Friday, February 26, 2010

Ice skating and pizza

Today was the day, the day for South Korea's crowned ice princess to win her gold for her ever proud country, and she did just that. In case you haven't seen the news or been in a hole for the past 3 days, Kim Yuna was South Korea's hope and favored to win gold in women's ice skating. She is a mere 19 years old yet has the grace and poise of true royalty.

She skated her short program on Wednesday without a hitch after which she assumed the number one rank. Today was the last hurdle, the long program.

I had hoped to be able to watch it live but wasn't sure of the timing here and we had to attend a school luncheon. I knew the event would be a 24-hour loop for the next 10 years so I'd have the chance to see it at some point. We had a fabulous and expensive (65,000W per platter of meat all together we had 5!!!) lunch of beef which were cut with scissors and roasted over glowing coals. We ate with all the teachers of the school two of whom are leaving thus the purpose of the meal. It tasted absolutely incredibe to eat something other than pork and so we gorged ourselves only to regret it later with some vicious stomach aches.

Throughout the meal our directors wife (I'll call her Chong for short) was in and out of our private dining room. I soon realized there was a TV just outside the room and she was sporadically watching women's skating. I asked her completely in English if "SHE" skated yet and she said "No no!", amazing how certain subjects supercede language.

After the delicious meal our director announced we were going to go out to the main room and watch Yuna skate and have coffee. I was quite relieved we'd get to see it live and see everyones reaction. It could not have been a better setting to watch this event unfold. You must understand that when it comes to this young lady people get incredibly emotional and are just so proud to live in the same country as her.

The coffee is served and Yuna comes out on the ice... the tension, excitment, and pride is just thick in the air. She starts the program... she jumps and the people CHEEEER!!! another jump... YAAAAAAY!!!through out the entire program the cheering could be heard. Ben and I had planted ourselves to the right of the TV and most of the people were behind us. I kept turning around to see everyone's reactions because it was just so adorable. EVERYONE in the restaurant was gathered around the tables to watch, even random people off the street ran inside just to watch. And everytime she landed a jump a crowd of about 30 people in this steak restaurant cheered for joy.

Then the last and spin... and Yuna bursts into tears and realizes she's done her best and knows she has made her country proud no matter what. I turned around to see 80% of the room with tears of joy streaming down their face, they were cheering, and clapping. It was just so sweet, they were SOO proud of their Yuna. Truthfully, I was apart of the nubmers of people crying, it was just beautiful and all the more being amidst a bunch of adoring fans how could you not. It was such an adorable moment.

The rest of the day all I heard throughout the streets, in the bus terminal, and in my class was Yuna! Yuna! Yuna! GOLD MEDAL!!!! I get home, turn on the TV and there is an Olympic update... YUNA wins GOLD!!! and now to the news.... YUNA WINS GOLD MEDAL FOR South Korea!!! The pride was just oozing from everywhere. They showed video clip after video clip of the different places people had gathered wherever they were to watch her skate.

The fireman, the policemen, at the airport, in restaurtants, in the street everyone everywhere stopped what they were doing to watch. It was just so cute to see all these Koreans men and women alike teary eyed and never prouder clapping and cheering for little Miss Yuna. There are very few sporting events that could make one shed a tear but this was definitely one of them.

What a memory I won't soon forget. I'll never forget where I was and how if felt to be here and experience that moment with South Korea.

Tonite we are going to check out the new pizza place that just opened down the street. Its called Pizza School and after we ordered they handed Ben the receipt along with a bar of Dial soap. Ben - "Are they trying to tell me something?" What a grand opening give away, bars of soap, only in Korea!

The box:

The -za! We didn't realize a cheesu pijja have corn on it but it was quite tasty cause it was kind of roasted by the time it came out of the oven. And the best part $5,000W !!! It's like the Little Ceaser's of SK.

Two of my fav snacks, slightly sweetned popcorn (different then the American stuff) and these curly chip things, also kinda sweet but love the crunchiness.

We're still waiting to hear the latest from the surgeon and the test results.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hearts, chocolates, and a pink ribbon

Hi! I'm back... its been a long time since I've blogged but the events in the past few weeks made blogging seem incredibly irrelovent to me. I am thankful (as I'm sure you all are also) glad Ben took it upon himself to keep up with a few interesting bits and pictures from our travels.

First off, just to fill any of you in who were not already aware about three weeks ago my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Its amazing how dramatically and instantaneiosly that word changes your life. Being so far has taken its toll in a way I didn't expect. It has took me a while to really soak it all it and get a hold of the facts. It all just happened so fast and throw in a 14 hour time change and trying to keep in contact for the latest updates can get tricky.

At the moment Mom is home recovering from a double whammy surgery. She went in on Mon, Feb 22nd scheduled for a lumpectomy which turned into a partial mastectomy. Part of the surgery includes testing of the lymph nodes for cancer cells and if they are positive they remove them. After the 3rd sentinel node was positive they, as a matter of procedure, removed all of the lymph nodes that go all the way into your armpit.

Just out of surgery she was experiencing an abnormal amount pain and quite a bit of bleeding. The surgeon quickly decided she needed to go back in to surgery and figure out where the bleeding was coming from. They a fair amount of pooled blood and recauterized everything after which all was ok. They could not find a source of bleeding for whatever reason but thankfully it was under control by then. When she came out of the 2nd surgery a mere hour from the first one she was already feeling "better" pain wise. The pooling blood was apparently incredibly painful and extremely rare in these kind of surgery according to the surgeon.

Pre-liminary reports will be out by the weekend as to the stage and spread of the cancer as well as genetic testing. This is definitely a part that affects me but its also very crucial to the way they develop her cocktail of treatments. Its all very personalized which just makes sense when you are talking about pumping you body full of toxic chemicals. Someone her size shouldn't be receiving the same dosage as a 200-lb man, if you know what I mean.

As far as things stand at the moment I(we) are hanging in here in Korea still. I am planning to come home at some point to care of my dear sweet Mom. We are awaiting the test results and the doctors reccomendation for the next step of treatment most likely chemotherapy in a few weeks which is when I plan to make that dreadful 14 hour flight back in time. But its all going to be very worth it. In an extraordinary way I am thankful that I have the opportunity to give back and care for my Mom. I'm thankful I'll get to be there for her when she needs me most as a daughter and friend.

Changing gears... just before the lid came off a new flavor of Koolaide I celebrated my 25th birthday! Actually it was a bit of a sad day, I was incredibly homesick and wanted nothing more then a REAL Starbucks vanilla latte but neither were to be had. However, my sweetest incredible husband had all kinds of little plans and surprises for that day up his sleeve. He started by taking my order for breakfast in bed. I'll just say that when that boy wants to cook up a storm he can do it and do it well! MMMM!!! Still comfy in bed I enjoyed french toast, bacon, and a beautifully arranged fruit plate of starwberries and banana and a cafe con leche to drink. Heaven!

We headed out for a walk and ended up at the movie theater and saw "Valentines Day", how could we not! It was quite cute. Then we headed home to open presents. To my surprise in the freezer was a Baskin Robbins V-day/B-day cake! It actually tasted quite good. That was followed up by a box of chocolates, a teddy bear (that I requested). All in all it was a very nice birthday even for being in Korea.

Ben reading his V-day card and his little gift of a box of Mrs. Fields cookies I found at E-mart.

Posing Korean style with my birthday hat and teddy bear.

My BR birthday icecream cake.

My b-day breakfast in the works.

A beautiful fruit plate... and bacon MMMM!

Part of a little b-day pampering, got a mani at E-mart.

Thats it for now...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Temple Visit

Last night Mr. Lee invited Amy and I over for some sightseeing at 10am. I originally thought that we would drive aimlessly through the mountains, but instead our journey took an unexpected twist. And yes that is a garlic bulb acting as a lamp post.

It all began with a mountainside drive, with a 200 year old tree and a road that was all to familiar in Korea.

We soon arrived at our destination, Guinsa Temple in the Sobaeksan Mountains. I'll be honest temples really don't thrill me all that much, but this temple was quite different. For starters it was tucked away high in the mountains like a fortress. Secondly, it was just days after Lunar New Year so everyone was doing there New Year's obligations. As a result, the temple was absolutely packed. Thirdly, it was so beautiful and on such a large scale.

Here are a few pictures of what we saw when we first approached and entered the temple. And yes it sure does look like the elderly woman wanted her picture taken!

The next couple of pictures are visual evidence of the mass amounts of people. And yes, we are starting to come to grips that everyone does not have personal bubbles as big as our American personal bubbles. However, today I did mistake the temple for a rave!

Next up we have Tiger Warriors, Candle Vigils, Religious Symbols, that were a quite alarming sight at first, and some other sights around the temple. Oh, and if you are wondering what is the deal with all the tigers. This year it is the year of the tiger.

These are some really amazing pictures, they really capture the beauty and intricacy of everything. Amy did a great job capturing it. Also, I almost jumped off the mountain when I saw the size of that bee hive. But luckily it was too cold for them to come after me!

We saw some amazing artwork and it just wasn't on the roof, or the doors, or inside. The art was everywhere, and it was quite breathtaking. Also, please notice the many pots everywhere. This is where they store there food, pretty different huh?

If what we saw wasn't impressive enough we next came to a modern part of the temple. The walls were a gorgeous sandstone, the stairwell was marble, the floor was marble. And just to change it up the railing was a beautiful oak. This was not your dad's temple, quite a different design.

We hiked a good 5 flights of stairs and came to the roof, and this is where it really starts to get amazing. There is a shrine set up for the builder of the temple, and his tomb is an hour hike up the mountain. Mr. Lee said we should go but I quickly realized I was alone after the first step up the mountain. The view was absolutely amazing.

Finally, we began our decent out of the temple, and we saw some serious icicles, some people and believe it or not even more people.

In reflection of our time at the temple it was rather surreal. I have never seen people praying and bowing to a golden statue in my life. And although it was so breathtaking and an atmosphere I cannot even describe, it seemed all for not. It wasn't the idols either, because I feel like in the states we have idols, just not made of gold. Idols of self-love, or sports, or money, or things in the form of a never ending want for more. I know because they have been my idols.

What saddened me the most was that the Buddhist sees his faults and realizes the relentless cycle of misery. They even realize that money and things are not enough for true satisfaction. However, there means of breaking free are all man based. And I know from experience, that man has nothing that can remedy his situation. For even our best actions are filthy because they come from a wicked heart. (Isaiah 64:6) Without the sacrifice of Christ our striving for balance and good are in vain. (Romans 3:21-26) They are so close to true salvation, and yet so far. And as much as I thoroughly enjoyed today, there was such a bitter undertone.

On a lighter note, we ended the day with some much needed hair cuts/ hair repair, and with a trip to our favorite coffee spot. I call it Pete's! I had a delicious Mocha and Amy had a Vanilla Latte. And of course it wouldn't be right if we didn't enjoy a lovely over sized waffle.

Finally, here are some pictures of our love ducks. Mr. Lee and his wife bought them for us. When we are fighting we have to face them apart, and when we are happy again we have to turn them back around. I thought that was quite fun and definitely worth sharing!