After our staff meeting Monday, we started working on some old stuff we have found in the basement of the mission office. We noticed that there were some boxes down there that we needed to take care of "some day". We discovered that there was some water down there since they've been working on a sprinkler system (for fires) and they drained part of the tank. The drain couldn't handle all the water, so it partially flooded the basement. And so "some day" turned into "today".
The young elders brought the boxes upstairs. They kept coming and coming. This shows just the tip of the iceberg. As we opened them to find out what was in there, we were stunned. Lots of dishes, old clothing (suits, snow pants), blankets. Weirdest of all was bins of pickled onions, bean paste, garlic. Bless his heart, Elder Cannon took care of that kind of thing. Old empty jars were wrapped in newspaper dated 2010. We think it's from when the Seoul West Mission was closed (2010). But why they saved all this stuff is beyond us! There were a few good things that we let anybody take if they wanted it (a box of makeup and brushes, a blender). Anyway, now the mission office smells like old musty clothes. And our next project is to get rid of the rest of it and it's odor!
Tuesday was better, we were able to go to the temple again. It's been closed for cleaning and it was nice to be there again.
Wednesday, we had the opportunity to go to a joint conference with the Seoul South Mission. Elder Bednar has toured Japan and Korea with our area presidency. President Sonksen asked if we would go with a group to make sure they made it to the church. The meeting was held in the other mission boundaries, so they were on unfamiliar territory.
We waited at the exit of the station to point them in the right direction. They were all so happy to see friends from the other mission.
I got one photo before the meeting started. We did take some group photos, which I hope to see someday.
We had been asked to read four of Elder Bednar's talks in preparation for the conference. The meeting was for three hours. The first half of the meeting, he asked the missionaries to share what they had learned from the reading assignment. After they shared what they had learned, he would say "May I ask you a question?" and had them think a little bit deeper. Later he allowed the missionaries to ask questions, and he would discuss and ask more questions.
One of the main points was that we should be "Agents" and not "Objects". Action is a key to our happiness. He said he hates it when we go to church and pray that "those who aren't here will come next time." He said he'd like someone to get up and pray something like this "Bless us that after this meeting, we will go and find those people who aren't here and bring them back with us next week!" He thinks that we are often expecting the Lord to do our work.
He also encouraged the non-English speakers to learn English. Not because it is a better language, but that it is the language of the Restoration. As an example of the translation from English, it's often hard to show the difference of words like "unto" versus "into," for example, the teachings of the spirit coming "unto" your heart or "into" your heart. (Being an agent and choosing to act.)
Joseph Smith prayed to know what to do, not just what to know. He prayed to know which church to join, not which church was true. (Action again)
One of our elders asked about how to bear testimony of things he is still learning. It was very powerful when Elder Bednar promised him that as he testified, or "stepped out in faith, the light will move to light the way for him." Sister Bednar shared an experience when she was too timid to give an answer in a meeting, but the response she should have given came to her later. She said that now, she will start to speak, not knowing exactly what to say, and trusts that the spirit will give her the words because she is acting in faith.
On Friday we went out to visit and inspect apartments for some of our missionaries. Someone was moving out of this apartment and it was amazing to watch them bring the furniture out the window and down to a truck.
The elder's apartment had these amazing cabinets that someone had rescued from the trash a while back. Mother of pearl cabinets! The nicest thing in the apartment.
I've been trying to get a photo of these little electric beverage carts. These little women drive them around and park some place to sell drinks. This was outside a subway entrance.
We've been planning our visit to the DMZ for quite a while now. We went with some senior missionaries from our mission and the south mission. This photo shows what we visited first. It is called Tunnel Number Three. It is the third tunnel that S. Korea has discovered that N. Korea has tried to build to get through the DMZ. South Korea discovered it after they had dug about 400 meters past the south side of the DMZ. The tunnel is underground about as far as a 24 story building. The South built the long ramp on the right so we can go down and see the tunnel. Then you can walk part of the length of the tunnel. Good thing we had to wear hard hats because we bumped our heads a few times.
This is a mock-up of what the tunnel is like. It was painted black because the excuse was that it was a coal mine. But there is no coal in the area. They told us that 30,000 soldiers per hour could come through it. Yikes! (If no one fell down or fainted.)
When we started down the ramp, the people coming back up were breathing pretty hard. So, we were wondering how well we'd do. But we all made it, maybe a little bit slower. Work out of the day!
This statue is trying to show that the people want reunification with the north.
Our next stop was a lookout point. These South Korean soldiers were posing for a photo, so....
They have mandatory military service (or equivalent, like police or palace guards) of two years for all young Koreans.
It was a bit hazy, but this is a view across the DMZ into N. Korea. The DMZ is a beautiful open space, but there are landmines. One of the soldiers told us that about twice a week an animal will set one off.
It doesn't show well, but there is a town out there with a 30 story building. But, no elevators! They used to have a factory complex that S. Korea built to allow the N. Koreans to have jobs there, but they discontinued that in September. They call it "Propaganda City."
Elder Black & Elder Anderson with their friend.
Sis Black, Bastian and Anderson
Our group included Elder and Sister Robinson and their daughter and grandson who were visiting from Utah, Elder and Sister Black and Elder and Sister Bastian from the Seoul South Mission. Plus our military friend. One of the great things about missions is the new friends you get to make!
This is names of people who donated to build a train station here in hopes that someday the borders will be open and allow travel back and forth.
After lunch, we were taken to the JSA (Joint Security Area) which is a UN site where talks between North and South Korea are held. At first I thought the soldiers were mannequins, but when I moved to the side to take a photo, I found out that they are very real! He came up right next to me to prevent me from going any further. It was a tiny bit scary!!
Half of the blue building is on the north side of the line and half is on the south side. The large building in the back is the North Korean complex. I couldn't take a photo of the south's building.
One North Korean soldier is standing outside their building. They call him Bob.
This is inside the blue building. On the north side of the line. The Bastians got a photo with the South Korean guard. (He is not a mannequin! I saw him breathe.) He is standing in a tae kwon do stance ready to act. They are on their duty for a two hour shift.
It was a very interesting day. We had a great time, right up until the end when one of our friends was taken ill. We hope & pray for a speedy recovery.
We had some visitors at church today from the Vladivostok Russia Mission today. (Seoul is their temple.) A couple had come to be sealed in the temple and the mission president and his wife had come for visa renewals. Plus, a sister who had served her mission in Almaty Kazakhstan was there. We got to practice our five Russian words! And share experiences with each other. She was in the Moscow West Mission and then was assigned there when the Novosibirsk Mission gained Kazakhstan. We were at the same stake conference in Moscow when we first arrived.
Alan and one of the other senior elders has been teaching a class of five prospective elders. They are from Vietnam, Korea, China, Thailand and France.
Our branch had an activity Saturday. We had to miss it because we had already planned our DMZ tour. But they had some left over food, so we had a "Linger Longer" after the block. We have a great branch!