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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Full Passport... happy traveler!!

Can you believe that in 4 years of living abroad (plus that one summer I played around in Europe), I completely filled up an entire passport?!  This coming from the girl who lived in the same house for 21 years and spent every summer traveling to the glorious state of Alabama!  Yes, Alabama. Who knew I'd have the chance to hop around the world one day!  I am blessed... and my life has changed with each of these stamps!

“Travel brings power and love back into your life.” 

I actually spent all of Monday morning and afternoon on the KTX train to Seoul and back to visit the US Embassy, where I had to add extra pages to my passport.  Apparently Indonesia requires 2 full pages for their stamps and visas and I wasn't all that interested in getting immediately deported upon arrival for having a full passport!   Fun part was I happened to be at the Embassy on the same day that the new woman Korean president was moving into the Blue House and there were all sorts of US big wigs with their bodyguards roaming the premises!  Quite an exciting day to add passport pages!  Plenty of people watching to go around! :)

The joy of giving!

So, about a week ago, I was reading a blog post written by a fellow American blogger named Kristi, who's living in Korea with her husband and two little boys. She and her sons had baked homemade sugar cookies for some of the local store owners where they regularly shop and went around with the boys handing them out as a small gesture to thank the workers for always loving on the boys and making her shopping experiences more fulfilling!  I loved the idea and told her I was gonna do it as well, as a farewell to some of my favorite people in the neighborhood!

So, last Friday, I baked about 40 sugar cookies, packaged them up in some clear gift wrap bags and tied them with some pretty ribbon.  Then, Aaron and I headed out into the neighborhood. We started by visiting the 24 hour family owned convenience store on our corner where "mom" and "dad" (as they ask me to call them), were working.  They always have 1 diet coke stocked just for ME because I asked them to carry it a  long long time ago!  They love when Aaron and I come in, which is about once a day, and always seem to show us off to any of their friends who happen to come in while we're there! It's pretty adorable and makes us feel really loved. 

Their grandson is in the store sometimes and he calls me Emo, which translates as Aunt!  
I <3 it, and I <3 him!  He's so spoiled. I'm sure he probably got to eat ALL of the cookies!

Next stop was CHAM, our favorite restaurant!  While I don't know either of these two's names, I do know they are sisters and they own the restaurant.  They can't speak a lick of English, but I wrote them a card, completely in English, about how much Aaron and I have loved coming to their restaurant and seeing their smiling faces and how we love that they always know what we want to order, etc!  I wrote our names down at the bottom in English and in Korean and the one on the left said, "Oh, Aaron Jill!"  She was so excited to finally find out our names and was touched when she read that I had written "사랑해요"  (which means I love you!)  I'm sure one of their daughters can translate the rest of the card for them. :) I was worried whether or not they would like the cookies, but they opened the bag right up and chomped away, telling me they were "mashiso" (delicious!)  YAY!

Next stop was our dry cleaner, but his shop was closed!  SAD! ... So, we headed over to Serry and Emo's!  We couldn't just give Emo the cookies.  She's too special to just get cookies, so I had a couple photos printed of us and framed them as a goodbye gift.  She was sooo touched and kept saying that they were so beautiful.  Serry was right next to her barking for a cookie!  She's so darn smart!

We love Emo and are so blessed to have met her and Serry. She never ceases to amaze us with her generosity!  Literally, every time we come to see her and Serry she offers us a drink from her shop; sometimes even insisting that we stay and have some fruit or a full dinner with her!  I thought this would be the last time we saw her, but she insisted that we come back one last time, which we did today, and I cried like a baby saying goodbye to her and Serry!  It was the first time I had cried about leaving someone in Korea and it was obvious to her how special she is to us.  She was very touched and hugged me like a mom would.  She's just the best!        

Thanks for the cookie idea Kristi!  It went over really well and it gave us a chance to show our appreciation to some of our favorite neighborhood store owners and a chance to say goodbye one last time.

*** As I write this, I'm currently laying in bed, for the last time in my apartment in Korea.  It's weird, a bit surreal, and exciting all at once.  Tomorrow at this time, I'll be in Hong Kong somewhere, exploring the city with A.... and so the adventure begins!  Thanks for 4 UNBELIEVABLE YEARS Korea!

My husband is awesome!

There are so many reasons why Aaron is awesome, but today, I'm gonna focus on something that recently happened that made me so proud of him!  About 3 months back, Aaron was contacted by the General Manager of the brand new Park Hyatt Marine City Hotel, in Busan, and asked to submit photographs of landmarks in Busan. They needed the photos immediately, so Aaron went out right away and took the most stunning photos of 4 of Busan's most famous landmarks: Beomeosa Temple, the Gwangan Bridge, Yonggungsa Temple on the water and Seokbulsa Temple.  The Hotel's GM was over the moon when Aaorn submitted the photos and they were quickly approved by the big wigs at the headquarter in America and Aaron was promptly sent a hefty check for his work... enough to possibly pay for our entire 3 month US road trip!  Thank you Jesus for this opportunity!  We were given a box full of items that Aaron's photos have been printed on for us to keep as souvenirs!   I love these postcards, which are for sale in the gift shop as well as being placed on each bed after it's been made for the day:

His photo of the Gwangan Bridge is printed on EVERY SINGLE room key!

This book is placed in every hotel room and gives a rundown on all that hotel has to offer. All 4 of Aaron's photos are featured in this book... as the front of each section!

Even the cards in the gift shop have Aaron's photo on them!

His photo is even featured on the front of the room service breakfast menu!

And last but not least, his photo is printed on the gift bags that will be handed to any and every customer who buys something from the hotel! 

  I am soooo proud of Aaron!  He works so hard to learn about and perfect his photography skills!  This just goes to show that I'm not crazy when I say he takes AWESOME pictures... this is just proof! :)
Congratulations A!   I'm proud of you.