Sunday, October 30, 2016

30 October 2016

This week has flown by!  Our friend Jake has been assigned here with the Army, so we met him and spent some time together.  This is part of the Korean War Memorial near the Army base.

We went to City Hall to see what was happening.  It's always something.  This time it was a culinary festival, which was kind of nice since Jake's been to culinary school.  Lots of students showing their talents.

These carved pumpkins were amazing.

And free bowls of kimchee rice for everyone!

Then we went across the street to the Gyeongbokgung Palace.  This is the closest to our home, but we have never actually gone inside the gates.  It turned out that it was some kind of a holiday and all admission was free!  There's probably signs all over town about this, but we're pretty clueless.

Lots of people were dressed up as usual.

This little guy was more interested in Alan than in the zodiac carvings!

And we were able to watch the changing of the guard.  Jake also wanted to find a martial arts studio and it turned out that it's just up the street from us.

Then we went over to the shopping area to take Jake to the tie shop.  They were selling some fancy cotton candy here.  This guy was taking a selfie with his duck!

Friday afternoon, we went with the real estate lady looking for an apartment for some sisters.  The place they are in has a neighbor that smokes, so we are trying to find a better location for them.  This took us to a different area of the city.

They have street markets too.

Saturday, some of the senior couples got together for dinner after a temple session.  It was great to spend some time getting to know them better over some bibimbop.  (That's just fun to say!)  We were able to say goodbye to our temple presidency.  This was their last day.  We will meet the new presidency on Tuesday.

This was our first time to meet Elder and Sister Park.  They are Korean, but moved to Australia several years ago.  Now they are serving in the Seoul South Mission.  He likes to share his conversion story with people every day.  He has a website that has had over 67,000 visits!  His son visited our branch today and he works with his father to promote sharing the gospel online.  He is a website designer.

We also met a couple from South Jordan, Utah.  They are traveling around the world trying to visit all the temples.  So far they have visited over 100.  In this trip they have been to the three Japan temples, Korea and next they are going to Hong Kong and Taipei!  They expect it will take them a few more years because there are several in South America and Europe they still need to visit.

After dinner, we passed some street entertainment on our way to the bus stop.

These guys were amazing!

We had our primary program at church today.  It was very sweet.  One little guy broke the microphone, but they got it put back together.

We saw this display of random stuff on the stairs of the concert house on our way home from church.

This is how it looks through the lens they have set up in front of it.  You have to have the right perspective!

This is a popcorn machine.

They spin the corn around for a while in this heated tank which is under pressure.  Then he hooks the bag up to it and releases the pressure and it pops all at once!

When the smoke clears, pour it into the basket

And scoop it into bags with a soda bottle scooper!  Gamsamnida!  (Thank you!)  This is real popped corn!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

October 23, 2016; Elder Bednar, DMZ Tour

After our staff meeting Monday, we started working on some old stuff we have found in the basement of the mission office.  We noticed that there were some boxes down there that we needed to take care of "some day".  We discovered that there was some water down there since they've been working on a sprinkler system (for fires) and they drained part of the tank.   The drain couldn't handle all the water, so it partially flooded the basement.  And so "some day" turned into "today".

The young elders brought the boxes upstairs.  They kept coming and coming.  This shows just the tip of the iceberg.  As we opened them to find out what was in there, we were stunned.  Lots of dishes, old clothing (suits, snow pants), blankets.  Weirdest of all was bins of pickled onions, bean paste, garlic.  Bless his heart, Elder Cannon took care of that kind of thing.  Old empty jars were wrapped in newspaper dated 2010.  We think it's from when the Seoul West Mission was closed (2010).  But why they saved all this stuff is beyond us!  There were a few good things that we let anybody take if they wanted it (a box of makeup and brushes, a blender).  Anyway, now the mission office smells like old musty clothes.  And our next project is to get rid of the rest of it and it's odor!

Tuesday was better, we were able to go to the temple again.  It's been closed for cleaning and it was nice to be there again.

Wednesday, we had the opportunity to go to a joint conference with the Seoul South Mission.  Elder Bednar has toured Japan and Korea with our area presidency.  President Sonksen asked if we would go with a group to make sure they made it to the church.  The meeting was held in the other mission boundaries, so they were on unfamiliar territory.

We waited at the exit of the station to point them in the right direction.  They were all so happy to see friends from the other mission.

I got one photo before the meeting started.  We did take some group photos, which I hope to see someday.

We had been asked to read four of Elder Bednar's talks in preparation for the conference.  The meeting was for three hours.  The first half of the meeting, he asked the missionaries to share what they had learned from the reading assignment.  After they shared what they had learned, he would say "May I ask you a question?" and had them think a little bit deeper.  Later he allowed the missionaries to ask questions, and he would discuss and ask more questions.

One of the main points was that we should be "Agents" and not "Objects".  Action is a key to our happiness.  He said he hates it when we go to church and pray that "those who aren't here will come next time."  He said he'd like someone to get up and pray something like this "Bless us that after this meeting, we will go and find those people who aren't here and bring them back with us next week!"  He thinks that we are often expecting the Lord to do our work.

He also encouraged the non-English speakers to learn English.  Not because it is a better language, but that it is the language of the Restoration.  As an example of the translation from English, it's often hard to show the difference of words like "unto" versus "into," for example, the teachings of the spirit coming "unto" your heart or "into" your heart.  (Being an agent and choosing to act.)

Joseph Smith prayed to know what to do, not just what to know.  He prayed to know which church to join, not which church was true.  (Action again)

One of our elders asked about how to bear testimony of things he is still learning.  It was very powerful when Elder Bednar promised him that as he testified, or "stepped out in faith, the light will move to light the way for him."  Sister Bednar shared an experience when she was too timid to give an answer in a meeting, but the response she should have given came to her later.  She said that now, she will start to speak, not knowing exactly what to say, and trusts that the spirit will give her the words because she is acting in faith.

On Friday we went out to visit and inspect apartments for some of our missionaries.  Someone was moving out of this apartment and it was amazing to watch them bring the furniture out the window and down to a truck.

The elder's apartment had these amazing cabinets that someone had rescued from the trash a while back.  Mother of pearl cabinets!  The nicest thing in the apartment.

I've been trying to get a photo of these little electric beverage carts.  These little women drive them around and park some place to sell drinks.  This was outside a subway entrance.

We've been planning our visit to the DMZ for quite a while now.  We went with some senior missionaries from our mission and the south mission.  This photo shows what we visited first.  It is called Tunnel Number Three.  It is the third tunnel that S. Korea has discovered that N. Korea has tried to build to get through the DMZ.  South Korea discovered it after they had dug about 400 meters past the south side of the DMZ.  The tunnel is underground about as far as a 24 story building.  The South built the long ramp on the right so we can go down and see the tunnel.  Then you can walk part of the length of the tunnel.  Good thing we had to wear hard hats because we bumped our heads a few times.

This is a mock-up of what the tunnel is like.  It was painted black because the excuse was that it was a coal mine.  But there is no coal in the area.  They told us that 30,000 soldiers per hour could come through it.  Yikes!  (If no one fell down or fainted.)

When we started down the ramp, the people coming back up were breathing pretty hard.  So, we were wondering how well we'd do.  But we all made it, maybe a little bit slower.  Work out of the day!

This statue is trying to show that the people want reunification with the north.

Our next stop was a lookout point.  These South Korean soldiers were posing for a photo, so....

They have mandatory military service (or equivalent, like police or palace guards) of two years for all young Koreans.

It was a bit hazy, but this is a view across the DMZ into N. Korea.  The DMZ is a beautiful open space, but there are landmines.  One of the soldiers told us that about twice a week an animal will set one off.

It doesn't show well, but there is a town out there with a 30 story building.  But, no elevators!  They used to have a factory complex that S. Korea built to allow the N. Koreans to have jobs there, but they discontinued that in September.  They call it "Propaganda City."

Elder Black & Elder Anderson with their friend.

Sis Black, Bastian and Anderson

Our group included Elder and Sister Robinson and their daughter and grandson who were visiting from Utah, Elder and Sister Black and Elder and Sister Bastian from the Seoul South Mission.  Plus our military friend.  One of the great things about missions is the new friends you get to make!

This is names of people who donated to build a train station here in hopes that someday the borders will be open and allow travel back and forth.

After lunch, we were taken to the JSA (Joint Security Area) which is a UN site where talks between North and South Korea are held.  At first I thought the soldiers were mannequins, but when I moved to the side to take a photo, I found out that they are very real!  He came up right next to me to prevent me from going any further.  It was a tiny bit scary!!

Half of the blue building is on the north side of the line and half is on the south side.  The large building in the back is the North Korean complex.  I couldn't take a photo of the south's building.

One North Korean soldier is standing outside their building.  They call him Bob.

This is inside the blue building.  On the north side of the line.  The Bastians got a photo with the South Korean guard.  (He is not a mannequin!  I saw him breathe.)  He is standing in a tae kwon do stance ready to act.  They are on their duty for a two hour shift.

It was a very interesting day.  We had a great time, right up until the end when one of our friends was taken ill.  We hope & pray for a speedy recovery.

We had some visitors at church today from the Vladivostok Russia Mission today.  (Seoul is their temple.)  A couple had come to be sealed in the temple and the mission president and his wife had come for visa renewals.  Plus, a sister who had served her mission in Almaty Kazakhstan was there.  We got to practice our five Russian words!  And share experiences with each other.  She was in the Moscow West Mission and then was assigned there when the Novosibirsk Mission gained Kazakhstan.  We were at the same stake conference in Moscow when we first arrived.

Alan and one of the other senior elders has been teaching a class of five prospective elders.  They are from Vietnam, Korea, China, Thailand and France.

Our branch had an activity Saturday.  We had to miss it because we had already planned our DMZ tour.  But they had some left over food, so we had a "Linger Longer" after the block.  We have a great branch!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

October 16, 2016

While we were out looking for pots and pans for the missionaries, we were happy to find a shop that has dresses (hanboks) for our little girls back home!  We had found some at a street market, but they were only there on Sundays.  We were thinking about justifying buying them on Sunday, but happy that we found these instead!

And, we were able to get the pots and pans delivered, so we didn't have to carry them back to the office!  Fast delivery on a motorcycle.  (Watch out for those motorcycles!)

On Friday, we went over to the Seoul South Mission office.  The office couple there, Elder and Sister Black showed us around their office and we were able to share experiences with each other.  And they treated us to a delicious lunch.  Now we know one more thing that we like!  It was seubogumpop.  Seu is shrimp.  The bogumpop part is like a fried rice with black bean paste sauce.  It tastes a lot better than it looks!  (Should have gotten a photo.)

This is a potato pizza from our neighborhood Pizza School.  It's pretty good.

While we were on the south side, we went to the Olympic Park.  The Seoul Summer Olympics were held here in 1988.

I'm not sure why they have a big thumb here, but this is the entrance to the park.

The gymnastics arena

Olympic Swimming Pool

Lots of ways to get around the park.

There are lots of sculptures around the park.  (And in the city for that matter.)

Lots of school kids having a field trip.  Each class has a different color shirt or vest.

All of the venues are in this same location with lots of open space surrounding them.

Here's an interesting way to grow your squash and pumpkins!  Some of them had ropes to help support their weight.

This museum is also part of the park property.  This depicts an earthen wall that was built on this property near the Han River.  It was a fortress back in the day.  

A replica of an ancient boat.

On Saturday we visited a few other sights.  This is a Buddhist temple (Jogyesa Temple).  All decorated in flowers.  This is a maze by the dragons.

Three golden buddahs inside the hall.  We didn't see the no cameras sign until we got up closer.

This place reminds us more of Japan.

When Alan was here a couple months ago, all the displays were of water lillys.

They believe this tree is about 450 years old!

Several bonsai trees were on display with a photo of the person who submitted them.

First time we've seen the guardians made of metal like these.

This is the ceiling of the entry arch.

Next was Unhyeongung Palace.  It is where Emperor Gojong lived before ascending to the throne in the mid 1800s.

These children are preparing for a re-enactment of a school exam.

Every week they do a different historical presentation here.

This cute family was posing for family photos.  It was fun to watch the photographer trying to get the baby's attention.

Finally, was the Jongmyo Shrine.

This has a huge courtyard.  None of these are ornately decorated because it was built as a shrine for deceased kings and queens.  This place is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

In such a busy, noisy city, it was nice to enjoy the peaceful surroundings here.

They added on this second courtyard because the first one got too crowded when they had their ceremonies.

When we were walking home from the subway station after church today, we noticed another festival going on.  Surprise!

We watched a couple of different groups perform.

Here is our "little" Jackson Baker Williams who was blessed last Sunday.  He's growing fast!

We were able to listen to a broadcast from Japan tonight.  Elder Bednar is visiting Asia.  It was fun to hear the Japanese translation.  I really did learn some Japanese after all!

They talked about the Area Plan for the Asia North Area.  The brothers had made a list of things they wanted to include in it.  Then they invited the sisters to give their input and they included things like "Joy" and "Love" and "Happiness" rather than just a list of things we have to do.

If we ask ourselves "Is what I'm doing helping me feel closer to the Spirit of the Lord, or making me feel farther away, it will give us direction for our decisions.  The spiritual gifts only come to us in order for us to bless the lives of others.  If we seek the gifts for ourselves, they will not come.

The Area Plan is ... "Because we want to live with Heavenly Father again, we Love, Elevate, Simplify, Strive, Strengthen, Invite And, Find Joy in the gospel of Jesus Christ."

We will have the opportunity to have a meeting with Elder Bednar this week with our mission and the Seoul South mission.  It's going to be great!