Sunday, January 29, 2017

Seollal Conference

This week we had two mission conferences.  Half of the missionaries came Friday and the other half on Saturday.  The solar new year holidays are celebrated here.  We noticed a big difference in the traffic with so many people out of the city to visit with family in other places.

One of our APs explained about the culture surrounding this holiday.  A big emphasis is placed on remembering your ancestors.  The Korean people have suffered under foreign occupation, war, and economic collapse.  Now the country is very wealthy, but they remember those who endured the earlier difficulties.

Sister Cannon talked to the missionaries about keeping themselves healthy and their apartments clean and in good repair.

The missionaries who have achieved their goals in learning the language were recognized.  And some special awards were given too.  We had a "Megaphone" award for some missionaries with loud voices, a "Better Late Than Never" award for a missionary whose arrival was delayed a transfer, plus an extra day, a "Twins" award for missionaries that have a twin sibling.  My DH was mentioned as a "Mr. Fix it Award" winner.  The "Uninvited Guests" Award went to one of the apartments that has had a bad case of roach infestation.  (We hit them hard last week, so hopefully, they'll get cleanest apartment next time.)  One of my favorites was "The Shortest Letter to the President" Award.  "Hi President, I'm fine.  Have a good day!"  And Sister Sonksen won the "Selfie Queen" award because she loves to take photos with the missionaries!  All in good fun!

Two of our elders shared their amazing talents.

It was amazing!

We had jump rope contests.  They really had fun with this!  One group of four sisters was able to count to 106 jumps!

Played a traditional Korean game

The senior sisters helped with some mending for the missionaries.

Kimchee rice for lunch, then back for the afternoon session.

In October, there was a special mission reunion in SLC for all the mission presidents of the Korean missions from when the first Korean mission was opened.  The history of the early members was remembered.  Two of the members of "The Piano Guys" served their missions in Korea, so they did some music for the reunion.  We got this from a you tube video of the event.

Then we watched the missionary broadcast from SLC.  It was a meeting of the Missionary Executive Committee with three of the apostles and other church leaders.  Part of it was regarding the change in the missionaries' schedules.  This makes it easier to adapt their daily routine according to their individual needs and the culture where they are serving.  They are able to get out of their apartments earlier in the day now.  And they will have fewer key indicators to report.

This Saturday night is the first in a long time that we did not see or hear any protesters.  Well, we did see one guy with a sign.  Apparently they decided to celebrate the new year too.

In our Sunday meetings today we had a group discussion about the Asia North Area's plan and goals for the coming year.  I love the vision statement:

"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." 

Strive - to find names of our ancestors and perform their ordinances in the temple
Strengthen - our conversion by reading the Book of Mormon
Simplify and elevate - Sabbath day worship
Invite - others to learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ
Love - others by ministering to them one by one

Here is a scripture from Romans 13 that I enjoyed today about something I had not thought of before.  The "Armour of Light".  What a great concept with all the contention in the world, we can have, and be, and share the light.

11- 14  And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.  The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.  But put  ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 22, 2017

Monday evening we were invited to a branch member's home for dinner and FHE.  Two of the other senior couples and another family from the branch came too.  The other family has lived in Seoul for over 20 years!  Their children have been raised here.  It was fun to see the teen-age children with their friends, just like they were back in the US.  They had the day off school for MLK day.

We had another temple day on Tuesday.  Here's some of the missionaries that were there.

Dear Sister Park left us to go to the MTC in Provo on Tuesday.  She has been in Seoul for a couple of months waiting to get a visa for the US.  She has been assigned to the Visitor's Center in Laie Hawaii.  We'll have to go visit her there!

We also went back to the temple on Thursday.  The missionaries from Vladivostok came to Seoul to renew their visas.  It was fun to visit with them.  They were surprised that I could read their name tags and say Здравствуйте to them!  One of the sisters said her grandparents had served in Almaty Kazakhstan in the early days.  

They were very happy to get to come to Seoul.  Usually some of the Vladivostok missionaries travel on a bus to Mongolia for visas, but since the roads can be dangerous this time of the year, they all were able to come to Seoul.  Sister Nielson had prepared dinner for them and we were happy to help set up and serve them.  They enjoyed trying some traditional Korean foods.  They were asking what everything was, and we knew the names of some of the dishes.  The bulgogi was a hit.  We did have some kimchi and myeolchi bokkeum left over.  They were all good sports.  We also got to attend an English session with them.

This is the myeolchi bokkeum.  It looks harmless enough until you notice that it has eyeballs!  It is actually dried baby anchovies.  One of the elders actually said he loved it!  

We had our first real snow storm this weekend.  We stayed home on Saturday and watched some of the news from the US about the inauguration of our new President.  We are thankful for our country and hopeful for peace.  It was great to see the Tabernacle Choir, The Piano Guys and Elder Christofferson offered a prayer at the National Cathedral.  God Bless America!

The sidewalks were a little bit slippery today, so we rode the subway more and walked less.  My shoes failed the slippery test, but nobody got hurt!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 15, 2017; Traditional Korean Market

After staff meeting on Monday, we went with some of the other senior couples from both Seoul missions to a traditional Korean market.  The vendors rotate locations every day.  If the date ends in a 4 or a 9, it will be in this location.  Elder and Sister Gray are about to complete their missions and return to Washington, so we wanted to take advantage of Sister Gray's expertise.  She is a native and is able to help us understand what everything is.

We found most of the usual things that are at most markets, but also a few things we had not seen.  We did find some beets and also some cilantro so we could make salsa!

This machine is roasting peanuts.

Besides the fish, shrimp, squid, vegetables and odd things, they also have goats, rabbits and dogs for sale.  (These are not sold as pets.  But for food.  Don't know if it tastes like chicken!)  I'm not that hungry.  Ever.  They didn't want us to take a photo of the dogs up close, so we moved back a bit.

Some people noticed that we were Americans and tried out their English on us.  Some other people just thought we were blocking their stalls and wanted us to move away so they could sell their fish or whatever!

It was pretty fun, but when it started to get cold, we decided to head back home.

The weather here has been pretty nice.  It may feel cold when we first head out the door, but by the time we get half way to the office, we're starting to feel warm.  We had a tiny bit of snow one day, but it didn't last long.

We were able to spend Tuesday at the temple with the missionaries.  It had been a while, so it was nice to be back there again.  They tell us that there are 20 missionaries coming this week from Vladivostok to renew their visas!

We had some excellent speakers at church this morning.  Two of the missionaries spoke about feeling the Savior's love.  One told about a tender mercy when he was new to Korea and it was summer.  He was feeling a bit discouraged, but a lady they met on the street bought them a cold drink and he felt like we can feel kindness from others if we look for it.  Likewise, we can show kindness to others as well.

The other elder is from Hong Kong.  He talked about charity.  It is the pure love of Christ and if we try to be like Him, we will have love for all those around us.

That made me think about the people we come in contact with.  Sometimes there are so many people all hurrying to go their own way that it's easy to just feel like a fish in a big pond with no connections to anyone else.  I've been trying to look for ways to connect with someone every day with at least a "Hello" or a smile.  We saw some teen age kids waiting at a stop light.  They looked at us, like, "You're not from around here are you?"  But when we said Hello! to them (in Korean, no less), they answered back with a smile.  It's just a little thing, but it is something.

A young sister talked about following Christ's example.  She used Elder Holland's talk about after Christ was resurrected, he found Peter had gone back to fishing again.  He asked Peter if he loved him and reminded him to "Feed His Sheep."  She had been raised with her brothers by her father who had been in the military.  She said she did a lot of push ups while growing up.  But after she had been through the military herself, she came to understand her father better. 

We had to say good bye to two of our sweet sisters from the Philippines.  They have been working in Korea while their husbands are at home in the Philippines with their families.  We will miss them!

*Grandma Bragging Alert*

Some of our granddaughters have sent photos with their new Korean dresses.

Amber loves her pink dress.

Karli and Kanela look beautiful!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

January 8, 2017 National Palace Museum

Our office elders showed us how Korean children wish Happy New Year to their elders.  Then they expected some gifts!

We had MLC (Mission Leadership Council) this week with Zone Training the following day.  After the training, we went to help some sisters move into their new apartment.

We had several sets of elders and some members from the ward, so the move went quite fast.

We walked to the Costco after the move and let the other senior couple take the van so they could get ready for the addiction recovery group.

I wondered what Pigeon scent was??  It's actually a rose scent, not like a dirty bird.

We got these sodas with our lunch.  Can you read this?

On Friday, we went out to visit three of the missionaries' apartments to do some repairs.  We were wandering around a bit looking for the sister's place which we had been to before, but we came from a different direction.  Then we noticed a church with no cross on the steeple.

Hmmm.  Looks like a Mormon building.

It was!  The sisters came and found us and we were all OK.

The weather has been nice, so on Saturday we went to the National Palace Museum of Korea.  We were headed to a different museum, but the street was blocked off by police buses, so we went to this museum instead.  These turtles are stamps on the bottom.  Official seals or signatures for the royals.

This is the genealogy of the king.  That would be hard to index!

This is a serpent or dragon head that was on the roof of a palace.

They had some amazing royal costumes.


And back

This carving was used as a pattern for the medallions on the gowns.

This is a wedding gift wrap with two phoenix birds in the center.  It is called a bok.  Which means, tied up gift of good luck.  The dresses are called han boks which are also tied???

Beautiful hair ornaments

These are pieces of wood to show how the roof supports are made for the palace.

These braces fit inside the holes to hold it together.

You just have to put the pieces together like Lincoln Logs.

How about these cool cars.  This is a 1907 Cadillac.

Now the slaves don't have to carry them around any more in this.

They had some neat musical instruments.  This is a tiger shaped wooden scraper.  The stick is rubbed on the back to make noise.

Very colorful drum


Jade or granite chimes.  See the duck feet?  Since jade is not affected by temperature and humidity, it is used as the tuning standard for traditional Korean instruments.  Who knew?

This is a restoration of a water clock.  The water is regulated to cause it to chime.  When the water reaches a certain level, a ball is released that hits a lever and rings the clock.  The bell rings every two hours, a drum every 90 minutes and a gong rings every 20 minutes.

This is a screen of the sun, moon, and five peaks that was placed behind the king's throne as a symbol of royal authority.

So, my photos are not the best, but if you want to see better views, you can go to and see some good photos.

The protest did not last as long last night.  It was only loud for a little while.

At church today, one brother told about his mission to the Philippines.  He was excited that one of our elders in our branch is from a family he worked with on his mission 15 years ago!  How in the world?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Merry Christmas! and Happy New Year!

Our Christmas Eve this year was spent with the unaccompanied service men.  We were able to use the US Embassy housing facility, so it felt like being in a home,  We even had Christmas Carolers!  This sweet family from our branch came by to sing for us after dinner.

We had fun visiting with the servicemen and playing games.

Sunday morning we had just Sacrament Meeting.  It was fun to see the children dressed in their new Christmas clothes and happy (and sleepy) after their exciting morning.  It was great to remember the Savior's birth on the Sabbath.  Plus, we were able to have a baptism service for a new member.

Christmas night we had dinner again after the Sacrament Meeting on base for those who are not able to come at the regular church time.  The elders were able to come too.  They're happiest when they're being fed. (Or having baptisms!)  Thanks to Elder and Sister Cannon for inviting us.

When we were waiting for our bus to go home, these two semi trucks came down the street.  They were all lit up and had Christmas carolers spreading good cheer.  We got to see the back side of the truck, but we could tell they were very enthusiastic!

We had a later staff meeting on Monday.  That gave us time to make our Christmas calls.  Instead of Monday morning, we met in the evening and had dinner at the mission home.

We had zone conferences during the week.  For one of them, the office elders traveled with the Sonksens and held the conference out of the city.  But we had them at the mission home on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  We helped serve them a lunch of breakfast foods.  Pancakes, egg bake, sausages, and fruit.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it very much.  We were too busy to take photos though!

We received an email from a missionary couple that has been called to our old assignment as humanitarian missionaries in Astana.  We were excited to know that the work there will continue to be in good hands.

As we went to bed on New Year's Eve, we were trying to decide if the noise from outside was a celebration or one of the usual Saturday night protests.  We decided that it sounded more like a protest than a celebration.  Koreans celebrate Seollal (solar new year) which will be January 28.

But, Happy New Year to all.  We were asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting today.  I was asked to speak on how to get answers to gospel questions and Alan spoke about gaining a testimony.  We've had our turn for the year already!