Monday, February 12, 2018

We're Home!

January 30 2018 was a long day for us!  We went to the temple with the missionaries and had lunch with our friends at Taco Loco for the last time.

Then we were headed back to the apartment for the final packing.  We decided to stop at Dongdaemun for a few more ties first.  After we got the ties and were almost back to the apartment, Alan realized that he had left his temple bag at the tie shop !!  But we continued home to get the rest of our baggage since Sister Sonksen was on the way to pick us up for the airport.  She took us back to the tie shop on the way.  It started snowing!  Beautiful, but it slowed traffic down.

We had a little confusion at the airport because our itinerary had allowed for 3 checked bags each, but the agent was only going to allow for 2.  Did we want to repack everything?  President Sonksen was just going to pay the extra fee when the agent got a call back telling her to allow the extra bags!  Then I realized that I had left a bag at the apartment.  It had my wallet (which I never had to carry in Seoul) and our extra tablet along with the earphones that I'd planned to use on the plane.  I thought he had taken it out and he thought I had it.  We were just rushing too much.  Plus, I had had two extra chances (my guardian angel nudging me?) to go back to the apartment.  One time, the door just did not close as I was headed to the elevator.  Then I had to go back to leave something for the young missionaries to pick up.  And still I missed it!  This all added to an extra level of stress.  Oh well!

Because of the snow storm, they had to de-ice the plane before taking off, so add an extra hour to that long flight.  We were really happy to arrive in Dallas.  It went fairly well getting through customs and checked back in for our final leg to Tucson.  We somehow got waved through to the short lines.  We had a family from the Seoul English Branch on the plane too.  They were headed to Michigan for their next assignment.

It was nice to see so many of our family at the airport.  Everyone has grown up a lot!

We went for burritos on Wednesday.

Yummy Costa Vida!

And drove by our beautiful Tucson Temple.  We actually met a few friends outside the temple that we had not seen for quite some time.

We got to celebrate Sunny's birthday.  She let us make lasagna and spumoni cake for her!  And we remembered how to do it!

Oh, and we went out for burritos again!

Happy Happy!

So, we have been released, talked in church, packed up the winter gear (the weather has been glorious here), and taken care of some other things.  We have a few more things to figure out, but trust that it will come together for us.

We were able to attend a session at the Tucson Temple on Saturday.  It is a beautiful temple!  It feels larger than I expected.  Bigger than the Seoul temple, but the same sweet spirit is there.  We met several friends too, but I was especially touched to see a sweet sister who had been our children's  Primary teacher for years in the Midvale Ward.  She wanted to know how "her children" are!

Meanwhile, back in Korea, it looks like wonderful things are happening with the Olympics.  We've been able to keep tabs on some of the activities in Gangneung with the Helping Hands Center.


Our missionaries at the Helping Hands Center across from the train station are loving their assignment these days!

This is a link to a Deseret News article about the center.

Mosiah 2:41 sums up my feelings these days.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Brrr! Our last Sunday!

We had our last Zone Conferences this week.  Everyone is enjoying their Subway lunch.  Now that some of the missionaries can use Facebook, we don't have to wait until they go home to be "friends"!

It turned cold on us this week.  It got below 0 F (-18 C).  We had to practice wearing lots of layers again.  Some of the mission apartments had problems due to frozen water pipes.  We woke up one morning with no hot water, but we were able to get it thawed out later in the day.

These icy pipes are below one apartment.  The sisters had to relocate because the floors inside their apartment were flooding because nothing would go out the drains.

This cute little lady makes "호떡 hotteok".  It is a dough filled with cinnamon and sugar and cooked on the griddle.  Some vendors use lots of oil on their griddle, but she kept hers pretty dry.  I think she has asbestos hands.

It is a pretty nice treat for a cold day.

We went out to Dongdaemun on Saturday to show the senior couples where some of the best shopping places are.  They were needing more warm clothes than they had expected.  We noticed this indoor playground.  Lots of people were taking advantage of a warm place for the children to play.  It was packed!

We found a cute summery dress for our new baby Grace coming in February.  Arizona sounds good about now!

On the way home from church, I couldn't resist this photo of Elder Reese and his cute companions.  One lady's feet don't even reach the floor!  Not even close!

We could tell that something was going on at the plaza, but we don't know what it was.  But it was loud!

On Saturday, the Sonksens participated in an opening ceremony for the Mormon Helping Hands Center in Gangneung.  It is right across the street from the train depot.  There will be lots of people coming and going to the Olympic Venues here.  We have our Spanish and Japanese speaking elders assigned to this area.  Visitors can come to warm up, recharge their phones and learn about the gospel!  We're already hearing good reports and the missionaries are forming great relationships with the city leaders.

They announced in church that they will have some special visitors next Sunday.  Elder and Sister Gay, Sister Oscarson, Sister Eubanks, and Alex Boye!  They will also have a concert and devotional.  So, well, it will be great.  We will miss it by just a few days.  Exciting times, but we get to go home to our family!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Our Replacements have Arrived!

Are the weeks going faster?  Or is it just me.

We welcomed two new couples to the mission this week.  One couple is assigned to the mission office as our replacements and the other couple has a unique assignment to do church history and records management in Korea.

One couple had problems getting here.  The plane they were on had mechanical issues, which made them miss the connecting flight.  They ended up arriving about 14 hours late and her luggage caught up to them the following day.  That was a long day but they were in good spirits and recognized that it had given them an opportunity to help someone along the way.

We helped them get into their apartments and showed them around town a little.  They now know how to get to the mission office, to the temple and to church plus a few other places.  (And back home!)  Once they recover from the jet lag, they'll be fine!

President Sonksen had some health issues this week, so we were glad to be able to help out with the new couples.  He is on the mend now!

We had the youth from the Seoul Stake at the office on Friday and Saturday.  They are on winter break now.  They had lots of fun activities.  They invited us to lunch too.

They were chopping vegetables and cooking up a storm!  We could smell the garlic!  There were rice cookers plugged in all over the place.  I forgot to take a picture of all the kids.  It was fun to have them there.  They served jajong bop (black bean sauce with vegetables over rice).

Tuesday we had temple day with one group of missionaries.  I took this picture to show us the entrance to a home at the temple.

This is right at the driveway into the temple parking lot.  We had never noticed it before!

Right next to the sign for the temple.

The door leads to stairs that go up to the house on the right.  We had an activity for the senior missionaries here Saturday night.

It was a bit crowded, but nice we could get so many missionaries together. (22 I think)   Having it here made it convenient for the temple missionaries to be able to come.  We ordered tacos and burritos from our favorite Mexican food place.  They are so nice to us!

Today was our branch conference.  We were one of the first church units to have the opportunity to sustain our new Prophet and First Presidency.  The speakers emphasized keeping the Sabbath day.  Since we live in Korea, there are often rumors of war here.  We need to be obedient so we can hear the promptings of the Spirit and receive the protection we desire.

We're beginning to tell some of our friends "Good Bye" now.  We have delivered some cookies to our friends at the bank and at the taco place that have been kind to us.  One of our senior couples has completed their temple assignment.  They have extended their call to serve in the area where the Olympics will be held.  We look forward to hearing about their experiences there.

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!