July 11, 2016

Monday, July 11

 Almost two weeks ago we had a few days of our assistants teaching a woman in our home. It was a cool experience. One of our assistants on exchanges with another missionary, met a woman about a 15 minute walk away from our home. They walked and talked with the woman on the way back to the mission home, stood outside our home and called Dad asking if they could come in and teach her right then, and set an appointment to meet the same time the next night in our home. Our assistant was back together with his regular companion, the other assistant, and taught her again, and set another appointment to meet the next night in our home for another lesson. That third night our assistant was on another exchange with another missionary. After the lesson was taught they asked me to share my testimony. That was fine but I had these thoughts racing through my mind real quick that I didn’t understand the lesson taught because I don’t understand Korean, and I still did not know this woman’s name. She told us her nickname is Mijya, but she still had not told us her family name or her first name. Now the missionaries wanted me to share my testimony (or open up my heart and inner most tender feelings) with a woman who has not even opened up enough to share with us her name, after three days of being taught in our home. So I did share my testimony, and if you know me you know that I cry easily (if I want to, if I allow myself to open up and be vulnerable). It turned out to be good. Mijya came to church on Sunday (July 3), which was Fast Sunday so I felt like I should share my testimony (though I really am a shy person and do not like to be up front in front of people with all eyes on me). As soon as I got up there I started to cry. But it was good because Mijya was looking up at me and smiling (she could have kept her eyes looking down and ignored me but she didn’t). So it was good for me to open up and share my testimony and inner most thoughts.  We have had quarterly interviews with our missionaries and I have been sharing thoughts on this and in John 17:6-12, 20-21, along with parts of Elder Zwick’s talk from the April 2014 general conference. Also I have been sharing my notes on the article of the woman trying the Water Diet and notes on kidney stones (as we had another missionary have to go to the hospital with that problem). Drinking LOTS of water HELPS!!

We had a fun 4th of July celebrating with the missionaries in the Busan and South Busan zones. They all gathered at the mission office/chapel and ate BBQ hamburgers and hot dogs. The weather has been HOT and rainy, so the assistants grilled outside our back door (luckily there is an overhanging cover to block most of the rain). They are so funny to listen to and to watch. One of the assistants watches and mimics Dad (the way he had a kitchen towel draped over his shoulder). They filled their plates with both hamburgers and a hot dog making sure they got all they were supposed to get (they sure can eat a LOT!!).  The next night there was 4.7 earthquake in Ulsan, where Dad was in a stake presidency meeting with the assistants. I had never experienced an earthquake before so I wasn’t sure what it was. As I was sitting at my computer I felt and heard some rumbling but since we live in the city with construction and tearing down of apartments going on around I I wondered if they were just extra loud that night. But it did feel like a huge truck was driving through our living room. So I called the office elders to see if they felt anything and knew what was going on. They felt something but didn’t know until later when they were calling around that they found out about the earthquake. Dad didn’t return my text so I was worried about him until he got home and told me he didn’t feel a thing or know anything until the men around him told him they all felt the earthquake, just not Dad.  Saturday night we attended the music fireside of some of our missionaries.  This sister missionary studied the Haegeum (traditional Korean vertical string instrument) before coming on her mission. She told Dad that she was nervous about playing because she has not touched the instrument since just right after she arrived on her mission (and played at one of our zone conferences). I thought she did a great job without any practicing I’ll send a few more clips from the concert/fireside. Remember, my phone lets me download recordings in just eight second clips.

 This sister missionary’s companion played the piano to accompany her and also a few other missionaries in other numbers. She is very talented as she had to slow down according to how the missionary felt like playing her instrument/or another sang.

 This instrument sounds so melancholy. I think it would be difficult for a young child to begin studying this instrument if you had a different personality (other than what our sister missionary is like).

 What a surprise when the branch president opened his mouth to sing! I wasn’t expecting to hear Italian opera! The branch president is funny as he watches others perform. He will walk up as stand right beside or behind the performer to get just the right/best shot with his phone camera.

 This man played the traditional Korean flute like instrument called Sogeum or Junggeum (the first one is smaller than the second one).

 Dad and I drove up to Uljin on Sunday to attend church. Uljin is just a small group, not even a branch or a ward. The GPS said it would take us six hours to drive there, but it took Dad just three hours (Elder George drove up there once, in four hours, when he took supplies to the new apartment).  This was the first baptism for the small group and for our missionaries. Pohang is about an hour away so the Young Men’s leader and a counselor in the branch presidency brought three young men from their brach to support this young man, and to invite him to an activity in two weeks. At first the missionaries and a young family (the small group leader) met in the family’s home on Sundays for church services. About a month ago we rented another apartment on the floor below where the missionaries live, to use for church. That apartment has two rooms; the back room is where we were for Sacrament Meeting with the front room being where we met for combined Sunday School. The room where we met for Sacrament Meeting is small with just three chairs up front, so I sat in the back while Dad sat up front (he is the presiding Priesthood leader for the whole district). But I think Dad was surprised when it came time for the Sacrament that the young family man (small group leader) and Dad prepared and blessed the Sacrament. It has been a while since I last heard Dad say a Sacrament Prayer (when Ben first became a priest and blessed the Sacrament in Sugar Land). That was sweet. Then Dad called on me to share my testimony, again. Elder K Smith translated for me.  After Sunday School all the people drove over to the ocean to watch Elder Smith baptize this young man. He’s a sweet boy. It was so cool to watch as it was so quiet on this beautiful beach. The water was clear and calm.  Orally there are strong winds blowing off this part of the ocean but not this day. It took three tries, but that’s ok. So cool!  We drove back to the church for a meal together and for Dad to interview one of the missionaries. Then we needed to hustle back home for guests/visitors for dinner.

40 year anniversary of the Pohang Branch - Ben's Graduation and Temple Trip

Thursday, July 7

This group picture is typical of the Korean people when they gather together, they all want to get in the picture. The “foreigner”/white man wearing a dark blue tie sitting next to the sitting woman wearing a white jacket, I Robert Holley, a famous tv/movie personality. He served his mission in Korea around the time that Dad served (I can’t remember exact dates). Robert Holley earned a law degree, worked in Korea straight out of school, and stayed there since. He married a Korean woman, has three children, changed careers a number of times until he landed in the entertainment business because he was a white guy who could speak Korean well. I had to ask him who he was because I didn’t have any idea; and just what he does that makes him so famous. Oh well. Lots of people were wanting to have their picture taken with him, getting excited that he was visiting their branch on this 40 year anniversary branch conference Sunday.




WOWIE ZOWIE!!! I cannot believe our last child graduated from high school! Ben asked if I would get emotional and I told him yes; and I did!  A major milestone just happened in Ben’s life and in our lives as well. I remember when each of our children graduated from high school. We shared those fun times with good friends (sorry but there was no dinner at Benihana for us!). After the graduation services we went to the Shinsegae Shopping Center -largest shopping in Korea! We ate at a burger place, mostly because we could get a milkshake!


We celebrated Ben’s birthday a little early, last Wednesday, because we were going to be gone on his actual birthday. Well, as you can see the cake I made FLOPPED! Oh well, it tasted good. Happy Eighteenth Birthday Ben!


This past weekend Ken and I took Ben to the Seoul Korea Temple to take out his Endowments. When we were in the Distribution Center buying garments for Ben we saw these missionaries. Elder Sederholm said he was from Arkansas, and knows Rifka. Apparently Rifka knows the elders older siblings??? He was the son of a mission president in Denmark, living there for two years before graduating from high school, like Ben.



 We took the KTX train up to Seoul Thursday, stopped by the temple and saw the parents of one of our returned missionaries, Elder Lee Sukoo, who happened to be there (the elder looks just like his dad only shorter). We left Ben’s big suitcases locked in a storage room at the temple overnight so we wouldn’t have to haul those all over Seoul. We stopped by the distribution center to buy Ben some garments before going through the temple for his Endowments the next day. Good thing we stopped to buy garments when we did because we were told they close in the early afternoon. The sales clerk said she knew two of our sister missionaries, from back home. We saw an elder there who said he was from Arkansas and knows Rifka’s family. Also, he was the son of a mission president in Denmark, as like Ben he went to two years of high school there before graduating through the IB program, and then off on his mission. And we saw another elder who knows another one of our sister missionaries from home.


We visited the Changgyeonggung Palace, built in the 1400’s, for the royal family. As it turned out King Seongjong was crowned king at age 13, so his grandmother administered state affairs until he became an adult. As we entered the grounds there was a large school group of youth sitting on the steps taking a group picture. They wanted us to join them We did! But whoever was taking the picture with my camera, never took the picture!  They liked to say “See you later” so of course I told them to add “Alligator!"


 Cool to see this old greenhouse while still strolling the palace/temple grounds. Too bad it is deteriorating.


Thursday night we met the Morrise’s, mission president and wife go the Korea Seoul South Mission, for dinner. They will be going home in just a few weeks to strange to think about us going through that process in a year. I’m grateful for the few interactions that we have had with them at mission president seminars. They are wonderful.  After dinner we took buses to the Korea Seoul Mission home to spend the night with the Sonksen’s, mission president and wife. We really did not want to have to sleep in the temple dormitories in separate rooms. We had a wonderful visit with the Sonksen’s. Dad was able to read through the Seoul Mission History books and see his name and read entries of some of the areas and work he was involved in.  Friday morning we were up early, for Dad and President Sonksen to ordain Ben to the Priesthood office of Elder before going to the Seoul Korea Temple for Ben’s first time through for his Endowment. I’m glad we went up to Seoul when we did, so that we would not have to feel rush in the train station or riding buses through Seoul or buying garments or sightseeing or even in arriving at the temple. One of our returned sister missionaries came to see us, giving us a hug before she had to go to school. Elder Jung Sion came and did the session with us, he was one of our assistants who most recently returned home. So good to see these wonderful missionaries again, especially they feel a closeness to Ben as well.  President Sonksen’s AP’s picked us up in their van and gave is a ride to the airport, so nice not having to worry about traveling there with big suitcases.



Another sad goodbye! It’s hard to watch my children leave, I always worry about them. But this time was especially difficult as Ben’s leaving put Dad and I in a whole new category: "empty nesters”. I don’t like it! It feels weird! We made sure to have one last milkshake together at a shoppe in the airport; may have been the best milkshake we’ve had in Korea so far. Dad and I took the KTX train back to Busan that same night arriving past midnight. Elder George was so good to stay up so late to get us from the train station.


 Ben made it to Texas safely! Thank you Gerry and Bekah!!! 


Mountain Zone Conference

 From our zone conference hikes up the mountain behind the mission home/office.  Dad had the missionaries reading scriptures in 1 Nephi 8 about Lehi’s Dream. There is an excellent article in the August 2010 Ensign by President Boyd K. Packer titled Finding Ourselves in Lehi’s Dream that is worth reading. The office elders hiked ahead to tie a pear up in one of the trees. One of the “Adams” later commented that when volunteers were asked for people hesitated, not wanting to step forward. Yet afterward, they all flocked around wanting to partake. He said that sometimes proselyting is like that. People hesitate, aren’t sure they want to listen. Yet when they do stop and listen others tend to lean in and want to partake as well. And it is sweet/glad they partook.  We hiked the mountain with numerous stops along the way where we had our assistants, sister training leaders, zone leaders, Dad, me, and other speak about certain scriptures or topics. Breaking up the hiking made it easier for the missionaries overall. Generally they were all in good shape; except one or two individuals who needed a head start after each stop to set the pace they could handle. Our office couple ended up taking the cable car down after several attempts of getting lost and backtracking to the loading station.


Even our military couple, in their sixties, made the hike up and down (though I did have to go back looking for them going at a slower pace—another adventure!).


I will share a portion of my talk that I shared with our missionaries at the top of the mountain, on our zone conference hike:


As we sacrifice we should be more prayerful, devoted, and dedicated as well as thankful to the Lord for our blessings. A number of years ago President Barrow and I were asked how our lives were affected as both of our sets of parents served missions at the same time. I could not pinpoint any tremendous blessing or change in our lives except that we Felt the Blessings of the sacrifice and service of our parents. I think that if you were to ask the members of your families how their lives have been blessed through your service they would feel the same way as we did; not able to give specific accounts but still Knowing and Feeling that their lives have been blessed because of your service.
It reminds me of an experience Sister Choi, wife of Elder Choi of the Asia North Area presidency shared at a meeting last year. Sister Choi shared that one of their sons profession was that of a musician and that he had been invited to perform in Carnegie Hall, known as the most prestigious concert stage in all of the US. Sister Choi expressed her sadness in not being able to attend, to the Lord in prayer. She really wanted to be able to see her son perform, as this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She wished that she could be there to see him perform. The impression came to her that it is because she is not there that he was able to perform. It was because of the Choi’s sacrifice that their son was blessed in his musical career.

So my question to you is how dedicated and devoted are you to your service and sacrifice? Is your heart really broken? Is there more that you can give and sacrifice on your mission? Do you have need to repent? Have you offended God and need to correct anything?
Obedience is a great and important part of the law of sacrifice. The Lord acknowledges the Prophet Joseph Smith’s obedience and sacrifice in these words: “Behold, I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you” (D&C 132:50). When we are obedient, we are blessed with a greater ability to communicate with Heavenly Father; to know and do His will.

The weather did not cooperate with each of our zone conference hikes, but we still had fun!  Each hike was the same route with the same assigned talks, but each one was different. Different personalities of individual missionaries as well as zones.

The afternoon sessions of zone conferences, after we have eaten lunch, there will be a special musical number by one or more of the missionaries in that zone. Elder Smith is so talented!

Elder Royce shared with us that he had been practicing two separate musical numbers for zone conference, not knowing which song to play, yet as he prayed about which song to practice he felt like he should practice both. He ended up playing Come Thou Fount for one zone conference, and then he played You Can Make the Pathway Bright for the Jeju zone conference (very small zone that did not prepare a number). Elder Royce is one of our office elders so he attended each of the zone conferences working translation, computers, whatever was needed. He realized later that he felt inspired to practice both musical numbers as he would be performing both musical numbers unexpectedly.

A fun exercise class with a bunch of “harmonies”/grandmas that our assistants and office missionaries came upon one morning after hiking the mountain. Along one of the other trails there is an exercise area with equipment that older people use most mornings, along with an area where they participate in an exercise class. Our missionaries invited Sister George and I to join them, after which many of the “harmonies” gathered around for a picture. We hope to try going again soon. I love the harmony pants each of the elders is wearing!