And allow me to say here that we are sadly coming to the end of our mission! It is now January. New year; 2012. With the new year it always brings new hopes, dreams, and challenges. We do have our flight tickets in hand and we will depart Korea February 9th. That's exactly 18 months from having first entered the MTC on August 9, 2010. This has been the fastest 18 months ever!
The great news is we are being replaced! We will meet them personally (we've Skyped already!) on the 8th. They will be driven up from Busan by our Mission President and his wife, President and Sister Gilbert. We will only have a few hours together, and soooo much we hope to pass on to them... and then we are off to Busan with the Gilbert's. They have graciously invited us to spend the night with them and they will take us to the airport the next morning.
Whether the new senior missionaries will choose to do a blog or not, I don't know. They will make this mission their own, as we have. I pray they will enjoy their time here, I know we certainly have!!
I am adding pictures from my camera.... Elder Howerton has many in his camera as well. What I will do is add mine here first. After that we will down-load his pictures onto our computer and we'll make another blog with his. While everything may not be in perfect order that way, I have the feeling that no one will care as long as you're able to see more pictures.
The first one below begins with Elder ChoiJaeWon and Elder Memmott in our apartment. I made a cake for Elder ChoiJaeWon's birthday... he is anxious to cut!
After one of our recent district meetings everyone wanted to go to this restaurant that is actually across the street from our apartment. They are known for their BIG hamburgers. While slightly pricey, the missionaries love to eat there when they can afford it. I chose pasta that day. This is their Spaghetti Carbonara.
I think it was the best I've had anywhere! I've had it in the states, and at other places in Daegu, but this was beyond description. We will go there again prior to leaving!!!!!
Attempting my twirling talent learned in Italy.... just as my companion sneezed!
On to the Daegu Military Branch Christmas party! Held in the cultural hall, we had a great turn-out!
One of our sister missionaries, Sister Lee, is looking right at us. She speaks English and is a great young missionary. She works with our military branch and the Korean Ward that we share this building with.
Left to right; Elders Claflin, Salazar, Babcock, and Harman all with one of the Korean visitors. There is never an opportunity lost to talk about the gospel!
Two of Santa's helpers! Sister Williams and Sister McCain, dressed for the occassion.
One of our newer members, Jason Rogers with Elder Duerden and Elder Cahoon. Bro. Rogers is now teaching a primary class and the kids love him! It's so good to have him with us!
One of our very special families in our military branch; the Lang's. Bro. and Sister Lang were the Activities Commitee Chairpersons. They did a great job. Siser Lang was expecting their 4th child in this picture and we now have a new baby in our branch; Glen Kevin Lang!
Elder Olsen is on the left with Bro. Em. He was introduced to the church by the military branch and although he now attends the Korean Ward, he still comes to most everything the branch does as he's made such good friends there. He speaks English so he could take the lessons in the home of Sister Hunt's family (sitting across from them) , the Gordon's. They were the ones to introduce the gospel to him, via the missionaries. We have great missionary-focused military families here.
Sister Morrise playing the piano for the presentation. The Morrise's are a great family who joined us this year. They are such a blessing to our branch... newly arrived, she is now our Relief Society President! Come overseas and truly feel needed!!
A very spiritual presentation was given by the children of our branch.
A story told, pictures for added emphasis. Songs sung by them and by all. A very warm, friendly evening celebrating the Savior's birth in a little military branch in Korea. The church is true.
Emma Hugo, Braxton Jenkins, Emmalee and Ariana Lang reading from their Books of Mormon and discussing the events of Christ's birth in America.
Melody Morrise as an angel. And she is!
Emma and Braxton singing and telling the story....
SFC Robert Gordon did the narration. In the picture on the left is Bro. and Sister Peterson and part of their family. What great families these are. I wish I had the words to express their devotion to the gospel, missionary work and setting the example for others. We love them so much and yes, I tear up at the thought of leaving them. It's always about the people....
We will move on to another Christmas event. This one was our Missionary Christmas party given by the Gilbert's in Busan for the entire Busan Mission. It was such fun. All of us in our zone rode the train together. I love that. It gives a good amount of time to talk and get to know everyone better. Although talking on any of the trains in Korea is something you must do respectfully. The Koreans use the train time to sleep! Most all of them fall asleep. If you are deemed at speaking too loud a conductor will come and ask politely to have quiet. The problem becomes when you seriously don't think anyone is talking loud.... but talking in and of itself is less than desired.
Elder Allen on the left and Elder Memmott with Elder Salazar's back to us!
Sister Oaks looks over the shoulders of Sister Nam and Sister Lee.
Sister Brady looking so pretty behind Elder Gee and sleeping Elder BaekWanSui.
Elder Allen and Elder Memmott again just passing the time until we arrived in Busan.
Elder Jones and Elder Salazar. Oh yes... me too. I have GOT to find someone in this country to give me a decent haircut! No, now I'm just waiting to get home....
In front that's Elder ShinHyunBum on the left, Elder SonYoungBae on the right with Elder HwangJunSung in the back looking over. You can barely see Elder ChoiJaeWon. The picture is a tad fuzzy. I didn't realize that until later or I would have taken another.
2 great zone leaders!! Elder Claflin on the left and Elder Babcock on the right. What great guys these are... they promise they will come see us when they return... we have such wonderful and dedicated young men and women here, we truly do. The sisters made me laugh.... they were not going to be denied in the picture!
Sister Oaks and Sister Markland. Sister Oaks is extending! They are amazing. The areas are so much better when sister missionaries are there as well as the elders. It truly makes a huge difference! Sisters just come with their own style, confidence, nuturing nature, and sweet spirits. What a blessing they are.
A great companionship; Elder Harman and Elder ParkChangu. They are called to serve in Gumi District and they have made a huge impact there. Very serious and dedicated servants of the Lord. (notice how everyone around our missionaries is sleeping....)
Also in our zone, Elder Duerden and Elder Olsen with their companion, Elder Cahoon. The 3 have been together for the last transfer but just recently that changed, as it always changes in the life of a missionary!
Now some pictures of the day and the events the missionaries provided.
We are now in Busan and at the Stake Center close to the Mission Home. The decorations were beautiful. A lot of work went into this and we all enjoyed the entire time! Elder Michael Kim leading the singing. We each broke into our districts together and each district presented a skit about Christmas and the church.
Elder Bagley playing a song for us.
Elder Goodman and Elder Lee.
Elder Claflin, Elder SonYoungBae, Elder Babcock, and Elder ChoiJaeWon singing together. They are so wonderful, great voices!
Elder Thompson playing the guitar for a group.
Sister Mecham also playing for her group.
These are not in our area and while I know one of them I don't have all the names; sorry.
Elder Jang in the white tee-shirt. There is a very special story that goes with this. I believe, however, that Elder Howerton actually has the pictures that goes with it so I will say no more..... read the next blog, it was a very powerful moment.
Elder Harris, now a zone leader. How we miss him!!!
Elder Wade in the front, we miss him too!!
Elder Gomez on the right, sorry again, I don't have the other elder's name.
Elder Hoskins (blond) and Elder Wade.
Elder Arnell in front. He just left our area a short time back.
One of the most talented missionaries we know. No one plays quite the way Elder Innis can! He is a remarkable young man - one you want to watch and see what he becomes.... Besides his talent he is such a serious missionary with such dedication to the gospel. We're blessed to know these young people.
What a beauty; inside and out; Sister McComber on the left with her trainee, Sister Foy. Sister McComber was in our district and we really miss her. She is doing wonderfully and has taken to teaching like a duck to water! Sister Foy is adjusting as all new missionaries have to do. The culture is very different than what they left at home. They grow to love the people as they begin teaching the gospel to them.
A picture of our zone sitting together awaiting their turn. How we will miss these young people!
...then lunch was served! Great food, thanks to Sister Lee who works for the Gilbert's.
Elder Harman blessing us with his wonderful voice!
Elder Harman and Elder Innis. Such music they make.
Elder Wade, back left. Elder Arnell, Elder Harris, Elder Thompson, and Elder Bagley in the front. We could put them in our suitcases and take them all home with us!
Sister McComber and me!
Elder Schultz! We miss him too.......
Elder Michael Kim..... your 'son' Harken!
Great picture of three of my favorite men!
President and Sister Gilbert. What a wonderful couple they are! This mission is blessed to have them. They are not only dedicated to serving the Lord but also to raise everyone around them to the next level. One of their special talents is the ability to inspire, motivate, and lead by example. They've gone on 'exchanges' with the missionaries; he with the elders and she with the sisters. No one can find someone on the street and get them talking as Sister Gilbert can. And she doesn't speak Korean! She just shows her love for them and they respond. They made this day fun and uplifting for all.
On our way back to the train station. Busan had great Christmas decorations. This was in a small area, close to the station. Very pretty!
No pictures on the train home. It was late, dark, and even the American's slept!! We had a wonderful Christmas and it all kept us pretty busy. It was cold but we did not have a white Christmas. Just a very blessed one. More to come SOON. As I was putting these pictures on several others I know we took came to mind so I know Elder Howerton has them. Give us a couple of days and we'll have more for you to see. If you find your son or daughter on here, I'm pleased. While we don't know all the names I've attempted to name as many as I could. YOU will know them without my naming them, of course. They are all well. They seemed very happy and of course, it's always so good to be able to get them all together. You can physically feel the energy increase and the desire to move forward with renewed energy.
Again, I thank my Heavenly Father for this wonderful opportunity to serve Him as we serve a mission. It has been the most perfect thing to do. We will continue to encourage senior couples to take advantage of it themselves. Finding yourself while serving others is the best thing in the world. We love the Korean people. They are such hard working people and will do anything for you when they know you. Is that any different than most of us? Once we get past the obvious differences we find that we are indeed, all of God's children with the same needs and wants. They accept friendships easily and are loyal. Those that are members in the church are strong and have great testimonies. Many of them, as Elder Howerton and I are also (with the exception of our daughter and her family) are the only members in their families. That can and does cause some concerns for them but they know the truth when they hear it and salvation is most important to them, as it should be to us all. Thanks for following our mission. More to come!