Monday, March 28, 2011

finally, about conference

In answer to prayer, the conference was amazing. I get teary eyed just thinking of it, and these beautiful women pictured above (many, but not all who attended).
There were bumps along the way, and i was running around busy the whole time, but
it was a spirit filled weekend (to say the least).

Some of the amazing women from my branch. I love them so much.
You know how in Avatar they say, "I see you" and what it means? That is how I feel
when i look at these women. I truly see them for who they really are.

I think we all had that experience at the conference. The spirit truly bore witness to our souls of our Heavenly Father's reality, and our divine identity.
It was the kind of spiritual experience that was so powerful that it leaves you drained and exhausted.

I could tell you everything that we said and did, but that wouldn't really convey how the conference went. It was how we felt that made it a success.

I really just can't say it enough. There is a power that comes to us as we attend the temple. There is an enlightenment of the heart and mind that gives us the strength and capacity to overcome our weaknesses like nothing else. We can work hard on our own all we want, but the miracles happen when we turn ourselves over to the Lord. His ability to change us is amazing.

Of course, it is not forced upon us. It is our decision to come to Him. Just like that famous painting of Jesus knocking on the door, but the door knob is on the other side of the door. It is up to us to come unto Him. We come to Him through prayer, studying and pondering the scriptures, by striving to keep the commandments, and the icing on cake...attending the temple.

All people on this earth are seeking peace and happiness. The world's way, just doesn't work. Money, power, popularity aren't the answer, and never fully satisfy. The answer is simple, and not as exciting and enticing as the world's answer (hence there are few who follow it). But I would give up all the excitement,power, popularity, and money in the world to feel like I did this past weekend all the time.

So thank you my dear friends, and family for your prayers. I truly felt them. really.

Now let me tell you about an amazing happening. This whole Korea experience just keeps getting better and better. I can't believe it really.

See this gorgeous woman I am with above? A couple of weeks before the conference, I was walking out of the temple. As I walked through the lobby to the front door, I passed this sister missionary, and her husband. I hadn't taken two steps passed her when I froze in my tracks. I know that face, but how could it possibly be who I think it is? I turned back, I could see she had recognized me as well, and we immediately embraced. It was my dear Sorella Longone. She is now Sister Echols, a military relations missionary. But on my mission in Italy she was a single mom of three children in my first city of Bari. We were very close, and I loved her family so much! We had an immediate connection. My first Sunday in Italy was fast Sunday, and I bore my testimony. After the meeting she came directly up to me and invited me and my companion to dinner. Come to find out, she had come to the states when she was young to attend BYU and then worked in LAKE TAHOE of all places during the summer to earn money. When I was leaving my mission, she and her kids drove a few hours to my last city to surprise me and say goodbye. I haven't seen or talked to her since. It has been almost 20 years!

I really can't describe to you my joy at not only seeing her after all these years, but even better, she lives by us and is serving here as a missionary! Every time I see her I am filled with such love, happiness, emotion etc. etc. It is like having family close by. I went to the Humphrey's Branch yesterday for their branch conference, and she was there. She had my counselor Robyn, and I over for lasagna afterwards. HEAVEN! Then, I had them come to our house that night for dinner and dessert. I am going to have her teach an Italian cooking class for our branch. I am so excited!
Are you dying Nancy!!! (Nancy is one of my missionary companions that reads my blog. smile) Can you believe it?

What is going to happen next on this amazing experience of living in Korea? I can't wait!

PS-Sorella Longone told me that her 14 year old son Ermanno was in love with me when I was in Bari. When she called him after she saw me here, she told him that she would give him $80 if he could guess who she just saw here in Korea. She was so mad because he guessed Sorella Reneer right away! She couldn't believe it! Ermanno now is married with two children and living in Provo, Utah. I am definitely going to see him this summer. So cool!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

4 & 9 market today!

The Songbuk open market is right by my old house (frown). But to us locals (smile) it is
called the "4 & 9" because it is on every day that ends in a 4 or 9. Every 5 days basically.
And let me tell you it is awesome. There is the main market area, but it stretches forever down little side streets, you just keep winding from street to street. One end of it starts by my house, I have never made it to the other end. I think it has many strands that end in various places.

After Dave had surgery he was home for 10 days. I got him one day out of the house to go with me to the market. He didn't last very long, but I am quick now. I know just where I want to go. Let me show you around a bit. (Some of these pictures are from a while back, and some from when I went with dave).
We always meet new friends at the market.

( I am so excited! I just noticed that ammon has on matching socks! That never happens.)

the jeans that are hanging in the background are very popular for kids. As you can see this little boy is wearing them. They are pricey though.
I would much rather shop here. Besides the fresh produce, this is the special place that keeps us coming back as often as possible. For those of you who don't like to dig for a deal, you are out of luck. This is the mecca of digging for a deal. There are just piles and piles of clothes and everything is only 2,000 won, which is about $1.75. Some items aren't great, but you can find amazing stuff too. Rebecca has been especially successful. (will post finds later).

See the lady in the pink sweatsuit. Look at her visor. They wear these huge visors that cover their whole face. It is so funny, put very practical i guess. why bother with sunglasses?

(tashina in the corner there.)
Yes, they eat sting rays. Is that legal?

seaweed anyone?

i haven't tried one of these yet.
I don't' think I will ever be trying any of these little goodies. yikes.
across the street and into the main market.

the ready make deli section. ha ha
kimchi is the smell of most koreans, a spicy garlicky smell.
They say Americans smell like milk products.

Dave getting a treat. A waffle filled with cream and honey.

I didn't get a picture of the other popular street food. It is like a cinnamon sugar filled pancake/pastry. It's pretty greasy, but yummy on a cold day.

I prefer these cooked sweet potatoes. They are perfectly cooked, perfectly sweet,
and perfectly delicious!

I will take one bowl full please!

My other new favorite. These eggs. They are a bargain, and delicious.
Loaded up and ready to go home.
Look at my haul.
and delicious!

More please!!!

These are what ammon was begging for.
They are the best strawberries you will ever eat.
Like the ones in Japan Glor, but cheap! I think it was
$3.50 for a huge container like this.
At the commissary it is $5 for a small basket.

PS. you know, i really can't believe i live here when i look at these pics. That this is my life that I am seeing. It still doesn't seem real. It is so cool.

PPS. I was wrong that we are getting evacuees here from Japan. Nothing is for sure, and it would just be an outprocessing point. Our SOFA status with korea would not allow more than that.

PPPS.-It was so nice out today! I walked around with a light jacket on and then out of the blue it snowed all afternoon and evening. It was so beautiful.

Monday, March 21, 2011

moving day

Moving day came and went very quickly. Yesterday morning they arrived at 8am and said, "change of plans. We are doing it in one day." Ahhhhh, i started the day at a run and didn't stop until I collapsed at 10pm. It was a wonderful day. We were helped by so many. Ammon was passed around, and had the time of his life. Everyone was stopping by to say hello and welcome us, and offer help. The kids bopped around from place to place. One of our new neighbors brought us dinner (Rebecca's math teacher). The girls have already been asked to babysit a ton. They are so excited and have big plans for their money (summer in the states).
My life is about to get way way easier. YES! I told all the kids that since Heavenly Father has blessed us with more time by living on base, then they can use that time in the morning to read their scriptures and pray. I can't think of a better habit that I can help them develop. So I am really excited about that.

So, I am off to get dressed and organize the house since kim just came by and is taking ammon for an hour. Ammon is out of his mind giddy with joy. Ever since he woke up he is just smiling, giggling to himself, running around playing. He took off running out the door with kim so excited. This was the right move. Oh, and I didn't have to go to bed last night with a sewer smell coming from my bathroom. Life is good. smile

P.S. Above are the apts. they just built right next to our old house. People are moving in all the time and I have been wanting to get a picture of how they move their things in. The elevators are too small usually to move people in. This is how it is done. Cool huh?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I am in shock.

I am in shock. This kind of tragedy is so beyond being able to take in. And it has hit so very close to where we live. I can't stop thinking about it, reading what is going on, or looking at the images. I have friends in the military in Japan and they give us more details and insight to the relief efforts. Dave says, "I think your talk (for the women's conference should be about the earthquake." (Because I am spending so much time thinking about it instead of doing my talk). I am just heart broken for these people. I want to mourn with them. I plan to donate to the cause through the humanitarian aide fund, and I definitely will be praying for them, but what more can I do?

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this man's comment on a news website sums up what I really think we can do.


I live in Fukushima Prefecture about 100km from the coast. We don't know what the next news update will bring. There is no gas for cars so in the event of evacuation, I'm not sure what would happen. There is a feeling of dread hanging like a pall over everyone. But we keep going. And every time I see some friends, hug my family, drink a glass of water, I am so much more thankful than I was 6 days ago. If you are wondering what you can do right now, here is one idea: don't take anything for granted. Appreciate what you have. Taste that water. Hug your family. Let stupid little things go.

this is exactly the conclusion I had come to. I have been telling my kids that all week. we are so blessed. There truly is not a day that goes by without a sincere prayer to my heavenly father for our health, a home, food, and that we are all home safely together at the end of the day. These are our greatest blessings every day. Family is everything.

I also ask myself, "Am I prepared if something like this were to happen?" Maybe I should read that disaster plan that the district president sent me. Yes, I am being funny, but it isn't funny. I really did just blow it off and not want to read through it!

But really, I truly believe that the best way to be prepared is to have a clear understanding of God's plan of happiness, or plan of salvation. It brings peace in good times, and hope, strength, and comfort through the difficult times, no matter what they are. I don't look at death as a bad thing, I am excited to return to Heavenly Father. That is home. I am currently just here on earth on vacation, ummm I mean at school.

So, I will keep praying for my brothers and sisters in Japan, and I have an idea for a fundraiser to do next week. But mostly, I am going to Troy's idea above. To love every minute with my family, enjoy what I have, don't take it for granted, and also to reach out to others here that I am able to reach out and love and serve.

P.S. thousands of people are being evacuated to our base and nearby bases. All of the base and school gyms etc. will be used. I am thankful we will be able to help.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


(my new flowers. Anyone know what they are?)
and glor, the vase is from the martha stewart collection at Macy's and your local korean BX. ha

So, Dave kindly let me go to my room this afternoon and work on my talk for the district Relief Society conference that is next weekend. To say I have anxiety would be an understatement. I have been on the computer for hours just sending out reminder emails and arranging things. It's 10pm and I haven't even gotten to my talk. Organization is not my strength let alone in Korea with a wide spread district all over the country. Heavenly Father is really pushing me to grow with this one. I ask Heavenly Father all the time "Why Me?" He answers me, but it still doesn't make it easier.

Here's the flier for the conference that my fabulous counselor made.

If I weren't in charge I would be super excited for this! ha ha. I know once all the preparation is done and I am there with my dear sisters in the temple it will be heavenly (literally).

I wish you all could come! and could you bring a salad to share? ha ha.

It really is true that you love who you serve and serve with. That is why I have so many wonderful dear friends all over the world, because I truly believe that the way to joy and happiness in life is through service.

I am going to focus on that, and find true joy this week as I prepare for this conference.

I really am looking forward to hearing the former District Relief Society President speak. She is so amazing (and has a great name too. smile). In my first five minutes of speaking with her I asked her if she was a Korean celebrity. Seriously, how people react when they see her. She is seriously beloved here by many. You have to read about her here. This is a really cool website too if you don't know about it. The Mormon Women Project. You can submit articles about amazing women for them to showcase. Is showcase the right word? It sounds too much like the "Price is Right." I am not planning on having a showcase showdown with her. ha ha. I'd be the showcase that has the lame bedroom set, exercise equipment and leotard collection that is $5,000 and she would be the showcase with the boat/sports car/a million trips for $40,000. ha ha.

Anyway, pray for me this week. please.
Kamsamnida (thank you).

PS-You have to check out the story of another woman that I work with in the temple named Therese Kanyanga. She is from the Republic of the Congo. Amazing the women that are here in Korea. I am so blessed to know them.

PPS-I really am just trying to be funny above about the showcase showdown. I am just trying to say that I admire Heather so much. I so do not believe in comparing ourselves to other women. We are all priceless, unique, and amazing. We just all have a different mission in life. One not better or more important than another. Each with great challenges, and joys.
Each of great worth. I firmly believe that.

PPPS (how many of these do you think I can do? ha ha.)- I just prayed in the shower (which is the best place to pray), and I was reminded again that I need to have faith that what Heavenly Father has asked me to do, He will help me do. It's not about me. I don't need to worry or have anxiety, just act in faith that I will be guided what to do and how.
ok, for realsies I am going to bed now. Peace out.

Friday, March 11, 2011

bringing vacation home etc. etc.

So if we can't go on a trip, there is no reason why i can't bring the vacation to us. You all know that breakfast at a resort ranks high on my list of necessary indulgences. i do love it so. So when Dave said last night that i need to clean the table because there were dried up milk spots that looked like the Hawaiian islands, i knew i needed to do something quick (ha ha). Dave is even worse than me (and I always get blamed. rude). In fact he is so desperate to get out of debt faster he is selling his jeep! Which we are able to do now that we are moving on base next week and won't need two cars anymore. Desperate times around here. ha ha (i know we are ridiculous). So who can miss vacation with a breakfast at home like this? A combo of white and wheat pancakes, sliced bananas, toasted coconut, macadamia nuts, whipped cream, and syrup. With sides of eggs and sausage, milk and juice. All you can eat even!!! I ate too much, just like on vacation, but poor Dave couldn't eat much. He had surgery on his shoulder Thursday and is super nauseous from all the pain killers.
Everyone else enjoyed it though. I had a houseful (as always). Rachel had friends over to spend the night and I have been such a good mom cooking for them. I made a big spaghetti dinner last night, bought them tons of snacks for watching a movie after and then Oreo shakes to tide them over while they played games and talked til the wee hours of the morning. They then all got dressed and were off to the trampolines (this place in a basement of a bldg. in our neighborhood that just has square trampolines lined up that you can jump on for a dollar a 1/2 hour). It is totally not up to any sort of U.S. safety standards. There actually is a pipe that runs across the ceiling that just has a piece of paper taped to it that says watch your head. I love it. I love that we can still have cheap things like this because they don't have to worry about anyone suing. It has little video games on the floor and 2 slushie drink machines. It is hysterical. Anyway, when Rachel was leaving she gave me a big hug and said you are being so nice this weekend, are you taking your oils? ha ha. Yes, I am. But really i just wanted to do something really nice for Rachel because she is such a huge help to our family. She has been so amazing lately. When I lose patience with someone, for example helping Lizzie with piano. She will sit down with her and calmly and sweetly help her. She has been really working on that and does it more and more because I praise her so much for it. She is such an amazing girl. I am blessed to have her.
(Rachel is on the far left in the picture above if you didn't know).

As promised, a couple of Leah's poems I found on a piece of scrap paper we had been writing random notes on. The title of the first one is "Life is like a sky." Nicole, I can see you laughing out loud so hard at that last line......"A girl has so many emotions inside. Why can't you discover that? Leah is truly coming into her own this year. When we first got here she was driving us crazy!!! But for school this year she has gotten an amazing teacher that has really boosted her confidence. He says she should be a lawyer. Also, all of her sisters have been working with her to get her ready for middle school next year. She is in the middle of a transformation from a caterpillar into a butterfly. I think I will not tell more (it is so tempting) but it deserves its own post. It's a good story. So more on that later. Oh, and Nicole, Leah has already written a poem for your family. It is awesome, and Lizzie has asked for me to print up a photo of your family to start sketching. I can't wait to see it.

Now about that clean mantle. Who knew it would spark such interest. To be perfectly honest, my house was immaculate because I had a book club at my home the night before. So Irene (my cleaning assistant. smile) and myself cleaned all day. Hence a perfectly shined mantle. It is a thing of beauty isn't it? It actually gets really dusty fast here. It's pretty annoying.

I have to tell you about my book club though. I was so proud. We read "Homeless Bird" by Gloria Whelan. It is about a young Indian girl and her arranged marriage and her life. It is a great little read. I enjoyed it. I tried to go with the theme of the book for the night. In the book her favorite cake was a coconut cake, so I made that for dessert (recipe on I didn't love it (others did), but the texture was amazing. I was so proud of myself for making a homemade cake. smile. I got Indian books from the library and had them set all over the room. I had Indian music playing (thank you Dave). The smell of sandalwood in the diffuser because in the book she said that she loved the smell. She worked with yellow flowers in the book, but I couldn't find the kind she used. But I thought these freesias were more beautiful anyway. (And thanks to those of you who commented and told me what kind of flower they are. I love them. You should see what I have now. I don't know what they are either. I will take a picture and post them). I was only missing fabric, to drape, or an embroidered sari which she loved to do. Anyway, I recommend the book.

We're going to my favorite Indian restaurant tonight. I will definitely take my camera.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

lizzie the artist/hot dog vendor

Lizzie (or Elizabeth), is quite the artist. I truly think she has a gift. I'm not just being a mom. I want to frame everything she brings home from school. She took an art class at the base and the teacher told me she was good too. Ok, the lady could also have an ulterior motive, but still.

With Leah, my little poet, I find poems laying around that explain her mood or feelings. I will have to show you a couple I found lately in another post. With Lizzie I find drawings like the one above. I had just busted her for screaming and sent her to my room for a time out.
I love this one too. So bright and cheery.
I think it was inspired by these flowers on my mantle.
I don't know what kind of flower this is but it makes me happy.

PS. i wrote hot dog vendor because if you recall the post a while back, lizzie told me that is what she aspired to be in New york city. She has now graduated to wanting to sell pizza in paris as she works on her art. These artists, they are so fickle.