Monday, March 16, 2009

Masan Stake Conference/Civil Defense Test

I've been having a blast here at Masan Stake Conference. It's been awesome! We had 8 elders sleep together on sat. night, and 6 last night. Elder Evans (N. Asia Area President) spoke at several sessions, as did his counselor Elder Choi, and our mission pres. (in KOREAN) and our mission "mom" (the mission president's wife). It was pretty amazing!

Elder Evans talked a lot about families and how we should strengthen them. He talked about never pulling away from wayward children, and always forgiving. He said when someone is offended and refuses to forgive, it is their spiritual progression which stops, not that of the offender. We should always strive to love and forgive within our own families. He shared some general personal experiences with us. It was an amazing time, I wish you guys could have been there. His last words in that talk were "Never pull away". I know that's true, but so hard to do. His talks really comforted me.

There have been some tensions with N. Korea, and all missionaries in the Pusan Mission were instructed to review our evacuation procedures the other night. When I was up in the city of Masan the other day, I ran into some US naval reservists who said they had flown into the nearby US base to do some exercises and "saber-rattling". Interesting. The next day we witnessed a massive test of the civil defense and air raid alert systems as sirens sounded all over the city and all traffic stopped. All people were told to stop moving and there were civil defense guards posted on the street corners to enforce this. At one point, an emergency vehicle came screaming down the street, lights and sirens flashing, with a man on the loudspeaker yelling at everybody to get out of the way....dozens of people started yelling and running away......we were pretty confused. For about 15 minutes the city stood still....then another siren sounded and the exercise was over. We've been told that this took place yesterday in other cities around Korea.Bottom line: N. Korea is up to the usual business, but Koreans are prepared.. My companion and I updated our foreigner cards with our new info today so that we can evacuate more easily if necessary.

Last week we had interviews with the Mission President. I should be staying in Sacheon next transfer....maybe with a very young senior.

Love, Elder Bocchino

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