Saturday, August 19, 2006

Home again, home again....jiggity-jig!!

AMAZING!! A whole year has come and gone since I arrived in Korea August 17th, 2005. As I write this final installment (probably), it is Saturday, August 19th. My contract ends tomorrow and I wing my way to the True North, strong and free on Monday, August 21st....leaving at 7:35 p.m. and arriving in Toronto at 7:45 p.m. the same day.....funny how that happens! :)

Much has happened since I last wrote in this BLOG, the most memorable of which was my 2 week summer vacation.....1 week in Sardegna, Italy and 1 week in the Greek island of Lefkada.

I met and got acquainted with several new friends from Italy, Greece and England with more adventures to come.

This year has truly been a highlight in my life so far. My life has been enriched by the people with whom I have come in contact over the year. I cannot say enough about the Korean people and their INCREDIBLE kindness, generosity, care and compassion for making a foreigner feel welcome in their land. They are too numerous to mention but they know who they are when I say....."I love you one and all and will miss you terribly. Please come to visit in Canada and I hope to see you again in Korea sometime."

Since returning from vacation, I hit the ground running....arriving just in time Monday morning August 7th to start teaching 2 weeks of English camp. As always the children were enthusiastic and NOISY!! (more so the second week). What do they put in these kids ricecakes....YOWZA!! We had a 'special guest' for a couple of days who added a regal touch to the camps.

Today was the last day and after school I sent 2 more boxes home (I hope they arrive safely) and then went out for lunch and a beautiful scenic drive with one of my English Town co-teachers Josephine and a neighbour lady and her son who live in my building. Josephine came to my apartment last night and virtually did all my packing for me. I would still be there Monday morning, crying, totally overwhelmed if it had not been for her. Thank you Josephine. You are a lifesaver!!

Tonight will be final laundry and clean up in the apartment. Tomorrow another co-teacher Kim, Kwang Soon will pick me up and take me into Gwangju to stay overnight so as to be able to catch the bus to the Incheon International Airport on Monday morning for a 5 hour bus ride.

Where has the year gone? Ahhhhh.....memories....a year I will never forget and will "dine out on" for years to come (to quote a very famous politician!!)

There may be one more installment....not sure. Haven't decided whether I will continue this BLOG when I return....or start another one.

Anyway, thanks for tuning in!!! Ciao, yassoo, arrivederci....Canada here I come!!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Seoul....Canada Day times 2....Suncheon

Canada Day has come and gone but I got to celebrate it twice here in Korea. June 25th was the date of the Canada Day Picnic hosted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Korea. It was held at a camp ground in Seoul. There were about 800 registered....mostly Canadians but we let some other nationalities in too. There were games, tug of war, posture and spine alignment checks, food , drinks and great music as well as lots of door prizes.

As well as participating in the picnic, I was able to see Janice again. We had a few hours to take the Seoul City Bus tour and Janice pointed out places of interest. We were in the middle of soccermania with World Cup in full swing. The Koreans are avid soccer fans and show their enthusiasm ENTHUSIASTICALLY. There were huge screens in various locations of the city so no one had to miss the games that were usually televised in the middle of the night. I chose to be in bed those nights!!

The second Canada Day celebration took place in Suncheon and I celebrated with some of the teachers from the Canadian Connection group. We got dressed in red and white, painted our faces....some of us even put red makeup on our eyes!! Crazy Canucks!! It was FUN and patriotic!! Who says Canadians aren't patriotic!!

Enjoy the pictures!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Happy Canada Day....Oh, Canada my home and native land!! Posted by Picasa

The girls in Red and White!! Posted by Picasa

V for Victory....we've been in Korea too long!! Posted by Picasa

Canucks unite!! Posted by Picasa

Cute Dustin....great bartender even if he is a Yank! Posted by Picasa

Up on the roof ....for Canada Day fireworks! Posted by Picasa

Singin' our hearts out!! Posted by Picasa

Interview with random school kids Posted by Picasa

Janice and I in the midst of World Cup mania - Go Red Devils!! Posted by Picasa

Russian entertainers - Insadong, Seoul Posted by Picasa

What a beauty....2 months old Posted by Picasa

Happy Canada Day - Seoul, Korea!! Posted by Picasa

Crazy Canucks!! Posted by Picasa

Look at this little cutie enjoying Canada Day too! Posted by Picasa

Could you get any more Canadian than a tepee?? Posted by Picasa

Sheilagh and the Ontario team vs Western Canada Posted by Picasa

Vive Les Canadiens! - French Canadian band from Montreal Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bethel, Bible Study and Bye bye Rachel

I've had the privilege to attend Bethel Church in Gwangju and be part of the English Worship Service since being in Korea. It is a small but enthusiastic group of Korean and Foreigner believers. The Bible tells us "where 2 or 3 are gathered there am I in the midst of them". Although the numbers are few, the worship and love for the Lord is felt every Sunday. The Korean Nationals really welcome the foreigners with open arms. Kindness and generosity are 2 of the many wonderful qualities of the Korean people and they are exemplified at this church.

I've had the honour of singing on the worship team with Shelby (Korean) and Rachel (my new buddy from Edmonton....actually Leduc, Alberta) and occasionally saying the intercessory prayer.

The group that leads this English Worship Service including another fellow Canadian..Perry Broe who is the lay minister....has a heart to reach out to the foreign community in Gwangju as well as encourage the nationals to come and listen, speak, sing and worship in English. They are doing a great job.

On the 18th of June we had a farewell service for Rachel who led worship and preached many Sundays. Rachel has an amazing voice and piano playing gift that she loves to use to worship God. I was privileged to sing with Rachel on the worship team, as a duet and even in one of the prisons in Gwangju (talked about in another installment of this BLOG). Bethel (and I) will really miss her!! (but I'm going to visit her in Leduc....after all I haven't ever been to the West Edmonton thing I HAVE to do before I die!!)

Rachel also led a Bible Study that I attended periodically. It was a small group that met at Jon and Emily's apartment in Gwangju but we always had a good time of studying various portions of the Bible. Our last time together, we each wrote down some questions that we had about our faith, the Bible, etc.....anything that was a mystery and then we tried to answer them, to one degree or another, as a group.....very enlightening.

Please enjoy the pictures....

Bethel Kyohay (Church) my 'home' church away from home Posted by Picasa

Bible Study group Posted by Picasa

Rachel loves to sing.....and preach at Bethel! Posted by Picasa

Farewell lunch for Rachel....Koreans and food go together! Posted by Picasa

Farewell to Rachel from English Worship Service at Bethel Posted by Picasa

Deacon Yune thanks and says goodbye to Rachel Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Gwangju International Centre Field Trip

This was my first GIC trip that I went on since being in Korea and it was GREAT!! The GIC is a centre for foreign residents which is run by Koreans especially a lot of volunteers. They have weekly talks on various subjects and monthly trips such as this one trying to help foreigners learn more about Korea and just generally get acclimatized. They also provide Korean language lessons for a nominal fee.

Field trips in Korea are usually jam-packed with activities and this one was no exception. It started off with a 2 hour bus ride to the Nakan Folk Village near Suncheon (see pictures below), then another hour to drop some of us off to go biking (I opted for the more relaxed bike ride) while the braver souls drove another hour to do paintball. I decided I would forgo the frivolity of paintball because, from what I hear, people get maimed and some of this group met with bruises and welts.

This was a great way to meet new people....both foreigners and Koreans. Some of us ended the day with a great meal at Outback Steak House.

All in all a FUN day!! (This took place June 17....sorry I am so long writing about it!!)

Map of Nakan Folk Villaage - part of Gwangju Int'l Centre trip Posted by Picasa

Just lyin' around! Posted by Picasa