28 February 2007

Hello from Seoul!

We're here! After being up for more than 24 hours straight, we finally made it to our agency's guest house at around 9:00 p.m. last night, Korea time. My aunt and cousin who live here kindly came to pick us up at the airport. We finally found each other after about 40 minutes. I've only seen my aunt once when she came to visit the U.S. last year so it made things a little difficult. It's a good thing I had her cell phone number. My aunt is my Dad's older sister and she has 3 children that live here with their families. My aunt and cousin Ji Hyun helped check us in at the guest house then graciously took us out to dinner.
I think the guard at the guest house was surprised to know that we were the couple from California that he had been waiting for since I spoke to him in Korean. Although somewhat limited in my Korean, I can pretty much understand everything and I can get by OK when it comes to speaking.

Unfortunately we were not able to sleep on our flight even though the airline itself was comfortable. We have always heard great things about Korean Air and I must say, they do live up to all that we've heard. With this longest leg of the journey behind us, we are now eager to explore and enjoy the rest of our trip here in South Korea. We were given a letter upon check-in from our social worker here. It said that we are going to meet our babies and the foster family on Friday, tomorrow! That's Thursday in the U.S. We arrived last night in the evening but from what we can tell of Seoul so far, the city is very clean. The airport at Incheon is quite big and immaculate. Incheon is about 40 miles away from Seoul. The traffic is really bad in the evenings, sometimes even until 10 :00 p.m. When we finally reached Seoul, at least the part that we are in now, it sort of looked like Manhattan with lots of restaurants, skyscrapers, stores, and neon signs. The weather is good today so we will get out and do some exploring. More to come!

25 February 2007

See ya in Seoul

The next time I write, we will be in Seoul. We are leaving to stay with my parents tonight and spending tomorrow, Monday in LA before flying out on Tuesday morning. We are all packed and hope we have everything we need. Luckily, both legs of the flight are non-stop. The flight to Seoul is 13 hours long and the flight back is 10 hours and 50 minutes. We managed to get the bulk head seating with bassinets on the flight home so this will give us more space and practically our own row! We will also have a computer in our room in Korea so we will try our best to post pictures on the blog. We should get to meet our girls for the first time on Thursday. Many emotions are swirling as we near this much anticipated day. Thank you, Lord for your protection and for entrusting us with this amazing gift. Signing off til Seoul!

So long, family of two!

Last night, we went out to dinner to celebrate one of our last nights as a family of two. We went to an "old school" Northern Italian restaurant known for its signature cuts of meat as well as its frequent celeb sightings.
We enjoyed our evening together and hope to have more date nights even when the twins come home, thanks to Grandma and Grandpa being so close.

A funny thing happened as we were leaving the restaurant and getting into our car. The place was still bustling with people waiting outside and the piano bar was in full swing. As we walked out arm in arm, we were feeling pretty hip and swanky. When we got to our car, we both hesitated for a moment, looked at each other and just started to laugh because for the first time we had two car seats in the back of our car! That was the end of feeling any kind of hip or swanky. :)

I just love seeing those car seats. Soon enough, they will be filled with our girlies!

24 February 2007

Prayer Requests

We would be so grateful for your continued prayers while we are gone.
Here are some specific things that we would love to have prayer for.

1. That all four of us would remain healthy.
2. Safety and protection while we are in Korea and over our flights and crew.
3. Smooth transitions with no gliches from customs, paperwork, or any legal matters.
4. May the girls bond with us quickly and feel comfortable, safe and loved.
5. That the foster parents would be comforted during this bittersweet time.
6. That Morgan & I would both be a blessing and be blessed by all those we come in contact with on our trip.
7. That the weather in Korea would not be a problem (currently, it says it will be in the 50's with some rain all next week).
8. That the plane ride home with the girls would be an easy one.
9. That Morgan & I would bond even more as we share and enjoy each experience along the way.
10. That our video and digital cameras would work properly.

I will add other prayers as I think of them. Thank you!

23 February 2007

Morning reflection...

Last night, we got together with a group of wonderful neighbors who came out to celebrate with us at a local Mexican restaurant. We are incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such a loving and supportive community. We have enjoyed getting to know our new friends and we look forward to many more years of great memories together. Faith and Grace already have lots of aunties and uncles on the block who are eager to meet them!

Yesterday seemed to fly by with all the well-wishes, e-mails and calls we received.
All day, our faces were plastered with permanent grins. It was a great day! God's blessings were abundant in many ways yesterday and once again, we were reminded of His love,
His faithfulness and His desire to know us more intimately.

I woke up much earlier this morning than I even usually do. A feeling of reflectiveness and immense gratitude could not keep me lying still in the darkness. I have learned much along this beautiful journey. I've learned that God has a purpose for every single human life and our job is to trust Him while being open and willing to have Him guide us to that end. The road is different for each of us, but all ends lead to the same place... His glory, His praises and His unfathomable love. It has not always been an easy road, this journey. Honestly, each part of the way, I've had my own challenges. Ultimately, I've had to die to myself before being open enough to see the blessings that God has purposefully and graciously earmarked for us. In this chapter of my life, God has chosen this path for me, for us. In the coming days, four paths are about to cross and become one. In that regard, we are not at the end, but at the beginning of another grand adventure.

22 February 2007

IT'S TIME!!!!!!

We got our travel call at 6:30 this morning!!
Our girls are ready to come home!!! We have made our flight arrangements and we were able to use our saved up airline miles. Hooray!! We will be leaving on Tuesday, the 27th and returning the following Tuesday, March 6th. For those of you who would like to meet Faith & Grace and greet us at the airport, we will be on Korean Airlines, flight #11, arriving LAX at 1:20 p.m. We welcome all of our family and friends!

Thank you for your continued support and prayers. We will spend the rest of this week packing and preparing ourselves for the biggest and most exciting change in our lives!
We are overjoyed!!!

More to come, soon!

14 February 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

Great news! This morning, we learned that the girls' visas were finally approved! Our government is e-mailing Korea to notify them today. Because of the time difference though, we probably won't find out any other information until sometime tomorrow. In addition, Korea has a big four day holiday coming up on Friday to celebrate the Lunar Calendar New Year. This means that the government and all the businesses will be closed. If we do get word that we can travel soon, we will most likely be leaving sometime next week, after the 20th. We will find out more information in the next couple of days but this was terrific news and a wonderful way to start our Valentine's Day!

10 February 2007

Shouldn't be long now!

Yesterday, we found out the reason for the delay. Apparently, Korea is waiting for the girls' visas to be approved by our government. The visas allow the girls to be permanent residents in the U.S. and naturalized citizens. All along, we thought we were waiting for the Korean government! This process usually takes between 4 to 8 weeks and more often than not, approvals happen much quicker. Parents are typically waiting for Korea to finish up paperwork on their end but in our case, we have been waiting 9 weeks for our final visa approval. Needless to say, the department of Homeland Security is a little behind.
We managed to rattle some cages and we were assured that our petition would be processed yesterday (Friday) and faxed over to Korea by Monday, Tuesday at the latest. As soon as Korea gets the fax, we can book our travel plans. We are hoping to get our travel call around mid-week. It's been a little frustrating but we've managed to stay positive. There is nothing to be gained by allowing our frustrations to get the better of us. Although we would have much rather had our girls home a month ago, we know that everything happens for a reason and God's timing and will is always better than our own.
Thank you for hanging in there with us. It shouldn't be much longer now!

08 February 2007

The Art of Patience

Morgan and I have always looked at bonsai trees with great interest and beauty. Yesterday, we finally decided to purchase one for Morgan's office. Bonsai (pronounced bone-sigh) is the ancient Asian art of growing and cultivating miniature trees. This art form originated in China over a thousand years ago. Most likely, the Buddhist monks were the first to bring various types of miniature trees to Japan.
The Japanese then spent centuries developing the dwarfing of trees until it became known as the unique art form of bonsai. Over time, the simple trees were not just confined to the Buddhist monks and their monasteries, but also later were introduced to be representative of the aristocracy - a symbol of prestige and honour. The ideals and philosophy of bonsai were greatly changed over the years. For the Japanese, bonsai represents a fusion of strong ancient beliefs with the Eastern philosophies of the harmony between man, the soul and nature.

The bonsai today is no longer reserved for the upper class. It is considered to be a very unique piece of art work which cannot be compared with any other types of art form. In fact, it is said that bonsai is 90% art and 10% horticulture. Because bonsai is a living tree, it can never be a finished work of art. It will always be a living piece of nature, being passed down from generation to generation, continuing to live and grow for hundreds of years.
The average bonsai tree ranges in height from a couple of inches to one meter. We love the simple beauty and peace we feel from these artful trees. Here is a picture of ours. It is 8 to 9 years old and of the Japanese Juniper variety. Similar to what we're experiencing while waiting for our girls, the art of bonsai requires commitment, a great amount of time, patience, skill and endurance. And much like our children, we look forward to the tending.

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