Category: home church

Highlights and lowlights

Well, I am firmly settled into my life here in Atlanta these days.  Between my classes, TA job, church, and dancing, free time is in short supply, indeed.  But I’ve been trying to take at least a little time every week to do something relaxing and fun with friends.  Some of my favorite highlights include:

For their honeymoon, Rachel and Ryan went on a road trip, but they swung back through Georgia on their way back to Oregon, where they are living now.  So I drove up to Ellijay and got to see them for an evening.  It was soooo lovely to be able to just spend time with and enjoy each other, away from the stresses and pressures of wedding fever.

Ryan, Rachel, me, and Rachel’s sister Sarah

A few days later, I got to see some Fulbright friends!!  Adam and Leora had both renewed their contracts to teach in Korea, but they were visiting some friends in the states before they went back to Asia.  So we met up at a great little Greek falafel place, and then went to a state park and hung out for the afternoon.  It was wonderful seeing them, albeit a little strange – although we’re all Americans, up until then I had never actually seen them in America, so it was odd being together on our “home turf,” so to speak.

Leora and Adam 

My first weekend after moving to Atlanta, I was back in Albany again – for another wedding.  But this one I just attended – I wasn’t in it – so it was much more relaxing.  I got to spend some time with my family without the stress of preparing for Chris’ wedding….plus we got a great family shot in the process! 🙂

An old family friend, Phillip, came down to visit me shortly after I moved to Atlanta.  It’s been years since we’ve seen each other – one of us was always out of the country – so it was good to reconnect.  We went to Atlantic station and got gourmet ice cream and laughed at all of the country music blaring from the speakers….then, for dinner, we went to a place called Chow Baby, which is now officially my favorite restaurant in the entire city.  It’s like an Asian buffet on steroids.  You go down the line and pick all of the ingredients you want – meats, vegetables, sauces, everything – and then they cook it for you in a delicious stir-fry and deliver it to your table.  Absolutely excellent.  I had a blast :D.

To celebrate labor day, I went on a rafting trip with some old friends, some new friends, some old family, and some new family.  Myself, Chris, Julia, a friend from Berry (Emily), a dancing friend (also named Chris), and a new Tech friend (Sunny, who is also Korean, so she’s doubly cool!) drove up to Tennessee to go whitewater rafting on the Ocoee – the same river that they did the Olympics on in 1996.  It was threatening to rain the entire day, but never actually did, so it was perfect.  I had a blast.  It was a nice retreat from all of the stresses that I was having with my living arrangements at the time.  Bonus points for the fact that I unknowingly made reservations with the exact same rafting company that I had years ago gone rafting with as a part of a youth group trip with from Cornerstone Church in Americus.  So I was having a major walk down memory lane :).

Left to right: Sunny, myself, Julia, Chris, Emily, and Chris

After I moved out of my old house and into the new one, I went to a graduate student picnic.  Not only did I see some of my old housemates from the old house – and we were on great terms, spent the entire picnic together – but I also got to meet Fernando, an awesome guy from Panama.  He was dancing with the GA Tech Salsa club, and I went over and asked him to dance with me :).  Great dancing and great friends – how can you go wrong with that?….and it was also really nice to know that no one at my old house harbored any ill feelings about me moving out.

Seth, myself, and Shawn (lives in my old house)

Peace signs….I love my friends 😀

Also, speaking of housing, check out my new digs!  It’s nothing special, but it’s exactly what I need at this stage in my life.  I’m very happy here.  I also get along really well with all of my roommates, which is always nice.  We cook for each other, run errands for each other, tell each other to go to bed when they’re tired and to eat right, and just generally look out for each other.  It’s a splendid arrangement.

In celebration of Mom, Dad, and Chris’ birthday, the Albany family drove up to Atlanta to have a big family cookout.  Well, it was supposed to be a cookout, but due to torrential rains, it turned into more of a cook-in.  But when you’re with people you love, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re inside or outside.  I had a blast.  That was also the weekend that I acquired a bed, thanks to my incredible parents who drove up a second car just to bring me my bed from Albany, thus making me officially completely moved into my new home.

The next weekend was Tech night at Six Flags!  One night every year, Six Flags closes down their park to everyone except GA Tech students.  So I gathered 3 of my new friends, and we all headed down together.   It was myself, Fernando (the Panamanian that I met at the grad picnic), Seth (a Singaporean I randomly met at orientation), at my Korean friend Sunny.  Four people, 4 nationalities…..I was in heaven.  I love connecting with people who come from completely different backgrounds from my own.  We rode every single roller coaster :).  After it ended, everyone was starving, so I took them all back to my house and made them pasta (at like 1:00 in the morning….lol) before taking everyone home.  It took me the whole weekend to recover from it….but it was worth it.  Developing friendships is something that I’m really going to focus on doing while I’m here in Atlanta.

Seth, myself, Sunny, and Fernando

Soooooo scary!!!!!

Speaking of cultural experiences…..I had another one last Sunday.  I took my new Mexican housemate with me to church, and we went out to lunch afterwards.  Somehow, we ended up on Buford Highway (which, if you don’t know Atlanta, is known for having an incredibly high latino population), and randomly went to this little restaurant called La Pastorcita.  The food was actually really good – tasty, plentiful, and cheap – but I tell you what, the second I walked in, I couldn’t help but bust out laughing.  Not because I was laughing at anyone, per se….it was just a cultural shock, and I didn’t know what else to do.  I felt like I had walked straight into Mexico.  They had the Mexican music, the sombreros, the Mexican families and couples and groups of men shoved into the boothes, the menus in all Spanish….seriously, it was legit.  Absolutely fabulous…I loved it.  Atlanta is a city in which you can feel as if you were transported to almost any country in the world, if you go to the right place in the city :).  

Other notable things which don’t have any pictures attached to them, but deserve at least an honorable mention….I’ve found a fantastic Bible study that meets only 3 houses away from mine, I’ve been dancing to my heart’s content and then some, and I’ve finally started to gain my bearings around the campus and the city.  Can’t think of anything else at the moment….but I’m sure I’ll have more to say in a few days ;).

So there you have it!  Some of the highlights from my life over the last month or so.  It hasn’t all been rosy – classes are incredibly overwhelming at times, I still have lawsuit issues going on with my psycho ex-landlord, my hearts still pines for Korea and my students and friends over there….but overall, I am very blessed.  Blessed, indeed.  God is so good!

Spring has sprung

Wow.  The last few days have been such a blur.  Spring has officially sprung here in Gyeongju, and I’ve been making the most of the beautiful weather.  I shall have to go with the reader’s digest version, since I still have lesson planning to do tonight and sleep is closing in on me fast.

Last week I only taught on Monday.  Tuesday and Wednesday I had off – the students had some sort of test; I never really know the reasons for why I get days off when I do, lol.  But anyway, whatever the reason, I had no class, so I had 2 glorious days of nothing to do.  On Thursday I went to school, although I didn’t teach.  Thursday was the day of the school English festival – “Sunnies’ Festival,” as it is called here.  I shall forever refer to it affectionately as the Day of Mass Chaos.  All day, plans, locations, events, everything was constantly changing on the spur of the moment.  That would have been stressful enough; but the real problem was that all of the last-minute decisions were made after a flurry of hurried conversation in Korean.  Which means that I was left mostly in the dark.  Which wouldn’t have been horrible; except I was running a couple of the events.  Yeah.  Not cool.  But I managed, made it through the morning, and then was left the afternoon to simply enjoy the rest of the festivities.  There was a pop song competition that a lot of students performed it – that was really fun to watch.  Check out the top 3 dances in the videos below, along with some pictures.  The highlight for the students was when they dragged a bunch of teachers up on stage after the performances (myself included), and made them dance improv.  Hmph.  I’m still trying to figure out if I enjoyed it or was traumatized by it.  But judging from the number of comments I got from students afterwards, I would say that doing the robot with the principle was definitely a success ;).

Part 1: mass chaos

Part 2: mass chaos compounded

Part 3: random jump-rope competitions…what??

Thursday was rounded out by a parent-teacher dinner.  I was shocked to find out that apparently my host mother is the president of the parent-teacher association, and dismayed when she started pressuring me to sing karaoke – introducing myself in Korean in front of the entire room was just about enough cultural bravery as I could handle for one night.  But I got a good meal out of the evening, and was able to escape with a fellow teacher before the singing started, so it all turned out ok :).

Me with some of my co-workers

Friday was another school event, the annual school “picnic.”  This was another source of confusion, as we were originally going to all walk together to Gyeongju World (a small amusement park); for some reason the school had decided that it is a valuable tradition to make everyone walk the 2-hour or more walk to Gyeongju World for the school picnic.  But then Thursday night, it was decided by someone that we would walk to the Expo park this year instead; then we were taking buses; then we were going to Gyeongju world again, but this time taking buses instead of walking; in the end, it was finally decided the morning of that everyone would just meet at the theme park, using whatever method of transportation they wanted to use.  The last minute plans were difficult to stay on top of with my limited Korean, but in the end I was very grateful to not have to walk all the way there :).  And I had a lovely time, too – a group of students claimed me as “theirs” for the day, so we hung out together and rode all of the rides and everything.  It was fun :).

The view from the top of the ferris wheel

I don’t know these students.  They’re 3rd graders – I’ve never taught them.  But they wanted a picture with “Teacher,” so they grabbed me, and I obliged 🙂

Creeper shot….she was too adorable to ignore 😉

Some of my precious students from winter camp.  I don’t teach them anymore, so it was good to see them.. We rode the bus home together 🙂

Saturday, my friend Lin and I decided kind of last-minute to go cherry-blossom hunting.  Gyeongju is famous for its cherry trees – there are thousands and thousands of them scattered throughout the city, when they’re in bloom they really are extraordinarily pretty.  However, the blossoms only bloom for about a week out of the year, so once they start you’ve got to take advantage of it!  So we rented bicycles and just rode around the city, hitting all of the cherry blossom “hot spots.”  Apparently half of South Korea had the same idea as us.  The streets were jammed with cars.  I’m talking apocalyptic evacuation, city traffic after a GA Tech / UGA football game.  Major, major traffic.  I was exceedingly grateful that I was not stuck in a bus.  But we were on bikes, so we avoided the traffic and got to take lots of lovely pictures :).

Epic bikes!  Notice the basket in front :).  Also notice the pink frame, shirt, and pants….**facepalm**

One of my favorite shots… 🙂

Lover’s lane…absolutely gorgeous! 🙂

Festival time!

Yay for picnics!! 🙂

I’m throwing a handful of blossoms into the air…can you see it? 🙂

The only decent shot I got at night….

Sunday, to round out the weekend, I went to church.  I was joined by my friend Lorna, who I had met last year at the church retreat in Daegu.  We hadn’t seen each other for a while, but she came to town to visit this weekend, so we got to hang out for the day.  It was lovely.  We went to church, and played frisbee for a while, and then came back to my house for a while.  Lorna was actually the 1st person I had ever brought with me to my house!  It was very exciting :).  And then in the evening, we met up with Lin and her husband Pan, to have dinner with some friends of theirs.  It was a home church, so we had a scrumptious dinner with them, and then a little worship service afterwards.  It was wonderful to see such a passionate group of believers.  I’ll never forget, as we were leaving, the little 10-year-old boy started sobbing.  I asked him why, and he said it was because his mom had told him that he had to stop reading his Bible because he needed to go to sleep.  Really made me stop and think about my priorities in my own life…  But anyway, it was a lovely way to round out the weekend.  Plus they had a little 13-month-old daughter, who was absolutely preciousssss.  I asked to hold her, and she just loved me!  Was cuddling her head into my chest, and wouldn’t go with her parents when they tried to take her away.  It was adorable :).  And that’s it!  Monday came again hard and fast, with me jumping right into my regular classes and Korean studying, and being informed that I’ve just been given 4 additional classes starting this week.  As of today I have exactly 3 months left in Korea, and I really want to finish strong, no matter what they throw at me.  Wish me luck!

The house church assembly 🙂

My new girlfriend….soooooo precious!! <3