For our moms, and anyone else who cares to know every detail from our move to Seoul. Feel free to pretend you read the whole thing and tell us how great it was. Cliff Notes version: we made it to Seoul. This is not short, sweet, or to the point; we both have the gift of gab. So grab a snack and a seat and let’s begin.
Well, you know it’s going to be a long day when the first number on your alarm clock is a two not to mention the 20+ hours of travel to ensue. We loaded the final things in the car and were off to the airport. We hauled in load after load of our checked bags while people stared in disgust, assuming we were just some serious over-packers. We met their glares with, “We aren’t going on a trip, we are MOVING TO KOREA!”. Fourteen bags, a lot of sweat, weighing, prayers, and repacking later, our luggage was checked. After a tearful goodbye to our families, the circus continued.
We thought we were home free but we were met with some wide eyes when we tried to roll our swollen carry ons through security. The security lady knew she couldn’t ignore it and said, “I hate to do this to you but…” and gestured to the size requirements for carry on bags; two of our bags were pushing the limits. We drug all 7 of our bags and our feisty toddler off to the side and began furiously reorganizing, knowing all the time, we had too much stuff and not enough space. We shoved things from the big bags into our backpacks and the diaper bag and it still wouldn’t fit in the bag “sizer”. We decided that we had done all we could, that we would get back in line, and pray they would be satisfied. After redistributing and even throwing stuff away that we could buy again, we still wound up having to check one of the bags (for the small fee of $200). While I went back to the baggage counter, an airport employee came to let me know that my husband was having “a problem”. I turn to see that Judah had lost his breakfast all over Isaac. We’ve decided that everyone needs to experienced being thrown up on in the midst of a chaotic luggage problem at the airport at least once in their lives. Isaac wiped him down as best he could; we were about to miss our flight, and there was not time for a wardrobe change. I’m sure the people close to us on the plane really appreciated that…
So here we are, sweaty, throw-upy (ya, I just wrote that), and realizing the the security line was so long we probably had enough time to finish an entire game of Monopoly, which did not bode well for our chances of us making our flight(s). I jumped out of line and found the nearest employee to beg for any kind of accommodation. She told us since we were a family we should have been in the expedited line anyways. Praise da Lort. Let’s just make (part of a) long story short and say we made our flight. We may have lost a $30 can of hairspray, been randomly checked, barely made boarding, and at one point were asked, “Is that your son?” as we spotted Judah across the security area trying to escape. Shortly after this, we were indeed nominated for parents of the year. We were off to Denver, San Francisco (that’s a fun name), and then Seoul!
We really couldn’t ask for much better behavior from Judah. He was a tad fussy at times, but he was a one year old on an airplane. Judah spent our 17 hours in the air, eating, sleeping, fighting sleep, and making laps around the plane. He really was a champ, although Asher took the cake for best behavior.
We made it to Seoul around midnight Central Time and went through immigration and customs fairly easily thanks to the help of a bellman at the airport. We had somewhere around 15 bags, so we were extremely thankful for him, and when we turned around to tip him, he had vanished. Apparently you don’t really tip in Korea. That weirds Isaac out as a former waiter. As people who make a point to tip well, this will definitely be a change for us.
One of our bags was flagged at customs to be searched. The lady (whose English was very limited) pointed to a section on the immigration form where we were supposed to have checked a box to declare if we were bringing $10,000 or more into the country, and said “Money! Money!” They apparently thought we were trying to sneak a bunch of money in with us (HA), and pulled a cardboard envelope out of our bag and gave us a “gotcha” look. They opened it only to find stacks of… family pictures. The customs agent looked a bit embarrassed and immediately told us we could go.
Mike McCarthy, the CFO of our school, and his wife Jill picked us up at the airport. We got loaded up into two huge taxis and set off for our hotel. Even on a Sunday afternoon (Korean time), it took us about an hour and a half to make it there. They offered to take us out to dinner, but after having been awake for 27 straight hours (as restful as our one hour cat nap on the plane had been) all we really wanted was to go to bed. They kindly got us a pizza and took us to our hotel so we could crash.
The next morning, Judah made a friend in the hotel lobby and Isaac went for his medical check. Good news. He’s healthy. I will have mine after Asher is born. While Isaac was gone, Judah and I went on a date to the authentic Korean coffee shop known as “Starbucks”, where I learned that I lack even the ability to say hello in this new culture. We are learning just how effective nonverbal communication can be.
Judah is the star of wherever we go. We joke that seeing a blonde haired, blue eyed, American baby is like seeing a unicorn here. People constantly give him treats, wave to him, and want to touch him and hold him. Let’s just say he doesn’t seem to mind life in the lime-light…
We have adjusted surprisingly well to the new time zone. Isaac seems to be having the easiest time of everyone which is to be expected given that he is neither pregnant, nor one year old. Overall we are adjusting smoothly and have been making our way around our district on foot exploring and generally getting used to being southerners in South Korea. We will continue to keep all of you updated fairly regularly as things happen and unfold. We are really excited to see how we can serve people and minister here.
Until everyone has heard.