Saturday, December 20, 2008

Slowly Speeding Up

We're needing some prayers from my pals out in bloggerland.

First, there is one. sinkin'. document. that is holding up our visas, and our plane tickets, and our trip as a whole. Basically, we cannot book our flight until we get our visas, and we cannot get our visas until this document is approved. It's a document we have just sent for the FOURTH time (each time with slightly different wording), and we really need it to go through this time.*

Secondly, we just found out that we need to be out of our home in TEN DAYS. We have some friends who are doing us a favor by renting out our home while we are gone. Because they are willing to move here, we are able to leave our furniture, dishes, pots, pans, etc. (which will greatly reduce our moving and storage expenses). However, they must be moved out of their apartment by January 1. Which means we need to be out by January 29. Please pray that I have the energy and ability to get everything packed up and ready by that time. My husband is working extra hours; so I will be doing most of it on my own.

Thanks, y'all, for your prayers. We really need the Lord's perfect timing in all of these situations.

*Update: We just heard from the church that these ARE the correct documents, but they need ORIGINAL, NOTARIZED documents from the state, like, YESTERDAY. And next week is Christmas. Please be praying that we can get these VERY quickly and easily.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Emotional Whiplash, Anyone?

Well, folks, all the "big" events are over. (Though I think it's a little sad that, this year, Christmas doesn't qualify as a "big" event.) Papers turned in. Exams completed. Brother married.

So this week... this week is focused on my little family. Laundry is getting done. I'm on my THIRD load of dishes in TWO days ('cause that's what happens when I don't do dishes for two weeks). Three boxes are packed. One room has a vacuumed floor. Things are looking up, people.

Hubby is graduating on Thursday. I'm so proud of him and all his hard work. I'm glad he's finally able to see it all pay off.

While I really haven't had the opportunity to think about Korea much over the last few weeks (see this post to find out why), I now find that it is at the forefront of my thoughts.

I find myself simultaneously excited, nervous, and sick-to-my-stomach thinking about all of the changes that are about to happen to our little family.

I am excited about the new culture and the new city. I love the thought of waking up every morning and looking out my window at a completely foreign landscape. I love the idea of discovering the "everyday" things like the closest coffee shop, the most convenient grocery store, and the best place to take Chloe to play. I'm excited to move into a new apartment that is already furnished - a chance to start fresh and leave clutter behind.

I am REALLY excited about sharing this adventure with my husband. Brandon and I have both had our own mini adventures, but most of them were while we were still dating, and many of them were experienced separately. And I can remember, in every adventure (traveling drama team, freshmen year at college, backpacking across Europe...) the ONE THING that would have made each experience PERFECT would have been to share it with him. I can specifically remember watching a fountain/light show one evening in Rome and tearing up as I thought, "I love being here. But I miss Brandon so much it hurts." But this time... THIS time we get to do it TOGETHER. We get to taste the food, to see the sights, to learn the language, and to make new friends... a family. That part is VERY exciting to me.

But some of the things that make me the most excited are the things that make me the most nervous: The weather, the language barrier, my first grocery shopping trip (how does one say "kraft macaroni and cheese" in Korean?), and the cultural differences. I have a rather morbid fear that I am going say or do something that is perfectly fine here in the states, but it completely offensive and rude there. Hehe... it sounds silly when I say it, but it's seriously something I think about. I also wonder about the food. I'm not concerned with going out to eat - I can always find something to eat at a restaurant. I'm more concerned about cooking (anyone have a good recipe for a whole squid?). And anyway, all of this may not matter in the long run because, quite frankly, I'm not sure we'll survive the 20-hour plane ride with a TWO YEAR OLD!

I realize that most of these "fears" will be squelched in our first month there. So far, our dealings with the church have been VERY positive. We are absolutely confident that they will take care of us and make sure we adapt well to our new surroundings. I KNOW that many of my worries are irrational and silly, and I DON'T give heed to them for any length of time. As a matter of fact, I'm usually able to rationalize my way out of thinking about them at all. I'm just sayin' they're there, ya know?

But then there are those very few things that make my stomach churn: What will happen to Chloe when we take her away from her grandparents and aunts and uncles? She sees many of them on a weekly (if not daily) basis. How will it effect her little psyche to suddenly rip her from all the stability that can only be provided through a loving extended family? And when baby #2 comes along, will I be able to manage ON. MY. OWN. with two little babies. Now, I realize I have my sweet hubby there. And it is not my intention to trivialize his role in taking care of the children. But the fact is that he is going to Korea to work. He will be gone during the daytime, almost every day. Here in Georgia, that wouldn't be an issue. If I get overwhelmed here, I just call one of the TWELVE phone numbers I have of people who are HAPPY to see Chloe for FREE so I can have a break. But what happens when I am on the other side of the world and Chloe is having a tantrum day and baby #2 didn't sleep last night and I haven't showered in four days and the laundry is backed up and people are coming over for dinner tonight??? What will I do THEN???

Now these fears, these are very real fears to me. These are fears that I can NOT allow myself to think about. These are fears that could keep me up at night. These are the things that make me doubt whether or not we're making the right decision.

But these fears are not too big for my Daddy God. I know that I know that I know that all those mini adventures and experiences have prepared us for this moment in our lives. I know that "God doesn't order something He can't pay for." If He has called us there, He is going to be my provider there... in every way.

So, for now, I don't allow myself to think about the fears and worries. Because there. is. nothing. I. can. do. about. them. Only Daddy God can take care of those things for me. So, since it's His responsibility now, what's the point in me thinking about them?

I may have even taken this to an extreme. I don't allow family members to talk with me about any negatives regarding this trip. (Some of them may even think I'm in denial about the "bad" side to moving to Korea.) But the fact is that those "negatives" are all too real, but they're not mine to deal with.

So I think about the positives. I talk about the positives. I get VERY excited about the positives. I'm moving to a new country! In a new apartment! With new people and new adventures! And I'm doing it with (and in support of) my best friend and husband! Not only that, but we're doing it in the absolute knowledge that we are walking in God's will. It's a very exciting time, y'all. Very good things are about to happen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Any snow-people out there? With or without eyes of coal?

My last paper was turned in as of 9:38am today. So, besides on teensy exam on Monday, my school days are over for a few years. (Wow. It feels really weird to say that, especially without a degree in my hand. Oh well.)

But in light of my recent emergence from the dark hole that is finals week, I have been thinking more and more about what it will be like when we arrive in South Korea.

We don't have our tickets yet; so we don't know the exact date we will arrive or into which airport we will fly. But we do know this... it will be cold... and snow-covered.

Now, people, I am a Georgia girl through-and-through. Born and raised in the great Peach State. And as such, I have never lived in what has been described to me as "real snow." Now, don't get me wrong, I've seen snow, sure. We have one or two days of snow every one or two years around these parts. But, honestly, by the time we get out to play in it, it has mostly melted away... or melted and refrozen into REALLY HARD ROCK-LIKE snow. (Trust me, you don't want to get in a snowball fight with THAT stuff). Now sure, I've gone to the mountains and even taken the odd trip to Western Canada. So, yes, I have SEEN snow.

But lived in it? Notsomuch.

Here's what really got me thinking about it: At Thanksgiving this year, I was talking to hubby's aunt who lived (for a couple years) in South Korea with her daughters. So when she heard we would be arriving in January, her first question was: "Have you bought Chloe a snow suit?"

A WHAT? You mean those things people wear when they ski? I don't plan on taking my 2-year-old skiing, thankyouverymuch.

And that's when it hit me (as if the whole moving-to-the-other-side-of-the-world thing didn't freak me out enough): I'm going to be LIVING in SNOW.

I mean, in my mind, life will be like this:

Wanna go for a walk? Put on your snowshoes, and snowsuit, and parka, and gloves, and 2 scarves, and hat, and earmuffs.

Perhaps that's a bit extreme. But, honestly y'all, I don't even know where to BUY a coat that's warm enough for real snow.

Snow that looks like this...

Or this...

Or THIS!!!...

That's right, folks. THAT is South Korea. All three pictures. And the first two? MY FUTURE HOME TOWN!!!

I haven't freaked out about the language barrier. I haven't freaked out about the fact that I have NO idea how to teach English. I haven't freaked out (too much) about the "weird" food. But this? This "snow" thing? I AM FREAKING OUT JUST A LEEEEEEEETLE BIT.

So, I'm asking you faithful few readers (particularly any of you who currently live (or have ever lived) in snowy places... how do you cope in the snow? What kind of coats should I buy? Are snow suits necessary? How 'bout snow boots? Mittens or gloves? Wool socks? Those funky snow shoes that look like tennis rackets????!!???

I welcome any and all advice (as well as a few well-deserved jabs at my panic).

Thanks friends! Thank you SO much!

Monday, December 8, 2008

That Big Red Freshness Lasts Right Through It... Your Fresh Breath Goes ON and ON...

So, it's been a while since I updated here. Hm. It's been a while since I updated anywhere, for that matter.

Life is really busy and stressful right now, but it's manageable... mostly because the end is in sight.

I have 2-3 more days of hard-core paper school work. Then I'll be able to breeze through to next Monday, my last day.

My brother is getting married this Saturday; so once my papers are turned in, all of my time and energy will be dedicated to that.

The following week: B's graduation and (hopefully) graduation party.

The week after that: Christmas.

But then... as soon as Christmas is over... when everyone else will be winding down and getting ready for the New Year... when Christmas lights are coming down and resolutions are going up... we will be frantically (and excitedly) packing up our home for The Big Move.

THAT is the week I am looking forward to.

Right now, my house sits in TOTAL disarray, giving hardly a nod to the order and cleanliness I was able to maintain this summer. It's overrun with dirty clothes (a total of 6 baskets) dirty dishes (now where did I put my counter tops again?) and I don't even want to TELL you the last time I swept or mopped my floors (mainly because I can't remember).

(How's THAT for a run-on sentence?)

And at this moment, there is quite literally nothing I can do about it... because if I have a spare moment, then it is spent on schoolwork, wedding preps, graduation plans, and Christmas shopping.

But the week after Christmas... the week in which all other commitments fade into the past... I will get to focus 100% of my time and energy on my home. And it won't just be to clean or organize. Oh no. It will be to pack and plan for the great adventure upon which we are about to embark. I'm just a little excited, can you tell?

So, for now, I'm just biding my time, keeping my head down, and pressing through. Because in less than 3 weeks... exactly 17 days... all of the stress and the worry and the out-of-the-home work will be completely completed. And I will be, quite literally, home free!

That's what I'm clinging to in these last few stressful days of the semester.

And it's very exciting.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Rambling and More Rambling

I just completed my last "regular" quiz of the semester. The next 5 days will be filled with papers and exam prep.

Then next week, my little brother will marry his girlfriend of SEVEN years! How exciting! They started dating in 8th or 9th grade, I think. The true-blue high school sweethearts.

After the wedding: one last exam.

After the exam: Hubby's graduation.

After that: Christmas.

After Christmas: PACKING LIKE A MAD WOMAN! Because then we'll be TWO WEEKS away from The Big Move.

So, yeah, this isn't such a fabulously entertaining post. But it does me good to see how my next few weeks are going to break down... um... in terms of time... not in terms of emotion.... 'cause nobody 'round these parts has TIME for emotional break downs.

Allllllrighty then.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Questions People Ask Us... A LOT

If you haven't already, please read this post before proceeding. Otherwise, this here post might not make a whole lot of sense.

When most people find out about our plans to move to South Korea, they smile... look a little freaked out... and say something like "what an adventure" or "how exciting for y'all."

However, they almost always come back later with a list of questions. Because most people ask the same questions as everybody else, we find ourselves reciting our answers as if from a pre-memorized script.

So, for your reading pleasure, here is a list of the TEN most oft-asked questions and our oh-so-redundant (to us) answers*:

1. Will you have the baby in Korea?
Yes, we will. I have googled, podcasted, libraried, and chatted about all the different options that we have. While my U.S. OBGYN and Pediatrician both have agreed to do whatever it takes to allow me an American delivery, hubby and I have decided that it is in our best interested (and in the best interested of the new baby) for me to stay put. (Would YOU want to be in an airplane for 18 hours with a 4-week-old baby? NO THANK YOU.)

2. Does Korea have modern medicine?
This is a funny question to me, seeing as how many of the specialists and renowned doctors here in the U.S. are, in fact, Korean. The answer is yes, they are just as medically advanced and modern as we. Sure, they have some different customs (like having the mom and baby stay in 85-degree rooms post-delivery because they are afraid that being cold might harm them), but none of these customs are forced on foreigners. A simple "no thank you" will allow me my "American" birth traditions.

3. Do the doctors speak English?
Not usually in the smaller cities and towns. However, in Cheonan (the place we will call home), there is a very well-known University Hospital with a special "International Ward" that will provide interpreters, if needed.

4. Will the baby be a Korean citizen? (This question is usually followed by some awful story about a kid that thought he was a citizen, only to be exported or somesuchnonsense at the age of 18.)
He or she could be a Korean citizen, if we chose to make him/her so. However, when the baby is born, we will go to the U.S. consulate to file paperwork on him/her as an American citizen. If we do not file this paperwork, then the child will have to go to a consulate at the age of 18 and file more paperwork to declare him/herself an American citizen. Because hubby and I are citizens, our child will have all the rights and protections as babies born on American soil. Being born overseas does not diminish his/her citizenship as long as we declare him/her a citizen soon after birth. (Do you think I used the word "citizen" enough in that paragraph?)

5. Where will you live?
One person even asked if we would live in mud/grass huts. Seriously, y'all, here's a picture of their capital city Seoul.

No grass huts here. =) We will live in a newly-built 3-bedroom apartment provided by the church.

6. How long does it take to get there?
As little as 15 hours, as much as 24 hours... depending on layovers and airlines.

7. What ages will you be teaching?
Whatever ages we want, apparently. I believe hubby will be teaching late elementary/early middle school age. I will teach younger elementary and mommy/toddler classes so that Chloe Jane can go to class with me and help. No worries, y'all, I'm only teaching 9 hours a week - just enough to time to get to know some other young moms in the area. =)

8. Do you speak Korean?
Nope. Hubby knows some basic phrases from his short trip. But, apparently, the South Koreans are so big on learning and speaking English, that we won't need to know much. Ansley, a friend of ours who has lived there a little more than a year, claims to speak little-to-no Korean simply because she does not need to. Still, hubby and I have decided to try to pick up as much of the language as we can while we're there, just for the experience of it!

9. How do you know what to pack?
Oh, that's simple: we don't. We do know that they're much more conservative in the items that they own simply because there is not room in apartments for the things we "need" in our sprawling American suburban homes. So we will ship 2-3 boxes of "stuff" (blankets, pillows, toys, favorite pots and pans, etc.) and take a few suitcases of clothes. Our furniture is being provided by the church. I'm really looking forward to a more simplified lifestyle.

10. Is this something you have always wanted to do?
Yes and no. Since high school, hubby and I have dreamed of submersing ourselves in some overseas culture. We knew we wanted to travel - not just as fly-by-night tourists - but as students and "citizens of the world." Lofty goals for a 16-year-old, and I'm pretty sure that in our many, MANY discussions regarding our travels, South Korea NEVER came up ONCE as a place we would want to live. After we got married, those conversations became fewer and fewer. I think it hurt too much to see the reality of how much those kind of trips cost and how many people actually get to live out those kind of dreams. But even in our silence, the desires were still there. And now, we are SO THANKFUL that our Daddy God knew the desires of our heart and that He knows EXACTLY where we should begin our adventures abroad.

If you have any more questions, I'm happy to answer. So feel free to comment away!!

*I qualify these answers with this statement: All or most of what we understand about South Korea comes through third parties: other people, google, books, etc. We could DEFINITELY be wrong about some of the information, and we won't know until we get there. I promise to keep you updated throughout the learning process.

The Big Move (live and in color)

The time has come, my friends, to let you in on our upcoming adventure: The Big Move.

Allow me to start by directing you back to this post, in which I relayed to you, in great detail, how it came to be that my sweet Hubby would fly to the other side of the globe to interview for a job.

At the time of that post, we thought he was interviewing for a teaching/tutoring job that would last three-to-six months and have him returning before the beginning of the 2009 school year.

However, our Big Daddy God had other plans. During hubby's 10-day jaunt across South Korea, he fell in love with the country, and apparently, it fell in love with him too. They asked him to stay for AT LEAST a year. Of course, realizing they couldn't ask him to be away from his wife and child for that long, they offered him an increase in salary and an all-expense-paid move if the three of us moved there together.

After several cross-continental phone calls and late-night prayers, hubby and I agreed to move to Cheonan, South Korea in January of 2009.

So, here it is, just six weeks out from The Big Move, and things are just humming along.

Not knowing exactly how to proceed with this story, I will dedicate my next post to: Questions we get asked...a lot.

Toodle Pip.

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood