Sunday, 9 October 2011

September into early October 2011

World-Wide Service Day as presented by the Daegu Military Branch! The BIG guy in the black T-shirt, 6'8", is our branch president, President Hugo.We gathered in the cultural hall and everyone brought items for packages to be mailed to soldiers in Afganistan as well as a couple of missionaries in other areas of the world. We had many packages of pre-made store goodies while many things were also home-made. It was a great service activity and of course, we pray those receiving the package will feel special, 'cause they are!

Thank heavens for the commissary so we could provide things from home that they'd be use to.... our branch missionaries got into the act of packing for others as well.

Looks like an assembly line! We were able to ship 17 boxes, I believe.

I'm sure both the soldiers and the missionaries will appreciate the home-made cards from the primary.

We have such great, giving families. They understand what it's like to be away from home!!

Just a sample of one of the tables ready to be packed.

As you can see, some local Korean cookies and goodies were added as well. I think they had a good mix.

Yummy.... serious food and fun food. All made with love and prayers of the heart.

Wesley Bell is serious about his part of this gift!

Speaking of food.... Packing all those boxes made some of us hungry (it doesn't take much!) so several of us went downtown Daegu to a Korean/Mexican restaruant. It was pretty good! One of the plates above. Elder Howerton wanted the folks at home to see that there is actually other things here besides fish heads and rice!

Fantastic new family just recently moved into our branch! The Morrise's, who just put a son into the MTC bound for Mexico prior to coming to Korea themselves! Bro. Morrise is our new middle school band teacher. He served a mission in Seoul, Korea a few years back himself.....

Great friends!! The Gordon's, you've seen them before! SFC Gordon and Serina. Bro. Gordon is also our 2nd Counselor in the Branch Presidency. They do so much to help our missionaries!

Another new family; the Jenkins'. We are so blessed to have them and their 2 great sons in our branch. Bro. Jenkins is a also a civilian worker assigned to Korea.

Miss Personality; Allison Williams, from South Africa. She's a school teacher here teaching English to Korean students. Your world brightens up when she's around!

Elder Howerton next to Sister Jenkins, pondering the wrap he's eating.... the food was surprisingly good.

Are these 3 great kids, or what? The 2 boys are Jenkins'; Braxton and Isaiah. What a pretty girl Melody Morrise is!

District meeting over, our zone leaders met us for lunch so we could say good-bye to Elder Jung, 2nd from the far end on the right side. While it's a couple of weeks until transfers, Elder Jung received permission to leave early for registration for school.

Elder Jung with his zone companion, Elder Babcock and others. He will be missed by all.

Elders Schultz, Elder Gee, Elder Arnell, and Elder Cahoon posing while not missing a bite! Quite a talent they have, wouldn't you say?

Looks like Elder Howerton is twirling... Elder Olsen is taking a break for a picture. Our district leader....

Elder Olsen and Elder Jung.

We took a bus trip with the military to a festival in an area called Gyrong-Ju. It turned out to be a huge place, much larger than we would have imagined. This is the entrance. Reminded us somewhat of Disneyland.

We were tempted to take the carriage but decided just to walk. So we walked, and walked, and walked.... I walked enough to regret not taking the carriage!!

Elder Howerton at the inside of the gate. Beautiful vegetation everywhere. This art work in nature's natural habitat is pretty tall!!!

One of the childrens characters offering to take a picture with us.

Masks. The Koreans have many masks, many meanings, and many dances where they wear these masks as they tell a story. This particular room had walls full of such masks.

There are literally dozens of styles of Korean masks and associated dances. Many different regions have their own unique forms of the art; in fact, some styles belong to a single small village. The masks range from fairly realistic to outlandish and monstrous. Some are large, exaggerated circles. Others are oval, or even triangular, with long and pointed chins. All represent some thing or some one, certainly part of an overall story being told and retold.

Elder Howerton checking out some of the costumes used in these various dances.

A hands-on for children to make/paint a project for them to take with them. Some made masks, others made flowers on wood, or other objects.

I thought these were interesting places to sit and relax along the way. Not just your typical bench but a beautiful canopy over you with vines growing. Great shade! See the gourd-like things growing from the top? If one of them falls it might be painful! In the background you can see their hot-air balloon. It was tethered the entire time. You may be high but at least you're secure in staying there!

Lovely use of the land. Many places to sit and reflect, relax, or as some of the kids did; jump in!

We enjoyed watching this chef as he carefully and skillfully made his noodles. It was quite a show to watch. The noodles here are very good.

Lots of working the dough, twisting, flying in the air, and shaping and reshaping.

Perform he might, have his picture taken.... well, he turned out to be a little shy. But he's good at his trade!!

Inside one of the exhibits. How would you like to wear that armor?! It protects, I'm sure, but your horse might wear out before the contest is over....

Korean kids love to talk to the Americans! They stop us all the time and 'practice' their English on us. We enjoy them so. This was a group from a local school that came for the day. They all love having their pictures taken!

Some beautiful, and I'm sure pricy artifacts from previous eras. There are many styles of Buddhist statues.

What exactly this piece is we didn't find out, but it's something to see!

Some of the headwear and masks again. Quite ornate, aren't they?

This city of Gyeong-Ju is in the Shilla Zone. It was part of the Joseon Dynasty from what we were able to find out. The Shilla zone itself is in our area in Busan, about a couple of hours from where we are. We have about 7 sets of missionaries in the entire Shilla Zone. In this particular town of Gyeong-Ju we've had Elder Goodman and Elder Memmott.

Elder Howerton sitting in one of the thones they used - preparing to deliver something to the troops he has absolutely no clue about.....

We found Elder Howerton's favorite place. It may become his favorite of the entire mission... he is a Earth Science Major, although he never followed that career path. However, his love is for all of it is still intact. We saw the largest display of fossils we've seen to date. This area he's sitting on is all petrified rock from previous trees!

Inside the exhibition hall was rooms and rooms full of fascinating petrified rocks! This one was still in all one piece! Absolutely beautiful......

Rest areas were all made from petrified trees of various sized and designs to allow people to touch and sit on these marvelous pieces literally centuries old.

Needless to say, we spent some time in this exhibit.... our grandchildren would have gotten tired, I believe. However, Pop was there to explain every single one of them to anyone that would listen!

What a display! Shiny and tightly packed, they looked somewhat surreal.

If these weren't petrified, they'd sure keep one good for the cold winter ahead!!

Circus was also in town today! Acts from China, Philippines, and Russia.

  It was difficult to get a good picture but these acrobats from China were outstanding.

As we walked around we noticed this long line patiently waiting. For what, we did not know. Memories die hard.... the last time something like this happened to us we were in Germany. On the east side, actually, when the wall and Check Point Charlie was still around. At that time we saw a line, much longer than this. They, too, were waiting patiently to get 'whatever'. We, being foolish Americans, wondered and discussed what they possibly could be waiting for?! Who's coming to town; a singer, a group.... what event could it be that they would be so patient to receive? Upon walking into the store and following this long line of tired people we found that they were waiting for their turn to be handed produce. Handed, not selected... and produce you and I wouldn't take home, let alone stand for hours in line for.... So what was this? It made us slightly nervous walking up to find out what could make these Koreans wait in lines like this for....

Free Rice Cakes. OK, so blessed are the Koreans for having a heathly economy. Thank heavens this wasn't East Berlin back in the mid 80's.... I'm just not sure what anyone could give away that Elder Howerton would stand in that long of a line for..... best watch what I say, our economy makes me extremely nervous..... may we all take a moment and thank our Heavenly Father for the riches and the freedom of our land. And may all of us appreciate it.

I appreciated their chicken! We both just KNEW we were going to lose weight coming here..... wrong! If you can gain weight, you can gain weight here as well as home. We have 4 months to make a change......

As all the military families took off in various directions, we couldn't find one to snap a picture of here. So we saw this Korean family posing for their family shot. We took advantage of the moment to show another one of the wonderfully fun areas they had for photo shoots.

  Another beautiful area again..... actually the backside of the opening entrance.

Sister Allison Williams and Elder Howerton have had some interesting talks about her native country of South Africa. While at this festival he found and purchased a small zebra, hand carved in Kenya, for her and gave it to her during one of our Institute classes. She says zebras are impossible to tame, can be headstrong, and basically 'just there'.... He thought she ought to have one to remember how not to be...... Absolutely 180 degrees from her! She's so full of life and fun. We will miss her when we leave - and when she leaves (about the same time) to travel to Australia to marry and to live! We're trying to talk her into coming to the states once she and her husband-to-be are married.....

A Stake Center in one of our districts, Sangin District, in Daegu. Lovely church building. The sacrament/cultural hall is located on the 3rd floor and no, Korea does not necessarily install elevators!

A workshop of sorts.... I don't know how it's spelled but in Korean it's pronounced something like shur-sup, or something like that. Our returned missionaries at home now, reading this, are probably dying laughing at my attempt to pronounce Korean!.... Anyway, Elder Harman and his companion, Elder Wilcox, presented a great one for all of us. They asked the elders take their ties off and place them over their eyes. The sisters used their sweaters. This was done outside. They proceeded to line them up, single file, and led them out of the church lot, onto the street and to a park next door, then back again, following the one before them.

As they were blindfolded either Elder Harman or Elder Wilcox lead them one by one into the building. At that point they lead them to the stairs and railings with the instructions to hold on to the rail and follow it up the stairs, and not to remove their blindfolds.

Here they stood patiently not knowing what was ahead for them -

Elder Allen beginning his walk back into the church, lead by one of the two elders, yet having complete trust and faith their 'guide' would not bring him to any harm.

Elder Howerton and I were at the top floor waiting to greet them. You can see Elder Gee just doesn't quite want to let go,  moving sideways from railing, which ended, to the wall.... The challenging part was that from the 2nd to the 3rd floor each had to make a turn to begin the next level... and the hand railing stopped.... most commented that they were confused, fearful to let go and trust in themselves to find the railing again, but they all made it. Once at the top they were again confused as the railing ended. They didn't know whether to turn, go straight, or just stop. To their credit, each one left his/her blindfold on. I reached out and took their arm and asked them to remove their blindfold....  We greeted them, congratulated them for obeying, trusting, and continuing to constantly move forward; welcome home my child and enter into the kingdom.

Elder Hoskins was unsure of his next step but he stood fast for something to happen to let him know what to do next.

Letting go of that secure railing was hard for them to do. The unknown lies ahead.... they all knew that both elders who lead them were no longer with them.

Elder SonYoungBae arrived just a few steps ahead of Elder Babcock. Elder SonYoungBae was even slow to remove his blindfold as he didn't want to disobey what his leader/elders had told him. Elder Babcock helped assure him it was OK, and they both entered the final room together.

Sister Mecham was elated to have made it! Sister Oaks, her companion, led her along the way. This was a powerful excercise for the group to do. Way to go Elders Harman and Wilcox! Lehi's vision; holding on to the rod and obeying the Lord. Our reward will be far greater than anything this life has to offer.

Just one of the apartment complexes next to the church. Huge, no?! This is literally one of several, and just in this area of the city! 2.5 million+ people is a lot!

Play time.... a heathly balance of work, learning, and playing. They played dodge ball, except it was paper balls that Elders Olsen and Cahoon made. They had a great time together. We really witnessed some competitive play though.... they work hard and they play hard. Such a great group of young people! Each so committed to serving the Lord and giving their all.

Bird's eye view.....

Great lessons of instruction and teaching are over for the time being. Play time has refreshed them and now it's time to get some serious food! One of the places we have far from home!

And of course...... McDonald's is EVERYWHERE! Don't you wonder what Ray Kroc would have said to all of this? His idea/product probably has now surpassed even what he might have envisioned.

We went to a huge store for lunch called EMart. They have it all; you need it, they have it. This particular EMart more than many others. I love the 'plastic' food in the windows. It's so politically correct for us foreigners! You can see what the food should look like.... and order by number. Of course, we still have to ask all the elders what's in it, is it hot, etc, etc...

The price? Well just take off one zero for us Americans... 5,500 won would be $5.50.  9,000 won becomes $9.00 and so forth. Good pricing, no! The plates are huge and much more than you'd get in the states for the same amount of money spent.....

These pictures are of some of their soups. A LOT of them have seafood; mussels, shrimp, octupus, squid....
some are served hot and many are served cold. Just depends on the type.

Awaiting everyone to get in for the afternoon session to start.... sometimes it's just hard with full tummys.

Oh, surprise! We weren't really waiting for all to start.... we were waiting for them to bring in the birthday cake for Elder Cahoon! It was his birthday; Oct. 5th. What a great District Leader Elder Olsen is.... he's trying his best to blow at the same time with Elder Cahoon..... There were 20 of us there and Elder Cahoon cut it so everyone had a small slice! Everyone sang happy birthday in American and in Korean.

Elder Babcock and Elder KimUkTae leading the group in practice time for singing. They will be performing at a Stake function coming up shortly and will sing as a zone.

Elder ChoiJaeWon decided to look at the camera instead of the leader! This was another great meeting. We love being with the missionaries and listening to their lessons, their talks, and their testimonies. Such strong young people dedicated to serving the Lord with all their might and ability.

When we first arrived on our mission, our missionaries in Suseong District at that time was Elder Olsen, on the left, and Elder Green, who left last December! Last December.... almost 10 months ago now!!!!!!! Elder Olsen is back in the zone again yet not assigned to our specific district. His new companion is the birthday boy himself; Elder Cahoon. When Olsen was with Green they 'heart attacked' our door with lots of cut-out hearts. We loved it. They started to fall off as time went on and when Sister McComber and Sister BaeSoYoung were here they thought the door needed to be redone and freshened up.... so they did. The hearts were different, very creative, and fewer in number - yet very tasteful, beautiful and simple..... as we don't have the sisters here any longer, the elders (Olsen especially in honor of him and Green) thought it needed to be done again. It seems they were here some evening while they were in our area.... we didn't even know they were outside the door! We came out the next morning to head to Camp Walker Military base for a presentation we were doing and about fell over! Now, we have REALLY been heart- attacked!!!!!!

Then we discovered that our Suseong elders, Elder Schultz and Elder Gee had a hand in it too.... I would love to have been a fly on the wall out there when they were doing all this.... and with us inside! Thanks to all of them for caring enough to heart-attack us! We have a new neighbor that moved into the apartment next door. One morning, again on our way out, she came out of her door as we waited for the elevator together. She is a really nice lady and speaks English so well! But speaking English and yet understanding our customs are two totally different things! She was very curious about our door.... when we told her that we were missionaries, our young missionaries did this, etc... she kept nodding and trying to understand why someone would do that. I told her that in America we call that being 'heart-attacked' but before either one of us could explain the concept to her further, her eyes got big and she said something like, 'no, no!' She put her hand to her heart like a real attack..... bless her heart (no pun intended...) I don't think anything we said really explained it well to her. What she thinks is anyone's guess.....

Elder Howerton with our elders standing by our newly designed entryway......

We had some great times with both the military and the missionaries this past month. The same day Elder Cahoon's birthday was, our daughter, Michelle, had her birthday also! Of course, when it was the 5th of October here it was only the 4th back home... Elder Cahoon thought it was great though, it gives them 2 days to celebrate! It's wonderful to see the missionaries take care of each other on special days like this.

Our work with the military and the families moves along. Today as I type this it was Conference Sunday here. It's October 9th and we met at church today for both sessions. As conference really happened last weekend at home, we always have it the following weekend over here. The missionaries come, some to be with our Korean Ward, who meet at the same time on this day, and some to be with us. The Koreans meet in the chapel and hear it in their language. We, as the English/Military branch, meet upstairs and watch it on TV's. At the break we had a potluck. It turned out very nice; sandwiches, shepherd's pie, chili, chicken tetrazzini, pot roast with potatoes and carrots, all types of delicious salads and desserts. The Koreans had their food downstairs as well so the missionaries were well taken care of!

Thanks again for taking the time to read about what we're doing. We love you and are blessed to have you follow our time here. We love our mission, that has not changed! It gets harder now as we are all too aware that time is moving on! We are praying for replacements and it appears that it will happen!!!!!!!! Too many good people here not to have a senior couple to love them, support them, and serve them. We're talking already about what to do when we get home! We've got to keep this going somehow!! As our 'Elder' Green always said; 'The Church is True'.... we are so blessed to be here and to meet and serve those that we do. We also are blessed to live where we do and have Koreans all around us. They are the sweetest and truly the nicest of people. For those of you that have missionaries here, be assured, they are well, happy, and loving the work they do. They amaze us daily. Our military folks are going through some extra stress at this time as it's been stated that the military is set to cut 50,000 soldiers.... that's world-wide of course, but everyone's on pins and needles about that and what it means for them.... Please keep them all in your prayers, this is (as it is in America) someone's livlihood being discussed. May Heavenly Father pour out his blessings upon you. How blessed we are to have the fullness of the gospel!
Sister Howerton

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