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.

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