Goryeong: Sunday, May 24

Korea in the spring…slays me.

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Photos of hikes and leafy jaunts Nate and I have taken over the past two months pile up in my folders, but for weeks nothing has really reached out and grabbed me. Nothing has given me that insistent nudge: share me. Nothing has stirred me the way that Korea springtime usually does. Who knows why. But though Spring has been around for a few months now, and is starting the uphill climb to summer, I’m only now catching up with it.

Last weekend one of our favorite families in the whole world invited us for an afternoon in the countryside. Jeong Hui and I met because she mistook me for her son’s new English teacher nearly two years ago, just after I moved to Gyeongsan. Our conversation led me and Nate to the Bible study that’s been our Sunday evening staple ever since, at a small, homey church literally two minutes from our door. She and her family are one of my favorite experiences of real, Gospel community. She and her husband Deok Si have 3 kids: Hana, the oldest, Han Byeol, who is the middle child and does nothing that anyone else is doing and thus is in zero pictures (girl, I get it. do you.), and Han Bit, who is crazy and my favorite person.

Jeong Hui invited us to visit her parents’ home last Sunday afternoon to take a half-day trip. Our awkward moment: we bought a watermelon as a hostess gift because that’s how you do in Korea, and did it without consulting Jeong Hui because we assumed that she’d insist we bring nothing, and sure enough, when we toted the monster melon out to the minivan, Jeong Hui burst out laughing and shaking her head. “No, we insist!” we gaily caroled, and then Jeong Hui said,

“My parents have a watermelon farm…”

Hysterical laughter is a great way to start a road trip.

The afternoon with her family was that proprietary blend of serenity and ease with notes of desperate language barrier awkwardness. Lots of bowing, lots of smiling. After nearly 4 years, it takes on its own rhythm and all I have to do is remember not to fight it.

We drove down to the river nearby with its winding paths and signs identifying various wildlife, and Han Bit begged to stop and see if he could find the rabbits he released last summer. He pouted when Jeong Hui, hardhearted, refused. He got over it when he stuck his head out the window to bark into the wind. (although in Korean dogs say mung-mung. Not woof or the ever-inexplicable bow-wow.)

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We took all the pictures as the men talked fishing and Han Bit tried to steal a boat. The light was magic. Everything was magic.

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Hana can smize for days.

 

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how do you say Huck Finn in Hangul?

 

I realized I hadn’t been out of the city in so long, I couldn’t even really recall the last time. Han Bit found me flowers to photograph and Mom and Daughter talked together.

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such a sweet friend.

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I didn’t want the sun to set. I didn’t want to leave.

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Every occasional car that passed overhead made the bridge rumble like a tractor trailer. Thunder and blue skies.

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This is Korea in spring, after the cherry blossoms and festivals go away, just on the cusp of scorching summer days. These bluesy-soft mountain sky edges and purple breezes, these tall grasses and velvet airs. This is what I’ve been hungering for and this is what I’ll miss so much when we go.

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This, and these.

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Note the Rice-Mask Bandit in bottom center.

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A wee bit of thanks

I am thankful.

There are people who get grumpy about how thankfulness get so jam packed into this particular season and who inquire why folks don’t express gratitude more during the rest of the year, come on, right, ugh.

These are probably the same people who get annoyed by “I love you” mid-February.

But I say go for it. I am thankful all year round and I love my fambly and my Savior all year round, but what’s wrong with dedicating a holiday to it, drawing a little more emphasis than normal, surrounding love and gratitude with celebration? Calm down, cranky Facebook demagogues.

(but don’t start me on New Year’s resolutions. jk.)

Our wee little, baby little, fledgling Thanksgiving went off without significant hitches. We slept in (8.30!) and while Nate ran I made a triple batch of these beauties for the office T-day party before whipping up a salad and boiling the water for STOVE TOP STUFFING. A wedding gift that we’ve never yet used meant we could fit the entire meal (excluding salad) on one dish. Which we then ate off of communally. Hashtag life hack.

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the chicken looks terrifying. which is what you get when you buy it from the back of a pickup truck.

 

After Nate prayed a Thank You prayer, we feasted whilst watching a Friends Thanksgiving episode marathon. The football episode…so good.

we are all Chandler Bing.

Then a quick jaunt to work for a few hours for me, biscuits in tow, and now I’m home and Boy is working, and I am resisting mightily the leftovers in the fridge til he comes back to share them. #WifeOfTheYear

I’m thankful for so much this year. Not least of which that this year will soon end.

(Is that too sour? It’s true, though it’s also a topic for another post.)

But before it does, and before we move on from this amazing, carb-laden holiday:

I’m thankful for Nate. For our sprout of a marriage. For all the laughs and plans and dreams and lazy times and busy times and serving times and for making me better, and making me believe in better. I love you.

I’m thankful that I have what I have. I could live with less and I believe I will in the very near future. For now, we have jobs and money and benefits. I’m grateful.

I’m thankful for family far away. I miss them so much. I’m missing the crop of McNieces and McNephews grow up, and I hate that, but I’m grateful that they are there and well and provided for.

I’m thankful for family close by: friends who are family who will make leaving this country so, so hard.

I’m thankful that I’m loved and forgiven and valued by the Creator Himself. I’m thankful that there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. I’m thankful that no matter how dark reality is, we have hope in Him.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Thanksgiving and Life Pioneers

Thanksgiving!

I still get excited about it even though a dull boring grownup bit in my brain keeps iterating that ne’er again shall I have the utterly relaxed Thanksgiving of my youth which, the dull boring grownup bit of my brain drones to me, was so exciting because SOMEONE ELSE WAS PAYING FOR IT. All I had to do was insist on baking things I thought looked fun and partially grate my thumb into a cucumber salad and scrape half the skin off my face in a hammock ‘incident.’

Ah, carefree youth.

It’s hard to make Thanksgiving (and Christmas) feel significant so far from home and family. My family does well for holidays. Full and abounding and joyful to the max, and Nate’s family is those things anyway so I imagine they get that Thanksgiving spirit nailed down too. On the other hand, it’s a pretty grand opportunity for Boy and I to be our own family for our first year at it.  Choices: lament the missing-out of home traditions, or pioneer our own? (I always wanted to be a pioneer. oh man. it’s becoming real. I AM LAURA INGALLS [FROM THE BOOK {illustrations by Garth Williams} NOT THE TV SERIES WHICH WAS GARBAGE  I TELL YOU, GARBAGE].)

Take me there (via)

But that is just what marriage has turned out to be, constant movement forward into unknown territory. Sometimes it’s amazing and sometimes it’s hard and confusing, but mostly it’s Life, and I love it.

As it’s a distinctly American holiday neither I nor the Boy have off work on Thursday, but our schedules permit us to have lunch together, and oh, I have plans. Plans that involve the possibly-expired box of Stove Top we found in a foreign foods market on Geoje Island months ago, a whole chicken to be purchased out of a truck that parks in our neighborhood every Wednesday night, and the little pies they’ve just started selling this season at Paris Baguette. And we will make a salad, and mash a potato or two. It will be me and Boy. Me cross-legged on the bed, him in our lone chair pulled up, our wee tray table precariously loaded with a one-off-from-the-Pilgrims feast. We’ll be a day ahead of the football and parades, but we’ll be thankful.

I’m thinking about ways to show thankfulness (like with my amazing job that at this point in the semester I lack allllll the motivation to do), and maybe on Thursday I’ll do a list. and some pictures! maybe! even! hooray!