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!

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