Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and reunions

Yes, yes...I know. We are already in the 2nd month of the 2015th year. If you do the math, I'm behind on blogging.

That said, I wanted to say a few words about my first time experiencing these holidays outside of the US. In a few ways, it was weird. I've always celebrated Thanksgiving on a Thursday, even as a missionary. Here, work went on as normal.

Mostly, however, the holidays were a fantastic experience here. On Thanksgiving night, my awesome coworker Lani came with me to dinner at a Thai restaurant. I celebrated the coming of the Pilgrims to the New World by eating panang curry.

However, I was able to indulge in an American Thanksgiving dinner over the weekend. A family in the local LDS branch (small congregation), the Jansens, invited several people over to eat, and it was fantastic. Thanks to the military commissary and a few helpful people, I was able to get ingredients for my mom's famous chocolate peanut butter pie. The pie worked its magic on this side of the Pacific, receiving rave reviews from the partakers.

Quick digression: On the way to the military base (where we were having dinner), we were delayed by a LARGE group of protesters who walked ahead of us. There must have been a few hundred. I asked what they were protesting, and someone said that they wanted the military base (as in the one we were walking to) out of Seoul. For a few moments, I thought about trying to squeeze past all of these people to get into the base, and it was an awkward image. Thankfully, they had moved on by the time we got to the base...but look at this crowd!

Pictured: People who I thought were going to be clogging the base entrance.
Okay, back to food...

I was so excited to eat this that I did not care one bit about how blurry the picture turned out.

December reminded me of Decembers past: Jam-packed weekends. There was a shindig here and an errand there. I'm thankful to say that I wasn't at a loss for company throughout the season. There were plenty of chances to spend time with others...and many more awesome decorations than I thought there would be.

Christmas meets Boxing Day.

First big snowfall in Korea. It was WAY slippery here in Pyeongtaek.

Decorating the branch president's Christmas tree

Simon and Jessica - two of my favorite students

I got to see the Nutcracker Suite (first time!) and pose with the Rat King. Legit.

My students treated me to lunch. I'm really glad these guys are around: Lee, Chris, and Hyunmi

I went to lunch on Christmas Day (in Korea, Christmas is a day to go out and eat/shop/consume, not to stay at home) with Hyunmi and her husband Seungbum. We had some awesome Italian food! Grazie!

Christmas dinner spread

Merry Christmas! (A few months late, I know. Don't be a scrooge.)

Before I wrap up, I'll mention that I, happily, was able to meet some long lost friends in Korea during this two month span.

To my left is Fairuz Syafari, who I met during an ACYPL exchange program in 2012. Fairuz is from Indonesia, and she was in Korea for work. Fairuz was (and still is) sweet and humble. She claims to have enjoyed the cool Korean air. She left me with a parting gift of dried breadfruit, which was delicious.

Kirk Asis and April Dayap, who I also met via ACYPL exchange programs to the US (2010 and 2012, respectively), came from the Philippines for a vacation to Korea. It was great to see these guys again. When I first met Kirk, he was really shy...he's much more talkative now! April is as lovely and fantastic as ever.

The first time I met Nopthee (who also goes by the nickname Otto) was during my first trip to Korea in 2012. We stayed in the same hostel, and we stayed in touch from that point on. He was visiting from Thailand, and he made me promise to come visit. Don't worry Otto...I'm on the way!

Alright. There's a lot more catching up to do, but I'll save that for another day. This post was a nice one to type out for me, because even if I haven't communicated it properly, I've been really fortunate to know some great people who have helped me to not feel so far from home. That's been pretty awesome.


  1. It's so cool that you have all these friends from all over the world! The ACYPL sure set you up well for international travel.
    I love the food pics! Thanks for sharing.

    1. I've definitely been spoiled in that regard. That was the biggest benefit of working for ACYPL.