Working and Working Out!

Tuesday, July 29

This past week we had workers in our home trying to fix the a/c in Dad’s office (in the mission home)…but it ended up getting replaced.  The master bedroom closet had doors that swing out, blocking the entrance into the bathroom…so we had them switch those out to sliding doors (a little construction required with the bottom drawer below).  There would be four older Korean men filing into the bathroom making comments (not knowing/remembering that Dad can understand what they say).  Luckily Dad has an engineering mind to help them come up with a solution for whatever problem arose.  Also, they replaced each of the straight shower curtain rods with the curved ones we brought from Texas (Sister Gilbert had requested I purchase and bring those from the US).  And in the master bathroom they replaced the water pump??  I just know that when I tried to shower in the afternoon the stream of water was literally a trickle/barely anything.  Now it is much better.  But there is a system to showering here.  You have to push a button downstairs in order for the water to start heating up.  I can tell that I will be FREEZING come winter, because the heater sometimes heats up to warm…other times it can get scalding!

Last Wednesday the office elders drove Dad, Ben, and me to the airport to fly over to Jeju Island.  The flight was short…like flying from Houston to Austin or Dallas.  Getting off the plane we could feel the heat and humidity in Jeju.  The sun was much brighter, the plants were more tropical…making me think of what it must be like to step off the plane in Hawaii (I’ve never been to Hawaii-using my imagination).  It looked very touristy and crowded…even had these little “Mayan” statues lining the walks along with palm trees.  They call Jeju the Hawaii of Korea/Asia.  Dad read a Wall Street Journal article early this year stating that over 10 million Chinese vacationed on Jeju last year.  We landed and drove over to the church where the missionaries had finished with their district meeting.  When we first arrived in Korea and held Meet the President meetings, Dad interviewed the Jeju missionaries…not part of the regular interview/instruction process that the rest of the missionaries went through.  So we were able to give a shortened version of the message to them at this time.  The rental car and GPS dealings were an adventure.  It was good to get to the hotel and get reorganized.  We walked a few blocks to a restaurant the concierge recommended.  We cooked our meat at the table on the grill contraption in front of us.  The meat reminded me of thick cuts of bacon…with not much meat, tough rind, grizzle, and a few bones, mostly fat.  You grill the meat on either side and then cut it up, on the grill, using the shears provided.  The woman shows us how to cook and assemble the food.  Take two different pieces of lettuce (one Romaine, the other some other variety), place a couple pieces of cut up meat on top along with red paste (not hot spicy but flavorful), add bean sprouts and whatever onions and grilled garlic you want, also whatever kinds of kimchees; then roll it up like a lettuce wrap/spring roll might be like.  It tastes good…different.  Most restaurants serve something like this.

Thursday morning we drove to the Mt. Hallasan Hiking Trail/dead volcano to hike the trail.  Dad read about it and we also asked the missionaries if they had hiked it (there are about six different trails to choose from).  Dad chose the red trail (difficult) that said would take ten hours to hike up and then down/round trip.  It took us three hours up and three hours down (which surprised us but the terrain was so difficult that you had to be careful placing your feet coming down).  I know I slowed Dad and Ben going up but I think I kept up just fine going back down.  So it took us a total of six hours with a short break at the top to take a couple of pictures.  I’ll send pictures and explain.  We were soaked and exhausted when we got back to our hotel that showers felt great.  We decided to try eating at a pizza place for dinner; on vacation from Korean food as well.  It was actually ok, but Dad had to ask for extra sauce (you still couldn’t tell there was any sauce on the pizza).  We had to leave early Friday morning to catch our flight back to Busan.  Luckily Dad finally was able to communicate with the car rental place to figure out where they were located to return the car.  The GPS was not as easy to use as the GPS we have in the mission car.  The office elders were very good trying to set up information so we wouldn’t get lost while we were on the island (find the church, hotel, airport, car rental return, etc) but it wouldn’t really work in the rental car.  Going through security is so much more lax in Korea than in the US.  People carry full water bottles through, don’t need to pull out liquids like shampoos and contact solution, the lines were long so they rushed people through, etc.  When the plane was starting to take off the ground the grounds crew stood and waved at the passengers for a long time…until it was long gone.  The older man sitting in the row behind us waved back at the grounds crew for a long time.  It wasn’t just something for young children.  Our trip was shortened because Dad and I had to return for a conference phone call between the four missions in Korea and Salt Lake trying to establish different insurance here in Korea…but for now business will be as usual.  The system here is such that whenever a missionary has any medical problem they call me requesting to go to hospital…which is like going to a clinic.  It is cheap/a few dollars.  Then they ask the office financial secretary for reimbursement.  If there is a bigger problem; like today our Korean assistant is going to go get his wisdom teeth extracted; then he just called me to say he will walk in without an appointment and get it taken care of today.  The Korean missionaries have not been required to get their wisdom teeth taken out before their mission like the US missionaries are required.  Also, I’ve received phone calls from Korean missionaries mentioning continuation of acupressure services, and rashes and physical therapy, etc.  Anything requires a prescription here; even for Ibuprofen.  We will be figuring the whole medical insurance thing out soon enough. Saturday is supposed to be our P-Day, though we still get dressed up in church clothes and have some sort of meetings.  Ben went with the office elders to a youth activity and helped them with their display/interaction.  While he was gone Dad and I tried taking the bus to Home Plus shopping.  We got off the bus after riding it for 11 minutes (we don’t know which stop we were at).  But whenever we ask anybody for directions they are so willing and helpful.  Turns out we got off at the right stop, close to the big shopping building.  We tried some new chips (Frito Lay brand with Korean writing that said nacho cheese…but was not the same as in the states).  The office elders are always willing to take our leftovers.  I had made a homemade batch of brownies Friday night…but threw away the recipe because it wasn’t a keeper.  Those office elders loved them…but it’s been a long time since they ate American type brownies.  We had to drive to Sangin to meet with the missionaries after transfers and to eat dinner with the bishop, some ward members, and the missionaries serving in their ward at the restaurant of the high counselor over missionary work.  He is the man in the second picture sitting next to Ben and Dad.  My goodness!  The meal was incredible!  It was similar as most meals are…you can see that we are sitting on a thin pad type thingy on the floor.  The table cannot be moved as it has the cooking element attached/connected.  So we sit in the close space between the wall and the table.  Sometimes I have to shift my legs from indian style sitting to straight legs in front of me (kind of to the side-around the cooking element).  Getting up and back down can be tricky but I wore a dress that wasn’t a straight skirt…kind of flowing.  Whenever I do stand up I need a moment to stretch my legs and get the circulation flowing again.  This family was so generous.  Normally you cook the single plate of meat they give you (and sometimes Elder Min asks for more meat and they give it to him).  They kept bringing out more meat when our plate had been emptied/grilled…replenishing the plate about four or five times!  I was sitting next to one of the sister missionaries who took it upon herself to do the grilling (even when I offered she wanted to do it).  She would do the grilling then cut up the meat back onto the grill…and then place it in the individual dish in front of each person at our end of the table.  Finally, her companion told Ben that if you don’t want to eat any more then you need to leave some food in your small dish so they know you’ve had enough.  While we were still cooking/eating meat…lettuce wrap style, then they brought out bowls of rice…so we had to eat more.  Then they brought out bowls of tofu soup.  Then bowls of rice water/soup.  Then they brought out Liter bottles of cinnamon ice water-sweet something that is made with persimmons?? And a strong taste of cinnamon…all the while we were still supposed to eat the meat…mostly we just laughed as the missionaries kept eating and eating.  Then they brought out watermelon slices; a traditional Korean dessert.  It was all so good.  We were all so stuffed!  That was probably the best Korean food we’ve eaten while here.  We’ve been here a whole month!  Can you believe!?  After dinner we drove about 40 minutes to spend the night at the Fairhurst’s who are the military missionary couple in this area.  They are so generous and gracious to us.  It would be nice if we could spend more time with them getting to know them…rather then arriving late and getting up early to drive to attend another building meetings.

Sunday morning we spoke in the Sangin ward, with the people we ate dinner with the night before.  I am amazed when Heavenly Father blesses me to prepare a talk in a short amount of time, with focus.  The translating part is difficult because it breaks up the flow/continuity of the message allowing the translator to speak after every sentence or so.  I had my talk written out short paragraph by short paragraph but the sister translating said it would be easier by sentences, except when reading a scripture.  I still need to work on the process. After that meeting, and some pictures, we had to drive back to the Fairhurst’s to pick up the food order (he is able to shop on the commissary for the Bowcutt’s and us) that was packed in coolers with blue ice packs.  We had to travel another direction for Dad to attend another meeting (planning the district conference coming up in September) along with temple recommend interviews afterward.  Then back home quickly to eat dinner with our ward to celebrate the return of two sister missionaries!  And then our first staff meeting last night.  Wow!  What a long day full of meetings!!

This is the sign for the hiking trail.  It shows the difficulty from green to red to yellow to red.  The trail is made up of volcanic lava rocks.  Some of the rocks are formed to make a step with other rocks between for stepping on.  Some rocks are the size of your arms circled in front of you (big boulders) mingled with smaller rocks maybe the size of your arm circled to your body (like I’m a Little Teapot).  The rocks are random enough that you needed to look down at your feet to make sure of your footing.  I would need to stop to breathe once I a while.  Dad told me to push on my thighs with my hands as we hiked such a steep incline and already knew to do that.  There was rope to hold on to in most of the red area that went over rocks but sometimes no rope to hold onto.  In a few stretches I had to step up steep enough I used my hands on the next rock (hand and foot climb).  It took us three hours to hike up to the top.  It was so hot, we were sweating almost right from the start.  It started raining on us after the first hour and continued to rain on us the rest of the trip; for five plus hours; interspersed near the bottom.  If you look at the right upper part of this sign you will see the outline of the island with the mountain trails to choose from so we went on the red trail.  The upper left side of the sign has a purple arrow pointing to the other green trail that could have been chosen/to go down but we went down the way that we went up/where our car was parked.  The beginning of the yellow part of the trail has listed on the sign Samgakbong Shelter.  It wasn¹t much of a shelter so we didn’t even look inside.  We started on the trail at 8:00AM so by the time we arrived at the shelter it was still early in the morning not many people had already arrived to that spot.  But I think they sell food or refreshments of some sort (maybe like at Poblano at Philmont).  But I’m not sure how they would get their supplies up there.  We did notice a small tram/train of sort/tracks somewhat paralleling the hiking trail.  That reminded me of the Indian Jones movie with the small mine train/tram.  As we were standing on the trail at this point, next to the shelter, we took a couple of photos I’ll send/explain next.  The view of the high peak when standing next to the Samgakbong Shelter, on the trail.  This was at the beginning part of the yellow section of the trail so we had quite a ways to go still with a slight shift to the left (I’ll show you in the next photo).  It was raining steady on us here.  The temperatures had dropped somewhat.  We were standing on the trail where the last picture of the high peak was taken.  Someone came along the trail so we had them take this picture (so I could catch my breath again).  We just shifted the camera a little to the left to see where we will be hiking down and around before the steep climb to the top.  We needed to cross this suspension bridge which reminded me of the bridge in the Indian Jones movie (remember when they had to hold onto the ropes when the bridges was cut and fell down?).  This bridge was much more sturdy tough both Dad and Ben liked to jump on it to make it wiggle/move.   At the first part of the bridge is a small water fountain with a tiny Buddhist statue there (I think it may be the portable water listed on the trail sign-though we were not trusting enough to try the water).   After cross the raven over lava rocks and lush undergrowth/by way of the suspension bridge, we had to climb steep portions of the trail to get to the top.  The trail was sometimes made of wooden boards that were short/difficult to step on in some areas.  I would use my arms to help pull me along when holding onto the rope arm rails.  Other areas had steep rocks again.  The rain was pelting us at about 30-40 mile an hour winds.  Normally the view should be spectacular behind us of the mountain lake but you can see that we couldn’t see!  It was cold almost felt like it was hailing on us.   On our way up we passed by some runners on their way down.  I thought we were doing good going as quickly as we did.  Running would be scary because of the rocks/footings. I think they said they were from Denmark.  I told Dad it was an adventure!  I’m glad that we went!  But I wasn’t going to say that it was fun.  It was hard!  My calves hurt coming down, and my feet. The next day and then the second day after they really hurt. But Dad’s legs didn¹t hurt him.  Guess I need to do more exercise on a regular basis.  We’re already thinking that may be one of the places you’d could visit when you come to Korea.  Going down we stopped on the trail to take a water break when an older family from Naples, Italy came up the trail.  At their age, their pace, wearing flip-flops-the young man- we thought it would take them the full ten hours to hike up and back down hopefully they finished before it got dark.  The man said he has been able to find all the foods he needs to cook his pasta dishes, living in Busan.  Dad and I said to each other later that we almost invited ourselves over to his place to eat his cooking!  This was one of the views of the ravines we crossed over that reminded us of the Lord of the Rings movies. 

It was misty weather and beautiful.  An interesting part of the trail had a small section that seemed to come out of a cave.  But when we crossed over the trail, there, we felt a rush of cool air, as if maybe the cave had a connection/tunnel to the top.    After the hike, and getting cleaned up, we walked to a pizza place for dinner.  At the table they had Tabasco Sauce as one of the regular condiments.  Of course we thought of Papa! 

We saw this delivery moped when walk past McDonalds like the pizza delivery places, too.  The missionaries seem excited about McDonald’s that one of them even wrote about it on the heart that they put on our door when we first arrived in Korea.  We laughed when we drove by and saw the name of this business.

Fun and Introductions

Friday, July 25

Last week we had interviews again.  While driving to the church Dad is usually studying so Elder Bingham drives.  On Tuesday there was an older man driving in a van behind us who got really upset, though we didn’t know why.  He passed us with his window down, shaking his hand at us.  Then he slowed down and got behind us flashing his lights, then to our side motioning us to pull over.  Elder Bingam was worried he wanted to fight him.  The man energetically motioned/spoke to us…about our bright lights!!!  What!  All that for having our brights on?!!  Then Dad got pulled over by a policeman (though we don’t know what he did wrong).   But as Dad was rolling down his window and the policeman saw he was dealing with a foreigner he motioned for us just to go.  Whew!  Extra crazy driving day.

The day got better when the Fairhurst’s (military senior couple on a mission) invited us to their apartment after the morning session of interviews for Taco Bell lunch (they can buy Taco Bell on the military base).  It was fun to watch Elder Min…and hear his questions.  After the next session of interviews we went back over to the Fairhurst’s where she made us a Kraft mac n cheese dinner (Ben says he remembers eating that only like twice-I made it so often for the rest of you kids that we were tired of eating it by the time Ben joined our family).  Also we brought back home some groceries they were able to buy for us and the Bowcutt’s (office senior couple missionaries).

Wednesday morning right before we left for the day we could hear a street truck vendor below our window hollering that he had onions for sale…not Dad’s favorite.  Also, while we were driving I noticed the street we were on was called World Cup Daero (daero means street).

The bantering between the assistants is funny for us to watch.  After driving for about 25 minutes Elder Bingham “thanked” Elder Min for turning on his seat warmer…finally noticed!  Later I the day it was reciprocated…long time to notice.  Each time I offer candies to them Elder Min takes a candy for Elder Bingham…only the yellows.  In the glove box was a small tin of hard candies…Elder Bingham asked for purple…Elder Min said, “You like yellow” then gave him a yellow one, while he was driving.  They’re just funny!  Last week at interviews Elder Min asked Elder Hansen (big football player type guy) "where you neck?”  Last week Ben bought two new ties with the assistants on their P Day.  One tie was matching (Ben, Dad, Elder Min, and Elder Bingham-they were excited to match while teaching during interviews/instruction) and the other was a colorful paisley type.  When Elder Min saw Ben’s colorful tie he said, ‘Oh Ben…why me not buy?”  We would like to have him hear “Who’s on First” by Abbot and Costello just watch his confusion…but it’s not a church video.

Saturday afternoon we drove to a ward activity some distance away.  It was like a talent show/musical numbers for the first part.  We had to stand in front and have Dad say a few words…something about us not having lots of cows in our part of Texas/being cowboys…but there are a lots of alligators.  I wish people (whoever invites us to a function/activity) would let us know if we are expected to say a few words.  I will try to send a few short video clips…I don’t know if you will be able to view them…the first is of a young man playing the accordion.  I wish I had recorded the older people singing along to the traditional folk song.  The second video is of an older man playing the harmonica.  He said it was a sad instrument so he would play a sad song-Army of Helaman - not a sad song!  Another clip is one of the elders playing the violin/the Cotton Eye Joe!  This elder is from Katy, Texas.  His name is Elder Nielsen.  We have a Sister Johnson here, from Kingwood, Texas.

So the music part was fun, unexpected.  But then over an hour was spent on a balloon game (10 minutes spent on that game would have been plenty).  The object of the game was to pop a balloon between two people, by hugging each other as hard as you can.  Of course they wanted to have couples go first so that Dad and I could be up front in front of everyone.  We were good sports about it…Dad was sure to pop the balloon with his finger.  The next game was done by having two people stand back to back (really, stand bottom to bottom), bow and say, “An yan haseo” while bowing quickly/hard backward thrust to throw the other person off balance.  I wouldn’t participate in that game especially while wearing a skirt.
But the food at the end was fun.  There were people bbq-ing meat that was cut up, served with rice, leaves for wrapping, and kimchee.  I was impressed while talking with a woman who teaches English.  Her husband sent her to live with his sister, in America, to study for five months…many years ago.  But they had a five year old daughter at the time…who he took care of.  He knew it was important to his wife.

Sunday we attended church in our own ward.  It felt good to be home this time.  I had not attended our Relief Society before.  I sat with Sister Bowcutt and she told me little bits of what to expect.  Some of the sisters ate ears of corn during the lesson…one of the women picked the kernels off the cob one kernel at a time.  Then she would share them with the older sister sitting next to her, by setting the kernels on her hymn book or lesson manual.  After a while the office elders came in to translate for us.  It was fun to sing the closing hymn with male voices joining us in Relief Society.

In the afternoon we drove to our stake center to speak at  fireside…kind of like welcoming meeting for people to get to know us a bit better.  Dad had provided someone with 100 pictures (some of Dad when he was on his mission as a young man, others of our family) that were organized and put together for a slideshow.  They are a very patient people.  The slideshow was way slower/much more time spent watching the pictures than what we would do in America.  Also I say they are a patient people because they speak slower…more words spoken to say the same message we would say more quickly in English.  But they seem to listen more intently/respectfully.  So Ben surprised us by speaking for a good amount of time-he went longer than we figured he would. But I think part of that was getting used to having somebody translate for you.  It just takes a long time to share a message.  Jokes don’t really work well through the translation.  I shared a message about preparing to serve a mission (older couples as well as young adults can prepare), plus a little about pioneers.  I said that my mom (Grandma Reichenbach) was a pioneer in our family/both my parents, for serving a mission and then serving six missions together.  Dad did a great job speaking…including a funny story about a moth from one of his bike rides. Afterward four different people came up to Dad excited to tell him that they served missions in his same mission during the same time he was there, or that they were new converts when that big area conference was held, or that they knew somebody from one of the pictures that was shown.  Another older man came up to me to tell me that he was a missionary companion with a man who is the father of one of our sister missionaries.  Fun connections.

This past week when I taught about faith, in Alma 32:21-38 I learned from the missionaries bits and pieces here and there.  It was fun to hear from one who studied physics point out that a particle is the smallest unit measurable/you can feel it.  Another missionary said she had studied Greek and the word angel= to speak/encourage.  Some key words are remember…try to read Elder Scott’s October 2009 General Conference talk, beginneth…a missionary shared an experience where a new member made some mistakes then repented/beginning again on the path to happiness, and angels…Elder Holland gave a great talk in General Conference in October 2008.  A survey was conducted not long ago asking new converts to give a one word description of the missionaries who taught them the gospel.  The most frequently used word was angels.  That what we think about our missionaries; they’re angels.  We love them!


Tuesday, July 22

Thursday last week President and his wife, the branch president of the Kyeong Ju Branch, took us out for dinner at a nice restaurant.  We ate bul gogi, which means fire meat.  It is not spicy hot, it is cooked on the heating element right at your table.  I think when it says meat it means beef.  We have had bul gogi at other restaurants but each time it tastes a bit different.  They kept bringing out more and more small dishes of side dishes.  I hardly ate any of those.  I tried some sort of pumpkin with a mildly sweet sauce sprinkled with sliced almonds.  I wouldn’t try the ones the assistants told me not to try.  If something is red I won’t try it.  It will be way too spicy for me.  I like medium salsa back at home but the spicy level here is different.  The potato side dishes are safe to eat; taste good sometimes.  There was eggplant, tofu, mashed potatoes (that don’t taste like our mashed potatoesŠ-Elder Min tried to convince me that it was ice cream).  I try to have Elder Min sit next to me because he can eat and eat and eat, then I will have him finish what I can’t.  We sat at a table with chairs around; in the other room they had tables with pads on the floor for sitting on.  It was nice of President and his wife to sit on chairs for us; Šthey probably would have sat on the floor if it was just themselves.  Dad and I can sit on the floorŠbut it takes a little stretching afterward to move my legs.  And it is tricky getting down and up if I am wearing a straight skirt.  Each restaurant we have been to has small wet hand towels, at the table, for you to wash your hands with (one restaurant served COLD towels; nice on a hot day).  They don’t pick up the towels after you wash your hands; just set them aside because you will most likely need to wipe your hands throughout the meal.  There is a small box with small flimsy napkins/almost like tissues.  Sister Bowcutt (office senior couple) was telling me that they have noticed Koreans don’t mind that feeling of having food on their face (like how we quickly wipe our face with a napkin- they don’t).  At each table there is a small box with long handled spoons and chopsticks to be passed out to those sitting with you.  Most times a soup is served so the spoon can be used, or bi bim bop.  We ate lunch at a restaurant with the missionaries following the interviews/training.  This one restaurant owner made a special dish just for his favorite missionaries and then the rest of us ordered like we usually would.  But this owner/woman hovered over Dad stirring his bi bim bop for him (teaching him and Ben how to do it properly using the spoon and the chopsticks in a certain way).  Ben thought the red stuff on top was a vegetable; not raw beefŠwhich the missionaries highly recommended.  I ordered the soup that had small beef bones inside.  That same woman showed me how to take the bones out, use the special shears for cutting the meat off, dipping into the sauce, etc.  Each dish is served with a small dish of rice.  Sometimes the elders ask for two bowls; that’s probably what Dad should do.  I was fine adding just rice to my soup, no spicy red sauce.  I’m glad I had my spoon.

If you click on this photo to look at it more closely, to the left, you will see a woman transporting her belongings in a wheel barrow type vehicle.  Every once in a while you will see one of these vehicles, or the bicycle type that carries much stuff, on the road with regular cars.  Roads narrow down to a single lane so you have to drive very carefully.  You have to be able to put the car in reverse and maneuver…I’m constantly amazed.  I catch/hold my breath each day and am impressed with how well the assistant drives through such tights spots!

After the very nice dinner with President and his wife they drove us to a park; National Park called GyeongJu.  It was the burial place for a number of kings so each of the huge mounds/hills holds one king with his treasure.  There were many of these signs posted telling us the grounds/park was beauliful/beautiful.  It reminded me of the time, back at home before we came to Korea, when Ben’s study buddy told him he did a rearry rearry good job speaking Korean.  We walked through the grounds as quickly as we could; they did not join us for the walk.  But they really wanted us to be able to visit the park.

Here are the tombs/huge mounds where kings have been buried.  The tombs look like mini versions of the mountains in the background.  The mountains are so steep and close together and lush covered with trees and vegetation.

Across the street from where we were parked were some planters(some were brightly colored).  I asked Ben and the elders to go get in the picture, on the go.

Fascinating to see these fields planted/ready to harvest nestled in as part of the national park (walking toward the street where we parked, going away from the tombs and monument.  People were there picking the garden over.  They use every part of land to garden.

After a long day of two sessions of interviews/with instruction we stopped off at McDonald’s to get gas for the car and to go inside to eat (gas station/burger place combo).  The burgers and french fries were not quite like what we would get at Beck’s Prime, Fuddrucker’s, or Five Guys? or Tornado Burger, Smash Burger, or Prince’s even.  But since we haven’t been able to get anything like that here, in Korea, were were excited for McDonald’s food (we had a different opinion from when we picked up Ben and Blake after AFY, we were definitely not humbled yet!).  They had quotes on the table tops and hanging on the walls.

We sat upstairs at McDonald’s with a view out across to the other skyscrapers, interesting.  I had never eaten at an upstairs McDonald’s before. The milkshake was served in a clear plastic cup, since we ordered to eat there.  They are reusable. I don’t know if they have a dishwasher in back or what, interesting.

Ben and Elder Bingham

When we are driving between sessions of interviews/instruction we have seen many pizza delivery mopeds.  I was able to capture this shot but we have seen Pizza Hut ones too, zipping in and out of traffic.
Last week we had to hurry from one building to another for interviews…without time to go to lunch with the district of missionaries.  So the elders ordered pizza for us to pick up (one of their former locations to serve in that area) from Pizza Academy (who knows if the students have learned how to make pizzas yet!).  It was interesting/fun to eating it in the car as we traveled to the next stop.  We got one potato pizza (none of the pizzas have much sauce) that had thinly sliced pieces of potato, onions, and corn(in the center).  It was ok.  Then we got a pepperoni pizza (that didn’t really taste like a pepperoni pizza).  It was ok.  But I’m not sure we’ll try pizza again.  Dad had been telling us the pizza here isn’t good…but it wasn’t covered in kimchee like I thought it would be.

Week of July 14, 2014

Wednesday, July 16

We got up early this morning to hike the mountain. Each time we have gone we have had a different adventure. We came down the mountain on the other side this time because we wanted to see the Buddhist Temple. Actually there were more than one shrine or temples/different styles and portions to them. Our exit was closer to the mission home than the last time we went.

Dad, Elder Heo, Elder Bingham, Elder Suter, Elder Min, Ben

Last week we stopped by The Wind Hill tourist area near the ocean, on our way home from interviews. The wind was whipping around us with swells about 50 feet high. The small islands in the background would get washed over by the waves. To travel down the winding road to the tourist town, there were bushes after bushes of blue hydrangea flowers…gorgeous! There was a dam made of tiny stones with duck boats (shaped like cartoon ducks that gave rides on any of them) in the small river bottoms near the ocean. There were lots of churches along the way home that had beautiful stained glass windows, another had a bright red steeple, some were nestled in the mountain surrounded by trees, gorgeous view. It was funny to see a farmers land dotted with scarecrows. I had problems sending photos. One of Dad, Ben, and me by a windmill. We hiked up to it; fun. Another photo was of an enormous bridge/structure, cool! We went through 13 tunnels that one day (one tunnel took us under the ocean for a distance)through the lush mountains. I wish you could see the mountains here. They are what I would think of in Guatemala-I think. Not like the Rockies. They are so green and lush here all the way to the top. When driving in the city, along the highway there will be random gardens(like pumpkins growing) but I wonder how anyone could get close enough to harvest the produce (steep mountain covered in trees). Another drive, closer to the ocean, we saw ocean on one side and rice fields on the other side of the highway. Another time we saw oyster markers covering the harbor. Another time there were rocky islands dotted along the harbor and one had a statue erected that looked like the silhouette of Batman. Another time there were floating greenhouses in the harbor. Bridges in the city will sometimes be lined with beautiful flowers...I don¹t know how they are watered or cared for. Randomly you¹ll see a building with something funny on top, like a smiley face. Many times there will be cartoon character on a sign or a building, who knows why???

Walking home from grocery shopping last week, on the small road with the manicured trees, near the mission home. Ben asked me if I thought I would walk everywhere when we return to the states, like walk to do my grocery shopping. Well, I could easily walk to HEB to do my shopping. But I will want to drive again, when I get home.

These shipping cranes were HUGE! I don’t know if you can zoom in on this picture to see the Hyundai semi trucks that are regular sized 18 wheeler trucks, being loaded onto HUGE ships…to be sent somewhere around the world. There were many huge ships we passed by as we drove to another church building, along the highway. It was surprising to see huge ships so close to the shore, in the water.

We hustled back after buying the little bread loaves (chocolate chip, cinnamon, maple, strawberry and cream). But none of them have much flavor. I see many “French” pastry shops but haven’t tried the pastries because the breads here don’t have much flavor.

I bought a loaf of bread at the Lotte Mart (huge shopping center that had a Toys R Us, Cinema, different department stores inside, along with a grocery store) that had a picture of wheat on the outside. I also bought a loaf of bread that had a picture of corn on the outside. It wasn’t really cornbread. It was a type of bread (looked like potato bread in color) that had some kernels of corn baked in the bread.

So we walked back up the stairs to where the car was parked at the church parking lot.

Inside the church buildings the chapel has been on the second floor, with a large room that is carpeted, with a stand at one end. When Sacrament Meeting is over the stand is closed off by drawing a curtain across it…then Sunday School and Relief Society is held in that large room.

That generally is the room the missionaries are gathered in for instruction while President Barrow is conducting interviews in another room.

Tuesday through Friday we left early in the morning and returned late at night. The meeting started with President Barrow teaching the missionaries from the scriptures for about 20-30 minutes…then the interviews began, some days he interviewed 12 missionaries, another day he interviewed 18. Each missionary is supposed to have 15 minutes for their interview (that really isn’t much time when you think about it)…but that makes four missionaries in one hour….so three hours to interview 12 missionaries if it runs like clockwork. In the meeting room the two assistants were prepared to team teach the other missionaries while they rotate out, uninterrupted. Think about it…two young men team teaching for about four hours! Amazing!! The first day I didn’t know what to expect since I had never done this before…but then, the missionaries had never done this before with us.

They had gone through this schedule one time with the Gilberts. So the assistants have used different video clips to view and then generate discussion to discover ways to better the missionaries teaching techniques. The videos have been taken from I’m a Mormon clips, scenes from The District, video clips from, etc. Each day the clips used has varied a bit as well as the instruction, discussion, and feedback…depending upon how prepared the assistants are AND how prepared the attending missionaries are. I’m grateful the assistants are willing to do it. Apparently Sister Gilbert used to do the teaching for approximately four hours at a time. This week will be the same (Tuesday through Friday-but longer days with more missionaries to interview each day). This will happen every other transfer…over and over again…PLUS lots of other meetings and responsibilities in between. Ben and I need to use the time more effectively. And then when school starts Ben will not be a part of this process.

At the end of the interview day we went with all the missionaries to share a meal at a restaurant. We tried something (I can’t remember what it’s called) that was like a chicken fried pork cutlet (for Ben) and a chicken fried chicken cutlet for me… not creamy gravy but some sauce stuff. Dad had bi bim bop (I don’t know if I called it the right name). Another time we tried ? jap jae? (black/dark sauce over noodles-filling-not that great). Another time we had bul gogi (beef)…but it was made differently here, more like a soup. Ben asked Elder Min why Korean restaurants don’t serve much water during meals to which he said they usually eat soup with each meal. 

Having listened to the same video on repentance over and over again was good for me to learn and ponder. I thought of the story in 1 Nephi 7 when Lehi’s sons returned to Jerusalem to invite Ishmael’s family to join them in their journey.

16 Nephi’s brethren were angry with him…did bind him with cords…and sought to take away his life.

17 Nephi prayed to the Lord for help.

18 Nephi received help but not the way he had asked.

19 His brethren did soften their hearts and ceased striving to take away his life.

20 His brethren were sorrowful… asked for forgiveness.

21 Nephi “did frankly forgive them all that they had done, and I did exhort them that they would pray unto the Lord their God for forgiveness….did again travel on our journey towards the tent of our father.”

22 “ after I and my brethren and all the house of Ishmael had come down unto the tent of my father, they did give thanks unto the Lord their God.”

What stood out to me was the instruction Nephi gave to his brethren…not just to repent (say they were sorry to him for what they had done wrong…tried to kill him). But they needed to pray unto the Lord to ask forgiveness for what they had done wrong. It didn’t say how long they were there praying/ going through the repentance process. But they didn’t start back on their journey until after they had repented.

And then…after they arrived back to their father, Lehi, they did all give thanks unto the Lord their God…for the experience they just had. Laman and Lemuel gave thanks…for their experience …of getting angry at their younger brother, trying to kill him, having him forgive them and teach them more n depth about the repentance process/ a lesson in humility. AND Nephi gave thanks for the experience he had…of his brothers trying to kill him, having his prayers answered not quite the way that he thought of, forgiving his brothers, teaching his brothers (and the patience that must have taken) more in depth about the repentance process, and he must have shared that all with Lehi…and then recorded it on the plates.

How much time did that whole experience take? I wish Nephi could have recorded more about the feelings and emotions and how he dealt with his brethren. I have more questions!!

We arrived at this church building a few minutes early (we had to rush out of the building where the morning interviews were conducted, drive quickly to another building before another set of interviews began, without having eaten any lunch). Elder Min had served in this area in a previous transfer so he led us through the back streets to a bread store. This woman had been riding her bike behind us for some of the time, and was waiting for the light to change before crossing the street. Cars will zip along the road…and then every so often you see a bike rider or even an old person pushing an ancient cart. Fascinating.

Below, this is the driveway to the church building we arrived at on Friday for President Barrow to interview missionaries. The width of the driveway is narrow…but actually this was more wide than most of the regular neighborhood streets. The streets around the homes are so narrow that only one car can pass through…no stop signs or one way signs or anything. Drivers just take their chances. Lots of honking going on. Each day I close my eyes at some point, wondering how Dad can get us through the streets. I have not yet tried driving here. I don’t want to try yet. Scary! People seem to disregard the traffic rules ll the time.

The parking around here is a surprise, too! Most of the days we arrived at a different church building to find a car parked so close to the narrow entrance to the gait to the church building that they are somewhat blocking the entrance…yet Elder Bingham has been able to squeeze through, even having to back in when there was no way/room to turn around. I looked back to see a car parked on top of one of the orange cones set out in front of the church building. It was smashed flat when we came out after the meetings.

One day I noticed a number of phone booths throughout the city on our way home. I don’t remember seeing any phone booths around Houston…or Sugar Land. Most everybody has a cell phone here…so I wonder why I saw so many phone booths around here?

Many buddhist temples are seen throughout Korea. They have a swastika on the building, which surprised Ben and me. One missionary explained that the Nazis took that symbol from the buddhists…I wasn’t sure about that story until I Googled it and that was right. The swastika is a cross with four arms of equal length, with the ends of each arm bent at a right angle. The swastika is an ancient symbol found worldwide, but it is especially common in India and Korea. It can be seen in the art of the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Celts, Native Americans, and Persians as well Hindus, Jains and Buddhists. The swastika's Indian name comes the Sanskrit word svasti, meaning good fortune, luck and well being. In Hinduism the right-hand (clockwise) swastika is a symbol of the sun and the god Vishnu, while the left-hand (counterclockwise) swastika represents Kali and magic. The Buddhist swastika is almost always clockwise, while the swastika adopted by the Nazis (many of whom had occult interests) is counterclockwise.

We traveled across many bridges this past week as we gathered at different church buildings for President Barrow to interview missionaries by districts. There were these silhouette, horse shaped decorations on one of the bridges we drove over. The poles of the bridge were decorated in a lacy pattern.

I am amazed at the advertising on the city buildings…it goes all the way up to the top of the building…large, colorful, distractive, busy!

Happy July 4th!

Friday, July 11


Happy 4th of July(late)!!  Our shipment came on Friday…But as soon as I could, I found the Bundt pan we shipped and made a Chocolate Bundt Cake along with the hot fudge sauce…so we could have a bit of home here. We invited the office missionaries and the assistants to come over around 9:00PM…just before they went up to their apartment for the night. We had invited the senior office couple, the Bowcutt’s, over around 8:00PM so they were still here visiting when the elders arrived. We all had dessert and talked and looked at the family photos on the digital screen Dad had set up in the kitchen. Elder Men (one of the assistants to the president) had said previously that he did not like chocolate…but he meant the candy. He was quick to say he likes cake. We’ve been told they grow pumpkins here in Korea, but they don’t make pumpkin pie (Ben’s favorite)…Elder Men was surprised/perplexed to hear about pumpkin pie. I brought a few small patriotic decorations to put in the planter in the front entryway…but not many decorations. I guess there will be a Korean holiday in the fall (around October??) that they celebrate with fireworks…I told Elder Men to schedule that on President’s calendar along with the Cherry Blossom Festival which I don’t want to miss. Dad just laughed.

Last Monday evening Ben spent some time street teaching with the missionaries while Dad and I traveled to the Ulsan Zone to BangEojin for Dad to interview an older sister/investigator for baptism. Dad interviewed the sister in the bishop’s office. He said that he struggled with the language…but I think he’s doing great. We’ve been here one week and he has worked so hard at the language. When we go to another area, which means we’re in the car driving some distance like an hour and a half, he has Elder Bingham drive. Dad sits in the front with him and studies the language, asking questions of both the elders. Ben and I sit in the back with Elder Men. After interviewing the sister, Dad interviewed the missionaries serving in that area-two sisters and two elders.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we (Dad, Ben, Elder Bingham, Elder Men, and me) traveled/gathered for Meet the President meetings. Each meeting was different…learning more and more as we didn’t know what to do/expect having not done this before. The assistants have been marvelous. They have been assistants for five weeks, each, before we arrived…so they are learning along with us many times. They’re sweet boys. Their personalities are wonderful and they have been fantastic about including Ben in whatever they are doing. So Ben has eaten with them/tried more Korean foods than Dad and I have. Usually Dad and I will just eat cheese (Cheddar-we haven’t found Swiss cheese for Dad yet) and crackers or apple slices late at night. I really haven’t cooked except for spaghetti for dinner Sunday night. Even that was an experience.

At these Meet the President meetings Ben introduced our family scripture (…”as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15) and shared his testimony. I introduced the new missionaries (like how Sister Ashton would have them stand by her and share about them briefly) and told about our family (telling about each of our children’s missions). Dad would be standing for over an hour…going over a few announcements/instructions before opening up the time for questions-any questions they had about our family or the mission or the church or the scriptures. The feeling from each of the three zones was different. The instruction Dad…and we (some questions would be directed to me and Ben as well as to Dad-not many) gave was geared for specific missionaries (I think). The missionaries Dad interviewed the night before in BangEojin were at the meeting on Tuesday. Repentance and forgiveness, humility were mentioned. After the meeting we met/mingled with each of the missionaries. The buildings here are not the same as in the US. They are different from the next one-kind of reminds me of what it was like growing up n Michigan going with my dad to the small branches in northern Michigan-each building is different because it is not standard church paid for. So after the first meeting we mingled in the chapel area…couldn’t have filed out and had room for all of us to talk somewhere else. The elder who played the piano for the meeting was playing random other music like Jon Schmidt’s Waterfall. In the car driving back we discussed how the meeting went and decided we wanted the missionaries in the next two Meet the President meetings to file past us going out of the chapel in order to keep it more reverent. We kind of felt like we were in a wedding reception receiving line at the second meeting on Wednesday…shaking hands and giving hugs to missionaries. We met the Fairhurst’s (the military couple service missionaries) and were invited to their apartment afterward for lunch. They were very kind and informative, fun visit. By the Thursday meeting we felt a little bad for the assistants, who heard us speak at each of the meetings. After our Thursday meeting (which was held here, in our building, we were invited out to lunch with a couple of IT Church employees who were here setting up computers, etc. One of the men is from Seoul and the other is an American from Japan (living there over 20 years). We ate at a nice restaurant…Korean barbecue (lettuce wraps) where they have the cooking pits at each table. It was fun/interesting to watch Dad cooking at one end while the Korean brother cooked at the other end of the table. There were other small dishes of items I didn’t try and something I just closed my eyes to, whatever soup we were eating. After the meal we were talking about the green skinny peppers (looked somewhat like jalapeƱos) that were on the plate as garnishes (I wondered if they would taste good with tomatoes like a salsa). The brother tried to tell us that they were not spicy/hot, and broke off a piece for me to try…it was HOT!! I’m glad I barely put it in my mouth. The brother from Japan bit into it and then really reacted…then got the hiccups! The Korean brother ate it like it was mild…I wonder what hot is like for him?!!

With travel time to and from these areas, and meetings and other time consuming diversions our days have been mostly filled…so when we get back home Ben and I have gotten other things done (like laundry or organizing) but Dad has had even more meetings in the evenings, and phone conferences and phone calls to where he is so busy!

Friday we had MLCM (mission leader conference meeting) here in our chapel. I went upstairs to the mission office to Dad’s office shortly before the meeting started to meet up with the assistants and Dad…and finalized what my part of the teaching would be. It’s amazing to remember experiences from the past to use in teaching and how it works with the topic…and to have the faith to use it (to me it might have been a small experience or it might have had a different application…but it worked!). I had to leave the meeting early because the movers arrived with our shipment. I had to go back in to get Elder Men to translate real quick before he had to go in to team teach with Elder Bingham. But I was able to figure out the check off list/process. There was an older man (about our age) and a younger man working together. Each time they entered the house they took their shoes off…so they wore flip flop type of shoes. The younger man would carry boxes inside-three piled on top of each other-carried on his back! The whole shipment was fine except for one picture box…which was empty when the man opened it up…SURPRISE! He took a picture of it on his phone. I noticed it was sealed back up with masking tape, not just the gray packing tape. We figured they heard broken glass inside and just threw it away. I think it was the Proclamation on the Family that was broken/missing since we have the companion sized the Living Christ. We will need to file a claims form. We have been busy trying to unpack boxes! Lots of paper and boxes stuff when those movers were here, and also after they left. After the movers finished Dad talked them into coming inside to the MLCM meeting to be taught during role play breakout sessions. Then they ate lunch before leaving. Elder Bingham was happy to report the older man gave him his contact information.

Saturday early morning Papa called us when he had all the family gathered for a barbecue at his house (time difference Friday evening in Texas is early Saturday morning in Korea, 14 hour difference?…I think you are now six hours behind Korea now). It was great to hear their voices and to visit briefly with everyone. Dad had been at meetings(stake presidents, district presidents, area authority Seventy, etc) and was going to meet us at a baptism that night…which the office elders took Ben and me to…but then Dad wasn’t going to get there on time so we just went back home after an hour and a half one way car trip. Elder Suter talks nonstop-so funny. His companion, Elder Heo, is so quiet. Both great missionaries. Elder Suter pulled the mission van around 180 degree turn, up an incline onto a sidewalk, to drive into the church parking lot (I don’t know who would have designed a parking lot entrance like that off of a sidewalk). The church parking lots at each of the buildings we have attended are so small that probably six cars maximum would fit. People walk or take the subway or bus to church. At our church building this weekend there was a scouting activity so that about six pup tents were set up (right underneath our bedroom window-we are on the second floor). So whoever stayed there slept on concrete both Friday night and Saturday night. The activities were held inside the church…good thing because we got some rain this weekend…one of the missionary apartments got flooded and the power was out so they had to go to the church to stay overnight Sunday night. 

Sunday we attended church in BangEojin so that we could attend the baptism for that sister Dad interviewed. There was a wonderful feeling in church. A cute young returned missionary sister translated for me. She reminded me of K. Weaver-cute, petite, stylish dress. This sister served her mission in the Colorado Denver mission and returned home in March-saying she could not speak Korean when she came back. She graduated from the University of Utah and will go back in August to work as a medical lab researcher. I didn’t know until we were leaving that her mother was the sister who made the flower arrangement (I’ll send a picture). It was interesting to have fresh flowers on the stand in Sacrament Meeting…and then during Sunday School Sister J sat in the back of the room with the fresh flowers and made a flower arrangement to give to me. I set it on the table at the front for all the sisters to enjoy as we stayed in that same room for Relief Society the third hour. When we went downstairs for the baptism I brought it down there, too. The baptism was sweet…the son of this sister traveled many hours to baptize his mother. He joined the church six years ago. He spoke before the baptism part of the service-saying that when he was asked to speak he attended the temple to know what he should speak about/impressive. The sisters practiced a hymn during Relief Society to sing at the baptism….so even I participated by singing! 

After the baptism the members had a “break the fast” meal planned. There were three long tables set up with serving bowls set in the middle. At one end was a bowl of watermelon with the rinds still on (slices), a bowl with white rice cakes (round fist sized and shaped) and green rice squares shaped/patterned, a bowl with clear/glass like noodles with a little meat and vegetables mixed in, a bowl with corn on the cob pieces (but the corn was rust/brown colored like Indian corn-very gummy), and then another bowl of watermelon at the other end. There were chopsticks set out…but no plates. So everybody just stood around and started eating. Luckily somebody handed me a bowl and a fork…but Ben was good about eating with the chopsticks…so he was hungry having not been able to get much on the sticks. So FASCINATING!!! Dad was already in meetings downstairs interviewing a missionary from here to go serve in the Korea Seoul Mission, then to set that missionary apart (as the district president he acts as the stake president in setting new missionaries apart). Also, other meetings. Finally drove back home…Elder Bingham fell asleep in the back…poor guy. 

What a week it has been!!!!! Dad is amazing to have survived so many meetings!

Dad and Ben got up early this morning (Monday) to ride bikes with the assistants. They came back with mud splattered on their backs having eaten pig soup for breakfast…they had FUN!! 

Elder Men, Ben, Dad, and Elder Bingham

A memorial was built in a very small area very close to where we live, in honor of the man 
who created seedless watermelons. He is from Busan/this area.

You can see the memorial in the background at the end of this street. This street is very near to where we live. It is small, with beautifully groomed trees along the sides (I think that little old Korean women trim the trees). On our way home from walking to the Lotte Mart to shop. Carry reusable shopping bags. You can see the clouds in the background, down in the mountains where we live…it has been rainy weather the past few days.

Greetings from Busan Korea!

Thursday, July 3

We arrived very late Friday night.  The Gilbert’s met us at the airport along with the assistants to the president and the two other office elders.  I recognized Sister Gilbert right away as we walked through customs (reminded me of when Alex came home from his mission).  She gave me a big hug…I think I was ok but then she brought out the tears in me.  The missionaries had a huge banner made with our picture on it, and we took a photo of all of us behind the banner at the airport (I hope Sister Gilbert remembers to forward that to us).  The Gilberts stayed up late showing us around the mission home and talking.  We didn't know until morning when we went outside to go walking/exploring for a few minutes that the missionaries hung the banner up high and strewn outside near our home, for us to see.

Ken, Diane, and Ben when we first arrived in Korea Friday night after traveling for so long.

Ben was wearing his glasses because one of his eyes was red worrying it was infected (our mini miracle was that it cleared up by today-Saturday).

The last leg of our journey/flight was from Tokyo to Busan.  The in-flight meal that was provided was definitely different from anything we had eaten before.  It had chopsticks for us to use, along with fried chicken (that was cold, covered in some sort of sauce-GROSS!), Japanese pickles, and Japanese sweets-all gross-couldn't tell the difference between the pickles and the sweets/spongy.

In the Korean airport, we followed around to the counter just to enter the country.  You ask someone if that is the way to go…they nod and then the stern man at the counter directs you to go back.  The woman filling out a claim certificate was short tempered.  Then at customs they have you go past the customs agents to fill out some other form…somewhat difficult to locate/understand.  I think they need to redo their whole process to be more welcoming into the country.  I felt bad for the Gilberts as they had to wait for almost an hour for our delays.