Monday, March 20, 2017

Sad farewells - Warm welcomes!

This is the great and terrible week for a mission president and wife.  We said farewell to six missionaries and welcomed 14 new ones.  Five returned home after completing missions.  One was only with us for six weeks while awaiting his visa to serve in the US.  The elder below with the pink bag, Elder Lee will be a great missionary in Southern California.  We look forward to seeing him in 23 months when he comes back fluent in a second language.
We had a great evening with these missionaries before their departure.  Three had their families pick them up as they live here in Korea.  The other two returned to Connecticut and California.

 We said farewell to Elder Kim Sungsoo who served for seven months in the office.  He was a great sport.  We will miss the games with him.  We had a few emotional moments together before he departed.
We sang together in the mission home stairwell.  I've uploaded it directly to Facebook in the past, but it's too big for the blog.

We excitedly traveled to the airport to pick up the incoming missionaries.  We took five other elders and sisters to travel home on the subway with the new group.  Sister Turner had a posing moment for them in the lighted flowers.
 This is a great group that represents a very diverse number of countries.
 These young men are exceptionally talented, their language skills amazing for the short study time they've had.
Elder Sayan from the Philippines
 Elder Hoopes from Utah
 Elder Luce from Ohio ( we like the Midwestern kids!)
 Elder Miller from Utah
 Elder Sanderson from Utah
 Elder Abrao from the Philippines
The young women are exceptionally talented in singing, musical instruments, and language talents.  Sister Davis is from Utah, and has traveled the world in her youth.  Like us, her parents will serve as mission president and wife in Turkey starting in July.
 Sister Earnshaw is from New Hampshire
 Sister Jung is from South Korea
 Sister Kim, serving with another Sister Kim is from South Korea
 Sister Pari is from New Zealand
 Sister Perlawan is from the Philippines
 Sister Tobler is from Utah
 Sister Warner is from California.
This group with their trainers represent 25% of our mission.  We truly enjoyed being with them.
We attended a stake conference over the weekend and any time we have our missionaries together, there has to be a photo taken.  Hopefully, you'll find one of your missionaries here.  The young man holding the Book of Mormon on the second row is not one of our missionaries, but is anxious to serve!
On the side of the unique this week, we pass a large plot of ground periodically that is reserved for wild flowers.  In the winter, it is home to what we call Garfield's family.
If you want to know what it looks like when we make a run to Costco and other supermarkets the week of transfers when we know we will feed a lot of missionaries, here's the vision. Actually, we share the experience with Elder and Sister Black for their shopping as well.  It's quite a morning every six weeks.
Finally, just a block from our home is an elementary school.  On the wall surrounding the school is a mural.  As we drove by it one day, Terri exclaimed, "I know what that represents!"  We had driven by it many times, but we hadn't taken the time to look at it in its entirety, only in pieces.  Let us know if you think you know what the story is and who the author is.  We love his books!
It has been another full week.  For about 48 hours, from 2 PM on  Tuesday when we leave for the airport to pick up new missionaries, until 2 PM on Thursday when we typically say goodbye to the departing missionaries, we run pretty hard and have truly amazing spiritual and physical experiences.  We're glad we only have to do this every six weeks!  We hate saying goodbye. If Terri had her way everyone would stay, and then leave with us when it's time for us to return home. 

We hope you see a face you recognize and love and hope you get a smile.  There will always be new faces.  Until we slide into next weekend, hope your days are as good as ours!

Monday, March 13, 2017

More Missionary Homes and a few treats

Another very busy week visiting homes and interviewing missionaries.  There is nothing to lift the spirits of the mission president and his wife than being with the missionaries.  In their homes, they are even more special.  Some shared meals, some cookies, some banana bread cooked in a rice cooker, cheese cake from a mix, etc.  We get great treatment.  They seem genuinely glad to welcome us into their homes.
Elder and Sister Black got lucky, they had their interviews at the kitchen table over dinner.  We could not function as a mission without him handling the finances and her handling every other important logistical activity.  We are so blessed to have them.
 These two have great musical talent, one with the keyboard, the other on guitar. One from Texas (family currently living in Quebec for work), the other from Utah.
 These two are a terrific pair.  One is from our home area of Indianapolis, the other from Utah.
 Not everyone can have the Eifel Tower on their wall in Korea.  One sister from Hawaii, the other from very close to our daughter's home in Boise, Idaho
 Four sisters live in this home and boy do they keep it nice.  They are such a happy pair. One just arrived a month ago and is from Korea, the other's parents are both from Korea, but she grew up in Southern California.
 Four elders in a house and you'd expect chaos, but they had it well organized and clean.  You can't really see it in the picture, but they have a huge couch they found some where.  We could all sit on it. From left to right they are from Utah, Tennessee, Georgia, and Hawaii. They have the US pretty well represented in this house.
 This house full of young ladies has more energy than any in the mission.  This was a unique way to show all of us together.  At the bottom of the mirror you can see pictures and comments that represent each of their personalities.  Left to right they are from Nevada, Utah, Utah, and Korea
 Now you can see their true personalities.  Even Sister Turner fits in well here!  I'm glad I'm the photographer.
 These elders are completely at home with the floral wall paper!  They keep their place very nice.  They get the pleasure of having one more join them this week.  It's plenty big enough for their physical bodies, but the strong personalities could be squeezed! One from Utah (had our son Nathan as a seminary teacher), the other from Washington state.
 This pair are helping each other learn more music: one with six strings, the other four.  One elder from Korea, the other from Washington state.
 Another wild group.  What a fun house!  They have a Ukulele, a guitar and a broken cello.  The cello was given to the elder and his family sent him the things necessary to repair it and now can practice with it.  We have lots of musical talent in our mission.  Left to right they are from Colorado, Utah, Texas, and Utah.
 The final interviews we did were with the two mission assistants.  One from Korea, the other from Utah.  They are two of the hardest working missionaries in the universe.  Right in front of the mission home, Terri caught them on camera doing what they were sent to do.  This person they started a conversation with was from South Africa.  She speaks great English, but they have all the materials needed in her native Afrikaans to teach and answer any questions.  We can't say enough good things about them.
Actually, we can't say enough good things about all of our missionaries.  This next week we lose five, but we get 14 new ones.  You'll learn all about them on the next blog.

One evening we were out with four of our missionaries near a very busy subway station in front of a McDonalds.  We decided to introduce the Book of Mormon through sticker boarding.  The board said, "What kind of a book is the Book of Mormon?"  The four options were: 1. A book about Mormon, 2. A book like the Bible, 3. The word of God, or 4. another testament of Jesus Christ.  We let them see the book and then could answer their questions.  It was a cold evening, people in a hurry, but we gave away 17 books and collected follow up phone numbers for appointments from 10 individuals.  We had a great time.
 Right next door was a neat place that all kids need to see right over Terri's head:

Per any normal day we are in the car, we saw some unique sights. A car drove by us that was covered completely in some unique material.  We weren't sure if it was being delivered and the material was to protect it or to cover some unique nature of the car.
 Historically, when family members pass away they have been buried on a family hill or mountain side.  They have burial mounds all over Korea.  As you can guess, with 50 million people in Korea, roughly the side of Indiana, burying that many people today would be a challenge.  At this point most are cremated, but still some families have space for burial plots.  The size of the mound roughly represents one's social status.  You can Google the great kings' tombs of Korea to see some very large burial mounds.  We drove past a place where there were hundreds, most with a marble headstone.  I'm sorry you may not be able to see much, but if you pause or slow the video clip, you will pick out the mounds.  In a future blog, we will show more from a standing position and not a moving car.  Because of traffic I couldn't slow down.
We were invited with the Blacks to participate in an evening with the leaders in our local ward.  They played some interesting games including follow the leader game.  I made the decision to photograph rather than participate this round... Elder Black was the one everyone was following.  At the end, he pointed to someone else who had to lead the next round.  It would have really been a wild one if I would have been selected!

We received a request from our daughter-in-law, Nia, to show more food.  We'll do our best. I mentioned this in another blog some time ago, but this is Budaechigae, a stew cooked in front of you made up of many different items.  When the Korean ward ended, the Koreans were starving and the US soldiers had lots of scraps the Koreans would gather including left over hot dogs, baked beans, bacon, etc.  They now add nice sweet potato noodles, ramen noodles, Spam, onions, cheese, and other things and boil it in a dish in front of you.  Add some rice on the side and the always present Kimchi and you have a wonderful meal.  It is one of my favorites.
That pretty much covers this week.  We are happily and richly blessed.  We are amazed the Lord would call us to do this work.  We are surrounded by so many good people!  We hope you enjoy what you find here!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Gideon and his 300 and another week of great interviews

President Turner was invited to speak at a conference in the mission by the leaders.  The brief text was taken from the Old Testament in Judges 7.  The Lord wants to prove to the Israelites that he is the one in charge and the one who is saving Israel, not the strength of the armies.  He reduces the army from 32,000 to 300 men and with those few men and miracles of God, he saves Israel in war.

We have 108 missionaries in our mission serving what we estimate to be between 15 and 20 Million people.  We can tell you that the marvelous work being done by these 108 18-21 year old missionaries is way above their talents and gifts!  A few of our missionaries are in the mid-20s and one in her mid 30's.  Still, given all they are accomplishing we are amazed.  Just think that not very long ago they were doing everything high school kids do. Most here have not yet attended any college.  They are truly amazing, but they too know that the power is divine, not personal.

We had another great week of interviews visiting 17 more missionary homes and interviewing 43 more missionaries.  You can see in the pictures below the wonderful mix of personalities.  It's not possible to be with them and to be sad or discouraged.  They carry so much joy in them.  You moms would be proud of the well kept homes!

These guys are showing off their huge couch.  They shared a wonderful meal with us they cooked themselves.  We were quite happy with their talents and generosity. Two elders from Korea, two from Utah and Georgia/Connecticut.
 The Hawks are our Military Relations couple serving Camp Humphreys.  They too fed us a delightful lunch.  We were pretty well fed this day!
 These elders had to show off their dishwasher.  I'm not sure any other home in the mission has one except our house.  But we're feeding 20-30 missionaries some times! One elder from Korea, the other from Utah.  Both are well over six feet tall.
 These sisters saw this mirror with nice 'Mother of Pearl' accent in the trash outside their apartment.  They are making great use of it. One is from Utah, the other from Texas.
 It's hard to tell in this picture, but we are on the floor to show off their little cosmetic table that sits about two feet at its tallest.  They too saw it being tossed so they grabbed it.  The one sister is from the Philippines and being only about 4'8" tall, it is perfect for her.  The other sister is from the Idaho (though her mother is from Korea).
 These two elders are from Colorado, both outdoor junkies.  They live in a place that used to be two levels until the landlord boarded up the floor above this circular staircase.  First one of these I've seen in Korea.
 Some missionaries just can't give up Christmas.  Right now the watermelon flavored suckers are the biggest hit among the missionaries.  One sister is from Korea, the other from Michigan.
 These same two sisters had some fun slippers that Terri wanted to show off.  The kids could probably pick out the characters better than I could...
 These two elders have the nicest wardrobe we've seen.  Many homes don't have closets so wardrobes are used.  The one elder is from the Philippines, the other from California.  He had a funny alligator hat someone sent him.
 These four elders have a nice large place for four.  None knew the origin, but there is a nice mask in the house.  Terri and I are big mask collectors back home.  This one may come up missing.  These elders are from California and Utah.
 Terri is always asking me to check if her eyes are open after taking  a picture. Still can't tell...
Just to keep the relationship good, these elders have nun chucks instead of rock, paper, scissors... One is from Korea and the other from Texas.
 These sisters live in a small town that we love to visit because of the old fortress in old Suwon.  They really like the stairs at their house so we went out into the light rain.  The steps are made from very large railroad ties.  One sister is from Canada, the other from Korea.
 These two elders found a small portable foosball table to keep them busy on preparation day.  Can't tear too many muscles playing soccer like this.  These two are both from Utah.
 These two sisters, both from Korea, are two of the happiest in the mission.  They have personal animals as mascots.  The family name of the one sister with the little sheep on her shoulder is Yang which also can mean sheep. The other sister's given name is Da Jeong which also means friendly or  sweet. Her nickname as a little girl was pig.  Her little mug says Friendly Pig.  They gave us muffins we could have for breakfast the next day.
 These two elders are half of the office elders in the mission office.  One is from Korea and loves doing puzzles.  He can do 1000 piece puzzles faster than anyone.  He loves to put them together on preparation day.  The lower bunk is his bed.  He gets cold easy so he makes a fort and lets the heater at the head of his bed warm it up on cold nights.  Other than that he sleeps on a foam mat on the floor.  The other elder is from Utah and is a great guitar player.
 These two elders found a key board which they have cleaned up a bit and brought into the house.  Neither play well, but they are trying.. One elder is from Korea, the other from Utah.
 As I said about Christmas earlier, these sisters still have their lights out.  We found the plumbing under their bathroom sink had come apart one day this week.  Sometimes the landlord is a little slow in responding to the needs...One sister is from California, the other from North Carolina.
 Probably one of our favorite pictures, these four really entertain each other.  They also provided a wonderful lunch.  Having two Koreans in the same house who know how to and like to cook helps these guys out!  There is one extra elder here because he is with us for six weeks before leaving to go to California for his mission.  One of the other elders is from Nevada and the other two from Utah.  Interestingly, the two from Utah played hockey against each other in high school
 Elder and Sister Black are our office couple and they are from Roger's home town of Orem, Utah.  We know many of the same people.  They are a great resource and help to us in the logistics of this mission.  It is so nice to know when we are away interviewing or training or attending to any of a number of things, these two keep the engine running smoothly.  The missionaries love them!
 These elders had some nice notes for us on their door welcoming us.  We always get such warm welcomes.
 From the side of interesting observations.  You can see Terri's little shoes against some of the elder's shoes.  This elder is three to four inches shorter than me, but his shoes are much larger.
 Again, doing what they do so well, these elders were busy helping two men prepare for baptism.  One is a 26 year old young man who had about 20 young adults sing at his baptism. The other is an 87 year old man whose daughter has long been a member of the church.  This was one of the most sweet and touching events in our mission thus far.
From the sights of interest this week, we found this lady driving her little yogurts and other healthy drinks cart with a rain cover on it.  It reminds us of the golfers who will even play in the rain, but would rather not ride through it.
 We captured two of our great missionaries on the streets doing their thing.  Always a happy smile for us!
 Finally, for our date night, we had an evening with President Jeong and Sister Kim (In Korea, the women maintain their family names when they marry.)  President Jeong is one of the counselors in the mission presidency and they will become the president and wife of the Busan Mission, one of the other missions in Korea starting July 1.  We offered to answer any questions they had about being the mission president and wife.  They treated us to a wonderful dinner while we chatted for more than two hours.  We did the same thing just 12 months ago as we talked to anyone with experience who could help brace us for the new adventure.  This time we were able to share with great energy and excitement our experiences where a year ago we were overwhelmed with the thoughts of what was coming.  We are excited for his family and their new opportunity.  They are going to be awesome!

Another week went by so quickly.  Another half week of interviews and we do transfers again!  Every six weeks passes so quickly.  We brace ourselves for the departure of missionaries we love like parents sending their children far away to school or other pursuits and wait in like expectant parents for the new group soon to join us.  We're having so much fun!  We hope you enjoy it with us!