Christmas Letter 2012!

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Merry Christmas Friends and Family!

We have had some big changes this year!  At the beginning of last year, we were still unsure of what this year would entail.  Things didn’t work out exactly as planned, but when do they ever?  We didn’t get to start teaching last February so we had to go through the tedious paperwork process twice.  After such a long time of preparing and waiting, God opened up a door to start teaching in South Korea in August.

Looking back it was perfect timing.  We got to celebrate my (Sandra) Granny’s 80th birthday twice! The first celebration was at New Years, then again on her real birthday in March.  We were blessed to spend another summer in Branson!  Our days were spent soaking up the sun playing disc golf, kayaking, playing tennis, going to the lake, and biking.  After a fun day in the sun, we got to go “play” at work.  Our job at Dixie Stampede was quite the blessing.  It was an evening job and allowed us to spend all day together and then work in a really fun environment.

Closing our Branson chapter was bittersweet.  We know we didn’t want to stay there forever but we had a blast throughout college and our first year of marriage.  By staying in the States until August, we also got to meet two precious little girls who were born in 2012; Evelyn Claire Jensen, daughter of Sandra’s cousin Kevin and his wife Andrea, and Nora Lynn Jackson, Sandra’s best friend Kristin and her husband Chris.  We also got to witness and be a part of several weddings that happened in 2012: Aaron and Carolyn Clark, Jared and Lisa Johnson, Daniel and Carmen Meeker, Mike and Ann Mislang, Jeremiah and Mandy Jones, and Austin and Lindsey Sailors.  All in all, we know it was the Lord’s perfect timing, not ours.

Now, onto the door that finally opened up.  We interviewed with Piggy, a director of a private after school English academy in Seosan, South Korea, in April.  We knew from our first conversation with Piggy that this was the job we had been waiting for.  Piggy was so personable and spent more time asking us about our hobbies than interviewing us.   From April until our departure in August, we had so many preparations and had to tie up all loose ends in the States.  Finally, August 17th came around and we jumped on a jet in Wichita, KS and began our 20+hour trek to our new home.

The flight was so long and we spent a lot of it trying to sleep.  Once getting to Korea, it was a whirlwind of adjustment while fighting jetlag.  We probably weren’t fully back to our normal selves until the first month was over.  We have adapted fairly well now 4 months into our year long contract. However, we have hardly scratched the surface in learning the language.  We have said our transition has been so much easier because we are experiencing everything with our best friend (each other).  Now that we mention friends, the first couple months we were pretty friendless but in the last month or so we have made a lot of progress in finding a good group (other foreigners mostly).  We even hosted a Christmas party and had over 20 attendees.

Before we came we always got the question, “How are you going to teach kids who speak another language?”  We never really had an answer but now we can say it is a BIG challenge.  We’ve begun to realize, it is hard to get respect when the kids know they can say almost anything they want and we will have no idea what they’re saying.   We had no clue how hard it would really be, but our Super Boss Piggy has been a huge help along the way.   We find ourselves daily trying to teach and love the students out of our own strength and not the Lord’s.  It can be discouraging and exhausting.  Another thing to adjust to was our loss of independence.  Now, we need help with almost everything we do for the first or second time.  For example, fixing the breaks on our scooter, buying mountain bikes, ordering things online, buying plane tickets, going to the bank, ordering at restaurants, and the list goes on.  It has been very humbling to ask for help, which we are terrible at but are trying to improve.  Finding a church has been another challenge.  Coming over here we were excited to see Christianity in another culture.   However, we have begun to notice how attached we are to worshiping God in a way that is comfortable to us.  We have spent a lot of time wrestling with our place here in the church.

Finally, we will leave you with just a taste of the many upsides.  We have loved seeing and experiencing a new culture!  There are always so many new and interesting things to see, do, and get used to: eating at restaurants on the floor, acquiring the taste for kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage), going to a jinjubog (a Korean bathhouse), shopping at the local market and even the grocery store,  etc.  There are so many quirks to get used to and funny encounters we’ve had.  We can honestly say we’ve had a blast despite the many challenges.

We are also able to do some traveling on this side of the world that we may not have done otherwise.  Tomorrow (December 23rd) we will head out to Vietnam for a weeklong Christmas vacation.  We have some friends that went to college with us who are teaching here as well.  They live in another city but we have gotten together a few times and they make great travel buddies!  It will be a different Christmas spending it in a tropical place without our family but since we’ve been here the only constant has been change.   The holidays have given us some homesick pangs but we are so comforted and blessed that almost everyone is only an e-mail, facebook message, or skype date away.  Know that even though we can’t be with you physically, the Lord gives us power to defy all geographical bounds and connects us through our thoughts and prayers.

We love you all and pray this special time of year is abundant with joy, celebration, peace, rejuvenation, and reflection on the miraculous birth of our Savior!  MERRY CHRISTMAS

In His love and grace,

Ethan and Sandra Lagerquist

 

 

 

 

Here are some pictures from our Christmas party we held on December 15th:

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We work with Brad and this is his wife Vicky.  Underneath, is Piggy and family Mr. Lim, Leah and Leon.
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This is Nam Ha and his wife Megan.  Underneath, is Collins and his fiancee Jay.


SONY DSCThe lovely ladies (bottom to top) Jay, Megan, Hera, Vicky, Sandra, Nina, Shufan, Alice, Beth, and Maria.


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Once again…we you have a very Merry Christmas!

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the last 2 months!!!

Hello All!

Oh my!  I am so sorry I have been slacking on our blog for the last 2 months!   It has been so so busy.  We have had a lot of school stuff to do and been pretty busy on our weekends.  So, I am going to combine several post into one!   I know that this probably breaks all the rules of blogging but I’m still an amateur so maybe I can get away with it.   Sorry to bombard you!

 To start  I have some pictures of an awesome weekend (11/17) in Seoul we spent with our dear friend Amanda. Sadly her husband Derik couldn’t make it.  We got a little better feel for this huge vibrant city with the guidance of Amanda.  We stayed in this shopping district called Myeongdong  in a “love motel.”  Our room was complete with red mood lighting and condoms on the night stand.  Needless to say, we didn’t have the best night’s sleep with the rock hard bed and unadjustable heating.  We think even though they are real cheap we might try and stay away from love motels from now on.

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Here we are finishing up a little shopping.  Ethan was getting tired of holding up the wall in H&M.  Also, as soon as Amanda arrived I noticed we were sporting the exact same coat. We matched all weekend! I feel like we got even more looks than normal; two tallish blonde girls wearing matching coats. I didn’t mind, cause staring is an everyday thing anyway.  🙂
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Amanda knew of this chipotle type mexican restaurant with  a great selection of beer for Ethan.  Side note:  He’s been craving chipotle since we got here and anything besides Korea’s cheap take on beer is quite scarce.

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SONY DSC^^There was a lantern festival going on that we decided to check out.  It was fun but would have been better if it was a little warmer and less crowded.  However, in Seoul most things are crowded.  I guess you just get used to it.
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This picture is from another shopping trip in Insadong.  We had a lot of fun encounters  because we used the subway system the whole weekend to get around.  Including, a 40 minute commute to a CostCo store to pick up pumpkin pies for our students to try in celebration of Thanksgiving.  However,  we didn’t think about having to carry all that (6 oversized pumpkin pies, 2 bags of bagels, a jar of pickles and a big tub of Christmas ornaments) back through the crowded subway. We’ve found out that everything is so much more complicated when you don’t have a car and can’t speak the language of everyone around you!  It was a wonderful trip filled with lots of yummy food, awesome shopping, and exciting sights to see.

Ok, on to a few pictures of our make-shift Thanksgiving dinner.  We had to work on Thanksgiving so we ended up eating our feast around 10:30pm on Thursday.  I can’t say there is absolutely no turkey in Korea but it is hard to find and expensive!  I asked all my classes if they had ever tried turkey and not one student had.  Oh that reminds me, we shared some pumpkin pie and a dollop of whipped cream with all our classes. I’d say 80% of the kids liked it.  However, I did have one student say to me “Oh teacher, vomiting…I need water.”  🙂

Back to our feast:  Baked chicken, salad, a harvest medley of vegetables, angel biscuits, and bread pudding for dessert. It was not a traditional Thanksgiving meal but nevertheless it was delicious.  Thankfully, we got invited to a real Thanksgiving feast the following Saturday that some foreigners in our city were hosting at a bar.  There were around 40 people there (mostly other foreign teachers) and it was complete with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie!

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Here is a sweet picture to wrap up  our Thanksgiving. The classic handprint turkey with all the things you are thankful for on the fingers. 🙂  I hope our students got a little taste of our special holiday.

Onto Ethan’s birthday!  He turned a quarter of a century on the 28th of November!  Sadly, most of his Birthday was spent preparing for finals and teaching at school.  However,  he got some awesome gift packages sent from the US!  Piggy (our boss) prepared a surprise birthday feast the day before and he even got to blowout candles on carrot-cake cupcakes I baked.  Also, he had really been wanting an i pad for the last year, so I finally gave in.  😉  Oh, and we ordered matching bikes a month earlier and they just happened to come in his birthday week.  So, I’d say it was a pretty good birthday!

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Here he is skyping his sister Melyse as he opened the gift from his fam.  She even snuck some Red Stage whiskey in there!  SONY DSC

The sight of a US postal service package show up at our school was so comforting!

Silly, I know but when everything else is in a foreign language a familiar box is refreshing.

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Here are the goodies sent from my fam! My mom gave us a head start on our Christmas preparations. When Ethan packed for Korea,  he didn’t really think about the cold rainy or snowy days!  These duck boots have already been a lifesaver!  Also, for his birthday he wanted to hang our Christmas lights outside. We had to order them online because in the store the selection is very limited and very expensive ($25 for one strand).  I can say our house is the only house with lights I have seen yet. SONY DSC

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Our Christmas preparations have been an ongoing project!  We were so blessed to be given a tree to borrow by Piggy’s family! We had fun making some of our own decorations and snowflakes to put up around the house.

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SONY DSCHere is our front door!   Ordered some stickers along with our lights. 🙂

It started snowing on the 5th of December and continued snowing off and on the rest of the week!  It was REALLY beautiful and I was itching to get out and take pictures but it was freezing!  Also, the snow was a little messy and cold to get around in with only a scooter and bikes.  Sadly, we had to go to school everyday. I asked my students if they’ve ever had a “snow day” (school canceled) and they said no.

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Merry Christmas All!

If you made it all the way through this unorganized, crazy, long post,  props to you!  I have more Christmas stuff on it’s way. We hosted a party on the 15th and I am almost done with my Christmas letter.  Hope I can get it finished before we fly out on Sunday, 12/23, (I’m running out of time) for our vacation to Vietnam!  We’ll spend Christmas Eve and Day with our friends the Grove’s on a cruise in Halong Bay, Vietnam and have a New Year’s celebration in the airport (we fly back at 12:30am on the 1st).  However, that is a whole other post that hasn’t even happened yet!

We send you all our love and prayers from South Korea!