Magic School Bus!?

Thursday, August 27

These books were on the bookshelf in the nursery room at the church. We had Magic School Bus books when you children were growing up!

Elder Kim is one of the zone leaders who were at the church for stake presidency meeting along with Dad and the AP’s. I showed the Magic School Bus books to Elder Kim and asked him to translate the names for me. I liked/noticed how they were called Marvelous School Bus books. He said they were his favorite books when he was young. We liked them, too!

Sunday evening we attended a musical concert performed by a Korean family that lives in Iowa. The father of the family sings opera, the mother accompanies on the piano, three daughters(ages 16, 14, 9) play the violin, and a younger brother tags along. The father mentioned that they lived in Texas(El Paso for a number of years before moving to Iowa). When the girls started playing this song (I think the father called it “Chasing the Orange Blossom”???) I wanted to start clapping my hands and shout out a “YeeHaw” a few times, but we were in the chapel so I didn’t dare. We did speak with the girls afterward; they were so quiet. They have been traveling around Korea performing for a number of weeks and will continue for another month. They must be exhausted with all their travels(we have missionaries in other areas that have told us about their concert any stops).

The second picture was taken just outside of the restaurant across the narrow street from where we ate dinner after the jundohing(proselyting) activity with the new missionaries. We felt bad because this restaurant was completely empty, when the restaurant we ate was busy with customers. Look closely to the right side of the restaurant sign(the little flame) says Bero Bero(our name)(the Korean characters is spelled the same way as our name is spelled, in Korean, on our name tags.

There were lots(maybe a hundred or more) of police(dressed in riot gear/protection) outside when we climbed the stairs up from the subway station. We saw across the busy intersection where some vans with loud speakers were announcing some sort of a strike(driving slowly through the intersection), with people carrying some flags of protest.

We had only two new elders this transfer, along with five new sisters. Dad always tries to make it fun and unexpected in assigning the trainers to the new trainees, but since we have just two elders Dad had to mix it up to have some fun and surprises.

Today our new missionaries were assigned their trainers! So much energy, nervousness, excitement was in the room. This sister missionary was so cute!

Dogye area and lots of missionary interviews!!

Every corner of the intersection was decorated with this huge "horses" block.

Thinking of Papa when we saw that 76 sticker!

Friday was a busy day of interviews starting with the missionaries in Dogye. The we arrived before the elders, who had the key to open up the church. The sisters arrived next, so Dad started the interviews with one of them I our car while the other and I sat and talked right outside the car. With each of the missionaries being interviewed I have tried to take their individual picture somehow. At one building I had gone outside to receive a phone call from the area medical advisor, and as I was walking around to the back of the building I saw a tiny little flowerbed with a splash of purple flowers. In other interviewing buildings I just used the blah boring white background of a classroom cement wall. One of our missionaries wasn’t feeling well so I wasn’t able to get an individual picture of him (just a group shot). We traveled to another building for the afternoon interviews and were greeted with some of our missionaries and their ward mission leader along with his son. The leader wanted to take us out to eat for lunch, though we were arriving just on time to start the scheduled interviews. He took us to eat at a restaurant which specializes in serving dog meat. GROSS!!  I didn’t make a gig fuss, though everyone knew I didn’t want to try it. I ate one piece of the meat (riddled with fat and stringy). I ate some of the strings/fibers of vegetables in the dish, and some broth with the rice, but I just didn’t want to keep eating even just the plain rice. Bleah!!!!! It made me not hungry/wanting to eat anymore! One thing that bothered me (which I verbalized) was that I felt on display with everybody in the restaurant (outdoor seating) staring at me/watching me eat/every move! I’m glad the weather was nice enough for us to sit outside and not SWEAT into a melted heap! As we were taking our shoes off before stepping onto the platform I could smell a faint odor like Scout after a bath (you know what I mean=wet dog!). Dog meat in Korean is gae gogi but the dish they eat all the time which has dog meat is called bo shin tang.

We came home yesterday evening from interviews to find Sister Lee  preparing two huge bags of garlic bulbs for future use(I wish I had taken a picture interesting how she keeps the long stalk/stem on the bulb saying it is possible for more nutrients to be absorbed and for the bulb  to grow bigger).  At least I took this picture wonder what kind of spicy food she is preparing for today’s meal after MLCM?!

Just driving by one of the police stations on the way to church today.  

Monday we took a missionary to the train station to go home early from his mission. This elder hurt his knee playing soccer about five weeks ago, was seen by a doctor but told to wait for a couple of weeks before determining if he needed a MRI done or not, and it happened again over more time. It was very frustrating for him. It was very frustrating for us. This elder had been one of our office elders when we first arrived in Korea, so we knew him better than we know most of the other missionaries. This elder is wonderful, very hard working, and will be missed. It was a sad day for us. These pictures are of Elder Kunde and Dad, through an infrared camera that was set up at the train station. When we entered the train station Elder Kunde noticed this camera that was set up near the entrance, with many wires attached and a couple of officials posted there looking at the screen carefully. We went over there to ask why the camera was set up and found out that anybody who enters with a fever will be detected and evicted immediately; MERS scare/testing. The other day Dad and I walked home by way of the police academy as a woman was entering the grounds for a visit. Before going any further she had to be tested, by taking her temperature in her ear, by the guard. Tuesday was another sad day for us as we took another missionary to the airport to finish his mission early and fly back home, by his choice. Dad worked so hard to have him stay on his mission. Dad spent so many hours talking to this elder, then talking with his parents, talking with the IFR (In Field Representative) who is stationed in New Zealand working for the church dealing with Salt Lake and this area of the world in particular, talking with the area president, talking with the elder’s stake president back home, and talking with the elder many times throughout all these other conversations. This has been going on for months, spending as many as 20 hours a week on this missionary and one other, besides all his regular responsibilities. Dad was compassionate as he worked so hard to keep him on his mission. It made me wonder how prepared does a missionary need to be before he goes on his mission? How are parents helping or not helping prepare their child to live away from home? What is the responsibility of the bishop in the application process and even before then? What responsibility does a doctor have in probing/asking in depth questions before signing off on the medical forms?


I had to include this first picture of Dad after he was TOLD to move his car, so this man in front could take pictures before the baptism today. I love how happy all our missionaries are, along with the young woman who was about to be baptized, and her friend who was baptized a month ago.

 I love this picture (even if it is too close up making it hard to tell what it is). I zoomed in on the roll of toilet paper on the podium, which they had instead of a box of Kleenex.

This first picture made me think of Papa. As we were about to drive out of the church parking lot I saw a bus parked on the street. The colors of the bus were purple and gold with ILS on the side (shift the letters a bit and it made me think of LSU).  The second picture is of our car odometer (Dad slowed down to 140 km/hr when he saw me trying to get a picture of how fast he was driving about 90 mph). I’m glad to be out of the car as soon as possible as we travel most weekends but sometimes I think Dad drives too fast! I told Dad I would have to drive when we get back to the States. Here, in Korea, police cars drive around like normal WITH their lights flashing on top of their car. When we get back home we won¹t think to stop if we see flashing lights.

Church in the Ulsan District!

Wednesday, August 26

Saturday evening Dad and I rode the subway to try a new little restaurant, known for their dumplings. I guess Dad asked the assistants if they knew of a place, and they came up with this place after a google search. We liked what we ate; might go again.  I thought these signs on the doors, before entering the subway, were fun to learn from.  Sunday Dad and I attended church in the Ulsan District; with Dad presiding and speaking. It was a Korea wide broadcast from Salt Lake with Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Richard Maines, Elder Steven Snow, Sister Mary Durham (of the general Primary presidency), and Elder Michael Ringwood (Asia North Area president video feed from Japan). The local stakes and districts broadcast to each of their building so the members did not have to travel far--MERS worry. The local leaders conducted and assigned music and speakers for the first 30 minutes, before the broadcast from Salt Lake began. Dad had to shorten his talk as a few previous speakers took more time. I had a missionary sitting on one side of me trying to translate he got maybe 20% of what was said. Good meeting, though.  Dad was super busy afterward with a number of interviews. The congregation ate a meal together after the meeting. Even with Dad not there they all waited for me to go through the line first, with Sister Lee and President Bae right behind me. President Bae is one of Dad’s counselors in the mission presidency. He is a doctor by profession which is helpful particularly with answering missionary questions about MERS. We have had a small number of parents contacting the mission office with their concerns. When Dad was able to eat, in the kitchen along with a few missionaries, we both went home still feeling hungry (even Dad said the food tasted fishy his comment first, to mine). So I made a nice dinner for the two of us to eat just before having staff meeting in our home around the dining room table so that I could serve up chocolate cream pie for dessert/Father’s Day! It was actually the second pie I made. The first one was another recipe the day before Dad and I ate it quick! But I did like the second pie better.  I received an email notification from the Sugar Land 2nd ward about bringing Father’s Day pies to the kitchen before church. Funny thing --I made my pies before I read that. I had forgotten about that tradition. Dad said he didn’t forget! He was dreaming of Gerry Griffins key lime pie!

This picture shows a mannequin set up near our home, right in front of the tunnel next to the church and mission home. The funny thing about mannequins are that they look real, even with moving arms. We have seen many such mannequins next to road construction sites; surprised when a few of them have turned out to be real people.

Dad and I went hiking along the trail on the mountain behind the mission home, but we went the other direction went you first get on the trail. The picture of the trees is showing the young trees being staked, interspersed amongst mature trees. We circled around a construction site and arrived at the exercise machines where there were a number of older people working out/stretching. Dad and I took turns doing the hula hoop while the other read scriptures out loud to the other. I lasted for about 28 verses (I’m glad the chapter wasn't any longery arms were tired from holding them up above the hula hooping. I was thinking of Ben hiking at Philmont while Dad and I were hiking on our mountain trail.

We just got our mission car cleaned this week by the office couple-Elder Bowcutt. Here is the sign that has Dad¹s phone number on it, for when you park the car in a tight space. When Koreans park their car they are supposed to put their phone number on the dash board so that they can be contacted to move their parked car. They often times park their car knowing they will have to move it because there is such limited parking in this country. As far as I know Dad has never parked ³illegally" (according to American driving standards).
At a baptism, the sisters in this ward are dressed you might understand a bit of my puzzlement. A sister on the far right, in a gray plaid blouse, is the wife of the bishop. She and other sisters are dressed in pants for this baptism that was held Saturday night. The young man who performed the baptism came back from changing out of wet baptismal clothes, into a t-shirt and sweat pants. He is a recently returned missionary from the Korea Daejeon Mission. Our own missionaries said that this young man was an Awesome missionary when he served, and is fantastic as a member missionary. The culture of the Korean people is to dress more casually than what the foreigners (Americans) would wear; and also what the missionaries would wear.  The young adult woman who was baptized was wonderful. You could not tell but she has a brain tumor of some sort --inoperable. She was very serene and happy, comfortable in her association with the members of the Gumi ward.  The missionaries were great and attentive to us before and after the baptism. I appreciated all they did for us.
I loved how the sweet little Primary children sang with the missionaries! Get Kelly started now so she will know how to stand up there and sing in front of people, and know how to be reverent.

 I recorded a baptism that we attended today, after church, in the Sangin ward. The church buildings in the Korea Busan Mission are not uniform/church floor plans, etc. I mostly wanted to show the layout of the baptismal font in the room not situated well for maximum number of people able to see the actual baptism. It made me grateful for the set up in the Lexington building baptismal font room. The sister who was baptized today was a young woman (age 19 in Korean age is age 18 in American age) who is the friend of another young woman, who was baptized a month ago. It was so fun to watch the excitement and enthusiasm along with the innocence of these young women. Before the actual baptism the sister was asked to stand in front of everyone and introduce herself. After the baptism when everyone had just settled back into their seats this sister stood at the front of the room, ready to speak --thinking that was expected of her. It was more comical to observe a young man (around 15 years old) who was asked to give the opening prayer. He was so embarrassed, hesitant, unsure of himself, mumbling speech --just a shy boy. The ward was so supportive and welcoming to her, loving. A number of people gave her gifts and flowers and a cake right after the service. What a great feeling there was in attendance!!

This little boy was a hoot"!! I thought he was a little girl because he was dressed in pink and has longer hair, but my translator told me a little about him and his family. Children in Korea "rule the roost" along with older people. So it was normal to observe this little boy all during church and afterwards. We attended the Sangin ward today because they had a baptism schedule for after church. The ward felt great! There was a great feeling to the meeting, lots of love and unity. The missionaries look great and the members appear to get along great with them; helping them and taking care of them. Dad had me share my testimony today before he spoke in Sacrament Meeting. I had a translator help me at the beginning and then I shared the rest in Korean. It does not come easy for me (like I have to study my notecard over and over again so it¹s not like a spontaneous sharing of feelings). But I did share my feelings; which was hard because I felt the Spirit strongly during the other talks and especially as I spoke about the Book of Mormon. Great opportunity to be here today!

Ben in Texas for the summer!!!

As Dad and I were coming back home from the proselyting and dinner, along with Ben, we met this lady on the subway who was excited to show us her fingernails and toenails freshly done! She talked excitedly about her nails, her work and other things. She eagerly took Dad’s pass along card and gave him her business card. But it made me think of another woman who I met a little earlier on the subway. I watched a woman as she waited just a moment before getting on the subway. This woman was dressed in a cute outfit, from head to toe. So when she got on the subway I tried to tell her I liked her outfit; but it was hard for her to understand me. But as she was getting ready to get off at her stop she made it a point to tell me to have a good day/goodbye. Dad was able to pull out a pass along card to give to her. Dad was able to share five cards with people that night.

Ben left for America last Friday in the afternoon and arrived in Texas late Friday night. Blake Kennington and his dad, Mike, picked him up from the airport. Ben said they stopped by Whataburger on the way back to their house. Dad and I felt weird/missing Ben/don’t like growing old and moving into the "empty nester" phase of life.

Dad and I went for a bike ride on Saturday. First Dad told me we were going on a long hike. Then he said we were riding 7 1/2 miles. After we rode about 4 miles he told me we were riding 7 1/2 miles ONE WAY. Sneaky! There were different stops along the way with beautiful flowers but we stopped just once to show this heart shaped flowerbed. We don’t have a little bike bell to ring (ringy dingy) but we could hear other people ringing those. It was a beautiful day with great weather so lots of people were out biking, walking, playing badminton along that same trail we had our 5K run with the missionaries last year.

 We saw this woman carrying her package on her head as well as a package in her hand and had to take a picture. I was amazed at how she could balance that package making it look easy, smooth and fluid, even with lots of traffic coming at her.

We went down to the walking path (where we held the 5K run) to play badminton this morning. There were two middle school age boys(15 year olds/friends) who were there playing and let us play against them. They were funny to watch/listen to. We tried to get the highest number of volleys but our record was 10. On the way back walking just before crossing over on the blocks we saw this bird trying to eat an eel (I think that’s what it was).

Pics from when Ben was in Texas!

I was reading from an article titled How We Preach of Christ in Our Home, from the June 2015 Ensign. I liked some of what was said as it made me think of some of my own thoughts from our mission.

“Let’s say that you are teaching the importance of prayer. You might use doctrine and Covenants 10:5, where we are instructed to“pray  always,” or Nephi’s counsel that the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray” (2 Nephi 32:8). These scriptures teach the doctrine of prayer powerfully. As you discuss them, let’s say you ask something like “How did the Savior pray?” or “What were the Savior’s prayers like?” If you have younger children, you might ask, “What do you think the Savior’s prayers were like?”
Take a moment to think of how you might personally answer this question by considering the scriptural accounts that come to mind. I think immediately of the Saviors visit to the Americas, when “he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written. ..Eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father” (3 Nephi 17:15-16).”
We have morning prayers, prayers over meals, and then when we go out someplace (like Costco) we have another prayer. Sometimes I feel like we have already covered ourselves with enough prayers! But then I remember that we are supposed to pray always. So when we have been with the assistants and one of them has prayed I was impressed by their sincere prayer—not rushed or irritated. So my question is this: Do you have an experience when you prayed that changed the way you think about prayer or that changed your life? Did something happen that made you feel a deeper conviction as to the power of prayer? I’m hoping that returned missionaries will think back to their missions and reply/speak up/share/write a response. I would love to hear how prayer helped someone from your mission; an investigator, companion, member, or you.
But you don’t have to have served a mission in order to have had an experience with prayer to share with me. I’d love to hear from anyone; a mom, child, student, athlete, in any setting.
Another part of the talk that I liked was about having a reminder in your home/room that would help you remember the Savior:
“A few years ago, while sitting with our children at tithing settlement, our bishop invited our 10-year-old son to take a small picture of the Savior and decide where in our home to place it, where it would be a constant reminder of our family’s commitment to follow Him. After returning home, he placed the picture on the front door, where, our son said,“each of us would see it the most.” This has been a great blessing and constant reminder to all of us every day in a small but powerful way of our promises to follow Jesus Christ.
Regardless of where pictures are placed in your home, it would be worth the effort to note the pictures on the walls and the messages you are sending to your children. Is the art in your home portraying the message that you are committed to following Christ?”
This idea of having pictures of Christ up in our home also made me think of including pictures ofthe temple. When our missionaries go home we have a nice traditional dinner that Sister Lee prepares. After dinner we sit together in the living room and each take a turn sharing answers to two questions Dad asks: “What has been harder, on your mission, than you thought it would be?” and “What do you know, now, that you didn’t know before?”. Just this last time of talking with the outgoing missionaries did one of them answer the way that I thought Dad intended the question to be understood. This one missionary shared his testimony—what he knows, now, that he didn’t know before his mission. He got it! It is a big change/difference for him. He finally knows!
After going around the room each taking a turn to share, Dad points out the different pictures/paintings we have hanging up around the living room area, and what they represent. Above the piano we have the same painting we had hanging up in our house in Texas (interestingly the Gilbert’s had the same painting) of the Stripling Warriors titled “It Is True Sir, All Present and Accounted For”. We have a picture of the Jordan River Temple, the same temple Dad and I were sealed in. We have a family picture, from when Alex came home from his mission. There is a painting of Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove, with a painting of Christ in His red robe nearby when you first enter the mission home. Each painting and picture reminds us of Christ in some way whether through ordinances and covenants or the scriptures. I hope that everyone who comes into our home can see that we are committed to following Christ.

Ben's Birthday!!!

I did not hear the numbers when Chris Wasden was reading off the elevation of our mountain or the distance we hiked today. I just know that it is steep and I had to catch my breath. The second picture is of our church building, but if you look behind it on the mountain you can see two orange cable cars towers. We hiked up to that level today where the cable car platform is. Our hike down was different than our hike up, going past the Buddhist temples. It is hard to see how steep the climb up/down is but you have to keep your eyes on the path so you don't fall/twist an ankle. 

If you look to the left and walk around that brick wall you will come to the front door to the mission home. We are standing in front of the sign on the church with the name of our church, which is in front of the window looking into the chapel, off the church parking lot. With Chris and with one of our assistants and one of our office elders who got up early to hike with Ben and us.

Ben had his birthday celebration with the new missionaries that just arrived the night before, along with the office elders and AP¹s. Ben went shopping on his own in Nampo, the market area. That is also the area where the new missionaries went out proselyting along with the trainers, before eating dinner at a restaurant together. It has been a busy week that started with transfers. Today the trainers were assigned to the new missionaries and we saw them off to their new areas. Tomorrow we have the zone leaders and sister training leaders for MLCM (Mission Leadership Council Meeting). As soon as we finish with that we will hustle Ben to the airport to travel to America for two months of the summer. He will come back to Korea with less than a week before school starts up again.

Restaurants near Lotte Mart building

Thursday evening Dad, Ben, and I took a bus going over near Sajik Stadium where we met the Bowcutt’s (mission office couple/finances) to eat dinner and then attend a Lotte Giants home baseball game. We ate ate this place that Elder Flint and Elder Kim had talked about before. We ate the "house Specialty" fried rice with chicken type dish (I don’t remember what it is called). We each wore the aprons they provided. It was pretty spicy?--had a kick to it. Afterwards we walked around the corner to a Baskin Robbins for some ice cream, before walking across the street to the stadium to attend the baseball game. There were people trying to sell box chicken dinners and other foods that could be carried inside the stadium from outside. We saw people inside with pizza boxes and take out fried chicken (given plastic gloves to wear in order to eat the fried chicken!). A different mentality than back at home attending a baseball game where you can’t take any food or drink/even water in from outside. I like going to the baseball games for the food (nachos, hot dogs, peanuts, ice cream, etc). Fun times! We ended up leaving early as Ben needed to finish studying for finals.

Friday night Dad, Ben, and I went out to dinner in the Lotte Mart building. We walked around the floor looking at the choices: an Italian restaurant, two Korean restaurants, a coffee shoppe, some other Korean somethings, TGIFridays (which we decided to eat at), and this Chinese restaurantith the funny spelling.  We have eaten at this Fridays restaurant before, so this time we were recognized by a previous waiter, by the nickname of Tigger, who had served us. Tigger came by and chatted for a bit and then brought us a free lemonade and Spriteucker up!! Both taste different than in America. But it was fun to visit with Tigger for a few minutes. Dad had given him a pass along card with the link to watch the Easter video, Because He Lives, but he hadn't realized there was something to click on and watch. Hopefully he watches it and we see him another time to chat again.

Today we visited the Shinjeong Branch for their branch conference. The flowers outside were so bright and beautiful, though there were not the numbers of them like at the Goijeong Branch. Ben makes the flowers look so much better!  Elder Willis translated for me before the meeting started as this Œ"harmony"/grandma/older sister in the branch came over to me to have a conversation. I think she was pleasantly surprised when Ben translated something she said for me to understand. Then when she saw that he understood she started talking real fast and Elder Willis noticed so he came to help. But she would go on and on, after which he would say a little of what she was talking about but he couldn¹t understand it all. She was so animated (I didn’t capture her arms moving up above her head or off to the side or running in place). I think she liked to shock him with some of her conversation.  Dad had me share my testimony at the beginning of the Sunday school portion of the branch conference. I shared/read from my notecard where I had written down a few lines of a testimony in Korean. I read over that again and again, but it just didn’t sink in. It was hard! But interestingly, when I read the line about the Book of Mormon my pronunciation was more fluent and clear‹--I could feel a difference. That’s because of the truthfulness of that statement/book. After I spoke Chris Wasden, who came Saturday evening on a side trip from Seoul on a business trip, spoke briefly. Then during the rest of Sunday School time today Dad offered some time at the end for Questions and Answers. Dad had the branch president, district president, the district RS president and counselors, and his mission presidency counselors all sitting up front with him available to answer whatever questions were asked. This same “harmony” didn't just stand and ask her question. She walked up to the front of the class to tell her baptism story plus, etc. Dad stood and asked if she had a question to which she answered “No". A character!

These elders arrive early to the church building each week in order to make sure the inside of the building is clean as well as the parking lot is swept and clean. Church starts at 10:00am but they arrive about an hour early. We were at the church already because Dad had early meetings before the actual branch conference began. We left our house about 7:45am in order to drive to the meeting on time. The meetings go from 10-1. The branch eats lunch all together after the meetings. But then Dad has follow-up/wrap-up meetings starting at 1:30pm. Then Dad set apart some people with new callings or at other conferences he has set apart missionaries or done temple recommend interviews or any number of meetings. Most of the branch members hang around talking, socializing, someone usually plays the piano, children run and play?--it seems so different from back home where everybody just goes home or another ward starts their meeting block schedule. Dad finished his meetings and we left to start the drive back home around 3:00pm or so? with our missionaries still there waiting for the people to leave so they can vacuum the rooms and clean up before locking up. Those are long days for our missionaries.

Hear No Evil, Say No evil, See No Evil! (Elder Jacobsen, Elder Jackson, Ben) Trying to pose like Buddha on his birthday.