Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's Been A Long Time...

...since I've written in this blog. I have been writing a little more often in my knitting blog, Kitten Knits Yarn and a bit in my writing blog, Ink Scrawls (plenty of CFBA book reviews posted in that one too).

I am now about three months away from returning back to Canada from here in South Korea. In some ways the time has sped by, and in others, it has dragged on and on.

Let's see if I can update you since my last post of nearly five months ago. In January we had to work at winter camps. Basically, winter camp is just extra classes during the winter break. Not every kid takes these though. We taught four classes per day, Monday to Friday, and it lasted pretty much the entire month.

On January 31, I left Korea with three of my friends from here (one Korean, one American, and one Canadian) on a 24/25 day trip to Egypt. What a blast that was! I am so glad I went! We started our trip in Alexandria and visited Pomp's pillar, the Catacomb tombs, Quaetbay Forte, the Aquarium (which in my opinion was a waste of money because there isn't much there at all), the Roman Amphitheatre, the Alexandria Library and Montzna Palace & Gardens.

Next we drove to Cairo. While there we journied to Dahsur, Memphis and Sakkara. We went inside two pyramids which was pretty cool...and no, there were no mummies or treasure, etc. to be found. They had been emptied out long ago. We also went to the pyramids and the Sphinx in Giza. We got to ride on camels to go to the pyramids and Sphinx - totally cool!

Next came the Baharya Oasis with a drive to the black desert, crystal mountain, the Salt lake in the Bedouin village, the old and the new white deserts and we also camped out in the desert overnight. That was an experience. The vastness of the stars in the sky that night was incredible! I have never seen the sky so full of stars like that (probably because I'm from the city). It was amazing to see God's creation hovering over me like that. We were even lucky enough to see a few shooting stars that night. While camping, we were under the stars the entire time (glad there was no rain) and not in a tent. We had little mattresses under us and about 4 or 5 thick camel hair blankets over us. We also had several layers of clothes on, plus our winter coats so we were nice and warm.

From there we made or way to Aswan and had a feluccca boat ride to visit the botanical gardens and the Elephantine islands. We also went to the High Dam, drove to Abu Simble and went to St Simeon Monastery and the Philae Temple.

From Aswan we boarded a ship and cruised to Kom Ombo to visit the city and temple there, sailed and visted Edfu city and temple then sailed to Luxor. When we got to Luxor we visited the Karnak Temples, went to the Valley of Kings, Valley of Queens, Queen Hatshipsut's temple and the Colossi of Memnon.

From Luxor we flew to Sharm where we got to go to the beach (it was actually hot, beach-like weather there, a change from the rest of the country which was cooler) and I waded into the Red Sea. I didn't actually go swimming though and I ended up with a sunburn. After we were in Sharm for a couple of days we drove to St Catharine where I got to go to the top of Mount Sinai! Only one of the other girls went with me. One had a bit of an injury (she had the injury before but now it was just bothering her), and one decided she didn't think she'd be able to make it up the mountain. We went half way up on camel, but the last half we had to walk because it was comprised of a bazillion stone steps of odd shapes and sizes. I think we were told the whole trek up was something like six or six and a half kilometers (we walked the entire way back down though, no camels that time). When we got to the top it was FREEZING!! I had on knee high length tights, wool hand knit socks (that I made), a pair of leggings, my jeans, 2 tshirts, a sweater, my winter coat, a scarf around my neck, ear muffs, two scarves around my head and gloves...oh and we borrowed a thick blanket from the hotel (and yes we did return it afterwards). Even with all that it was FREEZING - probably from the wind and high altitude.

We left the hotel about 2:30 in the morning to get to the top of Mount Sinai to watch the sun rise. What an event that was. There were tons of people, many Christians who were singing and praising the Lord. It was definitely an experience! We also visited The monastery of St Catherine and got to see the burning bush...or what they claim is the "descendent" of the burning bush.

From there we drove back to Cairo to tour Islamic Cairo, the citadel, Old Cairo, the church that is on the site they claim the Holy Family stayed at while in Egypt, and we went to the bazaar there twice. We then made our way back to Alexandria and flew back to South Korea, with an eight hour layover in Dubai.

In March, we started a new school year. Over here their school year begins in March, and not in September like back home. This semester I teach the first and third grades of the same middle school. That would be like grades six and eight back home. Some of the boys are great, but many aren't - not just because of their lack of English skills, but their attitude, lack of respect, etc. But there is nothing that can be done about that. No matter how much we tell the coteachers, nothing is ever done. Their way of discipline here involved corporal punishment - physical beating in many cases. I don't agree with that, but these kids need to learn to respect their elders. It's driving me insane - that and the fact that they don't do their work, they don't listen, and the talk in Korean all the time in class. I wouldn't mind so much if they talked in English, but they don't. But, I keep telling myself there isn't much time left and to hold on.

I also found out in March that my dad was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. He has since finished his round of radiation treatments (just this past Monday) and has two more chemo treatments to go through - on in June, the other in July. He has also been having some problems with his heart after the chemo treatments, and they aren't sure what's causing it. His heart beat is all out of whack at times. They had him on a 24 hour heart monitor but we haven't heard the results back from that yet. So, it's been a little difficult for me being way over here with him going through that back home. He's been holding up pretty well though. My mom and two brothers are there, so at least he's not alone.

So, other than having a lot of stress at work, not much has been going on. I'm looking forward to going home so I can get back to church and get back into a walk with the Lord. I've not been good since I've been here - the churches either don't have English services or translations, or the translations aren't very good. When I did go for about a month, I didn't get fed. The translations weren't the best and it was difficult to understand. My Bible reading has also suffered, though lately I've been getting back into that - same with prayer. My prayer life has been hit or miss, though I'm trying to get back into that more as well.

Anyway, this is rather long now so I will end for here. I hope to get back to posting here more frequently. I'm sorry it's taken me this long to update!

Oh...and I almost forgot. I applied back in January for the Bachelor of Education program at the university where I got my B.A. from, and I found out a few weeks ago that I got accepted! I will be starting school pretty much just a few days after I return home from Korea...