Sunday, December 15, 2013

Frohe Weihnachten!

It's been awhile between posts because it's been so crazy. I moved apartments several times in the past few months, had to go to Croatia recently for visa stuff, went on a weekend trip to see mom in Italy, and still don't have internet at my apartment. Even trying to send everyone letters and raise support has been stressful. But Merry Christmas to you all and I'm sad I won't be in Texas this year for the festivities! (I plan to hang out with some friends I work with who couldn't go home and an Austrian friend for Christmas.)

School is going good. My kids and I are starting to really understand each other (some of them think I'm too strict but I'm okay with that) and I'm enjoying the work I do at the school. They recently performed the play Guys and Dolls, Jr. and I went to see the show Friday night. They were very talented and it was pretty impressive for a high school production.

To say a little about my missionary work, I have to admit I do more 'Oh that's what you believe? Well this is what I believe' than in-your-face 'Repent or you go to Hell' conversations (although I know that is also biblical). There are teachers who hit the hard topics with the kids and debate and stuff, and I'll debate if engaged in one, but I don't go around seeking opportunities like that. Some of my Muslim students try to tell me Allah is the same as God but I disagree with them because Jesus is not included in their idea of God, so He (or They) are not the same person. I also am pretty good at knowing who is down and out and needs extra prayer, so those students I see struggling I usually pray for. And those are the ones I relate better with.

Some of you know that I had planned to be a missionary back in 2009 when I graduated college and that didn't pan out. And I was bitter for awhile and didn't go to church for about a year. Because of that experience I shy away from cookie cutter Christianity and cliche behavior in the church. And I detest fakeness. So my approach is a bit more hands off and my goal is simply to be myself and let Christ shine through instead of shoving the Good News down people's throats. (And for the record, I am not bitter anymore and have forgiven others for what happened in the past and hold no grudge against the church.) I hope you can understand what I am trying to say, and if you have any questions for me or would like to talk about what I've said feel free to email me.

Yesterday I had the chance to hang out with two of the student teachers who are leaving and another friend from school. We went to see the Christmas markets and the Belvedere, where I saw the original The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. These Christmas markets are all around the city, and people come here to buy ornaments, children's books, trinkets, and all kinds of holiday foods and cider. It's a bit expensive, but it's fun to look at all the knick-knacks and drink something warm in the cold weather.

That's the Belvedere behind me, where I got to see this original:

A little sweet shop on one of the main streets

 A typical stand at the Christmas markets, with open-air tables for people to stand around and drink and talk

Me in front of Rathaus and the Rathaus Christmas Market. If you look closely you can see in yellow it says Frohe Weihnachten, or 'Merry Christmas' in German.

And a few pictures from Italy. Thanks Mom and Johnny for financing my short stay there. Glad I got to see you both!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

       Update on Vienna, Austria 

(I'm not in South Korea ;)

Well, the recent news is that I have to move again. It was quite difficult with my landlady to get the documents I needed for my visa, and as a result I will be moving to my own apartment soon, probably in the next few days.

Because of all the upheaval, I felt like feeling sorry for myself. But you can only feel sorry for yourself for so long when you're living in a city like Vienna and have great friends, coworkers, and students. Somehow the craziness has started to feel normal, and I had a great week with my kids even though I've been distracted by this situation and others.

This week we had a spelling bee in two classes and the kids had presentations over their books. I've added a few pictures of them and a couple of me in Vienna. Enjoy.

P.S. I'm sending out snail mail support cards and info soon, so if you prefer snail mail over email and feel the urge to support me or simply want my picture on your fridge, send me an email and let me know :)


Me and a good friend

11th Honors English

12th Regular English

11th Regular English
(Peter is from S. Korea so we busted out peace signs:)

6th Grade English

Spelling Bee Blues

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Would YOU Like to Be in the Top 25?

I hope this post finds you well. I know we are all in different seasons of life, and in the last couple months I have found myself in an interesting predicament. This March I had envisioned myself to be in Europe this year and had tried to find a job in Germany before I left South Korea, but because I was unable to find anything, I made a last minute decision to sign a contract with a school in Jinju, South Korea. When this summer started and I flew to Germany, I was relaxed and planned to have fun and not worry about finding a job. However, God had other plans. Five days before my flight was supposed to leave Germany for Seoul, my contact at my new school let me know I didn't have a job waiting for me anymore because I was unable to secure the documents needed for the new visa in time. (This hadn't been a problem at my first school so I didn't expect this news.)

After a phone call with mom, canceled flight, multiple trips to the internet cafe in Bonn, Germany, and seven days, I procured a job at the International Christian School of Vienna as an English teacher for 6th, 11th, and 12th grade. Two days later I was on my way to start the new job. On my way there I lost my makeup bag, so I arrived in Vienna with no makeup, no professional clothes, and no place to live. I started teaching three days later. It's been stressful to say the least, but the silver lining is that all along I wanted to be in Europe, especially a German-speaking country. My things continue to arrive from Korea, and soon I will have all my belongings again.

Some of you may remember that about three years ago when I was in college at Texas A&M, I had made plans to be a missionary to Germany. I ended up getting teacher certified and heading to Korea because those plans never materialized. After that disappointment, it was never my goal to become a missionary again. Ironically, the school in Vienna is a missionary school, and the majority of staff must raise their own support. I am happy to be here and be able to be a missionary this year, I just never thought it would happen like this (or happen at all, for that matter).

Most missionaries at ICSV raise their support before they arrive, but because of my unique circumstances, I am unable to follow this pattern. If you are able to help me financially with a commitment for this school year (October to June), I would really appreciate it. And if you cannot commit to a year, a one-time gift will go a long way in helping me get settled here in Vienna. These donations are tax-deductible.

To speak candidly, the start-up cost is around $6,000 and includes visa fees, apartment deposit (around $1,500), rent, travel to Vienna, the yearly card for the U-bahn (subway), and food and daily living costs for the past month. Thankfully I have been able to use money from savings so far, but obviously this situation is not ideal. If you are able to help with a one-time gift for these start-up costs, I would really appreciate it.

My initial goal for support this year is to find 25 people willing to send me at least 25 dollars a month from October to June. Next year is not until next year (and if I’ve learned anything in the last few months it’s not to count my eggs before they hatch), so at this point I would only ask for a commitment for this year. These 25 people would be helping me with daily expense needs and any excess will go towards off-setting the cost of what it takes to run the school.

ISCV is run as a non-profit organization, charges about half the tuition of other international schools in Vienna, and offers scholarships to many students. Most staff raise support, covering their own living expenses and helping fund student scholarships. The student scholarships allow kids who would otherwise be unable to attend the school to have an alternative to the Austrian school system, which can be rigid and unaccommodating to speakers of languages other than German.

Even more than money, I covet your prayers. To be able to relax and stay at peace during this stressful situation is not in my nature, so thank you for praying for God to be in control of my circumstances and stay focused on him instead of the chaos. Also pray that I will be a light to the students and be an effective teacher.

If you are interested in helping me financially, shoot me an email and I can send you the necessary forms to donate. Donations need to be made out to RCE and not me so that they can be processed correctly. The money goes to RCE based in the United States, and then it is sent from there to ICSV, and then to me.

Thank you so much for your prayers and concern.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


It's been a whirlwind for the past few weeks of my life. First I'd like to explain what happened with South Korea. In March I decided not to renew my school contract with BHCS and at that time I started looking for a job in Germany. My goal was to find a job in Europe. But nothing was working out, so the last week I was in Korea I got offered a job at a school in Jinju teaching English. I signed the contract a day before I left South Korea. So I left all my stuff there and just took one suitcase to Europe.

In Europe I took the tour with Bekah for 2 weeks and then spent some time in Bonn with Milena. While I was in Bonn, and only 4 days before my flight was supposed to leave Germany, my boss in Korea let me know I couldn't have the job because my visa documents weren't fully prepared. I found a different place to stay in Bonn and started looking for a job in Europe again. 3 days later I was offered a job as English teacher for the International Christian School of Vienna.

Because of my visa status, I had to leave the Schengen area of Europe and go to Croatia, where I got my passport stamped, stayed for 3 days, and got it stamped on the way out. I went straight from Split, Croatia, to Vienna, Austria, where I had 2 days to prepare for classes and then school started that Thursday, August 22. Last week was the first full week of school and it went well although I am exhausted.

The school in Vienna is an international Christian school and I am employed as a missionary, meaning I have no salary. From now on, I will also use this blog as a place to update what's going on in school and the ministry opportunities I am able to have with the kids for the benefit of people who decide to support me.

In lieu of my status as a missionary this year, I will also be talking more about God's influence in my life and the lives of kids at school. Even though it's a Christian school, kids from all religious backgrounds are accepted so that more will hopefully decide to believe in Jesus Christ. Personally, the last few weeks of my life have been humbling. I felt like the rug was pulled out from under my feet; I had the feeling of being on a rollercoaster and going down the first big drop, like my stomach was in my throat and I wanted to stay in control of everything but I couldn't. Because that feeling lasted for so long, eventually I stopped freaking out and relaxed, realizing that God is in complete control and I can do nothing on my own. At this moment, I am very excited to be in Austria and get the chance to do what I love and learn German as well. But the process itself was scary.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
                                                                              -Proverbs 16:9

It's been a bit crazy with the living situation. And all my work clothes are in Korea so I've had to borrow things from other girls. (It's all in the mail on its way to Vienna.) AND I lost my makeup bag last week, so I also had to borrow people's extra makeup. I lived for a week and a half with the elementary principal because she has an extra room, and for the month of September I am staying in an apartment the school has been renting. I'm looking for a roommate to stay with me because I'm so tired of moving, but if I can't find one then I'll have to find a different place. Last night was my first night in the apartment and it was great to have my own space finally. I realized I forgot to buy forks, so I ate my eggs with some makeshift chopsticks. But it's definitely not the worst problem I could have had. All the furniture was left over from the last tenants so I don't have to worry about that.

Today I was able to have lunch with some ladies from school, and they made REAL hamburgers. The hostess, Ursula, is also the one who took me to get my first document for my visa. 

Me and Ursula (and I'm wearing clothes that are not mine)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tour of Europe 2013


The pictures are on Bekah´s phone and on my dinosaur camera that uses REAL FILM AAAAHHHH! It was funny to see peoples reactions to the film camera. Suddenly they got real serious and tried to concentrate on taking a good picture. All that to say, more pics to come.

Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is a website that connects people around the world with a free place to stay for a night or two in whatever city they need. This couple, Martin and Zuzana, let us stay one night with them in Prague. It was great because they had some traditional Czech food waiting for us when we arrived (think hashbrowns but bigger and better) and took us for a night walking tour along the river and to the highest point in the city. It was just one night, but Ill never forget it.

Another guy named Alex let Bekah and I stay with him in Bonn, and we had a blast with him because he is a salsa dance instructor and we had to meet him at the dance hall. Salsa is harder than it looks! 

With couchsurfing, its like a pay it forward type of thing, so since I stayed with these people for free, I should offer my place for others to stay. So eventually I'll offer my place for people to stay if they want. And of course I can read their profiles and choose who I will allow to stay with me and who to say no to.

Bekah and I changed our plans last minute and ended up going from Bonn, Germany to Munich, Germany, to Prague, Czech Republic, to Budapest, Hungary, to Bratislava, Slovack Republic. From there Bekah went to the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, and I took a carpool to Halle, Germany (on the east side).

Instead of keeping a journal, I kept a small notebook and wrote poems or thoughts down as needed. Ill share one here.

Jack and Beanie from England
I thought you were speaking German to each other last night
Nein Mann, ich will noch nicht gehen
Stephens joke
No you werent
It was English
But I still dreamed in German

One morning I woke up in the hostel and asked these two guys if they were German. No, it turned out that their English accent was so strong I thought it was another language. :)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Arrived in Frankfurt

We made it! The flight I took was from South Korea to Shanghai, China. That flight was only an hour and a half. It went well, but I had to stay in the airport for almost 9 hours because the flights were overbooked and therefore delayed. The flight left out of Shanghai at 1 am, so I was completely exhausted and able to fall asleep quickly. (Thanks mom for buying me the Total Pillow!)

The guy next to me on the plane was Chinese and on his first flight out of the country. He was studying for a PhD in health working on heart attacks in Göttingen. In my ignorance about China I asked him if the government forced him to study that and go for a PhD. He said it was all his choice.

I must say I am pretty good at preparing for flights now. I always take the total pillow, some facewash, a toothbrush and toothpaste, concealer, mascara, and blush. I look like an oily zombie with bad breath afterwards without this stuff.

My flight was 2 hours delayed into Frankfurt, so I was worried about finding Bekah. But her flight was also 2 hours delayed, so I was able to meet her at her gate when she arrived. We missed our train to Bonn because of the delay, and I had to buy a new train ticket for the 2 of us. But we found the platform and made it to the train on time after a 10 minute dash across the station.

The ride to Bonn was gorgeous. I think we were alongside the Rhine River. We saw castles across the water   to our right and cute houses and fields to our left. Thankfully the guy across from us was also going to Bonn, so we got off the train when he did.

Germany is great in that everyone speaks English. And I mean almost everyone! There is no need for a dictionary! I realize this after my long stint in South Korea. Koreans try to be helpful, but I'd say only about 50% know what I am saying. In Germany it seems at least 80 or 90% know what I'm saying.

We are staying in Bonn where Milena lives. We'll be here a couple more days and then head to Munich. Her grandpa is having a birthday party this weekend that Bekah and I will attend. I am looking forward to this the most. I will be sure to take more pictures for the next post!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why Germany?

Well, as some of you may have heard, I am NOT staying in Korea next year. I didn't resign the contract with my school. And many people assume I will come back to Texas, but first I'm going to Germany to try to find a job. And I will tell you why I decided to go to Germany from here. I'll just pretend you asked the question I get all the time, "Why do you want to go to Germany?"

The real reason is ... German guys are cute.
I don't know of anything more attractive on a man than lederhosen.

In all seriousness, I had planned to stay in Korea for another year. I had planned to stay until all my student loan debt was paid off (half is gone, btw). So I wasn't really looking around or anything, but one weekend I went to Jinju in southern South Korea to visit a friend there (see older post). While I was there I had a really great time and met some really great people, and even though I only stayed a weekend it felt comfortable, like I had lived there for years and knew those people my whole life.

On the bus back to Seoul, I remember thinking wistfully, "Wow, I didn't even know about that place until I went, but it felt like home. And the place I'm at now doesn't feel like that at all." I realized there was this whole other part of Korea that I could live in and experience, and that also meant there were other schools that I could work at. So the first step in my reasoning was that I wanted to find a different school at least, to find a more comfortable environment.

I decided not to resign my school's contract in early April. By April 15th I needed to turn in travel plans to the school's financial secretary. Around that time was the height of North Korea on steriods, so people at home were worried about my safety, and the more I thought about staying in Korea, the more I realized I was ready to move on (much to the pleasure of the parents).

I get one free plane ticket. I can use it to go to Texas, but then I'd have to travel from there to Germany and that'd be too expensive. So I decided to go where I've been wanting to go for at least 6 years now.

The logical explanation for my desire for Germany is that I met a girl in high school who was from there and we formed a friendship and had a blast together before she left. After that we stayed in touch, and in 2007 I was able to go on a tour of Europe for a month, and at the end of that month I stayed with her in Hennef, Germany for 3 weeks. I didn't know any of the language at that time, but it was still a blast.

Soon after my return to Texas, I had to choose a foreign language to learn for my liberal arts degree. I chose German and spent 2 years learning it. When I graduated college, I spent time trying find ways to go to Germany for a short work program or something, but I was broke and had no job experience besides retail, so it wasn't an ideal time.

After getting teacher certified, I got the job in Korea and so I put Germany on the backburner in my mind and heart. But it's been there for years now, an aching desire to merge into that culture and experience it fully, language and all. I've never been fluent in a foreign language, and to finally become bilingual is a challenge I find irresistable. I know the German culture isn't perfect, but what culture is? Each country has its strengths and weaknesses, and each culture has strengths and weaknesses, like a person. You can't explain logically why you love someone because everyone has faults. It's just one of those things.

I'll be heading out of Korea in late June. If you happen have connections in Germany feel free to let me know. :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Malaysia Baby

This past week was our school's spring break, and a cool coworker of mine wanted to go to Malaysia and needed a travel buddy so I decided to go. We packed a carry-on each and flew 5 hours southwest to land on an island in the South China Sea. The pictures speak for themselves. It was a blast!