Tuesday, February 23, 2010

To the hospital we go...

A few days ago, I had sinus congestion and went to the staff nurse for a decongestant of some sort. She gladly gave me medicine and sent me on my way. The next day I woke up with absolutely no sinus pressure, just a bit of a runny nose. And so I made certain to have some tissue or a wet wipe with me at all times and that would be that. I figured I would get over this measly little cold in no time! Turns out, the next evening my ear began to throb. At first I didn't connect it to my cold, but later in the night... as I had much time to think while wide awake from the dull unending pain... I realized it must be some sort of infection. The next day I tried to wait it out to see if it would just pop and be done with but by the time dinner came and went, Tylenol was not relieving the throbbing pain and I was growing tired of the echoed voices. I got down from my high horse and walked to the nurses office to see what her diagnosis would provide. She asked me several questions via the interpreter and decided I needed to see a specialist. So she asked if I could make it 'til morning and we would leave for the hospital around 9 am. I agreed and went upstairs to listen to my two year old divert his energy out through his vocal talents while the soothing sound of my heartbeat pulsated loudly 'round in my head. I resorted to three children's benedryl in hopes of sleep that night. No luck. I woke around 2 to wet a hand towel with scalding hot water. After it cooled a bit I laid it on my pillow and then my left ear on that. I refreshed the towel every 30 minutes or so and then finally fell asleep around 5:30. I awoke to the faint sound of a two year old chiming "good mornin" before realizing that my left hear was totally plugged up. I couldn't hear a thing out of it, but at least the pain had subsided. I dragged myself out of bed and got myself and him both ready for the day. We arrived in the nurses office a couple minutes after nine to find a few others waiting to visit the hospital as well. One girl was on the fence and the staff was trying to convince her it would be best, while she went on about her concerns in going. Finally she decided to come back tomorrow and see about it then if she wasn't better. Meanwhile, a few gals on staff were eyeing Corin and asked if they could watch him while I went to the Hospital. I didn't even hesitate as I handed the diapers, wipes and sippie cup over! :) I knew there would be multiple pieces of candy involved so I decided to run upstairs to grab him a banana before we left. Then we were off and in a Taxi headed to Jesus Hospital. I was encouraged by the name to say the least! It had a neon cross atop the building as we pulled up and big bold letters displaying the name. JESUS HOSPITAL! If you had to receive medical care in a foreign country, wouldn't you want to go to a place called Jesus Hospital?! Uh YEAH! :) Anyways, we walked inside and it was crowded and busy. People were speed walking all over the place, while others we hunched over on waiting benches texting away. I suppose I should say speed texting. I have never seen fingers move that fast! It was like they were playing the piano like Julie Flanigan on their phone... if you don't know who that is, then you are missing out! So the nurse had myself and another patient to tend to and she shuffled me into the ear, nose and throat specialist with an interpreter and left us to wait on the packed benches. So we sat down and got to know one another. She was a very kind student here for the year to work and then headed back to the States for more schooling. She also had the gift of texting! She humbly smiled when I laughed in amazement as she responded to her friend within a fraction of a second. Finally it was my turn. Of course the office happened to be on my left, so they called my name several times before the interpreter elbowed me and pointed at the nurse. I felt a little silly not hearing my own name, but I simply looked at her and gestured to my ear shook my head in a "no" manner and made a rather puzzled look while pointing to me ears. The nurse and interpreter both gave a little chuckle and guided me to a small examination room. As I sat down, the doctor spoke to me in English which caught me off guard at first. After a few questions, he determined that I probably had an inner ear "injunction." I was so thankful for treatment that I was not about to correct this young man. He then lead me into a room with a table/bed and this large piece of equipment hanging over the head of the bed. The doctor asked me to remove my shoes and lay down. He shone a light into my ear and then began shooting water in and sucking it out with the same tool dentists use in your mouth. He then pulled this large scraper out and informed me that I might feel "small pains." I nodded for permission to begin and felt him dive into the ear with the tool. It didn't really hurt, but it felt awkward. After a few minutes he switched sides and seemed satisfied with the condition of the right side. He returned to the left ear and gave it one last scrape before allowing me to sit up. When I sat up I noticed a cloth sitting next to me with a few crumbles of reddish brown gunk. The nurse was kind enough to show me up close as the doctor informed me that this was the impacted wax that he extracted from my ear. It was gross. I wish I could have taken a picture for you to enjoy viewing as well! :) We then returned to the first room and he continued his examination as he shot saline up my nose and peeked up there to see how my sinuses were doing. Apparently not too bad, but he made a funny sound when the saline finally hit me and my eyes began to water. Then I was summoned to the chair in front of his desk where he and the interpreter talked for a few moments and then he did his best to tell me in English what he was prescribing and why. He must have realized his error in word choice from before when he confirmed to me my acute inner ear infection. I was to take antibiotics for 7 days and he was confident it would be clear by then. I was satisfied with the visit, and I really enjoyed the doctors and nurses. They had a good sense of humor when it came to my lack of verbal communication. As the interpreter and I walked to the nurses station to get our written prescription, she gave me a curious smile as if she were wondering what gestures I would make now! It was pretty funny. As we left the room she waved and said good bye in English with a pleasant look on her face. I felt honored by that and bowed in respect with the same curious smile she had greeted me with. We then went to another area of the hospital to pay for the doctors' checkup. We waited in a very short line, paid, and were off to our next stop. The interpreter then rushed us over to a small window where a technician printed out a formal list of my prescriptions to take to a nearby pharmacy. We wasted no time in finding a help desk to locate this said pharmacy which neither myself or the interpreter could locate. ( The signs in the hospital had Korean and English) The assistant at the desk directed us toward the Emergency Room and told us to go out the entrance. I thought that to be rather odd, but we walked down a flight of stairs and through the middle of the unpleasantly odored E.R. and through the entrance into the fresh smell of city air. As we stepped out from under the carport cover, my interpreter pointed out at least 5 different options for a pharmacy. We agreed on the one closest to us on the same side of the street so we wouldn't take any chances with the crazy city drivers zipping by. The interpreter pushed her way to the front of the pharmacy and snatched the prescription out of my hand, forcing it into the technicians' hands. I think she was ready to get back to the campus by then, not that I could blame her. While waiting for them to fill the order, she walked over to a machine, filled a cup with some sort of hot liquid and then returned to the seat next to me handing me the cup. She informed me that it was a ginseng tea that is very common in Korea for health and immunity. She then warned me that it was rather bitter and didn't really rank very high on the "tasty meter." I laughed as I blew on the tea. I courageously took a sip. It was bitter and was not the best, but not the worst. I forced it down and didn't ask for seconds. Finally our order was done and we went up to pay. The pharmacist then explained the different medicines and when and how to take them. Now it was just a matter of waiting on the other patient and nurse who came with us to arrive for their prescription. A few moments later they walked in and sat down. The women who was injured was handed a cup of tea as well and was not so fortunate to be warned before sipping! It was rather hard to hold back my laughter as she restrained herself from spitting it back in the cup. She forced it down rather quickly then hurriedly threw her cup away and shoved a piece of chewing gum in her mouth. She then turned to me as the nurse and interpreter were busy talking and asked if it was celery tea?! I giggled and informed her it was ginseng. She claimed to have a strong dislike for celery and stood by her theory that celery was a key component of the tea. Soon her prescription was ready and we were out the door to grab a taxi. Soon we were in and off, headed back to Jeonju University. Upon arrival, we headed upstairs to make copies of our prescriptions and receipts and for me to pick up Corin. When I entered the room, he didn't even bother noticing me because he was too busy bribing the girls with his cute faces for candy and cookies. They fell for it. The young lady I left Cor with walked up and proceeded to tell me that he had wanted to share his banana with her by feeding her bites as she handed it to him. She then confessed that he ate none of it, but she enjoyed it thoroughly! I laughed at her honesty and then she revealed that he had four suckers in the time we were gone. Expecting as much, I just smiled and thanked her for watching him. She seemed to have enjoyed him very much as she coaxed him into giving her repeated high fives. Soon there was a huddle of young women around him as well as the director all waiting in hopes of a high five from my little fair haired celebrity. He appeased them all and then we said many thanks as we headed upstairs to our room. And so we went about our day as if any other day, while I awaited the effects of the medicines to kick in.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lotte Mart

Ah Lotte Mart... the WallyWorld of Korea. I walked to the local Lotte Mart yesterday in hopes of finding diapers. An I did, along with anything else I might want. I had heard from our friend Jeff that they make just about everything, but didn't realize he meant EVERYTHING! :) They have various floors dedicated to various aspects of daily living. The first floor was mostly reserved for clothing, accessories, perfumes and shoes. There were other odds and ends thrown in the mix, but it was mostly attire related. After finding the escalator, Corin and I took the cart up to the Second floor. There was a rather large toy section, arts and crafts, home-decor, pet supplies, and electronics. We roamed through hoping to find a good deal on perhaps some legos for the kid, and found the prices to be a wee bit high... so we rolled on in search of the next escalator. Of course on our way back, Corin convinced me to stop by the pet section to say hello to the birdies... then the turtles... then the hamsters... then the fish... and finally was distracted by one of his many adoring fans with a free ballon on a stick. The nice young woman was advertising for who knows what with these balloons and forced one into Corin's open hand with no complaints! Off to the escalators to discover a new floor. I found the groceries, cosmetics, and toiletries to be on the ground floor. It was packed wall to wall with people out doing their weekly grocery shopping. I had forgotten it was Saturday. As I wound through the maze of food stacked obstacles, I would grab various items to stock our "snack cabinet" for the rest of the week. I finally made my way to the very back corner where I was joyous to find DIAPERS! The one thing I had yet to see and the very thing I had set out to find! I scanned the prices of wipes and threw the cheapest batch into the cart... then I looked at the row of diapers and began to panic a little bit. Luckily, I had looked up the words "diaper" and "large" on google translator and written them down in Korean and the romanization version. As an assistant walked up, I decided it would be best to just show her my best attempt at Korean writing and she immediately looked up to find the size. She grabbed a box and shoved it in my cart. She then disappeared for a moment and came back with a bag of wipes. I smiled and thanked her. After she had left the area I walked over to the wipes isle to return the wipes to the shelf, but couldn't find the brand or even the same colored package. So, I just set them down on a shelf wondering to myself what they really were. Perhaps antibacterial wipes? Anyways, I made it to the checkout and decided I was extremely thankful for modern advances in technology. The checkout had a monitor with the price on it so that I did not have to guess what the cashier was saying. Of course I just handed her my card, so it wouldn't have really mattered either way, but it is nice to know how much money you are shelling out! :) After checking out we walked outside and hailed a taxi. I showed them my EPIK badge, which has the address of the university on it, and we were off to take home our Lotte Mart treasures! No Charades that day! The end. LL

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Three words... first word... sounds like

Taylor and I have been very blessed in our travels. Every time we have gotten into a Taxi or caught a bus, God has somehow interpreted for us! Personally, I think if you are gifted in the game of Charades, then you could navigate your way through Korea via taxis! Our drivers must have thought we were crazy. Taylor and I have since decided that learning the language will be incredibly important... most of all for transportation purposes (until we buy a car). I have been looking up various words that I will be using in shopping for groceries and things we need. I am not sure I can act out some of those words! hahaha. Although it might be kind of funny watching me "milk a cow" or tickle my armpits before "peeling a banana" in the middle of the store! I am certain someone would find it entertaining. ****Taylor and I will be starting a language class in the EPIK Orientation this evening that I am very much anticipating. I have heard from other couples that this will be a good tool. I was pretty impressed with the couples that had only been here 6 months and the range of vocabulary they had accumulated already.**** I have been dealing with a head cold the last couple of days and decided to go visit the staff nurse. I again, used hand gestures and annunciated English to describe my runny nose and sinus pressure. She laughed at my runny nose gesture and immediately got up from her seat to grab the medicine. After picking up the box, I think she had the realization that she had to give me dosage directions and wanted to ask me a few questions. Much to her relief another staff member walked by the door and she summoned them to come help her in interpreting. Unfortunately, she had to use medical terms that he did not know the English words for, so it was a bit choppy. Then, yet another staff member wandered into the nurses office mid sentences. This staff member was very fluent and was able to ask if I was allergic to any meds and if I had ever taken a decongestant before. After consulting with the nurse, I was handed a few pills and given detailed directions. I felt confident that I was given the right medicine, but this situation only reaffirms my desire to learn Korean! I am tired of relying on those around me to decipher what I am saying. I suppose I will have to continue to be patient as I learn the language... and as I practice my Charades skills!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

First Impressions... dedicated to AW ;)

In preparing to leave the States, Taylor and I were given multiple "tips" and warnings about Korea. So far... the only one that seems to hold firm is to not drink the tap water! :) Upon arrival, some of the things that caught my attention were the very things we were "told" would not be available to us here. ***Number one being the large number of English speaking citizens. There are actually quite a few people that were able to carry on a conversation with us without having to modify our speech. We have found this to be true in Busan as well, so I am very encouraged about being able to hold a women's Bible study in our home when we finally have one! *** Corin is a big celebrity here! He catches the attention of almost all the lovely ladies and children as well. You hear the voices go up a notch as they bring out their very best "baby talk" for Cor! It is pretty hilarious. They especially like his green rain boots with the frog faces on them. You see all the women point and smile and sometimes giggle a bit. Those that speak English come up and tell us how cute our kid is. (Hopefully he doesn't get a big head about it! haha) *** We have had a few Korean meals so far, all of which we really enjoyed. (Well, other than Taylor's seafood spaghetti at a Korean Italian restaurant... not sure what they were thinking! And not sure what sea creatures were in the dish either! hahaha) I am looking forward to learning some native dishes as we begin cooking for ourselves. *** Yes, we can get diapers here! They are a little bit more expensive, but only about $4 a box and we ship them free from Japan, so they have fun little animated characters on them! :)*** We have a COSTCO! Taylor and I will be able to stock up on the "american" foods we thought we would have to go without... mainly cheese! But they also have several items that will be convenient to have in bulk, such as bottled water for a good price. Jeff was telling us that there are several Koreans who will actually go to the mountain top and collect spring water in jugs so that they do not have to purchase it, but that you can expect to wait in line for quite a while during the daylight hours. He said he had gone at 2am and even then there were contenders for the spring! ***Health care here is proving to be a great buy! It is really inexpensive yet quality care! Woohoo!*** In contrast, electrical outlet converters from Target are NOT a great buy. I already fried my flat iron on the first try. Sad. ***Busan is what I image New york City to look like, crowded and full of neon. We went to the market area with all the vendors lining the streets. It was amazingly fun! I plan to go again when I know more Korean to try and haggle down prices and do a little shopping for Busan fashions! :) *** Bus drivers are ridiculous. You had better get on and sit down... that is all I have to say! ;) ***The food is very diverse and there are several western food chains lining the streets as well. Some of the most common I have seen are Dominoes, Baskin Robins, and Starbucks. *** You can have McDonalds delivered to your door with a minimum order of 1000 won. So basically, you could have a soda delivered to you if that is all you wanted. CRAZY! haha. :) ***The streets are kind of stinky to walk down... the water run off runs under them with open grates along the sidewalks. *** A favorite movie snack is dried octopus tentacles... like beef jerky. Not sure I will be trying that one anytime soon. *** I will add more in my later posts, but I thought I would share some of my observations. There are too many to list all of them.... Oh, but I will end on a rather hilarious one *** A new Asian trend is to own a small purse dog, which has dyed pink cheeks and another color for the ears. Jeff had told us about it, but we got to witness it the other night at one of the vendor stands. White dog, pink cheeks, and orange ears!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Layovers, Luggage and Laughs

Our Adventure began in the early morning hours of February 10th, 2010. About a half hour before our alarm was due to wake us for the day, Taylor and I were brought out of our sleep by the clanging of dishes in the kitchen. Apparently we were not the only ones anxious that morning, but no matter because we were ready to get up and get going. We arrived at the airport with 9 bags of luggage and a toddler in tow! Luckily, our family members were there to help lug and lurch our 300+ pounds of luggage for which we were very thankful. Corin did remarkably well for his first flight and we were off to our first layover. Upon arriving in Chicago, we headed to a Chili's in the terminal to sit and relax for the next couple of hours. We were all tired from waking up around 2:30, all of us except Corin that is. Corin was eager to go for walks and see the sights of the airport. While waiting in the seats at our departure gate, we witnessed the most enormous airplane pull up in front of us. It was HUGE... a double decker airplane, on which we would be flying for little over twelve hours. The Letts were conveniently positioned in the very back row, closest to the restrooms and "stretching" area. Taylor and I took shifts with Corin serving as his playmate, walking companion, and pillow. We were very proud of our little guy as he was very well behaved throughout the flight. He didn't throw fits, disturb other passengers, or refuse to sleep, he was very content being in his seat for the most part which was very surprising to me. After about a day of very little sleep, he finally started to whimper during the last 20 minutes of the flight as we were descending towards Tokyo. Before I go on.... let me just make you extremely envious by telling you that we saw some of the most amazing snow drenched scenes as we flew over Canada and Alaska. Amazing! And yes, I have a couple pictures, but they really don't do the images justices. Anyways, onto Tokyo. We arrived in Tokyo for our second layover and again, Corin was rearing to go for walks. Taylor was kind to me and my altitude sick(swollen) feet and took Corin for a couple of nice strolls. The last flight was awkward as Taylor and Coin were in a different row and Corin cried for me the first 10 minutes or so before we took off. Then about 10 minutes after the seatbelt light went off a young man came up and asked if I would like to trade seats with him so I could sit next to my husband. I took him up on his offer and found out that he was an ESL teacher in seoul from Taylor who had struck up a nice conversation with the guy. Anyways, we all kind of crashed for a bit in that back row before landing in Seoul. Once we landed, the real adventure began. We had to find a hotel to stay the night in before our next flight the following morning and we had to get there with all our luggage and Corin with no family there to help carry! :) It was only by God's grace that Taylor walked up to the right people at the right time. The lady Taylor was able to speak with in the middle of the baggage claim area happened to be some sort of relations representative and she immediately got on the phone trying to get us a room at the in airport hotel. That fell through as soon as they heard how many baggage pieces we had and so on to other options. She soon after got us a room at a very nearby hotel with a baggage service that would actually take us to the airport in the morning with all our luggage, and not only that, but for about $50 less than it would have been had we walked in to make the reservation ourselves. God is Good! The the problem arose that we had about 5 minutes or so to get all our bags and Corin to the bus that would take us to the hotel. Let's just say that between the bags falling over and Corin sitting down in rebellion when I made him walk despite his fatigue, we did not make it in time. It must have been pretty entertaining to those watching as either a bag or child would go astray. God then provided a taxi driver to us (at least we will say he was a taxi driver) who offered to take us and all our luggage to the hotel for a flat rate. He had already led Taylor to the ATM and grabbed all but a few bags from us as we accepted his offer. He loaded us up in a matter of seconds and toted us to the hotel in his nice little mini van. He hopped out unloaded the bags and was very kind in letting us know where to go and what to do. We were blessed that night with some sleep and a nice warm bath! Ahhhh. We all woke up about 4:30 in anticipation of the day and felt refreshed through God's mercy as we had only 4 hours of sleep from that evening. At 6:30 we loaded all our bags on the bus provided and headed to the airport for our last flight! Woohoo! It was a quick and easy flight lasting only about 30 minutes to Daegu. After we landed we had to load up all that luggage and figure out how to get to the local station to catch our train to Busan. So, Taylor and I sat out in the Taxi line and the drivers would drive up, look at our two carts full of bags and slowly drive on past us shaking their heads form side to side laughing. It was kind of humorous, but at the same time we needed to catch our train. So Taylor headed inside to find help at the tourist desk. Meanwhile a nice university student walked up to me and Corin and asked if we needed help in calling a cab to get to the station. I explained Taylor was inside making arrangements. He spoke English fairly well and informed me that he was headed in the direction of Busan as well if we needed assistance in our travels. Taylor and I thanked him for his help and concern in our travels as he tried to explain that the trains usually do not accept this many bags per customer. He was convinced that we would be forced to take a bus. So moments later a taxi shows up and starts shoving all our bags in... and off we went to the station to see how we would be getting to Busan. Bus or train? As soon as our bags were unloaded and the driver was paid, Taylor ran inside to buy the tickets and find a cart to grab all our luggage. Well... we were successful in acquiring tickets, but not a baggage cart. So, Taylor and a couple men came out and started dragging bags in the building in a very rushed fashion. I grabbed a handle and Corin and chased them to the elevator where I discovered that we had only a few minutes before the train would arrive. We got all the luggage to the platform and waited a very short time before the train showed up and the men along with Taylor heaved the bags onto the train as quickly as possible before the doors shut and the train departed. It all happened so fast it was crazy. Somehow we were able to get on the train along with all our bags and were in our last leg of the trip. Finally we could relax knowing the our friend would be there to help us from the station. Corin was good for the duration of the train ride as well. He had fun repeating what the little Korean kids around him were wsaying and the little ones were eager to try out their English on us all! Corin will be speaking before us for sure! We got to the station unpacked our bags... again having to make a few trips to the stock pile and then over to the elevator but once at the elevator a nice little old man, the only other person around by this time, stopped to help put bags into the elevator. We smiled in thanks and up we went to find our friend there a the top ready to help. We took his car to their apartment and will be staying here until the 18th when we leave for orientation.
In reflecting on our past couple of days, it is evident that only by God's grace have we been able to get to Busan. The fact that we have encountered only friendly, helpful, honest people so far here is just that much more testimony to His mercy in our travels. I am encouraged by the number of people we have met who can carry on a conversation in English, but am still very eager to learn the language. I have already been able to make a friend and am excited to see what God has in store for our young family! I ask that you would pray protection against the enemy for us. I know that we are on a bit of a high from all the ways God has abundantly provided for us, but we have yet to step out on our own and so the coming weeks will be the true test. I am praying that we will be fairly close to our friends here seeing as how I have just gotten to know the wife. It would be nice to have the opportunity to interact with her more often possibly in the form of a play-date. Anyways... we would like to thank all who prayed for us on our long journey here and would appreciate continued prayer on our behalf. I can't wait to share how God continues to work in our lives and through our circumstances! Praise God forever and today! :)
****P.S. When I was reflecting on the events of those two RUSHED days of travel, all I could invision were those British comedies where they chase each other through all the hallway doors to fast paced music at fast forward speed! At times Taylor and I would just look at each other and laugh after getting where we needed to!*****

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

God has a great sense of humor!

The past month and a half has been quite the roller coaster ride of ups and downs. We started off the year waiting for the contract to teach in South Korea. Once we were excepted into the program, we were notified by the director of education that Taylor's passport had an error. In a day or two we sent off our revision application not knowing how long it might take to arrive.(Praying it would be here with plenty of time to get our Visas in order.) Well, by the grace and speed of God, it showed up four days later with the correct birthdate! Hooray! While trying to purchase tickets, we were faced with some scarily large numbers, but God made a way, and we were able to snag three tickets for less than the price of ONE ticket on comparable airlines! Then came a low blow as we were attempting to sell our car. The title was lost. Taylor looked for that thing for days on end. We finally relented to the fact that we would have to replace it at our own expense. But.... God came through again! Taylor and his dad were moving things out of storage and on to new homes... when low and behold... the TITLE! Again, God is GOOD! Well of course that was not the end of the story you see, for when we applied for our Visas, they HAD to get lost in the mail...for about a week! :) Alas, just when Taylor and I were beginning to freak again, God showed us who was really in control and after we lifted it to the Lord, it appeared in the mail the very next day!
In addition to these events, there were several smaller issues which we encountered. Do you think God was trying to tell us something? If it is His will... it WILL be done! :) God is working hard on my stubborn spirit. I try sooooo hard to be in control and He is not having any of it. God is the driving force behind all we do, yet we refuse to give Him credit. Well God, You have my attention! I am no longer taking for granted the fact that You are in control of it all, I lift my life to You and will Praise You for YOU ARE GOOD!
As we prepare to take off in a few hours, I ask in prayer that I continue to trust in the Lord for my provisions and KNOW that He is in full control. That God's Will shall be done regardless of my short-comings. That God can work through my strengths as well as my weaknesses. "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"