer to drink! That tells you how relaxed Koreans are about drinking. The Korean liquor, Soju, is sold in all convenience stores. We even saw it in juice box style boxes being sold outside the baseball game on Saturday. It's starting to cool down here, feels like Fall!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Baseball Game!

This Saturday we went to the Doosan Bears and Kia Tigers game. We had some KFC wings and french fries and cheered the Tigers on to a 6 to 2 victory! There was actually a homerun where the ball came close to where we were sitting, so when we got home the game was on tv and we tried to see ourselves...and we did! But only for about 1 second! The fans were really into the game and were fun to watch. We had a great time and look forward to going back another time.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Having fun...


K2, originally uploaded by LeslieECU.

If you click on the picture, it will take you to the latest set so you can see Thomas with some of his kids along with some pics from this past weekend.

The above photo was taken today during the kid's playtime at their indoor playground at the school. It has 2 different levels and the bottom has the balls you jump in, so they call the whole thing "Ballpool". They love it!

New news...we got the Slingbox to work!!! Woo Hoo! We can officially watch local Charlotte cable television on Thomas's PC laptop. He's super pumped because now he can watch the Panthers play and get college basketball games. I'm excited about Project Runway! We also can't wait until The Office starts back up.

We also got the webcam up and running with Skype, so if you have it or AIM, you can see us now. I was able to give my mom and dad a virtual tour of the apartment. That was pretty fun. We were laughing.

Tomorrow we take the kids on a fieldtrip so we'll let you know how that goes!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Week 2 in Korea!

Our School!

Last week flew by! We're finally beginning to get the swing of things at school...we'll have smooth days soon hopefully! We finally went grocery shopping last week and got some food for the apartment. We actually got frozen corn dogs and Heinzketchup! Thomas's friend Kristen who taught at the school we're at last year had a coffee maker, so we got it from the girl who took her apartment. So we got some coffee for the mornings!

At the school there is an above-ground swimming pool on the roof of the building, so once a week during the summer the kindergarten and preschool kids get to go swimming. And the teachers swim with them! Since Thomas and I have K1 and K2, we have swim time together. Here are some pics of our fun time.

Billy and Tony from Leslie's K2 Class


Leslie's K2 Class


GKI School's Pool


Thomas Playing with Kids at the Pool


Friday night we went out for some appetizers with our friend Shawn from school. He's sort of our boss, but he's our age. We get along with him well and like hanging out with him because we have similar personalities. We also hung out with Shawn on Sunday and went to an area of Seoul called Insadong. It's been designated a "Cultural City" because of the many shops carrying traditional Korean crafts, art museums and antiques. It's also an area with lots of foreigners so there were lots more signs in English along with more western style restaurants. We had a great time! It was also our first time doing the subway thing by ourselves so that was an adventure in itself. The Insadong station is the biggest and most complex one in Seoul because it's also a transfer station with 3 subway lines. We did it though! No problems! I can't wait to go back there, lots of great shopping! Hello Christmas presents and gifts to send home. :)

Insadong


Thomas and Shawn


Leslie and Thomas in Insadong


There are lots more pictures in Insadong, just look in our Flickr Photos.

We also finally got our wardrobes or closets as they say here, so we're officially moved in all the way!! Woo Hoo! Here are some pics of our apt, but check out the Flickr set for all of them.











For those who are curious about our bathroom, there is a drain in the middle of the floor. Needless to say, when we shower...everything gets wet...the sink, the washer, the toilet, half the mirror. It's ok though, by the time we get home at night it's all dry! Oh, and the washer drains into the floor too.

We're still liking it here a lot and enjoying our weekends to explore this massive city. Thanks for your prayers and for keeping up with us while we're gone. We miss you and love you all so much and can tell by the smooth transition that we're being lifted up by some powerful prayer warriors. Tell Ms. Sexton we say hello!!

Leslie