Monday, December 19, 2016

Party Time all over the Place!

We had a couple of lucky finds recently.  After we left the temple one day, we saw this cafe "Taco Loco".  We had to give it a try and it was pretty good.  Not too much to look at but tasty.  The lunch special was a burrito, soda, and ... french fries!  Why not?

This little piece of Cache County found its way to my freezer!

One Saturday evening we were headed to a devotional / dinner for the temple workers.  The crowds were beginning to form.  It's been more like a celebration recently because the president has been impeached.  Still not removed from office, but the crowds are getting smaller.  But our bus never came due to the streets being closed, so we had to take a different route.

At church, we had a special Relief Society meeting last week.  We had some talks and music by the members.  It was focused on giving service.  There were several nativity sets from all over the world.  Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, Hawaii, etc.  Our members have traveled to and come from all over the world.

The Sonksens had another open house at their home last Sunday.  Here are some of the shoes of the people that came.  There were lots more shoes outside the door.  Alan and I were making hot chocolate as fast as we could!

Someone gave these cakes to Sister Sonksen, so we had a treat for our staff meeting.  These beautiful cakes actually tasted good too!

This past week was transfers.  We picked up 11 new missionaries, all from the US this time.

Places like Kansas, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Utah.

And we sent 15 home!  So it was a busy week.

This Saturday we had another party!  The senior missionaries from both Seoul missions were invited to Elder and Sister Black's apartment.  We all found our way there and had a great time together.

This "Gangham Style" dancing Santa was in my possession during the White Elephant game for a while, but he ended up going home with somebody else.

Sisters Park, Grey, Nielsen, Black, Robinson, Cannon and Anderson.  Two of the couples will be returning home soon.  Elder and Sister Park work with housing in the South Mission, Sister Grey works in the temple and her husband is also the mental health representative for the area.  The Nielsens work in the temple.  The Blacks work in the South Mission office.  (Sister Black got a new hanbok dress for Christmas.)  The Robinsons are public affairs missionaries for Korea.  Elder and Sister Cannon are working in Military Relations plus she is our mission nurse.  And we work in the Seoul Mission Office.  We're a pretty diverse group.

Here are some of the goodies at the Open House.  The Sonksens opened their home three Sunday nights in a row, plus a Saturday morning one.  The Koreans enjoyed learning about Christmas traditions, seeing nativity sets and nutcrackers.  And eating cookies!

And how do you like this amazing ginger bread house?  Sister Sonksen has great skills!

Our Arizona kids were able to get together this weekend for a Christmas party.  Here's our three daughters!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Light The World

This chapel is next to the temple in Seoul.  We had Zone Training on Wednesday and were happy to see this huge banner on the building.  It's nice to have a reminder of the reason for the season!

This is our Seoul Zone.  We love these missionaries!  They are planning their activities for December to share the light of the gospel and Light the World.

The missionaries had planned a special surprise for Elder and Sister Cannon to show our love to them.

After our meeting we rode back to the office with the elders.  After they delivered some Book of Mormons to an area, we noticed that traffic was slowing down.  So, we got out and walked the rest of the way home.

There was a small group of protesters coming up the street.  It seems that the police were prepared.

 Police buses lined the street to keep anyone from getting closer to the "Blue House" or President's Mansion.  The buses were very close to each other so no one could get past them.

These buses had stickers or notes all over them.

We did hear some noises from the street that night, but it didn't go too late.

We were a little concerned about going to the branch Christmas party on Saturday afternoon.  We saw some crowds beginning to form.

But when we got into the subway, there were mobs of people coming out to join the crowds.

We had a nice time at the Christmas party though.  There were service projects and crafts for the kids then a nice dinner.

We left before the program ended because we wanted to get off the streets before it got late.  When we came out of the subway, there were mobs of people going back in plus many more coming out.

This is the same intersection from a few hours earlier.  Now they had torches and were marching up the street.  So, we went home and stayed inside.  At least they're peaceful!  It was interesting that we saw much more police presence on Wednesday than on Saturday.

As a service for the members, the Sonksens had an open house for the Seoul Stake Sunday evening.  Everyone enjoyed seeing the Christmas decorations and having cookies and hot chocolate and learning about different Christmas traditions.  They wondered if anyone would come, but lots of people came!  It was fun to meet some more of the Korean members since we usually are with the English branch.  Alan even got to use his Japanese!

This cute little girl's name is Song Ye.  Her English name is "Sunny".

We told her parents that we have a daughter named Sunny too!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Service Projects and other Fun

On Monday morning, Sister Sonksen, Sister Cannon and I went to an international women's event.  It was like a craft fair from all the different embassies here.  Lots of Christmas decorations and international crafts and foods.  The proceeds were being given to a children's charity.

Kazakhstan was represented


Russia, Japan, Turkey, lots of fun places.  I got to practice my greetings in several languages.

 Monday night we had a FHE with the senior couples and got a report back on the Sonksen's trip to the mission president's seminar in Japan last week.  President asked us to remind the young missionaries to "Keep their lines in the water."  To keep looking and fishing to find those that are ready to hear the gospel.  But first, we had dinner!

We have some members from Mexico that put this all together for us.  They are from Mexico City, so it's not Sonoran style, but it sure tasted good!  We enjoyed chatting about our visits to Mexico, and of course, the food!

We had a service project opportunity on Tuesday with the Seoul Zone.  We were asked to help the Korean Red Cross prepare kimchi that will be given to the needy.  This has been a staple food in Korea for ages.  This is kimchi season.  We see people making it all over town.  And now we know how it's made!

This is a parking garage in the basement of a building.  We wore our Mormon Helping Hands vests and over that, we were given a plastic bag to wear to protect our clothes, a hair net and mask.  The men got some work gloves because they were hauling boxes all day, and the women got some rubber gloves.  And we were glad to have them!

This is the ingredients:  bok choy cabbage that has been cut in half and soaked in salt water brine.  Plus, the sauce made of red chilies, onions, daikon (shredded radishes) and other secret ingredients.

The tables are all covered in plastic too.  You take a cabbage and spread the sauce in between all the leaves.

And wrap it up like a cuddly baby.  Then it's put into a styrofoam box that has been lined with a plastic bag.

It is weighed and then the top of the bag is twisted shut and sealed with a tie wrap.  The lid of the box is put on and it is taped up nice and tight then hauled away to a secure location to let it do its thing for a predetermined amount of time.  Then, viola!  Kimchi for all!

I was corrected a few times because my kimchi skills are not so good.  I even got kicked out of my spot for a while because the Mayor of Seoul came to do a photo op of him making kimchi.  Apparently I wasn't putting enough sauce in there or something, because sometimes after I put it into the box, someone would pull it out and add some extra secret sauce.  But towards the end of the project, when we were wondering if it was ever going to end, either my skills got better or their standards got lower, because they just let it be!

Seems like a good idea to have that mask on or I would have got red pepper sauce on my face when I had to itch my nose.

Alan was doing the tie wraps.  His new best friend thought he was doing a great job.

Our awesome missionaries with a few members.  We were all tired after this!

The next day, we had a special conference.  Five of the zones came into the mission office and the other zone joined us via Skype.  There will be a new Christmas Initiative by the church.  A video will be released right after Thanksgiving with a different suggestion to serve like the Savior served each day until Christmas.  Each district began planning for their service activities.

Then, we had a special visitor that came to speak to us.

Brother P J Rogers is a former Korean missionary that is now a professor at BYU - Hawaii.  He was the first non-Korean to graduate from Yonsei University here in Seoul with an MBA degree.  He is a well-known personality here and a great motivational speaker.  He was in town to help place some of his students as interns in Korean businesses.  He gave some great insights about relating to the Korean people.

We noticed that one of our senior couples was missing.  Then we heard the news that they had returned to the states to be with their daughter and family after the loss of their grandson who was born prematurely.  We are praying for their family.

We have lots of copies of the Book of Mormon for our missionaries to give out this season.  They're fired up!

We had planned to go see what was happening at the city center on Saturday.  We had heard that there was going to be something else besides a protest.  But, when we saw all the police out in force again, we changed our plans and rode the subway out to Costco instead.  The protest did not last as long as last week's, but we could still hear them going into the night.

After church on Sunday, we went to visit our friends from the Seoul South Mission.  They will be going home to Texas this Thursday to continue recovering after a stroke last month.  We will miss them!  We were happy to see how well he is recovering.

Meanwhile, back at home, some of the fun happenings is that this weekend was the El Tour de Tucson bike race.  It is a 100 + mile bike race around Tucson that we've been helping with since our kids were little.  Now our grandkids are having fun serving drinks and snacks to the riders.

Yeah, helping and goofing off!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

November 13, 2016

We went to our Zone Training meeting with the young missionaries on Wednesday.  We appreciate their dedication and enthusiasm!  We've been reading the Book of Mormon as a mission for the past few weeks.  We plan to finish by December 1st.  Four or five chapters a day.  Some of the missionaries mentioned how they were able to have the right responses to their investigators since they had just recently read those verses.

We also got news that day from the US about the election.  God bless America.  

There have also been protests here in Korea over the past several Saturdays.  We live close enough to the city center that we heard the protests going into the wee hours of the night / morning last night.  It started getting quiet about 3 am.  It is kind of unsettling to hear the unrest.  While we were out, we noticed that the police were gathering and redirecting traffic, so we headed home early in the afternoon.  We heard there were 1,000,000 people at this protest.  But there were few signs of it today.  Only about 10 protesters were still out when we went home from church.  To balance it out, there were about 14 police on either side of them.  Keeping watch.

One afternoon this week we left the office early to spend a little time with our friend, Jake.  We visited Namsangol Hanok Village.  This park has several older homes that have been restored and relocated here.  They think they are dated from the 1800s.

I saw these girls dressed up and posing for a photo.  I thought I could sneak a picture too, but one girl spotted me and posed for me!

We're seeing more fall colors this week.  This tree was especially beautiful.

This is the famous chicken soup restaurant with people lined up waiting to go inside.  We pass by on our walk home from the office.  There's almost always a crowd here.  We ate dinner with the missionaries here last week.

It was beautiful Saturday morning.  We went to the Seoul Museum of History.  These are samples of the reconstruction of the palaces.  These are concrete, but the originals were carved wood.

We could get a closer view of the flying monkeys or whatever they are.

This gives the explanation of the symbols on the Korean flag.  Four of the eight yin and yang symbols are on the flag 

The white background symbolizes peace.  The red and blue center is for balance and harmony.  The blue part represents Yin (in Chinese) for the negative aspects of the balance and red is Yang for the positive.  The trigrams at the corners also represent balance.  Top left is "Heaven", bottom left is "Fire", top right is "Water" and bottom right represents "Earth."

Also, the white represents the "Land", the circle is "People" and the trigrams is for "Government".

Inside the museum, the history of the Seoul area is displayed.  At the end of the Korean War, people flocked into Seoul and set up shanty towns.  The government started building high rise apartment buildings to house them all.  They had to build bridges across the river.  The older missionaries who served here back in the 1970s tell us there was no subway system then and only a few bridges.  They have made tremendous changes here in the last 50 years.

This is an amazing model showing the city's growth.  It fills an entire room.

There was also a display of Korean fashion designs.

Next door is Gyeonghuigung Palace originally constructed in 1618.

We had a change of leadership in our branch today.  We have the same branch president, but two new counselors were called.  There is a fair amount of change due to work and military assignments.  It's a little melting pot of wonderful people from all over the world.