Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Here's to A Great New Year!

Welcome 2011!!!!!!!

It is January 3, 2011 in the Land of the Morning Calm.... that would be South Korea. For the rest of you, you are finishing the 2nd day of this New Year. I still smile at our granddaughter Allison's statement to us that we live in the future! Today, January 3rd is my aunt's birthday who lives in Decatur, Indiana; Happy Birthday Ginger - I love you!

In addition, this is a special date to me for another reason; had my father lived, this would be his 100th birthday! He is a man I am hoping to get to know much better beyond the veil.

We have passed Christmas, New Year's, and a Youth Conference!

I had one of my best birthdays ever! My date of birth happens to be Christmas Eve. It is not the best time of the year to have a birthday... Growing up my mother tried so hard to give me a party, but to little avail. Too many people travel or just have their own things to do. Nevertheless, to her credit she never gave up. This year CJ Burnett said she wanted to take me to breakfast for my birthday... now in Korea you do not do breakfast, at least not as we think of it. While I felt honored, I had my own thoughts, 'Taco Bell? ... for breakfast'? I didn't even know they served breakfast...

She was to be at the Lambert's where we're staying at 10 am or so. She was late. Once there I'm ready to walk out the door but she just walked past me into the house. Jim was there and she started talking - and talking - and talking. Well obviously, some time had gone by and then she says, 'OK, let's go!'

We walked out the front door only to hear her say she'd forgotten her wallet (!) and gloves. I said, "OK... but thought to myself; 'she's really not into this!...' So she headed for her house and I began walking to her car. CJ speaks up and says, 'Hey! Come with me, the kids want to wish you a happy birthday. By this time I'm thinking, 'You have GOT to be kidding!'...

So off to her house we head. She opens the door, I walk through and about 14 friends and sisters in the gospel jump out at me and yell 'Surprise!!!!' What a surprise. And what a lovely breakfast they all provided! It was totally a shock and one of the nicest things anyone's ever done for me. Sister Gordon set it all up and she and CJ got together and I would imagine and made the plans. I appreciate the Burnett's change of their house arrangements to allow for this. On Christmas Eve morning... with 1,000 last minute things everyone has to do and here, were these wonderful sisters taking the time to be there, to wish me a happy birthday, and to share in the true meaning of the season; giving to others of themselves..... It's a birthday I won't soon forget and I thank each and every one of you for your show of kindness and love.

Now here's something different to read!!!!!!!

Pre-Christmas when Pres. Jennings invited all the missionaries in the Busan Mission area to gather, Elder Howerton and I had requested some separate time with him, which he granted us. One of the requests we had was for special permission to have the male missionaries in our district to our house on post (again the Lambert's home) for Christmas Eve.... my birthday. As we had plans in process already to feed ALL the missionaries in our district (which would include the sister missionaries as well) Christmas dinner the next day...and as some of the male missionary companionships live quite a ways out of Daegu... would it be possible for permission to have the missionaries stay with us overnight on Christmas Eve and then they'd be there for Christmas day?

To our delight, he said yes! He said he could not normally grant that for just a group overnight in a home but as we were missionaries ourselves he trusted we would stay within all guidelines and rules. Therefore, he gave his consent. We were thrilled. We were even allowed to show a couple of approved Christmas movies if we wanted.

Well, the guys were so excited!

Christmas Eve found them arriving, 2x2... some could come a little earlier, others had early to mid afternoon appointments (good for them!) and came when they could. The Burnett's have been unbelievable friends and neighbors while we've been here. She heard about our being able to have the missionaries and infomed me I absolutely could NOT cook on my birthday. So, she made Christmas Eve dinner for us, and for all 10 missionaries that were staying with us. I wouldn't accept her 'dropping' something off for us, so all 5 of them came and we all ate together. What a blessing. I usually spend my birthday with my daughter and her family, providing me the blessing of having my family and my grandchildren with me on my birthday. I thought this year might be really hard for me. Of course they were all on my mind the entire time but this was just what the doctor ordered!!!!!!!

We watched a wonderful movie with cocoa and food to munch. Blessed to be in a warm home with a beautiful flaming fire in the fireplace, I know we all felt peace, friendship, and the true warmth of being encircled in the love of our Heavenly Father. It was such a special night. I know each one of us thanks President Jennings for this special blessing. It will be a Christmas Eve I think we will all recall as the years go forth.

Sleeping! On sofa's, on the living room carpet, in bedrooms; whoever called the bed first!! The other got the floor and not one of them seemed to mind.

Of course, EARLY Christmas morning brought 10 excited, anxious missionaries who could not wait to call home!!! No one truly cared about opening any packages that they had. They just wanted to talk to mom and dad and brothers and sisters and whoever else might be at the family home. They spent the entire morning doing just that. Very patient with each other even though the ones waiting to talk were about to explode!

The sisters and others began arriving and Christmas dinner was slightly after 1pm. All the missionaries had to leave by mid-afternoon to attend a missionary Christmas party at their Stake. All in all, with them, and friends who dropped in, we fed 34 people Christmas dinner and absolutely loved every second of it!

However, by about 7:00 pm I did the worst thing I could have done. I sat down.

Now here's something you don't see everyday! A group of missionaries attempting to file through a gate! Elder Choi was the one who finally cut through... I asked him what he did in his 'previous' life?!! We all were at the church for a combined district meeting. This particular church is in Elder Harken and Elder Wade's district. We found the gate locked and the code they had wouldn't work. There we all were. Elder Harken called the Bishop who said they'd been having trouble and just to 'break' it.... he'd buy a new lock.

Just the daily unexpected things that come up in the life of missionaries!!

The afternoon of Christmas Eve..... some came early to partake of Taco Bell... This was Elder Doh's (who is Korean) first time EVER! He loved it.... Check out Elder Wade's tray (in front). Elder Howerton and I felt a sign of relief as he said he only wanted things from the $1.00 menu... we just didn't know he meant EVERY item on the $1.00 menu!!!!! You gotta love these guys!

I can't decide if Elder Gee looks like that mouse that FINALLY got the cheese or someone who hasn't eaten in a week - and I wouldn't want to be the one to stop him!

Here we have a Thinker and a Doer!!!
The military still giving their all..... SFC RJ Gordon volunteering his time with his unit, wrapping Christmas packages for those last minute shoppers!

And some say there is no Santa! Elder Olsen in his Christmas pj's! Complete with white beard.

Let the festivities begin!!!

Christmas Eve dinner.... birthday dinner for me and I didn't have to cook!! 

Brittney Burnett brought over one of their 3 family dogs, Pepper. He's all decorated, ready to see if  Santa will bring him a bone!

A rather quiet moment for all. President Jennings ordered new phones for all the missionaries as the old contracts had ended. Elder Choi, zone leader, brought them with him. It sure kept everyone busy for quite some time!
Quiet evening watching a good Christmas movie with good company

Early Christmas morning.... is it too early to call yet?!

Elder Harris' mother sent me the recipe for some goodies her son loves to nibble on. So I made him some from her... I think he was surprised. I doubt they tasted quite as good as Mom's though....

Military families and missionaries; what a great combination!

This is great! Elder Gee and Elder Howerton showing off their brand new matching ties. 

Sisters Chun, Stevens, and Swenson with one of our single female soldiers, Tabitha. What beautiful and special daughters of our Heavenly Father. We are so blessed to be able to be around the sisters and see the lives they touch. For Tabitha and those like her, having the missionaries helps them get through some hard and lonely times. The church is true......


Sweet Sisters! Sister Swenson, Stevens and Chun

December 28, 29, 30. Elder Howerton and I had the pleasure, along with another sister from our branch; Sister Olson of escorting 8 of our young men and women to Seoul, South Korea for a 3 day Youth Conference. This was a real Quonset hut like the one Elder Howerton lived in for a year in Korea back in the mid 70's. It looks like something you'd see in M.A.S.H. The facility we stayed at was pretty nice. Named The Religious Retreat Center at Seoul it's run by the military chaplains. We took the KTX or the fast train from Daegu to Seoul. It takes about an hour and a half. Normally it takes about 4 hours via a car. Our train was going at speeds of up to 306 km (roughly 190 mph), it's a fun trip!

One of the classes getting started. Standing is President Knudsen, District President, welcoming everyone. We had youth from Daegu, Seoul, Youngsan, and Osan

One of the youth, Levi Hardy from Camp Humphrey designed the T-shirt that we each received. I think he did a great job... 13 Articles of Faith.... you can't quite see the left side at the bottom. There are 13 values we seek after.

You just gotta love being a military brat! Here's 2 young women from different areas of Korea in the same jackets! Good old PX; same clothes wherever you shop. They both look great in them!!
You've got to hold it just right, no laughing!!

Patience! These doughnets have powered sugar on them.  Proved quite messy and the kids loved it!

Just sitting and taking it all in!

The Powers That Be.... A couple of great sisters that made wonderful things happen for our youth. Sister Hardy on the left and Sister Oldroyd on the right. So much pre-work and planning goes into these things. We were so blessed to have sisters like these two that make these events so special. They can be literally life-changing days in a youth's life..

The Gathering.... This was the last time together prior to leaving. We'd had some wonderful and spiritual classes, play time, ice skating time, and a dance for the older youth. On this day all the youth went to the Seoul Temple and performed baptisms. As there usually is, some special feelings and experiences happened. Everyone came away edified.
 We came home tired but happy. For us New Year's Eve was quite and peaceful. Beginning another year seems to give me the motivation to set goals... how long they last is something else. I have resolved to do something each day that would help someone else; a phone call, a letter, an email, a smile, or just to be there for someone. I have been blessed since being here with so many that are there for me.

While the new year gives us a chance to reflect and set goals about things we'd like to do or be, to me it brings a sense of stability. Reminding me that while things constantly change we always are blessed to have Heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior with us. Times may change, people may change and the world moves on, but throughout the chaos of it all is the simple truth held within the scriptures. I thank my Heavenly Father every day of my life for that constant. May this be a blessed year for each of you. Thank you for your support and your love. Keep in touch!

Sister Howerton

1 comment:

  1. Hi Elder & Sister Howerton, I am Elder Wade's uncle and am enjoying reading your blog. He sent it on to us.

    That's all the taco bell food E' Wade ate? :) I know he loves his bean burritos w/ green sauce. Thanks for feeding him and looks like you had a nice Christmas.

    thx for posting