A South Korean Tragedy.

I’ve been wanting to write a post about the tragic ferry accident in Korea that took place over a week ago.

…but I haven’t been able to find the words.

Every single time I try to type I don’t know where to begin. When I try to sort through the thoughts in my head they just feel jumbled. We’ve been in Korea just over a year, and I can’t begin to tell you how connected, and apart of Korea Tom and I both feel.

It could be the incredible kindness we’ve been shown.

It could be the astounding beauty of this country.

It could be in the smiles of the kids we teach. 

It could be the outstanding opportunities that Korea has provided us.

Is it the beaches? The mountains? The respect we’ve been shown? 

Whatever it is we certainly feel very deeply connected. We are a part of life here. We live here. We call Korea home.

My heart has broken into pieces. Instead of pointing fingers & blaming certain individuals for the loss of so many lives why aren’t we loving more? Why aren’t we praying for the families who have lost their son or daughter. Sister or brother. Their friends. Or their teachers. The God I know and love didn’t do this. He never would. His heart aches too. He weeps for the families of those who are struggling now.

It’s been an eerie past week for us in Korea. We’ve witnessed a beautiful country that we love come together to help each other out.  From the fishing boats who were out at sea that saw or heard about the tragedy & came to the rescue…to a young girl only 22 years old Park Ji-young who lost her life saving others. The high school boy just 17 Jung Cha-Woong who took off his life jacket when he couldn’t swim himself to save his friend -a boy who lives to tell that story of the ultimate sacrifice. The doctors who live in Korea that have volunteered around the clock, and the country cancelling big events that were scheduled previously to show honor to the tragedy. That’s where I see Jesus. That’s God. The love. The ultimate sacrifice that Jesus paid for our sins.

My heart aches for the families of those who have passed.

I’ve hugged the kids (that I teach) a little longer. Smiled harder. Loved them deeper.

We need to continue to love. The world needs more of it.

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Wishes.Hopes. Dreams.

The best trips are right at your finger tips. {Travel Tuesday}

Since moving to Korea almost 7 1/2 months ago Tom and I have been exploring Korea like crazy. It helps that we both love being busy,that we love hiking, and it definitely helps make travel more convenient since purchasing our car.

Even though Korea is small (it’s roughly the state size of Indiana for my USA homies) we have never struggled to find adventure in this gorgeous country. Sometimes I forget that the best adventures are right in our own backyard. It’s easy to get swept up with the fact of how geographically close we are to Southeast Asia and how ridiculously cheap it is to travel this side of the world. Sometimes I need reminders that we don’t always need to be flying around to make the best of memories. In fact, I think we could live in South Korea a very long time without being able to discover all of it’s beauty. A couple of weekends ago we packed up our car to take a day trip with 4 of our amazing friends to hit a city named Suncheon (located about 40 minutes from Yeosu by car) and we visited the traditional Korean village of Nagan. The small trips always get me thinking “why didn’t we do this sooner?!” and leave me appreciating  Jeollanamdo ( the province of Korea that we live in) even more than I did before. When we were interviewed for our jobs the recruiter told us that Jeollanamdo is known for it’s friendly people and beautiful countryside. He wasn’t mistaken. We couldn’t have picked a more perfect place to live. I also think it’s such a blessing that we have made such great friends here in Korea. I often feel that when you find the right people it doesn’t matter what you are doing or where you are, because you’re in the best of company! Here’s a look into the visiting the traditional Korean village (Nagan)  in Suncheon, Jeollanamdo Province, South Korea.

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Hot tea ti finish out the day.

Hot tea to finish out the day.

Have you taken any local trips that made you realize the beauty of the area you live in?!?  I encourage you to get outside and explore. Even if it’s right in your own backyard!

Linking up with Bonnie for Travel Tuesday!

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Learning Korean culture through hiking.

Remember how I told you guys we loved to hike?

That’s pretty much an understatement.

This past weekend we found ourselves back in the mountains after taking a two week hiatus while Tom nursed a sprained ankle from playing volleyball.  I probably said (at least five times) ” I am so happy right now.” It had been two weeks of not hiking and while I had really enjoyed two weekends in our lovely little city of Yeosu I was itching to get back to what we love to do- hike.

7 peaks later and at our 7th National park we found ourselves loving the beautiful fall colors. We started at 10 am and finished around 4pm allowing plenty of time for us to be in nature together, climbing mountain peak after mountain peak, and time to just- think. It dawned on me near the end of the hike that (almost) everything I know about Korea I learned from hiking. I mean we have spent hours in the mountains so perhaps I am bias. Everything from food, culture, terrain, and just life in Korea I have learnt from days we have spent in the mountains. Let me break it down a bit easier for ya. I added in pictures from our weekend hike in Naejangsan National Park.

Korean Kindness-

Our first hike in Korea and not knowing a thing about how long it would take, what to pack, how much we would wanna eat, etc. We set out to find ourselves just a bit exhausted and extremely under packed when it came to food. There have been countless times we have been offered food, drink, or even just company, and it helps refuel us through the remainder of our hikes. Which brings me to my next point…Korean community.

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Community in Korea-

Ah! Where to begin. Koreans love family. They love community. They love togetherness. To be quite frank- I love it too. We love that they sit together in circles sharing food, drink, and laughter. We have seen people dancing, eating, laughing, and relaxing together at the top of the mountains. We have been invited to join the fun and we have sat next to groups admiring the fun. The community reflects back to what I have seen while I have been teaching as well. The students try to share treats, they share picnic lunches, and their class becomes a family. It’s all about community in Korea…and I love that.

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Korea is stunningly beautiful. 

Whoa. We have sat at the top of mountain peaks overlooking beautiful fall colored valleys. We have spotted cities from afar. Seen the sea that looks royal blue for as far as the world goes. Islands littering the backdrop of what looks like a painting. Gosh, the list just goes on: rivers winding through the base of a mountain, waterfalls, people on other peaks, mountain ridges giving you 360 degree views of just plain gorgeous. We’ve seen the seasons change from spring, to summer, to autumn , and have learned that each season brings a new look at beauty as we discover it through hiking. We have learned about the land from hiking Korea and we understand how to adapt for hiking as the weather has changed.

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Koreans are committed!

The majority of people we see hiking typically consist of an older population. They don’t give up and they are pretty tough. I love passing climbers on the way up or down and hearing them shout excitedly after I greet them politely in Korean. Korean’s are the hardest working people that I have met, but they sure do know how to celebrate when they get to the top of a peak. Photos, food, and soju (traditional Korean drink) galore. If they are into hiking they are committed right down to their matching outfits and ridiculously expensive hiking gear/outfits. They work hard and they play hard. They are committed to finish what they start and will encourage you along the way with their greetings in Korean. I love when they shout “ASA” (sorta like: “get it!!!!”) and “FIGHTING” ( sorta like: “don’t give up!!!” which sounds like “Pi-ting”)

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Tom atop a busy mountain peak in Naejangsan National Park!

Food

Tom and I usually pack nuts, trail mix, ham sandwiches, granola, fruit, and lots of water for our hiking treks. Koreans pack full on meals when hiking. I have even seen them pack hot water in a canvas and concoct up some delicious noodles at the top of a mountain. I never underestimate what they will pack when it comes to food. I’ve seen noodles, Kimbap (Korea’s version of sushi rolls) plenty of soju, and entire ensembles of pots/pans and a full on meal. We have learned that Koreans love to eat (don’t ask me how they all stay so thin) and they love to go all out with their meals- even at the top of a mountain.

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We had an absolute blast hiking this past weekend and I love being able to document our life here on the blog! Here are a few more of my favorites:

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This guy and the beautiful Korean fall. I am one lucky lady.

This guy and the beautiful Korean fall. I am one lucky lady.

Exhausted and full of sweat.  Pure bliss on one of the peaks.

Exhausted and full of sweat. Pure bliss on one of the peaks.

Almost done!!

Almost done!!

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Every good hike must come to an end… finishing at Naejangsa temple.