December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

New Years Eve we were lucky enough to be invited to The Shilla, one of the most prestigious hotels in Korea. The evening event was held in honor of our friend Euni, who has recently been married to her long time friend Bill Valentine. In celebration of Euni and Bill's union we gathered in the cultural center for a ceremony including speeches from the once UN Ambassador from Korea (Euni's dad), serenades from the PBS Children's Choir and the most intricate menu we have ever been served.

Our eight course dinner was astounding. Delicate hors d'Ĺ“uvre of cucumbers, jellyfish and century egg (century old duck eggs) followed by a steaming bowl of shark fin soup were more than enough to set the mood. Not to be outdone by a delicious pine mushrooms and bamboo shoot stir-fry. Next came Trevor's personal favorites, the en trees, sleeper lobster trailed by a succulent dish of beef tenderloin. To finish off the meal we dined on Jajang-myeon or Chinese noodles in black sauce with a little red wine. And, yet despite all of these rare delicacies I personally favored the pumpkin gruel that was served for dessert. Yum, Yum!

-Bill and Euni Valentine, looking regal in their hanbok.-

Congratulations, Bill and Euni! We pray that your new marriage will, most importantly, be God centered and that it will bring you happiness and fulfillment for the rest of your days. You are truly a great couple and we are fortunate to call you friends.

December 28, 2007

Christmas Morn'

Bright and early Christmas morning we awoke to the beautiful smell of Jess Becker's famous cinnamon-vanilla french toast, eggnog, bacon and fixings. After a hearty breakfast Trev easily persuade everyone into the living room for our Secret Santa gift opening.

As tradition holds, Trevor played Santa and Kimchi was his nosy little elf. It wasn't enough for Kimchi to sit still and wait for people to open their presents, he had to be the first to see, sniff and chew on every present.

Kimchi inspecting Jessica Crew's gift...

...but mine was not that interesting.

-Michelle, Jessica Becker, Cathy, Jessica Christiansen, Hilary, Jessica Crew, Nate, Ruda, Rachel, Kimchi and Trevor-

It was truly a blessed Christmas! God had been so good to us this year in providing us with a spacious place to live and great friends to fill it with. We hope that the end of this Christmas season finds you happy, healthy and surrounded by the people that you love.

Christmas Eve Extravaganza

What is Christmas without a 'Christmas Cake'? Here in Korea one of the biggest signs of the season are the myriads of cake sellers lining the streets competing with each other for your attention. Some people take this cake business so seriously that they put their names on waiting lists for cakes months in advance. Trevor was lucky enough to be given a cake from his teachers.

-Trev, Kimchi, Rach, Hilary, Jess, Michelle, J. Crew, Nate, and Eddy-
-Jen, Ruda, Vicky, Jeff, Pete, Heather, Val and Cathy-

Good friends! Christmas Eve we were blessed with the presence and excellent company of 16 friends. We ate, we talked, we danced, Nate did a great impersonation of Barney and a good time was had by all.

I was particularly proud of dinner. Two weeks of careful planning and generous friends made the meal of a lifetime possible. Rotisserie chicken, homemade cakes and cookies, black market Stove Top stuffing, an extravagant salad, army-base-eggnog and Ruda's first pot of garlic mashed potatoes ever.

Then came the gift exchange... Trev tried every tactic that he knew to rid himself of the tacky 'fruit towel' that he so thoughtfully picked out of the pile of hodgepodge gifts. Despite his best efforts the towel remains his.

Oddly enough we had 8 waygooks (foreigners-Canadians) and 8 migooks (Americans) in attendance. Pictured above is the Canadian team reveling in their short lived success during charades. The battle ended 70-69 for the migooks. Hardly a victory, Americans!

December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to All!

Another year has passed and we are still on the other side of the world. Although the weather is much more enjoyable here, we do miss all of you, our friends and family, back home. Here's wishing you the Merriest of Christmas' and all of the best in the new year. May God keep you safe, warm and surrounded with his all gracious love.

This is a brief meeting between Kimchi and Rudolph

Christmas Around the Classroom

- The view from my classroom window-

It's traveled thousands of miles over land and sea, transcended the bitter cold temperatures of the open Pacific and now we can feel it in the air. It's Christmas excitement!

-Student's Christmas Cards-

Lately, we have been hearing so much talk of Christmas break. Everyone back in North America seems to be excited for the arrival of the holiday season. For teachers it means time out of the classroom and away from books and ever wondering minds. For us here in Korea it is a slightly different story. Don't get me wrong...yes, we have Christmas break; We got off on the eve of the 24th, we celebrated Christs' birth with all the we had in us, and we head back to the front of the classroom bright and early tomorrow!

So for all of you who are fortunate enough to have a few days off, or even a week or two for that matter, enjoy your time. Soak up the free afternoons and have a nap or two for us!!

-My soon-to-graduate grade 9 boys, more than happy to pose for their Canadian viewers-

December 17, 2007


This marks the second annual Rachel-Trevor trip to the luminaries at Cheong Gye Cheon. And, believe it or not, despite the open water, it was COLD. We hope that you enjoy these pictures and that they will bring you a little Christmas cheer.

-The skating rink on the lawn of City Hall.-
Luminaries 2006

December 14, 2007

Happy Birthday Trev!!

So it's that time of the year again... that wonderful time of the year when Trev turns another year older. That time of the year when Trev is the same age as his sister, Tanya, even if it is only for nine days.

But this year was just a little different. Surprised by our great friends, we all headed out to Everest, our favorite Indian restaurant. Wine and cake in hand, we enjoyed our evening of deliciously spicy curry, buttery garlic nan and smooth yogurt lassies.

December 13, 2007


There were two things that I have always wanted to say I have had the pleasure of doing: one, attend the symphony and two, see Handel's timeless composition, Messiah. Who would have thought that I would accomplish both in Korea and in one evening, no less.

Earlier this week our good friends, John and Roz, graciously invited us to accompany them to the Sejong Art Center. There we were witness to a choir, boasting over 500 members, accompanied by a full symphony and lead by a world class director, as they preformed Handel's masterpiece, Messiah. We were very pleased to have been offered this opportunity.

While the performance was carried out entirely in Korean, nothing deprived me of awe as I sat back in the grand old theater and experienced the massed harmonies of a choir and symphony masterfully synthesizing into a soul wrenching composition. I can imagine that, no matter of the tongue of the performers, the music would be able to capture even the most illiterate and in-comprehensive of audiences; namely myself.

-The majestic face of the Sejong Arts Center in downtown Seoul.-

December 12, 2007

It's a Part of Life...

To afford you a more comprehensive look into our lives, I thought that I would post on a common occurrence which seems unique to foreign English teachers.

After returning for our second year in Korea we are realizing more and more what a transient community it is that we live in. On Sunday, this week, we attended what should have been our fourth going away party in three months.

As everything is magnified in Korea, in a seemingly short period we have learned to love the people that surround us. We feel that a bond has formed that is almost as strong as our family ties. In a way our friends have become a sort of family for us in the absence of our real families. And in our time here we have found that making friends seems to be easy, it's saying good-bye such a short time later that is so difficult.

Attending an event such as this is bittersweet. On one hand you are thrilled for the adventures, life and reunions that your friends are going to have upon leaving Korea and returning home. Yet, seeing your pseudo-family leave is a hard realization to face knowing that as hard as you try to keep in contact, distance severs relationships.
We will miss Randi. She was a wonderful friend and we loved seeing her smiling face every Sunday at church and every Thursday at leadership group. We wish her the best as she settles back into Hawaii and reunites with her family and close friends.

December 1, 2007

A Little Tree

It's that time again! That time of year when frost gathers in the corners of the window panes, cheeks and noses are rosy from the chill in the air, toques are rummaged out of storage, students are anxious for the holidays and in Canada the ground is covered in snow. But, most importantly, its that time of year when all around the world people's excited is growing in anticipation of one of the most important days of the year, Christmas.

This week we had the joy of setting up our little Korean Christmas tree which will mark our second Christmas on the Asian continent.

Don't be fooled by the pictures, Kimchi, and his curiosity afforded not a fragment of help. Running off with bulbs in his mouth and eating the long pine needles, he was less than entertaining for me. For Trevor, on the other hand, this whole experience was quite a show.

So there you have it, we are anticipating yet another December filled with hot chocolate, friends and laughter. And, we are greatly looking forward to the days when Christmas once again means being with our families.

As an endnote, Kimchi was not the only source of entertainment while setting up the tree. Check out this video that Trevor made for you all to watch:

November 24, 2007

My Mount Mai

This past weekend we decided that it would be our last opportunity to escape into the country for a little exposure to the grandeurs of a Korean Autumn. Spying a keenly placed advertisement in the subway a few weeks before, Trevor knew where we must go. One of the most unique yet widely kept secrets of the Korean peninsula, Mai-san.

Mai Mountain, became a registered national treasure on October 31st, 2003 as Korean national treasure number 12. Raising high above the surrounding range, the "female" Maibong (673m) and the "Male" Miabong (667m) are distinctly Asian and the only 'couple' mountains in the world.

Over the millennium the mountain has been called by many names: Seoda-san, Yongchul-bong and Sokgeum-san. However, more recently it has been called, Mai-san because its two peaks are said to resemble the ears of a horse.

It also has other names influenced by its distinct shape within each season: Dottae-bong (spring-sail of a boat), Yonggak-bong (summer-Dragon's horn), Mai-bong (autumn-peak of horse ear) and Munpil-bong (winter-writing brush).

As luck would have it we arrived the night before a hard frost and were able to capture the maples in their full array.

Nate and Jessica Crew were as eager to accompany us on our adventure as we were to have their company. While Jess and I frolicked in the leaves, Nate and Trevor discussed more masculine issues like Fall fashion, handbags and weekend spa trips.

One Hundred and One Stone Pagodas

On the south side of Mount Mai, it is said that there were once over 120 pagodas, unfortunately only about 80 exist today. All of them built by one Buddhist monk over the last century, they tower tall over the valley below.

It is said that there is something very mysterious about these pagodas. No matter how violent the weather, even during storms, they somehow do not sway or fall. As we walked through the towering peaks we were constantly reminded by the frowns and the unwavering glares of the care taking monks to walk straight and be aware of our surroundings as to not 'accidentally' knock one of these ancient pagodas over. I don't know about Trevor but I felt like someone had spent a lot of time setting up hundreds of dominoes and right when they were about to set them over, someone stopped the fun. Cheonju-tap (Head Pagoda) sits at the top of the rise, just above the main temple.

November 23, 2007

Train Ride

Transportation in Korea is amazing. Flights and buses departing every twenty minutes, trains leaving on the hour, and the KTX, which travels at 300Km/hr, racing through the main artery of Korea, all delivering travelers to various cities peppered all over the peninsula.

A relaxing slow train was our choice of transportation for our weekend getaway.

We curled up in a comfortable seat beside the window and watched the world drift by as the engine drew us farther away from the sights and sounds of the city.

While the scenery was great, the weather was freakishly cold. While waiting for the train to return to Seoul we all found our different ways to keep warm. Nate cuddled with his cup of vending machine coffee, Trevor danced on the waiting benches, Jess ran around snapping pictures to preserve her memories and I stood cool as a cucumber wondering what I had gotten myself into.

November 20, 2007

A Lofty View

Around a month ago we were delighted to discover a quaint little park snaking along the top of the ridge behind our apartment. Standing in the grand pagoda at one end of the park boasts the scenery of the glowing banks of the Han River. In contrast, the patios and terraces located in the polar end of the park overlook the bustling downtown business center.

While none of us would deny our pleasure in our evening strolls, Kimchi is by far the most appreciative of the freedoms of this newly found space. Running to his heart content, he is more than pleased to be off his leash. Trevor and I, on the other hand, enjoy the breathtaking views of the city-nightlife.

November 16, 2007

Ducksu Sports Day

Yet another fun-filled day at Ducksu Middle School: Sport's Day. The grade 7 and 8 students were thrilled; no classes. The grade 9 students were exultant; senior year competition. But, most of all the teachers were elated; no marking, discipline or planning. Really, a win-win situation.

Miss. Kim and I proudly posing in our 3-4 homeroom shirts. As part of the senior's competition each class strives to create the most unique homeroom shirt. Our shirts brilliantly say, in all the collective grade nine wisdom,'ap' or 'front'. And, the back, which is equally as impressive reads, 'dwee' or 'back'.

Five grade 9 boys cuddle as they watch the grade 7 and 8's battle in tug-of-war. Notice the beautiful pink skirt worn by the smirking student in the middle. And, below three girls pretend to be shy as I snap a picture of them waiting for the parent/teacher race to begin.