Monday, October 24, 2011

seoul - take two.

August 25th - walking tour of Seoul
26th - Gyeongbokgung palace, Insadong and... met Evelyn!!!

After visiting Holt and hearing the awesome news about the visa interview we went back to our guest room. We were already tired and it was only lunch time! Oh jet lag, we tire of you (hahaha!). We decided to try and nap but we were way to excited to see Seoul and couldn't get our minds off of meeting Evelyn the next day!  We stopped by a traditional Korean restaurant where you grill the meat at your table. It's called Korean BBQ :)  Since we were the only one's in the restaurant we were nervous, we couldn't watch anyone else to see if we were eating our food the right way.  We also were searching and searching our Lonely Planet and couldn't find the answers we needed for etiquette - after the fact, we found them and yes we did eat our food wrong but at least we ate!
After lunch we started a walking tour that the Lonely Planet suggested. It took us about 2.5 hours to complete as we stopped and looked at the city along the way. It was a great thing to do as we saw many things but it wore us out!
The Cheonggyecheon stream. This stream starts in the city and flows into the Han River eventually. 
Along the way we stopped at Itaewon Market and got a scroll made for us. It's made of water color and says "Blomgren" in Hangul (the official Korean symbols) as well as all of our first names. It's beautiful.
We also walked through Namdaemun market - a street market where many of the city folk buy clothing, shoes and food.
Near our guest house & Holt
A food stand at the market - we decided to pass :)
The walking tour ended by bringing us to Seoul Tower. It was beautiful and unfortunately we didn't start up to the tower early enough to see the sunset but the view was still spectacular!  At the top (the highest point in Seoul) you can see most of the city - both directions.  To get to the top you can go up hundreds and hundreds of stairs, or take a cable car. We opted for the cable car because of the heat and being so tired!
We were SO tired in this picture but having a great time anyway!
On top of Seoul tower is thousands of locks. It's really neat to see these fences of locks and "tree's" of locks in all directions. Putting a lock up on the fence is meant to symbolize a promise for endless love.
There's our lock of love!
Can you see ours?  It's the Master lock that says "Love" on the side - it has our names and "forever family" on it as well.
We were back to our room at 10:15pm and crashed! Our goal was to stay up all day to try and get our bodies adjusted and to be able to sleep through the night - goal accomplished :)

On Friday we met up with a tour guide from our agency. She was a very sweet Korean student getting her MBA at a university in Seoul.  We took the subway to Gyeongbokgung Palace. The palace grounds are HUGE and we only saw a portion of it but what we saw was really beautiful.  And, it's really neat that the palace is right off of the downtown area. It was nice to have the tour guide to tell us more about the history of the buildings and what things symbolizes, how the old life style is or isn't incorporated into Korean culture now.  We ended that part of the day with a walkthrough of the folk museum--again, well put together with beautiful instruments and clothing on display.
One of the buildings that has been restored to show how beautiful and intricate the painting on the wood was.
The guards at the entrance.
In the "back yard" of the palace where they did some of the worshiping.
After the palace we walked through the Insadong market. It was a very nice "market" with a lot of shops - almost like an artsy strip mall but with upper class stores.  Very classy. The prices were high and we liked a lot of stuff we saw but didn't buy anything.  I think through the whole trip we struggled with what to buy. We were interested in what we were seeing and learning but also so very distracted by the reason we were there and had a hard time focusing on "touring" when our minds were with both our girls and the massive life change ahead of us. Back to the day... we ate another traditional Korean meal with our guide and talked about her life in graduate school.
Neat architecture in downtown.
After lunch we stopped by a massive underground bookstore called Kyobo. It was so fun to walk around and it just is so neat to thousands of books in another language - a lot of the books we recognized but couldn't read!  We bought a few books for the girls that were traditional Korean children stories (in english) but have CD's that teach how to say some of the Korean words in them. We also bough a DVD of Pororo but it hasn't worked in any player we've tried (something about the DVD being made for another type of player since it's from another country?). Oh well.
Mei (tour guide) & myself at the end of our tour.
We headed back on a bus to our guesthouse. We got ready... TO MEET OUR DAUGHTER!!!! :)  I cannot describe the pure nervous excitement we were feeling - aaaahhh, it was insane.

We were like little kids. We felt so dumb but we were asking the social worker, "okay, so will she just walk in or will she knock or will you have us walk in to the room, etc."  It was awesome because you could tell the social worker knew it was a big moment for us all and loved how excited and nervous we were - I'm sure this is what she looks forward to, uniting families! Back to the main event. We wanted to get the meeting on video but we were left in the room to wait and then all the sudden they walked in!

We quickly stood up and could tell Evelyn was asleep in the baby carrier on the foster mother. Mouth open, head back, drooling asleep - adorable.  The foster mother didn't speak any english so the social worker interpreted everything for us. The FM wanted to take Evelyn out of the carrier so we could hold her and we were quick to stop her! We thought she should sleep and we could start in with our long list of questions!  

Right away we just started asking all about Evelyn - what she ate, when she ate, how she slept and for how long, does she like it dark or light, cold or hot and what scares her or makes her happy or soothes her, etc. We were anxious to here about her from the woman who knows and loves Evelyn so well. We thankfully got everything on the video so we can reference it later. We also asked the FM if she would sing any special songs that she sings to Evelyn, but she was too shy and wouldn't do it.  It was such a special time to have with the FM and have it not be the same day we were going to take Evelyn from her -- there are so many emotions for us all.
Totally in love with her Daddy!
Evelyn woke up, finally, and the FM tried to hand her right to me and Evelyn just started to cry. I gave her right back - I didn't want to scare her.  After a few minutes they set her on the ground to play and she went right over to David and was very happy to have him pick her up! It was such a sweet daddy-daughter moment(s).  When I actually held her, she didn't cry but I sure did and so did the FM!

Evelyn had a long day as she had already seen the doctor (she threw up that day), went the embassy for her visa interview (takes a few hours) and back to Holt to meet us and see the doctor again to see if her temperature was okay. Poor girl was so tired.  We felt so blessed to spend that hour with her and the FM - truly, something I will never ever forget.
After all that excitement and bliss - we went back to the guesthouse and just talked about it all and tried to grasp the fact that we just met Evelyn! Such a fun fun day!!  So, the only downer of the time at Holt was when they told us the visa wouldn't be picked up until the middle-to-end of the following week.  We knew, from the embassy, that they visa would be processed within 24 hours but Holt has to pick it up. They are not in close proximity to the embassy and said they only pick the visas up in groups so they wait until the whole group's visas are processed. We were discouraged but praying things might change.

While we were processing in our room (after meeting Evelyn) our social worker called to say they would make an exception for Evelyn!  You see, the foster mother already had another foster baby in the home and was feeling very overwhelmed and since we were already there and ready, they were able to make an exception for us.  God was ironing it all out!   We are more than grateful to the amazing Holt workers who went the extra mile during this process to make sure we could bring Evelyn home as soon as possible. We never even got to thank the person who made this extra trip for us - if you're out there - thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!
In Hongik area looking for some wifi and a place to eat.
After all this excitement we were tired but oh so hungry! We headed out to Hongik University, near Holt, and had some coffee and dinner. Hongik area is very fun at night and later in the week we revisited the area when we had more time and energy!

I'll keep working on the update. Thanks for hanging in here with us and supporting us. We have been struggling to keep up with life so please - know I'm trying my hardest to keep you in the know!  Bless you all :)


Mattie said...

All of this is so exciting! I loved seeing all the pics and hearing how you met and got to talk to the FM! What an amazing experience!!!

Heather said...

Dave, its your long lost friends breck and heather. Ive been trying to hunt u down for the past 5 years. I've been trying more medieval routes but decided before I go back to your folks house to get information from them I should use the more fashionable route of Googling u and I found you. It's so exciting to see where God is taking you guys and would love to chat. Give me A call if you still have my number. Otherwise email me text me something so that we can get in touch. Blessings Blomgrens!


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