Ben enters the MTC in one week!!!!!

Daeshin Branch

Dad is great with all languages! 

A sister missionary shared was about loving your companion enough to eat squishy food! It made me think of the many times Dad eats the gross food placed by my plate (some soup of some kind was given to us after stake conference when we were eating with the leaders of the stake). Another sister missionary said when she was being trained she thought her companion was trying to kill her. Her trainer was one of the few people in her life who she has ever been scared of. After one difficult day of dealing with many problems her trainer had had it and shut done, not speaking anymore. This sister realized she needed Heavenly Fathers help and felt inspired to express her love for her companion telling her she was the most important person to her. Love is the answer for changing peoples lives.

Tomorrow we have training meetings with our new missionaries after their first transfer in the country, along with their trainers. Next week we will have training the trainers meeting. With both groups of missionaries we discuss the relationship between the trainer and the trainee. At first we chuckle about a missionary feeling like their trainer is trying to kill them, but really, how would you feel if your companion actually felt that way about you? Many times I hear the feelings of our missionaries and think to myself that I hope nobody feels that way of me. I think it goes back to our ability to love as the Savior loves, to give even when we have had it and cannot give any more. I asked an elder who was going home how many companions he had and he told me saying he loved every one of them, AND he has never had an argument with any of them! I think he could make that second statement BECAUSE he loved every one of his companions. 

A few weeks ago on a Sunday morning after Dad spoke with the assistants on the phone he decided we should attend the Daeshin branch for church that day. The Daeshin branch is so small that we sat up on the stand with the branch president (who is actually a member of another ward in that stake assigned to serve and a attend church there) and the counselor in the stake presidency who was visiting. That was it on the stand. Our two elders administered the Sacrament. One blessed and one passed the Sacrament. No one in the branch is musical and knows how to play the piano (we have visited the branch before when a previous elder serving there played the piano so Dad thinks of the talents of the missionaries when considering who should be assigned where). Looking out at the congregation there were six other women spread out across the chapel thats it! 

This transfer period was different and more difficult to work around as we had a few missionaries going home early trying to get back before the school semester started. One of our elders left his mission five weeks early because his parents planned an elaborate vacation traveling to Japan with him before going back to America. He was such a funny elder always making me laugh. It was fun visiting with his parents when they came up to the mission office to pick him up, hearing some of his personal stories that I wouldn’t normally hear. This elder told us that women traveling on the same subway as him would not sit next to him because of the way he smelled (No wonder as later in the conversation he told us that he doesnt even bother using deodorant all winter long!). He told us about the time when a member gave him and his companion a huge box of apples so they decided to make apple juice with only their socks to strain the pulpy mashed up fruit  EWWWW! 

Then another group of three missionaries left three weeks early in the transfer in order to get home before school starts. After we ate a nice dinner with them we had our testimony meeting and time when Dad shows a few video clips (from the new program helping missionaries transition before going home) and teaches interspersed with testimonies shared. One elder shared of his struggle to be selfish and start thinking about himself with college planning, etc. But he realizes we are still accountable to the Lord, even after we return home form our missions. We need to continue the spiritual growth that we had on our missions by studying of Him.  Another elder noticed the contrast of the world telling us to know something while the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something. The gospel is something you have to experience its not just something you know. The gospel is not just in my mind but is also in my heart. 

Stake Conference

What a treat to hear trumpet music played at stake conference!  I can’t say that I’ve ever had that happen before.  We attended the Changwon stake conference in the Masan building which is about an hour and a half away.  Dad had to teach at the Priesthood leadership meeting held before the adult session Saturday night, which I had to speak at.  Ben and I sat in on an interesting English class the sister missionaries have set up with a young girl (about 11) with her mother present.  The girl receives music lessons as she and one of our sister missionaries bring and practice on their ukuleles.  After the music time they teach the girl gospel lessons.  She is a sweet girl who wants to get baptized (her mother is a less active member) but her father refuses and does not even allow the mother to attend church.  But the music lessons are ok.  Walking into the church Sunday morning for that session of stake conference was fun as we were welcomed by all of our 28 missionaries serving in that stake (almost like a receiving line). It reminded me of a story Sheri Dew told of the power of the Priesthood. I liken it to the power our missionaries have as representatives of Jesus Christ, of their goodness:  "There is power in ordinances. All who are baptized and receive the Holy Ghost are eligible to speak the words of Christ and qualify for eternal life. Those who are endowed with power in the house of the Lord need never face the adversary alone. Couples worthy to be sealed at an altar in that holy house are gifted with power. The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates every righteous man and woman against the powers of darkness. I will never forget an experience in Cali, Colombia. After a long evening of meetings, the presiding officer asked the congregation to remain seated while we departed. But upon the final ³amen,² several dozen priesthood leaders jumped to their feet and formed two lines, creating a pathway from the chapel to a waiting van outside. As we walked through this sheltered passageway, where priesthood leaders symbolized priesthood power, I was deeply moved by the metaphor. It is the power of the priesthood that marks, clears, and protects the path leading to eternal life. Priesthood power safeguards us from the world, binds heaven and earth, subdues the adversary, blesses and heals, and enables us to triumph over mortality. Every ordinance of the Melchizedek Priesthood helps prepare us to live in the presence of God. I am deeply grateful for the power of the priesthood and the gift of having full access to this power, which when used righteously is the only true power on earth."  At the Sunday morning session of stake conference Ben shared his testimony, then I spoke (again!), and Dad spoke.

Gyeongju Part 2

There were many pathways with paper lanterns covering the ceiling or walkway that were decorative and also that had lanterns "for sale" meaning that you could pay a donation whereas your name would be attached, like the picture of a lantern recognizing the donation from someone from Austin, Texas.

 More colorful paper lanterns with the name tag attached recognizing their donation.

It is so fascinating drive along the roads in town and to see off to the side these huge mounds that were the burial sites of different kings and queens from different eras of kingdoms/dynasties. We turned off the main road where the sign directed us. This queen’s tomb was beautiful walking through forests and across streams but we had already stopped at a kings tomb that was not as nicely situated, an we were now in a hurry to get to the church for Dad’s interviews.

I had heard about these tombs/mounds and had wanted to see inside one of them. I don’t know if there are others but Ben and I were able to take the time to walk to this complex where tours could be taken of ancient tombs thought we saw this on our own. It has been so hot outside so it was especially nice to be able to go inside because the slope down leads you to an air conditioned small museum with a few displays. I didn’t take many pictures because we were in a hurry, not knowing how much time we had left before Dad was finished with his interviews.  The first picture is of a wooden saddle that the royal family used. It looked painful for both the rider and the horse.  The next picture is of the grave itself with the crown lying on the ground. The actual burial site was larger than I thought it would be, with enough room to hold many treasures surrounding the queen who had passed away.  The replica of the crown is also on display at the restaurant at the hotel we have stayed at a few times, so I have wanted to see inside this tomb for a while.  A belt was ornately decorated out of gold leaf, I think. It looked intricate and probably heavy with the many sashes off the belt.

Gyeongju Part 1

This is our latest favorite place to hike/visit. We went here with Caitlin and Billy, and then again with Ron Bartholomew, and recently with Ben. It is an amazing place to see.

It looks like this big guy is doing the shot put!

On the way to Gyeongju we stopped by a couple of burial mounds of former kings and queens. I liked the way the little blue flowers looked against the backdrop of the rice fields.

Last week we traveled to Gyeongju, about 1 1/2 hours drive away, for Dad to interview a baptismal candidate. Dad has conducted these types of interviews before but this time was different. This candidate was a woman from Viet Nam who was deaf. She is married to a Korean man who has partial hearing loss so he knows Korean sign language. Vietnamese sign language is different but her husband has learned enough to communicate with her. They met in Viet Name but now live in Korea. He has been less active so this has been a process. Anyhow, Dad said the actual interview went as follows: Dad looked at the woman and asked her the questions through the wife of the branch president because she knows Korean sign language, who then signed the questions to the husband in Korean sign language, who then signed the questions to the wife in Vietnamese sign language, who took some time to think and respond back up the chain of communicating. Dad asked why she wanted to be baptized with her response being, Oh, there are so many reasons,So the whole interview took about an hour and 15 minutes. Wow! And then Dad wanted to interview both sister missionaries who taught the candidate, while he was there. And then Dad wanted to interview each of the elders serving in that branch, while he was there. So it was a long process.  Before we went to the church for the interviews we went to this Buddhist temple that is nearby since we were the far away from the mission home. This was a beautiful spread out campus of a number of buildings. There were a number of individual buildings with their own statue for prayers to be given to, along with monks who I think serve/tend to the duties of that individual temple, with people inside praying to the statue. There are so many candles and incense burning in each temple. There was music playing/rhythmically playing/sounds mixed with sounds/noise from outside like the cicadas and large groups of people walking by. Walking by an older man who noticed our name tags he asked Dad a few questions making his point that he knelt down and respectfully prayed at the front walkway site. We thought we were respectful all throughout the grounds; more respectful than his wife who talked and joked in loud tones.