Memories from the Philippines

Across the street stood a huge, lit up Christmas tree. It felt so out of place in the tropical climate of Manila and I smiled as I saw a huge family gathering by it to snap a group photo. I offered to take a picture for them so that they could all be in the shot. Taking pictures like that for people is one of my favorite things to do and I made sure to give them a lot of poses and angles to choose from. I was on my knees on the ground in an “almost falling over” position when one of the little girls broke away from the group and ran over to me yelling, “thank you!” I handed the camera back to its owner as the little girl squeezed her arms around my neck in what is now officially the sweetest hug I have ever received.

All of the adults laughed.

And then the mom turns her camera on me and the little girl. And then a boy feels left out and comes over for a picture. And then the family brings a little toddler over for a pic. And the whole time we are laughing and smiling and cameras are flashing away. I wonder how many of those people have my face on their phones and showed those pictures and told this exact story?

My 5 day vacation to the Philippines was enjoyable and fun, and the Gilhuises were amazing hosts and took me to incredible places, but that hug… that hug was the highlight of my trip.

On our last full day in Puerto Galera we walked along the beach checking out abandoned resorts and searched for a path back to where we were staying. Dan was about to lead us through way-too-deep-water around a huge rock to the other part of the beach when a little girl came up to us and pointed to a path around the rock, a path on dry land. We smiled and thanked her, asking what her name was.

“Melody.” She said.

Poor Melody was probably SUPER confused when Erika and I flipped out. I pointed to myself excitedly saying my name with a big grin on my face. It’s very rare that I meet another me. She didn’t seem to think it was that big of deal. She was way cooler than me.

Yes, this post is very delayed. Yes, I started writing it months ago. Yes, I still wish to post it.

Thanks for a great trip, Gilhuises. Can’t wait for you to come to Australia!

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Chuseok in Singapore, 2014

For the past two years I kept telling Jee Young that I was coming to visit her in Singapore. I even bought a ticket last Lunar’s New Year, but it just didn’t work out (aka that ticket was way too expensive and I got it refunded later after I felt guilty about it). But this past Chuseok it was finally time.

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How many angles can you take of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel? A LOT.

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And then there’s a building in the shape of a durian (above). Okaaaay. (Lucky for me I didn’t even have to smell one for my whole trip.

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I really liked the bottom of this fountain (Above). So. I took a picture of it.

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(Above) The day view. And the night view. Of the place who’s name I forget.

20140910-DSC_8383 20140911-DSC_8398The BEST DUMPLINGS I have ever had in my entire life (they are filled with soup). I would go back to Singapore just to eat these. But I hear there is a branch of the same restaurant in Seoul… so I can’t really use that excuse.20140911-DSC_8400

AQUARIUM

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The highlight of my trip by FAR was visiting Jee Young at her school. Seeing her teach again gave me inspiration. She also set it up for me to be able to observe other first grade classrooms. I gained some great resources and learned more about teaching. BEST VACATION EVER.

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View from the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

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On the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel enjoying the infinity pool. It was incredible. I mean, maybe this might have been the high light of my trip.

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It’s just so pretty.

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And now… for the flowers!

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I am so grateful for the friendship I have with this woman, who knows me so well. Thank you for an amazing time in Singapore. I cannot wait to come back.

I know it’s hard to believe with the amount of photos I posted on this blog. But I actually took the majority of photos on my iPhone. If you’re friends with me on facebook, the link is HERE.

Goodbye Germany, Hello Amsterdam (errr… for eight hours).

Leaving Berlin was only bearable because I was going back to the Delisios! We had one more night together before I left Germany for good. So, what did I do on my last night? Take pictures of Caleb. Duh.

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Oh and Autumn, too!

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And then it was off to Amsterdam for another long layover. (Insert shriek of excitement here)

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Still decked out from the World Cup. Sorry Netherlands…

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My first and only visit to Texas was when I was 14. I went for a missions trip. I will never forget the friend I made, Sarah, who decided to call me “Melly” instead of Melody. Only her southern accent could pull it off. I loved it.

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Tell me why I don’t live in Europe, again?!

The Village has Visitors

I am not blogging my summer in order whatsoever. Like, I mean, at all.

OH WELL.

In July my dear friend Jee Young flew from New York to Chicago, met up with another fabulous friend, Jane, and together they drove… to my village.

Arriving around 11:30 at night, the first thing Jee Young says, “It’s so dark here!”

I forgot, the country is dark. There are no streetlights, building lights, and very few car lights… it’s dark. Really dark.

The second thing Jee Young says, “We stood outside looking up at all the stars, there are so many stars!”

It reminded me of the time when I told my 2nd graders in Seoul that I missed seeing stars. They tried arguing with me that you can see a lot of stars in the city. I told them “No, you can’t.” Then one boy said, “Yes, you can! Once, I saw SEVEN.”

Jane and Jee Young had the privilege of getting a full tour (a whopping three hours long, and that included lunch) of the village of Middleville, which even included the log house my dad built and the family lived in for the first ten years of my life.  We ate lunch at the one real restaurant that wasn’t also a bar, and visited my old high school —where I got a library card at the public library— in which I got lost in because there has been so much renovation I didn’t even feel like it was the school I attended.

Oh yes, and we also took a field trip to my sister’s farm, where they saw tractors in real life and cows, very SMELLY cows.

Aaaaahhhh the country.

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Having people you meet on the other side of the world visit your home town is really special. I am so grateful to Jane and Jee Young for making the effort to visit me this summer.

Until my next totally out-of-order post about my summer…

 

 

On Resting

I really had no idea how hard it was for me to get actual, productive, REST. Being productive to me is doing the 101 things on my “To-Do” List that I make every morning, and getting immense satisfaction when I get to cross them off one by one (I seriously beam with every scratched through line I make).

God has been speaking to me (directly and through other people) for MONTHS on taking rest, and the importance of it. It is so easy to forget about rest when you live in Seoul. This city has an extreme case of the Korean “Bali, Bali” (bali translated to English means “hurry”) lifestyle. People are constantly on the go.

After my LASEK surgery, I was literally forced to rest as my eyes healed. In fact, they are still healing, and there are times when I have to stop what I am doing and just sit with my eyes closed for ten minutes. During which, I am thinking about all the things I need to do. I have to stop myself and remember that I don’t “need” to do most of those things RIGHT AT THIS VERY MOMENT.

Rest. It is so very important. It is healthy for your body, it brings clarity for your mind… it fuels creativity. Rest is good.

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In other news I went to my favorite Indian restaurant (Everest, yum yum yum) in Seoul during my time of rest. SO GOOD, I took a picture.

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hello again, Busan.

When I first moved to Korea I had a love affair with Busan, and I found myself flying or taking a train to that laid back, beach city three times (or was it four?) within the first year. Once that year ended though, it was good-bye to Busan, and hello to never traveling there. (I have no idea why.)

Until this weekend.

It had been more than two years. But I came back Busan, I came back.

The purpose of the trip was to visit my old small group leader, Kelly, who moved down to Busan with nine other people from our church- New Philadelphia– to start-up a church plant in the south. We ate food, we laughed, we met people on the beach (person, I met one person- but she was lovely), we cooked tacos, we noraebanged, we. loved. it.

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view from Kelly’s apartment (above). I know, right?

      

what? girls like shopping. it’s a well-known fact.

    

(above photo credit to eun byul)

All the ladies ^^

Until next time Busan, because oh- there will be a next time!

Chicago and the Heat Wave

I am pretty sure this post will break my record for most pictures posted at once. I just can’t help it. Chicago is a beautiful city, and I spent four full days there (not counting the days I traveled to get to and from), so there are bound to be a TON of pictures. Choosing the ones for this post was no easy task.

If I had to make a list of Chicago recommendations it might look something like this:

the wormhole (I recommend the ice chai latte- I may have gotten it four mornings in a row…maybe) it’s located near wicker park.

myopic books— I have never seen so many books in my life at one place, the kindle has not taken over yet!

the bean— I don’t care how touristy it is, I LOVED IT. I have been to Chicago so many times and I cannot believe I have never been to THE BEAN. you have your fill after about five minutes, but whatever- it’s cool.

every wednesday night there is a free concert in millennium park, WHAT? Eric, Christina, and I got to hear the orchestra practice on Tuesday. music rejuvinates my soul.

the art institute of chicago— now this place I have been to before, but it is always amazing, and this time around we got to see the roy lichtenstein exhibit.

lincoln park zoo— mainly because IT’S FREE! Christina and I were look for fun cheap places to go to take pictures and the zoo was great. Though we are not much for looking at animals in cages, the scenery was beautiful.

greek island restaurant in greek town— basically because the fire cheese is so fun, and actually really, really delicious.

and of course, deep dish pizza! Eric took us to Gino’s East. so tasty.

                                            

   

oh my dear wormhole, I will miss those ice chai lattes with all my heart…