Monthly Archives: May 2013

North Korean Refugees.

Standard

If you read any one of my blog posts. This one is the one I want you to read. I have  just over 400 followers on my blog. Let’s do something together!

About a month ago our friends Pat and Alyssa brought something to our attention that Tom and I had heard about, but only vaguely. 

Here is what I know. It’s 2013. North Korea has been recognized as the most repressive country in the world.UN reports have described the human rights situation in the country as sui generis – in a category of its own, and “harrowing and horrific.” The North Korean regime attempts to deny its people almost every basic human right you can imagine. North Korea’s human rights abuses are so bad, in part, because the regime has had to rely on extreme repression to stay in power. Regime stability is the ultimate objective for the ruling elite, and the brutally efficient system of political oppression, including the prison camps, public executions and collective punishment, are the tools they have used to maintain their system.”

 “…Five political prison camps hold an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 inmates, and some of them are the size of cities. They have existed five times as long as the Nazi concentration camps and twice as long as the Soviet Gulags. Many people imprisoned in these camps were not guilty of any crime but were related to someone who supposedly committed a political crime. Often they have no idea what that crime was. There is no due process or rule of law. Even children who are born in the camps are raised as prisoners because their blood is guilty. Forced labor, brutal beatings and death are commonplace. The regime denies the existence of these camps, but multiple survivor testimonies have been corroborated by former guards as well as satellite images of the camps…” -Taken from http://libertyinnorthkorea.org

Tom and I have begun to watch documentaries of North Koreans who have escaped the country alive. Our most recent one being: Camp 14 on Netflix. It is devastating to me what is happening, and more devastating that SO MANY people do not know about what is happening in North Korea.

We have also watched Inside North Korea– Where Lisa Ling goes into North Korea undercover as a medical coordinator to take a look at the country’s government and dictatorship. As well as parts of Kimjongilia. I felt helpless, heartbroken, and desperate to do something to help these people. There is also the documentary Seoul Train that you can watch here:http://www.sockshare.com/file/7D01D0B6694AF52F

About a month ago Alyssa and Pat posted the link the their fundraiser to help free the people of North Korea. It takes $2,500 to free one refugee from their system of undercover workers. Liberty in North Korea will be rescuing 100 people in 2013!

BUT they need your help.

We can’t even imagine growing up in a prision camp,being separated from our loved ones, going hungry every single day, or being neglected of basic human rights.

Here is what you can do:

1. Be informed.  Read an article, watch a documentary, read a book. Poke around on the website I posted below.

2.Share the link on facebook, twitter, blogs, or with anyone you know!  (That takes one second…)

3. Donate. Nothing is too small. A 10$ donation=2 starbucks mocha’s. I mean. Really?  You get the point! Alyssa and Pat are 27% of the way to their goal of freeing a refugee.

Here is the link to help refugees:

http://fundraise.libertyinnorthkorea.org/patandalyssa

Praying for humanity today. Especially North Korea.

Advertisements

After school Adventures…

Standard
After school Adventures…

Tom likes to stay busy during the week.

I like to relax after a long day of teaching.

We have found meeting in the middle, and planning our weeks out in the beginning of the week allows for us to have the perfect combination of exploration, and relaxation. I keep waiting for this “WOW, this city is amazing” feeling to completely wear off, but it hasn’t for almost two months now, and it is a pretty big city. We have found that we will have plenty of mountains to climb, heaps of beaches to explore, and copious amounts of islands surrounding Yeosu that we haven’t even touched on yet. Here are some of my favorite pictures of our after school adventures from the past two weeks.

A hike up the mountain just a couple blocks from our house

A hike up the mountain just a couple blocks from our house

The top!

The top!

The walk to a little island (connected by a walking bridge) called Odongdo.

The walk to a little island (connected by a walking bridge) called Odongdo.

Yeosu expo in the back. Odongdo island.

Yeosu expo in the back. Odongdo island.

Tom jumpin for joy!

Tom jumpin for joy!

Exploring Odondo island.

Exploring Odongdo island.

Bamboo forest (Odongdo)

Bamboo forest (Odongdo)

080

Cliffs of Odongdo.

Cliffs of Odongdo.

Cute light show we stumbled upon.

Cute light show we stumbled upon.

Walkin back home!

Walkin back home!

Vino with some friends. I promise that is not all ours!

Vino with some friends. I promise that is not all ours!

Found another beach about 10 min from our apartment. Ungcheon beach!

Found another beach about 10 min from our apartment. Ungcheon beach!

Takin a stroll in a nearby neighborhood.

Takin a stroll in a nearby neighborhood.

Just hangin in the clouds after an evening hike :)

Just hangin in the clouds after an evening hike 🙂

SO yes, maybe that “amazing-new-town” feeling will eventually wear off. In some ways though, I look forward to it wearing off. I know we will discover our favorite little nooks n’ crannies of our city, and we will return time after time to our favorite places while we live here.

Until then though…We will continue to explore our fabulous little corner of the world. One jump picture, one mountain, and one beautiful beach at a time.

South Korea Crusin’

Standard
South Korea Crusin’

Each day is an adventure…

Last weekend, a cool crew of us headed to the Shinan Islands for a wonderful weekend in the sun watchin a new friend of ours compete in the ironman triathlon. It was incredibly fun to watch in another country, and especially Korea. Many differences from an ironman back in the states, but it was great to support, and fun was had by all! Below are my favorite pictures from the weekend of  May17-19th that we spent on the Shinan Islands! We took a 2 hour bus to get to a city named Mokpo, and from there took a ferry for about 45 min to the islands.Tom created an incredible video from this weekend, and I think it sums up our weekend just perfectly! If you missed the video on facebook check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYF9u9C_V58&feature=youtu.be

island weekend new

Headed out!

Headed out!

028

Fun to see Newtons in Korea!!!

Fun to see Newtons in Korea!!!

037

Well hello beautiful view.

Well hello beautiful view.

IM race start!

IM race start!

Rice fields

Rice fields

Started out cool, but it got warm!

Started out cool, but it got warm!

Just two guys shootin the breeze.

Just two guys shootin the breeze.

059

This past weekend May 24-26 is best summed up by a wonderful weekend of AMAZING company, fantastic food, an evening hike, a train to the little town of Gokseong, Rose festival (Our first Korean Festival!)  eating pig roast, book club, eating delicious duck, and ended with two skype dates with great friends from back in Wisconsin. I know I keep saying this, but I am feeling incredibly blessed to have SUCH amazing friends here in Korea who make it feel like our “home.” Shout out to our friends Corey and Michelle who were wonderful hosts this past weekend to Tom and I, and our friends D.J and Lauren!

Hike with Tommy on Friday eve

Hike with Tommy on Friday eve

117

Friday night date night hike

Friday night date night hike

125 128 130

Just enjoying the ocean in our city before taking the train to see our friends!

Just enjoying the ocean in our city before taking the train to see our friends!

trip to geoksong

Lovin my hubby

Lovin my hubby

When we got on the train in Yeosu it was cool and breezy ,and about 65 degrees at about 1pm . When we stepped off into the little city of Gokseong in the mountains about 45 min later it was about 15 degrees warmer!!! I think Tom will appreciate living on an ocean city once summer hits. Yeosu has been a steady 70-75 degrees the past few weeks.

030

These remind me of Wisconsin/Minnesota

These remind me of Wisconsin/Minnesota

Checking out the beautiful roses at the Rose festival!

Checking out the beautiful roses at the Rose festival!

Stoppin to smell the roses ;)

Stoppin to smell the roses 😉

046

Love the baby pink roses.

Love the mini baby pink roses.

Rows and rows of these beauties

Rows and rows of these beauties

Love these people!

Love these people!

037

Thanks Orman's for this picture :0

Thanks Orman’s for this picture :0

Dinner

Dinner

DJ and Lauren

DJ and Lauren

Just a cute little town in the mountains...

Just a cute little town in the mountains…

052

Breakfast on a lovely Sunday morning

Breakfast on a lovely Sunday morning (thanks michelle for this one!)

The gals...

The gals… photo credit to Corey!

This week I encourage you to get out and have an adventure! Do something new with some cool people that have a special place in your heart. I have found that with the greatest of friends all you need is their company…and anything can be a blast.

“Each day is an adventure in discovering the meaning of life. It is each little thing that you do that day – whether it be spending time with your friends, running in a cross-country meet or just simply staring at the crashing ocean- that holds the key to discovering the meaning of life. I would rather be out enjoying these things than pondering them. We may never really discover the meaning of life, but the knowledge we gain in our quest to discover it is truly more valuable. ”- Jack Canfield

Within and Without

Standard
Within and Without

Yesterday, Tom and I went to see the movie: The Great Gatsby. I have always had a love for reading since about 4th grade so this classic novel was one that I read during high school. While many in my high school lit class despised the book…I remember getting so lost in the book that I would read for hours. I thought it was an incredibly well written book, and was completely fascinated with it. At 16 years old, I didn’t fully understand what some parts meant, and only would learn more as I learned & experienced more about life. Isn’t that the case though? The older you get…the more you learn. The more you experience. The more you love. I’d like to think that’s the case at least. It’s a sort of exhausting thing to think about, really. When all you need is time, but time simply goes too fast. Our time on earth is so fleeting.

The beautiful red roses are in full bloom around Korea.

The beautiful red roses are in full bloom around Korea.

photo[3]

photo[1]

“I was within and without. Simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”- That’s how I literally feel some days. I can’t write enough about how much we love Korea, but some days my brain feels like mush when I begin to think about the variety of life. It literally is inexhaustible.

I decided I’d like to dedicate a post to my “school life” as a teacher…since it is such a large part of my time here in Korea. I work with incredibly amazing kids. I teach grades 3,4,5,6. I have three sections of each of those grades and I see each class 3x a week. I also teach “after school” English classes. On Friday’s I go to my “country school.” Where I teach one class of each 3,4,5,6th grade. I stay quite busy, but I really like that! Adjusting to teaching kids who speak hardly any English was a big transition for me in the beginning. Learning the expectations, schedules, and content of what I am teaching and how to teach was tricky in the beginning. I would say I FINALLY feel comfortable to be my goofy self, and throw in my own teaching style to the content of what we are required to teach. It took about a month of teaching to get into the groove. You know, it’s always that awkward beginning part of learning anything new. Mastering the ropes, adapting, and being FLEXIBLE!

photo[1]

photo[2]

The most important thing about being a teacher in Korea is be flexible. Well, maybe for any teacher. Some days though I come to school to find out a class is cancelled, I don’t teach at all tomorrow, or I have more classes then I expected. It is crazy to fly on the seat of your pants…but I am learning that’s just the kinda girl I am anyway. Up until a few years ago corporal punishment was accepted ,and used in the Korean schools. Now, they resort to things like P.E exercises for punishment, standing in the back of the classroom with arms up and eyes closed, or no outside time. Tom always tells me that “we didn’t come here to change their ways” and while I do understand that… I always try to give my kids some extra love while they are with me.

photo[1]

Tom is teaching middle school BOYS. ALL BOYS. I think God knew that I couldn’t handle middle school boys. So, he gave it to Tom! I think it is better that way since in Korea they respect men and especially love him because he is so tall. I mean let’s be real… I would die. Overall we are pretty happy about our jobs. We both work 8:40-5pm and we commute via bus each day. Tom and I both have multiple korean co teacher’s depending on the class and day. Mine teach along side with me while Tom’s teacher’s give him full reign of the rowdy, hormonal, and sassy boys… eh hem.I mean angels.

Just a sweaty commute home from work! :)

Just a sweaty commute home from work! 🙂

We did NOT plan this… note the “slippers” (sandal type things) we must wear while teaching! No regular shoes allowed.

One of my coteacher's (Mina) and I.

One of my coteacher’s (Mina) and I.

I’ve got lots to update you on. Including the past weekend on the Shinan Islands, and our after school adventures.. I look forward to writing more this week, and weekend!

All of my love from Yeosu, South Korea.

On the coast of somewhere beautiful…

Standard
On the coast of somewhere beautiful…

Soakin up the sun, sunlight dancin’ on the water, and I wish I was there 🙂

I am thankful for the company of wonderful friends (some old and some new) who make Korea seem even more like our home. I am thankful for great conversation, and dancing under the stars. I am thankful for the sun, sand, the Yellow Sea, and a little island called Oedaldo. I am thankful for a lovely fire after dark…complete with fireworks on the beach.  I am thankful for our health. I am thankful for friends who love to laugh, explore, and push themselves out of their comfort zone. Today, on Mother’s Day in America I am thankful to the moms everywhere who love their kids unconditionally, and have pushed them out of the nest to spread their wings and fly-even when that’s the hardest thing to do. I am thankful especially to my own mom for bringing me into this world, and for encouraging me to always be independent and strong. I am thankful for my mother-in-law who brought her son (my husband into this world) and for raising him to be the man he has become today.

My heart is full…and I am incredibly thankful for this amazing, and precious life I have been given.  Last night, as we fell asleep under the stars I couldn’t help, but send up a quick prayer to God thanking him for blessing me in so many incredible ways.

DSCN2215

Oedaldo Island

Oedaldo Island

tents on the water :)

tents on the water 🙂

072

100

093 087

girls oedaldo oedaldo DSCN2225

090

112

Making it our own.

Standard
Making it our own.

Happy Monday to all of our family and friends back home!

This past weekend was simply delightful. We are feeling so blessed to have friends here from Wisconsin, and also to have met new friends that we felt like we connected right away with and who became our first visitors in our new apartment in Yeosu. We randomly met Corey and Michelle in Mokpo while visiting friends from Wisconsin who are teaching in Korea. We invited them to come to check out Yeosu and they came this past weekend! Our highlights were hiking Gubong Mountain (the mountain my school is on!)  visiting the beach, riding “rail bikes” (bikes literally on an old railroad!) that went through a cool tunnel, and of course plenty of great conversation ,and awesome company.

013

Start of the hike

018

Beautiful view of our city from near the top of our hike!

020

Lovin our new friends 🙂

031

Planking on Gubong Mountain!

033

Boys at the beach skippin rocks. Boys will be boys 🙂

051

Gotta have the cute kiddo picture. They were having a blast in the water!!!

054

On the Rail bikes near the ocean

060

heading into the tunnel under the mountain 🙂 SO fun

michelle elicia yeosu

Loving life!!!

024 028 036 058 078 tom and i railroad car yeosu

On Sunday… We went to a Korean Church service…in Korean! Tom’s co worker invited us to go, and we felt we should. It was interesting, but most of it I didn’t really know what was going on since it was in another language. The people (as always) were SO kind to us. Then, Tom got sick. Which resulted in him resting. I made the trek over by taxi in the afternoon to the only English speaking church in our city. It was so lovely. A small group of some Koreans, and some foreigners gathered to worship. It was so fabulous to feel apart of a church again as we are missing our church from the states! Tom will be excited to join me next weekend at the English speaking church. After church I grabbed coffee with some pretty sweet gals from church at..wait for it.. STARBUCKS!!!!!!! It was an awesome treat. It is the only Starbucks in Yeosu. Sunday night resulted in a trip to the hospital since Tommy is sick. 😦  Very interesting experience to say the least as we don’t speak much Korean, and they spoke just a tiny bit of English. Thank goodness for being able to use the hospital phone to call my co teacher so she could translate… since, we don’t have phones yet.

Today it was back to teaching! It was hard to say goodbye to the weekend as it has been absolutely BEAUTIFUL weather here! We are excited this weekend to hopefully camp with our friends, pending Tom feels better of course!

I will leave you with a video of three of my lovely students dancing to Psy’s new song “Gentlemen” a pretty big deal over here:

https://vimeo.com/65561222

How could I not love teaching when I have these kids? I can’t help, but smile! As always, feeling blessed beyond words.

Home

Standard
Home

There is so much I want to tell you. Pictures don’t even do it justice. Today while on the way home from work… I thought WOW, so this is our life? To be honest it took almost a month of being here to finally feel real. This. is. our. life! We didn’t come to Korea, because we couldn’t find jobs at home. We choose to come here to experience a new adventure and I feel SO blessed beyond words to be here…in this moment, and sharing it with my husband. As I sit at a little coffee shop with the sound of water running and music in the background I sit here feeling like God has given me so much more than I ever deserved. I teach the greatest kids. I live in a beautiful city. I am happy. I am healthy, and God has us exactly where we should be.

Yeosu, is beautiful. The mountains are unbelievable and the ocean is breathtaking. It is a breath of fresh air. I want to tell you about orientation, and the temple we visited during our 10 day orientation. I want to tell you how so many “God moments” have happened since we have been here. I want to tell you how the kids I teach make my day every single day…but first. Let’s start with our city of Yeosu.

So, we have been “home” for a week. Life has seemed a blur the past week! From figuring out the city,  our new jobs, bus system, and where to shop and eat… Each day has sort of run into the next. In a good way of course 🙂 I finally feel like I am learning what is where, and how to take the bus home from work. We live in a fantastic location! It is known for all of it’s places to eat and go out for a drink. We met up with other foreigners one night, and our neighborhood seems to be the place everyone meets for dinner. Which is awesome for us because it is all within walking distance. Our schools are both down by the ocean. We take the bus together each morning. It is about 15 min by bus, but from our apartment to the ocean/school it is probably only 3 miles. The problem is we have to go around a massive mountain. I am not complaining though. That just means we have another mountain we get to hike!!!

This past weekend Tom and I spent the weekend exploring Yeosu. Taking the bus, and LOTS of walking around. It was gorgeous outside. The weather here has been consistent, and mostly in the low 60’s.  The weekend highlights were as follows: Meeting up with our Irish friends Roy and Ciara, exploring the MASSIVE fresh (and live) fish market, walking across the big Dolsan bridge to the cutest little coffee/tea shop on the top of this hill overlooking the city, and checking out the 2012 World Expo site down along the ocean.

This week brought teaching (mostly introducing ourselves to the kiddos) ,and getting to know our co teachers. I have two co teachers who speak excellent English! On Friday’s I go to a different school to teach kiddos. This past Wednesday, all English Teachers had the day off for Labor Day! Tom and I spent the day at my school for the kids’ sports day (like track and field day back home!!!) The kids were THRILLED to meet Tom. Seriously, everyone is obsessed with Tom. They adore him for how tall he is and I can’t tell you how many times a day men, women, and child alike yell “HANDSOME MAN!!!”  It makes me laugh, because he does not like the attention. After Sports day was over at 1:00 the entire staff of my school went out for “Teacher dinner” and invited Tom to come with us. We spent the next hour eating on the floor, and various teachers coming over to say the sweetest words to me about how thankful they are to have me here ,and pouring us a drink of beer and soju. I am SO thankful to work with such amazing, and kind co workers. Then all of the teachers went back to school to play volleyball (they take it very seriously!) Tom got roped into playing, and it was entirely too entertaining. I laughed the entire time as they tried to coach him (in Korean) ,and the men proceeded to grab his butt and slap him on the back. Most of the time I don’t know what is going on, and the best thing to do is smile, and nod. 🙂

This weekend we are having another married couple visit us in Yeosu who are from the states as well. There is a big festival going on in our city! It is called the Turtle Ship festival. There is a parade, and we are hoping to catch fireworks after dark. I will do my best to keep the blog updated. I miss writing, and I am trying to write everything down as I know this will all pass too quickly.

These pictures are all of our new home!

Walking across the Dolsan Bridge:

043

044

045

048

Checking out the map!

Checking out the map!

Massive Fish market

Massive Fish market

Strollin along the ocean

Strollin along the ocean

Love.

Love.

Happy as can be!

Happy as can be!

Walking along the ocean to the World Expo site...

Walking along the ocean to the World Expo site…

2012 World Expo site. It is ALL new buildings (feels like chicago!)

2012 World Expo site. It is ALL new buildings (feels like chicago!)

Checking out the digital aquarium at the Expo Site

Checking out the digital aquarium at the Expo Site

080

The big "o" it is where they have laser light shows in the summer!

The big “o” it is where they have laser light shows in the summer!

My school :)

My school 🙂

:) My kiddos at Sports Day!

🙂 My kiddos at Sports Day!

Tom with my kids

Tom with my kids

089

092

I love this picture

I love this picture

Baby girl watchin Sports Day!

Baby girl watchin Sports Day!

Cooling down with stretches

Cooling down with stretches

My gorgeous view from school...every single day.

My gorgeous view from school…every single day.

:)

🙂

I really hope to post pictures of our apartment soon, update about the temple we visited during orientation, and of course the festivities from this upcoming weekend of the Turtle Ship Festival.

Make today special- wherever you are!

All of my love from (Yeosu) Korea,

Elicia