Friday, June 12, 2015

Seoul National Cemetery

The Seoul National Cemetery seemed an appropriate place to visit on Monday, May 25, 2015, which was Memorial Day in the U.S.A., as well as a Korean holiday from work for Bob.  Established in 1955, it is a beautiful resting place for the remains of 165,000 Korean martyred patriots and civil servants.  The grounds are expansive, covering more than 1.43 million square meters of land nestled between the Han River and the foothills of Mt. Gwanak.  Riding our bikes, Bob and I arrived at the cemetery mid-morning, and stopped first at the Relics Exhibition House where displayed are medals and relics of individuals who served in various conflicts.  Also on display is a diorama of war memorials erected throughout the world in honor of countries who supported South Korea during the Korean War.

The perfectly arranged tombstones stretch for miles in every direction.  These are the graves of more than 54,000 soldiers, police officers, noteworthy citizens and government leaders.

 Also interred here are the remains of former Presidents of South Korea and their wives.  Upon terraced hillsides lie Generals and other important military leaders.

 Beautiful statues, memorials, and reflecting ponds decorate the grounds.

The Memorial Tower honors the fallen for their devotion and sacrifice.  Beneath the tower are inscribed the names of 104,000 soldiers who fought in the Korean war whose remains were never found.  The statue of souls ascending to heaven enshrines the ashes of 7,000 unidentified soldiers.

Our visit to the National Cemetery was a sobering reminder of the cost of freedom.  We are grateful for patriots in every land who are willing to defend their God-given rights with devotion and honor.  These sacred grounds are made holy with their spilt blood.  And the beauty of this site is magnified by understanding that life extends beyond the grave because of the glorious resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

It was a beautiful day to be riding our bikes and the paths along the Han River, where we headed next, were crowded with others taking advantage of the same opportunity.  The parks were packed with tents which we assume were erected to provide shade and a private space to relax and enjoy the short-lived pleasant climate.  The children enjoyed splashing in the fountains and streams, and Bob and I watched in amusement.  Then we found our private retreat on a bed of clovers near the riverbank where we stretched out in the open sun and absorbed some of it's wonderfully welcome rays of light. 


  I guess we are not Korean, yet!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Marriage Merriment

There is nothing more satisfying and joyful than having our children all happily married, having made covenants to each other and with God that are eternally binding.  At 2:00 p.m., on May 2, 2015, each of our children and their spouses were together, with Bob and I in the Oquirrh Mountain LDS Temple, to witness and rejoice in the sealing of Michael and Kristin.  It was truly a small glimpse of heaven!

But I get ahead of myself!  In preparation for the big event, Bob and I flew to the states on Tuesday, April 28.  Bob had business in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and I had "business" in Murray, Utah.  Upon arrival, I was picked up by the happy couple and took them to Cheesecake Factory for dinner  We drove to Kristin's home to check-in with her family to see what reception preparations were needed.   On Wednesday and Thursday, finding a dress for the "mother-of the groom", and assembling wedding favors for the brunch was my main objective.  I am so thankful for the help of Chelsea, Stephanie, and Jill with this labor-intensive project!  I brought the boxes from Seoul and made the tags; the girls had purchased Cadbury chocolate eggs to fill them with.  I thought they turned out just perfect!

Bob arrived on Thursday, just in time for a bachelor party camp out which Bobby planned for Michael.  Ben brought his boat and the boys (family and a few of Michael's buddies) headed to Strawberry Reservoir for an intense evening of fun challenges and adventures.  In the morning, they helped move Michael and Kristin's belongings into their "new" cozy  little apartment (actually, "old" and "tiny"  might be a better choice of words) in Provo.  Thankfully, it won't take much for this love struck couple to live "happily ever after"!

Kristin, Michael and her family had mastered control of the reception plans for Friday evening, so there wasn't much to help with.  My friend, Millie, was in town spending time with her sisters that week, so she offered to join Chelsea and I at the church to help set up.  Afterwards, we gorged ourselves on the lunch buffet at good ole Chuck-A-Rama.  (Bob's mission president was one of the founders of the franchise.)

The Edwards (Kristin's mom and step-dad) planned a reception at their church for Friday evening, and Bob and I hosted a wedding day brunch for about one-hundred close family and friends on Saturday morning.  Pictures will be posted in a subsequent blog, once we have received them from the photographer. Following the temple sealing, Michael and Kristin departed for a week of honeymooning at Bear Lake, Utah.

After the wedding on Saturday, we continued to party - you know me - can't let the good times come to an end!  This time it was a "girl's only" baby shower for Chelsea, organized by Jill and Stephanie.  We went to a little gourmet pizza place called "Pizza Limone" and showered Chelsea with suitcase-sized baby boy gifts to take home the following day.

And then, as if we needed more excitement in our lives, we had a family birthday celebration for Thomas, who turned 27 on June 3!


Sunday afternoon, the parties came to an end as Chelsea and Thomas returned to San Antonio, and I went to Green River to spend the week with Stephanie's family.  Bob remained in Murray for a couple of days so that he could get in a para-gliding lesson on Monday, before flying to Houston for more business.  Bobby and Jill, and Doug and Sandra's families were probably quite relieved to get a break from house guests.  We are so thankful to all of them for putting us up in the homes for several days!  Doug and Sandra were even gracious enough to take in a couple of our stow-away friends from Texas without advance warning!  Gotta love the way those college kids "roll", without a plan from minute to minute.  Somehow, they make it work!  We love you Aaron and Jordan!  And it was such a surprise to have Michael's Texas friend, Amanda, also join us for the weekend.  We feel very loved!

While in Wyoming, I enjoyed going to Emma's T-ball game and enjoying Paige and Bennett.  Bennett, just 9-months old, was learning to wave his hand "bye-bye" and began taking a few wobbly steps on his own.

I took Paige to a play group one morning, and the following day we had fun at a family fair hosted by CCDC preschool.  Paige and Bennett got to play in the big bounce-house/slide, have duck races, dig for dinosaur bones, build towers out of paper cups, play with magnets, and make paper dolls.  What a great event!

One thing I did accomplish while in Green River, was to complete the queen-sized  T-shirt quilt that I had been making for Michael.  I was quite pleased with the end result, and I think Michael was, too!

 On Friday evening, I rode with Stephanie and Ben's family to Provo where we spent the night at a hotel so that we could arise early and attend the LDS Payson Temple Open House with their ward youth group.  It was a cold and rainy morning, and we were glad to experience the beauty and warmth of this gorgeous temple.  Had it been built many years earlier, this would have been the temple of my mom and dad's youth. since they were from Benjamin and Payson.  I felt a connection to them as we visited there.

We met up with our returned honeymooners for lunch and a little bowling at BYU, who then took us to their apartment to see all their wedding presents.  We are so grateful for the many generous gifts shared with them!  Then Michael and Kristin drove me up to Bobby and Jill's home where I would spend the week, and Stephanie's family headed home to Wyoming.

Can you match the hair with the kid?  These are the little munchkins I enjoyed playing with in Murray.

We didn't have much on our agenda for the week, and just had fun being together. I enjoyed watching Linley at her gymnastics class, and recalling memories of her daddy doing the same thing at her age.   Linley and I went to "Color-Me-Mine", where she picked out a ceramic princess figurine to paint.  We also had a little slumber party together one night.  Linley is quite the conversationalist when you get to spend time with her one-on one!  she read the book Pa had given to her, and she showed me tricks on their new climbing dome - a birthday present Poohpie and Pa gave to the kids this year.

Max and I had a date to the Nickle Arcade where we were so busy playing that I forgot to take any photos!  We also walked and rode bikes to the park with Elynor and had so much fun that we didn't make it home in time for Linley's arrival from school.  It's a good thing Linley is such a brave girl, and so good at babysitting herself!  (oops - slight miscommunication between mom and grandma!)  Max showed me how well he can jump on the trampoline, and Ellie just keep me entertained and grinning! (Sorry that I wasn't better about taking some pictures this trip!)

 I returned to my sweet husband in Seoul on Sunday, May 17, full of gratitude for family, and especially thankful that ours is an eternal one!