Our first Mission Tour and Zone Conferences and Bugs!

Monday, September 15

We have had a busy week!  Tuesday we were busy cleaning up from the Chuseok 5K run activity we had with the missionaries.  Well, we weren’t doing lots of clean up from that as much as we were trying to NOW get caught up with our own cleaning and organizing.  Elder and Sister Aoyagi (he is a counselor in the Asia North Area Presidency) came to tour our mission.  Dad and I picked them up at the airport.  On our way out of the airport (paying the parking fee) we saw a poster saying Smile Patrol, that I pointed out to the Aoyagi’s.  We had been sent a copy of Sister Aoyagi’s talk that she would be giving in English as the assistants and each of us would be having a part in her presentation.  But the points she made about missionary works were: to Smile, the Book of Mormon (keep it in your hand to give away), and to Push (work hard).  We came home from the airport to a nice meal Sister Lee had made for us.  I say nice because Sister Lee tries hard to make meals that she likes to make but also that I will eat (she has noticed that I don’t like to eat mushrooms or seafood).  She made some seafood (which means the smell of that permeates our home for days before and after the meal) and some beef ribs (but the Korean beef ribs are tiny, thin, little things with the bone still in—interesting way of soaking the beef to draw out the blood before cooking them).

What was fun to see was Elder Aoyagi presenting Ben with a boxed treat—of cigars.  Not actual cigars (which he kept referring to as cigarettes) but delicate little cookies shaped like cigars—like Pepperidge Farm cookies called Pirouette Rolled Wafers without the filling.  I think it’s funny that because we have Ben with us the visiting authorities try hard to be fun.  Who would have thought a general authority would bring “cigars”?  Or when Elder Whiting visited he sat in the back of the car with Ben as we traveled and they talked about the latest and greatest cars they liked.  When I asked him how he knew the most recent released models he said he travels on planes so much and sees them in magazines.

We had the assistants come over after dinner to go over the agenda for the mission tour/zone conferences.  This is our first mission tour and zone conferences!  We don’t know how it’s supposed to go EXACTLY so it was good to discuss everything.  There were changes that needed to take place, still more work to do that night.

Wednesday morning I got up early so I could make muffins before Ben had to go to school and then for our breakfast before we had to drive almost two hours.  We pulled up to the church building (the Aoyagi’s kept saying comments about what small roads there are in Korea—compared to what they have in Japan, “My goodness-you are a very good driver” to Dad, etc) and parked in the back parking lot.  But the back door was locked.  We had to hike around the building to get to the front side and finally were able to go inside.  The office elders forgot the translation equipment so they had to drive back to the mission office (two hour drive).  Sister Aoyagi was so cute and fun and funny.  Before climbing up the steps to the chapel she felt like telling me about the time her stake president called her to be the stake YW president, even though her husband had just been called (but not announced) to be as a Seventy/General Authority.  Ask me about that story when you come home.

The feeling from each zone was so different.  It’s hard to explain.  Dad spoke in the morning session, and then Elder Aoyagi.  We took a picture as a zone and then ate lunch.  After lunch I was the first speaker.  Each zone I started off my comments personally, then went into my talk.  I spoke about Abish.  I think I sent you that talk a long time ago.  I would have used it for a stake conference Saturday night talk…but then something happened and I spoke about something else.  Then I would have used it again at another stake conference Saturday night session. But then something else happened and I spoke about something else.  Heavenly Father was just saving this talk for me to use in this conference.  It went along with the request for the mission tour preparations Abish was on the list at the first zone conference, but not on the second zone’s list.  The second day of zone conferences it was easier for me to feel the Spirit as if the missionaries were more in tune.  The third day was the hardest to feel something.  There were beautiful musical numbers presented, but the Spirit wasn’t easily felt.  After more teaching and instruction from Elder Aoyagi the missionaries seemed to absorb what he had to teach.  The Aoyagi’s continually told us what wonderful missionaries we have, how lucky we were.  They were fun to have in our home for three days.

Sister Aoyagi had Dad, Elder Aoyagi, both the assistants and me stand up on the stand (while all the missionaries stood up where they were sitting) to help her lead the missionaries in a hymn, Put Your Should To The Wheel (Push Along).  We stood with our feet shoulder width apart, hands stretched out in front of us to the side, crouch down in a stance (think of doing the football stance with moving your feet super fast), then sing while moving up and down while “pushing” our hands out in front of us to alternating sides, then gently pounding on the person’s shoulder next to you, switch to the other person’s shoulder, then pound your own back, and so forth.  I don’t think anyone could believe we were actually doing this!  We all just laughed and had fun with it.

Wednesday night we came home to a delicious dinner made by Sister Lee.  I think we were all so tired and hungry.  We had Brother Ahn, the Aoyagi’s translator come for dinner at our home, too.  Brothe Ahn is from Korea, served his mission in Japan, and just recently graduated from BYU Hawaii.  So he was able to translate from Japanese (especially for Sister Aoyagi—Elder Aoyagi can speak some English), to English, and also from Korean (when the Korean missionaries would answer a question during the meetings).  When Brother Ahn walked in the front door and around the corner he saw the stuffed alligator moving (Ben had his foot underneath it and was just moving a little bit) and thought it was real!  We have had so much fun seeing the look of surprise on peoples faces as they first see that toy alligator.  Sister Aoyagi was excited to ask Sister Lee for her recipe for the beef ribs from the night before.  She was excited to share with me a syrup recipe she received from one of the other mission president’s wives recently (it reminds me of the syrup Aunt Tricia liked from Magleby’s Fresh)…although it is difficult to communicate from Japanese to English—but we make due.  So Thursday morning I made German Pancakes (thank you Shanna!) and the syrup Sister Aoyagi liked for breakfast.  It was fun to have Sister Lee come into our home to start working on lunch—but first to sit down and try the pancakes and syrup.  Gotta have some fun with all this!  And that reminds me of sitting on the stand for HOURS!  Even Sister Aoyagi was happy when I pulled out a ziplock bag of Starburst, and also doing leg stretches while her husband talked.

Thursday night we brought along a missionary to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, with us, as he was going home the next morning.  When we took him to the train stain early Friday morning and waited with him on the platform, then said goodbye…who can say they were sent off home by a general authority?  I think the voyage’s enjoyed it the most.

Friday morning we had to leave early for the train station and then for zone conference.  As soon as the conference meeting was over the assistants had to rush the Aoyagi’s to the train stain, on their way to Seoul.  Dad had missionaries to interview.  I cleaned up the chapel in preparation for the next day meetings of stake conference.  Ben got on the subway right after school to travel to the train station to take the KTX (Korea Travel Express??) up to where we were.  Dad and I drove over to the missionary military couple’s apartment and went on base to an American football high school game.  We bought dinner at the concessions stand paying with Korean Wan (money) and receiving American Dollars in change…it looked so strange to us!  We had to think for a minute what to do with the change…not for long.  We bought a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup!  It’s been months since we’ve had one of those.  Ben’s train came in not that late so we saw just about a quarter of the football game before heading off to the train station.  We spent the night with the missionary couple.  Ben walked over to the chapel where the youth gathered to take a chartered bus ride up to Seoul (about 3 1/2 hours ride) for a youth activity amongst all the military youth in Korea.  They played get to know you games, ate lunch (American food!) on the military base, and had a spiritual message before getting on the bus for a long ride back.

While Ben was traveling and up in Seoul Dad and I saw the outdoor market in Daegu, saw a Buddhist temple, saw some Korean military equipment from the Korean War era, took a cable car up to the lookout observation platform on Apsan, that overlooks all of Daegu, and then prepared to speak at the Saturday night session of the Daegu Stake Conference.  Ben came into the meeting at the back and sat down by the assistants.  After all that meeting and what all Dad has to do we all (the assistants traveled back with us in our car) arrived back home late…and had to get up early the next day to travel to the Changwan Stake Conference.  I keep my short talks with me in my bag.  There was some mix up with the different translators so I had to give my Saturday night talk again on Sunday morning instead of what I would have given.  Saturday night was sweet…the translator was emotional as was I.  Maybe because she told me later her sister will be leaving soon for her mission to New Zealand.  What a different feeling on Sunday morning!!

After the Sunday morning session we ate a lunch the stake president organized.  At the same time a baptism was happening right across the hallway.  I was able to slip in after lunch, as the baptism was taking place, and then to share my testimony.  I love going to baptisms!  You can always feel the Spirit strongly, even if you don’t know the person well.  Dad had more meetings with the stake president…and then we could drive home.  A staff meeting that night.  Wow!  Long week!

Today Dad and I went to Costco and spent lots of money for this next transfer meeting one week from today.  We won’t be able to shop later this week as we need to go to Jeju Island for district conference.  Dad leaves Thursday for more meetings.  After Ben gets out of school on Friday he and I will fly over there together.  We won’t get back until Sunday night and then the next morning is when the Transfer Meeting is with missionaries going home.  I better prepare my talks earlier rather than later!

Dad, Elder Aoyagi, Sister Aoyagi, and Brother Ahn standing at the train station right after Elder Campbell said goodbye and is traveling up to Seoul to attend the temple before flying home.

Dad crouching down by a cart of bugs. I don't know what kind they are.  The vendor woman would not get in the picture.  Just 10 feet away was another cart and vendor woman who didn’t want her picture taken either.

At the market we walked down the aisle where pigs parts were being sold.  The lady in the background had trays of pigs skin pieces she was selling. Another vendor lady was insistent that we try/taste the pig skin.  I  took a toothpick and skewered my own tiny piece barely nibbling on it and letting Dad try the rest of it.  Sister Fairhurst, the military missionary coupe skewered a larger piece.  It was soft from being soaked in sesame oil.  It was slimy feeling, mushy.  But I was surprised at how clean the area must have been because there weren’t any bugs flying around the shops. There was a bucket just around the corner where they were soaking pig heads in water (gross, spooky, erie like a scary movie), before putting them on display like the one Dad is crouched beside.  I don't know if you can see but they pin the ears back with clothes pins. The next aisle over chicken parts were on display.

These are two of the four statues at the entrance of a Buddhist temple we saw on Saturday as we were site seeing with the Fairhursts, the military missionary couple in Daegu.  Sister Fairhurst said that each Buddhist temple has four statues guarding the temple.  Each of the four statues has a different expression on its face.  I don't remember what was in each of their hands but each was holding something different.

The other guarding statues.  I think it's fun to see their expressions and what they are holding.

I like the bright colors used to paint the ceiling.  I wonder how long it took to paint along with all the carvings?

This reminded me of the dragon in Mulan.  The steps up to the temple.

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