A Year in Review

It has been a crazy twelve months, filled with new adventures, new places, new struggles, and new joys.  It’s easy to forget the many examples of God’s refining love being poured on our lives throughout the year.  So we’ll use this space to remind ourselves, as much as you, of His goodness towards us in 2015. On a very cold Valentine’s Day morning at the KCI airport, these two youngsters said our goodbyes and headed to our new home: South Korea. Our reasons for moving were many. We wanted to get involved in a ministry overseas.  We wanted to teach ESL.  Finally, we wanted get first-hand experience with the struggles of daily living overseas. Thus far, it has certainly been a challenging experience. But this has been, without a doubt, the most growing year of our lives.


Leaving for Korea!

Our town is the tiny farming community of Waegwan.  So obscure, Google seemed reluctant to provide us with any information when we first got here.  We teach at four schools. Hannah teaches at a public middle school, and a private boys Catholic middle school. Brady teaches at a public elementary school and a tiny country school outside of town. Life as a foreign English teacher (“Waygook”) is never dull!  Each day in Korea brings new life lessons. Managing a classroom of 30 hooligans who don’t speak your language–and REALLY don’t want to learn it–is a lesson in creativity.  Taste-testing traditional Korean delights–sometimes voluntary, often-times forced–is a lesson in open-mindedness.  Being the only foreigner in your workplace–trying to read memos in Korean, navigate Microsoft programs in Korean, laughing at office jokes in Korean–is a lesson in patience.  Just navigating daily life as the foreigner–figuring out the public transportation systems, paying bills, finding frozen chicken at the grocery store, using a squatty potty and never having toilet paper in public bathrooms–is lesson in humility.



Hannah’s middle school boys

One of our favorite memories of the year was meeting Hannah’s brother Josiah for a Thailand summer vacation!  Our experience in Thailand was incredible.  From jungle trekking with elephants, to snorkeling on coral reefs, to climbing waterfalls, to cuddling tigers, and eating tons of street food, we couldn’t have asked for a better experience.


With Josiah in Thailand!


At year end, we can honestly say life abroad has been an incredible adventure.  We’ve been given so many new experiences. Through His gentle guiding, we’ve gained clarity this year on the passions and skills He’s given us.  More than anything, we’ve gained passion for life abroad, and can’t wait to continue our pursuit of overseas ministry. We are so excited for this new year, and the potential each day brings. We’ll miss our Kimchi family, we’re thankful for the blessing our time here has been.


These past few months, we’ve been preparing for a new phase of life abroad.  In March 2016, we are setting out on a 2-month hike-a-thon across the length of Israel.  Raising money for Samaritan’s Purse water initiatives, we are raising awareness for the global water crisis. We can’t wait to grow in compassion for those who spiritually and physically thirst. If you’re interested in supporting the cause, you can learn more here!


We are warm with thankfulness for supportive family, encouraging friends, and our loving Savior.  Many blessings to you this holiday season.

All our love,

B & H


5 Best Things About Korean Food Service

As we prepared to move here last year, whispers of Korea’s innovative dining experience had drifted across the ocean.  However, the full extent of the creativity and convenience behind Korean food service cannot be understood outside of first-hand experience.  To give you a taste, here are five things that have impressed us about food service in Korea:

Call Buttons

Almost every restaurant table has a nifty call button to alert your waiter if you need something! Sometimes, there are even multiple buttons requesting different services (food order, more beer, more water, bill, etc.). call buttonThemed Cafes

Korea has a huge variety of themed cafes!  Mostly located in and around Seoul, these cafes offer a large range of entertainment, from animal snuggles to Lego building to photography practice.

Here are some examples:

||Cat Cafes||

cat cafe

For around $8, visitors can purchase a coffee and spend the afternoon snuggling with felines.

||Sheep Cafes||

sheep cafe

Same idea, minus cats, plus sheep.

||Hello Kitty Cafe||

hello kitty 2

Perhaps the most iconic cafe in all Korea, Hello Kitty Cafe is on almost every Seoul tourist’s bucket list.

||Photography Cafes||

photography cafe

Cafe’ra in Incheon offers a unique experience for aspiring photographers. Customers who bring their personal DSLR cameras are allowed access to the cafe’s wide array of lenses to try out in the shop! All this while sipping away on a caramel macchiato.

“Service” = Free Stuff!

Often times restaurants, as well many stores, will add complementary items to a customer’s original order.  For example, we purchased pizza the other day and were given a 2 liter of Coke for free.  At a coffee shop sometimes you get lucky and the owner gives you a free pastry to go with your coffee!  You never know when it will happen, but you will find yourself automatically and perpetually fist-pumping the air when it does!

Fast Food Delivery

Just when you thought fast food chains’ low prices and huge servings couldn’t get any more dangerous or tempting!  Almost all fast food chains deliver here in Korea!  With no additional charge, McDonald’s offers “McDelivery” to almost any location.  It doesn’t even have to be your apartment!  Taking a stroll through the park, you often see a family setting up the picnic blankets on the grass, waiting for the McDonald’s delivery bike to bring their feast.


No Tipping

Last, but not least, is the total lack of tipping in Korea!  Although this aspect is not exclusive to the country, as an American, no tipping has made life a lot simpler.  Also, sales tax is built into the menu price.  So, what the menu says is what you pay, that simple.

What are some of your favorite service experiences from travels abroad?

Hiking Mt. Geumosan

We count ourselves lucky to be located in Gyeongbuk, agreed to be Korea’s most naturally beautiful and historically rich province.  So far, our experience has already provided us many opportunities to partake in Korea’s scenic splendor, one of these opportunities being Geumosan Provincial Park.

Located on the west side of the city of Gumi, Mt. Geumosan is the perfect weekend getaway for any outdoorsman.  The park offers many trails of varying difficulty and duration.  Not only are there natural beauties, such as gorgeous panoramic views, caves, waterfalls, and unique rock formations, but also several different historic fortresses and Buddhist temples sprinkled along the way.  We’ve visited the park twice in our short time in Korea, and have only scratched the surface of all the beauty to be found at Mt. Geumosan.

IMG_9401 IMG_9404

There are these cairns everywhere along the trails in Korea.  Each stone represents a prayer or wish for good fortune from Buddha.

There are these cairns everywhere along the trails in Korea. Each stone represents a prayer or wish for good fortune from Buddha.

Found a little abandoned mountain dwelling.

Found a little abandoned mountain dwelling.

Going hiking where all the trail markings are in a foreign language adds a whole new dimension to the challenge!

Going hiking where all the trail markings are in a foreign language adds a whole new dimension to the challenge!

Daehye Falls ( 대혜폭포 )

Daehye Falls ( 대혜폭포 )

From the mouth of a cave at the top of the trail.

From the mouth of a cave at the top of the trail.

Historic Geumosanseong Fortress (금오산성)

Historic Geumosanseong Fortress (금오산성)

From inside the fortress.

From inside the fortress.

Geumosanseong Fortress (금오산성)

Geumosanseong Fortress (금오산성)

Yaksaam Temple (약사암)

Yaksaam Temple (약사암)

Yaksaam Temple (약사암)

Yaksaam Temple (약사암)


Always keep your eyes open for pretty little hanok pavilions tucked away in the mountains.

Always keep your eyes open for pretty little hanok pavilions tucked away in the mountains.

Such a rewarding view at the top!

Such a rewarding view at the top!

Surveying our fine valley.

Surveying our fine valley.

I am a Middle School Teacher

So we’ve officially been in our new city for three weeks! And during this time, I’ve done a terrible job keeping up a flow of updates.  Sorry about that.  It seems that, for the past couple of weeks, it has been success enough to continue adjusting to a foreign land.  After work, we barely have enough energy to walk two blocks to our neighborhood market to pick up bread, let alone process into words every change our lives have undergone these last few weeks.  But I think we can finally say we are adjusted to the reality that we aren’t going home next week after a lovely Asian vacation.  We are here to stay.  This is our new “home.”  At least until the next grand adventure. 

My primary middle school!

My primary middle school!

So, I’m a teacher.  Two years ago, I would have never guessed that every week, I would be standing at the front of a classroom, teaching over 600 students who barely speak my language.  Each day requires every ounce of my creativity, as I am continuously searching out successful methods to communicate to a bunch of angsty teens who’d rather be listening to E.X.O. or beating LoL than playing bingo with English vocabulary words.

And I absolutely love it.

Each week I teach at two middle schools in our little town.  My primary school is the local public middle school.  Here I teach 15 different classes of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders.  My classes emphasize the listening and speaking aspects of language.  The students are a wide range of completely dedicated to completely uninterested, completely crazy ( I get an average of around twenty TEACHER WILL YOU MARRY ME’s a day), and completely adorable ( I had one sweet little boy bashfully admit to me he liked to sing, and then not-so-bashfully break into a ballad for the whole class to hear!).

My adorable seventh graders!

My adorable seventh graders!

My secondary school is an all-boys Catholic school.  A little bit of a shock here, as I wasn’t told it was all-boys, and discovered this forgotten detail the minute I walked into my first class.  I quickly adjusted to the 40 pairs of little eyes staring at me, and pulled out my feeble knowledge of popular Kpop girl bands!  Apink, you saved my skin, as my boys have officially given me the stamp of approval, after I let them each take turns saying which girl in the band they thought was prettiest. 

The native teachers at each school have been so welcoming to me, and I am already making good friends with the sweet gray-haired history teacher who sits next to me in the teacher’s office.  We enjoy using Google images to help communicate back and forth about various subjects (Last week, he pointed to the computer screen and proudly exclaimed: “Jimmy Carter! Handsome boy! Favorite president!”).  Several times a week we will end the day with one of the teachers running out to get a big box of food from a neighboring street vendor.  We’ll gather around the little table, break out the disposable chopsticks, and commune together over deep-fried squid, marinated rice cakes, and Sundae (rice noodles cooked in pork blood, stuffed into a pig intestine).

My co-workers are incredible! We may not speak the same language, but their kindness is evidenced every day by sweet little gifts and welcoming smiles.

My co-workers are incredible! We may not speak the same language, but their kindness is evidenced every day by sweet little gifts and welcoming smiles.

Brady teaches at two elementary schools.  His primary school is on the other side of the road from mine, allowing us to walk to and from school together every day.  DREAM COME TRUE.  I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to see my sweet husband’s silhouette coming up the sidewalk to pick me up after class, and walk side by side with him home, sharing the funny things our students did that day.

Brady has had an awesome experience so far.  I always knew he would be the perfect elementary teacher!  He is excited to start incorporating his passion for art into his classroom, encouraging the kids to make their English endeavors artistically creative.  Being young and cute and innocent, Brady’s students love to sing every day in class, and are extremely affectionate and helpful (He told me today that he tried to make them play a competitive game in class, dividing the kids into teams.  The students refused to let anyone lose, and every winner stopped to help the struggling students finish the task!). 

Well, lesson planning is calling my name, so this teacher better hit the books before heading to bed.

Becoming Expats

I can’t believe we’ve already been in our new country for two weeks!  The time has flown by, and we’ve hardly had a chance to recognize each transition, as they’ve all come at break-neck speed.  We are quickly adjusting to the fact that we are not tourists cheerfully observing a new culture with the comfort of a roundtrip ticket in our back pocket.  We are expats, embracing the reality that this is now home.  And so far, we couldn’t be happier about it!

EPIK Teacher Orientation

The past nine days, we have been located at a university campus in Deajeon, where we have survived a grueling yet rewarding teacher training orientation.  Every new public school English teacher in Korea must go through intensive training put on by the National Institute for International Education (NIIED). The English Program in Korea, commonly known as EPIK, is well known for its high standards for teacher applicants, and excellence and proficiency in training and implementing those teachers in the Korean public school system.  Our orientation affirmed our expectations in the program.  We have come out filled with practical teaching knowledge, a broad network of experienced support staff, and dozens of fellow foreign teacher friends!


2015 Spring EPIK Orientation

Jeonju Hanok Village (전주한옥마을)

On one of the days we were given a break from the brutal lecture schedule and explored a traditional Korean village: Jeonju Hanok Village.  With over a thousand-year-old history, Jeonju Hanok Village has so many interesting aspects of Korean culture to offer.  Below are just a few:

Bibimbap (비빔밥):  Jeonju is famous nation-wide for its Bibimbap!  This traditional Korean dish is served as a bowl of hot rice mixed with “namul” (sautéed vegetables) raw or fried egg, flavored with either soy sauce, “doenjang” (soybean paste), or “gochujang” (chili pepper paste).

Bibimbap (비빔밥)

Bibimbap (비빔밥)

Hanok (한옥):  Hanok traditional style Korean homes are easily identified by their beautiful upturned roofs (“Cheoma”).  Hanok homes are where Korea’s famous “Ondol” heated floor system originated.  Even in historic times, Koreans were environmentally conscious and built their Hanok homes with all-natural, recyclable, nonpolluting materials.  The Cheoma roofs can be adjusted to control exposure to sunlight inside the home, and the “Hanji” (paper) windows allow air to circulate.

Hanok Traditional Korean Homes

Hanok Traditional Korean Homes

Hanok architectere is easily identified by the upturned corners of the roof.

Hanok architectere is easily identified by the upturned corners of the roof.

Jeondong Catholic Church (전동성당):  Built in 1908-1914, Jeondong Catholic Church stands as a memorial marking the spot of the first Korean Christian martyrs: Yun Chi’-ch’ung and Kwon Sang-yon in 1781.  Jeonju city is the historic seat of the Joseon Dynasty.  Christian faith was then seen as a threat to the state established Confucian system.  In 1801, several prominent leaders of the early Christian church were also executed on this spot.  It is said that the cornerstones used to build the church were stones taken from the very gate the martyrs were hung from.

Jeondong Catholic Church, memorial to Christian martyrs of Korea.

Jeondong Catholic Church, memorial to Christian martyrs of Korea.

The Philosophy of Taekwondo

On a separate day, we were lucky enough to take a class on the Philosophy of Taekwondo from a Korean university Taekwondo master instructor!  For two hours, the gym was a chaotic throng of struggling Westerners attempting basic stances and kicks, peppered with the instructor’s laughter at our clumsiness!

10981060_714386355349404_7043435370552720178_o 11000631_715186351936071_3036017485126533390_o

I thinks that’s all I have time for tonight!  Next I will give an update on our first few days discovering the city we will be teaching in and our new apartment!

Thank you all for following along and keeping us in your prayers!

Discovering Hongdae

Tonight I’m cozying it up in a cheerful coffee shop in Seoul, husband by my side, celebrating the end of a successful first few days in Korea! The week has been non-stop, and we can feel the toll of the extreme transition we’ve endured starting to wear on us.  For the most part, we’ve been pretty good at fighting the desire to lock the door, pull on the sweats, curl into the fetal position, and succumb to hibernation.  It hasn’t been hard to stay active, now that we find ourselves in the middle of one of the world’s most vibrant cities!      

Every morning, we wake up to the distant drone of a stereo outside in the alley by our guest house, blaring some recorded announcement.  It’s the same four or five-word phrase, over and over.  I wish I knew what it was saying, it’s obviously pretty important for them to play it so often.  And at seven in the morning, I also wish I knew how to turn it off!

After this harsh wake-up call, we stumble downstairs to the main floor of the guest house for our complimentary toast.  I always try to make some friendly conversation with fellow guest-house visitors.  However, we have yet to find other foreigners who speak any English.  Even though we’re in the capital city, success at finding English speakers has been a challenge, and has required us to hone our survival Korean language skills. 

We have quickly fallen in love with Seoul, and are becoming familiar with the vibrant neighborhood surrounding us.  Hongdae is a trendy and diverse corner of the city, filled with some of the country’s current leading music, art, food, and fashion.  It would take a lifetime to uncover all the treasures Hongdae has to offer.  I will offer you a peak at just a few:

Street Food

Around 11am every morning, vendors begin to open their shop fronts, turn on the burners, and send a tantalizingly delicious and diverse array of smells wafting across the bustling street.  Street food has always been one of my top favorite experiences of exploring a new culture, and Korea and not disappointed!

A blueberry

A blueberry “Long-ffle” from the Long Waffle stand! According to a local, if a couple can hold a kiss for three minutes solid, they are awarded a free waffle! We held onto our dignity and paid in cash.



Cat and Dog Cafes

Hongdae is home to several adorable animal cafes designed to provide animal therapy to any traveler in need of a snuggle buddy!  At Hello Cat! Cafe, guests are provided with a wide variety of coffee beverages, to pair with their choice of furry friend.  Needless to say, it was easy to while away an entire afternoon in the company of a dozen kittens curled up on your lap!

For the small price of 2000 won, you can purchase packaged meat-like product, and thus the affection of of every feline in the room!

For the small price of 2000 won, you can purchase packaged meat-like product, and thus the affection of of every feline in the room!

Cats have a thing for my husband.

Cats have a thing for my husband.

Napping kitties for days.

Napping kitties for days.

Street Art

We are careful to always keep our eyes peeled for interesting art around the city.  Whether it’s with an interactive 2D mural, a blank canvas outside a coffee shop with pastels at the ready for the passerby’s use, or a staircase in a back alley splattered with a colorful design, Hongdae’s artist community has done its part in keeping the neighborhood beautiful. 

15397_10155252858525343_644985590440071174_n 10383503_10153056030992920_8759463049349533204_n IMG_6586


Ahhhh!!! The fashion here is everything I love!  When my husband kept remarking on how much I would enjoy window shopping in SK, I was a little skeptical.  All my concern floated away the first time I strolled down one of the main streets strewn with open-front clothing boutiques.  My audible squeals of joy and thanksgiving could be heard by all when I found my first Korean second-hand, thick, baggy sweater shop!  As my finger-tips stroked the long rack of gloriously chunky patterned works of art, I knew I was going to be okay in this new home of mine!


Coffee shop is closing, and it’s a ten minute walk through the bustling crowds and crisp night air back to the guest house.  Goodnight from a very happy, sleepy traveler!

Thanks for letting me join your linkup party Mari’s World!

A New Chapter

This morning finds us sleep deprived, scatter-brained, nervous, and expectant.  Today is the beginning of a new adventure.

I can’t remember the last time I felt such sweet victory.  It worked. We did it. This is really happening.  After twelve months of intense dedication, we can now safely say that we have achieved a long-anticipated dream.

For anyone who might not know, today Brady and I are moving to South Korea.  We have spent the past year jumping through the hoops required of prospective expats: earning ESL teaching certificates, selling/giving/throwing away our possessions, quitting our jobs, selling our cars, giving away our cat, all the while stumbling through an endless maze of government paperwork.  There were so many days where we looked at each other and laughed, saying, “you know, it’ll be crazy if this actually works.”  But it did.  The bags are packed.  The paperwork is complete.   The goodbyes have been said.  The flight will soon be boarding.