Farewell Picture

Visits from Dallin H. Oaks, his wife, Kristen & Elder Gerrit W. Gong, his wife Susan

Tuesday, May 30

We had a wonderful mission conference/tour for our missionaries, with Elder Dallin H. Oaks and his wife, Elder Gerrit W. Gong and his wife, Elder Choi Yoon Hwan and his wife Sister Koo Bon?, and Elder Jung Tae Gul (area Seventy). The time with them was so short but I was happy that at the beginning of our time with them they shook the hands of all our missionaries. Then the meeting began. With so many people speaking there wasn’t that much time left for Elder Oaks.  The visiting authorities rushed out at the end of the meeting with Dad conducting to end the meeting. I don’t know how but Dad got us to the Lotte Hotel (where they were all sleeping overnight) before they arrived even though they left before us. That is where we ate dinner; the same hotel restaurant we ate at with Elder and Sister Whiting. The buffet was delicious.  I enjoyed visiting with Sister Oaks as we went back to the buffet for more food. She shared with me about their courtship and how/when she met President Boyd K. Packer.  Back at the dinner table Elder Oaks shared with all of us their courtship.  Elder Oaks’ first wife had died of cancer two years earlier. She had prepared their children by telling them that Elder Oaks could not live alone and that they would need to help him find a wife/accept her. After each of his four daughters came to him saying it was time for him to marry again, THEN he was willing to make it a matter of prayer. One morning he felt especially inspired to talk with Elder Ballard about the matter. Elder Ballard had met a woman the week before who had come into his office applying for a job, who was Sister Oaks. They went for walks and visited family members every day of their courtship; though they did not “go out in public” for people to start talking/gossiping. They were married August 25, 2000 which was a short month and a half after meeting each other. I asked Sister Oaks what it was like telling her mom she was going to marry an Apostle/feelings/etc. Sister Oaks told me that it wasn’t quite like how I might imagine. Sister Oaks is a convert, who served a mission in Japan. During the dinner conversation she mentioned that she had been disowned (but she did not go into details that her family must have accepted her back because she now has a good relationship with them).  Her parents/family would not have thought about the church influence issue when meeting him. In fact, when Sister Oaks was explaining to her parents about Elder Oaks her father said, “Are you trying to tell me he’s a Republican?!” It was fun talking and they were very good about answering questions. We felt very comfortable around them/at ease. It was fun to see them eat ice cream for dessert just like us (we weren’t the only ones who wanted dessert as everyone at the table got some!).

Mission President's Seminar - Sister's Session

Monday, May 22

These mission president seminars are wonderful as we learn and discuss and grow spiritually. I remember being so nervous attending our first seminar, not really knowing the purpose. This session was different as this is the only time we did not have a homework assignment. Over the two days of instruction we learned about such topics as the difference between a special witness and an especial witness, spiritual gifts, the growth of individual missionaries, when someone feels the Holy Ghost for the first time, inviting the right way, make it delicious, focusing missionaries efforts to teach and work with youth and young adults, MLC-how to be a council member, the missionary daily schedule (which was recently changed), simplify key indicators for conversion, working with priesthood leaders, the missionary interview and zone conference schedule, the connection between developing Christ-like attributes and increasing convert baptisms, and a separate sister session.  The sister session was conducted in a separate room with the wives of the area presidency speaking on the topic of Ask in Faith/Fear. We were each given a gift bag with a couple of talks that were used/quoted from as the sisters spoke, along with a sweet syrup/topping that we each are holding up in the picture.  I will remember Sister Wada (the wife of the area temporal affairs manager) as they were mission president and released a year ago, as well as their son is Ben’s age and was enrolled in the same online Seminary class.  I will remember Sister Sonksen as being hilarious! She told us that in years to come her husband will be dead and she won’t remember a thing as she will probably have Alzheimer’s.  I will remember Sister Madsen with her voice sounding like Kaylene Coleman-they are cousins!  It was bittersweet saying goodbye to these wonderful mission presidents and their wives along with the area presidency and their wives because we were not there in person to talk during meld and travels to and from the temple and other places and activities.  I will remember the Zarbock’s especially in advising/helping with an island mission.  I will remember the Smith’s with their connection with the Nielsen’s/close friendship.  I am impressed with the Welch’s with their attitude and desire as she battled cancer, and continued to serve faithfully. My life is so easy! I am so blessed!  I will remember the fun time when President Whiting and his wife came for a mission tour, and did not have dry cleaning service late at night.  I will remember Sister Yamashita teaching our missionaries to Open Your Mouth!  I will remember the Choi’s singing I Love To Sing!  The outgoing mission presidents and wives shared their testimonies, before the area presidency and their wives shared their testimonies. What a privilege to listen in on that and participate.

Mission President's Seminar May 2017

Last week Dad and I attended the interim mission president’s seminar, which was held in Sopporo Japan and Seoul Korea.  Since our previous mission president’s seminar we knew this interim seminar was going to be held in Japan, where the recently dedicated Sopporo Temple was.  But with recent international/political unrest involving North Korea and South Korea Elder Dallin H Oaks felt it would not be wise/look good if further tensions broke out and all the Korea Missions presidents were out of the country/in Japan while their missionaries were in a state of emergency. SO . . . . The Japan Missions along with the Micronesia Gam Mission presidents all gathered in Sopporo while the Korea Missions presidents gathered in Seoul.  Dad and I took a flight up to Seoul (traffic was so bad with the holidays –Buddha’s birthday and Children’s Day that we missed our KTX train) (literalist office elder) - all this was the week before when Dad and I made a special trip to Seoul to have emergency preparedness talks with the Korea Mission presidents, the director of temporal affairs for the Asia North Area, the area security manager, and the security manager from Salt Lake, talking about what level of danger we are at.  This trip we took the KTX train up to Seoul.  Dad and I walked into the Marriott Hotel to see this display in the small cafĂ© off to the side.  I thought of Kelly when I saw all these Barbies!!

Presidential Campaigning

It was fascinating to watch the presidential election process here in South Korea, after the impeachment of Park Geun-hye. There were 15 candidates all running for president (not a two party election process like how it is in the United States). Each candidate is assigned a number. So your cheering/platform could be “I’m number 1!” or “I’m number 2!” down the line in numbers. We went out to dinner one night and saw this group of campaign supporters working hard to capture the attention of the drivers, hoping for their support for their candidate.

April 2017 Transfers

Mike Cutler came for a visit!

Last month/transfer was a busy time as we did our hiking zone conferences with each of our zones. Mike was able to participate in two of our zone’s hikes. Each one/zone/day was so different. One of the days Mike was here we had our practice teaching up near the top of the mountain, but a low cloud hovered over us so we were cold and wet. The next day we had sunny skies up top! When we hiked the mountain behind the mission office we traveled about five miles. When we hiked Hallasan Mountain, on Jeju Island, we hiked about 18 miles (that was a tough, fast moving hike!). It was wonderful to watch the missionaries who took turns teaching and leading in discussions and practice teaching.

Our missionaries are Wonderful! Another day one of our returned missionaries came with his parents and two younger brothers, and did great on the hike. The week following we had another couple of our returned missionaries come to visit, early in the morning to hike to Seokbulsa temple with us. And, again, the following week another returned missionary and his parents came to visit and met us early in the morning to hike to Seokbulsa.

Lately we have had visits from other returned missionaries. We usually eat, or hike with them. Fun times! The view from near the top is just as beautiful as ever overlooking Busan (though some of the trees were cut down so the overlook has been opened up some).

Relief Society Celebration

Tuesday, May 16

Here is my recent leap of faith story/experience . . .Friday afternoon the office elders rode the subway with me to the end of the orange line where they put me on a city bus that took me to the Ulsan district/zone where a sister missionary team met me and we walked to the Hogye church building. We waited there until more sisters showed up to give me a ride to (I don’t know where in Gyeongju) to attend a Relief Society ‘75 years Anniversary Celebration (overnight campout for the Ulsan District women). I rode in the car with three women (the Korean woman in the last picture sat in the back seat of the car with me and she can speak enough English to translate for me sometimes throughout Friday and Saturday. He name is Sister Lee?? And she actually is quite talented with languages having married a German man and lived in Switzerland the majority of the year.). The first two pictures show the women gathered in one of the two tiny rooms we stayed in, with a tiny bathroom at the back left side of the picture. These same two rooms are where we slept. We were gathered here for a discuss about How to Dress a Body for Burial. I don’t know why that was the topic of conversation except that it may be difficult to gather these women together from all around the district so they needed to cover this topic?? The woman sitting next to me with dark hair, in the third picture, is Anna Lisa Fowler. She and her husband are here in Korea for his work; and this is their second time to be here in the last few years. She said her home is in Colordao, but that they recently did some work out of Sugar Land, Texas. In fact, they attended the Sugar Land 2nd ward a few times and the 1st ward, too (even there when the Ashton’s gave their farewell talk). I joke about this experience exercising my faith but the idea of spending 24 hours or more with women who I don¹t know and cannot communicate within a location that I did not know where, (camping!) without my own bathroom . . . Was out of my comfort zone! But I did it and survived!

Feb 25 Art Work at the Apartment Complex

After the adult session of district conference, and after Elder Holland¹sbroadcast to the YSA’s, I was hoping to go out to dinner just Dad and me(since last night we did not even get to eat dinner).Then Dad told me that we had to go do a home visit, which we have done before so I was ok with that. I figured we would be able to find something to eat even late at night, something! Well, the night time plan was different than I thought. A less active man spoke in the session. The man, Brother Jeong, and his wife met us over at the home of the counselor in the district presidency, Brother Kim, who gave President Gil, President Bae, Dad and Me a ride in his car. This artwork is standing up in the parking lot of his apartment building. I thought of Papa, and also the song You Get a Line and I’ll get a Pole. My goodness! I ate the soup, some sort of fishy something. It was difficult; even holding back the gag reflex at one point. There was so much food. The wife is very sweet.It was interesting when Brother Jeong was talking about something, and then he broke out in song . . . A whole verse from some song that I don’t know what it was. But they did come to church the next day. The Sunday session of district conference was fun as the Primary children performed a special musical number, with one little boy running in late after the song had begun. The music affected the other children in the room as Dad pointed out to me the little toddler girl on her father’s lap way in the back on the stage. She was rocking back and forth.

February 2017 - Lunch before training meeting

Sister Lee was nice about making me a separate pot of Bulgogi (just for me) as the rest of the meal was seafood (mackerel, anchovies, daechee gooksup, oysters/clams, etc).  Brother Oh, from the Seoul church offices, came down to work on the commuter problems in our mission office (he services all the computer problems in all four of the Korea Missions).  He was able to set up Ben’s old laptop computer for me to use when we have to ship back to America my desk top computer along with all of our personal belongings.  I had him look at my iPad which I have not been able to figure out as it has not been able to send email from my account.  Guess what!  It’s not just my LACK of technology skills.  Brother Oh could not figure out the problem (And I watched him using his phone to research Earthlink problem solving tips).  Oh well.  Because Brother Oh was here, at the same time that our newest missionaries and their trainers were here to eat lunch before the Half Training Meeting, he joined us for lunch.  Brother Oh gave interesting conversation as the George’s would ask him questions (preparing to teach the YSA at tonight’s fireside that they were speaking at)(marriage advice, mission advice, work/schooling advice, military advice).  In Korea the culture is for men to finish schooling and military AND save enough money to put about half down on a house before marriage.  For LDS men it is difficult trying to plan when to serve a mission (before or after mandatory military service)(before or after university studies) and then having the courage to marry as soon as possible.  It reminded me of the Liahona article by Elder Yoon Hwan Choi in the September 2016 

District Conference and Elder Choi

After the district conference on Sunday the women prepared a nice meal for Elder Choi and the other leaders and a couple of wives, and me. We know that Elder Choi likes nice dishes to be used (the box dinner last night must have driven him crazy as you might recall that he asked for the nice mission home dishes be used when Elder Bednar came to Korea, transporting them to the stake center rather than use paper plates kind of a hassle) and as they were doing the final preparations he watched (unusual for the presiding authority to be the first person seated but we sat beforehand longer than the other leaders). Elder Choi seemed impressed and delighted as the different foods were placed on the table in front of him, which prompted personal stories from him from his youth while growing up in the Busan area.  The fish shaped dish held dried ginger pieces very strong in flavor, some sort of tree bark crunchy thingies, and a sweet potato stuff cube; I was told are all Korean snacks. I tried them all (after the men left for a feedback/follow up meeting) and was even given a box with the first two in small jars, as a gift.  The dark colored gel like snack I sampled, and do not know how to describe it, besides being strong in flavor. It is covered/dusted with some sort of powder.  I have had the rectangular squares (blah color with speckles in them) that is acorn (tasteless blah stuff)(but when I tried it the speckles were not there). Much of the foods I did not try. I noticed the buzzing about because of the extra chopsticks on the serving dishes (people still just used their own similar to double dipping). There was fancy/expensive food served like the kim/seaweed with sesame seeds or the oysters. The individually wrapped special rice in large lotus flower leaves had different varieties of beans and arrowroot slices throughout the package. I ate every bit of that rice so that at least they knew I ate something (they noticed and commented to Dad that he could eat the beans from that rice). I did eat the bulgogi/beef.  After the men left I watched as the children of these families came in to eat the leftovers. The older young men sat at the far end of the table with the younger other children close by their mothers. Interesting to watch!

Lotus flower tea served in Gyeongju pottery cups and flower jello

Shopping Mall with Niki

I don’t know how many floors/levels there were to this shopping mall but it is huge.  And then it crosses over from Shinsegae to Centum City.  There are tons of lights and decorations.

Niki Arrived! December 2016

A beautiful clear day with temperatures in the low 40s.  Niki felt like it was warm here.  Surprisingly she feels like it is dry here, compared to Provo (I guess because we don't have snow???).

We took Niki to Busanjin Market before going to Shinsegae/Centum Cityshopping. Lots of fun! Tiring!We had/saw a miracle! We were riding the subway back home at the Minnamstop when Dad realized he didn’t have his phone. Long story short . . .He found it when he went back to Shinsegae. After a few hours it was still at the burger place we’ve eaten at with you. Wowie! Zowie! And we were all safe! (Niki’s brain works a bit like mine.)