Sunday, January 14, 2018

Olympic Torch in Seoul!

The Olympic Torch has come to Seoul!  They know how to make a fun procession.

We realized that it had been a while since we went to a Korean festival.  We went over to Gwanghwamun Square and they were getting ready for the torch to come by.  They were in a few different locations during the day.

This view shows the man working the puppet (mannequin?)

All these people on the steps have a card and it spells out something

These are the escorts for the torch bearers.  He noticed I was taking a photo, so he posed for me!

They were introducing the torch bearers.

This is the throne that the king will be on.

And of course, our friendly police force was there.

Then some vans came by.  I guess this is a Pop group.

They played their Arirang folk song while coming across the street.

So it was a pretty fun night.

We've been preparing for two new senior couples.  They arrive on Tuesday.  One couple will be our replacements and the other couple will be here to work on church history.  So, we've been cleaning and packing our stuff so our replacements can move in here.  We'll go to another apartment that has been vacant for a month.  And the other place is a new apartment we've been trying to find for a while now.  On Saturday the elders and Alan & Elder Whiting moved some things into the new place.

The supervisor for the new couple wanted to see the apartment, so we met him on Thursday to show it to him.  Then he took us to dinner.  It was interesting to hear about the church in the early days here in Korea.

We've also done some reorganizing at the office.  We moved out some cabinets. It is much more spacious.  Why did we wait so long to do this?  Our new APs have been working on training for the missionaries to begin using Facebook and other apps for proselyting.  Elder Bednar has said that we will be turning the "Trickle into a Flood" of missionary opportunities.  I remember when my brother went on his mission that he had a neat little flannel board to help teach the plan of salvation.  Now the missionaries can show a video on their phones!

Meanwhile, in Peru, our grandson has finished his training at the MTC and has arrived at his mission in Cuzco.  This is his mission president and his family.  Jacob has been assigned to Puno which is on the shore of Lake Titicaca high in the Andes.  His trainer is the son of one of the moms that Sunny met on the mission Facebook page.  They will not be using smart phones here but I'm sure he will have some amazing experiences.

We were asked to speak in church today about service.  We have had a great example set by President Monson.  We have loved the members of the Seoul English Branch.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Happy New Year!

The other day at the office I checked Facebook and then I gasped.  The elders asked me "What happened?"  I saw the message that President Monson had died.  We'll always remember we were in Korea when that happened. 

One of our little Chinese/Korean sisters told us in testimony meeting that she had been having a hard time deciding what to do in her life with her baby (he is now 13).  She was in Utah at the time and got to go to a woman's conference and heard President Monson speak.  Afterwards, she was at a dinner and saw President Monson and she went up to him and told him how much she appreciated his talk about "You are Not Alone"  She said he was a huge mountain of a man!  She is tiny!  She will always remember and appreciate his support.  He truly lived a life full of service.

We celebrated the New Year by going out to eat on the base again at Dragon Hill Lodge (after we had staff meeting).  They have a pretty awesome buffet.  On the way there, I got a message from Sister Smith (from our Japan mission).  She told us she knows the new mission president coming to replace the Sonksens!  The Taylors live in the Smith's ward in Provo!  It really is a small world.

This was transfer week.  It turned out to be one of the craziest ever.  We were expecting two new missionaries to come from the MTC.  Only one of them made it.  They leave Utah on Monday, but it's Tuesday afternoon by the time they arrive in Korea because of the date change.  So on the office email, we get a copy of an email from the elder that he sent to his family.  He went to the travel office early Monday morning to leave for the airport.  He opened his travel info and found that they had mixed up his passport.  He had a sister's passport in his packet and his passport was not there, so he could not travel.  Good thing he sent us a copy of his letter because we did not hear from the travel people at all.  (It was New Years)

They found his passport in SLC and got him on another flight, so he arrived on Thursday night.  He was actually born in Kazakhstan and adopted as a baby so we know more about Kazakhstan than he does.

And, on Wednesday night, the rest of the missionaries going home were having a testimony meeting at the mission home.  Sister Sonksen got a call telling them that there was a sister at the airport waiting to get picked up!  We had no idea she was coming, but she had been waiting for 3 hours and finally she borrowed somebody's phone and called her mother (she is from Korea.)  They told her to get in a taxi to go to the mission home.  She has been called to the Philippines but had not received her visa for the Philippines and her US visa was expiring.  So she will be with us for a while then go to her mission.  She will not need to take all her winter clothing with her!

We also had two Korean sisters that have injuries.  They have been sent home to rest and recover.  Maybe surgery?  They plan to be back to the mission soon.

Everybody else going home left on Thursday.  Some left at different times and we went to help deliver the new sister to her apartment.  So, that was interesting!

Friday morning was MLC and now the fun starts as they're all getting training and approval for Facebook proselyting and smart phones.  They will be getting approval for more apps as we go along.  This will be interesting.

  Saturday morning we went to the temple.  It was the Military District's temple day and lots of youth came for baptisms.  One of the priests in our branch was able to perform some of the baptisms with the change in policy.

We also had a wedding reception to attend.  One of our single sisters in the branch who has come to Korea to  teach English met a nice young Korean man and they were married in the Seoul Temple.  They had a lovely reception at our meeting house.  Her parents came from California for the celebration.

This sister sang beautiful children's hymns in Korean.  They had a great feast (and door prizes!)

This sweet young lady made the wedding cake!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas Week

This beautiful tree was at the Yongsan Base.  We went for a lovely Christmas buffet with the Whitings and Sonksens.  We were all so thrilled with all the American foods and treats!

And the amazing Christmas decorations.

This gingerbread house is almost big enough to live in!

We had two trips to the airport this week.  Two sisters went home a bit early because of school and family schedules.  More transfers coming this week.  We know our way around the airport now.  It is huge!  Sometimes they have live musical performances.

Sister K and I did moisturizing facial masks before we left for the airport!

Elder B was so helpful taking care of some baggage issues at the airport.

We enjoyed visiting with our family via Skype over the Christmas break.  Our grandson called home from the Peru MTC and that made his Mama happy!  We told our little granddaughters that Santa had already been to Korea and was headed their way, so they better get to sleep fast.  Our grandson told us that his new pants are too long.  So I took a picture of how they wear jeans in Korea!

On our way to visit our dentist one more time we noticed that the city has put up a skating rink at City Hall.  Everyone has to wear a helmet apparently.  There's always something fun going on here.

The count down clock for the Olympics was at 42 days on Friday.  I didn't get a picture because the cross walk light came on and we couldn't miss our chance to cross the street!  Anyway, the Olympics will be coming to Korea in 6 weeks.

And a special shout out to our grand-nephew Ethan who has been called to serve a Church Service Mission at the Bishop's Storehouse and Phoenix Temple!  We have another missionary to love and pray for!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

More Christmas Activities!

The past two weeks we have been having Zone Conferences.  This was taken after dinner one night when President Sonksen shared some memories from back in the day.

We've also had Open Houses on Sunday nights for the missionaries to bring in their investigators to feel the holiday spirit.  It was fun to share American style cookies and hot chocolate.

We were able to have an extra temple session with our missionaries who live outside Seoul.  They came in for a mission - wide conference.

It makes a pretty big group when they're all together!  We practiced lining up so we could get some photos in front of the palace.


We're happy that it was a beautiful clear day!

You can gather on the plaza without a permit so long as it's less than 10 minutes.  Just enough time to sing a couple of Christmas Carols and take some photos!

We took a sister to the airport the other day too.  While we were waiting (and waiting) we noticed the cleaning ladies had a cart with several sections (10?) to separate all the trash!  And stay out of her way!


Asia is amazing!

At church last week we had some visitors from South Africa.  My cousin and his wife are serving a mission down there.  It was fun to find out that he knows this sister.  She was thinking Seoul is very cold!

We had a lovely Christmas program at church today.  How blessed we are to have the gospel of Jesus Christ and all the blessings that come from it!

Merry Christmas from Korea!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas parties - Part I

Monday evening we went to the Yongsan Army Base for their tree lighting celebration at the fire station.  We saw some families from the branch.  Everyone was so bundled up, it was hard to recognize anyone!

They had a few Christmas Carols and turned on the lights.  Santa came by on a fire truck.  Then everyone headed inside for cookies and cocoa.

We've had a couple of days that did not get above freezing.  We have to check the temperature to see how many layers of clothing to put on.

We woke up to snow this morning, but it was already starting to melt by the time we got out of church.

They have hung the "Light the World" banner outside the mission office.

Our "Light the World" photos from last week's activity.

The Ulvestad's and our branch mission leader were the speakers in Sacrament Meeting today.  Brother Hutchison introduced the elders that are assigned to the branch.  Even though they cannot attend meetings that are held on the south side of the river, they are assigned to work with the members.  I got all teary - eyed as he told everyone about their talents.  The bottom line is that you can feel good about introducing your friends to these elders.  

We had our Christmas party on Saturday with the branch.  I was chatting with a sister from Argentina and found out that she is from Bahia Blanca where my parents served 35 years ago!

We had breakfast

Games for the kiddos

And a service project making gift packs for the homeless.  (Hats, gloves, scarves, socks)

Afterwards, we went to see the floral warehouse.  We had heard about this but missed it last year.  They have so many Christmas decorations, it was amazing.

Big balls of yard and felt ribbons!

And the subway car had this old Korean design on the floor!

Tonight the Sonksens had an open house for the missionaries and their investigators in the Seoul Stake.  Everyone had a great time!

They interrupted the dart game to pose for a photo.  The losers "had to" eat a cookie!

These are some of our favorite missionaries!