A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: msj

BACK TO KOREA

Our Trip So Far

Bob is teaching this fall semester at Sahmyook University, the current name of the small school we came to exactly 50 years ago. He's teaching 2 theology courses in the seminary. He's here Aug. 24-Dec. 24. I decided to come for a few weeks, not needing a visa for that, and not wanting to leave the house and yard and various tasks at home that long. I'm using his laptop, but tedious SquirrelMail for e-mail, and we don't have a lot of time to just sit and use the computer, but I'll now try to send you a report.

Bob is enjoying very much being back in Korea. He's always felt the years spent here were the best in his life and career, and he always feels deeply appreciated and respected here.

I had worried about getting here, as my sciatica got much worse after driving to TN and back in May for James's graduation (though I wanted to be there and would do it again). Three days before leaving, a friend who is a pain specialist, took me in and gave me an epidural steroid injection. The pain left, the moment he removed the needle. I was so happy, but then it came back as a result of the travel. When I left from South Beth, my checked suitacse was 62 pounds, and they said I'd need to remove 12 pounds and put them in my tote bag, or pay $50. I put 12 pounds of books and magazines into my tote bag, but also had my somewhat heavy camera bag to carry. And on a United flight one walks from one end of one O'Hare terminal to the other end of another. Then sitting on the flight and carrying it off in LAX didn't help, but Lyndon met me at baggage claim and took the suitcase. Again when we flew to Seoul, it was a long spell of sitting. I've continued to have some pain, though not quite as bad as before, and most days Celebrex and Tylenol will ease it.

Lyndon was in L.A. for a final concert weekend with the Phil, and the church member housing him in Glendale graciously took me in too. Lyndon and I tooled around southern CA the next day, doing a bunch of errands and eating in a nice Mexican restaurant. The next day we went to church in Glendale, and he had to get back to the orchestra, but I went with friends who ate at another Mexican restaurant, hoping to give him a nice farewell, but he couldn't join them. One of them then drove me to the home of friends from childhood, whose daughter from the Sacto area was visiting, and we had a great visit till Lyndon picked me up. That evening I went to a Phil concert in Disney Hall, the first I'd attend one there, and it was great--also L's last weekend there.

With more errands, and an afternoon concert for Lyndon, Sunday went quickly, and that evening our hostess and I met Lyndon at Disney and attended a wonderful concert by the L.A. Master Chorale, which friends on their board had told us about and urged us to attend. They insisted we meet them during intermission in the elite Founders Room, where a greeter had to find a coat for Lyndon before he could be admitted! It was fun, with some juice and nuts and cookies, and visiting with a few friends.

Monday Lyndon and I flew to SF and then on to Korea, where Bob and a driver met us. Beth and the girls had arrived from Wellington a few hours earlier and braved the subway out to the college. They stayed in a guestroom there 2 nights, and we did things together, and then they moved to a downtown hotel when the rest of the orchestra arrived. We still joined them there on Friday and all went to the Korean Folk Village, sort of a theme park to show what Korean life was like in the past--actually, how it was when we lived here, but no more. They came out here by subway for services the next day, and Lyndon played for the foreigners' SS here. Lyndon had to get back downtown, but the rest of us ate with some other guests from America and some school leaders (former students of ours) in the VIP room of the cafeteria. That evening Bob and I attended the Phil concert, with Sarah Chang, as soloist, in the Sejong Performing Arts Center downtown, after all 5 of us meeting Lyndon there and eating at a nearby Italian restaurant. On Sunday we joined them and some Korean friends who immigrated to Glendale years ago (and whose daughter, a former student of Lyndon's is subbing on violin on this Phil tour. They treated us to a wonderful buffet breakfast, with everything imaginable, at the hotel. The kids and the orchestra left Monday morning for Japan, then Singapore, then Hong Kong; and when the tour ends, his resignation is effective Nov. 1, after 17 years with them, and they fly back to NZ.

Bob and I have an apartment on campus, with all new appliances, though instructions are in Korean, and we haven't used the rice cooker, or the stove much (no pans or can opener), and the front-loading washer across the hall is hard to figure out. We've missed a few times, but have figured out how to get cold water and gentle spin, but it also dries, and one setting seems to end with damp clothes not dried (though we have a rack in the apartment), and the next one up seems to leave them quite hot and wrinkled. We generally eat dinner in the cafeteria, where we get a fair variety besides the brown rice with beans in it and the white rice. Breakfasts and suppers are easy in our room, with fruit, toast, dry cereal, and soymilk. The latter is very good, made at the SDA food factory. Dry cereal is available from a Costco not far away and from a HomePlus (another big warehouse store but with single items). These things were all unavailable, as was any bread we didn't make ourselves, 40-50 years ago. Now we can buy just about anything here.

It also has become the most wired country--Internet access, wireless, almost anywhere; cell phones, more per capita than any other country, just about everyone on the subway wearing ear buds. Growth is unbelievable. Our house and the neighbors' have been replaced by big apartment buildings for foreign faculty. Many large buildings are on campus. The gym has an Olympic pool, a bowling alley (which Rilla and Lynn enjoyed and introduced us to), a huge gym floor, exercise equipment of all kinds in several rooms, a pingpong room, and much more. The student center has a cafe, bookstore, etc. The Horticulture building has a greenhouse and more. They are now building the largest building, their third science building. A huge ad building was built since our last visit 4 years ago

Where only missionaries had cars before, now parking space is a problem, as many students and most faculty members have cars. The road from town to the entrance was a one-lane dirt road that washed out every summer in the rainy season; now it is a 6-lane highway, filled with traffic. The road used to take us past rice paddies and thatch-roofed houses into Seoul; now it is surrounded by high-rise apartments and businesses of all kinds. Bob has visited a number of the churches he helped found, with students; they then built small cement-block buildings about the size of Jeanette's living room; now some of those are on their 4th building since then, and are in huge churches with a sanctuary, large fellowship hall and kitchen, rooms for young people, and more. We actually don't get our bearings anywhere because we can't find any familiar landmarks. There was no subway when we were here, but now 7 lines crisscross Seoul and extend out from there quite a way. Ten buses owned by the university shuttle people continuously from campus to the stations just a few miles away, or public buses run also. One magnetic card works for all public transportation, swiping it when entering and exiting, and renewing it as needed at ticket offices (or by machine if we could figure them out).

When we came, the college was a 2-year ministerial training school with about 150 students. It is now a university with several majors, graduate degrees, even doctorates, and almost 6,000 students.

Monday we took the subway out of Seoul to another city where the food factory is. It has grown tremendously, too--begun as a small dairy here on campus, but now a large factory producing 300,000 liters of soymilk a day, plus other fake meat products. After the tour they gave us a nice gift bag of various flavors of soymilk--regular, high-calcium, tropical, strawberry, chocolate, sesame, black bean, etc. All are packaged in little boxes with attached straws, like juice boxes in the States.

We've spent some days just walking around downtown, taking pictures of the high-rise buildings and other interesting spots. (I think most days here I've walked 5-8 miles or so.) We've tried some of the restaurants--many available now, with various ethnic ones too. And there are the ubiquitous chains: Macdonald's, Burger King, KFC, Baskin-Robbins, Coldstone Creamery, and more.

One day last week 3 former students took us and a Korean couple visiting from the States (former students also) to Soeraksang NP in the northeast. I'd always wanted to see it, and Bob was there just once with students many years ago. It is beautiful, with rugged peaks, fall colors, etc. We hiked about 6 miles, I figured, up and down trails. We took a cable car up one high peak. We ate at a very nice park restaurant with a vegetarian buffet. On the way home we stopped for supper about an hour from campus, again with a buffet with a lot of vegetarian food. The men brought a breakfast that we ate in the car after they picked us up at 6:30. Driving was about 3 hours each way. These fellows rented an SUV, paid the gas, arranged for a driver, paid the entrance fees and cable-car tickets, paid for the meals. I'm sure it was all costly.

Last night a retired minister, who studied in the Philippines the year we were there, with his wife took us to dinner. The night before, a pastor who studied under Bob at AU for his doctorate, with his wife took us to another restaurant, and gave us a dress shirt and a silk scarf before we ate; they will also pick us up tomorrow for Bob to preach at their church, and we'll be fed there too. Others have done the same. We actually don't have many suppers in our room.

Last Sabbath we attended an interesting report on conditions in N. Korea.

Today a South African teacher of English here, who has been very friendly and helpful, went downtown with me. She'd taken me last week to a tailor she could recommend as fitting people well (I've had some bad experiences), so I ordered a black cashmere coat and a red alpaca/wool jacket. I went for a fitting today and will pick them up on Monday. She went to have him adjust a coat he'd made her 4 years ago, before she lost quite a bit of weight. Then we shopped for a few gift souvenirs and such, and we ended up at HomePlus, where we got a few food items and I bought a nice washable-wool sweater for about $15 (turtleneck, ribbed knitting, long-sleeved, very soft).

I will be leaving for home next Tuesday. I almost wish I'd planned to stay another week, as there is much more I'd like to see and do. A neighbor wrote that he'd gone into our house and watered the plants and inspected bathrooms and all, and all is fine, no leaks or anything.

Well, that may be more of a report than you wanted to wade through. But it really just scratches the surface.

Love,

M.

Posted by msj 23:43 Comments (1)

More Recent Update

Phone Call

Robert phoned about 9:30 MI time tonight. They were comfortably settled in a motel in Jackson, TN, probably about 5 hours from Collegedale. They'd left the pets a little stressed but settling in. The cats headed for beds, but the dog cried when they left. But they figured the animals would be happier there than in cages with them all weekend.

Bob just phoned from Korea also. This weekend is Chusok, their equivalent of Thanksgiving, when everybody wants to head to their family home. People are being advised not to travel if they don't have to, as trains and such are full, so Bob figures on lying low. His Sunday class is canceled, too.

Posted by msj 18:58 Comments (3)

Update on TX, Etc.

The current perambulations of our clan

Jeanette asked me to update you here on Robert and Kathy. I thought I wouldn't have time for a while, so she said she'd post a brief word, but then I decided to give up on some work I was doing, so here goes.

Robert, Kathy, 1 dog, and 2 cats left Lake Jackson at 2:30 this morning, when they couldn't sleep anyway. Mandatory evacuation for their area was to begin at 8 a.m., and they'd planned to leave at 4:30. He e-mailed me their plans, as I'm their contact person for Dow and family. Then he phoned about 12:30 MI time that they were about 90 minutes from Little Rock. They would go to Kathy's sister's home there, leave the pets, and then drive on until they got too sleepy, stay overnight somewhere, and go on to Collegedale, TN, to visit James and take him camping. Taking their camping gear forced them to leave behind the 4-5 cans of gas they were going to carry on top of the car, remembering the traffic before Rita, but by leaving this early they didn't need it. They hope they will have a house to return to next week. As projected now, Ike is headed straight for their place, and even the National Weather Service calls it "catastrophic."

Bob went to Korea 2 weeks ago, and I promptly got the flu, but I am improving now. Yesterday I made reservations to fly to LAX Oct. 9, attend a concert at Disney Hall that evening (Lyndon's last weekend there, and I've never heard one there, though he's given me tours), and then on the 13th-14th fly with him to SF and Seoul. Beth and the girls plan to get there 4 hours ahead of us, from Wellington. Bob is arranging for a van to pick us up. They will stay in guestrooms at our university for a couple of nights, then move to a downtown hotel when the rest of the Phil arrives to begin its tour of Asia. I will fly home Nov. 4.

They sold their San Marino home, finalized the day before Beth returned to Wellington a couple of weeks ago. Lyndon and the girls had gone earlier, to get them into school. Then a few hours after Beth's return, he flew to Beijing with the NZSO for the Olympics Arts Festival--had a great time, but said he'd tell me more about itwhen he sees me.

Laura is having a great time in Denmark, though she is kept too busy to write. I follow her activities on her Facebook page. She is in Berlin right now, chaperon for a 10th-grade excursion.

I have been helping a 92-year-old woman seminary professor here to prepare her autobiography for publication. I have postponed getting my new compuer set up until I am done with that, so it sits in boxes beside me as I limp along on my failing laptop.

Posted by msj 17:54 Comments (0)

Update on Our Clan

Jeanette asked about us. We're a bit overwhelmed, as usual. I've been working hard on a 92-year-old friend's autobiography. She typed it in 6 weeks on an old manual typewriter. I had it scanned and have been correcting scanner errors and making revisions as she gives them to me. I should have entered it from scratch--so many scanner errors. And my computer keeps having problems, different ones all the time, and I have a new one unpacked on the floor of my study, for 4 weeks now, as I want to get this job done before I maybe can't function at all for a while. I also have now been told that Vista probably won't work with my WordPerfect, which is a dismal thought.'' Working as her agent, I want to get this ready for publication sooner rather than later. Her story needs to be told--45 years of teaching in the seminary, etc.

Bob has had trouble getting his visa, but it finally came yesterday. He had to postpone his flight, now will leave next Wednesday for Seoul and return Dec. 24. It looks as though I will probably go over mid-Oct. with Lyndon, a couple of days ahead of the Phil's Asian tour that starts there. Beth and girls will fly up from Wellington. Then I'll spend a few weeks with Bob there. He has been making arrangements for snowplowing, lawn-mowing, etc.

Beth's family visited about 4 weeks ago, Beth and the girls coming in on a Tuesday night from their visit in Pittsburgh, then Lyndon arriving Friday after flying back to L.A. for concerts in between. Every minutes was busy--shopping for clothes for the girls, picking blueberries and raspberries and peaches, going to Midway to get Lyndon, friends over for potluck after church, more friends for supper that evening, then their departure Sunday morning after a waffle breakfast, a walk in the woods here, and informing each other of estate issues for both families.

Lyndon and the girls returned to Wellington a week ago, and the girls are back in school. Beth flies from LAX tonight. Their house sold yesterday for sure. Beth arrives in NZ Sunday (losing a day), and Lyndon leaves on Monday with the NZSO for the Olympics Arts Festival in Beijing, then returns to L.A. in September. Beth has been meeting this past week at Loma Linda with some colleagues in research from Canada. She's also looking forward to her job as director of research for Mary Potter Hospice in Wellington--she put in 2 weeks before coming to CA, so she could mull over what she'd like to do with it. She's also still on 10% salary with LLU-SN. As soon as they get settled enough, the girls plan to start writing for the Adventist Review's "Kids' View" section.

About 3 weeks ago, Margaret and boys flew to Sacto and picked up a Prius they were buying, visited relatives in Calistoga, then drove to Beth and Lyndon's, where Kevin flew in for the next weekend. While Beth packed household stuff for storage and later shipping, M. entertained the 3 younger kids, and Lyndon took Kevin and Samuel shopping for a new violin for Sam. They got one that all were happy about. Then Kevin flew home, and the other 3 drove home via the Grand Canyon and I don't know what else.

James is still in Collegedale, working on a computer project. Laura is now in Denmark, assistant dean of girls at a boarding academy. She's been there 3-4 weeks and absolutely loves it. If you're on Facebook, find her pictures there.

Paul and Sharon continue as usual, busy again with the start of school right now. He wrote that he will now have 2 classes of freshmen, rather than the one he's usually had, so he's getting pretty well loaded at CMU, plus his pastoral responsibilities.

That's a lot, but it's only a short paragraph about each member of the family--just the way it is. :-)

Madeline

Posted by msj 18:40 Comments (1)

Laura

Plans

You might also be interested to know that Laura, who finished her sophomore year here recently, has returned a couple of weeks ago from 3 1/2 weeks in Hong Kong. A Chinese business teacher here took a class there, taught a course, visited downtown businesses, did sightseeing. She had a wonderful time. In another 10 days or so, she leaves for Denmark, to be a student missionary, assistant dean of girls in a boarding academy there for the school year.

Posted by msj 15:34 Comments (1)

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