Friday, February 14, 2020

Panama Canal Cruise Part 1

One thing on our bucket list we had always wanted to do is to go on a cruise through the Panama Canal.  We finally decided to just do it.  So in September we asked our mission friends, the Whitings if they want to go with us so we decided to get together.

The cruise began in LA.  It was on the Norwegian Joy

Friday 1/17 = Travel to LAX

We stayed at Sunny's in Tucson on Thursday night after our Temple assignment. She took us to the airport Friday morning.  We had not chosen seats for the flight, so we ended up with the unused seats which were right behind first class!  A man next to Alan was also going on the cruise.  He got a last minute ticket and decided to go.

LAX was very busy and is larger than we thought.  It has expanded over the years.  We had to take a bus from the gate where we landed to the main terminal for our luggage.  We saw this ANA plane (Japanese Airline)


We met up with our friends Kelly and Connie Whiting that we had first met in Korea.  It was good to see them again.

We took a shuttle to the port and began the process of getting aboard.  Once aboard we went to lunch until we were able to get into our rooms.  It was a small room, but it turned out OK for us once we figured out to stow our luggage under the beds.

We met up with the Cruise Lady People for a little while before dinner which was with all of them.  A couple of them had known each other before.

Saturday 1/18 = At Sea - John Lund Lecture

Our first lecture by Dr Lund was about Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon.  Dr Lund has studied and written about the Book of Mormon for many years. 

Here is a summary:

1 - Location of the Lands of the Book of Mormon:

Land of Desolation Northward of Zarahemla
Land of Zarahemla North of the Land of Nephi, not Northward

2 - Zarahemla a lowland and the Land of Nephi a Highland area or the "Ups and Downs" of the Book of Mormon.

3 - River Sidon flows northward

4 - Gold, silver and copper are found in the lands of the Book of Mormon: Land of Lehi, Land of Nephi, Land of Zarahemla, and Land of Desolation.

Joseph Smith's Statements:

"Central America or Guatemala is situated north of the Isthmus of Danien (Panama) ... The city of Zarahemla ... stood upon this land ..."  Times & Seasons 3:927

"... these wonderful ruins of Palenque are among the mighty works of the Nephites."  Times & Seasons 3:914

"... Quirigua ... the city in question .. (is) one of those referred to in the Book of Mormon."  Times & Seasons 3:927

Lehi landed "... a little south of the isthmus of Darien."  TPJS p. 267

January 19 = Sunday; Cabo San Lucas; Devotional

Our morning began with a devotional by Brother Lund about dealing with adult children.  Some of the Lund's children are not active in the church so he had special insights to dealing with them.  He taught about the Principles of Divine Intervention in Alma 13, Bind the Lord to His Promise in Mosiah 5, D&C 76:31 - 44 (All the rest will be redeemed), Teachings of Orson F Whitney in April 1929 that our posterity will be blessed, (Encyclopedia of Mormonism)  

The main theme is to give our Love to our Loved Ones and take our Frustrations to the Lord.

Then we went off the ship for a little excursion.  Since it was Sunday, we decided to not swim, but we took a ride on a glass bottom boat out to the bottom point of Baja.  We had the boat drop us off and we walked back to the port.  It was nice to have cool cloths to wash our hands and face before we got back on the ship.

Take Your Love to Your Loved Ones and Take Your Frustrations to the Lord!

by Dr. John L. Lund

You cannot carry out the Lord’s plan in the Devil’s way. Humility, Prayer, and Diligence will allow
the Lord to Divinely Intervene. He will do it in His own time, and His own way, and according to His
own will (D&C 88:68). Humility, Prayer, and Diligence sanctify you before the Lord. The Lord’s time
includes the Spirit World and the Millennium. Joseph Smith passionately taught, “It is not all to be
comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the
grave” (TPJS p. 348). This is true for you and your loved ones. Be patient and try the Lord’s plan. His
plan works. Have FAITH in God’s plan, HOPE in Christ, and CHARITY for your loved ones. Read the
following scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15:19 and Moroni chapter 7. You do not have the power to change
the heart of your loved one; God does and will if you do what you have been called to do, which is to
Take Your Love to Your Loved Ones and Take Your Frustrations to the Lord in Honest Prayer. The
Lord will divinely intervene in this life or the next. Following are the five principles of Divine
Intervention found in the scriptures:

Five Principles of Divine Intervention

1. Soften the Heart
D&C 105:27, D&C 104:80, D&C 109:56, D&C 124:9, Mosiah 20:26, Mosiah 19:14, Mosiah 21:15,
Mosiah 23:29, I Nephi 2:16, I Nephi 7:5, I Nephi 7:19, I Nephi 18:20, 2 Nephi 10:18, Helaman 12:2,
Alma 24:8, Alma 19:33

2. Strengthen You or Your Loved One or Ease the Burden
I  Nephi 17:1, I Nephi 17:3, Mosiah 9:17, Mosiah 10:10, Mosiah 21:15, Mosiah 24:14, Alma 2:18,
Alma 2:28, Alma 2:31, Alma 14:26, Alma 20:4, Alma 31:38, Alma 33:23, Alma 43:49, Alma 44:5,
Alma 56:56, Alma 58:10, Words of Mormon 1:14, 3 Nephi 3:12, 3 Nephi 4:811, D&C 9:12, Isaiah 12:2,
Isaiah 40:29

3. Raise Someone Up To Do What You Cannot Do
Exodus 3:10 (Moses), Genesis 12:15 (Abraham), D&C 1:17 (Joseph Smith), Genesis 45:7 (Joseph of
Old), Judges 6:714 (Gideon), Alma 1:8 (Gideon of the Book of Mormon), Alma 27:11-17 (an Angel),
Moroni 7:36, I Nephi 3:29, 2 Nephi 1:24, Mosiah 27:36, Alma 17:11, Alma 26:3, Alma 29:9

4. Exodus: Remove You or Deliver You or Your Loved One
1 Nephi 2:2, 1 Nephi 17:26, 2 Nephi 5:5, Jacob 3:4, Mosiah 2:4, Mosiah 7:33, Mosiah 11:26,
Mosiah 29:20, Alma 36:27, Alma 38:4, Alma 44:3, Alma 48:15, Alma 56:47, Alma 57:35, Omni 1:12,
Ether 9:3

5. Remove the Problem
1 Nephi 4:12, Alma 44:3, Exodus 14:28

Monday, February 12, 2018

We're Home!

January 30 2018 was a long day for us!  We went to the temple with the missionaries and had lunch with our friends at Taco Loco for the last time.

Then we were headed back to the apartment for the final packing.  We decided to stop at Dongdaemun for a few more ties first.  After we got the ties and were almost back to the apartment, Alan realized that he had left his temple bag at the tie shop !!  But we continued home to get the rest of our baggage since Sister Sonksen was on the way to pick us up for the airport.  She took us back to the tie shop on the way.  It started snowing!  Beautiful, but it slowed traffic down.

We had a little confusion at the airport because our itinerary had allowed for 3 checked bags each, but the agent was only going to allow for 2.  Did we want to repack everything?  President Sonksen was just going to pay the extra fee when the agent got a call back telling her to allow the extra bags!  Then I realized that I had left a bag at the apartment.  It had my wallet (which I never had to carry in Seoul) and our extra tablet along with the earphones that I'd planned to use on the plane.  I thought he had taken it out and he thought I had it.  We were just rushing too much.  Plus, I had had two extra chances (my guardian angel nudging me?) to go back to the apartment.  One time, the door just did not close as I was headed to the elevator.  Then I had to go back to leave something for the young missionaries to pick up.  And still I missed it!  This all added to an extra level of stress.  Oh well!

Because of the snow storm, they had to de-ice the plane before taking off, so add an extra hour to that long flight.  We were really happy to arrive in Dallas.  It went fairly well getting through customs and checked back in for our final leg to Tucson.  We somehow got waved through to the short lines.  We had a family from the Seoul English Branch on the plane too.  They were headed to Michigan for their next assignment.

It was nice to see so many of our family at the airport.  Everyone has grown up a lot!

We went for burritos on Wednesday.

Yummy Costa Vida!

And drove by our beautiful Tucson Temple.  We actually met a few friends outside the temple that we had not seen for quite some time.

We got to celebrate Sunny's birthday.  She let us make lasagna and spumoni cake for her!  And we remembered how to do it!

Oh, and we went out for burritos again!

Happy Happy!

So, we have been released, talked in church, packed up the winter gear (the weather has been glorious here), and taken care of some other things.  We have a few more things to figure out, but trust that it will come together for us.

We were able to attend a session at the Tucson Temple on Saturday.  It is a beautiful temple!  It feels larger than I expected.  Bigger than the Seoul temple, but the same sweet spirit is there.  We met several friends too, but I was especially touched to see a sweet sister who had been our children's  Primary teacher for years in the Midvale Ward.  She wanted to know how "her children" are!

Meanwhile, back in Korea, it looks like wonderful things are happening with the Olympics.  We've been able to keep tabs on some of the activities in Gangneung with the Helping Hands Center.


Our missionaries at the Helping Hands Center across from the train station are loving their assignment these days!

This is a link to a Deseret News article about the center.

Mosiah 2:41 sums up my feelings these days.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Brrr! Our last Sunday!

We had our last Zone Conferences this week.  Everyone is enjoying their Subway lunch.  Now that some of the missionaries can use Facebook, we don't have to wait until they go home to be "friends"!

It turned cold on us this week.  It got below 0 F (-18 C).  We had to practice wearing lots of layers again.  Some of the mission apartments had problems due to frozen water pipes.  We woke up one morning with no hot water, but we were able to get it thawed out later in the day.

These icy pipes are below one apartment.  The sisters had to relocate because the floors inside their apartment were flooding because nothing would go out the drains.

This cute little lady makes "호떡 hotteok".  It is a dough filled with cinnamon and sugar and cooked on the griddle.  Some vendors use lots of oil on their griddle, but she kept hers pretty dry.  I think she has asbestos hands.

It is a pretty nice treat for a cold day.

We went out to Dongdaemun on Saturday to show the senior couples where some of the best shopping places are.  They were needing more warm clothes than they had expected.  We noticed this indoor playground.  Lots of people were taking advantage of a warm place for the children to play.  It was packed!

We found a cute summery dress for our new baby Grace coming in February.  Arizona sounds good about now!

On the way home from church, I couldn't resist this photo of Elder Reese and his cute companions.  One lady's feet don't even reach the floor!  Not even close!

We could tell that something was going on at the plaza, but we don't know what it was.  But it was loud!

On Saturday, the Sonksens participated in an opening ceremony for the Mormon Helping Hands Center in Gangneung.  It is right across the street from the train depot.  There will be lots of people coming and going to the Olympic Venues here.  We have our Spanish and Japanese speaking elders assigned to this area.  Visitors can come to warm up, recharge their phones and learn about the gospel!  We're already hearing good reports and the missionaries are forming great relationships with the city leaders.

They announced in church that they will have some special visitors next Sunday.  Elder and Sister Gay, Sister Oscarson, Sister Eubanks, and Alex Boye!  They will also have a concert and devotional.  So, well, it will be great.  We will miss it by just a few days.  Exciting times, but we get to go home to our family!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Our Replacements have Arrived!

Are the weeks going faster?  Or is it just me.

We welcomed two new couples to the mission this week.  One couple is assigned to the mission office as our replacements and the other couple has a unique assignment to do church history and records management in Korea.

One couple had problems getting here.  The plane they were on had mechanical issues, which made them miss the connecting flight.  They ended up arriving about 14 hours late and her luggage caught up to them the following day.  That was a long day but they were in good spirits and recognized that it had given them an opportunity to help someone along the way.

We helped them get into their apartments and showed them around town a little.  They now know how to get to the mission office, to the temple and to church plus a few other places.  (And back home!)  Once they recover from the jet lag, they'll be fine!

President Sonksen had some health issues this week, so we were glad to be able to help out with the new couples.  He is on the mend now!

We had the youth from the Seoul Stake at the office on Friday and Saturday.  They are on winter break now.  They had lots of fun activities.  They invited us to lunch too.

They were chopping vegetables and cooking up a storm!  We could smell the garlic!  There were rice cookers plugged in all over the place.  I forgot to take a picture of all the kids.  It was fun to have them there.  They served jajong bop (black bean sauce with vegetables over rice).

Tuesday we had temple day with one group of missionaries.  I took this picture to show us the entrance to a home at the temple.

This is right at the driveway into the temple parking lot.  We had never noticed it before!

Right next to the sign for the temple.

The door leads to stairs that go up to the house on the right.  We had an activity for the senior missionaries here Saturday night.

It was a bit crowded, but nice we could get so many missionaries together. (22 I think)   Having it here made it convenient for the temple missionaries to be able to come.  We ordered tacos and burritos from our favorite Mexican food place.  They are so nice to us!

Today was our branch conference.  We were one of the first church units to have the opportunity to sustain our new Prophet and First Presidency.  The speakers emphasized keeping the Sabbath day.  Since we live in Korea, there are often rumors of war here.  We need to be obedient so we can hear the promptings of the Spirit and receive the protection we desire.

We're beginning to tell some of our friends "Good Bye" now.  We have delivered some cookies to our friends at the bank and at the taco place that have been kind to us.  One of our senior couples has completed their temple assignment.  They have extended their call to serve in the area where the Olympics will be held.  We look forward to hearing about their experiences there.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Olympic Torch in Seoul!

The Olympic Torch has come to Seoul!  They know how to make a fun procession.

We realized that it had been a while since we went to a Korean festival.  We went over to Gwanghwamun Square and they were getting ready for the torch to come by.  They were in a few different locations during the day.

This view shows the man working the puppet (mannequin?)

All these people on the steps have a card and it spells out something

These are the escorts for the torch bearers.  He noticed I was taking a photo, so he posed for me!

They were introducing the torch bearers.

This is the throne that the king will be on.

And of course, our friendly police force was there.

Then some vans came by.  I guess this is a Pop group.

They played their Arirang folk song while coming across the street.

So it was a pretty fun night.

We've been preparing for two new senior couples.  They arrive on Tuesday.  One couple will be our replacements and the other couple will be here to work on church history.  So, we've been cleaning and packing our stuff so our replacements can move in here.  We'll go to another apartment that has been vacant for a month.  And the other place is a new apartment we've been trying to find for a while now.  On Saturday the elders and Alan & Elder Whiting moved some things into the new place.

The supervisor for the new couple wanted to see the apartment, so we met him on Thursday to show it to him.  Then he took us to dinner.  It was interesting to hear about the church in the early days here in Korea.

We've also done some reorganizing at the office.  We moved out some cabinets. It is much more spacious.  Why did we wait so long to do this?  Our new APs have been working on training for the missionaries to begin using Facebook and other apps for proselyting.  Elder Bednar has said that we will be turning the "Trickle into a Flood" of missionary opportunities.  I remember when my brother went on his mission that he had a neat little flannel board to help teach the plan of salvation.  Now the missionaries can show a video on their phones!

Meanwhile, in Peru, our grandson has finished his training at the MTC and has arrived at his mission in Cuzco.  This is his mission president and his family.  Jacob has been assigned to Puno which is on the shore of Lake Titicaca high in the Andes.  His trainer is the son of one of the moms that Sunny met on the mission Facebook page.  They will not be using smart phones here but I'm sure he will have some amazing experiences.

We were asked to speak in church today about service.  We have had a great example set by President Monson.  We have loved the members of the Seoul English Branch.