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.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

November Transfers

What? Already?  This was a shorter transfer than usual.  Only five weeks instead of six.  We had to have it early because next week is a mission president seminar for all the mission presidents in the Asia North Area, so the Sonksens will be in Japan next week.

On Monday, we went to lunch with our office elders.  We were sending one of the APs home, so we went for sushi.  They are showing us some of their favorite places when they get a chance.

We sent home four elders and two sisters this time.  One elder to Korea, the other three to Utah.  One sister went home to Arkansas and the other one to the Czech Republic.  She was surprised to be called to Korea, but we're glad she came!

This is the ginseng chicken soup that is so famous.  We see people lined up at this restaurant every day.  It is a whole little chicken stuffed with rice and ginseng, there's also a chestnut and other surprises in there.  The little bucket is for you to throw your bones away as you go through your soup. It was actually still boiling when it is served.  I am trying to warm up my hands without burning them.

Our new missionaries arrived on Friday instead of the normal day (Tuesday.)  The MTC wanted to keep them as long as possible, so it threw our schedule off.  We had the training for new missionaries and trainers on Saturday.

These are our 18 new missionaries.  We also had one more elder that arrived Saturday afternoon.  (Long story.)

These are the trainers.  President Sonksen is announcing the companionships and areas.  It's always great to see how they match up so well and love one another right from the start.

We left to go to our District (Stake) Conference and then to the airport.

He didn't seem to mind that it was the "B" Team picking him up!  He got some training in the car on the way back to the mission home!

The ride back was on the slow side because there was tons of traffic.  There was a protest at Gwanghwamun, and people and police were everywhere in our neighborhood.  We saw many water cannon trucks between our home and the office.  Lots of police lining the streets too.  Opted to not take any photos.  Some of the officers came to the office to use the bathroom and our elders got a new investigator out of the deal.

We had a couple of cooler days this week.  We had to break out the jackets and sweaters and guess how many layers we're going to need to wear each day.

Here's one of the odd things we saw this week.  Several of the trees have these IVs attached to them.  None of our Korean friends seem to know about them or think that it's odd.  I suspect they're trying to make the trees produce more of those nasty berries next year!

We were able to spend a day in the temple once again this week.  And we also had our District (Stake) Conference.  Our District covers all of South Korea.  It is for the English speaking groups (mostly military).  Some of them came into Seoul for the conference, but it was also broadcast to the other locations.  The theme of our talks today was about "Peace."  It was a very timely subject considering all the unrest around the world.  

We were counseled to study "Preach My Gospel" about "Developing Christlike Attributes."  

On our walk home from church, we take a detour through the main part of town to see what is happening this week. (A little bit out of our normal path.)

Bosingak houses a large bell from way back when.  They say it is rung every hour and they have a ceremony on January 1 to mark the new year.

Along the river walk, they have a Lantern Festival in November.  These will be lit up at night.

The Olympic banner is on the bridge

Different historical presentations of life along the river.

And dragons

Harvesting ice

Mount Rushmore?

And Aomori Japan!  There were other countries represented also.  We'll have to go back at night soon.

They are starting to get ready for the winter Olympics in 2018.  These are the mascots we passed by on our way home.

All of the protesters and police were gone and the area was all cleaned up and set for today's activity.  The event in Gwanghwamun Square this week was Embassies Festival.  This reminded us of our friends in Kyrgystan.

And visited with a young man from Tajikistan.  He said the Chinese are rebuilding the "Tunnel of Death" so it will be safer the next time we go. (?)

Some of our other favorite places were also represented.  Peru,


And the Dominican Republic.  It's nice to have friends all over the world!