Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Korea, Land of the Morning Calm

Quoting from Grant's family letter, "We took a flight from Fukuoka to Korea on T'way Air leaving around 12:00 noon and  arriving in Seoul at about 1:30. We were very fortunate and pleased to find Song, a Korean exchange student that we hosted in 2011-2012, waiting for us at the airport.  She looked so good and has grown up so much over the last three years.  We enjoyed smoothies with her and then boarded a bus to Seoul.  This took us longer than the flight from Japan and we arrived at the Hyundai Residence in Jung-gu around 4:00.  After moving in we went exploring the neighborhood and found it full of motorcycle, pet and printing shops." 

     We also found a little restaurant down the street and had traditional Korean barbecue.

"Friday morning we were excited to see Gena.  Not knowing the traffic patterns nor the distances, we arose early and boarded a taxi by 6:15.  We were to meet to her at the Seoul South Mission Home south of the Han River after 8:00.  We arrived at 6:50 so had some time to kill.  We wandered through the neighborhood and had a light breakfast at Paris Baguette.  After lingering as long as we could we meandered back to the mission home.  There was still no activity but Jeanette opened a door and we heard voices coming from above us.  We climbed about three flights of stairs and found some missionaries milling around the mission home.  We introduced ourselves and inquired.  This was the right place.  Someone called for Sister Hurst and there was our gorgeous and faithful daughter, hugging her Mother with tears being shed by both.  She looked so good, so content and so confident.  Soon we met President Morrise who was very complimentary of Gena and her service.  This was reiterated by several of the young missionaries who were there, also in the process of returning home.  Sister Morrise came out a little later with similar accolades for our Gena.         

As the days progressed and we came to meet more and more of those Gena has worked with and touched, we were more and more filled with admiration for her and gratitude to our Heavenly Father for sharing such a precious and tender soul with us.  We have been able to meet with and share meals with so many people.  Fortunately, Korean food is not that fattening nor filling or we would be bursting.  First, we met Song and her Mom and Dad for  a big traditional lunch on Friday."  

"In the evening we were privileged to have dinner with Brother Hea  his wife, Sister Kim, and their son, Ken, visiting from Toronto.  Brother Hea has previously served 20 years as stake president and is currently the Public Affairs Director for Korea.  The family is an institution in the Church in Korea.  It was a delicious meal and afterward they drove us back to our place.  Great people." 

Saturday morning we made a quick visit to the Kyeongbokgoong Palace and Folk Museum.  Gena is posing here with her Chinese Zodiac year, the Dog. 

The Palace Gate.

We could have spent hours at the Palace there but had to limit it as we needed to be to the temple by 12:00 noon.  At the recommend desk we met Brother Choi and Sister Chu who we had known in Dallas in 1991.  We introduced their three boys to Halloween.  Jeanette was Sister Chu's visiting teacher and Sister Chu recited how after all these years she remembers Jeanette never missing a visit and always coming with small gift such as homemade bread.  We had a nice lunch with them at a Chinese restaurant."

"Following lunch we attended a session at the temple.  It is good to have that available once more."  

We then headed back south of the Han River and visited the  Noryangjin Fish Market.

"We met Gena's friend, Erica for dinner  in Noryangjin.  She is a wonderful woman of about 40 years who has enjoyed attending the missionaries' English classes.  She has the most infectious smile and personality - one of those persons who just makes you feel good by being around them."   We enjoyed the spicy chicken at Uganae, one of Gena's favorite hangouts."

For dessert we shared a mango bingsu at Surl Bing.
"Sunday, we attended services at the Noryangjin Ward and witnessed a huge outpouring of affection by so many.  Tears were shed.  On the way there, Gena, always a missionary, took advantage of a man's curiosity on the subway (after he stared at our badges and clearly wanted to engage us) and had a good conversation with him about the Church.  He seemed genuinely interested, immediately looked up the entry for the Church on Wikipedia on his phone and then accepted the local missionaries' telephone number.  He even shared his name and telephone number with Gena.  She passed it on to the local elders at sacrament meeting."

"After meetings we walked up the street to another family Gena had been teaching.  They served us a delightful lunch. Her name is Kim Sung Yun and his  is Hu Sung Te.  They have two cute daughters, ages 8 and 11."

"After lunch we returned to the Church where Gena met with Yija Young, a young high school girl she has been mentoring.  Again a tearful goodbye and  we headed back to our room at the Hyundai Residence. "

                   On Monday we met Gena's first companion, Sister Hong, for lunch. 

 Tuesday was another lunch with one of Gena's former investigators, Binna, in Gangnam.  After lunch we took the train to Pyeong Taek, Gena's last area, to visit more friends.

We had dinner with Brother Lee and Sister Kim of the Pyeong Taek   Ward.  After the meal, she treated us to a little gayageum concert.  

This morning we said good-by this cute family and joined the Bishop of the Noryangjin Ward, Brother Kim and his wife, Sister Hwang (a "country girl").

                            We spent a pleasant morning at the Suwon Folk Village.  

                            Courtyard of a traditional house. of a well to do person.  

                                We enjoyed a show of traditional dance and music . . .   

horse back riding and acrobatics . . .   

                               and a re-enactment of a traditional Korean wedding.   

Afterwards the Bishop treated us to Samgaytang a "whole" chicken soup which is eaten on the last day of summer (according to the lunar calendar) which was today.   


                               Tonight we enjoyed one last Korean treat, Naemgmyeon.  

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