Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Holidays are Upon Us!

December, 2010 - such a busy time of year! We haven’t begun to rust out as we are still knee deep in work and wonderful blessings that the Lord provides to us.
Thanksgiving for us was with a wonderful family on the military post by the name of Lambert. They have 3 children; Ashley, a senior; Emily, a sophomore, and Nathan about 10 years old or so. They opened their house to us and to the missionaries in our area. Sister Lambert out did herself both on the wonderful dinner she prepared plus all of her beautiful decorations.

Now does this look good, or what?!!!

Elder Howerton is helping to set the table back on the left, Ashley Lambert is helping also and the other Lambert's and friends (mostly missionaries!) are on the floor in front of the beautiful Christmas tree Sister Lambert had ready for us.

Beautiful Christmas Tree
The Saturday after Thanksgiving our branch had an ‘After Thanksgiving’ gathering for all the members as well as for our area missionaries. This was also for all the single and married members, non-military, who live in our area and teach in the Korean schools. As the Korean apartments do not provide stoves as we think of them (no ovens) it’s hard for them to have traditional food. We had a great turn-out and all the food was provided by members of the branch. What a fun day for all!
 Elder Howerton and I had an extra, unexpected blessing. One of the military families on post had emergency leave for both of the parents that required them returning to the States. Suddenly they found themselves in need of assistance for their 3 children (and 3 dogs) that would remain here. We were asked by them if we could help out and of course we did. We were able to stay in their home for a week while the parents were gone. Their daughter, Brittney, is a sweet girl of 16 that we grew to love. Jared, a boy 13 who is a Deacon… great kid! He just looks like a Deacon and you can really see the future missionary in him! The 3rd child is another boy, Jacob; 9 years old. He is such a boy of 9! Fun, mischievous, loving, and has the greatest smile ever. What great kids these are! We had such fun with them and they really accepted us. We are Papa and Oma Howerton. We were there for 2 Family Home Evenings, one of which the 13 year old had the lesson prepared! Of course they were in school during the day, but afterwards we played board games, talked, cooked dinners together, and we took them to a facility on post where we played ping pong, air hockey, etc. We loved doing all kinds of family things together. They were absolutely a joy; even the 3 dogs took to us. It’s just one of the many wonderful opportunities we’ve been blessed with. Thank you Heavenly Father…. Mom and Dad arrived home safely and life got back to normal, but what a choice experience. We’re grateful the parents trusted their most prized possessions to us!

Here is Jake with Papa Howerton making a Gingerbread House

Watching a Christmas movie with Jake and 2 of the 3 dogs.....

In the midst of the above we also gift wrapped Christmas presents for the American Red Cross. They had an area set up at the PX for shoppers to stop by and have their packages wrapped for free or a donation to the American Red Cross. We had volunteered and we spent a couple of days there wrapping gifts and talking to the folks. Great fun! One of the other volunteers that we were with on both days was a Korean lady. She has been volunteering for the Red Cross for over 10 years! What a wonderful service the Red Cross provides to all of our service members and their families!

On 2 other consecutive days we also presented our part of the Substance Abuse Program to another class of military personnel attending the 2 day mandatory workshop. As with the last time, it went well. They were receptive and we have several who’ve stated they’d be interested in attending our class. We have been waiting for one of the clinical directors from Yongsan (near Seoul) to come to Daegu for their quarterly visits. We are required to meet with them as the approval to hold our 12 week course lies with them. Supposedly they are due here this week and will remain for another 2-3 weeks so we have high hopes of gaining time with them.
We miss home, family and friends but Skype works! We haven’t had much Skype time with our kids, life just gets busy for all, but it beats an 18 to 24 month mission with phone calls every now and then! Our Michelle has sent us our big down comforter for our bed and it is really needed. As they say, it doesn’t snow much here but it really gets cold. This area reminds me of Chicago; high humidity so the summers are unbearable and the winters turn miserable. Lots of wind and bone-chilling temperatures….’wind chill factor’…. Of course, everyone here wants to remind us that January, February, and March are the worst!
This past December 11th we had our branch Christmas party. We were able to secure the annex building/fellowship hall at the Camp Walker Chapel. It was a very large room that afforded tables and decorations around the walls. Full-sized AMERICAN kitchen!! The branch provided the meat and members filled in the rest. Besides our regular members, we had lots of investigators, friends of members, and missionaries. Our primary did a nativity scene complete with song and verse. They were so cute! 3 of our missionaries sang to us as well.

Beautiful cake hand-made by Sister Bell, one of our military spouses!

I'm always amazed at people with talent! Here's Sister Hugo putting together a wonderful backdrop for our Nativity Scene. She and Sister Fuhriman made this a very special evening.

We had to plan ahead as all non-military had to provide special information and required proof of their home country registration. We had a sheet of 52 non-military members to sign on the military post; South Koreans, Japanese, South Africans, several from Australia, etc… with our military and their families, single military, retired (like us) and so on, we counted over 160 there!!! Great success!

A wonderful spirit comes through when the children perform

Sister Howerton allowed me, Elder Howerton, a few minutes on the computer to add to our blog. Above is perhaps my favorate picture. You may have had to be present to appreciate what is actually happening yet I want to include this in our history. It is, in my perspective, the perfect moment of a missionary helping his companion and expressing the bond of love that exist between them. Elder Choi on the left is an accomplished singer having won several competitions in Korea and desires to continue performing as a singer. His companion is Elder Murry. They, along with other elders, were singing for the military branch Christmas Dinner. Elder Choi was asked at the last moment to sing a solo in English. English being his second language and without any rehearsal with the elder playing the piano. There were a couple of pauses and it caused a mis-match between the words and the music. Elder Murry quietly stepped in behind Elder Choi and softly helped him bring the English words in line with the music. Elder Choi knew exactly what was happening and accepted the assistance and finished the beautiful Christmas song to a standing ovation! Gosh, I love these young men for the dedication they have for each other and the love of the gospel that they share with the people in Korea.

CJ Burnett and Santa..... He won't tell what she asked for!

Santa is attempting to get a serious response from Elder Murray and Jared Burnett....

Elder Harken told Santa he wanted a baptism for Christmas.... this was Elder Harken's reaction to Santa's positive response that he would get his wish..... Since this party one baptism is now scheduled for this coming Sunday!!!!!  I believe, I believe.....

Elder Green top picture and Elder Bagley both took over the Clean -Up detail.....

Other news; 3 of our missionaries died….. But, don’t get excited! To ‘die’ is to complete your mission and return home. It took me off guard the first, or second, or even third time I heard them reference that!!!
Elder Green, our District Leader, from Fruit Heights, UT, Elder Murray, Zone Leader, from Layton, UT, and Elder Stever, District Leader, from Olympia, Washington. All 3 were great missionaries who are absolutely returning home with honor.

Elder Stever, Elder Murray and Elder Green. Boy! We will miss them. 

We started a tradition after arriving (you’ve seen pictures of our dinners in my previous blogs) in Daegu; we have dinner for the entire zone the Sunday night before the transfers happen on Monday of transfer week. So, we did the same again and will download pictures for you to see as well. We were asked by a few of the missionaries if they could bring investigators, which of course was fine with us. Actually, we felt honored that they felt comfortable enough in us and in our home to do so. This time there was a few. One in particular was unique as he is from China! He is a very nice young man who seemed to truly enjoy himself. He’s in Korea going to school and speaks very good English! He was someone a couple of the missionaries ran into on campus one day and they’ve met with him since. He is starting to take the lessons, so I’ll keep you informed if there is any development.

Sister Bagley and Elder Bagley the Senior Missionary Couple serving at the Mission Office in Pusan at the top of the picture. We love them coming here to see us! On the sofa to the right in the middle is the young man from China.

Sister Lee, Elder Choi and Sister Stevens. Now I ask you;  how could anyone say no to any of these 3 super missionaries?!!

Elder Stever put together a wonderful book for his Korean ward members to have, to remember him by, and to teach the purpose of Christmas. We were honored that he provided us one as well. It covers the 24 days prior to Christmas with a page and message for each of the days leading up to Christ's birth. It is quite special and Elder Stever honored us by reading one of the stories for one day to all of us. Not a dry eye in the room when he finished.

Once word was out that we were having the farewell dinner a family in our branch asked if they could please come. They really loved Elder Murray and hated to not see him for the last time. All in all we fed (and held in our apartment) 34 people! It was crowded, noisy, and fun! What a blessing to have so many missionaries in your home at one time. We love them so.

Elder Green on left in back, next to him is Elder Murray. The Gordon family loves and provides so much food and care for the missionaries. They are such examples of Christ-like service, from the protection SFC Gordon provides in his line of military duty to the total care the entire family provides to our branch and others. SFC Robert Gordon in on the back row, right. His wife Serina and their 5 children; Andrea, Ariana, Aydian, Austin and Adison.
  Elder Murray was just not ready to leave Korea yet…. He suggested that we all go to the Yuk (Train station) and pass out Books of Mormon and sing Christmas carols. So the masses packed out of our apartment, down to the cabs, and off to the station.
They had 23 Book of Mormons left and vowed to pass out all 23 in the following 1+ hours. They passed out every single one, got phone numbers, and made friends! The 3 leaving took the task to heart with a couple of others. The rest stayed behind to sing. They sang in Korean and in English and we gathered a small crowd. The young man from China went with us and I truly think he was impressed. He stood there taking it all in. Elder Howerton and I were able to talk to him some about the church and about our Lord and Savior. It was a choice experience.

Sometimes a female direction can help....

Here are 3 great senior missionaries, 2 of which were going to Seoul the very next day to catch a plane for home, talking and planning the distribution of the books and one last time to 'Jung do'..... that's as close as I can come to the way it's said..... means to be on the streets, meeting people, talking about the gospel and hopefully making a contact. Ariana Gordon was in the midst. She will make a terrific missionary when she's old enough! She passed out something like 10 books herself!!!

Here's Elder Green talking to and giving a Book of Mormon to a passing Korean

This is the quality of the missionaries we are blessed to have here in Daegu. The 3 leaving us were so dedicated and blessed so many lives. Converting is hard here. We have Christians and Buddhist. However, the Christians are different than at home and there is, as in other places, misconceptions about the church that need to be handled prior to any lessons given. It’s a tough call but then there are those investigators that are like others anywhere else in the world too; golden. The Lord is preparing…..

Here I am with Elder Routson. He is a special missionary to me and he too is leaving us - but in his case he is being transfered to Pusan to be the District Leader! He will be a great one. We will miss him but we're going to a meeting in Pusan on the 20th of Dec and will be able to see him again.

Elder Stever with 2 new co-senior companions: Elder Harris on the left and Elser Olsen on the right. These 2 are now our missionaries in the area we live in.

It was a cold, windy night; a good night to stay indoors with a good book. But we were all totally filled with warmth, love, and a sense of true peace. Elder Howerton and I bid farewell to all, a final farewell to 3 special missionaries, and took a taxi home feeling the blessings of the gospel, our Heavenly Father, our Savior Jesus Christ, and an overflowing of feelings of gratitude and full hearts just to be allowed to be a part of all of this. GO ON A SENIOR COUPLE MISSION!!!! It is the single best thing you will ever do, or give service to, or recall as your years progress.
We are already giving serious thought to our next one….. the blessings of serving the Lord and the rewards from that are more than tongue can tell.
Oh yes! Another very special occasion that we’ve been blessed to be here for…. President and Sister Jennings, the South Korean Mission President and his wife, from Busan, came up to Daegu for a Mission Tour. With them we had the opportunity to meet and hear from a General Authority; Elder Koichi Aoyagi from Japan. He is a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy of our church. He was present with his wife. It was an honor to meet and hear from both of them. President and Sister Jennings spoke as well. All the missionaries from the area were in attendance. It was a full day of training and learning.  Lunch was provided by our local Korean Ward sisters. They served an excellent lunch for us and Elder Howerton and I had the privilege of sharing the same table with Elder and Sister Aoyagi and President and Sister Jennings. It is such a wonderful experience to hear from a General Authority. He speaks English but wasn’t comfortable enough to do the entire session in English so he had a translator with him. A fellow Brother, who served his mission in Japan, went back to the states and found and married a Japanese girl. They now live in Japan and his Japanese is perfect. In our short time here it is amazing to us the possibilities that open up to returned missionaries who worked so hard and learned so much while on their missions. So many that we've met are over here working and raising their families in some of the same areas they served in. The Lord does provide for them for life.

The latest for us is that the Lambert’s, who had the great Thanksgiving dinner for us all, left a couple of days ago for Christmas with their families in the states. They asked us if we would house/dog sit for them in their absence. So, we are now on-post at Camp Walker (the largest of the 4 camps in the area). We are in a nice military-housing home complete with 4 bedrooms; a real kitchen and clothes dryer and Lucy their cute dog. The clothes dryer is the best blessing! Hey! I’m living as normal as can be for a while.

This does afford Elder Howerton and I some important opportunities however, while we're here. As I mentioned, Camp Walker is the larget of 4 camps in the area. Our apartment is close to our church, which is nice on Sunday but an hour or so away by both subway and city bus service. With the cold weather and all it is so great to be close to the buildings, homes, and people that we are called to serve.
Keep checking our blog as I will surely add after Christmas and around the New Year. We are both so grateful for this blessing and although things are somewhat unstable concerning the North/South political thing, we have faith things will work out as they should; whatever that may be. On that note, the strongest statement from the President of South Korea was that he will not tolerate one more act from the North. That’s a strong sentence and our military is certainly aware of the implications…. Life for our South Korean’s goes on; people act as though everything is normal. They have lived with the split of their country for a long time now.
We know we are here for a reason. We have faith all will be as Heavenly Father directs. We love what we’re doing and look forward to a new year. I pray the year will be better for all countries but our heart, of course, is with our own. We hope the leaders will fall on their knees and ask for direction and forgiveness.
Please let us hear from you and what things you’d like to know about Korea, or us being here. We love all and thank you for your support and your love….
Elder and Sister Howerton

1 comment:

  1. Loved your post and all the pictures. It makes us wish we lived closer to Daegu so that we could party with you more often. Keep up the great work you guys do!