Sunday, August 28, 2016

Church and back (and lived to tell about it)

Successes of the day:

1. We found an atm that allowed us to withdrawl money with a foreign card (yeah! This allowed us to go to church!)

2. We got all of us on the right subway to go to church.

3. We found our way to church despite my bad decisions.  Instead of transferring to a bus, I thought it was short enough to walk. In the rain. I'm pretty sure all of the Koreans thought we were nuts as we did it without umbrellas. (The Korean folks love to stay dry. Everyone has their own umbrella on hand. In K dramas, you will be deathly ill the day after you get suck in the rain. Always.) We walked into church 5 minutes late and dripping wet.  Korea isn't too different than America. The only empty row was front and center.

4. We made it through church. Bless those sweet missionaries that softened the day. Elise wanted to go home after sacrament meeting but the primary president made primary much more bearable for Elise/Lilly by inviting in an English speaking elder to help with the lesson. We doubled primary today and increased young women's by 150%.  The older girls loved meeting a girl Chloe's age and are anxious for an upcoming mutual activity where they will learn to cook some food item that got lost in translation. It's a good thing they like her since she is the only young woman in the branch!  Everyone left church excited to come back, which is what I was hoping for. Half way through I was losing my resolve as I was pretty sure that I was scarring Elise for life. Yes, she was won over by a sandwich break and a couple of games of uno, but she was won over none the less.  (And in defense of the primary president, what do you do with 2 kids for 2 hours straight?)

5. We made it home from church much faster and dryer, thanks to a ward member who lives close to Halmoni. And now we know the best way to get to church so future Sunday's will be easier.

6. I learned the word for Holy Ghost. And I learned that I can sing Korean hymns just fine as long as they aren't speedy cheerful ones like "the is sunshine in my soul today".

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Day 1 of the big experiment

Today started off with us waking up at 5:30 am thanks to our systems being a little off.  We're hoping that we sleep in a little later tomorrow.

Things we discovered today:
•most ATMs in South Korea don't take foreign cards. Yep, I still am penniless here in Daegu. 
•Appliance delivery is way more entertaining here.  Imagine a motorized pulley/ladder that parks outside your balcony. It was pretty impressive. 
•Jjajangmyeon tastes better when you get it for 3000 won (2.50) than it does when you pay $12. 
•Daegu has a great set up for interval training. Their streets are lined with adult playground equipment...little workout stations every 20 ft that exercises different parts of the body 
•Daegu Stadium is more than a stadium. It is this massive park with fountains, an area for riding rental bikes/segways/other wheeled toys, a track for exercising and if you're really lucky, a saxophone concert. (We have to go here again with all of the girls!)
•Our branch as 2 primary kids and 2 young women. We are doubling their numbers for the next two months IF we can find the building they meet in. The sister missionaries teach the young women classes, which should be a blast since the girls love sisters!
•My girls get along better when they are their only English speaking companions. 
•My Korean is already improving. This is less of a commentary on my newly acquired skills and more of a reflection on how ridiculously bad I am at speaking Korean.  basically, anything is an improvement. I am better at understanding as long as you talk to me about scheduling vs. your deepest desires.  I'm thinking that I should make up a list of the few subjects that I am comfortable talking about.  I can hand it to any Korean who is brave enough to talk to me! :) Hi, my name is Sarah.  I have the Korean vocabulary of a 3 year old and would love to tell you what food I like, where I am from or how old I am.  If you're willing to talk nice and slow, I might even be able to talk to you about our hobbies or families. 

Blessing of the day: Word travels fast.  I was worried about explaining the word of wisdom to our family but a friend of the family tonight said "no coffee?  No alcohol?", to which I also threw in green and black tea with my elementary Korean. I'm grateful for whomever it was that filled them in on our beliefs as my Korean couldn't have handled that. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

the eagles have landed.

Today we rolled out of bed at 2:30 am to make sure everything was ready to go by 3:30. We just had some last minute toiletry packing to do and then we were on our way to the airport. Unfortunately, that last minute toiletry packing took Autumn's suitcase out of the car. And it never made it back to the car.  When we started emptying out luggage, Autumn calmly said "I don't see my bag." I may have slightly freaked but Autumn never let her reaction go above that "I don't see my bag" level of a reaction. What a cool headed chica!  I sent Chris home to fetch it and it was Autumn that pointed out that this wasn't the end of the world and that, bonus, she was wearing her glasses vs. her contacts so she wouldn't even miss her contact solution.  As much as I feel like a complete ninkumpoop for forgetting a bag, I am so glad it was Autumn's bag.  It reminds me of Autumn's trip to Korea when she was 11.  The passport office had messed up her passport and we weren't sure if it would arrive in time for her flight.  I was freaking out. Little 11 year old Autumn calmly said "Mom, it's ok if I don't go this time."  So cool under pressure. I want to be like her when I grow up. Just saying.

Ok, so we're in Korea.  We are riding the bus to Daegu as I type. Why the bus instead of the super fast ktx train?  Well, folks, I'm traveling as a party of 6. We saved big bucks by taking the 4 hour bus ride BUT the bus leaves every 30 minutes, so we got to leave sooner than on the train.  My anti-public transportation self is quite impressed with this bus. It's pretty swanky with wide seats, padded leg rests and reclining seats.  Yeah for saving some $$ AND being comfortable.

Language update:  the kids refuse to speak Korean to anyone and my Korean class just got cancelled because I'm the only one who signed up. (They need three students and they won't let me sign up my kids because it's an adult only class). Once we get to Daegu, things are getting real. Chris' sweet family will pick us up from the station and none of them speak much English.  I'll let you know how that goes.  The highlight of the day: when Chloe told me that the more I encourage her to speak Korean, the less she wants to speak it.  I'm going to chalk it up to sleep exhaustion and hope she's back to her sweet self after a nap.

Blessing of the day: I was bracing myself for 90 degree weather with 100% humidity, which is pretty normal for Daegu at this time of year.  I was just hoping I could deal without looking like I was on the verge of death. Yep, Oregon has made me a moderate climate wimp.  BUT I can suffer through the sweat another day.  Daegu has a week of cooler weather with less humidity forecasted and I am so grateful fr the chance to slowly acclimate.  What a blessing!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

never ending to do lists, suitcases and peace. lots of peace.

A little trick that I learned while working with the stake camp director this summer was never ending to do lists.  It may seem rather obvious to those of you who are organized, but her method is the only thing keeping this "go with the flow" sort of gal alive.  It basically involves throwing up your brain into lists that live on notepads around my house.  I make the lists and when they are complete, those pages get ripped out, thrown away and sometimes burned.  (Ok.  I haven't burned any yet, but I am thinking it could be therapeutic)

In a few days, we take Rachel to school and then run off to Korea.  These to do lists are the only thing keeping me alive.  Yes, I still add the items that I've already completed just to make sure they still get the recognition of a checked box.  Yes, there are still plenty of items that don't get finished for several days.  The important part?  I am way more efficient and productive with the list than without the list.

a tiny Autumn and Rachel on our last trip to Korea. (DMZ)
Korea prep?  I got my international permit this week JUST in case I want to drive on Jeju island.  Driving is supposed to be fairly laid back on Jeju vs. on the mainland.  I found a swimsuit and shorts. I got 8 loads of laundry completed despite the fact that my washing machine is broken.  Again.  New nikes for the kids.  Organize the itinerary.  Make an itinerary notebook.  Debating, yet again, whether or not we should really stay with Chris' grandma or stay in an airbnb. (what if we kill her with stress?)  Find a camera backpack that is fabulous.  Sew a patch on said backpack to make it cuter.  Cut off more jeans and sew them up so the kids get shorts for free.  Gather school books.  Order more curriculum so it is waiting for our return.  Look for luggage. (everywhere. did I buy any?  of course not!)  Reserve a sim card in Korea.  Suspend at&t phone plan while in Korea.  Arrange insurance for Rachel.  Buy dog food.  Buy wart remover. 

Just typing that list makes me tired.  But here is the good part.  I had an accidental conversation with my sweet father this morning (I was aiming for mom, sorry dad!) that helped me refocus my efforts.  Yes, I still need to take care of some practicalities.  Folks, we can not buy clothes in Korea.  Too many curves.  But my dad gave me a very gentle and inspired reminder that there is work waiting for us in Korea.  There is family history waiting to be done there and we will be lead in all aspects of our trip as we have a willingness to help in this work.  Last time we went to Korea, it was in the miracle of the jokbo.  A jokbo is a book of one family's records.  The one that we found last time had 22 generations in it and brought us to Chris' 11th great grandfather (1587).   Chris' mom showed it to us the night before we left Daegu because she thought we "might" want to look at it.  I remember laying in bed that night brainstorming ways that I could possibly copy that information in the few hours that we had left before our morning train trip to Seoul.  I woke up with the idea to photograph the whole book, page by page.  I think there were about 1600 pages.  I wouldn't have had the memory cards to handle that project but a friend of mine had convinced me that I needed to video tape our trip.  Right before leaving Oregon, I purchased two 32 gb flash cards.  Those flash cards didn't hold much video but they did hold our digital images of that jokbo.  What will happen on this trip?  I am not sure.  I do know that there is a family history library in Daegu.  I figure they must know more about Korean Genealogy than I do. I also know that there are at least 4 more books that go with that jokbo at Wang Halmoni's house.  I'm not sure what is in them, but I can't wait to see.  (and maybe I will photograph those also!)  During my talk with the papa bear, I went from feeling pretty frantic to feeling peace.  It will all work out in beautiful ways that we can't even imagine.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

the field trip of a life time

I've decided that I need to start blogging again.  I know.  I've decided it before only to quite again.  I'm not promising anything, but we are heading out on a pretty epic adventure and I just want to make sure it gets recorded!  In just a few weeks, after we drop Rachel off at BYU, we are flying to Chris' motherland. (No, not Mexico.  No matter how much Chris wants to claim Mexico as his home.)

We will be staying with his dear sweet 97 year old grandmother and other family in the area.  Because we are beginning adventurers, we are only going for two months.  I say only now but it could be a long two months.  I've signed up for a Korean class, which hopefully build on my very beginning Korean skills.  I'm hoping the little Kangs will pick up on a little bit of language without a class since I can't find a class for kids.  (I'd put them in school but the Korean school system has many characteristics that just might scar them for life)  Oh, and Chris will only be with us for 2 of the 8 weeks.  We plan on being serious tourists while he can help translate, but we will pretty much stay put in Daegu for the rest of the time.  (Until I get brave?)

So we will go to Korea.  We will hang out with our Daegu family.  We will eat a lot of amazing Korean food.  Kimbap, Bibimbap, Nangmyeon and a whole lot of Korean shaved ice. (which doesn't compare to Hawaiian shaved ice, says Chloe)  We will find bathrooms, we will ask for directions, ride public transportation and order food.   When we learn a little more Korean, maybe we will even do more than that.  Seriously, though.  We plan on attending the local Korean branch where I'm hoping the girls will at least learn some cute Korean primary songs.  We plan on doing touristy things, but more than that, we plan on living it up like some super white Koreans.   From what we read online, Daegu doesn't have a lot of entertainment and it is the hottest/most humid place in Korea.  Although humidity stinks, we are going to Daegu so we can spend time with "wang halmoni".  And to eat delicious food.  Let the adventure begin!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

merry christmas

And this is how the Kang family is rolling this Christmas.  It's just the way it is this year.  The important thing to remember is that last year, there was no card.  Electronic or not.   This reminds me of a lovely quote by David A. Bednar:  If today you are a little bit better than you were yesterday, then that's enough. And, if tomorrow you are a little bit better than you were today, then that's enough.

merry christmas from the kangs

Sunday, September 14, 2014

apparently, i'm a cry baby.

Ok...I can finally blab my news across cyberspace.  After serving in young women's (our church's organization for girls 12-18 year olds) for 3 years, I was released today.  I've known it was coming for a couple of weeks and have already shed my fair share of tears over this, despite Chris' insistence that I should be celebrating.  (He really was very confused that I would be crying over something that made him so darn happy!)  I have loved this calling to death.  Yes, it has taken a lot of my time.  Yes, sometimes it makes me want a nap.  But I have been working with my three oldest daughters and a group of 30 spectacular young women (and women!) that you just can't help but love.  When I went into young women's, the teenage years scared me.  I wasn't close to any of the girls in our ward that were older than my own girls.  Within a very short period of time, I was able to get a glimpse of our Savior and Heavenly Father's love for each of these young women.    Their love for these girls was contagious and it is what has made the last three years so stinking awesome.  And that love is what made me sob all day long.  It was pretty ridiculous.  I can't imagine a ym president carrying on like this, but in my defense: I tried to stop crying.  Really.  And now I am writing about this without crying, which I see as a pretty big victory.   Lilly and I have even made plans for this Tuesday night. (I would normally be at our weekday activity until 9 pm)  We are making cookies and playing the electric ukulele together.  I tried to get her to invite dad, but she says he doesn't play the ukulele.  I guess he can make the cookies?

What really got me to pick myself up off of the couch (Autumn was sweet enough to cuddle me all better without any of the judging.  Hannah made it very clear that I cry too much. Maybe so, but shush. ) is my new calling.  I decided to start working on it and that just kind of made things all better.  My new calling is amazing.  Not YW amazing, but pretty amazing.  As in, I told my dad that I was going to request this calling whenever they released me from YW.  The kicker?  I didn't even have to request it. (which is good because I probably wouldn't have actually asked for a calling.)  Heavenly Father is that cool.  I am the new ward family history coordinator.  Which is fancy talk for a made up calling that I get to figure out.  I am to work with the adult and youth consultants and get our ward on fire, blazing through their family history like never before.  Pretty amazing, eh?   Family history, here I come!  Which also means that next February...I'm going to rootstech.  Again. I love, love, LOVE family history.  I also have a very strong testimony of the blessings that family history work can have on teenagers. (ok.  it blesses all of us.)  So put all of that together and it makes an amazing calling.  I am thrilled!

My little rays of sunshine on a kind of hard day?
•The sweet sweet yw that acted sad enough to make me cry more.
•Lilly's response to my release: So we're going to need to pick you up from relief society after church now? (like I'm in primary, needed a parent to pick me up)
•Walking into the chapel (straight from a mtg so I didn't get to see what my girls chose out for church) and seeing little Lilly, dressed up like a mini "Sister Dunford", who is a scarf loving sister missionary from the neighboring ward that Lilly LOVES.  She could have gotten away with murder in that outfit with all of its adorableness.  (Although that would be highly inappropriate with her being a missionary and all!)
•a pile of thank you's from the yw thanking me for small acts that I have done over the last 3 years and realizing that the cards were really just a short list of the many promptings that I have received  from their Heavenly Father, who knows them in such a personal and loving way.
•having my new visiting teach-ee share a quote that summarized my feelings and brought me peace:
"There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.  Why is this?  Because we are made of the stuff of eternity.  We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number.  Endings are not our destiny." Dieter F. Uchtdorf, I love you. And these tears are because I am made of the stuff of eternity.  Ha. :)
•hearing Rachel refer to the yw changes (I'm just going assume that she was referring to my release and enjoy this moment here) as someone ripping out your heart, stepping on it, poisoning it and putting it back in.  A. Did she just say she is going to miss me??  That's what I heard...  B. That is pretty much how I felt.