Holding on.


It’s been almost a year now since I have updated my blog. I can’t believe how fast that year has gone. Since then Tom and I have traveled Asia, went back to family and friends for a summer in the USA, and moved to Morocco. Whoa.

There are many excuses I could give for not writing. I needed time away, I felt uninspired, I felt stressed with our recent move and in our jobs. The real reason is that life happened.  And I feel like it should.  I haven’t decided if I will write regularly again, but the last couple of weeks I have been really missing writing. Writing for me has always been a way to process and reflect. When we moved abroad to Korea it was a place that I could share our adventures and experiences with friends and family in a convienant way.

The last year of my life has made me stronger. The last six months have been extremely challenging to put it lightly. There have been times I’ve doubted our decision to move to Morocco. When I take a step back and look around it’s then that I realize just how beautiful our life here really is. Morocco has challenged us in ways we find hard to describe. I have sat on my couch sobbing wondering why everything feels so hard here. Then just a  moment later it all comes together or something great happens. When we left Korea we so desperately yearned to FEEL something. We wanted a culture where people felt PASSIONATE. Where people told you how they felt instead of keeping it all inside. We desired to be challenged in the work place and we were seeking a place where people truly wore their emotions on their sleeve. Morocco, is all of this ,and more. I have never lived in a more openly passionate place. From the daily interactions between people, the driving, the food. Everything feels like it’s lived just a bit more loudly here in Morocco.

We should have known what was coming, but as Tom always says “you don’t know what you don’t know.” The first five months in Morocco tested our patience (mine more than Tom), our perseverance, and my sanity.  Just last week was a perfect example of Morocco summed up exactly for me. I had a mother SCREAM at me in a parent teacher meeting like I have never encountered before (remember, I said passion.) and then the next day she sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers to my classroom.

Morocco, has shown me that there is beauty in the little things like endless amounts of sunshine, ridiculously cheap and delicious produce, and silent moments by the ocean. Mostly, it’s taught me how to love through the hard. Loving is easy when life is good, but what about when it all seems to be falling apart? The hugs from my amazing first graders, the guardian at our old apartment, the young guys who worked at our favorite fruit stand, my incredible husband who I DAILY thank God for. Friends, who love me at my absolute worst. A church to call home.

When I am able to still my mind I think about how whenever I haven’t been happy in life that I’ve always “fixed” it. If I was unhappy in a job- I left. If I was unhappy with a place- I moved. But, maybe there is something to be said about holding on when all you want to do is let go. Maybe there is something to be said about plowing through. Sticking it out. Maybe the person that needed to grow… was me.

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Leaning Forward.

English winter camp is finished for the day. The screams and chatter of the students fade out as they trickle out the door to head home. After cleaning up the fun we’ve had at camp from our baking soda and vinegar food color explosions I am left with some time at my desk to just “think.” The silence brings clarity when there is so much noise in my head. I have time to write, read, plan, and dream. Being in Korea has given us so many beautiful gifts. Some of which we may never have again. As our time here draws to a close  I am left with an abundance of thoughts/emotions swirling in my head.

Thoughts of our very first journey as a married couple moving abroad bags packed.Saying Goodbyes. Relying on each other. A new country, continent, new friends, and new jobs. New food, a change of pace, and a new life together. My oh my, what a journey it has been. We’ve grown in ways that I never could have imagined and although our life looks quite different than many of our friends back home- I think I can speak for both of us that we wouldn’t want it any other way. For me, when it comes to making choices  I have always been a quick decision maker. I stand by my decisions and I JUMP OFF THAT LEDGE. I leap, because I crave that leap. I thrive in the unknown. When a place becomes comfortable- I get antsy and seek new adventures. When the balance creeps in I begin to crave  the “off balance” again in my life. Tom, the logic to my crazy, brings me back down to Earth & evaluates our next steps logically. We both feel our time here in Korea has been complete. So it’s probably not surprising we are off onto a new adventure again very soon.

Trying to sum up all that South Korea has given us can be quite the challenge, trying to convey it in one blog post is nearly impossible. Trying to break up two years of your life in a few bullet points just doesn’t do it justice, but let me try my best, because it’s important that I share this.

Time- Time for ourselves, time together, time to explore  the heck out of Asia! Our recent vacations to Vietnam and Cambodia will mark our 7th and 8th country we have visited together during our almost 21 months here. Close proximity to Southeast Asia & cheap flights have allowed us to get out and explore the world. We have this little thing called time that I’ve never felt like I had before… and we’ve embraced it with open arms.

Korean Kindness- This is a for real thing, and besides Fiji, there is no place in the world I have better experienced it. Koreans, although often timid at first, have the biggest of hearts. They often go well out of their way to help a stranger. Not speaking the language in a country can be extremely intimidating upon arrival, but Koreans make it so easy to fall in love with this place. This is something that can be easily overlooked after two years here, but in the beginning so many small acts of kindness helped us get through the hard days.

New perspective– Although this might sound strange- being away from the holiday hype in the states can be refreshing. Do we miss family time and traditions? Absolutely. BUT being away from the holiday craze really helped us to focus on the importance of what each holiday meant to us, and create our own meaningful traditions together.

Our Foundation -Sure, we could have built a solid foundation for our marriage in the states like many do. For us, for our journey in marriage, living abroad was just what we needed. You quickly see what someone is made of when travel plans go astray, communication with coworkers and the community around you is limited (if even possible at all!)  You learn how to work together because you have no other choice. When you get in a disagreement with your spouse where are you gonna go? Well I will tell you where you’re gonna go & the answer is that you’re going nowhere!!! BUT FOR real. You can’t run to your favorite place down the road or run to Target to shop. You can’t pick up the phone and call your best friend or your mom. You’re forced to face the facts, communicate, and work together.

Simplicity- When you have your entire life in a few suitcases- life becomes simple real FAST. You realize you don’t need a lot to be happy. You live simply, think simply, and you save your money to become debt free, travel, and for your savings account. Suddenly that couch on the corner of the street that is in perfect condition looks a lot more appealing than it ever would have before. AND you’re proud of it. Korea has shown and reminded us that “stuff” doesn’t make you happy, people do, memories do, and that couch on the side of the road for free will do ya just fine.

Charades- This one is sorta just for fun, but it must be included because it’s truly our life here. We’ve lived in what those in Seoul would call rural Korea & because of it we’ve gotten really really good at acting/charades. Imagine me miming having to pee, trying to act out the word “NO” (arms across chest in an X shape) and also miming sitting in a chair trying to explain to the students “sit down” – and now you know how I spend my days.

As we begin to say goodbye to Korea we start a new chapter in our lives together. Pausing for reflection helps me remember to thank God for every moment here on Earth to experience this life with my husband.

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Market Madness// Can Cau, Northern Vietnam.

Day three of our trek ended here. At the Can Cau market in Northern Vietnam.

I love that each photo truly captures the madness of it. I’ve spent some time just looking at each of these photos because each person in the photo has a different story to tell. Each is doing their own thing at the moment the photo was taken. Water Buffalo being sold, chickens, birds, pigs, dogs. You could find it all at the market here. Many of the villagers walked for kilometers (or miles if you’re from the states) to this market that took place once a week. Today was the big day for them whether buyer or seller this is where it all went down. The freshest of food could be found here as well as spices, household items, jewelry, and clothing. Everything you needed you could find right at this very market. Babies, moms, kids, dads, grandma, and grandpa. Every age on the spectrum was found here and each had a specific role to play at the market. I was mesmerized by the colors and the outfits all together in one place. It had a flow to it and like other places we had visited in Vietnam- you either join the chaos or get out!

We were told if we were lucky we would witness a bull fight between the water buffalo. Well, not long after strolling down to look at animal section at the market– sure enough, we witnessed two bulls going head to head. I was glad to be witnessing from the hill above rather than just beside them below. I wondered why they seemed to be urging the bulls to fight if this animal is the most prized possession these people own. I figured they wouldn’t want their livestock getting injured. I considered asking, but the fight didn’t last long and it appeared both bulls walked away uninjured!

I loved the intricate embroidery on each baby carrier, apron, cloth, blanket, skirt, hat, and other clothing items. The bright colors made it quite easy to see why these native people are called the Flower Hmong tribe. The food was ridiculously delicious. There’s just something about sitting down and taking it all in from a little wooden bench while filling your stomach with this delectable homemade dish in the middle of he mountains in Vietnam. I could have stayed all day and just watched the market madness…

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buffalo belowwww.

buffalo belowwww.

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breakfast.

breakfast.

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bull fight.

bull fight.

mmmmm

snapped from my iphone.

snapped from my iphone.

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